Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
This gingerbread recipe includes molasses, as well as honey and brown sugar. It also has instructions for those who want to make an icing for the gingerbread. But I think all you need to "finish" a good piece of gingerbread is a dollop of whipped cream.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Making the situation even tougher, a new study this week by the National Cancer Institute concluded that eating too much red meat can shorten life spans.
So far, though, beef sales in the U.S. are suffering largely because consumers aren't eating as much at restaurants. Beef sales to food-service establishments were down nearly 5% last year, according to figures from food-consulting firm Technomic Inc. Sales to supermarkets and other retail outlets rose 2% as consumers started cooking more at home.
. . . Historically, half of all beef sales in the U.S. go to the food-service industry . . . But dining at casual chains is down, thanks in part to the recession, according to Knapp-Track, which follows sales at about 10,000 dining outlets.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Smooth versus chunky. Skippy versus Jif. Grape versus strawberry versus raspberry versus peach. (Peach!) White versus wheat versus pita. (Pita!) Crust on versus crust off. And let's not get started on diagonal slicing versus horizontal.
You might not have known this, but walking among us are people who eat what might be called a PBB&J: The first thing they spread on their bread is a layer of butter. Some of these people claim to have grown up on dairy farms, where, apparently, you put butter on everything, just to keep from being suffocated by the stuff.
Of course, these are all but variations on the original holy trinity: bread, peanut butter, jelly. My question was whether to plunge the knife into the peanut butter first or the jelly.
"I spread the jelly first, lavishly (because I like the jelly more); rinse the knife, then dip into the peanut butter," wrote Ann Van Aken of Gaithersburg.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Who knew that I could get as many grams of fiber from Cocoa Pebbles as I could from a bowl of Cheerios or a slice of whole wheat bread?
After a little research, I learned that higher doses of fiber are showing up in all sorts of bizarre places, like yogurts, cookies, brownies, ice creams, and diet drinks.. . . The fiber in Cocoa Pebbles comes from a little-known ingredient called polydextrose, which is synthesized from glucose and sorbitol, a low-calorie carbohydrate.
And, according to Gershman, we can thank the FDA for this nonsense.
Recent FDA approvals have given manufacturers a green light to add polydextrose to a much broader range of products than previously permitted . . .
The problem with this is that nobody knows if these fiber additives possess the same health benefits as natural fiber found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber, which consists of nondigestible carbohydrates, was already one of the least understood nutrients even before the introduction of ingredients like polydextrose.
. . . Polydextrose shares with dietary fiber one fundamental property: It seems to rev up your GI tract. It does so, however, at a fraction of the level of wheat bran. And while diets heavy in oat bran have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and whole grains have been linked to lower risks of heart disease, there's no evidence that polydextrose protects cardiovascular health.
Our government continues to allow major food producers to chemically alter our food supply and then spin it as a "healthy" change.
Monday, March 16, 2009
The N.Y. Times has a recipe for it that accompanies this article about ways to make cakes without all the typical time and fuss. The article was written by Melissa Clark, who says:
I’ve been building up a small repertory of quick, easy cakes that I can whip up without turning on (and later cleaning) the food processor or electric mixer.
The key is using liquid fat (oil or melted butter) that doesn’t require creaming, and chemical leavening (baking powder or soda or both) to eliminate the vigorous beating of eggs.
. . . Unlike the blander oils, good olive oil has character. I’ve had olive oil cakes and liked their pronounced flavor. I even baked one once, though it required beating yolks and whites separately with an electric mixer, which disqualified it from the quick category.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The name first shows up in English in the mid-17th century, derived from the French word "hacher," which means "to chop."
. . . In the 19th century, restaurants serving inexpensive meals became known as hash houses. Canned corned beef was a mainstay for British soldiers during both world wars.
. . . At the close of the 19th century, here in Washington hash was making headlines. Maggie Maloney, the cook for influential Ohio senator Mark A. Hanna, made a renowned corned beef hash for the regular breakfasts he hosted for friends, the president and political adversaries.
Political dignitaries angled for breakfast invitations as Hanna added leaves to his morning table. On more than one occasion, the New York Times reported, Maloney's hash "brought the light of reason to recalcitrant legislators."
