One of America’s Favorites – Mashed Potatoes

January 30, 2023 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A serving of mashed potatoes in a bowl with two whole potatoes

Mashed potato or mashed potatoes (American and Canadian English), colloquially known as mash (British English), is a dish made by mashing boiled or steamed potatoes, usually with added milk, butter, salt and pepper. It is generally served as a side dish to meat or vegetables. Roughly mashed potatoes are sometimes called smashed potatoes. Dehydrated instant mashed potatoes and frozen mashed potatoes are available. Mashed potatoes are an ingredient in other dishes, such as dumplings and gnocchi.

Most authors recommend the use of “floury” potatoes with a high ratio of amylose in their starch to achieve a fluffy, creamy consistency and appearance. The best-known floury varieties are King Edward, golden wonder, and red rascal in Britain and the Russet in North America. However, some recipes use “waxy” potatoes containing more amylopectin in their starch for a different texture or look; for instance, one pounded mashed potato dish from Yunnan cuisine (in southwestern China), which uses waxy potatoes to achieve a chewy, sticky texture.

Butter, milk or cream, salt, and pepper are usually added. Many other seasonings may also be used, including herbs (notably parsley and chives), spices (notably nutmeg), garlic, cheese, bacon, sour cream, crisp onion or spring onion, caramelized onion, and mustard.

One French variation adds egg yolk for pommes duchesse or Duchess potatoes; piped through a pastry tube into wavy ribbons and rosettes, brushed with butter and lightly browned. Some French recipes for pomme purée (potato puree) use up to one part butter for every two parts potato. In low-calorie or non-dairy variations, milk, cream and butter may be replaced by soup stock or broth.

A plate of sausage and mashed potatoes, with cabbage and onion gravy, commonly known as “bangers and mash”

Mashed potato can be served as a side dish. In the British Isles, sausages served with mashed potatoes are known as bangers and mash. Mashed potato can be an ingredient of various other dishes, including shepherd’s and cottage pie, Orkney clapshot, pierogi, colcannon, dumplings, potato pancakes, potato croquettes and gnocchi. Particularly runny mashed potatoes are called mousseline potatoes.

In the United Kingdom, cold mashed potato can be mixed with fresh eggs and then fried until crisp to produce a potato cake. This dish is thought to have originated in Cornwall and is a popular breakfast item. When instead combined with meat and other leftover vegetables, the fried dish is known as bubble and squeak.

Mashed potatoes may be eaten with gravy, typically meat gravy, though vegetable gravy is becoming more common as the vegetarian and vegan trends see a rise in popularity.

A potato masher can be used to mash the potatoes. A potato ricer produces a uniform, lump-free, mash.

In India mashed potatoes made with spices, fried or not, are called chaukha. Chaukha is used in samosas in India and with littee specially in Bihar.

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One of America’s Favorites – Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

January 23, 2023 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A peanut butter and concord grape jelly sandwich on white bread

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich (PB&J) consists of peanut butter and fruit preserves—jelly—spread on bread. The sandwich may be open-faced, made of a single slice of bread folded over, or made using two slices of bread. The sandwich is popular in the United States, especially among children; a 2002 survey showed the average American will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating from high school. There are many variations of the sandwich, starting with the basic peanut butter sandwich or jam sandwich.

In basic preparation methods, a layer of peanut butter is spread on one slice of bread and a layer of fruit preserves is spread on another before the two sides are sandwiched together. (Jelly is a fruit-based spread, made primarily from fruit juice boiled with a gelling agent and allowed to set, while jam contains crushed fruit and fruit pulp, heated with water and sugar and cooled until it sets with the aid of natural or added pectin.

The water inherent to preserves can make the bread soggy, especially when the sandwich is prepared ahead of time as part of a bag lunch. To prevent this, the peanut butter can be spread first on both slices of bread. The fat in peanut butter will block the moisture from the preserves from entering the slices of bread. However, the preserves are now more mobile and can squirt out the sides. If the open sides are sealed, the preserves are thoroughly contained; this technique is utilized by the major manufacturers of sealed crustless sandwiches (e.g. “Uncrustables”).

