Category Archives: Food

Food items

NOT JUST MY OPINION – GREAT PRODUCTS

Several lists I’ve read recently in the food magazines lined up with my personal favorites. Here’s an invitation to try these and to tell us your favorite in the same category.

Best Block Cheese
Cabot Alpine Cheddar (most Cabot cheddars for that matter)
A Swiss and Alpine blend in the Legacy Collection of Cabot Cheeses


Best Chocolate Snack
Bark Thins Snacking Chocolate
I like them all. Do you have a favorite? Pictured is the Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt.


Best Pickles
Claussen Kosher Dill Spears
I know this category is up-for-grabs. Tell us your favorite.


Best Catsup
Centro Balsamic Catsup
I like this product so much it’s changed my life. A little goes a long way, but sometimes.. I can’t help drowning my food in it! If you haven’t tried it, I insist!


Chicken Broth
Swanson’s Chicken Stock
I buy different brands, the display, the special price. But somehow when the dish is made with Swanson’s, it always surprises me with it’s good taste.


Best Butter
Land of Lakes
This is always in my fridge. I love butter. I’ve tried many different brands. Salted or Unsalted, either tastes wonderful. I think this product is the best value and the best flavor.

Best products make for best eating experiences! Well, that’s my motto anyway.

NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN

Our crazy fun college friends group hit Nashville with pot-loads of talk and aspirations. One of these was to manage a meal at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. So one afternoon we swooped in – that is we paid a hefty parking fee after walking three blocks to find the pay machine, stood in a long line in the heat – and one driver coped with a dead battery – so I guess that wasn’t swooping was it?

We landed in a nice corner table for six. I stared at my chicken tender encased in an armour of something, picked up my plastic knife and fork, and tried to figure out how a person going through a long period of implant surgery on two sides of my mouth might be able to extract and eat a few bites of this famous chicken. I had a side of tempting pimento mac and cheese to keep me at the task.

Around the table my friends had dark lacquered hot chicken of various shapes and heat levels. We were all hungry and all that talk ceased, almost. The armour on most of the chicken put my tenders to shame. I glanced around the table to see which knight might win the joust. Forgetting completely about taking pictures, I mostly concentrated on the task at hand.

What is Nashville Hot Chicken? Why are tourists and locals jamming a modest, not too clean rundown eatery like Hattie’s?

According to Jane and Michael Stern’s essay from Saveur title “Hot County” and reprinted in Best Food Writing 2015 Nashville’s famous hot chicken depends on cayenne and other spices. It’s a pepper red chunk of fried chicken served on white bread with dill pickle chips. You tear apart the chicken and gnaw. Clearly, I did not have the right technique. My friends caught on fast.

Recipes are carefully guarded, or so they say, but the Sterns describe a brine of buttermilk and spices, dredged in flour with more spice and double-fried. Then, fresh out of the hot oil, the chicken is slathered with a buttery paste of lard. Inside the shell one should find “sweetness, juiciness and an umami richness.” By the time we stumbled down the ramp and headed toward our two cars (one with a new battery – thank you Triple A and Lana) we were chock full of chicken and other stuff like greens and mustard sauce. And the line now stretched way down the block.

I did not think the chicken I was trying to eat had ever been bathed in buttermilk brine. Sure enough when I got home and turned to that fountain of information – the internet – and found two recipes for Hattie B’s Hot Chicken courtesy of Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman at Food Network Magazine and one from Aida Mollenkamp editor of Salt and Wind, Hattie’s chicken is dry brined. Chicken pieces are tossed with salt and pepper, covered and refrigerated overnight or up to 24 hours. Then on with the dipping, the frying (hot sauce and spices) and then the spicy coating: lard, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, salt pepper, paprika, garlic powder. You see the dark red brown that is the result in these pictures from the internet. My tenders described as Southern Chicken were lighter, but most of the chicken around the table was very dark brown.

I guess now-a-days you can order and eat spicy hot chicken around the country. But it is still one of Nashville’s prime attractions. Before too long I’m expecting to be on my way to a place that serves chicken tenders, brined in buttermilk, and so tender even a tooth-challenged person can eat and enjoy. A place where the cutting is easy. I can always ask for more hot sauce.

Hot chicken lovers go right ahead and salivate waiting for you next chance to eat this distinctive treat. Before I visited Nashville, I’d never seen any chicken like it. When you get the chance, grab the greens and gnaw away.

HOW CAN MY CHOWDER GO SO WRONG?

