Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Prayers answered with pralines

My friend Ray Laskowitz is a marvelous chronicler of the street life of New Orleans, capturing not only the color but the mood with his camera. (You can view his work on his website, laskowitzpictures.org.) I love his work, but I can't look at any scene from that city without thinking about food.

One of the simplest pleasures of New Orleans is the praline. It's pronounced prah-leen, not pray-lean or rhyming with fraulein. And it's made with pecans. That's pah-cons, not pea-cans.

Now that we have that straight, here's a good recipe for them. I've tried ones made with cream, but they're a little too caramel-y, and ones that just have sugar and butter are too sugary. This recipe came out just like the ones that I first bought on the street more than 30 years ago.

Lori K's New Orleans Pralines

Ingredients
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
2 ½ cups pecans, halved
1 tablespoon butter

Instructions
Combine sugars and milk in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until mixture forms a thick syrup. If the mixture separates, whisk until smooth again.

Add pecans and butter and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes.

Remove sauce pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

Use a tablespoon to drop rounded balls of the mixture onto sheet wax paper or foil, leaving about 3 inches between each ball for pralines to spread. Work quickly to get all of them made before the mixture starts to harden. Allow to cool.

Makes about 24 candies.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Judy Rodgers, rest in peace - you made a lot of people happy

Judy Rodgers
in a San Francisco
Chronicle photograph
from 2003.
Judy Rodgers, restaurateur and cook extraordinaire, died Monday, Dec. 2. She was 57. So am I.

She had struggled with her health for several years and last winter was finally diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

She will be missed, for her cooking and spirit of trying new ways of cooking old favorites; if you ever had a Zuni Cafe roast chicken, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.

This was a review of "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" that ran in The Sacramento Bee in 2002. If you ever need a recipe from it, I still have my copy and would be happy to copy it for you.

By Lori Korleski Richardson
BEE STAFF WRITER
Judy Rodgers, welcome.
Unlike many chefs who seek to dazzle readers with their oh-so-cutting-edge creativity and slavish attention to detail, Rodgers would be comfortable in an ordinary kitchen. And you should invite her into yours - well, at least virtually, which you can do by picking up "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" (Norton, $35).
Rodgers has succeeded in bringing forth a cookbook that elevates quality ingredients to their ultimate best, without a lot of bells and whistles. Her introductory quote, from the patriarch of the French family that set her on her way to becoming a chef, says it all: "Méfie-toi du cinéma dans la cuisine" - "Do not trust food for show."
The chef-owner of San Francisco's Zuni Cafe, Rodgers learned the sensuous side of food as a teen, when she went to live in Roanne with a family of restaurateurs. There she learned that even food as simple as a ham sandwich can be turned into something special, although she sampled fresh whole truffles steamed in Sauternes as well. She took extensive notes, but did not learn to cook then. She came back to the States to go to college in Berkeley, but ended up learning the cooking trade slowly at the feet of Alice Waters, who let Rodgers prepare lunches at Chez Panisse from the dinner leftovers.
She spent time later learning American cooking from Marion Cunningham at the Union Hotel in Benicia, and spent time in Florence, Umbria and Sicily to learn the roots of great Italian cooking.
And if the travelogue of an introduction isn't enough reading, Rodgers goes on to instruct the reader how to approach planning and cooking a meal. It's a lot to ask before one even gets to the recipes (43 pages), but it's not to be missed. She also weaves in stories with the recipes. I tried to keep "Zuni" by my bedside to read before going to sleep, but it made me want to get up and try things.
And later, when I did try some of the recipes - Zuni's signature roast chicken, the spicy squid stew that simmered in its own ink with notes of citrus and roasted peppers, the salt-roasties (creamer potatoes roasted in rock salt which were succulent and hardly salty at all), the four-minute egg gribiche (the four minutes refers to the time the egg is cooked; the whisking of a cup of olive oil into the sauce took much longer), the cornmeal biscotti, the espresso granita with whipped cream - I was not disappointed. All the recipes were straightforward, easy to follow, and the aromas made me anticipate the outcomes, which were excellent. Every recipe, even the desserts, comes with wine recommendations by Gerald Asher.
This is not a book for folks with hypertension. Rodgers believes in salting food early in the cooking process for maximum flavor, and uses more sodium than many health-conscious folks would. The food, however, never tastes overly salty to the average palate.
"The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" is ambitious enough to thrill experienced cooks, but it would be a good first cookbook for anyone who appreciates fine food and wants to learn how to work it into one's life, since it focuses more on technique than following a recipe to the nth degree.
Rodgers covers the basics - what cookware to purchase, how to make various stocks, sauces, a discussion of what to look for in common ingredients such as garlic and tomatoes, and even how to hard-boil an egg. I couldn't find a recipe that required a food processor - rather a remarkable feat for a modern cookbook, but a welcome one for cooks who don't have that expensive appliance. It has 50 small black and white photographs to illustrate various techniques. But its directions are somewhat - and perhaps intentionally - sketchy. They may help a confident cook experiment and grow, but may be somewhat confusing to the novice.
The 24 color photographs by Gentl & Hyers/Edge are stunning and focus the attention on the food, not fancy designs on sauces or pretty graffiti on the edges of the plates. It may not be food for show, but it's certainly food you'll want to show your guests.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Farm-to-fork ideas - and a little plea

Fresh tomatoes are ripe in late summer and early fall. Photographs by Lori Korleski Richardson.
A former Sacramento Bee co-worker, Chris Macias, has a nice long piece in today's Bee discussing ways to improve the Farm-to-Fork Festival that drew more than 25,000 to the event in late September. (For those into planning ahead, a wine component of the event is tentatively set for Sept. 18, and the festival and gala dinner for Sept 27 and 28, respectively.)

Fresh basil is available at the same
time as tomatoes.
The ideas and suggestions are good, but as far as farm-to-fork goes, I'd be happy if every restaurant would take a pledge not to use the same hothouse or picked green for shipping then force "ripened" tomatoes (the only ones available for 9 months out of the year) during the duration of tomato season. Not every restaurant can make it using all local produce, but just using the tomatoes that one's area is known for during the short window they are available would be a start.

