Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Asian Cabbage Salad

I got this recipe a few years ago from a friend of a friend.  It was Christmas night and my friends had invited me along to their friend's home for dinner.  I can't remember what I brought since I never come to someone's home empty handed, but the hostess served the most delicious salad with her meal, and she was happy to write down her recipe for me.  It's economical and oh so simple to make.

ASIAN CABBAGE SALAD

1 head cabbage, (green or purple) shredded
1 package Oriental flavor ramen soup
4 to 6 stalks green onions, (scallions), chopped
1 small package sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

Place cabbage,  green onions and almonds in a salad bowl.  Break ramen noodles into small pieces and place on a baking dish.  Add sesame seeds and toast in broiler until the noodles turn golden brown and crisp.  Add to salad mixture

Dressing

3 to 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 cup oil
3 tablespoons sugar
ramen soup seasoning packet
salt and pepper 

Blend all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.  Pour over salad mixture and toss.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Fiasco

Well I don’t know if this proper forum to present this, So please feel free to delete it.

We had what I would classify as a “scam” perpetrated on us this Thanksgiving. Well we bought a Frozen 20 lb. Jenny-O turkey to prepare for the feast. Thought it would be enough – but inside the cavity was a bag “Gravy Base” that was nothing more then water, salt and some fat. And at that it weighed about 1-1/2 pounds.

Not bad enough, my wife kept saying that the turkey was small –Yup it was. The flaps at both ends had an accumulation of “Fat” much more then any time in the past.

So what do you do, it’s Thanksgiving morning, the Turkey is ready to be stuffed and cooked and everything is closed. Dh - you cook it!

But low and behold the roasting pan fills with about 3 to 3-1/2 pounds of juice.

To sum it up, our 20 lb Turkey ended up at about 15 lbs. Barely enough for the day!

Next year it will be a “Norbest” Turkey for us. – Just my thoughts.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The New "Old" Look

When I first started My Timeless Cuisine, (which was originally called "Timeless Cuisine,") my goal was to create was a forum for old-fashioned home style cooking, just like our mothers and grandmothers used to make.  I wanted to counter the fusion-food fancy-schmancy cuisine seen on many Food Network shows.  Granted, I love watching Food Network too, and if I were dining in a five-star restaurant that's the sort of cuisine I would expect to be served.  But I live in the real world, and my goal is to create a place where real people -- homemakers, working moms, stay-at-home dads, and people living on a budget, can find economical, good tasting and easy-to-prepare recipes with the occasional helpful tip mixed in.

I started out using a standard Blogger template and background photo.  It looked nice, but it was too generic.  Then I discovered Food Buzz, a network for food bloggers, and it has to be the best thing on the Net since, pardon the pun, sliced bread.  I've really been inspired by the other bloggers.  Many of them have well designed blogs with custom headers and really cool graphics.  Most of these bloggers are also outstanding food photographers, and that has become my biggest challenge.

I took a course in outdoor photography in college, and I'm a decent outdoor photographer.   Indoors I'm so-so, but when it comes to taking pictures of my food I'm a total washout.  My composition is okay, but the lighting is either too bright, too dark or too yellow.  I don't know how you guys do it, but you have me completely stumped.  So what to do?  Work with what I have, and not dwell on what I don't have. 

Since my interest is in classic foods and food history I figure why not carry that theme more prominently here? Why not make this blog look and feel more like an old cookbook?  If you've ever seen old cookbooks you've probably noticed that many of them used clip art, illustrations, and black and white photography.  Technology was different back then, and color printing was quite expensive.   I've already been using clip art on this blog, and I'm going to be using a lot more of it, along with black and white photos. (With the exception of my cake photos.)   That should cure the yellowing and lighting problem.  Hopefully you all will like it.  If not you wouldn't be here, right?  One thing is certain--this blog won't look generic anymore.

GM

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bathing Tom Turkey

One of the more "interesting" activities of preparing the traditional Thanksgiving feast is making sure the turkey is thoroughly washed and properly prepared for roasting.  Turkey, like any poultry, is prone to salmonella.  Salmonella is an airborne pathogen that can find its way to your turkey via improper handling at the packing house or by improper handling at your house. 

Most of us buy frozen turkeys, and the best way to defrost is to put them in the refrigerator several days before the Thanksgiving meal, but sometimes unexpected things happen. If you have to do a quick defrost the best way to proceed is by filling the sink with scalding hot water and soaking the bird.  You'll probably have to repeat these steps several times over the course of a few hours, but it sure beats trying to defrost the bird in the microwave.  Whichever defrosting technique you use, be sure to keep the bird covered, and the original wrapper works best.  Again, salmonella can be airborne, and an uncovered turkey, or any meat for that matter, left uncovered on a counter top to defrost, is an open invitation to trouble.

