One of America’s Favorites – Panini (sandwich)

April 15, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A typical panini with salami, mortadella, tomatoes and lettuce

A panini (from the Italian panini [paˈniːni], meaning “small bread, bread rolls” ) or panino (meaning “bread roll” ) is a sandwich made with Italian bread (such as ciabatta, and michetta), usually served warmed by grilling or toasting.

However, in many English-speaking countries, a panini is a grilled sandwich made from many types of bread. Examples of bread types used for modern panini are baguette, ciabatta, and michetta. The bread is cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients such as cheese, ham, mortadella, salami, or other food, and often served warm after having been pressed by a warming grill.

Panini is a word of Italian origin. In Italian the noun panino (Italian: [pa’niːno]; plural panini) is a diminutive of pane (“bread”) and refers to a bread roll. Panino imbottito (“stuffed panino”) refers to a sandwich, but the word panino is also often used alone to indicate a sandwich in general. Similar to panino is tramezzino, a triangular or square sandwich made up of two slices of soft white bread with the crusts removed.[citation needed]

In English-speaking countries, panini is widely used as the singular form, with the plural form panini or paninis, though some speakers use singular panino and plural panini as in Italian.

A tri-tip panini with salad

Although the first U.S. reference to panini dates to 1956, and a precursor appeared in a 16th-century Italian cookbook, the sandwiches became trendy in Milanese bars, called paninoteche, in the 1970s and 1980s. Trendy U.S. restaurants began selling panini, with distinctive variations appearing in various cities.

During the 1980s, the term paninaro arose in Italy to denote a member of a youth culture represented by patrons of sandwich bars such as Milan’s Al Panino and Italy’s first US-style fast food restaurants. Paninari were depicted as right-leaning, fashion-fixated individuals, delighting in showcasing early 1980s consumer goods as status symbols.

A panini press or grill is a contact grill for heating sandwiches, meat products, vegetables, and specialty menu items, nearly always with electric elements, comprising a heated bottom plate that is fixed, and a heated top plate that closes towards the bottom plate and comes in contact with the food. The function of the panini grill is to heat food to an appropriate internal temperature with desirable external characteristics (i.e. melted cheese, crisp finish, grill marks).

 

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One of America’s Favorites – Hamburger Helper

April 8, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Cheeseburger Macaroni Hamburger Helper

Hamburger Helper is a packaged food product from General Mills and is sold as a part of the Betty Crocker brand. It consists of boxed pasta bundled with packets of powdered sauce and seasonings.

The contents of each box are combined with browned ground beef, water, and occasionally milk to create a complete dish. There are also variations using other meats, such as tuna and chicken, named “Tuna Helper” and “Chicken Helper”. The product line also features products with other starches, such as rice or potatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

The pasta brand “Hamburger Helper” was first introduced in 1971. In 2005, Food Network rated Hamburger Helper third on its list of “Top Five Fad Foods of 1970”.

Prepared beef Hamburger Helper

In 2013, the company shortened the brand’s name to “Helper”.

The Hamburger Helper mascot is the “Helping Hand” or “Lefty”: a four-fingered, left-hand white glove, with a face on it and red spherical nose. It often appears in the product’s television commercials and on their packaged products.

The basic and most popular version of Hamburger Helper is a box of dried pasta with seasoning, to be cooked with ground beef. Hamburger Helper offers a variety of flavors that include Lasagne, Cheeseburger Macaroni, Bacon Cheeseburger, Philly Cheesesteak, and others. There are also variations using other foods, such as tuna and chicken, named “Tuna Helper” and “Chicken Helper”.

 

* Tuna Helper was the second variety to appear on the market, in 1972.

Tuna Helper Creamy Pasta

* Fruit Helper was introduced in 1973. These were dessert products made with canned or fresh fruit. The Fruit Helper line has since been discontinued.

* Chicken Helper was first introduced in 1984 in response to the wide availability of inexpensive boneless and skinless chicken breasts.

* Asian Helper is a selection of four main Asian-American-style dishes, three made with chicken and one with beef.

* Whole Grain Helper options include Lemon & Herb Chicken, Honey Mustard Chicken, Cheeseburger Mac, and beef Stroganoff flavors made with whole-wheat pasta.

* Pork Helper was introduced in 2003. Varieties included pork fried rice and pork chops with stuffing. The product was discontinued shortly after its introduction.

* Hamburger Helper Microwave Singles were introduced in 2006. This product requires water and brief cooking in the microwave to produce a single serving portion of some of the most popular flavors. Chicken Helper flavors were added in 2007 despite the brand being discontinued shortly thereafter. It returned in 2013 as Chicken and Chili Helper.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Roast Beef Sandwich

April 1, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A roast beef submarine sandwich

The roast beef sandwich is a sandwich that is made out of sliced roast beef or sometimes beef loaf. It is sold at many diners in the United States, as well as fast food chains, such as Arby’s and Roy Rogers Restaurants. This style of sandwich often comes on a hamburger bun and may be topped with barbecue sauce and/or melted American cheese. The roast beef sandwich also commonly comprises bread, cold roast beef (either the leftovers from a homemade dinner or deli meat), lettuce, tomatoes, and mustard, although it would not be uncommon to find cheese, horseradish, fresh/powdered chili pepper and even in some cases red onion. Roast beef sandwiches may be served cold or hot, and are sometimes served open faced.