And consumers, stop ordering salads that have tomatoes on them in out-of-season months. If there's no demand, you will find out what raw tomatoes really taste like and enjoy them fresh only in season - and restaurants can move on to making salads featuring other tasty, in-season ingredients.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Good gravy!

I saw Jamie Oliver's post on weekend roasts (how traditional!) and they sounded very good. I don't do roasts much anymore since they are either a.) fatty or b.) expensive, or both. But I still love the taste of a great roast chicken, and the one on his site looked mighty delicious (the recipe is here.)

But when I rolled over to his recipe for gravy and saw he had out the sieve, I went uh-oh. And sure enough, he had the drippings being skimmed of fat and then flour added to the liquid. That process almost always results in lumps.

For really good gravy that has a good color and no lumps, first make a roux. For each cup of liquid you have (I'm assuming you've simmered the neck and giblets while the chicken was cooking or have some good quality stock plus the defatted part of the drippings from the pan), put 1 tablespoon of the fat you skimmed off from the drippings into a large cast-iron skillet on medium heat until it's almost smoking. Add a like amount of flour and stir the mixture constantly until it's a deep brown, turning down the heat if it's browning too fast (if it burns, you will need to throw it out and start over). When it's a very deep brown, whisk in the liquid, turn up the heat a bit and bring it to a low boil. When it thickens, remove from the heat and serve. The only lumps would be the dripping solids and some bits of vegetable, and if you want it perfectly smooth, sieve your dripping liquid before adding to the pan.

I rarely use a sieve. Bring on the full taste!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The good eggplant

Video capture of the New York Times'
Melissa Clark eating the messy sandwich.
I made this with a regular local eggplant (one was plenty for two sandwiches), some leftover spaghetti sauce and the focaccia squares from Trader Joe's. Jim has never liked eggplant, but he loved this. Neither one of us could finish our sandwiches; it made quite the big dinner.

I just went off the video, but later saw the recipe from this past week's New York Times' food section. I was pretty close, actually, but the extra fresh garlic and some red chili flakes would have been awesome. I may even try to grill the eggplant first the next time I make this, because the raw eggplant just sucked up a bunch of oil. The egg and dry cheese coating, however, was inspired.


Frankies Spuntino’s Fried Eggplant Sandwich

Time: 3 hours 20 minutes (if you use prepared spaghetti sauce, it takes less than an hour)

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled
Pinch red chile flakes
2 (28-ounce) cans whole, peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, more as needed
5 small Italian eggplants (2 pounds)
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons ground Parmigiano-Reggiano, more as needed
6 tablespoons ground pecorino Romano, more as needed
1 very large or 2 medium ciabatta loaves, for serving

Instructions
In a large deep saucepan over medium low heat, combine 1/4 cup oil and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in chile flakes; cook 30 seconds.

While garlic cooks, place tomatoes and juices in a large bowl and crush with clean hands. Remove tomatoes’ firm stem ends and any basil leaves packed into the can. Stir crushed tomatoes and salt into pot. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tomatoes and garlic have completely broken down and sauce is thick, about 2 hours. Cool.

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment or paper towels. Trim stem end from eggplants; peel and discard skin. Using a knife or a Japanese mandolin, slice lengthwise into 3/16-inch-thick slabs. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle both sides of eggplant slices with salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Pat eggplant dry with paper towels.

Line another rimmed baking sheet with paper towel and place a wire rack on top. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 cup oil until a drop of water flicked into pan sizzles. Working in batches, fry eggplant until just tender, 20 to 30 seconds per side. Transfer fried eggplant to rack to drain. Remove skillet from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano and 2 tablespoons pecorino. Add 3/4 cup oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until oil is sizzling.

Working in batches, dip drained eggplant into egg batter; fry in oil until lightly golden and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per batch. You will know oil is hot enough if batter puffs and sticks to eggplant on contact with oil. If it falls off, the oil isn’t hot enough.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Arrange eggplant over the bottom of pan in a tight, even layer. Top with 1/3 of the remaining combined cheeses. Repeat layer of sauce, eggplant and 1/3 of cheese. Finish with a final layer of sauce and cheese (reserve any remaining sauce for serving). Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is melted and golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven; Spoon additional sauce over top, and garnish with additional cheese. Cool for at least 20 minutes.

Cut eggplant into six equal pieces. Cut ciabatta into six pieces equal to the size of the eggplant servings. Split each portion of the ciabatta horizontally and toast. Sandwich eggplant portions between bread and serve.

Postscript to this post: If you are wondering why I wrote "chili" and the New York Times wrote "chile," "chili" is AP style for the vegetable and food dish; Chile is the country.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Green burgers are fowl - and very tasty

Photograph ©2013, Lori Korleski Richardson
Turkey Spinach Slider on baguette
The average turkey burger makes most people wonder if perhaps a veggie burger would have been a better choice for healthful eating. Turkey is extremely bland, but when mixed with more flavorful ingredients, it steps into the background and takes on the flavor of the other items in the pot.

I saw this recipe by Sue Li on epicurious.com, but since we were trying to cut out bread from our diet, I didn't try it for a while. What I finally hit upon was serving them not on slider buns or small dinner rolls, but in Boston or butter lettuce cups. They were so good!

Since then, I've made them with the following substitutions: Using half spinach and half chard; using all chard; using chard and arugula; using ground chicken instead of turkey; upping the cumin to 1 teaspoon, and using a shallot instead of scallions; and freezing the raw burgers, then putting them frozen into the pan. I must say, they were all excellent, and I really can't tell you which I liked best.

This recipe says it makes 4 servings, and that's about right with the lettuce cups. But with the bread, my husband and I were filled up with two apiece.

