Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Rant: Supermarkets Must Stop Drowning Our Veggies. How to Fight Back.

Supermarkets these days commonly display fresh vegetables such as parsley, lettuce, spinach, and the like moistened by overhead sprayers triggered by timers. Customers who see that think unwittingly that it is done to maximize the 'freshness' of the veggies. Oh no. Their purpose is perverse. Their true purpose, as we know it from its inevitable effects, is to shorten shelf life after purchase by maximizing spoilage due to bacterial and fungal growth. Water is life. Without 'free' water microorganisms, can't grow.

And so, water can be the great destroyer. What to do? When you get a bunch of parsley or a head of celery home, remove the rubber bands that kill cells by reverse osmosis and stand them up to dry in your dish drainer. When dry, wrap loosely in dry paper towels (paper is sterile) and then in a loose plastic bag. Check every few days. Replace wet paper with fresh. Let the veggies breath. They are alive. Because plants are loaded with water (up to 90%) and because of gravity pushing reverse osmosis, the paper will need replacement from time to time. Manage your foodstuffs and minimize spoilage!

Leg of Lamb Roasted with Potatoes and Garlic

Developed December, 2019. Adapted from a method shown by Ira Garten on Food Network TV.
Roast Lamb with Potatoes and Garlic
5 to 6 lb (2.5 kg) boneless leg of lamb, tied or netted
1/4 c (half stick) butter
2 T fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced
2 T kosher salt, divided
1/2 T coarsely ground black pepper
3 T minced garlic
4 lb (2 kg) yellow or red potatoes, whole or quartered, skins on (omit for keto)
1/4 c olive oil
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
An hour before roasting, rinse and dry the roast. Place it in a large roasting pan. Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave, stir in half the salt and the other seasonings and spread all over the top of the roast and let stand at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C) and position the rack to midway. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves, the oil, half the salt, and mix well. Surround the roast with the potatoes and place in the oven uncovered. Roast for 75 to 90 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 135 F (60 C). Tent with aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes. Cut thin slices horizontally along the roast. Arrange on a platter with the roast potatoes. Serves 10 or more. Roast asparagus are a good side dish.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Quick Radish Pickle

Developed December, 2019. Ideal when you want to add something tangy and colorful to a plate.
1 large red radish
1/2 t red wine vinegar
1/2 t water
1/4 t sugar
1/8 t salt
Shave the radish paper thin on a mandolin or V-slicer. Combine the other ingredients in a small bowl. Stir in the radish slices and hold 5 minutes. Drain and pile like petals as a garnish or accent. Serves 1. Increase proportions as needed to make more servings.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Greene's Onion Burgers

A Detroit tradition, once operating at many busy corner grills across the region, now reduced to a single suburban outlet. Greene's cranked out thousands of simple, tasty cheap onion burgers with a very limited set of sides. No deep fryer. DrDaddy made his supper from these 'trefedick' sinkers on the nights after public school when he attended Hebrew school as he pursued his Bar Mitzvah status, just 70 yards from the Greene's white-tile walls. Counter service and carryout only. Years later, he would return to take away burgers. Now, to simulate the experience of carryout and the drive home to deliver the goodies, the sandwiches are wrapped in wax paper, bagged, and held 10 minutes before serving.
8 1/6 lb (75 g) ground chuck, formed into balls
plentiful white onions, thinly sliced into rings on a mandolin
8 soft white buns (toasted, optional)
pickle chips
yellow mustard
12x12 inch wax paper squares
paper bags
Heat the griddle to 325 F (165 C). With a stiff spatula, press a large raft of onions into  each ball of meat and flatten them together. Salt well, and press again. Open each bun and put the top on the bottom. When juices appear on upper surface of patty, flip and place bun on top. After a minute, lift patty and turn top of bun over, and put top on bottom. Flip and drop. Lift top of bun, add three pickle chips, a squirt of ketchup and of mustard. Wrap each burger in wax paper and groups the sandwiches in a bag. Pour a beer if you like. Wait. Reheat the bag in µwave if you must.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Hint: How to Break Down an Onion

Recorded October 30, 2013. Revised November 25, 2019. Revised May 29, 2021  

This discussion of how to turn an onion into slices and reasonably-uniform dice was adopted from a science of cooking course I teach to older adults at the local university. My hope was to show how understanding onion anatomy helpss to produce the best shape for the dish you are preparing, efficiently, safely, and with a minimum of tears.