Peanut butter and strawberry jam create a red-orange contrast

There are many variations on the sandwich; for example, honey or sliced fruit can be substituted for the jelly component, e.g., a peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Marshmallow fluff can also be substituted for the jelly, or added for extra flavor; this sandwich is called a “Fluffernutter”.

The popularity of almond butter has inspired some to transition to “almond butter and jelly” sandwiches; other nut butters are less common. Seed butters, such as sunflower seed butter are also possible peanut butter substitutes. Cream cheese, substituted for the peanut butter, makes a “cream cheese and jelly” sandwich. Nutella is another possible spread.

Peanut butter was originally paired with a diverse set of savory foods, such as pimento, cheese, celery, Worcestershire sauce, watercress, saltines and toasted crackers. In a Good Housekeeping article published in May 1896, a recipe “urged homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread the result on bread.” The following month, the culinary magazine Table Talk published a “peanut butter sandwich” recipe.

Sandwich preparation, where each slice of bread is protected by a layer of peanut butter

The first known reference for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich appeared in the Boston Cooking School Magazine in 1901; it called for “three very thin layers of bread and two of filling, one of peanut paste, whatever brand you prefer, and currant or crabapple jelly for the other”, and called it as “so far as I know original”. In the early 20th century, this sandwich was adopted down the class structure as the price of peanut butter dropped. It became popular with children with the advent of sliced bread in the 1920s, which allowed them to make their own sandwiches easily.

Since World War II, both peanut butter and jelly have been found on US soldiers’ military ration list.

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day occurs annually in the United States on April 2.

One of America’s Favorites – Sautéed Mushrooms

January 16, 2023 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Baby bella (portobello) mushrooms being sautéed

Sautéed mushrooms (French: Champignons sautés au beurre) is a flavorful dish prepared by sautéing edible mushrooms. It is served as a side dish, used as an ingredient in dishes such as coq au vin and beef bourguignon, in foods such as duxelles, as a topping for steaks and toast, and also as a garnish.

Sautéed mushrooms is a common dish prepared by the sautéing of sliced or whole edible mushrooms. Butter is typically used when sautéing the dish, and margarine and cooking oils such as olive oil and canola oil are also used. Clarified butter can be used, as can a mixture of oil and butter. The dish is typically cooked over a high heat until the mushrooms are browned, with the oil or butter being very hot in a pan before the mushrooms are added. Overcooking may create an inferior dish by causing the mushrooms to lose moisture and becoming shriveled.

A steak topped with sautéed shiitake mushrooms

During the cooking process, the dish can be deglazed with the use of wine, and wine can be used as an ingredient in and of itself without deglazing. The dish can be flavored with lemon juice, various herbs and seasonings, salt and pepper. Additional ingredients such as minced green onions and shallots can also be used. The dish is vegetarian, and may have a meat-like texture.

Sautéed mushrooms is sometimes served as a side dish, and is also used as an ingredient in the preparation of dishes and foods such as beef bourguignon, coq au vin, poulet en cocotte, Poulet Saute Chasseur, soups and stews, sauces, and duxelles, a paste prepared by sautéing mushrooms, onions, shallots, and herbs in butter. Sautéed mushrooms is also used as a topping for cooked steaks and toast, as a side dish meant to specifically accompany steaks, and as a garnish. The dish can serve to add significant flavor to various dishes, in part per the glutamic acid present in the cells of edible mushrooms.

One of America’s Favorites – Cincinnati Chili

January 9, 2023 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A Cincinnati chili 4-way garnished with oyster crackers

Cincinnati chili (or Cincinnati-style chili) is a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce used as a topping for spaghetti or hot dogs (“coneys”); both dishes were developed by Macedonian immigrant restaurateurs in the 1920s. In 2013, Smithsonian named it one of the “20 Most Iconic Foods in America”. Its name evokes comparison to chili con carne, but the two are dissimilar in consistency, flavors and serving methods, which for Cincinnati chili more resemble Greek pasta sauces and the spiced-meat hot dog topping sauces seen in other parts of the United States.

