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219 posts categorized "16) Bitchin' from Melanie's Kitchen: Commentaries, Opinions, Rantings, Stories & an Occasional Beverage or Cocktail"

09/30/2022

~ History of Canned Tuna and Tuna Salad in America ~

Tuna or chicken salad is nothing fancy -- and it's ertainly not gourmet. Just a quick and easy-to-make lunch made from ingredients you most-likely have on hand in your pantry -- and it'll keep you smiling all afternoon too. Why? Because besides being loaded with fat-free protein (from tuna packed in water or the meat from leftover chicken breasts, plus hard-cooked eggs), it's filling and packed-full of flavor (from all the wonderful spices in your favorite "lite" Italian dressing). There's more. It's light -- a refreshing break from calorie-packed carbohydrates. We Americans have been eating tuna salad for over a...... View full recipe for "~ History of Canned Tuna and Tuna Salad in America ~"

08/31/2022

~What is Corned Beef & Corned Beef Brisket Exactly~

I cook corned beef regularly -- three-four times a year. It's always available at our local Sam's Club, and it has a long shelf-life too, meaning the expiration date is often a month or more out on the calendar. I always buy two and I always cook two. After discarding the seasoning packets, I cook them my way, slowly in the crockpot, in a tomato mixture laced with aromatic allspice, cinnamon and cloves. When done, I cover the tops with brown sugar and bake them in a 350° oven for 20-25 minutes until the sugar crust is bubbly and caramelizing....... View full recipe for "~What is Corned Beef & Corned Beef Brisket Exactly~"

08/27/2022

~ What are Bread-&-Butter or Sweet-'n-Sour Pickles ~

Bread-and-butter pickles also known as sweet-and-sour pickles are on the sweet end of the pickle spectrum, but not quite as sweet as sweet pickles, and, decidedly different than the sharp bite of dill pickles. They're typically crinkle-cut sliced, which makes them ideal for topping hamburgers and a variety of sandwiches. I often serve them as a side-dish, and, occasionally, dice them to add to salads or mince them to add to relishes. Interestingly enough, my family never made homemade bread and butter pickles. There was no need. We lived in Eastern Pennsylvania, the land of the Pennsylvania Deutsch (the German-speaking...... View full recipe for "~ What are Bread-&-Butter or Sweet-'n-Sour Pickles ~"

08/24/2022

~All About the All-American Cheeseburger in Paradise~

A cheeseburger, eaten anywhere in the good old USA -- each one a cheeseburger in paradise. It's become the quintessential American food. There are two claims* as to who slapped that first slice of processed American cheese on the lonely hamburger, but, we can all agree it was the best marriage of food since sliced white bread married peanut butter and jelly. And, we've come a long way baby -- nowadays the cheeseburger is eaten in fast food chains, fine-dining restaurants and all points in between. Cheeseburgers are for pick-up, delivery, drive-thru, eat-in, eat-out, eat-alone or invite-some-friends from sea to...... View full recipe for "~All About the All-American Cheeseburger in Paradise~"

08/21/2022

~All About Chinese Hotpot & Japanese Shabu Shabu~

From my American foodie's vantage point, I found hot pot and shabu shabu to be more alike than different. A literal hot pot of mild- to spicily-seasoned, simmering, meat- or vegetable-based broth is placed in the center of the communal table. Depending on the country and region of the country, an array of thinly-sliced meats, vegetables, dumplings or noodles and dipping sauces are positioned around the pot. Via a pair of chop sticks, each person picks up and cooks their food by gently bathing it in the simmering broth. The words "shabu shabu" mean "swish swish", and, double-dipping (using the...... View full recipe for "~All About Chinese Hotpot & Japanese Shabu Shabu~"

08/06/2022

~ History of Classic Italian-American Clams Casino ~

Clams casino is considered a classic Italian-American dish. Interestingly, clams casino is also considered a clams "on the halfshell" dish, and, the name has little to do with the gaming industry per se, although every casino restaurant or restaurant in the vicinity of a casino seems to have their variation of the dish on their menu. Let's me put it this way, I've never been to a casino restaurant that didn't have it on the menu. Clams casino, which means "big mess" in Italian, is a basic concoction of clams, bacon, butter, and breadcrumbs that work spectacularly together. Onion, garlic...... View full recipe for "~ History of Classic Italian-American Clams Casino ~"