I think the secret is not to overcook them (if you're worried they might not get done enough, make them thinner in the middle when you pat them out or use an instant read thermometer and keep cooking until they reach an interior temperature of 170 degrees).

If you do put them on a bun, or as we did, pieces of horizontally sliced baguette, try the spread that follows. It really kicks it up a notch!

Photograph ©2013, Lori Korleski Richardson
The dozen sliders on a cookie sheet, ready to freeze.
Turkey Spinach Sliders
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
1/2 bunch flat-leaf spinach, thick stems removed, leaves chopped (about 4 cups)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil (can spray patties lightly if grilling)
12 slider buns or small dinner rolls, split, lightly toasted (for serving)
Your favorite condiments

Instructions
Combine spinach, scallions, garlic, turkey, and cumin in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix gently just to combine. Form turkey mixture into 14 1/2"-thick patties.
If grilling, heat grill to very hot, place patties on grill, oiled side down, then turn down to low. Proceed as below.
If cooking on stove, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook patties until golden brown and cooked through (resist the temptation to press down on patties with your spatula while cooking), about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Serve turkey-spinach patties on buns with mayonnaise, onion, and whatever other condiments you prefer. For a gluten-free dish, serve the patties on top of a salad.

Patties can be formed 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Lori's note: Besides the alternatives noted in the post above, I just put the spinach, scallions (or shallot) and garlic in the food processor and chopped everything fine before mixing it all with the turkey and cumin.

Lori K's Fantastic Green Spread
Makes about a cup

Ingredients
1 cup of packed arugula
1 ripe avocado
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and quartered (or 2 mild jalapeños)
Cooking wine (optional)
Pepper to taste

Instructions
Mix first five ingredients in food processor; add wine until sauce is smooth. Add pepper to taste. Spread on buns, or on burgers in lettuce cups. Will keep for several days, and it stays a bright green.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A brisket fit for company

Rosh Hashanah, the High Holy Days that celebrate the beginning of the Jewish New Year, is coming right up after Labor Day. You've got to check out this easy and foolproof way to cook a brisket that looks lovely on the table as well:

http://zesterdaily.com/cooking/foolproof-rosh-hashanah-brisket-with-perfect-sauce/

Photograph by Elaine Corn

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's herbal, Herb

The sights, the sounds, the smells of Jerusalem are so overwhelming to the first time tourist that often he or she has a hard time putting into words just what it all meant at the time. That was certainly the problem in my case. I was hot, exhausted and dealing with a crisis of faith so profound that it's taken a year or two to put it all in perspective.

I did love the food.

So when I opened "Jerusalem, A Cookbook" (2012, Ten Speed Press, $35, 320 pages) by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, all the memories came rushing back, this time with pleasure. There are so many good recipes that it was hard to pick out just one. But I fixed this for a party and it was great.

A few notes:
  • Be sure to cover the filo with a damp towel for at least 5 minutes before using, and keep covered after using each sheet. 
  • This makes a very good vegetarian meal served with a soup before it and dessert after.
  • If you want to make extra to have it for another meal, skip the mint. It becomes too strong as it ages.

Herb Pie

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
1 pound chard, stems removed and chopped, and leaves cut in ribbons
1.75 ounces arugula
1 ounce flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 ounce mint, chopped
2/3 ounce dill, chopped
4 ounces ricotta
3.5 ounces aged Cheddar, grated
2 ounces feta, crumbled
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large, free-range eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces filo pastry

Instructions
Pour the olive oil into a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 8 minutes without browning. Add the chard stems and continue cooking for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chard leaves, increase the heat to medium-high and stir as you cook for 4 minutes, until the leaves wilt. Add the arugula, parsley, mint and dill, and cook for 2 minutes more.
Remove from heat and transfer to a colander to cool.

Once the mixture is cool, squeeze out as much water as you can and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the three cheeses, lemon zest, eggs, salt, pepper and sugar and mix well.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay out a sheet of filo pastry and brush with olive oil. Cover with another sheet and repeat until you have 4-5 layers, all covering an area large enough to line the sides and bottom of a 9 inch pie plate or casserole dish. Line the dish with the pastry, fill with the herb mix, and fold the excess pastry over the filling, trimming as necessary to create a 3/4-inch border.

Make another set of 4-5 filo layers brushed with oil and place them over the pie. Scrunch up the pastry a little to create a wavy, uneven top and trim the edges to that it just covers the pie. Brush generously with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes until the filo turns a nice golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Oysters Rockefeller, hold the oysters

As many of you know, my roots on my mother's side are Cajun, and Catholic. So Lent was always a big deal in our house, growing up. There was always fish or seafood on Fridays. I preferred the seafood; the fish we usually could afford either had many tiny bones or freezer burn.

My first trip to New Orleans was a real treat, and what I remember best was the Oysters Rockefeller. All the major food groups on a shell. I still love them today, and whenever I see fresh oysters inland, that's usually how I prepare them. If I'm on the coast, or the Northern Neck, I just open them and sip them up. (Note to my West Coast and Gulf Coast friends: If you ever get a chance to sample Rappahannock River oysters, don't pass them by. They are exceeding tasty and mild little treats.)

But if oysters are not available, this vegetable dish is the next best thing.

Spinach with Pernod

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
4 cups fresh spinach leaves, cleaned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Pernod

Instructions
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cover. Cook until wilted, two to three minutes. Add the salt, pepper and Pernod. Cook, uncovered, for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Want to get really fancy? Use only the tablespoon of olive oil in the recipe above, then in another small skillet, sauté about 1/4 cup of bread crumbs in a tablespoon of butter and sprinkle over the spinach before serving.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Asparagus - expensive to buy, but that's not all

Photograph © 2013,  Lori Korleski Richardson
Asparagus is a very tasty vegetable, easy to fix, forgiving if a little under or overdone - but at more than $3 a pound, it's considered a luxury item.

To keep it in top condition, you need to cut off the ends and stick it in water; if some of the spears look dehydrated in the store, pass on that bunch. Likewise, make sure that all the spears have their tips, and the tips aren't soggy and soon to rot.