Ingredients include ground beef, water or stock, tomato paste, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, cumin, chili powder, bay leaf, and in some home recipes unsweetened dark chocolate in a soupy consistency. The most popular order is a ‘three-way’, which adds shredded cheddar cheese to the chili-topped spaghetti (‘two-way’), while serving it ‘four-‘ or ‘five-ways’ comes from addition of chopped onions and/or beans. Dishes are often served with oyster crackers and a mild hot sauce. Cincinnati chili is almost never served or eaten by the bowl.

While served in many local restaurants, it is most often associated with the over 250 independent and chain “chili parlors” (restaurants specializing in Cincinnati chili) found throughout greater Cincinnati with franchise locations throughout Ohio and in Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, and the Middle East. The dish is the Cincinnati area’s best-known regional food.

Skyline Chili location in Cincinnati

Cincinnati chili originated with immigrant restaurateurs from Macedonia who were trying to expand their customer base by moving beyond narrowly ethnic styles of cuisine. Ethnic Macedonians Tom and John Kiradjieff immigrated from the town of Hrupishta (today’s Argos Orestiko in Greece), fleeing the Balkan Wars, ethnic rivalries, and bigotry, in 1921. They began serving a “stew with traditional Mediterranean spices” as a topping for hot dogs which they called “Coneys” in 1922 at their hot dog stand located next to a burlesque theater called the Empress, which they named their business after. Tom Kiradjieff used the sauce to modify a traditional Greek dish, speculated to have been pistachio, moussaka or saltsa kima to come up with a dish he called chili spaghetti. He first developed a recipe calling for the spaghetti to be cooked in the chili but changed his method in response to customer requests and began serving the sauce as a topping, eventually adding grated cheese as a topping for both the chili spaghetti and the Coneys, also in response to customer requests.

To make ordering more efficient, the brothers created the “way” system of ordering. The style has since been copied and modified by many other restaurant proprietors, often fellow Greek and Macedonian immigrants who had worked at Empress restaurants before leaving to open their own chili parlors, often following the business model to the point of locating their restaurants adjacent to theaters.

Gold Star Chili restaurant interior

Empress was the largest chili parlor chain in Cincinnati until 1949, when a former Empress employee and Greek immigrant, Nicholas Lambrinides, started Skyline Chili. In 1965, four brothers named Daoud, immigrants from Jordan, bought a restaurant called Hamburger Heaven from a former Empress employee. They noticed that the Cincinnati chili was outselling the hamburgers on their menu and changed the restaurant’s name to Gold Star Chili. As of 2015, Skyline (over 130 locations) and Gold Star (89 locations) were the largest Cincinnati chili parlor chains, while Empress had only two remaining locations, down from over a dozen during the chain’s most successful period.

Besides Empress, Skyline, and Gold Star, there are also smaller chains such as Dixie Chili and Deli and numerous independents including the acclaimed Camp Washington Chili. Other independents include Pleasant Ridge Chili, Blue Ash Chili, Park Chili Parlor, Price Hill Chili, Chili Time, Orlando based Cincinnati Chili Company, and the Blue Jay Restaurant, in all totaling more than 250 chili parlors. In 1985 one of the founders of Gold Star Chili, Fahid Daoud, returned to Jordan, where he opened his own parlor, called Chili House. Outside of Jordan, Chili House as of 2020 had locations in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Turkey and Qatar.

Partially eaten 5-way from Skyline, garnished with oyster crackers

In addition to the chili parlors, some version of Cincinnati chili is commonly served at many local restaurants. Arnold’s Bar and Grill, the oldest bar in the city, serves a vegetarian “Cincy Lentils” dish ordered in “ways.” Melt Eclectic Café offers a vegan 3-way. For Restaurant Week 2018, a local mixologist developed a cocktail called “Manhattan Skyline,” a Cincinnati chili-flavored whiskey cocktail.