07/31/2022

~ Pasteurized Crab -- What's in the can for that Cost ~

A couple days ago I restocked my supply of pasteurized crabmeat for the upcoming tailgate and holiday season. I do it every year around this time, and, I was down to my last can, so, I bought three more. Like most folks, I love to eat crabmeat, and, while fresh crab is indeed a delicacy, for my purposes pasteurized crab is my first choice. Like fresh crabmeat, it must be stored in the refrigeratory, but unlike fresh crab it has a very long shelf life -- up to 18 months. What's not to love about that. Because it's pasteurized, it's...... View full recipe for "~ Pasteurized Crab -- What's in the can for that Cost ~"

07/27/2022

~ Raise Your Hands in Praise for all Pepperoni Pizza ~

Pepperoni. It's easy to assume it's 100% Italian, but it's as American as apple pie. Food writer and historian John Mariani writes, "like jazz and baseball, pepperoni is purely an Italian-American creation, like chicken parmesan." While it's exact origin is unknown, long story short, it's our spicy version of their salami (salame), and, no surprise to anyone, thinly-sliced or finely-diced, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in every pizzeria across the United States. That said, it's wonderful eaten in and on all sorts of other things too. It's made from cured pork and beef (in a ratio of approximately...... View full recipe for "~ Raise Your Hands in Praise for all Pepperoni Pizza ~"

07/03/2022

~Feel the Love for Our Native All-American Blueberry~

Blueberries are one of seven native North American food plants grown on a large scale and cultivated commercially. Before I go any further, I should mention the other six: concord grapes, cranberries, strawberries, corn, beans and squash. This means these plants were in existence before any of our immigrant ancestors arrived in this new world and the Native Americans were eating them and creating their own uses for them long before they introduced them to the original Colonists. That said, blueberries were domesticated entirely in the 20th century and it did not take long for this "very American berry" to...... View full recipe for "~Feel the Love for Our Native All-American Blueberry~"

06/14/2022

~ Frank's RedHot Sauce and RedHot Wing Sauce ~

Frank's RedHot is synonymous with Buffalo chicken wings. Why? Frank's was the secret ingredient used in the original Buffalo chicken wing sauce recipe created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY in 1964 by Frank and Teresa Bellisimo. Fast forward to present day -- Simply wander into a bar, any bar, anywhere in America. Buffalo wings are on the pub grub menu. It's remarkable. No description is necessary. You know you're getting unbreaded, deep-fried wingettes and drumettes coated in a vivid-red vinegar-based cayenne pepper and butter sauce. There are three stories regarding the invention of Buffalo wings and all come...... View full recipe for "~ Frank's RedHot Sauce and RedHot Wing Sauce ~"

06/11/2022

~Defining Neapolitan, New York & Sicilian-Style Pizza~

I never met a pizza I didn't like, and, pizza is one of my favorite subjects. That said, a great pizza starts with a great crust, but, finding a pizza dough recipe to suit your requirements is not as easy as the ingredients list indicates: flour, water, salt, yeast, and sometimes sugar and/or olive oil. Cooks who take pizza making seriously have more than one pizza dough recipe in their repertoire because certain pizzas require a certain type of crust -- there's no getting around it. Beyond that, within each type, everyone who takes pizza making seriously, professionally or at...... View full recipe for "~Defining Neapolitan, New York & Sicilian-Style Pizza~"

06/08/2022

~Detroit-Style Brick Cheese Pizza is All About the Pan~

Long story short, Detroit-style pizza is a rectangular-shaped deep-deep-dish pan pizza -- it is a descendent of the rectangular-shaped Sicilian-style pizza. That said, in the case of this specialty pizza, it really is all about the pan -- the man pan. Without the pan, one can't really appreciate the full experience. Luckily, the pans are easy to fine online and very affordable too. Read on: Lloyd Pans & Kitchenware, a Wisconsin-based company, manufacturers several styles of pans for pizzerias all over the world, including all of the top 10 pizza chains in the USA. Their pans revolutionized how pizzas are...... View full recipe for "~Detroit-Style Brick Cheese Pizza is All About the Pan~"

