Seafood of the Week – Cockles

November 5, 2013 at 11:45 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Live specimens of Cerastoderma edule

Live specimens of Cerastoderma edule

Cockle is the common name for a group of (mostly) small, edible, saltwater clams, marine bivalve molluscs in the family Cardiidae. Various species of cockles live in sandy, sheltered beaches throughout the world. The distinctive rounded shells of cockles are bilaterally symmetrical, and are heart-shaped when viewed from the end. Numerous radial ribs occur in most but not all genera. For an exception, see the genus Laevicardium, the egg cockles, which have very smooth shells.
The mantle has three apertures (inhalant, exhalant, and pedal) for siphoning water and for the foot to protrude. Cockles typically burrow using the foot, and feed by filtering plankton from the surrounding water. Cockles are capable of “jumping” by bending and straightening the foot. As is the case in many bivalves, cockles display gonochorism (the sex of an individual varies according to conditions), and some species reach maturity quickly.
Confusingly, the common name “cockle” is also given (by seafood sellers) to a number of other small, edible marine bivalves which have a somewhat similar shape and sculpture, but are in other families such as the Veneridae (Venus clams) and the Arcidae (ark clams). Cockles in the family Cardiidae are sometimes known as “true cockles” to distinguish them from these other species.

 

 
There are more than 200 living species of cockles, with many more fossil forms.
The common cockle, Cerastoderma edule, is widely distributed around the coastlines of Northern Europe, with a range extending west to Ireland, the Barents Sea in the north, Norway in the east, and as far south as Senegal.
The dog cockle, Glycymeris glycymeris, has a similar range and habitat to the common cockle, but is unrelated. It is inedible due to its toughness when cooked, although a process is being developed to solve this.
The blood cockle, Anadara granosa (not related to the true cockles, instead in the family Arcidae) is extensively cultured from southern Korea to Malaysia.
An example group of true cockles that have shells which are completely smooth, without ribs, is the genus Laevicardium. These are often known as egg cockles.

 

 

Cockles Grilled

Cockles Grilled

Cockles are a popular type of edible shellfish in both Eastern and Western cooking. They are collected by raking them from the sands at low tide. However, collecting cockles is hard work and, as seen from the Morecambe Bay disaster, in which 23 illegal immigrants died, can be dangerous if local tidal conditions are not carefully watched. In England and Wales, Magna Carta grants every citizen the right to collect up to eight pounds of cockles from the foreshore. However, pickers wishing to collect more than eight pounds are deemed to be engaging in commercial fishing and are required to obtain a permit from the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.
Cockles are sold freshly cooked as a snack in the United Kingdom, particularly in those parts of the British coastline where cockles are abundant. Boiled, then seasoned with malt vinegar and white pepper, they can be bought from seafood stalls, which also often have for sale mussels, whelks, jellied eels, crabs and shrimps. Cockles are also available pickled in jars, and more recently, have been sold in sealed packets (with vinegar) containing a plastic two-pronged fork. A meal of cockles fried with bacon, served with laver bread, is known as a traditional Welsh breakfast.
Boiled cockles (sometimes grilled) are sold at many hawker centers in Southeast Asia, and are used in laksa, char kway teow and steamboat. They are called kerang in Malay and see hum in Hokkien.
In Japan, Japanese Egg Cockle Leavicardium laevigatum is used to create torigai sushi.
A study conducted in England in the early 1980s showed a correlation between the consumption of cockles, presumed to be incorrectly processed, and an elevated local occurrence of hepatitis.
Cockles are an effective bait for a wide variety of sea fishes. The folk song “Molly Malone” is also known as “Cockles and Mussels” because the title character’s sale of the two foods is referenced in the song’s refrain. The shells of cockles are mentioned in the English nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary“. Cockles are also eaten by the indigenous peoples of North America.

 

 

 

One of America’s Favorites – the Buffet

November 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A buffet (IPA: [ˈbʊfeɪ] in UK, IPA: [bʉˈfeɪ] in US, from French: sideboard) is a system of serving meals in which food is placed in a public area where the diners generally serve themselves. Buffets are offered at various places including hotels and many social events. Buffets usually have some hot dishes, so the term cold buffet (see Smörgåsbord) has been developed to describe formats lacking hot food. Hot or cold buffets usually involve dishware and utensils, but a finger buffet is an array of foods that are designed to be small and easily consumed by hand alone, such as cupcakes, slices of pizza, foods on cocktail sticks, etc.
The essential feature of the various buffet formats is that the diners can directly view the food and immediately select which dishes they wish to consume, and usually also can decide how much food they take. Buffets are effective for serving large numbers of people at once, and are often seen in institutional settings, such as business conventions or large parties.

 

 

A Chinese American buffet restaurant in the US

A Chinese American buffet restaurant in the US

Since a buffet involves diners serving themselves, it has in the past been considered an informal form of dining, less formal than table service. In recent years, however, buffet meals are increasingly popular among hosts of home dinner parties, especially in homes where limited space complicates the serving of individual table places.