Some trace the origins of the modern (American-style) roast beef sandwich as far back as 1877, with the then little known “beefsteak toast” recipe: cold beef, bread and gravy dish. In 1900, the dish was described by The Washington Post as “unattractive” and as “a tired ark in a gravy flood”. The dish gained popularity in the coming years and by 1931, some critics even went as far as to describe it as “a true taste of South Dakota”

 

A fast food hot roast beef sandwich with fries

Roast beef sandwiches have been a specialty of the Boston area, in particular in the North Shore of Massachusetts, since the early 1950s, typically served very rare, thinly sliced (sometimes referred to as shaved) and piled on an onion roll. Restaurants specializing it include Londi’s in Peabody, King’s of Salem, Hot Box of Somerville, Mike’s of Everett, Nick’s of Beverly, Harrison’s of North Andover, Land & Sea of Peabody, and Bill and Bob’s of Peabody, Salem and Woburn. In Brooklyn a small handful of establishments, beginning with Brennan & Carr in 1938, have served a variant of the sandwich, and two more directly Boston-derived roast beef restaurants opened in the early 2010s.

A modern variety of roast beef sandwich has become a staple in Eastern Massachusetts. Their most popular toppings are mayonnaise, James River BBQ sauce, and cheese (white American cheese on the bottom) individually or in some combination of the three, all together being called a “3-Way”. A horseradish cream sauce can also be added for extra tang/zest. Kelly’s Roast Beef restaurant of Revere, Massachusetts, claims to have invented the sandwich in 1951.

Similar sandwiches

A traditional beef on weck sandwich

Beef on weck
A traditional beef on weck sandwich
The beef on weck is a sandwich found primarily in Western New York. It is made with roast beef on a kummelweck roll topped with salt and caraway seeds. The meat on the sandwich is traditionally served rare, thin cut, with the top bun getting a dip au jus and topped with horseradish.

Chivito sandwich
The chivito sandwich is a national dish in Uruguay, and consists primarily of a thin slice of filet mignon (churrasco beef), with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, black or green olives, and commonly also bacon, fried or hard-boiled eggs and ham. It is served in a bun, often with a side of French fries. Other ingredients might be added into the sandwich such as red beets, peas, grilled or pan-fried red peppers, and slices of cucumber.

Corned beef sandwich
The corned beef sandwich is a sandwich prepared with corned beef. The salt beef style corned beef sandwiches are traditionally served with mustard and a pickle. In the United Kingdom, pickle is a common addition to a corned beef sandwich.

French dip

A French dip sandwich

A French dip sandwich
The French dip sandwich is a hot sandwich consisting of thinly sliced roast beef (or, sometimes, other meats) on a “French roll” or baguette. It is usually served au jus, that is, with beef juice from the cooking process. Beef broth or beef consommé is sometimes substituted. Despite the name, this American specialty is almost completely unknown in France, the name seeming to refer to the style of bread rather than an alleged French origin.

Pastrami on rye
The pastrami on rye is a classic sandwich made famous in the Jewish kosher delicatessens of New York City. First created in 1888 by Sussman Volk, who served it at his deli on Delancey Street in New York City. It became a favorite at other delis, served on rye bread and topped with spicy brown mustard. Delis in New York City, like Katz’s Delicatessen, have become known for their Pastrami on rye sandwiches.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Grilled Cheese

March 25, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A grilled cheese sandwich is a sandwich generally made with one or more varieties of cheese (a cheese sandwich) on any sort of grilled or toasted bread, such as flat bread or wheat bread, that may include spreads such as butter or mayonnaise. Additional ingredients such as pepperoni and ham are also common.

Cheese sandwiches commonly referred to as a grilled cheese sandwich or a cheese toastie, are sandwiches that can be grilled so that the bread toasts and the cheese melts. A grilled cheese is often heated by placing the buttered slices of bread, with the cheese between the slices, on a frying pan or griddle. Grilled cheese is not typically made on a grill.

Another form of cooked cheese sandwich is the cheese toastie or toastie, a dish particularly popular in the United Kingdom that is prepared by either baking or grilling a cheese sandwich in an oven, or toasting bag in an electric toaster, or using a pie iron in order to toast the bread and melt the cheese. Cheddar is the most common cheese used in a toastie. It is usually served as a snack, or as a (usually lunchtime) meal, in most cases with a side of salad.

Cooked bread and cheese is an ancient food according to food historians, popular across the world in many cultures. Evidence indicates that, in the U.S., the modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese became readily available. The cheese dream, an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich, became popular in the U.S. during the Great Depression.