From the Farmer’s Market I brought home fresh corn on the cob, new potatoes and other
good things. I was dreaming of corn clam chowder.

I read my cookbooks. I dreamed of corn clam chowder.

Jeff and I stopped at the store with a list. I dreamed of corn clam chowder.

I’ve made clam chowder before. Below is a recipe from 2014, one I often make that is much like Barefoot Contessa’s East Hampton Clam Chowder. I like that one because it has carrots, though my friends from the East Coast tell me it is not authentic. Never mind. It’s always good and I like it.

My recipe is printed at the end of this lament.

You can guess what is coming. It’s not much of a mystery.

This time I wanted bacon and corn. Perhaps I might have used a recipe from Everything Tastes Better with Bacon, a favorite cookbook of mine.

But I decided to try a recipe from Sarah Leah Chase’s New England Open House Cookbook for Corn and Clam Chowder. It seemed similar to the one in the bacon cookbook.

There are many reasons why my cooking game was a bit off today. I simply don’t know what made the difference. I was perhaps not as focused or energetic as makes for a good cooking outcome.

I didn’t have fresh thyme. I bought half and half when I knew I needed to buy heavy cream, but then again, for myself I don’t mind if the soup is a bit thinner.

The corn was superb, I ate two forkfuls.

I did not peel the potatoes and when I tasted the soup, I wished I had. I don’t believe I ever peeled small new potatoes.

I thought I had several cans of chopped clams, but alas only one in the back of the pantry shelf, and not a particularly good brand. And I broke my cardinal rule to rinse the canned clams before adding to the chowder.

Yes I have chives, paprika as garnish. But oh well, as Emeril says, when you really cook, stuff happens.

I’ll say this. It was not “surpassingly excellent” as Sara Leah Chase pronounces and as I had hoped.

Perhaps sitting awhile in the refrigerator will help? What does one do with a pot of soup that is less than expected?

Thank goodness I made only half a recipe.

I am certain it was the cook and not the New England Open-House Cookbook recipe, so I will include the ingredients so you can try it.

At any rate, I am no longer dreaming of corn clam chowder with bacon. I’m cured, for a while at least.

Corn and Clam Chowder
From New England Open House Cookbook

4 ounces best-quality slab or thickly sliced applewood-smoked bacon, cut into 1/3 inch dice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-size onion, peeled, and cut into ¼ inch dice
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼ inch dice
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups fish, clam or vegetable broth
1 pound all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice.
4 ears fresh local corn, cut from the cobs
1 pint fresh chopped clams with their juices
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
fresh chives for garnish

MADE-IN-FLORIDA CLAM CHOWDER
Paulette Lein

You don’t have to be in Florida to make this yummy soup. This recipe is similar to Ina Garten’s East Hampton Clam Chowder published in Barefoot Contessa Family Style. This chowder has lots of vegetables and a splash or two or three of half&half to give it a creamy, smooth finish.

4 Tablespoons and 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 heaping cup chopped sweet onion
1 generous cup chopped celery
1 generous cup chopped carrots.
4 cups partially peeled, diced redskin potatoes.
Thyme, fresh, dried, or ground to taste. (about ½ teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black Pepper, celery salt to taste
cayenne pepper – be careful, but don’t leave it out. Shake three times?
2 bottles clam juice
1 can chicken broth, use as liquid is needed, or heat in microwave and use in thickening the soup
¼ cup Wondra flour (all purpose is fine)
1 cup milk
2 6 oz. cans chopped clams or three, or two cups fresh chopped clams
half&half, about ½ cup

Melt four Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large pan and cook onion over medium-low heat about ten minutes until translucent. Add celery, carrots, potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté for about ten more minutes. Add clam juice and bring to a boil. Cook until vegetables are tender, about twenty minutes.

In a small pot melt three Tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over low heat about three minutes stirring constantly. Whisk in a cup of hot broth from soup or heated chicken broth. Return that mixture to the soup pot and simmer until soup thickens.

Drain clams and add liquid to the soup, simmer. Rinse clams.

Add milk and clams and heat gently for a few minutes to cook clams. Add celery salt and cayenne, more salt and pepper if needed.

Soup may be made ahead and reheated. Add half&half close to serving time and heat gently.

BEAUTY AT THE FARMER’S MARKET

A trip to the Farmer’s Market gives one a new appreciation of vegetables!