 

 
The buffet table originates from the Brännvinsbord—Swedish schnapps (shot of alcoholic beverage) table from the middle of 16th century. This custom had its prime during the early 18th century, and was developed into the more modern buffet around the beginning of 19th century. The smörgåsbord buffet did not increase in popularity until the expansion of the railroads throughout Europe.
The smörgåsbord table originally was a meal where guests gathered before dinner for a pre-dinner drink, and was not part of the formal dinner to be followed. The smörgåsbord buffet was often held in separate rooms for men and women before the dinner was served.
Smörgåsbord became internationally known as “smorgasbord” at the 1939 New York World’s Fair exhibition, as the Swedes had to invent a new way of showcasing the best of Swedish food to large numbers of visitors.
The term buffet originally referred to the French sideboard furniture where the food was served, but eventually became applied to the serving format. The word buffet became popular in the English-speaking world in the second half of the 20th century after the Swedes had popularized the smorgasbord in New York. The word is now fully accepted into the English language.

 

 
When the possession of gold and silver has been a measure of solvency of a regime, the display of it, in the form of plates and vessels, is more a political act and a gesture of conspicuous consumption. The 16th-century French term buffet applied both to the display itself and to the furniture on which it was mounted, often draped with rich textiles, but more often as the century advanced the word described an elaborately carved cupboard surmounted by tiers of shelves. In England such a buffet was called a court cupboard. Prodigal displays of plate were probably first revived at the fashionable court of Burgundy and adopted in France. The Baroque displays of silver and gold that were affected by Louis XIV of France were immortalized in paintings by Alexandre-François Desportes and others, before Louis’ plate and his silver furniture had to be sent to the mint to pay for the wars at the end of his reign.
During the 18th century more subtle demonstrations of wealth were preferred. The buffet was revived in England and France at the end of the century, when new ideals of privacy made a modicum of self-service at breakfast-time appealing, even among those who could have had a footman servant behind each chair. In The Cabinet Dictionary of 1803, Thomas Sheraton presented a neoclassical design and observed that “a buffet may, with some propriety, be restored to modern use, and prove ornamental to a modern breakfast-room, answering as the china cabinet/repository of a tea equipage”.

 

 
There are many different ways of offering diners a selection of foods which are called “buffet” style meals. Some buffets are “single pass only”, but most buffets allow a diner to first take small samples of unfamiliar foods, and then to return for more servings. To avoid misunderstandings, the rules and charges are often posted on signs near the buffet serving tables in commercial eating establishments.
* One form of buffet is to have a table filled with plates containing fixed portions of food; customers select plates containing whichever dishes they want as they walk along. This form is most commonly seen in cafeterias. Another derivative of this type of buffet occurs where patrons choose food from a buffet style layout and then pay based on what was chosen (sometimes based on the weight of the food, or color-coded plates).
* A variation occurs in a Dim sum house, where seated patrons make their selections from wheeled carts containing different plates of food which the staff circulate through the restaurant. Another variation is a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, where seated patrons select dishes from a continuously-moving conveyor belt carrying a variety of foods. In another variation, Brazilian-style rodizio buffets feature roving waiters serving churrascaria barbecued meats from large skewers to the seated diners’ plates.
* The “all-you-can-eat” (AYCE) buffet is more free-form; customers pay a fixed fee and then can help themselves to as much food as they wish to eat in a single meal. This form is found often in restaurants, especially in hotels. In some countries, this format is popular for “Sunday brunch” buffets.
* A so-called Mongolian barbecue buffet format allows diners to collect various thinly-sliced raw foods and add flavorings, which are then stir-fried on a large griddle by a restaurant cook.
* A salad bar is commonly offered in delicatessens and supermarkets, in which customers help themselves to lettuce and other salad ingredients, then pay by weight. Sometimes only cold foods are offered, but often warmed or hot foods are available at a “hot foods bar”, possibly at a different price by weight.
* Open buffets are often associated with a celebration of some sort, and there may be no explicit charge or the cost may be included in an admission fee to the entire event.
As a compromise between self-service and full table service, a staffed buffet may be offered: diners carry their own plate along the buffet line and are given a portion by a server at each station, which may be selected or skipped by the diner. This method is prevalent at catered meetings where diners are not paying specifically for their meal.
Alternatively, diners may serve themselves for most prepared selections, but a carvery station for roasted meats is staffed. Some buffet formats also feature staffed stations where crepes, omelettes, noodle soups, barbecued meats, or sushi are custom prepared at the request of individual diners.

 

 
The “all-you-can-eat” buffet has been ascribed to Herb Macdonald, a Las Vegas publicity and entertainment manager who introduced the idea in 1956.
Many boarding schools, colleges, and universities offer optional or mandatory “meal plans”, especially in connection with dormitories for students. These are often in an “all-you-can-eat” buffet format, sometimes called “all-you-care-to-eat” to encourage dietary moderation. The format may also be used in other institutional settings, such as military bases, large factories, cruise ships, or medium-security prisons.