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
We've been to the Georgetown restaurant La Chaumiere many times over the years. But last night's meal was noteworthy for two reasons.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Thankfully, the Weekend Journal section of the WSJ had this excellent article entitled "10 Ways to Save Money ordering Wine." Here are some excerpts, along with some commentary of my own:
1. Skip wine by the glass. Restaurateurs like to make enough on a single glass to pay for a whole bottle, which is great for them but not so great for you. And it wouldn't be so bad except that so many wines by the glass are poured from bottles that have been open for too long and mistreated after opening. At a trendy Asian restaurant in Manhattan, we recently ordered a New Zealand Pinot Noir by the glass for $12 that was served so warm it could have been our after-dinner tea.I have had this same experience -- very annoying. But there are exceptions to this rule. When you are dining at a wine bar or other establishment that makes proper storage, temperature-control, etc., a priority, ordering wine by the glass is a smart thing to do.
This rule shouldn't be considered absolute. Enough of us travel or find ourselves in other situations where we are dining alone, and we shouldn't be forced to buy a full bottle of wine that we can't possibly drink by ourselves.
If you order a glass of wine, and it has a musty taste or it is unacceptably warm, politely point this out to your server and send it back. That's one way to send the message.
5. Avoid the Chardonnay tax. Chardonnay is America's favorite wine. Just about everybody loves it and feels comfortable with it, which is why the Chardonnays on so many lists are grossly overpriced compared to other wines.I agree with this, but not simply because of the so-called Chardonnay "tax." I think most American Chardonnays have been strangled with so much oak that the fruit and bouquet are left virtually undetectable. There are other white wines that are underrated much as Chardonnays tend to be overrated (in my humble opinion).
The co-authors of the WSJ article suggest choosing either a Riesling or a Grüner-Veltliner. Those whites are certainly options, but also consider a Sauvignon Blanc or a Viognier. And you should try an up-and-coming white called Albariño (alba-reen-yo), assuming there is one on the wine-by-glass list. This white — popular in Spain and Portugal — has nice fruit and a light to medium body.
Friday, March 6, 2009
No matter how you cooked it, it just seemed like you were eating a piece of shoe leather. I have never eaten a cut of beef like that since, and one way I assess my success in life is that I no longer have to eat crap like that.
So you can imagine my surprise when I found this N.Y. Times article online. Kim Severson writes:
I am in love with the cube steak.
. . . The realization came to me not too long ago, when I found a package in the grass-fed beef bins where I buy my groceries. I took them home, patted them with some seasoned flour and slipped them into a hot skillet. Six minutes later I was right back at my childhood dinner table, when cube steaks on a Tuesday night meant life was safe, steady and predictable.
But my feelings for the cube steak are more than nostalgic. That I can get grass-fed cube steaks for about $8 a pound (half that if I go for conventionally raised beef) is a comfort to my budget, too.
Of course it's cheap -- lousy cuts of beef always are. I'm sure that the cube steaks my parents served us when I was a teen were not "grass-fed," but I refuse to even entertain the possibility that this alone would magically transform the gristle-like texture of a cube steak into something edible.
Severson seems to be looking for validation when she writes this:
The amount of cube steak sold during the last quarter of 2008 was up by almost 10 percent over the same period a year earlier. The overall amount of beef sold went up only 3 percent.
Nice try, Ms. Severson. Has she watched CNN or the other cable news channels recently? The economic meltdown and rising joblessness have made people desperate. Let me emphasize that word: desperate. Which proves, of course, that an atmosphere of desperation is what it takes to drum up interest in cube steak.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
“Why is organic peanut butter better than Jif?” said [Ellen] Devlin-Sample, a nurse practitioner from Pelham, N.Y. “I have no idea. If we’re getting salmonella from peanut butter, all bets are off.”
Although the rules governing organic food require health inspections and pest-management plans, organic certification technically has nothing to do with food safety.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
There were three pieces of advice I gave him. Since he's working from a Silver Palate cookbook, the temperature they recommend to cook the osso bucco is 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours. I told him to cook it at 325 degrees for an hour, then turn it down to 275 and let it braise for another full hour.
Here's my second piece of advice. Just add your spices (these vary from one recipe to the next), and don't worry about using a bouquet garni. It's a hassle that, in my opinion doesn't add anything to the final dish.
My third and final piece of advice? Be sure to include the lemon zest. Most osso bucco recipes call for it, but it's one of those ingredients that cooks tend to disregard if they don't have it readily on hand or if they're in a hurry. The lemon zest really adds a nice, subtle flavor.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
- add an extra tablespoon of honey
- reduce the amount of water to heat with the apricots and prunes to only 2/3 cup
- use fresh cilantro
- make some couscous to serve alongside the chicken -- it would soak up the wonderful juices that remain inside the tagine
Monday, March 2, 2009
"After his second or third helping," Peck recalled, "[Charley] would always sit back and say, 'Yessir, that's the best dressing in the world. Myrt's got a secret.' "
What he never found out was the secret: Aunt Myrt used to put about a pint of bourbon in her recipe.