U.S. government cookbooks describe Navy cooks broiling “American cheese filling sandwiches” during World War II. Many versions of the grilled cheese sandwich can now be found on restaurant menus across the U.S. and internationally.

In the United States, grilled cheese sandwiches are often served with soup (usually tomato soup), and may be served as a whole meal.

A grilled cheese sandwich with American cheese served with tomato soup

A grilled cheese sandwich is assembled by creating a cheese filling between two slices of bread, which is then heated until the bread crisps and the cheese melts. It is sometimes combined with an additional ingredient such as peppers, tomatoes, or onions, though many other ingredients may be used. Several different methods of heating the sandwich are used, depending on the region and personal preference. Common methods include being cooked on a griddle, grilled, fried in a pan or made in a panini grill or sandwich toaster. This last method is more common in the United Kingdom, where the sandwiches are normally called “toasted sandwiches” or “toasties”, and in Australia, where they are called “jaffles”.

Some restaurants, food carts and food trucks in the United States specialize in the grilled cheese sandwich. The Grilled Cheese Grill restaurants are a combination of reclaimed vehicle and food cart restaurants that focus on gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in Portland, Oregon. The Grilled Cheese Truck is an American food truck company serving gourmet “chef driven” grilled cheese sandwiches. The company started in Los Angeles, California in 2009, and has since expanded throughout Southern California, Phoenix, San Antonio and Austin. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is a restaurant in San Francisco, California that specializes in the sandwich.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Hot Sauce

March 18, 2019 at 5:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 12 Comments
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Hot sauces come in many varieties.

Hot sauce, also known as chili sauce or pepper sauce, is any condiment, seasoning, or salsa made from chili peppers and other ingredients. A very popular addition to different types of food, hot sauce allows individuals to enhance the flavor of their meals.

Many commercial varieties of mass-produced chili sauce exist. Some commercially produced chili sauces are canned, with red tomato that is processed into a pulp used as the primary ingredient. The H. J. Heinz Company is one major producer of chili sauces. In the United States, commercially produced chili sauces are assigned various grades per their quality. These grades include U.S. Grade A (also known as U.S. Fancy), U.S. Grade C (also known as U.S. Standard) and Substandard. Criteria in food grading for chili sauces in the U.S. includes coloration, consistency, character, absence of defects and flavor.

Humans have used chili peppers and other hot spices for thousands of years. Inhabitants of Mexico, Central America and South America had chili peppers more than 6,000 years ago. Within decades of contact with Spain and Portugal in the 16th century, the American plant was carried across Europe and into Africa and Asia, and altered through selective breeding. One of the first commercially available bottled hot sauces in America appeared in 1807 in Massachusetts. Few of the early brands from the 1800s survive to this day, however. Tabasco sauce is the earliest recognizable brand in the United States hot sauce industry, appearing in 1868. As of 2010, it was the number 13 best-selling seasoning in the United States preceded by Frank’s RedHot Sauce in 12th place, which was the sauce first used to create buffalo wings.

Original Tabasco red pepper sauce

Many recipes for hot sauces exist, but the only common ingredient is some variety of chili pepper. Many hot sauces are made by using chili peppers as the base and can be as simple as adding salt and vinegar. Other sauces use some type of fruits or vegetables as the base and add the chili peppers to make them hot. Manufacturers use many different processes from aging in containers to pureeing and cooking the ingredients to achieve a desired flavor. Because of their ratings on the Scoville scale, Ghost pepper and Habanero peppers are used to make the hotter sauces but additional ingredients are used to add extra heat, such as pure capsaicin extract and mustard oil. Other common ingredients include vinegar and spices. Vinegar is used primarily as a natural preservative, but flavored vinegar can be used to alter the flavor.

United States
The varieties of peppers that are used often are cayenne, chipotle, habanero and jalapeño. Some hot sauces, notably Tabasco sauce, are aged in wooden casks similar to the preparation of wine and fermented vinegar. Other ingredients, including fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, mangoes, carrots, and chayote squash are sometimes used to add flavor, mellow the heat of the chilis, and thicken the sauce’s consistency. Artisan hot sauces are manufactured by smaller producers and private labels in the United States. Their products are produced in smaller quantities in a variety of flavors. Many sauces have a theme to catch consumers attention. A very mild chili sauce is produced by Heinz and other manufacturers, and is frequently found in cookbooks in the U.S. This style chili sauce is based on tomatoes, green and/or red bell peppers, and spices; and contains little chili pepper. This sauce is more akin to tomato ketchup and cocktail sauce than predominantly chili pepper-based sauces.

Sriracha sauce, a type of Californian hot chili sauce manufactured by Huy Fong Foods, has become increasingly popular in the United States in contemporary times.

Louisiana-style
Louisiana-style hot sauce contains red chili peppers (tabasco and/or cayenne are the most popular), vinegar and salt. Occasionally xanthan gum or other thickeners are used.