 

 
In Australia, buffet chains such as Sizzler serve a large number of patrons with carvery meats, seafood, salads and desserts. Buffets are also common in Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) clubs and some motel restaurants.
In Brazil, comida a quilo or comida por quilo — literally, “food by [the] kilo” — restaurants are common. This is a cafeteria style buffet in which diners are billed by the weight of the food selected, excluding the weight of the plate. Brazilian cuisine’s rodízio style is all-you-can-eat, having both non-self-service and self-service variations.
In Japan, a buffet or smorgasbord is known as a viking. It is said that this originated from the restaurant “Imperial Viking” in the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, which was the first restaurant in Japan to serve buffet-style meals. Dessert Vikings are very popular in Japan, where one can eat from a buffet full of desserts.
In Russia, the chain MooMoo (or МуМу in Russian) serves all its food buffet-style.
In Sweden, a traditional form of buffet is the smörgåsbord, which literally means table of sandwiches.

 

 
In the US, there are numerous Chinese-American cuisine inspired buffet restaurants, and well as those serving primarily traditional American fare. Also, South Asian cuisine is increasingly available in the buffet format, and sushi has become more popular at buffets. In some regions, Brazilian-style rodizio churrascaria barbecue buffets are available.
Las Vegas is famous for its all-you-can-eat buffets (which are common in casinos) as depicted in the 2007 documentary film BUFFET: All You Can Eat Las Vegas.
Buffets, Inc. is a large buffet chain corporation which owns Old Country Buffet, Country Buffet, Fire Mountain, Ryan’s Steakhouse, and HomeTown Buffet. HomeTown Buffet popularized the “scatter buffet”, which refers to the layout of separate food pavilions. Other American restaurant chains well known for their buffets include America’s Incredible Pizza Company, Chuck-A-Rama, Cici’s Pizza, Fresh Choice (a West Coast competitor of Sweet Tomatoes), Western Sizzlin’, Furr’s Family Dining, Gatti’s Pizza, Golden Corral (which features food products presented in pans), Pancho’s Mexican Buffet, Ponderosa Steakhouse, Shakey’s Pizza, Sizzler, and Sweet Tomatoes (known in particular for its soups and salads).

 

 

Fall Harvest: Broccoli

September 24, 2013 at 7:40 AM | Posted in vegetables | 1 Comment
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Broccoli

 

Broccoli can be grown year-round in temperate climates so we’ve forgotten it even has a season. It is more sweet, less bitter and sharp when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.

 

Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family, whose large flower head is used as a vegetable. The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of broccolo, refers to “the flowering top of a cabbage”. Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors d’œuvre trays. The leaves may also be eaten.
Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.
Broccoli is a result of careful breeding of cultivated leafy cole crops in the Northern Mediterranean in about the 6th century BC. Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians. Broccoli was brought to England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century by Peter Scheemakers. Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known there until the 1920s.

 
Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber; it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C. The 3,3′-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled. Broccoli is also an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.
Boiling broccoli reduces the levels of suspected anti-carcinogenic compounds, such as sulforaphane, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds.
Broccoli has the highest levels of carotenoids in the brassica family. It is particularly rich in lutein and also provides a modest amount of beta-carotene.

 
There are three commonly grown types of broccoli. The most familiar is Calabrese broccoli, often referred to simply as “broccoli”, named after Calabria in Italy. It has large (10 to 20 cm) green heads and thick stalks. It is a cool season annual crop. Sprouting broccoli has a larger number of heads with many thin stalks. Purple cauliflower is a type of broccoli sold in southern Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It has a head shaped like cauliflower, but consisting of tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds.
Other cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea include cabbage (Capitata Group), cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli (Botrytis Group), kale and collard greens (Acephala Group), kohlrabi (Gongylodes Group), and Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera Group). Chinese broccoli (Alboglabra Group) is also a cultivar group of Brassica oleracea. Rapini, sometimes called “broccoli rabe” among other names, forms similar but smaller heads, and is actually a type of turnip (Brassica rapa). Broccolini or “Tender Stem Broccoli” is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli.

 

August 2-3, 2013 Canal Winchester Blues & Ribfest

July 30, 2013 at 9:03 AM | Posted in Festivals, Food, ribs | Leave a comment
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August 2-3, 2013 Canal Winchester Blues & Ribfest
Canal Winchester, Ohio
The event will offer live blues music, rib and food vendors, a beer garden, and local arts/artisans. A great atmosphere for friends, and family to relax and enjoy Smokin’ Blues, Sizzlin’ Hot Ribs, & More! Admission is free!

 

Blues

 

 

Canal Winchester Blues & Ribfest – Smokin’ Blues, Sizzlin’ Hot Ribs, & More!

