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274 posts categorized "15) With Love from Melanie's Kitchen: Techniques, Basic Recipes, My Soup Stocks & an Occasional Oration"

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~"

08/12/2022

~ How to Make Crème Fraîche w/Whole Buttermilk ~

Crème fraîche, pronounced fresh and meaning fresh cream -- it's delightful. In technical terms, it's a French-invented soured cream containing 30%-40% butterfat and a pH of about 4.5. While its name is French, soured creams are common in most of Eastern and Northern Europe. Similar to sour cream, which contains about 15%-20% butterfat, it's soured with bacterial culture found in buttermilk. In cooking it's preferred over sour cream because its higher fat content prevents "breaking" or becoming unstable when stirred into sauces or soups. Because crème fraîche is less tangy than sour cream, it can be sweetened with powdered sugar...... View full recipe for "~ How to Make Crème Fraîche w/Whole Buttermilk ~"

08/09/2022

~ How to Steam Fragrant Rices in the Rice Steamer ~

My electric rice steamer is one of my most used countertop appliances -- it's one of the best investments I ever made, and, it's something I just can't fathom living without. I bought it because I cook a lot of fragrant rice, specifically basmati and jasmine rice. Electric rice steamers come in all different sizes, and, depending on which one you choose, range in price from $25 - $125. They all operate basically the same way, and, they all make cooking rice foolproof. Jasmine rice is a polished, long-grain silky, white rice known for its fragrance, aroma and scent. It...... View full recipe for "~ How to Steam Fragrant Rices in the Rice Steamer ~"

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 ~"

08/03/2022

~ Clam Sizing, Buying, Burping and Perfect Steaming ~

Steamed clams are one of my favorite Summertime treats. It's not unusual for us to pick up a few dozen, meaning three-four dozen. We mostly enjoy them as a quick pre-dinner snack, but, we've been known to make an entire meal out of them too. We simply sit around and fork-shuck 'em out of their open shells while they're plump and steaming -- as soon as they emerge from the liquid. One-at-a-time, each morsel gets dipped in some melted garlic-tarragon butter before eating. Clams come in many sizes, from quite large to quite small: The enjoyment of clams was an...... View full recipe for "~ Clam Sizing, Buying, Burping and Perfect Steaming ~"

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 ~"

07/24/2022

~Broiled & Baked Oven-Method for Cooking Spareribs~

I adore spareribs. That said, I do not like spending time outside in the heat or the cold tending to them for the lengthy period of time it takes them to properly cook (and, because of their fat content, they do require careful and almost constant tending to avoid fiery flare-ups). For that singular reason, I decided to figure out my own way to make perfectly-cooked babyback or St. Lewis-style spareribs in the comfort of my own kitchen. I am demonstrating with a rack of St. Lewis-style ribs today, but, trust me when I say: , this method works the...... View full recipe for "~Broiled & Baked Oven-Method for Cooking Spareribs~"

07/21/2022

~ Babyback Spareribs vs St. Lewis-Style Spareribs ~

When it comes to purchasing pork spareribs, we cooks almost always have a choice to make: babyback (sometimes labeled "pork back ribs"), or, St. Louis-style (sometimes labeled "breastbone-off, pork ribs"). To the eye, babybacks are smaller (which appeals to many home cooks because they're more manageable), but, please know, this has nothing to do with the size of the pig (meaning, for those spreading false information: they're not taken from baby pigs). Babybacks are cut from where the rib meets the spine after the loin is removed. Each rack weighs about 1 1/2-2 pounds and averages 10-13 curved, 4"-5"-long ribs....... View full recipe for "~ Babyback Spareribs vs St. Lewis-Style Spareribs ~"

07/09/2022

~Guide to Indoor Grilling Chicken or Pork Tenderloins~

How many of you have invested in an indoor countertop grill or are considering investing in an indoor countertop grill? I have one, and, I am here to tell you, I love mine. It controls the heat perfectly, it's easy to clean, and, most importantly, I am no longer at the mercy of, hot or cold, the weather. to grill two of my favorite super-tender proteins: boneless-skinless chicken tenderloins, and, pork tenderloins. In honesty, I'm not an outdoor kinda gal, so indoor grilling is perfect for me. A bit about indoor grilling on indoor grills in general: Let's start with...... View full recipe for "~Guide to Indoor Grilling Chicken or Pork Tenderloins~"

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~"

06/17/2022

~My All-American All-Purpose Hamburger Seasoning~

When it comes to hamburgers, as long as mine arrives steaming-hot and medium-rare, I don't much care what you did to get it there. Cook it anyway you like or know how -- gas-grill it, charcoal-grill it, grill-pan it, pan-sear it, flat-top it, or broil it. Flip it once or flip it twice, that's fine with me too. Steaming-hot and medium-rare -- that's all I ask. I'm flexible about condiments too. Lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo? Awesome. Ketchup, mustard and pickles? Count me in. With or without cheese -- it matters not to me. Steaming-hot and medium-rare -- that's all...... View full recipe for "~My All-American All-Purpose Hamburger Seasoning~"