The history of Cincinnati chili shares many factors in common with the apparently independent but simultaneous development of the Coney Island hot dog in other areas of the United States. “Virtually all” were developed by Greek or Macedonian immigrants who passed through Ellis Island as they fled the fallout from the Balkan Wars in the first two decades of the twentieth century.

Raw ground beef is crumbled in water and/or stock, tomato paste and seasonings are added, and the mixture is brought to a boil and then simmered for several hours to form a thin meat sauce. Many recipes call for an overnight chill in the refrigerator to allow for easy skimming of fat and to allow flavors to develop, then reheating to serve. Typical proportions are 2 pounds of ground beef to 4 cups of water and 6 oz tomato paste to make 8 servings.

Ordering Cincinnati chili is based on a specific ingredient series: chili, spaghetti, shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, and kidney beans. The number before the “way” of the chili determines which ingredients are included in each chili order. Customers order a:

Skyline cheese Coney (hot dog topped with Cincinnati-style chili, mustard, onions, and a heap of shredded cheese)

* Two-way: spaghetti topped with chili (also called “chili spaghetti”)
* Three-way: spaghetti, chili, and cheese
* Four-way onion: spaghetti, chili, onions, and cheese
* Four-way bean: spaghetti, chili, beans, and cheese
* Five-way: spaghetti, chili, beans, onions, and cheese
small oval white plate with cheese Coney showing bun, hot dog, sauce, and shredded cheese
Skyline cheese Coney (hot dog topped with Cincinnati-style chili, mustard, onions, and a heap of shredded cheese)

* Some chili parlors will also serve the dish “inverted”: cheese on the bottom, so that it melts. Some restaurants, among them Skyline and Gold Star, do not use the term “four-way bean”, instead using the term “four-way” to denote a three-way plus the customer’s choice of onions or beans. Some restaurants may add extra ingredients to the way system; for example, Dixie Chili offers a “six-way”, which adds chopped garlic to a five-way. Cincinnati chili is also used as a hot dog topping to make a “coney”, a regional variation on the Coney Island chili dog, which is topped with shredded cheddar cheese to make a “cheese Coney”. The standard Coney also includes mustard and chopped onion. The “three-way” and the cheese Coney are the most popular orders.

Very few customers order a bowl of plain chili. Most chili parlors do not offer plain chili as a regular menu item. Polly Campbell, former food editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer, calls ordering a bowl of chili, “Ridiculous. Would you order a bowl of spaghetti sauce? Because that’s what you’re doing.”

Partially eaten 5-way from Skyline, garnished with oyster crackers

Serving and eating
Ways and Coneys are traditionally served in a shallow oval bowl. Oyster crackers are usually served with Cincinnati chili,[9] and a mild hot sauce such as Tabasco is frequently available to be used as an optional topping to be added at the table. Locals eat Cincinnati chili as if it were a casserole, cutting each bite with the side of the fork instead of twirling the noodles.

One of America’s Favorites – Barberton Chicken

January 2, 2023 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A traditional Barberton chicken dinner with four pieces of fried chicken, cole slaw, hot sauce, and fries served by Milich’s Village Inn

Barberton chicken, also known as Serbian fried chicken, is a style of fried chicken native to the city of Barberton in Summit County, Ohio. It is a distinctive Serbian-American style served in several mainly Serbian-owned restaurants in Barberton and nearby Norton and increasingly in other surrounding communities. The style of chicken has given the town national recognition, with some proclaiming Barberton to be the “Chicken Capital of the World” or the “Fried Chicken Capital of America.”