Downtown Canal Winchester August 2nd & 3rd, 2013 FREE ADMISSION
WHAT: A two day summer street celebration featuring live blues music, world-class ribs, a wide variety of quality non-rib food options, locally crafted items/art, children’s activities, and a beer garden for our Blues/Rib-loving friends 21 and over.

WHEN: August 2nd and 3rd, 2013 (RAIN OR SHINE)

HOURS: Friday (2nd) 5PM -11PM & Saturday (3rd) Noon-11PM

WHERE: Historic Downtown Canal Winchester (radiating from closed intersection of High & Waterloo Streets).

PARKING: On/Off-street public parking is available in the areas adjacent to the Ribfest grounds. Handicap tag/sticker parking available at the West Waterloo Street entrance east of Washington Street. Click HERE for general directions.

As Ohio‘s only all-Blues & Ribs outdoor festival, this event draws serious rib and blues aficionados from around the state with annual attendance estimates in excess of 28,000. It promotes Ohio and regional blues musicians as well as area artists/craftspeople.

 

http://www.bluesandribfest.com/

One of America’s Favorites – Fish and Chips

April 22, 2013 at 7:28 AM | Posted in fish, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Fish and chips is a take-away food which consists of battered fish and deep-fried chips, sometimes accompanied by mushy peas and

Fish and chips in Norfolk, England

Fish and chips in Norfolk, England

tartar sauce.

Fish and chips became a stock meal among the working classes in Great Britain as a consequence of the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea, and the development of railways which connected the ports to major industrial cities during the second half of the 19th century, which meant that fresh fish could be rapidly transported to the heavily populated areas. In 1860, the first fish and chip shop was opened in London by Joseph Malin.

Deep-fried chips (slices or pieces of potato) as a dish may have first appeared in Britain in about the same period: the Oxford English Dictionary notes as its earliest usage of “chips” in this sense the mention in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (published in 1859): “Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil”.
The modern fish-and-chip shop (“chippy” or “chipper” in modern British slang originated in the United Kingdom, although outlets selling fried food occurred commonly throughout Europe. According to one story, fried-potato shops spreading south from Scotland merged with fried-fish shops spreading from southern England. Early fish-and-chip shops had only very basic facilities. Usually these consisted principally of a large cauldron of cooking fat, heated by a coal fire. During World War II fish and chips remained one of the few foods in the United Kingdom not subject to rationing.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Fish Labelling Regulations 2003 enact directive 2065/2001/EC and generally means that “fish” must be sold with the particular species named; so “cod and chips” now appears on menus rather than the more vague “fish and chips”. In the United Kingdom the Food Standards Agency guidance excludes caterers from this; but several local Trading Standards authorities and others do say it cannot be sold merely as “fish and chips”.
England
The dish became popular in wider circles in London and South East England in the middle of the 19th century (Charles Dickens mentions a “fried fish warehouse” in Oliver Twist, first published in 1838), while in the north of England a trade in deep-fried chipped potatoes developed. The first chip shop stood on the present site of Oldham’s Tommyfield Market. It remains unclear exactly when and where these two trades combined to become the fish-and-chip shop industry we know today. Joseph Malin opened the first recorded combined fish-and-chip shop in London in 1860 or in 1865, while a Mr Lees pioneered the concept in the North of England, in Mossley, in 1863.
The concept of a fish restaurant was introduced by Samuel Isaacs (born 1856 in Whitechapel, London; died 1939 in Brighton, Sussex) who ran a thriving wholesale and retail fish business throughout London and the South of England in the latter part of the 19th century. Isaacs’ first restaurant opened in London in 1896 serving fish and chips, bread and butter, and tea for nine pence, and its popularity ensured a rapid expansion of the chain.
The restaurants were carpeted, had waited service, tablecloths, flowers, china and cutlery, and made the trappings of upmarket dining affordable to the working classes for the first time. They were located in Tottenham Court Road, St Pancras, The Strand, Hoxton, Shoreditch, Brixton and other London districts, as well as Clacton, Brighton, Ramsgate, Margate and other seaside resorts in southern England. Menus were expanded in the early 20th century to include meat dishes and other variations as their popularity grew to a total of thirty restaurants. Sam Isaacs’ trademark was the phrase “This is the Plaice” combined with a picture of the punned-upon fish in question. A glimpse of the old Brighton restaurant at No.1 Marine Parade can be seen in the background of Norman Wisdom’s 1955 film One Good Turn just as Norman/Pitkin runs onto the seafront. Coincidentally, this is now the site of a Harry Ramsden’s fish and chips restaurant. A blue plaque at Oldham’s Tommyfield Market marks the first chips fried in Britain in 1860, and the origin of the fish and chip shop and fast food industries in Britain.

Scotland
Dundee City Council claims that “…in the 1870s, that glory of British gastronomy – the chip – was first sold by Belgian immigrant Edward De Gernier in the city’s Greenmarket.”
In Edinburgh, a combination of Gold Star brown sauce and water or malt vinegar, known either simply as “sauce”, or more specifically as “chippy sauce”, has great popularity.