When you prepare it correctly for cooking, it loses even more value. To make the most of what's been bought and give it the proper presentation, many chefs will trim all the ends so the spears are all the same length, and if they more ambitious, peel the bottom half. This makes the ends taste better and make the texture somewhat less stringy, but it's still not the optimum preparation.

Asparagus has a natural breaking point to each spear. Take each spear, and starting from the bottom, bend it until you find the point where it snaps without effort. Above that point, the spear is tender and doesn't need to be peeled at all; below, it is tough and woody. Cook only the top parts - steamed, microwaved, baked or grilled, but not past the point the vegetable is no longer bright green - and you will be assured of tender asparagus.

Save the ends in the freezer to add to vegetable broth or toss them in the compost.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Smoky egg breakfast taco

Photographs © 2013, Lori Korleski Richardson

One of the best things about camping is getting up and having a hearty breakfast. The charred wood from the campfire the night before gives an aroma that announces that yes, yes indeed, you are nowhere near civilization, and whets the appetite - along with the perking elixir of life, coffee, and the sizzle of bacon on the griddle.

Yet back at home, the aroma of charred wood brings more alarm than charm, and we're trying to cut down on our bacon consumption as well.

So what's left? In a couple of words: Smoked salt.

I picked up a jar of Falksalt smoked salt crystals on our sabbatical, and I've loved the delicate flavoring it has added to many things: insalata caprese, black beans, steak. And today's super-easy recipe:

Smoky Egg Breakfast Taco
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 teaspoon butter
1 egg
Smoked salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 slice provolone
1 corn tortilla
1 ripe plum tomato, seeded and sliced (or chopped, your choice)

Instructions
Melt butter over medium low heat. Crack and add egg. Season with salt and pepper, then break yolk. When whites have set, loosen egg from pan, all around the edges, then flip. Cover with the cheese, then tortilla. Count to 10, then flip, so that the tortilla is on the bottom. Cook for an additional minute, then remove to plate, add the chopped tomato, fold and eat.


Falksalt Crystal Flakes Natural Sea Salt Smoke 4.4 Oz

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Best summer salad ever - insalata caprese

Photograph © 2013 Lori Korleski Richardson
One salad defines summer, and that's the Italian insalata caprese (salad in the style of Capri).

Simply, it's a ball of buffalo mozzarella, sliced thinly; fresh, very ripe tomatoes, also sliced thinly; fresh basil leaves, cut horizontally into tiny ribbons; salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste.

Some notes and variations that I have tried this summer and enjoyed:

  • Many cooks don't have the technique needed to thinly slice a whole ripe tomato, especially a large heirloom, and don't even think of slicing a tomato without sharpening your knife first. To make it easier on yourself, core the top stem area, cut the tomato in half, put the cut sides down, then slice. This makes cutting up the mozzarella easier, too.
  • Replace the salt with finely ground sel gris or other gray sea salt, or smoked salt crystals.
  • Buffalo mozzarella too dear? Skip the commercial varieties (too bland and bad texture) and try some goat cheese, provolone, or even a triple cream that's somewhat on the firm side (Cowgirl Creamery on the West Coast and Caromont on the East have good ones). 
  • A mixture of colored tomatoes are great for a party platter.
  • Don't like vinegar? Don't want the extra calories of olive oil? Allergic to pepper? Can't tolerate salt? Fine. As long as the tomato is fresh and ripe, it can stand on its own.

As my husband can tell you, I'm rather harsh in my judgment of tomatoes, grilling waitstaff on whether the tomatoes in the salad are ripe (I do this only in season; out of season, I don't bother ordering salads with tomatoes in them) and sending the salad back if they aren't. I know why a restaurant may have food-service tomatoes even in August and September, but I don't have to pay for their lack of awareness or bad business practices.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pleasing peas

Pea Pod photo: peapod 46_pea-pod.jpg

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com

For those of you who have been wondering why nothing has appeared on this blog lately...

I've gone on sabbatical with my husband, who really does have a sabbatical. While he's been researching and writing, I've been busy doing things to get our Sacramento house ready for our next tenant and help our current renter move out. I continue that project today.

But I did actually cook lunch yesterday, so I thought I'd share the results and jot down the recipe. I hope to be back blogging daily by mid-August.

Pasta with fresh peas and bacon
Serves 4 (lunch or first course portions)

Ingredients
2 quarts water
Salt
1/2 pound pasta (I used a combination of farfalle-bowties and strozzapreti)
1 pound English pea pods (a little over 1 cup shelled)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled bacon
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
Pinch of smoked salt (optional)
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions
Boil the water in a large pot, salted (or not) to taste. Check on the pasta bag for the cooking times; in my case, the bowties were to cook 9-10 minutes and the strozzapreti 7-8 minutes. So I put in the farfalle first, set the timer for 2 minutes, then added the strozzapretit and set the timer for 7 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the pasta is done, add the fresh peas to the boiling water.

Drain the cooked pasta and peas, put the pot back on the stove on simmer and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Put the drained pasta and peas back into the pot and coat with the rest of the olive oil.

If you are using cooked bacon bits that you keep in the fridge or freezer, line an ovenproof cup with a paper towel and pour in the measured bacon. Microwave for about a minute, remove the paper towel from the cup and squeeze to remove as much grease as possible (you may need to wrap the towel in a second paper towel, since it will be hot and greasy). Add to the oiled peas and pasta and toss well. Season with the smoked salt, if using, and pepper. Remove from heat.

Add the cheese, toss well again and serve.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Clean corn on the cob the easy way

I know I mentioned this in summers past, but by far the easiest way to do corn on the cob is microwave it with the husk on. For easy cob removal after cooking, I lop off the stalk end before putting it in the microwave. If it's really fresh corn, look at the end after 2 minutes; once the kernels are no longer milky, it's done. Here are photos of how it's done.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Road notes

Biscuits at the Loveless Cafe, Nashville.
We've been on the road for a little more than a week now, and so far, we've managed to keep the cost of eating to a minimum without resorting to fast food. How? By selecting restaurants where we know we'll get something that we wouldn't get either in Charlottesville, where we live, or Northern California, where we're heading. And for all other meals, there's the food box and the cooler.