06/05/2022

~Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit = the Original Cheese Toast~

Say cheese please -- lots and lots of hot and bubbling, oooey, gooey cheese please. If those words got you salivating, try these on for size: a savory cheese sauce made from sharp cheddar cheese, egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, English mustard and beer slathered onto thick-slices of toasted bread and broiled until bubbly. Here in America, when a cheesy craving hits us, we treat ourselves to an all-American grilled cheese sandwich. The British have a different twist on it, and Welsh rarebit is referred to as the original cheese toast (or cheese on toast). Welsh rarebit (pronounced rabbit) is a...... View full recipe for "~Welsh Rarebit or Rabbit = the Original Cheese Toast~"

05/20/2022

~The Difference between Frozen-Custard & IceCream~

The Summer holidays are just around the corner. Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day -- they are indeed our country's Summertime patriotic big-three, but, all are also associated with laid-back atmospheres full of fun activities shared family, friends and, of course, food. Whether it be an outdoor picnic in the grass under a shade tree at the park, or on a blanket on a sandy beach, or eating from grill-to-table around the backyard pool or on the patio, or, simply story-telling in the night-air gathered around the campfire, nothing screams Summer like a scoop or two of home-churned...... View full recipe for "~The Difference between Frozen-Custard & IceCream~"

05/14/2022

~ The Retro History of All-American Tuna Casserole ~

Tuna Noodle Casserole is a classic 1950's retro main-dish casserole dinner. Casseroles became popular post WWII, and experienced their heyday in American home kitchens during the 1950's and into the 1960s (because the ingredients were inexpensive and readily-available at any supermarket). The typical tuna casserole was made from a can of tuna, a can of vegetables, a package of egg noodles and a can of condensed cream-of-mushroom soup. For the most part, the ingredients were quickly stirred together, right in the casserole dish, and were topped with with a crunchy layer of breadcrumbs, corn flakes or canned onions, and sometimes...... View full recipe for "~ The Retro History of All-American Tuna Casserole ~"

05/11/2022

~ The Retro History of All-American Chicken à la King ~

You'd be surprised, perhaps not, how many folks think the same mixture that goes into pot pie, is the same mixture that gets used to make à la king. It is not. If the mixture it is similar to anything, it would be that contained in other all-American creations like chicken or turkey Divan, chicken or turkey Tetrazzini, and even tuna noodle casserole. Read on to find out the difference: À la king vs. pot pie -- À la king is not pot pie & vice versa. In its purest form, à la king is a refined, American restaurant dish...... View full recipe for "~ The Retro History of All-American Chicken à la King ~"

05/08/2022

~The Retro History of All-American Chicken Tetrazzini~

Experience has taught, "what's old is always new to someone", and cooks of all experience levels appreciate learning about it. Experience has also taught: "what's old has often been lost to someone", as many times, these retro classics, which evoke fond memories, have sadly, been lost (grandma never taught it, shared it, or worse, never wrote it down), or tossed (instead of being handed down from generation to generation). Tetrazzini, which is prepared in separate stages on the stovetop then finish-baked in the oven, is one such vintage recipe. Tetrazzini is named after Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini. A bit...... View full recipe for "~The Retro History of All-American Chicken Tetrazzini~"

05/05/2022

~The Retro History of Divine Divan Chicken Casserole~

When I moved into my first apartment in 1974, Chicken Divan was the second meal I cooked -- lasagna was my first. I didn't choose it randomly, it was a dish I loved to eat when I was growing up. It was on page 306 of my bright red Betty Crocker's Cookbook. "Betty" and the The Joy of Cooking were the only cookbooks I owned at the time and both served me, and continue to serve me, well. Both contained wonderful recipes for my Divine Divan -- Betty Crocker's recipe was a bit less complicated, but, it was scratch-made (no...... View full recipe for "~The Retro History of Divine Divan Chicken Casserole~"

05/02/2022

~ Kebab, Kabob, Shish Kabob and lots of Kababba ~

Kabbaba is the ancient Aramaic word meaning to char or to burn. Medieval Persian soldiers, who used their swords as instruments to grill food over open fires in the field of battle, are credited with inventing kabobs. It was only natural that this simple method of cooking food relatively fast on a "sikh" (a metal skewer), made its way into the kitchens of the royal houses, then onto the tables of the common folk and eventually into the streets, where vendors cooked and sold them for breakfast, lunch and dinner (where they untreaded them onto or inside some form of...... View full recipe for "~ Kebab, Kabob, Shish Kabob and lots of Kababba ~"