 
Ireland

In Ireland, the first fish and chips were sold by an Italian immigrant, Giuseppe Cervi, who mistakenly stepped off an America-bound ship at Cobh (then called Queenstown) in County Cork and walked all the way to Dublin.[18] He started by selling fish and chips outside Dublin pubs from a handcart. He then found a permanent spot in Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street). His wife Palma would ask customers “Uno di questa, uno di quella?” This phrase (meaning “one of this, one of the other”) entered the vernacular in Dublin as “one and one”, which is still a way of referring to fish and chips in the city.
Cooking

Traditional frying uses beef dripping or lard; however, vegetable oils, such as peanut oil (used because of its relatively high smoke point) now predominate. A minority of vendors in the north of England and Scotland and the majority of vendors in Northern Ireland still use dripping or lard, as it imparts a different flavour to the dish, but it has the side effect of making the fried chips unsuitable for vegetarians and for adherents of certain faiths. Lard is used in some living industrial history museums, such as the Black Country Living Museum.
Thickness
British chips are traditionally thicker than American-style French fries sold by major multinational fast food chains, resulting in a lower fat content per portion. In their homes or in non-chain restaurants, people in or from the United States may eat a thick type of chip, more similar to the British variant, sometimes referred to as home fries or steak fries.
How much cooking fat soaks into the potato depends on the surface area and how long they are cooked. Chips have a smaller surface area per unit weight than French fries, which means absorbing less oil in a given time. On the other hand, chips, being thicker, take longer to cook than fries.

Batter
UK chippies traditionally use a simple water and flour batter, adding a little sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and a little vinegar to create lightness, as they create bubbles in the batter. Other recipes may use beer or milk batter, where these liquids are often substitutes for water. The carbon dioxide in the beer lends a lighter texture to the batter. Beer also results in an orange-brown colour. A simple beer batter might consist of a 2:3 ratio of flour to beer by volume. The type of beer makes the batter taste different: some prefer lager whereas others use stout or bitter.

In Britain and Ireland, cod and haddock appear most commonly as the fish used for fish and chips, but vendors also sell many other

Fish and chips in Norfolk, England

Fish and chips in Norfolk, England

kinds of fish, especially other white fish, such as pollock or coley; plaice; skate and ray (particularly popular in Ireland); and huss or rock salmon (a term covering several species of dogfish and similar fish). In Northern Ireland, cod, plaice or whiting appear most commonly in ‘fish suppers‘—’supper’ being Scottish & Northern Irish chip-shop slang for a food item accompanied by chips. Suppliers in Devon and Cornwall regularly offer pollock and coley as cheap alternatives to haddock due to their regular availability in a common catch. As a cheap, nutritious, savory and common alternative to a whole piece of fish, fish-and-chips shops around the UK supply small battered rissoles of compressed cod roe.
In Australia, reef cod and rock cod (a different variety from that used in the United Kingdom), barramundi or flake (a type of shark meat) are commonly used. From the early 21st century, farmed basa imported from Vietnam and hoki have become common in Australian fish and chip shops. Other types of fish are also used based on regional availability.
In New Zealand, snapper was originally the preferred species for battered fillets in the North Island. As catches for this fish declined, it was replaced by hoki, shark (marketed as lemon fish) and tarakihi. Bluefin gurnard and blue cod predominate in South Island fish and chips.
In the United States, the type of fish used depends on availability in a given region. Some common types are cod, halibut, flounder, tilapia or, in New England, Atlantic cod or haddock. Salmon is growing common on the West Coast, while freshwater catfish is most commonly used in the Southeast.

