Onions

Tacos Your Way!

October 4, 2013

beef tacos with salad and tomato

Tacos Your Way!

There are many ways to make tacos depending on your taste and mood.  From fish tacos to pork spare-rib tacos the possibilities are endless.  I have to say that I was certainly spoiled with outstanding Mexican food while living on the West Coast for many years.  More and more I am finding better Mexican food here in the Northeast, but as you know I like to cook up my own food more often than not.  Here are some ways to stuff your tacos (hard or soft) and by all means experiment yourself.  The bonus is that making tacos can also be a great way to use up those leftovers staring at you when you open the fridge. 

Cod Tacos: Baked or Sautéed Cod, Grated Red Cabbage & Salsa

Smoked Salmon Tacos: Smoked Salmon, Grated Red Cabbage & Salsa

Catfish Tacos: Sautéed Catfish, Romaine Lettuce, Salsa & Sour Cream

Fried Oyster Tacos: Fried Oysters, Romaine Lettuce & Salsa

Marlin Tacos: Sautéed or Baked Marlin, Mangos & Salsa

Lobster Tacos: Lobster, Mangos, Jalapenos & Guacamole

Fried Chicken Tacos: Shredded Fried Chicken Breasts, Jalapenos, Lime Juice & Shredded Lettuce

BBQ Carnitas Tacos: Smoked or Roasted Pork, Barbeque Sauce, Sautéed Onions & Fried Pickles

Indian Tacos: Shredded Buffalo, Seared Green Chiles & Salsa

Brisket Tacos: Shredded Brisket, Jalapenos, Shredded Green Cabbage, Lime Juice & Salsa

 

 

Constitution Week – Foods of Our Forefathers Part II

September 18, 2013

Patriots

Constitution Week – Foods of Our Forefathers Part II

The standard grains included wheat, barley, oats and rye.  Finely ground wheat flour, “boulted” or sieved through a fine cloth, was used to make white bread for the rich early in the fifteenth century.  Most of the gentry ate what we would call cracked or whole wheat bread.  The poor ate bread of coarse-ground wheat flour mixed with oats, ground peas or lentils. 

During the ocean crossing to the New World, immigrants subsisted on an even more monotonous diet for weeks.  The Mayflower provisions were typical – brown biscuits and hard white crackers, oatmeal, and black-eyed peas, plus bacon, dried salted codfish and smoked herring for animal protein.  The only vegetables on the trip were parsnips, turnips, onions and cabbages.  Beer was the beverage. 

As pilgrims set foot on their new homeland, they hardly knew what to expect.  Each brought a stock of basic foods to get them through the first year, as well as a variety of basic utensils and kitchen tools.  Also included were the essential accompaniments for whatever they found or could raise when they arrived – a bushel of coarse salt, 2 gallons of vinegar, a gallon of “oyle” and a gallon of aquavite. 

Nothing they had been told, however, prepared them for the staggering variety of totally unfamiliar plants that were being used as food by the Indians – corn, sweet potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, squash, sunflower seeds and cranberries were examples.  In addition to the strange food, there were strange ways of cooking.  In Europe, meat was boiled; the Indians, lacking iron pots, roasted theirs on a spit over a fire.  The Indians also had a long, slow cooking process that yielded what we now call Boston baked beans, and they used a fire-heated, rock-lined pit for what we would now call a clam-bake.  Where the pilgrims were accustomed to raised wheat bread, the Indians introduced them to corn based spoon bread.  Corn also provided hominy, used as a vegetable, and later, of course, as grits.  For sweetening, the Indians used maple syrup and honey, as sugar was unknown. 

Although many of the food the Pilgrims and other colonists found were totally strange, others had travelled the route before them.  The Spanish had brought pigs, which thrived especially in areas where peanuts grew.  Peaches and oranges were also native which spread throughout climatically suitable areas in a short time. 

Even the white potato was an early migrant to the New World, following a zig-zag route, from its original home in Peru to Spain in 1520, from Spain to Florida forty years later, from Florida to England in 1565, always being treated as a culinary curiosity.  By the 1600’s they had become a popular food staple in Ireland, and were carried by Colonists both to New England and Virginia, where they quickly established themselves.  There they served as a valuable source of vitamin C, protein and trace minerals, in addition to the starch. 