04/29/2022

~ The History of the Italian-Style Spiedie Sandwich ~

The word Spiedie comes from the Italian word spiede, meaning skewered food that gets cooked on a spit. As for their origin of this very unique marinated-then-grilled sandwich, three people seemed to have played a part in their creation and popularization. An Italian immigrant, Camillo Lacovelli claims to have invented the original spiedie in Endwell, NY. Via his brother, Agostino "Augie" Lacovelli, who put spiedies on his Augie's Restaurant (located in Endicott, NY) menu in 1939, they gained local popularity. Augie's son Guido Lacovelli, continued the family-owned business into the 1990's, operating as many as 26 restaurants at the peak...... View full recipe for "~ The History of the Italian-Style Spiedie Sandwich ~"

04/26/2022

~ The History of Mexican-American Taco Bowl Salad ~

Serving taco salad in edible bowls is mealtime fun. While they lend a festive, impressive "you cared enough to make the bowls" touch to the meal, they allow family and friends to add crunch to their salad as they work their way down, through and around all the goodies in the bowl. Speaking of goodies, taco salads come fully-loaded. Pick and choose your favorite store-bought or made-from-scratch ingredients. There's no right or wrong way to make taco salad -- just make it. From a small tacup, the large taco salad was born. The history of the taco-bowl salad, as per...... View full recipe for "~ The History of Mexican-American Taco Bowl Salad ~ "

04/17/2022

~ The History & Four Recipes for Chicken & Waffles ~

Chicken and waffles might be well-known and popular throughout our American South and the Midwest, but, it does NOT have its roots in either venue. It indisputably has its roots in the early Pennsylvania Deutsch communities that settled along the Schuylkill River. Growing up in Pennsylvania Deutsch county, tender pulled-chicken served atop steamy-and-light hot-off-the-waffle-iron waffles all drizzled with gravy, it was a childhood favorite of mine. Read on: When you say PA Dutch, we correctly say PA Deutsch: I am here to make it clear that Pennsylvania Dutch cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch...... View full recipe for "~ The History & Four Recipes for Chicken & Waffles ~"

04/08/2022

~The Chinese-American General Tso's Chicken Story~

General Tso's Chicken is a staple on every Chinese-Americane eat-in and take-out menu. I personally am grateful for that, as, every week or two I crave Chinese fare and rare is the occasion when sweet, savory and spicy General Tso's Chicken is not a part of my order. Sometimes I eat it with some chicken fried rice and steamed broccoli as a main course, other times I eat it as an appetizer or a snack, but, eat it I do -- it's addicting and I adore it. The basic ingredients are easy-to-find & indeed basic: The basic ingredients of General...... View full recipe for "~The Chinese-American General Tso's Chicken Story~"

04/05/2022

~The Story Behind City Chicken -- aka Mock Chicken~

What looks like a chicken leg and tastes like chicken but isn't made from chicken? City chicken. So, if it's not made from chicken, what is city chicken made from? Coarse-ground pork and/or veal. Still confused? You're not alone -- nowadays, many folks, even those who love to cook, have no idea what this intriguing, vintage, working-class main-dish is, or, the important part it played in our American culinary history. Behind almost every recipe, there is a good story: Dating back as early as the early 1900s, by the 1930s and '40s and into the '50s everyone knew what city...... View full recipe for "~The Story Behind City Chicken -- aka Mock Chicken~"

03/24/2022

~The History behind McDonald's Big Mac Hamburger~

Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. I'm guessing that anyone who reads that sentence or hears those words is positively certain it references McDonald's and its Big Mac hamburger. McDonald's introduced this flagship product to the greater Pitsburgh area in 1967. One short year later, it went nationwide. That said, the it had two previous trial names, both of which failed in the marketplace: The Aristocrat and the Blue Ribbon Burger. The third time was the charm -- the Big Mac was born and the rest is history. The Big Mac...... View full recipe for "~The History behind McDonald's Big Mac Hamburger~"