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~"

06/02/2022

~My Frittata Formula -- To Feed Two, a Few or a Crew~

Learning to make a frittata is a valuable culinary lifeskill. Commonly referred to as the Italian version of an omelette, a frittata is a concoction of whisked eggs and cream, sliced, diced or chopped previously-cooked vegetables, meat or seafood and/or grated cheese. I prefer to compare it to a custard-like quiche without a crust rather than an omelette because, like a quiche, a frittata is traditionally round and rather thick -- not at all elongated and comparatively flat (like the French and American omelettes). There's more. I think of an omelette as something that goes from stovetop to table in...... View full recipe for "~My Frittata Formula -- To Feed Two, a Few or a Crew~"

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~"

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 ~"

02/11/2022

~Pasta - Choose, Portion, Cook, Sauce, Toss & Serve~

The world is full of pasta-bilities. Our modern marketplaces have supplied all of our demands with hundreds of shapes, sizes, and colors of dried and fresh pasta. I suppose it is because pasta is relatively quick to cook that many Americans impulsively try to create their own versions of well-known pasta dishes having little or no knowledge of the tried and true, time-honored principles and classic recipe techniques these recipes require. What's worse, many American restaurants do the same. Trust me when I say, I'm happy to overlook a slightly over-cooked or over-sauced pasta dish served by a friend who...... View full recipe for "~Pasta - Choose, Portion, Cook, Sauce, Toss & Serve~"

01/30/2022

~How to Prebake, Freeze, Thaw & Finish-Bake Pizza~

In terms of comfort food, pizza is at the top of the short list. But, when the craving for a pizza hits, it's not exactly instant gratification -- eat-in requires a drive to your favorite pizza pub, delivery requires a wait to receive a less than idillic product, and, to make one from scratch requires even more time. Tick, tock. If you're looking for a way to work around this dilemma, you've come to the right place. Here in my kitchen, when I make pizza, I make one and freeze one. Keeping a few stored in my freezer means my...... View full recipe for "~How to Prebake, Freeze, Thaw & Finish-Bake Pizza~"

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~"

11/24/2021

~Take All the Guesswork Out of Portioning All Poultry~

What size bird to purchase, no matter what the occasion, tends to be confusing because, simply stated, all poultry is not created equal. Seasoned cooks will tell you size doesn't always matter, because some fowl, duck for instance, may appear to be large enough to feed six people, but, you'd be lucky if you get enough meat from one to adequately feed three. If you've never cooked a duck before, one duck comfortably feeds two people -- and I had to learn this the hard way. Every cook, novice or expert, at some point, finds him or herself asking the...... View full recipe for "~Take All the Guesswork Out of Portioning All Poultry~"

11/21/2021

~Twelve Easy Steps to the Perfect Turkey Day Turkey~

So you're cooking your first turkey today. Congratulations and worry not. I'm sharing my uber-easy foolproof method, which I've been using since before you were probably born, and, it works great for all turkeys -- fresh (never frozen), frozen (and completely thawed) or organic, it works. Period. Ready? Set? Get your bird out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours prior to roasting (to take the chill out of it). Before opening the package, make a note of its poundage and weight (so you can follow the timing guidelines below). Place the bird in the sink (a lot of juices are going...... View full recipe for "~Twelve Easy Steps to the Perfect Turkey Day Turkey~"

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 ~"

10/28/2021

~Frambled Egg - a Cross between Scrambled & Fried~

What the heck is a frambled egg? A funny typo? Is frambled even a word? The first time I saw it in print, I kinda did think it might be a typo, but, it got my attention and I kept on reading. The definition revealed it is a trendy new cooking term for something many of us older foodies, like myself, have been doing for years: making scrambled eggs without whisking the eggs first. Yep, it's even easier than making scrambled eggs -- you don't need a cup (or a bowl) or a fork (or a whisk). There's more. Eggs...... View full recipe for "~Frambled Egg - a Cross between Scrambled & Fried~"

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~"

09/30/2021

~ The Difference between Pickling and Quick Pickling ~

It's that time of year. The late-Summer early-Fall harvest. It can be daunting. Downright overwhelming. While I do can a few fruits and vegetables in the traditional manner (peaches and red beets to name two), I honestly do not love the exhausting, time-consuming process -- I also do not have anyone to stand by my side and help. Armed with only two hands, I much prefer quick-pickling in small batches or freezing in large quantities, but, only if or when either process can be applied without compromise -- for example, peaches are compromised by freezing, beets are best pickled and...... View full recipe for "~ The Difference between Pickling and Quick Pickling ~"

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~"