In the food box is tube filled with peanut butter, bags of Uncle Ben's precooked rice and Madras lentils from TastyBite, a variety of crackers, a dozen corn tortillas, a half-pound of cheddar (wrapped in a paper towel and stored in a plastic container, to ward off mold), freshly ground coffee, a few lemons and limes, pop-top cans of tuna and salmon, a slice of vacuum-packed country ham, cups of applesauce, mandarin oranges and fruit cocktail, small bottles of olive oil and Italian spice mix, a couple of instant Thai meals and a backpacking freeze-dried meal left over from a backpacking trip. In the cooler went a tube filled with a mixture of light cream cheese and feta, milk, a bag of fresh salad greens and a butter lettuce, an orange bell pepper, a package of grilled chicken strips and a few packs of frozen slow-cooked pork.

Out of this has come some fancy salads, soft tacos, plates of rice and lentils, and some very portable lunches that can be eaten on a cracker at a time while driving. A shout-out to REI for our camp stove that's smaller than our portable cookware, and the fillable food tubes. Only in Memphis did we not have an outdoor place to use the stove, but the room had a microwave, so that worked pretty well.

By far, our favorite meals out have been at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, and Rendezvous ribs in Memphis.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Calamari rings in a winner

Most people have their first encounter with squid as fried rings of calamari. Not me. My friend Alan took to an Italian restaurant in Philadelphia that had recently been the site of a mob hit. He pointed out the blood stains between the floor tiles. He ordered us a couple of dishes and my spaghetti had a rich tomato sauce with a bunch of white rings. I took a bite; "What is this incredibly delicious round pasta?" I asked. He smiled and said, "Squid." I've been in love with it ever since.

I'd still rather have it in a sauce than fried. Below is a recipe I've made several times in the past few months, most recently for company last night. If you can't find fresh baby squid, the kind that is frozen whole is a good substitute. It's not hard to cut up, but you should lop off the beaks and any stray cartilage you find as you do. If you want to know why I'm not buying rings-only calamari anymore, take a look at this transcript from NPR's "This American Life."


Linguine with Calamari and Garlic 
adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit, December 1996
Serves 2

Ingredients
1/2 pound linguine
4 anchovies, from 2-ounce tin; anchovies crushed, oil reserved
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pound cleaned calamari (squid), thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon capers
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried

Instructions
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat reserved oil from anchovies in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook about a minute. Add calamari and toss just until opaque, about 1 minute. Add crushed red pepper, anchovies and capers and stir 1 minute. Add white wine; boil until sauce is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Mix in basil.
Add pasta to mixture in skillet. Toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if pasta seems dry, about 2 minutes. Divide pasta and calamari between 2 plates and serve.

Need to use up the extra anchovies? Here's an excellent side dish for this meal.


Seared Broccoli with Anchovy Vinaigrette
Recipe adapted from Maria Hines, Agrodolce, Seattle, WA
Serves 4

Ingredients
Anchovy Vinaigrette:
4 oil-packed anchovies
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled
⅓ cup canola oil
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large bunch of broccoli, trimmed into small florets
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
⅛ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 
Instructions
Make the anchovy vinaigrette: In a blender, purée the anchovies, vinegar and garlic together on high speed until smooth. Reduce the blender speed to medium and slowly pour in the canola oil, blending until the vinaigrette is emulsified and thick. Season with the pepper.
Make the broccoli: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and broccoli florets and season with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the florets are caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon juice and season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Transfer the broccoli to a serving platter and drizzle with the anchovy vinaigrette. Serve warm.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

When eggs go south - south of the border, that is

Photograph: treehugger.com
Spending my formative years among artsy people in Texas taught me appreciation for many things that were not part of my childhood, or were a part of it in a twisted way that I couldn't appreciate. For instance, my dad loved Mexican food, but what we got was tamales in a can, Hormel Chili, and El Patio frozen Mexican meals. It's a wonder I ever stepped inside a Mexican restaurant after that experience.

But step I did, at all times of the day and night. As much as I loved Tex-Mex, more authentic Mexican food from different regions was making inroads into Houston in the 1970s, and with those came places that served Mexican breakfasts. I ate it all.

I still love a good Mexican breakfast, so I keep cans of Herdez sauces in the pantry, because I am not awake enough to do any sauce from scratch before 10 a.m. When I saw a Food & Wine recipe in my email for Mexican Eggs in Purgatory, I knew I had to try it. But I also knew that I wouldn't be running to the grocery store to get a pound of tomatillos before breakfast. So again, Herdez to the rescue.

If you have access to fresh tomatillos and want to try the original recipe by Grace Parsi of Food & Wine, here's the link: Mexican Eggs in Purgatory

Lori K's Fast Mexican Eggs in Purgatory
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons crumbled bacon
1 can Herdez salsa verde
2-3 eggs
2 ounces Cotija or feta cheese, crumbled
2 green onion tops, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Warm corn tortillas for serving

Ingredients
Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat source.
In a cast iron pan or shallow flame-proof casserole, heat the oil on a stove burner set on low. Add the garlic and the bacon bits, and cook for 5 minutes. Take a paper towel, fold it in half and place it on top of the pan, holding one end. With a wooden spoon, gently press to remove extra grease. Discard.
Add the can of salsa verde to the pan, raise the heat to medium, and cook until it bubbles vigorously, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs gently, far enough apart so they don't touch one another. Add the crumbled cheese over the top of all, avoiding the yolks.
Put the pan in the oven. Set the timer for 3 minutes.
Put 6 corn tortillas in a towel or warmer, and put in the microwave. When there's a minute left on the timer, turn on the microwave for 1 minute.
When the timer goes off, check the eggs. The whites should be set but the yolks runny. If the whites aren't set, keep them under the broiler for another minute.
After you pull them out of the oven, sprinkle with the green onion slices and cilantro, if using. Serve immediately with the warm tortillas.
Good with sliced avocados and refried black beans; for a hardier meal, serve with hash browns or country fried potatoes.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A great meal, on the lamb



The video above is of cute lambs, if you don't mind seeing where your food comes from.