03/12/2022

~The History of Deviled in Deviled Eggs & Other Food~

Everyone knows what deviled eggs are, most folks know what deviled ham and deviled crab is, and, what's up with devil's food cake? I always say that behind every recipe there is a story or a history, and, foods referred to as "deviled" are no exception. While the origin of deviled eggs or any other deviled delight can't be pinned down to one person or one location, one thing food historians know for sure is: the name emerged in the 18th century and evolved over time. The word deviled first appeared in print in 1786 and was used to describe...... View full recipe for "~The History of Deviled in Deviled Eggs & Other Food~"

02/28/2022

~ G. Washington's Instant Seasoning & Broth History ~

This granulated gluten-free, meat-free instant seasoning has been around for generations, and, interestingly, it's used as an ingredient in a surprising number of savory, vintage recipe. It was a staple in my grandmother's pantry and my mother's pantry, and, for the love of making their recipes, it is a staple in mine too. It's recognized as the very first seasoning and broth. The brand has a strong loyalty amongst its users, but, because it contains MSG, it is not everyones cup-of-tea. That said, if you've ever tasted anything made using it, you'd immediately recognize how special it truly is. Easy...... View full recipe for "~ G. Washington's Instant Seasoning & Broth History ~"

02/23/2022

~ The Story Behind Our Retro Sloppy Joe Sandwich ~

In a nutshell, this one really is all in the name -- the Sloppy Joe sandwich. The colorful name alone should clue the participant in for what they are about to experience, and, it's a messy one. After all, they didn't name it the neat-Nick sandwich. The hamburger-type bun gets heaped with a loose, spoonable ground-beef and onion concoction then a tomato-based sauce gets stirred in, making it possible for the contents to drip out of the bun during consumption (or should I say impossible for the contents to stay in the sandwich during consumption). Some folks skirt around this...... View full recipe for "~ The Story Behind Our Retro Sloppy Joe Sandwich ~"

01/24/2022

~ Pearl Tapioca, Minute Tapioca and Tapioca Starch ~

Tapioca -- tap-ee-oh-kuh. You've seen it in your grocery store. Perhaps you keep some form of it in your pantry. Tapioca is a starch commonly used as a thickener, and, because it was a staple in my grandmother's and mother's pantries, it is in mine too. My grandmother used tapioca powder to thicken jelly, quick-cooking tapioca granules to thicken pie fillings, and whole tapioca pearls to make one of my favorite childhood comfort-food desserts: tapioca pudding. A bit about tapioca: The name tapioca comes from the South American, Brazilian Tupi name "tipi-oka", which means "starch". Tapioca doesn't grow on trees...... View full recipe for "~ Pearl Tapioca, Minute Tapioca and Tapioca Starch ~"

01/18/2022

~About Aged Asiago Cheese & Fresh Asiago Cheese~

Open the deli-drawer of my refrigerator and there's a good chance you'll find a wedge or two of Asiago cheese in it -- it's one of my favorite Italian cow's milk cheese. If you've never tried Asiago, you should, but, it's important to know there are two types, and, the one you choose will determine how you will use it. Simply stated, one is hard, dry and gratable, the other is soft, sliceable and meltable. Both start out the same, but, change textures during the aging process. Aged Asiago is pale-to-amber yellow, compact and very firm with a nutty aroma...... View full recipe for "~About Aged Asiago Cheese & Fresh Asiago Cheese~"

01/15/2022

~Spellcheck Chile, Chili, Chile Powder or Chili Powder~

Chile, chili, chile powder and/or chili powder. How these words are spelled is not a regional preference, meaning it doesn't vary willy-nilly from manufacturer to manufacturer, brand to brand or cook to cook. That said, all too many times they are used interchangeably, but the reality is: they should never be. The spelling of these words is serious business, and, savvy shoppers know exactly what they are purchasing. I grow chile peppers in the vegetable garden every year, and, I make a pot of chili or chili con carne several times a year. I admit to having several jars of...... View full recipe for "~Spellcheck Chile, Chili, Chile Powder or Chili Powder~"