Once the turkey has been completely defrosted it needs a bath.  With any poultry I go on the assumption that salmonella is there, so I put it in the kitchen sink, (which by the way, needs to be cleaned and sanitized first), and I run the water over all over it.  Salmonella can hide in the nooks and crannies, so be sure to wash under the wings and thighs, and in the joints, and make sure to flush out the body cavity while you're at it.  Yes, this process can get a little messy, particularly if you're washing a big turkey, so if your faucet has a spray attachment use it as it will help make the job a little easier.

Once the turkey has been completely washed it's ready for the roaster or the fryer, or even the smoker, and be sure to wipe up any water that may have splashed on the counter tops and around the sink with a disinfectant wipe.  This helps prevent cross-contamination so you don't end up with a rather nasty, uninvited guest.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

GM

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Historic Recipe -- Refrigerator Rolls

Thanksgiving, for many of us, brings back wonderful memories of family feasts at Grandma's house, and many of our grandmothers were pretty darn good cooks because they made just about everything from scratch.

This recipe, courtesy of Anna's Kitchen, is typical of what our grandmothers used to make.  It adds a little homegrown nostalgia to the holiday with less prep time than many other bread recipes.   Please note that scalding milk is an old technique that was used before pasteurization became as common as it is today.  To achieve "lukewarm" milk simply microwave it for about 30 seconds.  You may also prefer to use plastic wrap to cover the bowl instead of a dampened kitchen towel with waxed paper.  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.

REFRIGERATOR ROLLS

3/4 milk, scalded
1/4 cup sugar, or 3 tablespoons strained honey
3 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 cake compressed yeast, or 1 package granular yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 1/2 cups sifted enriched flour

Pour milk over sugar, shortening, and salt in mixing bowl.  Cool to lukewarm.

Soften yeast in lukewarm water; add egg and mix well; add to milk mixture. 

Sift flour once, measure; add about half to yeast mixture and beat thoroughly.  Add remaining flour; mix well.  Place dough in greased bowl; cover, and let rise in warm place for about 1 hour.  Punch down, grease top of dough lightly; cover bowl with a slightly dampened towel and waxed paper; tie securely.  Store in refrigerator or cold place until needed.

About 2 1/2 hours before baking, take from refrigerator amount of dough needed.  Shape as desired.  Cover and let rise until double in bulk (about 2 hours).  Bake in hot oven (425º F.) for about 20 minutes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Baked Sweet Potatoes -- a Hassle Free Thanksgiving Side Dish

I love cooking a full-course Thanksgiving dinner, but it's a lot of work.  So much food--so little time.  I have, however, figured out one quick little shortcut that helps save time, and confusion, in the kitchen.

I first discovered baked sweet potatoes at a buffet restaurant.  The friend I was dining with pointed them out to me and raved about how good they were.  I'm not a big sweet potato fan myself, but I sure noticed what an easy side dish it would be to make.  It's simply a sweet potato, or a yam, quartered and wrapped in tinfoil, and baked.

I tried it myself a couple of Thanksgivings ago, and it was a big hit.  Less time and hassle than candied yams, no casserole dish to wash, and a few less calories to boot.  Just quarter a yam, wrap in foil, and bake at 350° for about an hour.  Now what's not to like about that?

GM

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Cure for Mashed Potato Phobia

I'll bet if I were to take a poll and ask Americans what is their favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, the answer would mostly likely be the mashed potatoes.  I like the turkey and stuffing, but Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without the mashed potatoes.  Amazingly enough, there are people out there who forgo mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving because they're "unhealthy" or "too fattening."  Now that's what I call, "Mashed Potato Phobia."  Good thing I'm not having my Thanksgiving dinner at any of their houses!  If I found out my host or hostess wasn't serving mashed potatoes I'd bring my own. 

No one needs to be phobic about mashed potatoes.  There are some really simple ways to make them more "healthy," so you don't have to deprive your guests of their favorite part of the meal.  In fact, I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  This is how I always make my mashed potatoes, Thanksgiving or not, and everyone loves them.  So here is my cure for "Mashed Potato Phobia."

Keep the skin on the potato.  

Remember when we were kids and our parents told us that the skin was the best part of the potato?  Well, they were right.  Potato skins are high in vitamins and a good source of fiber.  The skin also has the most flavor.  So instead of peeling my potatoes I wash them thoroughly, dice them, and boil them.  The skins add a wonderful flavor and texture to the finished mashed potatoes.