We had a huge dump of snow last week, knocking out our power for several days. So I did a lot of cooking (to be frank, most of the time was spent planning for what to eat next, to make the most of the food that might not make it through the outage), and not too much writing.

But we did have one truly spectacular meal that I had to write about: a lamb tangine. I had already decided I'd use ground lamb instead of the traditional cubed lamb in it to cut down on cooking time, but  I further adapted it into a totally one-dish meal so that I wouldn't have to dirty any more dishes than necessary, since in our house, no electricity means no running water, either. So I upped the water a bit and added dry couscous to the pot before serving, letting it simmer for about 5 minutes to make sure the couscous was fully cooked and fluffy.

And with only the candlelight for illumination, it was quite romantic as well.


Ground Lamb Tagine
Adapted from a recipe by Ethan Stowell, Food & Wine magazine
Serves 8

Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, zest removed, and juice reserved
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
Kosher salt
2 pounds ground lamb
4 cups water
6 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups pitted green Picholine olives, rinsed
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
3 cups of cooked couscous

In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, cloves, saffron, cinnamon stick and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the lamb mix well. Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, scrape the lamb and spices by tablespoon into a tagine or a medium enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the water, carrots and onion and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for about an hour.
Refrigerate. When you get home from work, spoon off any fat that is on the top, then cook until everything is tender and the liquid has reduced. Stir in the olives, season with salt (if needed) and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, cilantro and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Ladle into bowls over couscous and serve.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Parsing parsley into a light lunch

Shopping online with Relay Foods is a mostly good experience, but every now and then, I get something that I didn't expect. This week, for instance, I ordered tabbouleh, which is usually predominately bulgar (cracked) wheat. But Asmar's Tabbouleh is mostly parsley. I like parsley, but as an ingredient, not the main portion of the salad.

So what to do with 8 ounces of mostly parsley? I could see using some of it in a salad dressing or marinade. But when my lunch date canceled out on me and I was out of cold cuts, I decided on a bit of pasta for lunch. And you know what? The parsley came in very handy.

Quick Orzo Lunch
Serves 1

Ingredients
Salt
1/3 cup uncooked orzo or other small pasta
8 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons Asmar's Tabbouleh (or chop together 2 tablespoons parsley and 1 green onion with a little lemon juice and olive oil and a couple of mint leaves)
1 ounce goat cheese

Instructions
Fill a deep saucepan half full of water. Add salt. Bring to a boil. Add orzo and cook until it turns white. Drain, reserving a tablespoon of water.
While the orzo is cooking, smash the cherry tomatoes gently in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 1-2 minutes until very hot. Put the parsley mixture and goat cheese in a mixing bowl.
Immediately after draining, put the cooked orzo in the bowl with the parsley mixture and goat cheese. Add the tomatoes and toss until well mixed. Eat while hot.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Name that tuna

The escolar, Lepidocybium flavobrunneum,
which has been sold as white tuna and
Chilean sea bass.
You can't tuna fish? Heck, you can't even tell it's a tuna by looking at it.


The non-profit oceans conservation group Oceana last week announced the results of one of the largest seafood fraud investigations to date, revealing just how many seafood sellers around the United States are less than honest about their offerings.

The study compiled data from more than 1,200 seafood samples from 674 retailers in 21 states between 2010 to 2012. DNA testing showed that 33 percent of those samples were mislabeled or posing as fish that they were not. Samples claimed to be tuna and snapper had the highest fail rates, at 59 percent and 87 percent, respectively. Only seven of 120 samples of “red snapper” purchased nationwide actually proved to be red snapper. The rest belonged to any of six different misrepresented species.

As Quartz reporter Christopher Mims points out, in Chicago, Austin, New York and Washington D.C., every single sushi restaurant sampled sold mislabeled tuna. In 84 percent of samples, “white tuna” turned out to be escolar, a fatty fish that produces a side effect that I won't mention on a food blog.

As Mims writes, if you’ve ever wondered why the sushi in the display case is so plentiful given the dwindling supply of tuna around the world, well, this may explain it.

The good news is that the fish in your grocery store has a 82 percent chance of being what it is labeled as, compared to 62 percent in all restaurants and a mere 26 percent in sushi restaurants. Another reason that maybe you should be cooking at home more often.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Smelt in your mouth

All photographs ©2013, Lori Korleski Richardson
Smelts are funny little fishes, not regularly found even in fish markets. But they were for sale, and at a good price, last week at one of my regular grocery stores, and I couldn't resist buying a half pound of those silvery little devils.

These smelts were from Canada, where they have been traditionally an important winter catch in the salt water mouths of rivers. According to Wikipedia, fishermen would go to customary locations over the ice using horses and sleighs. Smelt taken out of the cold salt water were much preferred to those taken in warm water. The smelts did not command a high price on the market, but provided a useful supplemental income. The smelts were "flash frozen" simply by leaving them on the ice and then sold to fish buyers.

Washed smelts drying on a dish towel.
My dad, who grew up in Wisconsin and would go ice fishing for fun, used to bring home smelts a few times a year to cook. He'd shake a whole bunch of them in a bag of flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, then into the pan they'd go for just a few minutes until they were golden, then out they'd come, sizzling and delicious.

But these were on the larger end of smelt scale, about scampi size, so I thought I'd give them a nice breading, with just their tail fins hanging out.

If they haven't been cleaned, do not despair. They are very easy to clean, since all you do is chop their heads off, slit open their tiny bellies and remove all their innards with a sweep of your fingernail. The bones dissolve as you fry them.