* Frank’s Red Hot Which claims to be the primary ingredient in the first buffalo wing sauce

Frank’s Red Hot

* Louisiana Hot Sauce Introduced in 1928, A cayenne pepper based hot sauce produced by Southeastern Mills, Inc., in New Iberia, Louisiana
* Mad dog 357 Introduced in 1991 by Ashley Food Company deemed one of the hottest hot sauces produced in the United States.
* Tabasco sauce Earliest recognizable brand in the hot sauce industry, appearing in 1868.
* Texas Pete Introduced in 1929, developed and manufactured by the TW Garner Food Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
* Trappey’s Hot Sauce Company was founded in 1898 Chili pepper water, used primarily in Hawaii, is ideal for cooking. It is made from whole chilies, garlic, salt, and water. Often homemade, the pungent end product must be sealed carefully to prevent leakage.
* Sriracha sauce, a traditional Thai hot sauce, made primarily of ground chilies, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Often called “rooster sauce” after the most widely sold U.S. brand, Huy Fong Foods.
New Mexico
New Mexican style chile sauces differ from others in that they contain no vinegar. Almost every traditional New Mexican dish is served with red or green chile sauce. The sauce is often added to meats, eggs, vegetables, breads, and some dishes are, in fact, mostly chile sauce with a modest addition of pork, beef, or beans.

* Green chile: This sauce is prepared from any fire roasted native green chile peppers, Hatch, Santa Fe, Albuquerque Tortilla Company, Bueno and Big Jim are common varieties. The skins are removed and peppers diced. Onions are fried in lard and a roux is prepared. Broth and chile peppers are added to the roux and thickened. Its consistency is similar to gravy, and it is used as such. It also is used as a salsa.
* Red chile: A roux is made from lard and flour. The dried ground pods of native red chiles are added. Water is added and the sauce is thickened.

The heat, or burning sensation, experienced when consuming hot sauce is caused by capsaicin and related capsaicinoids. The burning sensation is not “real” in the sense of damage being wrought on tissues. The mechanism of action is instead a chemical interaction with the neurological system.

The seemingly subjective perceived heat of hot sauces can be measured by the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale number indicates how many times something must be diluted with an equal volume of water until people can no longer feel any sensation from the capsaicin. The hottest hot sauce scientifically possible is one rated at 16,000,000 Scoville units, which is pure capsaicin. An example of a hot sauce marketed as achieving this level of heat is Blair’s 16 Million Reserve (due to production variances, it is up to 16 million Scoville units), marketed by Blair’s Sauces and Snacks. By comparison, Tabasco sauce is rated between 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville units (batches vary) – with one of the mildest commercially available condiments, Cackalacky Classic Condiment Company’s Spice Sauce, weighing in at less than 1000 Scoville units on the standard heat scale.

A general way to estimate the heat of a sauce is to look at the ingredients list. Sauces tend to vary in heat based on the kind of peppers used, and the further down the list, the less the amount of pepper.

* Cayenne – Sauces made with cayenne, including most of the Louisiana-style sauces, are usually hotter than jalapeño, but milder than other sauces.

* Chile de árbol – A thin and potent Mexican chili pepper also known as bird’s beak chile and rat’s tail chile. Their heat index uses to be between 15,000 and 30,000 Scoville units, but it can reach over 100,000 units. In cooking substitutions, the Chile de árbol pepper can be traded with Cayenne pepper.

Habanero, bell pepper and garlic hot sauce

* Habanero – Habanero pepper sauces were known as the hottest natural pepper sauces, but nowadays species like Bhut jolokia, Naga jolokia or Trinidad Scorpion Moruga are even five or ten-fold hotter.

* Jalapeño – These sauces include green and red jalapeño chilis, and chipotle (ripened and smoked). Green jalapeño and chipotle are usually the mildest sauces available. Red jalapeño sauce is generally hotter.

* Naga Bhut Jolokia – The pepper is also known as Bhut Jolokia, ghost pepper, ghost chili pepper, red naga chilli, and ghost chilli. In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce; however, in 2011 it has since been superseded by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.

* Piri piri – The Peri Peri pepper has been naturalized into South Africa and is also known as the African Bird’s Eye pepper, Piri-Piri pepper or Pili-Pili pepper, depending on what area of the country you’re in. The pepper ranges from one half to one inch in length and tapers at a blunt point. The small package packs a mighty punch with a 175,000 rating on the Scoville scale, near the Habanero, but the Peri Peri is smaller and has a much different flavor. It is most commonly used in a hot sauce, combined with other spices and seasonings because it has a very light, fresh citrus-herbal flavor that blends well with the flavors of most other ingredients.

* Scotch Bonnet – Similar in heat to the Habanero are these peppers popular in the Caribbean. Often found in Jamaican hot sauces.

* Tabasco peppers – Sauces made with tabasco peppers are generally hotter than cayenne pepper sauces. Along with Tabasco, a number of sauces are made using tabasco peppers.

* Trinidad Moruga Scorpion The golf ball-sized chili pepper has a tender fruit-like flavor. According to the New Mexico State University Chile Institute, the Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Blend ranks as high as 2,009,231 SHU on the Scoville scale.