An onion is formed of concentric layers made of tightly-packed tubules that transport water from the roots up to the leaves and carry nutrients made in the leaves down to the bulb for storage. These vessels run parallel to each other from root to leaf tip. This means that when you slice in the 'polar' direction, that is, parallel to polar axis from root to stem, you will cause the least cellular damage. Use this cut when you want onion pieces to keep their shape during cooking or perhaps in a salad. On the other hand, the equatorial cut slices through all the vessels, and so causes more cellular injury. Use this cut when you want the onions to break down, such as for caramelized onions.

To form dice, cut the onion in half through the poles. I usually rinse and dry the halves to reduce eye irritation. Retain a portion of the root when peeling. Then slice in the polar direction along the radii following the shallow grooves in the surface, stopping just short of the root. Then, to form dice of about equal thickness, cut across the leaves in the equatorial plane. No need to use the slow, dangerous horizontal cut that is classic.

Injured cells release an irritant chemical, syn-propanethial-S-oxide. Use a sharp knife to produce in fewer tears. Also, cold onions release less irritant because chemistry is slower when it's cold.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Quick Gravy

Developed November, 2019. A rapid microwave recipe for a gravy that is suitable for many purposes. It can top chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, or seafood dishes depending on which stock concentrate is used. We recommend the Better Than Bouillon™ product line.
1 c tap water
2 t stock concentrate
pinch of GP Seasoning
1 T tapioca (or corn) starch
Whisk the ingredients together thoroughly in a microwavable container. One that doubles for storage is handy. Heat on high, stirring every 30 seconds, until the mixture boils and thickens, taking care that it not boil over. Yields about a cup. Easily doubled.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Line-Cook Seafood Chowder

Developed November, 2019.This delicious chowder is adapted from a recipe posted to Reddit by a line cook who described it as a “signature soup at my restaurant Patrons love it, and I think you will too.” I agree. Well-balanced, creamy, and economical.
1 oz vegetable or olive oil
½ c (125 ml) chopped red onion
1 c (250 ml) diced celery
½ c (125 ml) diced carrot
3 c (650 g) diced yellow potatoes, skins on
1 T minced garlic
1 T salt
1 10-oz can baby clams with juice + 1.5 cans of water
1 T chicken stock concentrate
250 g cod fillet, or other firm white fish, cut into half-inch cubes
½ T ground black pepper
1 c (250 ml) half and half
2 c (500 ml) milk
1 T dry dill weed
1 T Old Bay seasoning
For the roux:
½ c (one stick) butter
½ c all-purpose flour
In a 6-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables, garlic, and salt. Heat thoroughly with stirring, cover, and turn off heat. Let the vegetables sweat for 10 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add the clams, clam juice, water, salt, pepper, and the stock concentrate. Cook over medium heat for 10 more minutes. Add the cod to the pot, and simmer for 5 more minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, in a small non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. When the bubbling stops, slowly stir in the flour. Cook about 4 minutes with constant stirring until the roux turns a light tan and is smooth. Combine the cream and the milk in a large measuring cup, and off heat, slowly pour half the cold dairy into the roux with continuous whisking. When smooth, mix with rest of the dairy remaining in the cup. Stir the roux mixture into the chowder, add the dill weed and Old Bay, and heat to a fast simmer with stirring until the chowder thickens into a smooth creamy texture. Yields about 2-1/2 quarts (liters). Serve with oyster crackers or hot biscuits.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Quick Black Bean,Tomato, & Spinach Soup

This hearty soup makes a satisfying one-pot, one-dish meal. Adapted from an earlier recipe for bean and spinach soup. Developed July, 2019.
2 T tomato paste
1 T olive oil
1 medium tomato, coarsely diced
4 oz kielbasa or andouille sausage, diced
1 t minced garlic
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander

pinch of red pepper flakes
1 t salt
1 t sugar
16 oz 
chicken stock
1 14.5 oz can Cuban-style black beans (Bush is good)