01/03/2022

~HISstory vs HERstory -- The Story of Eggs Benedict~

A la Benedict. It means in-the-style-of eggs Benedict. For runny-egg lovers, this is the la-tee-da, ooh-la-la, creme-de-la-creme of fancy-schmancy, artery-clogging AM indulgences: two golden-toasted English muffin halves, each topped with a slice of smoky ham, a perfectly poached egg and a generous drizzle of buttery hollandaise sauce. This all-American breakfast and brunch specialty has been gracing the tables of high-end restaurants for over a century. There are three claims to this beloved dish's origin, with only one being widely-accepted as the real-deal. Culinary Fisticuffs? The Battle Between the Benedicts!!! HISstory vs. HERstory: Thanks to a food article appearing in the...... View full recipe for "~HISstory vs HERstory -- The Story of Eggs Benedict~"

12/31/2021

~ And Just Like That -- Christmas Vacation was Over ~

Meet my Marty Moose eggnog cups. Made famous in National Lampoon's 1986 flick Christmas Vacation, these glass cups have been serving eggnog to family and friends in my kitchen from the day I gleefully found out I could purchase a set. They are just, plain, fun. In the midst of all the fun and celebratory toasts, have you ever wondered why we drink egg nog over the holidays, and moreover, why we drink eggnog in small cups, or, why it's even called eggnog? Why we drink eggnog to celebrate Christmas & New Year's: Eggnog means eggs in a cup, and...... View full recipe for "~ And Just Like That -- Christmas Vacation was Over ~"

12/24/2021

~ Why We Ring in the New Year w/Pork & Sauerkraut ~

If you ask Americans across our country what they're serving for dinner on New Year's Day, the most common response will be: pork and sauerkraut -- and the reason is not just because it is a delicious meal. It's a time-honored tradition based on the belief that pork and sauerkraut will bring luck and prosperity in the new year -- and who couldn't use a good bit of both. This tradition is closely linked to the Pennsylvania Deutsch (crediting the Germanic or German-speaking immigrants from Germany and Switzerland for this cuisine, with the more commonly used term, Pennsylvania "Dutch", being...... View full recipe for "~ Why We Ring in the New Year w/Pork & Sauerkraut ~"

11/30/2021

~ Boston Cream Pie -- Why this Cake is called a Pie ~

Boston Cream Pie, a feel-good dessert that won the hearts of Americans over a century ago. The crazy thing is, it's a cake, not a pie -- not even close to a pie. That said, this retro cake, sandwiched between a layer of pastry cream and topped with chocolate, is one of my favorite cake desserts. Don't ask me why -- ok ask me why -- I find myself making Boston Cream Pie in the dead cold of Winter. That's because my mom always made it for the Thanksgiving holiday, as a cake dessert to accompany her pies (and please...... View full recipe for "~ Boston Cream Pie -- Why this Cake is called a Pie ~"

11/18/2021

~ Tis the Season to Learn the History Behind Eggnog ~

Eggnog means eggs in a cup, and it is used on both sides of the Atlantic to toast to health. Nog is an old English term for a small wooden cup. It descended from a hot British drink called posset, made from eggs beaten with milk, sugar and some type of spirit. During that period, alcoholic drinks were served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because it was cooked, posset traveled and adapted well to local tastes. One such place: the American colonies, which were full of farms which were full of chickens, cows and lots of cheap rum -- our...... View full recipe for "~ Tis the Season to Learn the History Behind Eggnog ~"

10/31/2021

~ Johnnycakes -- Precursor to the American Pancake ~

My first experience with Johnny cakes was in 1992 We decided to take a tennis vacation and headed to the Killington Ski Resort in Vermont. During the Summer, Killington offers tennis packages and first-class accommodations. We drove nine hours, along winding, two-lane interstate and country roads looking at truly picturesque mountains and greenery. It was idillic, and, we had enough free time for sight-seeing, shopping in country stores and eating in local restaurants too. I ate my first Johnny cake at the resort for breakfast before hitting the courts on our first day. I liked them so much, I ordered...... View full recipe for "~ Johnnycakes -- Precursor to the American Pancake ~"