Wash and dry the fish. Next, season to taste. I used Mas Guapo, which is a Charlottesville-made concoction similar to Lawry's seasoning salt or McCormick's Season All, only with less sugar and more spice.

Beat an egg well, and put it in a pie plate. In another pie plate, put about 4 ounces of panko bread crumbs. Dip the seasoned smelts first in the egg, then in the crumbs to cover. Set on a cookie sheet. Dry for at least 30 minutes.

Smelt, dipped in egg, then in panko bread crumbs.
Heat about a 1/4 inch of canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet on medium heat until it is slightly smoking. Add the smelts, one at a time, leaving a little space between them. Cook until golden brown on the first side, flip and cook until golden brown on the other. Drain on paper towels and keep warm until they are all cooked.

I served them with a bowl of Progresso potato-bacon soup and a salad of romaine, orange bell pepper, grape tomato halves, goat cheese and slivered almonds, with a bowl of mixed canned fruit (apricots, pear and mandarin oranges) and vanilla yogurt for dessert. We were able to eat about half the smelts.

The next morning, we had the rest with eggs over easy, broiled tomatoes and a slice of toast. Two very good meals from those little silvery fish.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Grow green onions in your kitchen

Two onions from one onion bottom.
Photo by AngryRedhead, instructables.com
A delightful addition to omelets are chopped green onion tops. They have a mild oniony flavor, without the bite of the actual bulb, just a bit more assertive than chives.

Of course, you could just go to the store and get a bunch of green onions and use the green parts.

But my dad, the child of the Depression that he was, had another way to get them. I suppose that green onions were a little hard to come by in the winter in Wisconsin on the farm. So what did he do? He took the top part of a regular onion or two that would usually go in the trash and put it into a bowl of water. In a few days, green shoots would appear. When there would be enough for a couple of tablespoons of chopped tops, he'd "harvest" them.

It's a fun thing for your kids to do, to see something grow from practically nothing. And even better - it's free.

Another thing you can do if you have a little space in a sunny window is plant the bottom. Cut the onion about an inch from the root, plant it in loose soil and keep the soil most, not soggy. You may be able to get an extra onion or two from it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Welcome, Bocuse!

A meat-and-potatoes dish at Escoffier in 2012.
The restaurant recently reopened as Bocuse.
Photo by Lori Korleski Richardson. 
One of the highlights of our trip to the Northeast last year was a dinner at Hyde Park. Not too long after we ate at Escoffier, the Culinary Institute of American closed it for renovation. We enjoyed the food, but the decor definitely harked to decades past, very dark except for a portal for guests to peek into the bright and beautiful kitchen. Now it has reopened with a new name, a new menu and a new look. I guess it's time for another trip!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A fine Valentine's

I am basking in contented satiate at the moment.

Our Valentine's Day meal, eaten at home, was Linguine with Calamari and Garlic; roasted asparagus; salad of romaine, bibb, baby lettuces, tomatoes, avocado and radishes, dressed with spices and olive oil. We enjoyed a Hendry Primativo, which burst forth with spells of wonder when we brought forth the dessert, the vegan chocolate mousse that was featured last week in the New York Times. 

And to make it all perfect, the love of my life took the day off. We're almost to our 24th anniversary, and I hope we'll have 24 more!

Linguine with Calamari and Garlic

Bon Appétit,  December 1996
Serves: 2

Ingredients
1/2 pound linguine
4 rolled anchovies with capers, from 2-ounce tin; anchovies crushed, oil reserved
1/2 pound cleaned calamari (squid), thinly sliced crosswise
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Instructions
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat reserved oil from anchovies (about 2 tablespoons) in large skillet over medium-high heat with garlic. Add calamari and toss just until opaque, about 1 minute. Add crushed red pepper and crushed anchovies with capers and stir 1 minute. Add white wine; boil until sauce is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Mix in basil.
Add pasta to mixture in skillet. Toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if pasta seems dry, about 2 minutes. Divide pasta and calamari between 2 pasta bowls and serve.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mex to the max, revisited


Photo by Kate Miller, stolenmomentscooking.com
Last night, I made chicken taquitos, one of my favorite quick and easy meals (I usually have a bag of chicken tenders in my freezer because they thaw quickly and always taste great).

I blogged about how to make these several years ago, but I came up with a time- and paper-saving tip, so I thought I'd share the recipe again.

If serving with rice and beans, your beans should be cooked and on low, and you should start the rice before assembling the taquitos, since rice will stay warm up to 30 minutes after it’s done.

Lori K’S Easy Chicken Taquitos
Serves 2

Ingredients
6 corn tortillas
Oil
6 chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts, cut into 3 strips each
Garlic salt
Cumin
Chili powder
Salsa or guacamole for dipping

Instructions
Heat about a quarter-inch of oil over medium heat in a frying pan that’s just a little larger than the tortillas.

Put the tortillas in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a clean dishtowel. Microwave for a minute.

Season the chicken tenders or strips with a light dusting of the spices. Roll up each piece of chicken in a softened tortilla and secure with a toothpick.

Put three taquitos in at a time, seam side down. Brown on all sides (the toothpicks can come out after the first side is browned). The chicken will be thoroughly cooked, yet tender and moist inside. Drain on a paper towel. Keep the first three warm while cooking the rest.

Serve hot with the salsa or guacamole.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sumptuous vegan chocolate mousse

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
You love chocolate, right? And health studies show that a little dark chocolate is good for you, as part of an otherwise healthy diet.

Unfortunately, most recipes for chocolate mousse involve eggs (or gelatin) and cream, which lessens the health benefits of the chocolate.

Well, Melissa Clark of the New York Times this week shared a chocolate mousse developed by the French molecular gastronomist Hervé This.  It's intense, has only three ingredients and while it is creamy, it contains no cream. Vegan! The one key is to use a good, complex chocolate, because that is all you will taste.

Even if your valentine is taking you out for dinner, skip dessert there; hurry home and dive into this.