6 oz frozen or fresh leaf spinach 
  Heat the oil in a saucepan. Brown the tomato paste in the oil, add the tomato and the sausage and cook until browned. Add the seasonings, heat for a few seconds to bloom the flavor, and then stir in the beans and stock. Cook at a fast simmer over moderate heat with frequent stirring for 20 minutes. Mash the beans with a potato masher. Add the spinach, return to a simmer, and cook for another five minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serves 3 to 4. Pair with crusty bread, tortillas, or hot biscuits, for a complete meal. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Pork Cutlets

Pork Cutlet, Lemon Wedges, Braised Cabbage
Developed June, 2019. From freezer to table in less than an hour, this recipe yields a meaty entree similar to wiener schnitzel for a quick mid-week supper from "pantry" ingredients.
4 boneless pork loin chops, about 4.5 oz (125 g) each
general-purpose breader (see recipe)
1/4 c (60 ml) vegetable oil
chicken gravy (see recipe)
lemon wedges (optional)
Pound thawed chops to a 1/4 inch (6 mm) thickness between plastic wrap. Dredge in breader, shake off excess, and lay out to dry on a rack. Heat a 12-inch (30 cm) stainless-steel skillet over medium, add the oil, and when it reaches 325 F (160 C), carefully slide in the cutlets. Fry for about 5 minutes undisturbed but spooning oil over them. Turn over the cutlets and turn off heat. Let them cook through for 2 minutes. Cover with gravy and garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 4. Suggested sides: Peruvian rice and braised cabbage.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Quick Chicken Gravy

Adapted from our recipe for quick beef gravy, this recipe comes together quickly from pantry ingredients.
1 T vegetable oil
1 T wheat flour
1 t poultry seasoning 
1 c hot water, divided
1 T chicken stock base (Better than Bouillon™ is good)
1 t mushroom powder (shiitake or porcini)
1 t sugar

1 t fish sauce (optional)
1 T tapioca (or corn) starch dispersed in 1 T cold water
In a small saucepan, mix flour and oil. Heat over medium until a blonde roux forms, about 4 minutes. Stir in poultry seasoning. Off heat, cautiously add a ¼ cup hot water; stir until a smooth slurry is formed. Add the stock base, the mushroom powder, the sugar, and then the remaining hot water. Stir and simmer 5 minutes. Add the starch slurry, heat to steaming, and stir until it thickens. Easily doubled. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Cabbage and Tomato Soup

A light, flavorsome soup makes an appealing breakfast. Add flour tortillas for a more substantial meal.
1 qt water
2 T tomato paste
6 oz Napa cabbage, cut into bitesize pieces
1 small ripe tomato, diced
1 t minced garlic
1 T vegetable oil
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1 t fish sauce (optional)
1 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
3 green onions, cut on bias
1 t vinegar
Combine all ingredients except green onions and vinegar in three-quart saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook 15 minutes with occasional stirring. Add the green onions and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. Add vinegar and adjust seasoning to taste. Serves four.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Quick Scallion and Rice Soup

Developed May, 2019 in response to a need for an easy-to-digest, savory comfort food.
1 qt water
1/2 c scallions, cut on an angle
1 oz tomato paste
1 t salt
1 t fish sauce
2 T chicken stock concentrate
1 t butter
3/4 c rice
Gently boil all the ingredients together, except the rice, for 10 minutes. Add the rice and cook 15 minutes with occasional stirring. Adjust seasoning. Serves four.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Quick Vegetable Soup

This soup comes together quickly but delivers solid nourishment, savory taste, and appetizing aroma.
4 c water
1 oz tomato paste
2 c cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
2 T chicken or vegetable stock concentrate
2 t salt
1 t sugar
1 t fish sauce
1 t vinegar
1 envelope prepared lentils (Madras brand)
1 medium russet potato
Microwave the potato 3 minutes. When cool, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a three-quart saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the cabbage and tomato and boil slowly 20 minutes. Stir in the seasonings, the lentils, and the potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serves four.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning

Esteemed New Orleans cook Emeril Lagasse produces a creole spice blend and published the recipe widely. You can adjust the heat by how much cayenne pepper you include.
2-1/2 T paprika 
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
1 T onion powder
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T dried leaf oregano
1 T dried thyme
Combine the ingredients in a spice mill. Mill until smooth. Store tightly covered in the dark.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Beef Stroganoff