The tomatoes were so tempting I wanted to buy bushels, but I settled for a few heirlooms and gave the biggest baddest red to my neighbor.


How colorful can peppers be?

Pickles anyone?


The grower said these were ready to eat today.

I never can resist the multi-colored carrots. I bought fresh corn on the cob and potatoes, hoping to make chowder.

Basket after basket of rosy ready-to-eat peaches.

TOMATO JAM

Will tomato season soon be upon us? Have you been to the Farmer’s Market near you? Did you come home with a beautiful bounty of cherry and heirloom tomatoes? What will you do with your tomatoes?

Enough with the questions!

Today I share two recipes for Tomato Jam and the start of a journey of dreaming and learning.

Tomato Jam
From New York Times Food Section, August 16, byline Alison Roman

4 pounds red or green tomatoes (not heirloom), cored and cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Garlic, chiles de arbol (look for dried peppers in an envelope)
Red pepper flakes or thyme (the author adds a note: red pepper flakes or 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves.

Toss the tomatoes,sugar and salt together and let sit 15 minutes or up to overnight. Toss to coat periodically to dissolve the sugar.

Put a small plate in the refrigerator to chill. (the mystery begins)

In a heavy pan bring tomatoes to a strong simmer over medium heat until the skins bust and juices start to boil, about 10 minutes. Add those optional flavorings.

Cook the jam, using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally. Near the end of this process stir often to prevent sticking. Cook until mix resembles thick shiny tomato sauce: 35-45 minutes.

Here’s where that plate comes into play. When you think jam may be finished, spoon some onto the chilled plate, return to fridge and chill two minutes. Drag finger and jam should hold its shape, not watery or runny. Perhaps it needs to cook a few more minutes?

Discard chilis. Sppon jam into jars leaving ¼ inch head space and seal immediately. Or just put into a clean jar and refrigerate.

You can learn more online “Make Summer Last” at nytcooking.com

Black Bandywine Tomatoe Jam
from the Heirloom Tomato Cookbook by Mimi Lueggermann

5 pounds black brandywine tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoons light olive oil
½ cup dry red wine
3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons saba vinegar or aged balsamic vinegar
½ stick cinnamon
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate

pinch of sea salt.

Brush cut sides of tomatoes with olive oil. Roast in a 400 degree oven, cut side own on a baking sheet until charred and soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Puree tomatoes and juice.

Cook in heavy nonreactive saucepan and combine with other ingredients except chocolate and salt. Bring to boil and simmer stirring constantly until tomatoes are jamlike, about 1 ½ hours. Remove cinnamon stick.

Add chocolate and salt and stir until chocolate melts.

Remove from heat and cool.

Spread on toasted walnut bread and top with a slice of blue cheese.

Oh my! All that stirring! That’s a lot of expensive heirloom Black Brandywines.


American Spoon Farmhouse Tomato Relish.

You can purchase this sweet and savory item in a jar. American Spoon also sells Brandywine Tomato Preserves.

Mrs. Miller brand makes Tomato Jam. Maybe Stonewall Kitchens, but I couldn’t find it.

The magazine Fine Cooking suggest 12 ways to use Tomato Jam. Here are a few: Slather on – Grilled Cheese, Lentil Soup, With eggs and Bacon, On a BLT

Or toss with avocado
Or whisk into vinegriette
Or spread on brushetta with cream cheese.

But really if you love this savory sweet treat, you will think of million ways to use it.

IF YOU MAKE TOMATO JAM, GIVE WE BEGINNERS A FEW TIPS.

CLOSING OUT RHUBARB SEASON: JOSEPHINE’S RHUBARB CREAM PIE

I knew this was an old favorite and also a baking challenge for me. But, I still had some rhubarb to use, so……

I had an antique recipe passed down by my Mom. She had written “good” on the card. I had not made it before, or at least not for many years.

Pie is not my long suit. I had a refrigerated crust still to be used. I dived into the prep. Would I make meringue? Questions lurked. I mostly hoped for a good outcome. Cooking involves much hoping as far as I’m concerned.

Josephine’s Rhubarb Cream Pie

2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 and ½ cups of cut rhubarb
Meringue
Orange zest – optional

Beat the egg yolks and add sugar, mix with flour and melted butter. Stir until smooth. (For me this mixture was very thick.)

Line a pie plate with pastry and arrange the cut rhubarb in it. I sprinkled the rhubarb with the orange zest since I have become convinced that it enhances the rhubarb.