* Carolina Reaper – The Carolina Reaper® is a super hot pepper which has been described as a roasted sweetness delivering an instant level of heat. Developed by Puckerbutt Founder Ed Currie in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the Carolina Reaper averages over 1.5 million SHU and was awarded the Guinness World Record in November of 2013.

A fermented hot sauce

* Capsaicin extract – The hottest sauces are made from capsaicin extract. These range from extremely hot pepper sauce blends to pure capsaicin extracts. These sauces are extremely hot and should be considered with caution by those not used to fiery foods. Many are too hot to consume more than a drop or two in a pot of food. These novelty sauces are typically only sold by specialty retailers and are usually more expensive.

* Other ingredients – heat is also affected by other ingredients. Mustard oil and wasabi can be added to increase the sensation of heat but generally, more ingredients in a sauce dilute the effect of the chilis, resulting in a milder flavor. Many sauces contain tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic or other vegetables and seasonings. Vinegar or lemon juice are also common ingredients in many hot sauces because their acidity will help keep the sauce from oxidizing, thus acting as a preservative.

Capsaicinoids are the chemicals responsible for the “hot” taste of chili peppers. They are fat soluble and therefore water will be of no assistance when countering the burn. The most effective way to relieve the burning sensation is with dairy products, such as milk and yogurt. A protein called casein occurs in dairy products which binds to the capsaicin, effectively making it less available to “burn” the mouth, and the milk fat helps keep it in suspension. Rice is also useful for mitigating the impact, especially when it is included with a mouthful of the hot food. These foods are typically included in the cuisine of cultures that specialise in the use of chilis. Mechanical stimulation of the mouth by chewing food will also partially mask the pain sensation.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Quesadillas

March 11, 2019 at 5:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Three quesadilla halves

A quesadilla’ or sometimes specifically a cheese quesadilla, is a Mexican dish, consisting of a tortilla that is filled primarily with cheese, and sometimes meats, beans, vegetables, and spices, and then cooked on a griddle. Traditionally, a corn tortilla is used, but it can also be made with a flour tortilla, particularly in northern Mexico and the United States.

A full quesadilla is made with two tortillas that hold a layer of cheese between them. A half is a single tortilla that has been filled with cheese and folded into a half-moon shape. A quick version of the quesadilla, the cheese tortilla, is microwaved and often served to kids.

The quesadilla has its origins in colonial Mexico. The quesadilla as a food has changed and evolved over many years as people experimented with different variations of it. Quesadillas are frequently sold at Mexican restaurants all over the world.

Types:

Original Mexican quesadilla

Quesadillas

In the central and southern regions of Mexico, a quesadilla is a flat circle of cooked corn masa, called a tortilla, warmed to soften it enough to be folded in half, and then filled. They are typically filled with Oaxaca cheese (queso Oaxaca), a stringy Mexican cheese made by the pasta filata (stretched-curd) method. The quesadilla is then cooked on a comal until the cheese has completely melted. They are usually cooked without the addition of any oil. Often the quesadillas are served with green or red salsa, chopped onion, and guacamole. While Oaxaca (or string) cheese is the most common filling, other ingredients are also used in addition to, or even substituting for, the cheese. These can include cooked vegetables, such as potatoes with chorizo, squash blossoms, mushrooms, epazote, huitlacoche, and different types of cooked meat, such as chicharron, tinga made of chicken or beef, or cooked pork. In some places, quesadillas are also topped with other ingredients, in addition to the fillings they already have. Avocado or guacamole, chopped onion, tomato, serrano chiles, and cilantro are the most common. Salsas may also be added as a topping.

Mexican quesadillas are traditionally cooked on a comal, which is also used to prepare tortillas. As a variation, the quesadillas can be fried in oil to make quesadillas fritas. The main difference is that, while the traditional ones are prepared by filling the partially cooked tortillas, then cooked until the cheese melts, the fried ones are prepared like a pastry, preparing the uncooked masa in small circles, then topping with the filling and finally folding the quesadilla to form the pastry. It is then immersed into hot oil until the exterior looks golden and crispy.

Other variations include the use of wheat flour tortillas instead, especially in northeastern Mexico. Wheat dough is most commonly used in place of corn masa. In this case, the flour tortilla is prepared, folded and filled with cheese, exactly as the corn.

Sometimes, cheese and ham are sandwiched between two flour tortillas, then cut into wedges to serve what is commonly known as sincronizada (Spanish for “synchronized”) in Mexico. Despite appearing almost the same as a quesadilla, it is considered a completely different dish. Tourists frequently confuse the sincronizada with the quesadilla because it is typically called a quesadilla in most Mexican restaurants outside of Mexico.

U.S.