Barberton chicken began with Milchael and Smilka Topalsky, Serbian immigrants who arrived to America at the turn of the 20th century. Like many during the Great Depression, they became burdened with debt and were forced to sell their family farm. They opened a restaurant called Belgrade Gardens in 1933 in which they sold a distinctive style of fried chicken, along with a vinegar-based cole slaw, a rice and tomato sauce side dish seasoned with hot peppers (usually referred to as “hot sauce” or “hot rice”, which can also be eaten as a dipping sauce or a side dish), and freshly cut French fries. Barberton lore holds that these were exact replicas of what the Topalskys had known back in Serbia as pohovana piletina, kupus salata, djuvec, and pomfrit.

Soon other restaurants emerged which copied the distinctive style. Helen DeVore, who had worked for Belgrade Gardens, opened up Hopocan Gardens in 1946. White House Chicken Dinners was founded in 1950 by the Pavkov family, who owned the restaurant until the late 1980s when they sold it to the DeVore family. The Serbian-American Milich family opened Milich’s Village Inn, in 1955. The Milich family announced in July 2014 that they would close down their restaurant on December 31. A month later, the location reopened under new ownership as Village Inn Chicken, still serving the signature fried poultry.

Today, the four chicken houses serve over seven and a half tons of chicken per week. The chicken has become so popular that it is often shipped around the United States, usually to transplanted Ohioans. White House Chicken has recently expanded into several locations in northeastern Ohio, dropping the traditional sit-down style in favor of a fast food model.

* “True” Barberton chicken is fresh, never frozen.
* Neither the chicken nor the breading is seasoned with anything.
* The birds are fried in lard.
* The cut of the bird is different from usual. Birds are cut into many pieces, including breasts, thighs, legs, wings, drummettes, and backs. This is probably rooted in the Great Depression, when creating the most pieces per chicken without yielding any waste was necessary. The backs actually yield little meat, and are sometimes marketed as “chicken ribs” for their passing resemblance to beef or pork ribs.

One of America’s Favorites – Hoppin’ John

December 26, 2022 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Hoppin’ John

Hoppin’ John, also known as Carolina peas and rice, is a peas and rice dish served in the Southern United States. It is made with cowpeas (mainly, Black-eyed peas, Sea Island red peas in the Sea Islands and Iron and clay peas in the Southeast US) and rice, chopped onion, and sliced bacon, seasoned with salt. Some recipes use ham hock, fatback, country sausage, or smoked turkey parts instead of bacon. A few use green peppers or vinegar and spices. Smaller than black-eyed peas, field peas are used in the South Carolina Lowcountry and coastal Georgia; black-eyed peas are the norm elsewhere.

In the southern United States, eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale, cabbage and similar leafy green vegetables served along with this dish are supposed to further add to the wealth, since they are the color of American currency. Another traditional food, cornbread, can also be served to represent wealth, being the color of gold. On the day after New Year’s Day, leftover “Hoppin’ John” is called “Skippin’ Jenny” and further demonstrates one’s frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year.

Hoppin’ John was originally a Lowcountry food before spreading to the entire population of the South. Hoppin’ John may have evolved from rice and bean mixtures that were the subsistence of enslaved West Africans en route to the Americas. Hoppin’ John has been further traced to similar foods in West Africa, in particular the Senegalese dish thiebou niebe.

Hoppin’ John – black-eyed peas and rice

One tradition common in the United States is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to ensure that the New Year will be filled with luck, fortune and romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck (or wealth) that the diner will have in the coming year. On Sapelo Island in the community of Hog Hammock, Geechee red peas are used instead of black-eyed peas. Sea Island red peas are similar.

American chef Sean Brock claims that traditional Hoppin’ John was made with Carolina Gold rice, once thought to be extinct, and Sea Island red peas. He has worked with farmers to re-introduce this variety of rice. As of 2017, several rice growers offer Carolina gold rice.

Other bean and rice dishes are seen in Southern Louisiana and in the Caribbean, and are often associated with African culinary influence in the Americas. Regional variants include the Guyanese dish “cook-up rice”, which uses black-eyed peas and coconut milk; “Hoppin’ Juan,” which substitutes Cuban black beans for black-eyed peas; the Peruvian tacu-tacu; and the Brazilian dish baião-de-dois, which also often uses black-eyed peas.

