I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fragole Pazzo

Isn't it funny how foods that other people grew up eating and loving sound weird but the foods we grew up eating and loving never do? If the food seems weird are the people who eat them and enjoy them just as weird? If that is the case, then just label me the weirdest person on the face of the earth; because I eat some pretty weird foods (my definition of weird is delicious by the way)! If you ask me the only thing that is weird is anyone who would short change themselves of trying something different from their "norm". One little taste that's all it takes, if you don't like it you never have to eat it again.......but if you do like it....
Well I guess that would mean that you are still weird only now you would possess the power to eat many more foods than you use to......how cool is that?!

Crazy Strawberries

2 tbsp. sugar
5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. freshly coarse ground black pepper
4 c. ripe strawberries, stemmed and quartered (2 pt.)
Grated sweet chocolate for garnish (in a pinch you could just sprinkle on a few semi-sweet chocolate chips)!

In a bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, and pepper. Stir in strawberries and let them stand for 10 minutes, serve strawberries garnished with chocolate.

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Economic Stew

Our grandparents and parents all lived through tough economic times and yet I cannot remember any of them or any of us ever going hungry. Even during some of the poorest times in this countries history most families ate very delicious and substantial meals. They did this by using cheaper cuts of meats or what use to be considered the throw away bits such as innards, knuckles, joints, marrow bones. These cuts always seemed to shine their best when prepared in the form of a soup or stew because the longer the cooking time the more tender and flavorful these cuts of meat became and the amount of servings could be easily expanded just by adding water or stock, different types of vegetables and starches (potatoes, rice, pasta). My mother and grandmother both made this stew even during more prosperous times just for the mere fact that we all enjoyed eating it. I'll admit gizzards are not exactly the most attractive looking meat around but then again how many cuts of meat actually look attractive? Any food, even the nasty bits are beautiful especially when they are prepared by loving hands, shared with a generous heart and sustain us all nutritionally to live another day, love another day and by all means eat another day!

Chicken Gizzard Stew

1-1/2 pounds of chicken gizzards (also known as the giblets)
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 large can of diced tomatoes liquid and all
1 small can of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
A little oil for sautéing

Cut up gizzards, some will be small enough to leave as is you are just looking for bite size pieces. Add gizzards, onions and garlic to a large pot set on medium that has just enough oil so mixture won't stick. Sauté for about 10 minutes then add your tomato paste, stir tomato paste into gizzard mixture and using the tomato paste can add three cans of water to the mix and stir. Now add your remaining ingredients, stir, cover and set temperature to low and let simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours. You want your gizzards to get tender since they can be extremely tough to chew.
This can be served up in a bowl with some nice crusty bread and a salad or is great served over rice or pasta.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Dark Side Of Nutrition

For a delicious treat that is high in nutrients and antioxidants we'll have to travel to the dark side. No, we are not meeting Darth Vadar for lunch although eating these might just lighten him up a bit. I guess in some instances even the dark side has a silver lining....enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cherries

3 ounces of a really good dark chocolate
1 cup of dried tart cherries

Put chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute stirring halfway through. Remove the bowl from microwave and stir in the cherries. Spread out on a wax paper lined baking sheet and put them in freezer until firm (about 10 min.).

Keep in air tight container in cool place always ready for snacking.

FYI - this works really well with dried blueberries, of course you can dip anything your heart desires, it's chocolate after all!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'll Take Those For A Dollar!

I decided to tackle the public market this past Saturday and I do mean tackle. I got there at 9:30 in the morning and the place was packed. It took me 40 minutes just to park but it is always worth that little bit of added stress. Every time I go they seem to add new vendors, this time they had someone there selling area rugs in between the food stalls.
The prices there still amaze me, their fruits and vegetables are less than half the price of all the grocery chains nationwide.
This week they had a favorite of my Mothers, spring onions. You do not see them very often; they appear to be a scallion only the white bulb is much larger. They are a bit more pungent in taste over a scallion
I came across this beautiful vegetarian recipe that uses a full bunch of spring onions along with many other wonderful vegetables. A fresh and healthy dish perfect for this time of year or any time for that matter.

Brussel Sprouts With Spring Vegetables including those beautiful Spring Onions

The brussel sprouts are scored with an "X" on the bottom to allow the heat to penetrate the dense part of the root so that the vegetable cooks to the center.

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. peanut oil
1/2 c. diced celery root, or celery stalk and leaves, diced
2 med. turnips, peeled and shredded
1 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 c. fresh peas
1 lb. brussel sprouts, blanched tender
2 tbsp. mixed herbs: oregano, marjoram, parsley, or tarragon (any combination)
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter and oil in a skillet and sauté the celery root and turnips until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato and peas, season with a bit of salt and continue to cook covered until the peas are tender, another 5 minutes.
When the peas are almost cooked, add the brussel sprouts and herbs, and continue to heat long enough to warm the sprouts. Uncover the pot and allow any liquid that has accumulated to reduce or evaporate. Add the spring onions and toss everything well. Correct the seasonings give a grinding of fresh pepper and serve hot.

Photo courtesy of Plutone(NL)/Flickr

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why Adopt When You Can Raise Your Own Doughnuts!

It really is hard to find a good doughnut these days none of the major doughnut chains even come close to what I remember as being a good doughnut. Granted I am a little spoiled in the doughnut department as I grew up eating them homemade. Although we did have one place in Rochester years ago that made amazing doughnuts by the name of; "Mueller's". Unfortunately they closed up shop many years ago which saddened a great many loyal customers. Mueller's doughnuts were big in size and taste. Today's doughnuts are a quarter of the size they use to be and the fried cakes look like bracelets with these giant gaping holes in the middle. If you got a custard filled at Mueller's it was fresh homemade custard and lots of it, not a little teaspoon full of canned custard which pitifully brushes against the inside of the doughnuts today.
I could complain about doughnut quality all day once I start it is hard to stop.
So as I say when it comes to many food items if you do not like the taste of something you usually purchase already made, make it yourself.
Here is a doughnut recipe that has been around for ages using mashed potatoes, so much easier than the yeast raised.

Mashed Potato Doughnuts

1 c. mashed potatoes
4 tbsp. butter
2 c. sugar
3 beaten eggs
5 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix hot mashed potatoes with butter, eggs, baking powder, nutmeg, vanilla, and sugar. The flour will have to be added a little at a time while kneading the mixture together. Use plenty of flour to roll out and cut with doughnut cutter between 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
Place in hot deep fryer (approximately 3 at a time). Turn after they pop up, about 1 minute, and leave for another minute.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or just enjoy them plain.