Pour the sugar mixture over the rhubarb. (Mine did not pour. I tried to spread the blobs, wondering: Would this really all cook together in the oven?)

Place in a hot oven at 400 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 25 more minutes.

Cover with a meringue made from 2 egg whites.

Return to oven and bake slowly at 325.

With two egg whites staring me in the face, I decided to try the meringue. I got some help from the internet adding the suggested cream of tarter, vanilla, sugar, and following suggested whipping instructions.

I sprinkled orange zest over the meringue.

Here’s the verdict!

The pie is not as beautiful as I wish. My fluting of the crust did not go too well, part fell over, part not high enough, forgot to brush with cream, although I can’t complain about the browning.

But the taste of this pie is superb! Super delicious. The best!!!. The texture of the filling lovely. The meringue, passable. I might have more carefully pushed the meringue against the edges of the crust. I might have whipped it a few seconds longer, but all in all I was pretty lucky.

Still with all its faults, my favorite dessert of rhubarb season. One of the most delicious pies I have ever eaten. And I love pie. My mother made the best pie ever. I have eaten my way across Iowa and Western Illinois with Jerry stopping at Mom and Pop Diners to sample pieces of pie. My siblings make lovely pies. I’ve eaten more pie than I care to admit.

This was the best ever!!!

If you like Rhubarb Cream Pie, you are crazy if you do not copy or print this recipe. I posted on the home page to make that easier for you blog readers. This is a gift, I promise you.

RASPBERRY RHUBARB CROSTATA

Because I’m so in love with raspberries, I decided my first rhubarb recipe to take into the kitchen would be Ina Garten’s Raspberry Rhubarb Crostata. I couldn’t resist the red color. And I knew that more practice with finalizing an even crust is definitely what I need. This recipe appears in her cookbook, Cooking For Jeffrey.

I am listening to the suggestions you blog readers gave me on Facebook and on the blog. But first, this brilliant red pastry, like a rustic pie. ( I used refrigerated store-bought pastry – a worthy shortcut for those of us not fond of making pie crust.) This goes together more quickly than pie and can be more forgiving.

The aroma that filled my kitchen was truly amazing. The tart and tang with every bite of this is just what the cook was hoping for. My tongue loved it. Ina Garten says her guests go berserk. High praise. I know my neighbors loved it. You will too.

Filling for Raspberry Rhubarb Crostata

¼ cup cornstarch
4 cups sliced fresh rhubarb
6 ounces fresh raspberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash
Turbinado sugar for the crust.

( I did not have freshly squeezed orange juice and used the dairy counter variety.)

Place 3 Tablespoons of water in a small bowl and whisk in the cornstarch. Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan combine the sliced rhubarb and berries along with sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Cook over medium heat for five or six minutes until some of the juices are released.

Stir in the cornstarch and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for two minutes, at least.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes until cool.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll pastry to 11-12 inch circle on lightly floured surface and transfer to the prepared pan.

Pile the raspberry rhubarb mixture onto the pastry. Leave a 1 and 11/2 inch border

.

Fold border over the filling, pleating and pressing lightly. Try to keep even for better appearance. (You can see I need more practice in this department.)

Brush pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, just the pastry.

Bake for 35 minutes until pastry is browned and filling bubbly and thickened.

Cool for 30 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature. Top with ice cream or whipped cream or not as you wish. I sometimes use plain yogurt. Or nothing at all.


Now back to the kitchen. There is more rhubarb! What next?!

RHUBARB SEASON

The color of rhubarb calls to mind all sorts of images. The patch of stalks growing in a garden patch behind the house you grew up in, or a red color nothing else duplicates, or a tart and tangy flavor you can’t ever get enough of? Rhubarb is different things to different people. Maybe you only discovered how much you like it in the last year or two, or just last month. For many it is a harbinger of spring and early summer. From New England to Minnesota, people are dreaming of Rhubarb. Many like it best when it is paired with berries of one kind or another.

Lucky me. My neighbor just gave me almost three beautiful pounds of this stuff, crisp stalks ready to be cut into bite-size pieces. She visited her cousins a few days ago and came home with a nice supply of fresh rhubarb.

Now – what shall I bake or stew? What would you create if someone left 3 pounds of rhubarb on your doorstep, or you got carried away at the Farmer’s Market and bought a sackful?

The choices seem endless. I’ve consulted Ina Garten, family recipes, Amy Thielen, and the New England Open House cookbook to name some, along with a couple of blogs. What will I choose?

Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote with Greek Yogurt
Rhubarb Baked in Raspberry Syrup
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Raspberry Rhubarb Crostata
Rhubarb Pie
Rhubarb Cream Pie
Rhubarb Sauce
Rhubarb Upside-down Cake

How will I ever decide?

I posted this on the home page so you can easily comment and tell us what you vote for. What do you think I should do with all this lovely rhubarb?

PAULETTE’S MARCO POLO SALAD OR SOMEONE’S IN THE KITCHEN WITH DAYTON’S MARSHALL FIELD’S HUDSON’S

Recently I was able to reconnect with a dear friend. Such a joy it was!! She brought me a treasured gift, a well-known Michigan cookbook Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dayton’s Marshall Field’s Hudson’s. It contains much-loved recipes well known in our area (Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota) because these dishes were served at the department store restaurants and became favorites throughout the region. I had seen this cookbook over the years but had never had the pleasure of owning it. I am beyond thrilled to add it to my collection.

So many recipes such as Maurice Salad, Gazpacho, Chicken Pie, Seafood Louie, Apple Praline Pie with marvelous photos grace its pages. The soup section is marvelous! I call the recipes in this cookbook sophisticated Midwestern food at its best.

The first one I tried was Marco Polo Salad. This one was new to me and completely intriguing. In spite of that, I put my own spin on this salad by changing a few ingredients.

Paulette’s Marco Polo Salad
Adapted from Hudson’s Marco Polo Salad

8 oz spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ pound Jarlsberg or other Swiss cheese, cut into thin strips.
6 oz. marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped
6 oz. jarred red peppers cut into thin strips
½ cup sliced pitted kalamata or black olives
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

Place cooked spaghetti in a large bowl and let cool slightly. Toss spaghetti with the olive oil, vinegar, parsley and spices.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Chill thoroughly.

Add salt and pepper at serving time and top with additional grated parmesan cheese.

Inviting and tasty! I overdid the garlic a bit because I misread the recipe. But if you like garlic, you might want to do the same.

This can serve as a main dish or a great accompaniment to all sorts of summer menus.

THREE FOOD TRENDS MAKING ME CRAZY

All right! I’m already crazy. And I admit that this pinched nerve pain I have had since February doesn’t help. I can’t cook much, although I promise I’m making a special recipe to share with you very soon. Finally I have all the ingredients on hand.

Back to being crazy – and as many of you know, I’m having a year’s worth of dental work, so I’m missing a few teeth, makes even eating crazy. Still here are some food trends that are crazy laughable as far as I’m concerned. They are often so over-the-top they detract from the taste of the food.

#1 Over Arrangement of Food on the Plate.
Each piece of food is carefully placed. One looks at the plate and hesitates to move anything, much less toward one’s mouth. The white space not the food may capture one’s attention. Often the higher the tower the better and even an ordinary meal is implied to taste better if piled high, one ingredient on top of another.

One example: Stacked Chicken Tostado Salad p. 53 of May Rachel Ray Every Day One bite and the whole pile will collapse. No doubt it will still taste good. (pictured at top of the story.)

#2 Originating as Far from the U.S. as Possible.
Whatever happened to American Food? Oh dear, I sound like a fuddy-duddy and the word fuddy-duddy only confirms it.

Example from Hanoi. Spiced cha ca fish with noodles and herbs in a lettuce wrapper. P. 28 May issue of Food and Wine. Cha Ca is fish fillets with ginger, turmeric and other herbs. Tumeric-Marinated Swordfish with Dill and Rice Noodles.

# 3 Throw Everything In a Bowl

Will it taste better because it is served in a bowl? I know, it won’t run all over the table trying to escape your fork.

Example: Shrimp and Okra Bowl p. 22 June 2017 Cooking Light
Cornmeal, okra, bell pepper, honey shrimp, tomato, onion, parsley, celery red wine vinegar and if you wish Fresno chile – into a bowl. Something like gumbo. Does this sound good to you. If yes. I’m out voted.

I’ll admit that travel is big and food is an important part of any travel experience. But sometimes I feel like foreign food has taken over. And, where to find all the ingredients?

This Crabapple is signing off. Let’s hope we hear very little from her in the future!

Thanks to Southern Living, Bon Appétit , Food and Wine,and Rachel Ray Every Day for being trend setters in food writing.

If you try one of these dishes, do let us know! All opinions welcome.