Blue corn quesadillas

Quesadillas served at a Friendly’s restaurant in New Jersey
The quesadilla is a regional favorite in the southwestern U.S. where it is similar to a ‘grilled cheese sandwich’. It is prepared in a similar manner except for the inclusion of local ingredients. A flour tortilla is heated on a griddle, then flipped and sprinkled with a grated, melting cheese (queso quesadilla), such as Monterey Jack, Cheddar cheese, or Colby Jack. Once the cheese melts, other ingredients; such as shredded meat, peppers, onions, or guacamole may be added, and it is then folded and served.

Another preparation involves cheese and other ingredients sandwiched between two flour tortillas, with the whole package grilled on an oiled griddle and flipped so both sides are cooked and the cheese is melted. This version is often cut into wedges to serve. A home appliance (quesadilla maker) is sold to produce this kind of quesadilla, although it does not use oil and cooks both sides at once. This type is similar to the Mexican sincronizada; but in the United States, they often also have fajita beef or chicken or other ingredients instead of ham. That kind of quesadilla is also Mexican, and it is called “gringa” (the name varies in some regions in Mexico, there’s also a type of quesadilla called “chavindeca”).

There is a lot of regional variation to specific recipes throughout the Southwest.

Variations
Quesadillas have been adapted to many different styles. In the United States, many restaurants serve them as appetizers, after adding their own twist. Some variations use goat cheese, black beans, spinach, zucchini, or tofu.

Even dessert quesadillas are made, using ingredients such as chocolate, butterscotch, caramel and different fruits.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Ham and Eggs

March 4, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Ham and eggs

Ham and Eggs is a dish combining various preparations of its main ingredients, ham and eggs. It has been described as a staple of “an old-fashioned American breakfast” and of the traditional English breakfast. It is also served as a lunch and dinner dish. Some notable people have professed an affinity with the dish, such as Duncan Hines and Henry Puyi. Similar dishes include bacon and eggs, Spanish eggs, the Denver omelette and Eggs Benedict.

The term “ham and eggs” and some variations of it have been used in various cultural contexts. It has been used as a slang term in the United States, and has also been used to refer to various entities and events in the United States.

 

 

Ham and eggs served with scrambled eggs

Ham and eggs is a popular dish often served as a breakfast meal in the United States. It is also consumed as a dinner or supper dish, for example in parts of the Southern United States, and is sometimes served as a lunch dish. Eggs served with the dish can be fried, scrambled or poached. Additional ingredients such as tomatoes and seasonings, such as Herbes de Provence, are sometimes used. The dish can be prepared on a stovetop in a skillet or frying pan, and also baked or broiled in an oven.

The pan juices or gravy from the ham is sometimes drizzled atop the eggs to add flavor. The dish’s quality can be enhanced by using high-quality ham and cooking the ingredients over low heat, which prevents overcooking. A recipe for country-style ham and eggs includes reducing cream in the pan after the ham and eggs have been cooked, and then dolloping it atop the dish. Ham and eggs can be accompanied with side dishes such as toast and hash browns, among others.

Bacon and eggs is a similar dish, as is Eggs Benedict, which is prepared using bacon, Canadian bacon or ham and poached eggs as main ingredients. Spanish eggs consists of ham and eggs served atop heavily seasoned boiled rice. Ham and eggs are two of the main ingredients in the Denver omelette.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Bagel and Cream Cheese

February 25, 2019 at 6:01 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A bagel with cream cheese

A bagel and cream cheese (also known as bagel with cream cheese) is a common food pairing in American cuisine, the cuisine of New York City, and American Jewish cuisine, consisting in its basic form of an open-faced sandwich made of a bagel spread with cream cheese. The bagel is typically sliced into two pieces, and can be served as-is or toasted. The basic bagel with cream cheese serves as the base for other sandwiches such as the “lox and schmear”, a staple of delicatessens in the New York area, and across the U.S.

A bagel with cream cheese is common in American cuisine and the cuisine of New York City. In the United States, the bagel and cream cheese is often eaten for breakfast, and with smoked salmon is sometimes served for brunch. In New York City circa 1900, a popular combination consisted of a bagel topped with lox, cream cheese, capers, tomato, and red onion.

The combination of a bagel with cream cheese has been promoted to American consumers in the past by American food manufacturers and publishers. In the early 1950s, Kraft Foods launched an “aggressive advertising campaign” that depicted Philadelphia-brand cream cheese with bagels. In 1977, Better Homes and Family Circle magazines published a bagel and cream cheese recipe booklet that was distributed in the magazines and also placed in supermarket dairy cases.

In American Jewish cuisine, a bagel and cream cheese is sometimes called a “whole schmear” or “whole schmeer”, indicating a bagel with cream cheese. A “slab” is a bagel served with a slab of

A “lox and a schmear” refers to a sliced bagel with cream cheese and lox, a part of American Jewish cuisine.

cream cheese atop it. A “lox and a schmear” refers to a bagel with cream cheese and lox or smoked salmon. Tomato, red onion, capers and chopped hard-boiled egg are additional ingredients that are sometimes used on the lox and schmear. All of these terms are used at some delicatessens in New York City, particularly at Jewish delicatessens and older, more traditional delicatessens.