One of America’s Favorites – Cranberry Sauce

December 19, 2022 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce or cranberry jam is a sauce or relish made out of cranberries, commonly served as a condiment or a side dish with Thanksgiving dinner in North America and Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom and Canada. There are differences in flavor depending on the geography of where the sauce is made: in Europe it is generally slightly sour-tasting, while in North America it is typically more heavily sweetened.

The recipe for cranberry sauce appears in the 1796 edition of The Art of Cookery by Amelia Simmons, the first known cookbook authored by an American.

Although the Pilgrims may have been aware of the wild cranberries growing in the Massachusetts Bay area, sugar was scarce, so it’s unlikely that cranberry sauce would have been among the dishes served at the First Thanksgiving meal. Cranberries aren’t mentioned by any primary sources for the First Thanksgiving meal. The only foods mentioned are “Indian corn”, wild turkey and waterfowl, and venison. The rest remains a matter of speculation among food historians. Although stuffings are not mentioned in primary sources, it was a common way to prepare birds for the table in the 17th century. According to a “Thanksgiving Primer” published by the Plimoth Plantation, cranberries may have been used in the stuffing recipes, but it’s unlikely they would have been made into a sauce because sugar was very scarce.

Cranberry jelly from a can, sliced

Cranberry sauce was first offered to consumers in North America in 1912 in Hanson, Massachusetts. Canned cranberry sauce appeared on the market in 1941, allowing the product to be sold year-round. Cranberry sauce can be used with a variety of meats, including turkey, pork, chicken, and ham.

The most basic cranberry sauce consists of cranberries boiled in sugar water until the berries pop and the mixture thickens. Some recipes include other ingredients such as slivered almonds, orange juice, zest, ginger, maple syrup, port, or cinnamon.

Commercial cranberry sauce may be loose and uncondensed, or condensed or jellied and sweetened with various ingredients. The jellied form may be slipped out of a can onto a dish, and served sliced or intact for slicing at the table.

Cranberry sauce is often eaten in conjunction with turkey for Christmas in the United Kingdom and Canada or Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada, and it is only rarely eaten or served in other contexts there.

One of America’s Favorites – Stuffing

December 12, 2022 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Stuffing a turkey

Stuffing, filling, or dressing is an edible mixture, often composed of herbs and a starch such as bread, used to fill a cavity in the preparation of another food item. Many foods may be stuffed, including poultry, seafood, and vegetables. As a cooking technique stuffing helps retain moisture, while the mixture itself serves to augment and absorb flavors during its preparation.

Poultry stuffing often consists of breadcrumbs, onion, celery, spices, and herbs such as sage, combined with the giblets. Additions in the United Kingdom include dried fruits and nuts (such as apricots and flaked almonds), and chestnuts.

It is not known when stuffings were first used. The earliest documentary evidence is the Roman cookbook, Apicius De Re Coquinaria, which contains recipes for stuffed chicken, dormouse, hare, and pig. Most of the stuffings described consist of vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts, and spelt (a cereal), and frequently contain chopped liver, brains, and other organ meat.

Stuffed turkey

Names for stuffing include “farce” (~1390), “stuffing” (1538), “forcemeat” (1688), and relatively more recently in the United States; “dressing” (1850).

In addition to stuffing the body cavity of animals, including birds, fish, and mammals, various cuts of meat may be stuffed after they have been deboned or a pouch has been cut into them. Recipes include stuffed chicken legs, stuffed pork chops, stuffed breast of veal, as well as the traditional holiday stuffed turkey or goose.

Many types of vegetables are also suitable for stuffing, after their seeds or flesh has been removed. Tomatoes, capsicums (sweet or hot peppers), and vegetable marrows such as zucchini may be prepared in this way. Cabbages and similar vegetables can also be stuffed or wrapped around a filling. They are usually blanched first, in order to make their leaves more pliable. Then, the interior may be replaced by stuffing, or small amounts of stuffing may be inserted between the individual leaves.