Developed March, 2019. After the slicing is done and the noodles are boiling, the dish comes together in about 10 minutes.
8 oz (250 g) flank or skirt steak
1/4 c (50 ml) flour
8 oz (250 g) brown mushrooms, sliced thickly
6 oz (175 g) frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 T (30 ml) butter
2 T (30 ml) olive oil
2 t (10 ml) minced garlic
3/4 c (175 ml) dry red wine
1-1/2 c (350 ml) beef stock
3/4 c (175 ml) sour cream
2 T (30 ml) paprika, divided
8 oz (250 g) tagliatelle or egg noodles, cooked al dente, and drained
Chill the beef 30 minutes in the freezer, slice thinly across the grain, and flatten each piece. With your fingers, mix the flour with the beef slices, season lightly with salt, and set aside. Heat the oil and butter over medium in a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet until sizzling stops. Add the mushrooms and salt lightly. Cook until softened but not browned. Add the onions and continue frying until softened. Add meat, garlic and half the paprika. Lower the heat and cook until meat loses its rawness. Add the wine, cook until almost gone, and add the stock. Bring to a simmer, stir in the sour cream, the remaining paprika, and the noodles. Cook gently until the sauce has thickened and the noodles are done. Adjust seasoning. Serves 2 to 3.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Oven-Braised Country-Style Beef Chuck Ribs

Developed January, 2019. This cut, sometimes called 'country-style beef ribs' has recently appeared in local markets. It brings a rich beefy flavor, tenderness, and some connective tissue for unctuous mouthfeel.
1-1/2 lb boneless beef chuck ribs
4 T vegetable oil, divided
2 T tomato paste
4 large carrots, peeled, cut lengthwise, and quartered
2 large parsnips, peeled, cut lengthwise, and quartered

1 medium yellow onion, sliced through poles
6 oz large mushrooms, quartered
1 T minced garlic
1-1/2 lb green cabbage. cut into wedges, or 2 c cauliflower florets
3/4 c dry red wine

2 bay leaves
5 peppercorns
2 allspice berries 
about 2 cups beef stock
Heavily salt the meat strips and dust with flour. [Hint: Flour in a shaker jar is useful for this and related purposes.] Heat half the oil over medium high in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting cover until it shimmers. Carefully add the beef strips. Fry, turning as it browns on all sides. Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C). Add the tomato paste, and then the vegetables in stages, adding oil and salt as needed, frying between additions. When all except the cabbage have been added and heated through, stir in the garlic, spices, and wine. Cook until reduced by two-thirds. Add enough stock to half cover the meat. Cover and roast about 90 minutes, turning every 30 minutes, until almost cooked. Add the cabbage or cauliflower, return to the oven, and roast until cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes. Serve in bowls over boiled egg noodles or steamed rice if desired. Alternatively, add 8 ounces of prepared potato gnocchi with the cabbage or cauliflower.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Ingredient: Boneless Chicken White Meat

Developed February, 2019. Many tasty dishes can be prepared from cooked chicken white meat. This method yields 8 ounces tender, recipe-ready meat.
8 oz boneless chicken breast cut into 1 inch strips or chicken tenders
2 c chicken stock
In a small saucepan, heat the stock to 160 F (70 C). Place raw chicken in the hot stock, stir, and cover. Turn off heat, and let stand until cool enough to handle. Proceed with recipe or wrap and chill for later use.Reserve enriched stock for another use such as chicken enchiladas.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Buttered Egg Noodles

Developed January, 2019 as an alternative to potatoes, rice or another starchy side dish.
8 oz (225 g) wide egg noodles
1/4 c low-fat margarine (or 2 T butter)
1/4 t garlic powder
1 t paprika
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 c sour cream
about 1/2 c cooking water
Bring two quarts of salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stir in egg noodles, and cook uncovered at a fast simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well, reserving the cooking water, and return noodles to the saucepan. Stir in margarine or butter until melted, then the seasonings, sour cream, and enough cooking water to produce a smooth but not watery sauce, stirring after each addition. Serves 4.