10/24/2021

~The History Behind New York's Dirty Water Hot Dogs~

Hot dogs -- one of my favorite subjects. I relish eating them, never tire of discussing them, and, whenever traveling, if the destination is known for a style of hot dog, it's one of the things I make a point of eating while I'm there. The New York-style hot dog is one I've not chatted with you about yet. That said, had I not had advance, concise, clarification of what "dirty-water-dog" means (the affectionate but unappealing nickname New Yorkers have given their dogs), cuing myself up in the line in front of the closest pushcart would not have happened. A...... View full recipe for "~The History Behind New York's Dirty Water Hot Dogs~"

10/21/2021

~The Hidden History of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing~

Before we know it, the holiday entertaining season will be upon us. Charcuterie, cheese and vegetable trays, along with assorted, chips, crackers, nuts, dips and spreads will be appearing on cocktail tables in neighborhoods all across America. Like everyone else, the snacks I choose to serve change every year, but, one thing that's always present in some form: Hidden Valley Ranch dressing or dip. Why? Everyone loves the taste of cool and creamy "Ranch". Interestingly: A little over 50 years ago no one had ever heard of ranch dressing and now it is America's most popular salad dressing. We do...... View full recipe for "~The Hidden History of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing~"

10/18/2021

~ The Story of Humble, Homey All-American Meatloaf ~

The fabulous '50's may be gone forever, but they are certainly not forgotten. Remember the stainless steel diner in your hometown that served up a thick slice of mouthwatering meatloaf smothered in a smooth and rich pan gravy alongside a big scoop of fluffy mashed potatoes? Remember meatloaf day in your school cafeteria with stewed tomatoes and macaroni and cheese? Remember the Swanson frozen meatloaf dinner slathered with a thick brown gravy and French fries? I remember them all, but, mostly, I remember my mom's "special" meatloaf. "Meatloaf." Say the word aloud in the company of family or friends, even...... View full recipe for "~ The Story of Humble, Homey All-American Meatloaf ~"

10/12/2021

~Chutney -- A Spicy Condiment and Sandwich Topper~

Having its origin in India, the name for this condiment comes from the East Indian word chatni, which means to entice the appetite. Indian chutneys were and are commonly made daily and eaten the same day -- originally prepared using a stone mortar and pestle, nowadays an electric food processor is often used. Just like our common American condiments, they can be found on the table for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner -- they are a part of the daily culinary routine. Chutney was imported from India to Western Europe in the early 17th century. European renditions were generically referred to...... View full recipe for "~Chutney -- A Spicy Condiment and Sandwich Topper~"

10/06/2021

~ The History of Salad Olivier: Russian Potato Salad ~

Traditionally, this salat, the Russian word for salad, was reserved for large gatherings: religious or national holidays, special community events and/or family celebrations, and, it was served all year long. With or without meat or poultry added to it, it was served as an hors d'oeuvre atop toast points, by itself as a light lunch or snack, or, as a starter-course or side-dish to a hearty meal. For the most part, I associate it with Spring (because my grandmother always made it for or after the Easter holiday), so, I like to serve this pretty-to-look-at salad as a side-dish on...... View full recipe for "~ The History of Salad Olivier: Russian Potato Salad ~"

09/24/2021

~ The History Behind the Very Famous Caesar Salad ~

Over the past four decades, the classic Caesar salad has: #1) Become America's most popular main-dish salad; #2) Altered the lettuce industry, as the demand for romaine has skyrocketed, and: #3) Turned the chicken-topped Caesar salad into the chicken item most frequently found on restaurant menus -- even more than wings and chicken fingers. Now considered the all-American salad, it was in fact invented in Mexico in 1924 by an Italian-born immigrant to Mexico. Now considered the all-American salad, the Caesar was invented on July 4th, 1924, by an Italian-Mexican chef & co-owner of a restaurant in Tijuana, who emigrated...... View full recipe for "~ The History Behind the Very Famous Caesar Salad ~"

09/15/2021

~ Jamaican Jerk Style -- A Unique Method of Cooking ~

In a (coco)nutshell, jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica. It was developed by African slaves who escaped into the mountains of Jamaica after the British captured this island paradise from Spain in 1655. Forced to adapt to their new surroundings, the Maroons (the name given to the escaped slaves) made use of the foods nature provided, by pulverizing the edibles they gathered into a fiery pasty rub. By adding fruit and/or citrus juice, the fiery pasty rub became a spicy basting and dipping sauce. When thinned down with a bit of drinking water or the milk from...... View full recipe for "~ Jamaican Jerk Style -- A Unique Method of Cooking ~"