Use skim milk, 2% milk, chicken stock, or a combination thereof.

Chicken stock, along with the skins, adds even more flavor while cutting back on fat and calories.  I would recommend however using at least little bit of milk along with it just to add that creaminess and thickness.

Skip the butter and margarine.  Use a transfat free buttery spread.

My favorite is Brummel & Brown.  It tastes just as good as butter, and again cuts down on the calories and fat.  It's cholesterol free too. 

See how simple that was?  With just a few easy steps everyone can enjoy healthier, and more flavorful, mashed potatoes.

GM

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our Mother's Recipes - Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Last night I hosted a potluck dinner for my Toastmasters club.  I'd originally planned to serve my Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bundt Cake for dessert, which I did, but then we had a number of last minute cancellations.  People are either in bed with colds or flu, or some family obligation had come up, so at the last minute I had to add another dish to help fill the gap.

My mother gave me this recipe many years ago.  She acquired it after Dad retired and they joined an Airstream Club.  Potluck dinners were common practice at their Airstream rallies, and, living in Arizona, it soon became a favorite for our family get-togethers as well.  It's quick, easy to prepare and tastes delicious.


CHICKEN ENCHILADA CASSEROLE

2 cans chicken - 9.75 oz size
1 bag restaurant style tortilla chips
1 small can diced green chilies
1  cup corn
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
breadcrumbs (optional)

Generously coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Fill bottom of the pan with broken tortilla chips -- about 1/4 inch thick.  Add chicken, breaking it into smaller pieces.  Add green chilies and corn.  Blend soups together in a medium sized mixing bowl and pour over top.  Cover top layer with cheese, add bread crumbs, if desired.  Bake at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted and slightly browned. 

Variations:  For those who like it hot -- use jalapeno or chilpotle peppers instead of green chili peppers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our Mother's Recipes - Apple Flapjacks

Recently I volunteered to put together an "educational" gift basket for my Toastmasters club.  We decided to go with a food and cooking theme, so my contributions included a copy of Anna's Kitchen, my WWII ration recipe cookbook, as well as some old family recipes printed out on index cards.

The recipes I selected for the gift basket came from a recipe box that one of my friends had given me.  It belonged to her late mother and they were the foods she grew up with.  The following is one of the recipes I picked.  I chose it because it's simple, wholesome and perfect for brisk fall mornings.


APPLE FLAPJACKS

1 tablespoon shortening
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped apples
1 cup milk

Cream shortening and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Add beaten eggs and blend.  Sift flour with baking powder and cinnamon and add to egg mixture.  Add milk, gradually, until batter reaches a medium consistency.  (If batter is too thick add small amounts of milk until desired thickness is reached.)  Fold in chopped apples.  Cook on hot griddle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sweet and Tangy Peach Pork Chops

I've been inspired by other food bloggers posting recipes for pork chops using apricot preserves as a glaze.  Neat idea, but the problem is I never much cared for apricots, which is a polite way of saying that I don't like them.

Pork chops have always been a so-so dish for me.  I don't dislike pork chops, but they've never been on my top ten list of favorite foods either.  The flavor is okay, but they're just a tad too dry for my taste.  Nonetheless, it's nice to take a break from beef, chicken and fish from time, so the other day when I found pork chops at the supermarket for a decent price, I decided to be a little creative and see what I could come up with.

Instead of apricot preserves I used peach preserves.  I love peaches, but they are really sweet so I wanted to add something to offset the sweetness just a little, like lemon juice.  The result came out quite nicely.

I'm still not a big pork chop fan, but this recipe certainly makes them more palatable, and it would be a dish worthy of serving to guests.


SWEET AND TANGY PEACH PORK CHOPS

1 package thick cut pork chops -- approximately 6 to 8 chops
2 - 3 tablespoons peach preserves
2 - 3 tablespoons lemon juice
lemon pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Wash pork chops thoroughly, shaking off excess water.  Place on paper towel to drain.

Mix peach preserves and lemon juice in a prep bowl.  (If thicker glaze is preferred use less lemon juice.)  Place pork chops on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, or sprayed generously with cooking spray.  Apply peach glaze mixture with pastry brush, sprinkle with lemon pepper, if desired.  Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°.  Serve.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Roast Beef -- Another Good Old-Fashioned Comfort Food

I'm wondering if I may have been a cannibal in a previous life.  I've always loved rare beef, whether it's a T-bone steak, prime rib, or good old fashioned roast beef.  There's just nothing quite like it.