Potatoes, incidentally were significant in another, later migration to America: the climate in Ireland proved so amenable to their culture, and their nutrient content was so high, that many poor Irish farmers grew only potatoes on their small farms.  In fact, as fathers subdivided farms for their sons, many found themselves supporting whole families on the potatoes grown on less than an acre of ground, while the family itself lived in a roofed-over ditch.  When blight struck in 1845, the sole food source of millions of people literally withered away before their eyes.  A half-million of the 8 1/2 million population died of starvation or disease, and 1 1/2 million emigrated to England or America – following the “Irish potatoe.”

Spices were in short supply in America’s earliest days.  The English pretty well monopolized the trade with the New World.  Within a few years, however, settlers had planted the seeds they had brought or imported, and most had adapted to the climate and were flourishing in orderly rows and patterns in kitchen gardens all along the Atlantic Coast.  There were a few – ginger, pepper, cloves, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice – that simply couldn’t cope with the weather or soil – and were scarce.  Olive oil, lime juice, prunes and saffron were available, but only at high prices. 

To Be Continued…

 

Beach Barbecue Picnic

August 26, 2013

Picnic 4Beach Barbecue Picnic

Salt, spray, sea air, and warm sand underfoot are all the pleasant sensations of a day at the beach which stir cravings for good and hearty food.  A perfect refreshment is a traditional beach-blanket banquet, complete with charcoal-grilled corn on the cob.  You can prepare this picnic to feed a crowd or simply the family on any summertime trip to the beach.  For a small group, you may want to take only half of the salad and leave the rest at home for a midweek supper.

 

Menu

Potato Chips

Crunchy Egg Dip

Barbecued Hamburgers

French Rolls

Red Onion Slices

Tomato Slices

Lettuce

Barbecued Corn on the Cob

Mixed Bean & Artichoke Salad

Honey Applesauce Cupcakes

Beverages of Your Choice

 

Bake the cupcakes on the day of the picnic or bake them ahead of time and then freeze them.  If they are frozen then let them thaw to room temperature on the morning of the outing. Frost them after they have thawed (if you are frosting them).  Prepare the bean salad a day ahead and refrigerate it so the vegetables have time to marinate.  Hard-cook the eggs for the salad garnish and the egg dip at the same time.  On the morning of departure, slice the onions and tomatoes, and prepare the lettuce leaves; seal them in individual plastic bags or in small containers.  Then prepare the egg dip and get the corn ready.  Refrigerate the food that needs to be kept cold before packing it in the cooler.  Have ready one or more large bags of potato chips and enough hamburger patties and French rolls for your picnicking party.  You’ll also need a portable barbecue; potholders, a spatula, and tongs; and charcoal, charcoal starter, and fireplace matches.

 

Packing Your Picnic:  Place the chilled beverages in the bottom of a roomy cooler.  On top, pack the ears of corn and the egg dip.  Tuck in the parcels containing the hamburger patties, garnishes for the salad, hamburger condiments, and butter for the corn.  Carry all of the barbecue equipment in a sturdy box.  In a roomy basket, pack the unbreakable items first, including serving spoons for the salad, a bottle opener, salt and pepper, and a knife for the rolls (unless they’re presliced).  Fit in the cupcakes and the salad.  Place the rolls and potato chips on top.  For a sandy picnic, it’s always wise to carry extra paper plates, napkins, and pre-moistened towelettes.

 

At the Site:  Start the charcoal about half an hour before you want to begin cooking; wait until the coals turn gray before grilling the meat and corn.  Meanwhile, spread the blanket and let people nibble on potato chips and dip.  If your site is very sandy or some of your guests are quite young, you may prefer to wait until the hamburgers and corn are almost ready before you unpack the rest of the food.  Before serving the salad, stir it well; then garnish it with the egg slices, if desired, and artichokes.

All-American Hot Dogs

June 10, 2013

Hot DogsAll-American Hot Dogs

Summer is here and why pay top dollar going out when you can make delicious hot dogs at home?  Here is a guide to the different ways Americans make their frankfurters around the country.  I had the Sonoran style hot dogs while I was in Tucson in February and absolutely loved them.

 

New York Style

Served with brown or German mustard and sauerkraut or onions cooked in tomato paste.

 

Chicago Style

Served on a poppy seed bun with mustard, pickle relish, sport peppers, onions, tomatoes, dill pickles and celery salt.  Pepperoncini can be substituted for sport peppers.

 

Kansas City Style

Served on a sesame seed bun with brown or German mustard, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.

 

Atlanta “Dragged Through The Garden” Style

Serve topped with coleslaw.