In chip shops in the United Kingdom and Ireland, salt and vinegar is traditionally sprinkled over fish and chips at the time it is served. Suppliers use malt vinegar, onion vinegar (used for pickling onions), or the cheaper non-brewed condiment. A portion of mushy peas is a popular side dish. In table-service restaurants and pubs, the dish is usually served with a slice of lemon for squeezing over the fish and without any sauces or condiments, with salt, vinegar and sauces available at the customer’s leisure.
In Ireland, Wales and Northern England, most takeaways serve warm portions of side-sauces such as curry sauce, gravy or mushy peas. The sauces are usually poured over the chips. In some areas, this dish without fish is referred to as ‘wet chips’. Other fried products include ‘scraps’ (also known as ‘bits’ in Southern England or ‘batter’ in North-East England), originally a by-product of fish frying. Still popular in Northern England, they were given as treats to the children of customers. Portions prepared and sold today consist of loose blobs of batter, deep fried to a crunchy golden crisp in the cooking-fat. The very popular potato scallop or potato cake consists of slices of potato dipped in fish batter and deep fried until golden brown. These are often accompanied for dipping by the warm sauces listed above.[25] Scraps are referred to as ‘scrumps’ around Bristol.
In Edinburgh and the Lothians salt and sauce (or saut an sauce) is the normal accompaniment traditionally sprinkled over fish and chips or almost anything else bought from the fish-and-chips shops. The watery “sauce” is a mixture of malt vinegar or non-brewed condiment and/or water and Rowat’s or Gold Star brand brown sauce, and it is mixed and bottled—often in an old glass fizzy drink bottle with a hole pierced in the screw cap—by each fish-and-chip shop to their own secret recipe.
In Australia and New Zealand, seasoned salt or chicken salt is often sprinkled over fish and chips just before serving. Many customers now choose to salt food themselves, given current public health concerns about salt intake. Another popular condiment is tomato sauce. Tartar sauce is also very popular for the fish. Both tomato and tartar sauce are usually sold in small plastic tubs on the shop counter. Complementary slices of lemon are generally served with the dish or take-away pack. In the best British and Irish tradition, malt vinegar is often the condiment of choice of many Australasian fish and chip lovers.
In Canada, fish and chips may be served with the traditional salt and vinegar, but a lemon wedge and tartar sauce is often the accompaniment found in table service restaurants. Coleslaw of both the vinegared or creamy variety is often interchangeably served as a side.
In the United States, most restaurants serve fish and chips with tartar sauce, ketchup, and coleslaw, although malt vinegar also is sometimes offered, especially at UK-themed pubs.

In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, fish and chips usually sell through independent restaurants

A Neon sign for Fish and Chips in London

A Neon sign for Fish and Chips in London

and take-aways. Outlets range from small affairs to chain restaurants. Locally-owned seafood restaurants are also popular in many local markets. Mobile “chip vans” serve to cater for temporary occasions. In the United Kingdom some shops have amusing names, such as “A Salt and Battery”, “The Codfather”,”The Frying Scotsman”,”Oh My Cod”, and ” Frying Nemo” In countries such as New Zealand and Australia, fish-and-chip vendors are a popular business and source of income among the Asian community, particularly Chinese migrants.
In Ireland, the majority of traditional vendors are migrants or the descendants of migrants from southern Italy. A trade organisation exists to represent this tradition.
Fish and chips is a popular lunch meal eaten by families travelling to seaside resorts for day trips who do not bring their own picnic meals.
Fish-and-chip outlets sell roughly 25% of all the white fish consumed in the United Kingdom, and 10% of all potatoes.
The existence of numerous competitions and awards for “best fish-and-chip shop” testifies to the recognised status of this type of outlet in popular culture.
Fish-and-chip shops traditionally wrapped their product in newspaper, or with an inner layer of white paper (for hygiene) and an outer layer of newspaper or blank newsprint (for insulation and to absorb grease), though the use of newspaper for wrapping has almost ceased on grounds of hygiene. Nowadays establishments usually use food-quality wrapping paper, occasionally printed on the outside to emulate newspaper.
The British National Federation of Fish Friers was founded in 1913. It promotes fish and chips and offers training courses.
A previous world record for the “largest serving of fish and chips” was held by Gadaleto’s Seafood Market in New Paltz, NY. This 2004 record was broken by Yorkshire pub Wensleydale Heifer in July 2011. An attempt to break this record was made by Doncaster fish and chip shop Scawsby Fisheries in August 2012, which served 33 lb (13.6 kg) of battered cod alongside 64 lb (27.2 kg) of chips.

The long-standing Roman Catholic tradition of not eating meat on Fridays – especially during Lent – and of substituting fish for other types of meat on that day – continues to influence habits even in predominantly Protestant, semi-secular and secular societies. Friday night remains a traditional occasion for eating fish-and-chips; and many cafeterias and similar establishments, while varying their menus on other days of the week, habitually offer fish and chips every Friday.
In the UK, waste fat from fish and chip shops has become a useful source of biodiesel. German biodiesel company Petrotec have outlined plans to produce biodiesel in the UK from waste fat from the British fish-and-chip industry.

One of America’s Favorite – Pie

April 23, 2012 at 8:23 AM | Posted in baking, dessert, Food | Leave a comment
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A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or

A slice of an apple pie

savoury ingredients.

Pies are defined by their crusts. A filled pie (also single-crust or bottom-crust), has pastry lining the baking dish, and the filling is placed on top of the pastry, but left open. A top-crust pie, which may also be called a cobbler, has the filling in the bottom of the dish and the filling covered with a pastry or other covering before baking. A two-crust pie has the filling completely enclosed in the pastry shell. Flaky pastry is a typical kind of pastry used for pie crusts, but many things can be used, including baking powder biscuits, mashed potatoes, and crumbs.

Pies can be a variety of sizes, ranging from bite-size to ones designed for multiple servings.

The need for nutritious, easy-to-store, easy-to-carry, and long-lasting foods on long journeys, in particular at sea, was initially solved by taking live food along with a butcher or cook. However, this took up additional space on what were either horse-powered treks or small ships, reducing the time of travel before additional food was required. This resulted in early armies adopting the style of hunter-foraging.