The lox and schmear likely originated in New York City around the time of the turn of the 20th century, when street vendors in the city sold salt-cured belly lox from pushcarts. A high amount of

salt in the fish necessitated the addition of bread and cheese to reduce the lox’s saltiness. It was reported by U.S. newspapers in the early 1940s that bagels and lox were sold by delicatessens in New York City as a “Sunday morning treat”, and in the early 1950s, bagels and cream cheese combination were very popular in the United States, having permeated American culture.

Both bagels and cream cheese are mass-produced foods in the United States. Additionally, in January 2003, Kraft Foods began purveying a mass-produced convenience food product named Philadelphia To Go Bagel & Cream Cheese, which consisted of a combined package of two bagels and cream cheese.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Gravy

February 18, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Mushroom gravy atop French fries.

Gravy is a sauce often made from the juices of meats that run naturally during cooking and thickened with wheat flour or corn starch for added texture. In the United States and Singapore, the term can refer to a wider variety of sauces. The gravy may be further colored and flavored with gravy salt (a simple mix of salt and caramel food coloring) or gravy browning (gravy salt dissolved in water) or ready-made cubes and powders can be used as a substitute for natural meat or vegetable extracts. Canned and instant gravies are also available. Gravy is commonly served with roasts, meatloaf, rice, and mashed potatoes.

* Brown gravy in is the name for a gravy made from the drippings from roasted meat or fowl. The drippings are cooked on the stove top at high heat with onions and/or other vegetables, then thickened with a thin mixture of water and either wheat flour or cornstarch.

* Chocolate gravy is a variety of gravy made with fat, flour, cocoa powder and sometimes a small amount of sugar.

* Cream gravy is the gravy typically used in biscuits and gravy and chicken fried steak. It is a variety of gravy that starts with the roux being made of meat and or meat drippings and flour. Milk is added and thickened by the roux; once prepared, black pepper and bits of mild sausage or chicken liver are sometimes added. Besides cream and sawmill gravy, common names include country gravy, white gravy, milk gravy, and sausage gravy.

* Egg gravy is a variety of gravy made starting with meat drippings (usually from bacon) followed by flour being used to make a thick roux. Water, broth, or milk is added and the liquid is brought back up to a boil, then salt and peppered to taste. A well-beaten egg is then slowly added while the gravy is stirred or whisked swiftly, cooking the egg immediately and separating it into small fragments in the gravy. Called rich man’s gravy in some areas of the southern US.

* Giblet gravy has the giblets of turkey or chicken added when it is to be served with those types of poultry, or uses stock made from the giblets.

Sausage gravy served atop a biscuits and gravy dish

* Mushroom gravy is a variety of gravy made with mushrooms.

* Onion gravy is made from large quantities of slowly sweated, chopped onions mixed with stock or wine. Commonly served with bangers and mash, eggs, chops, or other grilled or fried meat which by way of the cooking method would not produce their own gravy.

* Red-eye gravy is a gravy made from the drippings of ham fried in a skillet/frying pan. The pan is deglazed with coffee, giving the gravy its name, and uses no thickening agent. This gravy is a staple of Southern United States cuisine and is usually served over ham, grits or biscuits.

* Vegetable gravy or vegetarian gravy is gravy made with boiled or roasted vegetables. A quick and flavorful vegetable gravy can be made from any combination of vegetable broth or vegetable stock, flour, and one of either butter, oil, or margarine. One recipe uses vegetarian bouillon cubes with cornstarch (corn flour) as a thickener (cowboy roux), which is whisked into boiling water. Sometimes vegetable juices are added to enrich the flavor, which may give the gravy a dark green color. Wine could be added. Brown vegetarian gravy can also be made with savory yeast extract like Marmite or Vegemite. There are also commercially produced instant gravy granules which are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

In United Kingdom and Ireland, a Sunday roast is usually served with gravy. It is commonly eaten with pork, chicken, lamb, or beef. It is also popular in different parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to have gravy with just chips (mostly from a fish and chip shop).

In United Kingdom and Irish cuisine, as well as in the cuisines of Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand, and some areas in Canada, the word gravy refers only to the meat based sauce derived from meat juices, stock cubes or gravy granules. Use of the word “gravy” does not include other thickened sauces. One of the most popular forms is onion gravy, which is eaten with sausages, Yorkshire pudding and roast meat.

Throughout the United States, gravy is commonly eaten with Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. One Southern United States variation is sausage gravy eaten with American biscuits. Another Southern US dish that has white gravy is chicken fried steak. Rice and gravy is a staple of Cajun and Creole cuisine in the southern US state of Louisiana.

Gravy is an integral part of the Canadian dish poutine. It uses a mix of beef and chicken stock as well as vinegar.

In many parts of Asia, particularly India, Malaysia, and Singapore, gravy is any thickened liquid part of a dish. For example, the liquid part of a thick curry may be referred to as gravy.