 

Detroit “Coney” Style

Served with chili, onions, mustard and cheddar cheese.

 

Seattle Style

Served with cream cheese and grilled onions.

 

Phoenix/Tucson “Sonoran” Style

Served as a bacon-wrapped hot dog with pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, mustard, mayo, jalapeno peppers and cheese.

 

Austin “Tex-Mex” Style

Served with queso, guacamole and crushed tortilla chips.

 

San Francisco “Wine Country” Style

Served with red wine caramelized onions and goat cheese.

 

Miami “Cuban” Style

Served with mustard, pickles and Swiss cheese.

 

Sonoran Hot Dogs Wrapped In Bacon On The GrillSonoran Hot Dogs Ready To Eat

Easy Non-Salad Radish Ideas

May 20, 2013

Easy Non-Salad Radish IdeasRadishes

I love radishes and am always drawn to the pretty color of a pile of radishes.  Most of us just slice them into a green salad and the left-over radishes die a fateful death in the fridge.  Here are some non-salad ideas that will expand your radish repertoire.

Radish Sauté   – It doesn’t really occur to many people that you can cook radishes (as with cucumbers).  It’s so simple to sauté radishes in olive oil or butter.  They are delicious and make you appreciate radishes in a while new way.

Kimchi – Sprinkle the radishes with a bit of kosher salt and a little chili paste.  Toss together and then pack them into a glass jar.  Place in the back of the fridge for two weeks.  Excellent on top of a burger.

Butter & Sea Salt – A fine butter and a pinch of sea salt on top of a radish slice make the perfect summer bite.

Radish “Sauerkraut” – Slice 1 pound of radishes and toss with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.  Pack tightly into a glass jar.  Weigh down with a wrapped can and place on a shelf for two weeks.  Makes a great addition to a sandwich.

Shaved & Lightly Poached In A Tasty Liquid – Slivers of radish dropped in a simmering stock and/or wine for 10 seconds are a great compliment to fresh fish.  They let go of their bite, but retain some of their unique crunch we all know and love.

Braised – Sauté a little onion and garlic.  Add in some radish quarters and a healthy splash of red wine.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Finish with a squeeze of lemon or dash of vinegar.  Excellent draped over a grilled steak or pork chop.

Pickled – Slice some 1/4 inch coins and throw them into a jar.  Pour brine over them (1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar).  You may want to throw in a few dried chilis if you want a bit of spice.  Let sit in your fridge for a week.

Soup – Simmered for 30 minutes in a soup.  The radishes will take on a sweet and velvety character.

Grated – Grate the radishes along with some freshly grated ginger and use as a condiment with any oily fish such as trout or mackerel.

Roasted – Quarter and toss with a little olive oil.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Roast in an oven at 425º F for 20 minutes.  They should be a little brown and will become sweet.  Toss them with some toasted nuts.  They are a great side dish at any potluck picnic.

 

 

Easter Menu Ideas

March 30, 2013

Easter 1Easter Menu Ideas

The greatest feast of the Christian Church takes its name from that of Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn.  The feast, however, has another name, the Pasch, the Greek word coming from the Hebrew pesakh, the Passover.  This is the term for the feast which is used in nearly every language except English and German, but even these two languages use the words Paschal candle and Paschaltide.  In the churches of the Eastern Orthodox the feast of Easter comes somewhat later than in the Western calendar, but the observance is as great, if not greater.  Here are some Easter feast ideas that may be useful in your home this Sunday.

Easter Breakfast Or Brunch

Mini Frittatas: Cheddar, Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomato, Swiss, Bacon or Mushroom

Spring Onion Quiches With Gruyere Cheese: Cooked Leeks & Onions With Cheese & A Savory Egg Custard Baked In A Tart Shell

Asparagus, Arugula & Goat Cheese Quiche:  Asparagus, Baby Arugula & Goat Cheese Mixed With Egg Custard Baked In a Flaky Crust

Fresh Fruit Platter:  Sliced Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Watermelon , Pineapple, Grapes & Berries

Easter Appetizers

Asparagus Rolled In Pancetta

Mini Spinach & Ricotta Calzone

Bruschetta

Crudites Platter:  Celery, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Green & Yellow Squash, Sliced Cucumbers, Red/Yellow/Green Bell Peppers, Grape Tomatoes And Baby Carrots

Cheese Platter:  Classic American & European Cheeses Cubes & Wedges For Snacking.  Serve With Almonds & Crostini