The introduction of the baking of processed cereals including the creation of flour, provided a more reliable source of food. Egyptian sailors carried a flat brittle bread loaf of millet bread called dhourra cake, while the Romans had a biscuit called buccellum.

The first pies appeared around 9500 BC, in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age, when the use of stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding became common, the domestication of plants and animals, the establishment of permanent villages, and the practice of crafts such as pottery and weaving. Early pies were in the form of galettes wrapping honey as a treat inside a cover of ground oats, wheat, rye or barley. These galettes developed into a form of early sweet pastry or desserts, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, who ruled from 1304 to 1237 BC, located in the Valley of the Kings. Sometime before 2000 BC, a recipe for chicken pie was written on a tablet in Sumer.

With the knowledge transferred to the Ancient Greeks, historians believe that the Greeks originated pie pastry. Then a flour-water paste (add fat, and it becomes pastry), wrapped around meat, served to: cook the meat; seal in the juices; and provide a lightweight sealed holder for long sea journeys. This transferred the knowledge to the Romans who, having conquered parts of Northern Europe and southern Spain were far more adept at using salt and spices to preserve and flavour their meat.

The 1st century Roman cookbook Apicius make various mention of various recipes which involve a pie case. By 160 BC, Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 BC) who wrote De Agri Cultura, notes the recipe for the most popular pie/cake called Placenta. Also called libum by the Romans, it was more like a modern day cheesecake on a pastry base, often used as an offering to the gods. With the development of the Roman Empire and its efficient road transport, pie cooking spread throughout Europe.

Pies remained as a core staple of diet of traveling and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations based on both the locally grown and available meats, as well as the locally farmed cereal crop. The Cornish pasty is an excellent adaptation of the pie to a working man’s daily food needs.

Medieval cooks were often restricted in cooking forms they were able to use, having restricted access to ovens due to their costs of construction and need for abundant supplies of fuel. Pies could be easily cooked over an open fire, while partnering with a baker allowed them to cook the filling inside their own locally defined casing. The earliest pie-like recipes refer to coffyns (the word actually used for a basket or box), with straight sealed sides and a top; open top pies were referred to as traps. This may also be the reason why early recipes focus on the filling over the surrounding case, with the partnership development leading to the use of reusable earthenware pie cases which reduced the use of expensive flour.

The first reference to “pyes” as food items appeared in England (in a Latin context) as early as the 12th century, but no unequivocal reference to the item with which the article is concerned is attested until the 14th century (Oxford English Dictionary sb pie).

A slice of pecan pie

Song birds at the time were a fine delicacy, and protected by Royal Law. At the coronation of eight-year old English King Henry VI (1422–1461) in 1429, “Partryche and Pecock enhackyll” pie was served, consisting of cooked peacock mounted in its skin on a peacock filled pie. Cooked birds were frequently placed by European royal cooks on top of a large pie to identify its contents, leading to its later adaptation in pre-Victorian times as a porcelain ornament to release of steam and identify a good pie.

The Pilgrim fathers and early settlers brought their pie recipes with them to America, adapting to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. Their first pies were based on berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native North Americans. Pies allowed colonial cooks to stretch ingredients and also used round shallow pans to literally “cut corners,” and create a regional variation of shallow pie.

Meat pies with fillings such as steak, cheese, steak and kidney, minced beef, or chicken and mushroom are popular in the United

Homemade meat pie with beef and vegetables.

Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand as take-away snacks. They are also served with chips as an alternative to fish and chips at British chip shops.

Pot pies with a flaky crust and bottom are also a popular American dish, typically with a filling of meat (particularly beef, chicken or turkey), gravy, and mixed vegetables (potatoes, carrots and peas). Frozen pot pies are often sold in individual serving size.

Fruit pies may be served with a scoop of ice cream, a style known in North America as pie à la mode. Many sweet pies are served this way. Apple pie is a traditional choice, though any pie with sweet fillings may be served à la mode. This combination, and possibly the name as well, is thought to have been popularized in the mid-1890s in the United States.

Coconut Custard Pie (Diabetic Friendly)

Serves: 8

Ingredients

Pastry for single-crust 9 inch pie
4 eggs
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup Equal® Spoonful or Granulated*
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted flaked coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)

