Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare
My son, Eli, and his friends took up fishing a few years back. He has an awesome fishing rod, but he has since retired it. He has replaced fishing for varsity football, work (yes, he works – in a restaurant), and girls. He is 16 1/2 after all! Although he has given up the sport, his friends haven’t. And every time his friend Owen catches something wonderful, he calls me up and asks if he and I can cook together.
This past summer he caught massive amounts of blue fin tuna. I became the lucky recipient of pounds of tuna and when he called, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Tuna Tartare! Most of the ingredients can be found in the pantry, all that was missing was the fish. I made the ginger oil before he arrived, but waited to chop, cut, and assemble the rest of the ingredients until he arrived.
Upon assembly, I realized that I didn’t have any won ton skins on hand (not really one of my pantry staples), so I sent the teenagers to the market. They couldn’t find the won ton skins(never thought to call and ask…boys), but they managed to bring home 2 pints of ice cream and some other crap, that I NEVER buy and is way too disgusting to mention. I improvised with some tortilla chips. I ate it sans the chips and when the tartare disappeared, they asked for more. With a fridge full of freshly caught blue fin tuna, I couldn’t refuse.
During the heat of summer I'm always looking for foods that are light, refreshing, and ultimately cool. I never crave hot foods in summer—and who does? The best cuisine for staying cool under the sun has always been Mediterranean. These foods, especially the dips and spreads, never make you feel like you've been weighed down. Many vegetables make a delicious dip, but eggplant dip is particularly popular in the region and beyond.
Baba ghanoush, the famous Lebanese dip, is part of a traditional meze platter, which can include, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, olives, and flatbread. In Greece they have a similar dip called melitzanosalata. The basic recipe consists of roasted eggplant that is mashed together with garlic and parsley. Tahini (sesame seed paste) and lemon juice can also be added for more flavor. That's all you need to create this appetizer. When you're looking for something simple for summer entertaining, baba ghanoush might just be your solution.
When ever we go out for barbque, I always, choose baked beans as one of my sides. There is something so satisfying and so comforting in eating a dish like this along with my tri-tip sandwich and a double portion of asian slaw.
I have had this particular recipe for baked beans in my repertoire for over 25 years. They serve a crowd – a very large crowd. Therefore, I only have a few opportunities through out the year to make this dish. Using only 5 ingredients, cooked slowly in the oven for about 5 hours, these baked bean are always the star of the evening.
This past July 4th, we celebrated the day with our good friends and 60 of their nearest and dearest. When I heard the number of people I asked if I could make my homemade baked beans. My friend, B, responded with, “my husband will love you and covet the whole pot, please do”.
I discovered the love of cooking at age 7. Since that first cake that I baked for my dad’s birthday, I have always cooked using ingredients found in the kitchen. I can probably count on one hand how many times I created something from a box or a mix and never really thought there was any other way.
I have always had weird food aversions(which is what I believe kept me out of culinary school). I didn’t like “white” food. Sour cream, ranch dressing, mayo, cream cheese, and anything with that consistency, or white – made me gag. Thus, at a very early age, I started making my own salad dressings; oil and vinegar based. When I order in a restaurant, it’s very, very specific and I can’t order a Caesar salad out.
Although I know exactly what is in the dressing, it really comes down to the consistency. If it’s too creamy or looks mayo-like, I can’t do it. I don’t like creamy food. My ice cream cannot get too soft, a Dijon vinaigrette has to look more oil based, and although I love hummus, tahini cannot be anywhere near me. Thus, my quest for the perfect salad dressings began.
Ahh souffles. I love them fluffy and I love them dense. I love them sweet and I love them savory. Airy chocolate ones and oozing cheesy ones...But before this turns into a souffle love letter, I have to say, I don't actually love making souffles. Too much work. Tricky ingredients. Specialized equipment. All sorts of things can throw them off, the egg whites not being whipped properly, the oven temperature not quite right, overmixing, I could go on and on. But they are so tasty, every once in a while it's worth doing anyway. Because nothing quite gives the sense of satisfaction to a cook, as a successful souffle. Making a souffle is magic.