Purportedly ancient Roman, or else Medieval, cooks developed engastration recipes, stuffing animals with other animals. An anonymous Andalusian cookbook from the 13th century includes a recipe for a ram stuffed with small birds. A similar recipe for a camel stuffed with sheep stuffed with bustards stuffed with carp stuffed with eggs is mentioned in T.C. Boyle’s book Water Music. Multi-bird-stuffed dishes such as the turducken or gooducken are contemporary variations.

Almost anything can serve as a stuffing. Many American stuffings contain a starchy ingredient like bread or cereals, usually together with vegetables, ground meats, herbs and

Stuffed orange pepper

spices, and eggs. Middle Eastern vegetable stuffings may be based on seasoned rice, on minced meat, or a combination thereof. Other stuffings may contain only vegetables and herbs. Some types of stuffing contain sausage meat, or forcemeat, while vegetarian stuffings sometimes contain tofu. Roast pork is often accompanied by sage and onion stuffing in England; roast poultry in a Christmas dinner may be stuffed with sweet chestnuts. Oysters are used in one traditional stuffing for Thanksgiving. These may also be combined with mashed potatoes, for a heavy stuffing. Fruits and dried fruits can be added to stuffing including apples, apricots, dried prunes, and raisins. In England, a stuffing is sometimes made of minced pork shoulder seasoned with various ingredients, sage, onion, bread, chestnuts, dried apricots, dried cranberries etc. The stuffing mixture may be cooked separately and served as a side dish. This may still be called stuffing or it may be called dressing. There has also been a long time debate on who uses the term stuffing or dressing and which one is the correct term. Stuffing and dressing or two different things even though both items are being “dressed” with almost the same ingredients, stuffing is being stuffed inside the cavity of a bird and uses white bread while dressing is considered a side dish and uses cornbread. Southerners who are from Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are known for its search of dressing recipes while Northerners who are from Delaware, Montana, and New Hampshire are known for its search of stuffing recipes.

One of America’s Favorites – Mixed Nuts

December 5, 2022 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A bowl of mixed nuts

Mixed nuts are a snack food consisting of any mixture of mechanically or manually combined nuts. Common constituents are peanuts (actually a legume), almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts (filberts), and pecans. Mixed nuts may be salted, roasted, cooked, or blanched.

In addition to being eaten directly, mixed nuts can be used in cooking, such as for Tunisian Farkas, tarts, and toffee. Trail mix consists of nuts mixed with raisins and other dry ingredients.

Peanuts are typically a major ingredient in mixed nuts, because they are relatively inexpensive; mixes which contain no peanuts are often sold as a “deluxe” option. Alrifai, a brand in the Middle East, identifies the expensive nuts as kernels. In 2006, a batch of “deluxe” mixed nuts was recalled after it was found that peanuts had been added to the mix. The move was not to save face: peanuts are the ingredient of mixed nuts most commonly associated with life-threatening food allergies.

A typical assortment of mixed nuts

Some brands of mixed nuts advertise themselves to contain “less than 50% peanuts”. For a 60 Minutes segment that originally aired in 1997, Andy Rooney tested such a 12-ounce (340 g) can of Planters brand nuts, and determined that “there was a tiny fraction less than six ounces of peanuts … amazing precision for a nut factory. “Later, in 2004, a cockeyed.com How much is inside? episode estimated that the peanut weight percentage in two such 11.5 oz cans was, in fact, a little over 50%.

Besides peanuts, cashews are usually the next least expensive nut, and in deluxe mixes they tend to be the most common ingredient. Hazelnuts and Brazil nuts are also relatively cheap, while pecans are the most expensive ingredient.