Go ahead and make it for four, even if it's just the two of you that night. As Clark writes: "Leftovers will be equally seductive the next day — you know, just like your Valentine."

If you want to see the video of this, the New York Times is offering free access to day. Here's the link: http://nyti.ms/11VztGS

She's also developed a fine Valentine's Day menu here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/dining/cooking-a-valentines-day-meal-at-home.html


Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse with Fleur de Sel

TOTAL TIME
10 minutes


SERVES 4


INGREDIENTS

  • 285 grams bittersweet chocolate (about 10 ounces), roughly chopped, more as needed
  • 1 cup of water
  • Fleur de sel, to taste

PREPARATION

1.
Create an ice bath in a large bowl using ice and a little cold water. Nestle a smaller bowl in ice bath.
2.
Place chocolate and water in a small pot and heat over medium. Whisk until mixture is melted and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
3.
Immediately pour melted chocolate into the bowl in the ice bath. Vigorously whisk chocolate mixture by hand until thick, 3 to 5 minutes. The chocolate should be fluffy and form a mound when dolloped with the whisk (it should generally have the texture and appearance of mousse). If the mixture does not thicken, add a bit more chopped chocolate and remelt over the heat. Spoon into serving bowls and garnish with fleur de sel.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Two places where I have shopped on a regular basis, 3,000 miles apart, now have similar logos in almost the same colors. Also odd is that the names are so alike as well.

It's unnerving to me, but I bet I'm the only person who has noticed this.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just the facts? What nutrition labels hide

The old saying - "There's lies, damn lies and statistics" - has some truth to it. And today, I'm here to say Nutrition Facts fall into the statistics category.

I took out the pack of Kirkland Crumbled Bacon from the fridge and heated a tablespoon for an omelet I was making. While I was waiting for it to cook, I got to reading the recipe on the side for Linguine Carbonara and comparing it to how I usually make the dish.

I usually use 2 ounces of uncooked pasta per person, and this recipe called for a pound, so I'm assuming it will feed eight people. The rest of the ingredients are looking pretty good, a pretty nutritious dish, actually - until I saw how much bacon it called for: 1 cup.

For most ingredients and liquids, a cup contains 16 tablespoons. But some things that have a lot of air in them can fluff up and measure out differently. So from my measurement, 8 tablespoons almost filled up a cup, but not quite. So I decided to go by the weight the package said a tablespoon of bacon crumbles was, 7g. Well, according to metric-conversions.org, 56 g (8 x 7g) is approximately 2 ounces. On my kitchen scale, a cup of bacon crumbles weighed in at 6 ounces. If a serving is 7g, then why is Kirkland advocating a recipe that uses three times the amount that is suggested as a serving?

Moreover, I know a lot of families of four eat a pound of pasta at a sitting. Divided by 4, that would be 6 servings of bacon per person in this recipe. That's 12 grams of fat (6 saturated) and 1440 mg of sodium (about 60 percent of the daily value) just from the bacon.

According to Wikipedia, the Nutrition Facts label was mandated for most food products under the provisions of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, per the recommendations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It was one of several controversial actions taken during the tenure of FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler. The law required food companies to begin using the new food label on packaged foods beginning May 8, 1994.

The government's attitude is consumer beware: below is fda.gov's suggestion for using the label.

The first place to start when you look at the Nutrition Facts label is the serving size and the number of servings in the package. Serving sizes are standardized to make it easier to compare similar foods; they are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount, e.g., the number of grams.
The size of the serving on the food package influences the number of calories and all the nutrient amounts listed on the top part of the label. Pay attention to the serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package. Then ask yourself, "How many servings am I consuming"? (e.g., 1/2 serving, 1 serving, or more) In the sample label, one serving of macaroni and cheese equals one cup. If you ate the whole package, you would eat two cups. That doubles the calories and other nutrient numbers, including the %Daily Values as shown in the sample label.
If anyone wants the recipe after all this, message me or comment below and I'll input it. Or use the one I published here previously: http://lkcafe.blogspot.com/2009/12/simple-but-satisfying-dinner.html  It doesn't take a cup of bacon crumbles.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The dirt on Wild Garden Hummus Dip

Just kidding. There's no dirt in this hummus - and it's REALLY good. It tasted just like what we ate in Israel, only smoother, which is a plus in something you hope will come out in a thin stream on a carrot stick, a cucumber chip or a cracker when you're up in the air or riding a train.

I can't remember where I picked this up; it probably came in a snack pack on some airline, and I probably wasn't all that hungry at the time. And it looked like it would keep well without refrigeration, which it did.

I was so impressed, I went online to see where I could get it. Unfortunately, it's not in any Charlottesville stores yet, but they do have online ordering as well as a store locator. The website is www.wildgarden.biz. The 50-gram packages are just the right size for a snack, 63 calories, and have twice as much protein as fat or carbs.

Here's a segment on the product that was featured last October by Supermarket Guru:


Monday, January 21, 2013

Inaugural luncheon 2013



Menu with Recipes and Wine

Menu

Wine

  • Tierce Finger Lakes Dry Riesling (2010)
  • Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée California Champagne
  • Bedell Cellars Merlot (2009)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A special breakfast

This dish looks pretty fancy, but it's easy to make. The most important part is getting a good French baguette, one that is crusty on the outside and soft but not doughy on the inside.

If you're not fond of runny egg whites and don't mind the yolks to be a little bit hard around the edges, you can cook the eggs until the whites are completely set, which will take a few more minutes.

Lori K's French bread eggs for two

Ingredients
1 6-inch section of crusty French bread, cut in half
2 eggs
4 artichoke bottoms
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Take the French bread halves and pinch out an indention in the middle of each one, almost down to the crust. Place on a cookie sheet.
Crack an egg into each indentation.
Lay the slices of mozzarella on either side of the eggs. Place an artichoke bottom on each side of each egg. Season each bread half with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the Parmesan over the artichokes.
Bake for 15-17 minutes.
Remove from oven when the egg whites are no longer jiggly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.