I made a souffle I think is great for breakfast. But you could also make it as a light supper with a salad. It's an indulgent kind of meal, perfect for lazy weekends. Just make sure your dining companions are seated when it comes out of the oven; souffles waits for no one.
When I was a child I felt sorry for kids whose moms made "meat and potatoes" dinners. That was until I heard of moms who were vegetarians. I thought that was tragic.
I think I was about eleven when I discovered vegetarianism from a student teacher who was raising her children to be vegetarians. No hamburgers on the grill? No hot dogs at baseball games? No chicken parm sandwiches on Sunday night? What kind of a mother does that to her children? I wondered. If it weren't for my mom's meatball sandwiches, I don't think I would have made it through middle school.
Then one day several years later, I did the unthinkable. I became a vegetarian; not because I wanted to ruin my children's lives (I don't have children), but because of an unfortunate incident with some tainted chicken. I didn't eat meat for years after that.
I do eat meat now, but I still love vegetarian meals which I eat several times a week. For those of you who wonder whether or not a vegetable stew can be as satisfying as beef stew, I'm telling you, Yes, it can.
Many recipes for brown rice can require special equipment (like a rice cooker) or time consuming stovetop methods that are not always foolproof. This recipe for baked brown rice is perfect every time and eliminates the risk of poorly cooked rice.
While white rice many be more popular, brown rice clearly is the best choice in terms of health benefits. The process of creating white rice removes almost of all of its original nutrients, and according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, “the complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids”.
Brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, has a low glycemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes, and is rich in anti-oxidants and high in fiber. This recipe is probably the most basic, but you can add flavor by substituting chicken or vegetable broth for the water. Once the rice is cooked, add fresh herbs like chopped parsley or basil, or sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Making gumbo is a ritual in my family. We make it when the New Orleans Saints play their first game of the season. We make it after Thanksgiving. We make it Super Bowl Sunday. We make it for just about any occasion that falls between Friday and Sunday, since it gets better every time we heat it up and we want those three days to enjoy it. Gumbo is the reason for the big variety of hot sauces in my fridge. It's also one of the reasons I work out at least an hour every day. And it reminds me of when my family lived in Shreveport, Louisiana.
It's no accident that all of the food I'm passionate about leads back to family. It was Faith Ford, a born-and-raised Louisianan, though, who first introduced me to the food from the Creole State. She made an amazing gumbo, along with mind-blowing black-eyed peas that are a Southern tradition on New Year's Day. They're thought to bring good luck and wealth.
But it wasn't until my youngest brother, Pat, married his wife, Stacy, who is also from Louisiana, that we all became gumbo zealots. You get a good sense of the two of them as soon as you find out their recipe begins with a six-pack of beer---and those are for the cooks (they assume at least two cooks) to consume as they make the gumbo.
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated dessert to impress your friends at your next dinner party, try this Austrian classic. America’s Test Kitchen updated the recipe and it’s pretty easy to do.
I made it recently for a small dinner party and was able to prepare it in the morning and refrigerate it until we were ready for dessert. For the best flavor, it’s important to let it stand at room temperature about an hour before serving.
Use the best bittersweet chocolate you can find, Callebaut, Valrhona, or Ghiradelli.
Easy and impressive food...I love it. Another quick and easy appetizer to make your dinner party go as smooth as possible.
This is the perfect finger-food. It is a breeze to make and serves lots of hungry mouths. You can even make them up the day before and bake them off right before guests arrive. Since it makes enough for a couple sheet trays, you can either bake them all together, if all guests arrive at the same time. Or bake one sheet tray at a time, having some available for guests who arrive late.
Either way, these buttery-tasting puffs will have everyone grabbing for more...make sure you grab a couple when they get passed the first time. They will disappear!