There are a number of different cuts of roast beef available at the meat counter.  My favorite is rump roast, but if it's not available, or if it's just too expensive, I can still create a decent roast beef dinner with a round roast. 

The secret to cooking any roast, regardless of the cut, or how well you like it cooked, is having a good meat thermometer.  It takes much of the guesswork out and will yield the best results.  For very rare to medium rare you'll need to roast the meat until it reaches an internal temperature between 115°F and 140° F.  Those who like their roast beef on the medium to medium well side should cook it to 145° to 170°, with well done being 170° and above.  (For me a well done steak or roast beef is tasteless, but to each his own.)

I prefer to roast my meat at a lower temperature, 350°, and I usually allow a good 20 to 30 minutes per pound before I start checking the meat thermometer.  Remember, if it's too underdone you can always cook it a little longer, but once it's overcooked you can't fix it.  When the desired internal temperature is reached I remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before carving.  Add some mashed potatoes and gravy, and you'll have yourself a plateful of good, old-fashioned comfort food.

GM

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Historic Recipe -- Spilt Pea Soup

There's nothing quite like hot soup on a blustery fall day, and split pea soup is a classic.  This particular version comes from Anna's Kitchen, my historic WWII ration recipe cookbook.


SPLIT PEA SOUP

8 oz. cooked cubed ham (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 ham bone
2 1/2 quarts ham stock
1 1/2 cups split green peas
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sliced onion
4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour

Place ham bone, stock, peas, seasonings and onion in large pan. Simmer 2 hours. Strain. Melt butter, add flour and blend. Add a small amount of soup stock and stir until smooth, then stir into soup to thicken slightly. Let cubes of ham heat in soup before serving. Makes 4 generous servings.

Modern adaptation: Corn starch may be used in place of flour.

Monday, November 8, 2010

When In Doubt Throw It Out

Most of our mothers taught us to check the food before we prepare it.  A slimy texture, an off color, or a bad odor is an indicator that the food has begun to spoil.

Spoilage is caused by bacteria.  As we learned in our grade school science classes, bacteria are single-celled organisms that find many of our favorite foods just as yummy as we do.  In fact, they like our food so much that they decide to take up residence.  They reproduce, form colonies, and as they eat, grow and eliminate body waste, they begin to break the foods down, or decompose them.  That's what causes the sliminess, the mushiness, and the bad smell.

There seems to be some debate among the experts as to whether or not eating spoiled food will make you sick.  While the bacterias that cause the food spoilage itself may not make us sick, it's a safe bet that if those bacteria are present then the pathogens that do cause food-borne illnesses are probably in the mix as well.  And since most of us don't have microscopes in our kitchens it's best to err on the side of caution.

While we may not be able to prevent all spoilage we can take steps to slow it down.  One of the easiest is to pay attention to the "sell by" dates on the package of meat or fish, and be sure to either cook or freeze these items by that sell by date.  Whenever I buy meat on the sell by date I don't bother freezing it. I make it a point to cook it that day.

As soon as I remove uncooked meat or fish from the package I take a good whiff.  If I detect any kind of a foul odor I immediately throw it out.  Washing or cooking the meat simply may not destroy the pathogens that cause food borne illnesses.  It's a bummer when you have to waste an expensive piece of meat or fish, but which is more costly, the price of the meat, or cost of the emergency room bill?

Keep cold foods cold.  Take fresh foods, especially meat and fish, straight home from the grocery store and freeze or refrigerate them promptly.  That means leaving your food shopping for last.  Sure, we all want to conserve time and gasoline, but if you're meeting a friend for lunch, have a doctor's appointment, or need to pick up your kids from soccer practice, be sure to get it all done before you stop at the grocery store.

I also have a three-day rule.  After three days in the refrigerator I either cook it or freeze it.  Same with leftovers.  I either freeze them or toss them out after three days.  It may seem wasteful to some, but it simply isn't worth taking the chance on contracting food poisoning.

Food safety is something I just don't compromise on.  It's like Mother said,  "When in doubt, throw it out."

My tip for the day.

GM

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Continuing Quest to Make the Perfect Meatball Sandwich

I had a buddy who used to run a bistro in an antique mall here in Tucson.  She made the best darn meatball sandwiches I've ever tasted.  She always made them on Wednesdays, so Wednesday lunch at her bistro quickly become a part of my routine. 

Times have a way of changing.  She closed down her bistro when her daughter was born, and she's since moved to another state.  Now I'm trying to replicate her wonderful meatball sandwiches, and I'm happy to say I'm getting pretty darn close.  I've come up with a better meatball recipe, and then I add a little bit of jarred spaghetti sauce, just enough to cover the meatballs, and make the sandwich yummy. 