There are two different ways the nuts can be processed. The first is dry roasting, where heat is applied indirectly to the products. It is important that the nuts or seeds are stirred constantly to avoid over- and under-cooking. This method requires no additional ingredients. The second is oil frying, where the nuts go into preheated oil for a certain amount of time. There are various oil roasting methods from continuous, batch and curtain fryers. The ultimate impact on the nuts can vary; both methods are recommended by studies.

Percent composition by weight is a serious matter in the U.S., where mixed nuts have been regulated by the Food and Drug Administration since 1977. Up to that point, the phrase “mixed nuts” had been legally meaningless. A 1964 Consumer Reports investigation of 124 cans of mixed nuts, representing 31 brands bought in 17 American cities, determined that most mixed nuts of the time were mostly peanuts, often 75%; peanutless brands were usually dominated by cashews. Many cans bore misleading labels or were underfilled. Consumer Reports concluded, “What’s needed of course is a Federal standard of identity…”, detailing a list that of requirements that, with the exception of their desire to limit broken nuts, anticipated the 1977 rules.

A mixed nut selection described as “less than 50% peanuts”

On March 15, 1977, the FDA promulgated a new standard of identity for mixed nuts in 42 FR 14475. The present standard, as modified by 58 FR 2885, Jan. 6, 1993, requires that mixed nuts must contain at least four different varieties of tree nuts or peanuts. (Products with three or fewer varieties are now commonly labelled as simply “mixes”.) The container volume must be at least 85% filled, and the label must state whether any peanuts are unblanched or of the Spanish variety.

The most detailed section deals with weight percentages, which specifies that “Each such kind of nut ingredient when used shall be present in a quantity not less than 2 percent and not more than 80 percent by weight of the finished food. “If a variety X exceeds 50%, the label must conspicuously state “contains up to 60% X”, and so on in 10% increments up to 80%. (The first example given by the FDA is “contains up to 60% pecans”.) When testing mixed nuts for compliance, the FDA samples at least 24 pounds to reduce sampling error.

Modifying words like “fancy” or “choice” have not historically carried any legal meaning in the United States, and they remain absent from the current regulations. In a 1915 federal case against “fancy mixed nuts” that were argued by competitors to be an inferior grade, U. S. v. 25 Bags of Nuts, N. J. No. 4329 (1915), the court declined to accept a trade standard. The ruling said

It seems to me that until the Department establishes a set standard of quality… it would be altogether unsafe… to make them amenable to such a vague and indefinite standard as I understand the Government seeks to establish by the testimony of men engaged in the business of handling nuts.

One of America’s Favorites – Christmas Ham

November 28, 2022 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A traditional Swedish Christmas ham

A Christmas ham or Yule ham is a ham often served for Christmas dinner or during Yule in Northern Europe and the Anglosphere. The style of preparation varies widely by place and time.

Despite the common claim that the tradition of eating ham is related to the Germanic pagan ritual of sacrificing a wild boar known as a sonargöltr to the Norse god Freyr during harvest festivals, this is highly dubious. In fact, in the United States, ham only became popular as a Christmas food in the 20th century.

American traditions
As of 2019, Americans purchase about as much ham as turkey around the holiday season. This was a long time coming. Ham began being mentioned as a Christmas dish in around 1900, and started growing in popularity in about 1960. The holiday ham began being promoted by Armour & Company in 1916 as part of its marketing efforts for its novel industrially quick-cured and less salty hams. The baked Christmas ham with a clove-studded, diamond-hatched sugar glaze which became popular in the 20th century was introduced in the 1930s. Glazed hams had long been popular long before that, but until the 1880s, they were usually glazed with stock, not sugar, and were not associated with Christmas.

The sugar-glazed ham has become identified with Southern cooking.

There are also various regional recipes. Stuffed ham is popular in southern Maryland, and particularly St. Mary’s County, where it is traditional to stuff a corned ham with greens such as kale and cabbage. This tradition has been around in the area for at least 200 years. Similar stuffed hams are also sometimes prepared in Kentucky.

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