Thursday, July 2, 2009

American food

I always smile inside when someone mentions "American cuisine." I can't even imagine what that would be, or whether I'd want to eat it 365 days a year.

As a starting point, let's run down the results of a 2007 James Beard Foundation Taste America survey in which 90.8 percent of the respondents said there was an American cuisine.

If there is an American cuisine, how would you define it? Top five answers from the Beard Foundation survey:
1. Region or regional
2. Culture
3. Comfort
4. Melting pot
5. Native

And the iconic American foods, in order of popularity?
1. Hamburgers and cheeseburgers
2. Barbecue
3. Fried chicken
4. Mac 'n' cheese
5. Apple pie

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Keen on quinoa

Quinoa's first mystery is how to pronounce it. It looks like it should be "quin-o-a," but it comes from the South American Indian word "kinwa," so that's pretty much the acceptable pronunciation, if not the spelling.

Second, it may look like a grain, but it's not, since it's not from the grass family. Its relatives include beets, spinach and kale, and you can eat its leaves like spinach, if you can find them for sale anywhere. It's very high in protein and is a good source of magnesium, too.

Third mystery: How do you cook it? I've had my best luck with a recipe from the New York Times, using 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 1 cup quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring the broth to a boil, add the quinoa and salt, stir, bring it back to a boil, then cover and cook on low for 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pan. Cover with a clean towel, and replace cover and let it sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. Fluff and serve. Makes about 4 cups, 6-8 servings.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The oyster is her world

Today, I'd like to recognize a fellow blogger with a tough shell, Erin Byers Murray. According to, this food writer
has traded the trappings of urban life (she was Boston editor of the online newsletter “Daily Candy”) for hip boots and a year working – and blogging – at Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury. The thing that makes her blog Shucked a good read is discovering along with Murray just what hard work oyster farming is – and how much fun it seems to be.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hot and sweet mustard

I said the other day that I loved a hot dog with mustard, especially Monterey Mustard. Well, I've been asking around, and nobody had their recipe at hand. Here's one I found that had a different name, but it seems to be what I've known as Monterey Mustard. Enjoy!

Hot and Sweet Mustard
Recipe created by Art Smith
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup dry mustard powder , preferably one 2-ounce container Coleman's
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Whisk mustard powder and vinegar together in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Whisk yolks and brown sugar into mustard mixture. Transfer to the top of a double boiler and place over simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, about 8 minutes, until thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 160°. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and chill, covered, until ready to use. (Mustard may be made up to 1 month ahead.)