MEATBALL SANDWICH

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce 
1 package sandwich rolls
sliced or grated Mozzarella cheese  (optional)

Blend ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, egg and seasonings in a large mixing bowl.  Roll meat mixture into 1 to 1 1/2 inch meatballs and place in a baking dish about an inch apart.  Bake at 350° F for about 45 minutes or until meatballs are cooked all the way through. 

Remove meatballs from the oven.  Pour a small amount of spaghetti sauce into a saucepan.  Heat on medium to medium low heat to prevent sauce from burning.  As sauce is heating add meatballs and gently blend enough to cover the meatballs with sauce without breaking them.  As soon as sauce begins to simmer remove from heat.  Spoon meatballs with sauce into a sliced sandwich roll.  Add cheese.  If desired, place sandwich under a broiler to melt the cheese.  Serve hot.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Meat Eater's View of Vegans and Vegetarians

I just read a very thought provoking blog over on Food Buzz written by a vegan talking about her lifestyle and how others perceive her. I expected her to be very haughty and self-righteous. Instead I read a thoughtful missive, written by a sensitive, warm-hearted woman, with whom I could make a connection, even though I myself am a meat-eater.

Back when I was in college I suffered from horrible allergies. I tried allergy pills, allergy shots, and avoiding everything I was allergic to, but nothing seamed to help.  This was during a time when the popular culture was vilifying red meat and sugar, so I thought that if I eliminated beef, pork and sugar from my diet my health would improve. I don't know what label would have applied to me as I was still eating chicken and fish, but to me it was a "vegetarian" lifestyle.

It was an interesting experience. I lost about five pounds without even trying, but in the ensuing months I caught cold after cold after cold.  This was not at all normal for me, so after about six months I gave up and resumed eating meat again. As soon as I did, I stopped catching so many colds. I learned that at least for me, there was something in red meat that my body needed in order to have a strong immune system.

What was also interesting was the way others reacted to me during that time. Whenever I told anyone I was a "vegetarian"  I would often get raised eyebrows and be asked a lot of questions why.  Many times I had to explain that I was doing this for health reasons only, and not for political reasons.  I also got pressure from some of my red meat eating friends as well as family members. They acted like there was something wrong with me for no longer eating steaks and hamburgers, probably because steaks and hamburgers had always been some of my favorite foods.

Perhaps it's a misconception that all vegetarians are arrogant snobs who confront others for eating prime rib or pork chops. I do recall seeing a news story on television a few years ago, back when Paul McCartney was getting ready for his wedding to Heather Mills, which mentioned that he'd made it known that anyone working at his wedding site who brought any kind of meat in their lunchboxes was to be fired immediately. That is indeed stomping on other people's boundaries, and I suppose that kind of bad attitude from a high profile vegetarian is the reason why other vegetarians may be getting an undeserved bad rap. However none of the vegetarians I've known, (and I admit I haven't known that many), have had that kind of mentality. Instead of looking down their noses, they appreciated my efforts to prepare meals for them that they could enjoy, or taking them to restaurants that had some vegetarian choices on their menus.

Food choices are very personal and people make them for many reasons, be they religious, cultural, health related, or even political. I won't condemn anyone for being a vegetarian, but at the same time I expect vegetarians to respect my choice to eat meat.

My thought for the day.

GM

Monday, November 1, 2010

Southwestern Salsa Chicken

Having lived in the southwestern United States for almost all of my life means I've been influenced by local flavors and south of the border cooking.  The other night I was trying to come up with something creative and different for chicken, so I made my own interpretation of salsa chicken.  I used ingredients already in my refrigerator and pantry, and I ended up with a delicious dish.

SOUTHWESTERN SALSA CHICKEN

2 to 4 boneless chicken breasts
4 to 6 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup cooking oil
12 ounces of salsa
1/4 cup water
white wine vinegar
shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Lightly coat the chicken in flour.  Heat oil in skillet or saute pan.  Once oil is hot add chicken and fry on both sides until golden brown.  Remove chicken from pan and pour out excess oil.  Place chicken back in pan and pour a splash of white wine vinegar on each piece of chicken.  Add salsa and water and blend.  (I used the Safeway store brand salsa with extra garlic, but any flavor of salsa will do.) Cover and simmer on low for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through and the salsa has reduced down.  Sprinkle cheese on top of each chicken breast, cover and simmer for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.  Serve with Spanish rice.  Yields 2 to 4 servings.
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