Shrimp Cocktail:  Cook, Devein & De-shell Large Shrimp Serve with Lemons & Cocktail Sauce

Smoked Salmon Platter:  Sliced Salmon With Chopped Red Onions, Capers, Cornichons, Mustard Sauce & Horseradish Sauce

Whole Boneless Poached Salmon:  Poached In White Wine With A Light & Creamy Dill Sauce

Soups

Spring Pea & Onion Soup:  Pureed Spring Pea & Onion Soup Made With Celery, Leeks, Garlic & Thyme

Carrot & Fennel Soup:  Carrots, Fennel & Tomatoes Cooked In Vegetable Broth.  Pureed Smooth

Salads & Side Dishes

Shrimp, Spring Pea & Morel Salad:  Shrimp With Crispy Spring Peas, Morel Mushrooms & Tomatoes Lightly Tossed In A Lemon Vinaigrette

Golden Beet, Radish & Frisee Salad:  Golden Beets, Radishes, Frisee Served With Goat Cheese, Pecans & Champagne Vinaigrette.

Grilled Asparagus:  Marinate In Olive Oil & Kosher Salt.  Grill

Gnocchi, Peas & Pancetta:  Gnocchi, Peas, Panchetta, Ricotta Salata, Baby Arugula & Lemon Zest

Entrees

Honey Spiced Turkey Breast: Brine, Slow Roast Finished With Spices & Honey Glaze

Apricot Bourbon Glazed Ham:  Apricot Jam, Honey, Dijon Mustard & Bourbon Combined & Poured On Top Of Ham Then Baked

Victoria’s Apricot Pork Tenderloin

Rosemary Rubbed Leg Of Lamb:  Boneless Leg Of Lamb Marinated In Olive Oil & Herbs Then Roasted To Medium Rare

Grilled Salmon With Crispy Potato & Leek Fondue:  Grilled Salmon Topped With Melted Spring Leeks With A Touch Of Cream & Crispy Fingerling Potatoes

Rack Of Lamb: Roasted With A Variety Of Spices

Desserts

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cake

Yellow Cake With White Chocolate Ganache

Victoria’s Caramel & Chocolate Pecan Bars

Fruit Tarts

Hot Cross Buns

 

Why Buy Organic?

February 11, 2013

“Food, one assumes, provides nourishment; but Americans eat it fully aware that small amounts of poison have been added to improve its appearance and delay its putrefaction.” – John Cage

There has been quite a bit of controversy these days about eating organic.  Recent studies state that it really doesn’t matter if you eat organic foods or not.  When something is labeled organic, it usually means that a farm has not used pesticides and has taken considerable care to avoid any cross-contamination.  Producing organic food undoubtedly costs more money which is passed on to the consumer.  Buying organic tends to be quite a bit more expensive than buying non-organic. 

Honestly, I don’t care what the studies are saying about eating organic versus eating non-organic.  I would rather not put pesticides into my body as well as wanting to support farmers and food companies that are not using pesticides. I love going to farmers’ markets during the spring, summer and fall and when I am shopping in the grocery store I am willing to pay a bit more for organic food.

If you have decided not to buy organic here is a list of foods that have found to be the most and least contaminated.

Most Contaminated

Apples

Bell Peppers

Celery

Cherries

Grapes

Lettuce

Nectarines

Peaches

Pears

Potatoes

Spinach

Strawberries

 

Least Contaminated

Asparagus

Avocados

Bananas

Broccoli

Cabbage

Corn

Kiwis

Mangos

Onions

Papayas

Peas

Pineapples

New Canaan Farmers’ Market

July 8, 2012

New Canaan Farmers’ Market

I love going to farmers' markets, especially good ones. It's the closest to "farm to table" that I can get without growing my own fruits and vegetables.  Yesterday was my first visit to the New Canaan farmer’s market.  It’s a good one!  I picked up beets, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peaches and plums.  Everything looked great and even though the vendors were busy they were very friendly and seemed happy to be there.

New Canaan Farmers’ Market

Saturday 10am to 2pm

May 12th Through October

Old Center School Parking Lot

South Avenue & Maple Street

www.newcanaanfarmersmarket.net

 

 

Onions

January 14, 2012

Onions

The family of onions, from chives, scallions, leeks and shallots to the many varieties of the basic onion – Spanish, Italian, Bermuda, Walla Walla, Vidalia, Maui, pear, Ebenezer and globe – form a tear inspiring array. But can you imagine cooking without them?

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