In the Mediterranean, Maghreb cuisine is dominated with gravy and bread-based dishes. Tajine and most Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) dishes are derivatives of oil, meat and vegetable gravies. The dish is usually served with a loaf of bread. The bread is then dipped into the gravy and then used to gather or scoop the meat and vegetables between the index, middle finger and thumb, and consumed.

In gastronomy of Menorca, it has been used since the English influence during the 17th century in typical Menorcan and Catalan dishes, as for example macarrons amb grevi (pasta).

In Italian-American communities, particularly on the East Coast and around the Chicago area, the term “gravy”, “tomato gravy”, or “Sunday gravy” is used, but this refers to a tomato sauce rather than meat drippings mixed with a thickener. Used in this context, “gravy” is meant to be an English translation from the Italian sugo, which means sauce, as in sugo per pastasciutta. Whether certain sauces are referred to as “gravy” or “sauce” in Italian-American cuisine continues to be a source of debate and varies according to different family and community traditions.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Ranch Dressing

February 11, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Homemade ranch dressing

Ranch dressing is a type of salad dressing made of some combination of buttermilk, salt, garlic, onion, mustard, herbs (commonly chives, parsley, and dill), and spices (commonly black pepper, paprika, and ground mustard seed), mixed into a sauce based on mayonnaise, or another oil emulsion. Sour cream and yogurt are sometimes used in addition to or as a substitute for buttermilk and mayonnaise. Ranch dressing has been the best-selling salad dressing in the United States since 1992, when it overtook Italian dressing. It is also popular in the US as a dip and flavoring for chips and other foods. In 2017, forty percent of Americans named ranch as their favorite dressing.

In the early 1950s, Steve Henson developed what is now known as ranch dressing while working as a plumbing contractor for three years in the remote Alaskan bush. In 1954, he and his wife Gayle opened Hidden Valley Ranch, a dude ranch at the former Sweetwater Ranch on San Marcos Pass in Santa Barbara County, California, where they served it to customers. It became popular, and they began selling it in packages for customers to take home, both as a finished product and as packets of seasoning to be mixed with mayonnaise and buttermilk. As demand grew, they incorporated Hidden Valley Ranch Food Products, Inc., and opened a factory to manufacture it in larger volumes, which they first distributed to supermarkets in the Southwest, and eventually, nationwide. In October 1972, the Hidden Valley Ranch brand was bought by Clorox for $8 million.

Kraft Foods and General Foods responded with similar dry seasoning packets labeled as “ranch style”. As a result, they were both sued for trademark infringement by the Waples-Platter Companies, the Texas-based manufacturer of Ranch Style Beans (now part of ConAgra Foods), even though Waples-Platter had declined to enter the salad dressing market itself out of fear that the tendency of such products to spoil rapidly would damage its brand. The case was tried before federal judge Eldon Brooks Mahon in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1976. Judge Mahon ruled in favor of Waples-Platter in a lengthy opinion which described the various “ranch style” and “ranch” products then available, of which many had been created to compete against Hidden Valley Ranch. Judge Mahon specifically noted that Hidden Valley Ranch and Waples-Platter had no dispute with each other (though he also noted that Hidden Valley Ranch was simultaneously suing General Foods in a separate federal case in California). The only issue before the Texas federal district court was that Waples-Platter was disputing the right of other manufacturers to compete against Hidden Valley Ranch by using the label “ranch style”.

Meanwhile, Clorox reformulated the Hidden Valley Ranch dressing several times to make it more convenient for consumers. The first change was to include buttermilk flavoring in the seasoning, meaning much less expensive regular milk could be used to mix the dressing instead. In 1983, Clorox developed a more popular non-refrigerated bottled formulation. As of 2002, Clorox subsidiary Hidden Valley Ranch Manufacturing LLC produces ranch packets and bottled dressings at two large factories, in Reno, Nevada, and Wheeling, Illinois.

During the 1980s, ranch became a common snack food flavor, starting with Cool Ranch Doritos in 1987, and Hidden Valley Ranch Wavy Lay’s in 1994.

During the 1990s, Hidden Valley had three kid-oriented variations of ranch dressing: pizza, nacho cheese, and taco flavors.

A mixed salad with German “Würziges Ranch-Dressing”

Ranch dressing is common in the United States as a dipping sauce for broccoli, carrots and celery as well as a dip for chips and “bar foods” such as french fries and chicken wings. It is also a common dipping sauce for fried foods such as fried mushrooms, fried zucchini, fried pickles, jalapeno poppers, onion rings, chicken fingers, and hushpuppies. In addition, ranch dressing is used on pizza, pickles, baked potatoes, wraps, tacos, pretzels, and hamburgers.

In Germany, Kühne produces a product labeled as Würziges Ranch-Dressing (literally “spicy ranch dressing”). It is based on the common recipe but contains additional tomatoes, red bell peppers, and red pepper. Its color is not white but looks like cocktail sauce.

Ranch dressing is produced by many manufacturers, including Hidden Valley, Ken’s, Kraft, Litehouse, Marie’s, Newman’s Own, and Wish-Bone.

 

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