09/12/2021

~What is Quick Bread and What Defines Quick Bread~

Quick bread is an American term that refers to bread that is quick to make because it doesn't require kneading or rising time. It originated during the American civil war, when the demand for food and bread was high. Innovative cooks began rapidly producing bread and baked goods that were leavened with baking soda rather than yeast. Nowadays, the leavening agent is predominately double-acting baking powder, or, a combination of baking powder and baking soda. In the case of baking powder, it is called "double acting" because the rising process starts the moment it makes contact with the liquids, and,...... View full recipe for "~What is Quick Bread and What Defines Quick Bread~ "

09/09/2021

~Crisp, Crunch, Betty, Cobbler, Grunt, Slump & Buckle~

Our forefathers' wives. the true mothers-of-invention, invented several amusing words to define our now vintage American-heritaged fruit desserts -- none of which, uniquely, fall under the category of pie. It's a short list. Seven words that can confound even the savviest of bakers. Seven words that can confound even the savviest of bakers: A crisp is a fruit mixture topped with a crispy crumb or streusel (a streusel contains oats, a crumb does not, which makes it crumbly). If a crisp has a bottom crust, it's called a crunch. To turn a crisp or a crunch into a betty, the...... View full recipe for "~Crisp, Crunch, Betty, Cobbler, Grunt, Slump & Buckle~"

09/06/2021

~Coffeecake: Traditional Fare for Breakfast or Brunch~

Thanks to post WWII advertising campaigns by the American Coffee Bureau, by 1950, America was a country of coffee drinkers. In the workplace, the 15-minute coffee break was born, and, if you were a housewife, once you got your husband off to work and the kids off to school, you likely participated in a daily, weekly or occasional mid-morning "coffee klatch" with neighborhood friends. The term "coffee klatch" comes from the German word "kaffeeklatsch", meaning "coffee chat" -- a casual gathering for sharing coffee and conversation with close confidants. Literally translated: kaffee = coffee, and, klatsch = gossip. I like...... View full recipe for "~Coffeecake: Traditional Fare for Breakfast or Brunch~"

09/03/2021

~ What to Consider Before Cooking in Big Batches ~

If you've ever envisioned yourself being a restaurant chef, be careful what you wish for: the pots are big, the load is heavy. There's more. As a home cook, in terms of slicing, dicing, chopping and mincing, you won't have any line cooks to perform those menial tasks for you. Don't get me wrong (I'm not trying to talk you out of this), big batch cooking isn't necessarily hard, but, more-often than not, it is time consuming -- in many instances, it's prudent to do the majority of the prep work on one day and the actual cooking the next,...... View full recipe for "~ What to Consider Before Cooking in Big Batches ~"

08/31/2021

~ What is the Difference Between a Soup and a Stew ~

When I pull out my big, 20-24-quart stockpots, it's officially Fall. Why? When it's chilly outside, it's time to cook up a storm inside. Why? When one lives in the Northeast, it's a wise cook who has a freezer containing some thaw-heat-and-eat meals for those snowy days when a quick trip to the grocery store is not in the forecast. Yes indeed, when the frost is on the pumpkin, I don't mind spending an afternoon at the stovetop preparing one of the two favorite things I cook in big batches (for "freezer meals"): a stockpot full of luscious, heartwarming, soup...... View full recipe for "~ What is the Difference Between a Soup and a Stew ~"

08/28/2021

~ Don't Confuse the Tomatillo with the Green Tomato ~

Tomatillo, also called tomato verde, means husk tomato, with verde meaning green in Spanish. The tomatillo is a member of the nightshade family, which, while related to the red tomato family, and remarkably similar in appearance to the green tomato, cannot be used interchangeably with green tomatoes. Tomatillos are a staple in every Tex-Mex gardener's garden. The fruit of the tomatillo is firm, green and relatively small compared to red tomatoes (only about the size of a large, cherry tomato). They grow to maturity inside of an inedible husk (which gets disgarded), and, range in color from pale green to...... View full recipe for "~ Don't Confuse the Tomatillo with the Green Tomato ~"