* May substitute 24 packets Equal sweetener

Directions

Roll pastry on floured surface into circle 1 inch larger than inverted 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into plate; trim and flute edge. Set aside.
Beat eggs in large bowl about 5 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Whisk in milk and remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into pastry shell.
Bake pie in preheated 375F oven 30 to 35 minutes or until sharp knife inserted halfway between center and edge of pie comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)
Calories:    194
Protein:    6 g
Sodium:     301 mg
Cholesterol:    115 mg
Fat:     11 g
Carbohydrates:     19 g
Exchanges:     1/2 milk, 1/2 starch, 2 fat

http://www.diabeticgourmet.com/recipes/html/987.shtml

American Cuisine – Part 1

December 8, 2011 at 1:23 PM | Posted in baking, Food | Leave a comment
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American cuisine is a style of food preparation originating from the United States of America. European colonization of the

ingredients and cooking styles to the latter. The various styles continued expanding well in to the 19th and 20th centuries, proportional to the influx of immigrants from many foreign nations; such influx developed a rich diversity in food preparation throughout the country.
Seafood

Saltwater fish eaten by the American Indianswere cod, lemon sole, flounder, herring, halibut, sturgeon, smelt, drum on the East

Fish and chips served with coleslaw in the United States

Coast, and olachen and salmon on the West Coast. Whale was hunted by American Indians off the Northwest coast, especially by the Makah, and used for their meat and oil. Seal and walrus were also utilized. Eel from New York’s Finger Lakes region were eaten. Catfish seemed to be favored by tribes, including the Modocs. Crustacean included shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and dungeness crabs in the Northwest and blue crabs in the East. Other shellfish include abalone and geoduck on the California coast, while on the East Coast the surf clam, quahog, and the soft-shell clam. Oysters were eaten on both shores, as were mussels and periwinkles.

Cooking methods
Blue crab was used on the eastern and southern coast of what is now the U.S. mainland.

Early Native Americans utilized a number of cooking methods in early American Cuisine, that have been blended with early European cooking methods to form the basis of American Cuisine. Grilling meats was common. Spit roasting over a pit fire was common as well. Vegetables, especially root vegetables were often cooked directly in the ashes of the fire. As early American Indians lacked the proper pottery that could be used directly over a fire, they developed a technique which has caused many anthropologists to call them “Stone Boilers”. They would heat rocks directly in a fire and then add the bricks to a pot filled with water until it came to a boil so that it would cook the meat or vegetables in the boiling water. In what is now the Southwestern United States, they also created ovens made of adobe called hornos in which to bake items such as breads made from cornmeal and in other parts of America, made ovens out of dug pits. These pits were also used to steam foods by adding heated rocks or embers and then seaweed or corn husks (or other coverings) placed on top to steam fish and shellfish as well as vegetables; potatoes would be added while still in-skin and corn while in-husk, this would later be referred to as a clambake by the colonists.

Colonial period
When the colonists came to America, their initial attempts at survival included planting crops familiar to them from back home in England. In the same way, they farmed animals for clothing and meat in a similar fashion. Through hardships and eventual establishment of trade with Britain, the West Indies and other regions, the colonists were able to establish themselves in the American colonies with a cuisine similar to their previous British cuisine. There were some exceptions to the diet, such as local vegetation and animals, but the colonists attempted to use these items in the same fashion as they had their equivalents or ignore them if they could. The manner of cooking for the American colonists followed along the line of British cookery up until the Revolution. The British sentiment followed in the cookbooks brought to the New World as well.

There was a general disdain for French cookery, even with the French Huguenots in South Carolina and French-Canadians. One of the cookbooks that proliferated in the colonies was The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy written by Hannah Glasse, wrote of disdain for the French style of cookery, stating “the blind folly of this age that would rather be imposed on by a French booby, than give encouragement to a good English cook!” Of the French recipes, she does add to the text she speaks out flagrantly against the dishes as she “… think it an odd jumble of trash.” Reinforcing the anti-French sentiment was the French and Indian War from 1754-1764. This created a large anxiety against the French, which influenced the English to either deport many of the French, or as in the case of the Acadians, they migrated to Louisiana. The Acadian French did create a large French influence in the diet of those settled in Louisiana, but had little or no influence outside of Louisiana.

Common ingredients

The American colonial diet varied depending on the settled region in which someone lived. Local cuisine patterns had established by the mid 18th century. The New England colonies were extremely similar in their dietary habits to those that many of them had brought from England. A striking difference for the colonists in New England compared to other regions was seasonality. While in the southern colonies, they could farm almost year round, in the northern colonies, the growing seasons were very restricted. In addition, colonists’ close proximity to the ocean gave them a bounty of fresh fish to add to their diet, especially in the northern colonies. Wheat, however, the grain used to bake bread back in England was almost impossible to grow, and imports of wheat were far from cost productive. Substitutes in cases such as this included cornmeal. The Johnnycake was a poor substitute to some for wheaten bread, but acceptance by both the northern and southern colonies seems evident.

As many of the New Englanders were originally from England game hunting was often a pastime from back home that paid off when they immigrated to the New World. Much of the northern colonists depended upon the ability either of themselves to hunt, or for others from which they could purchase game. This was the preferred method for protein consumption over animal husbandry, as it required much more work to defend the kept animals against American Indians or the French.

Commonly hunted and eaten game included deer, bear, buffalo and wild turkey. The larger muscles of the animals were roasted and served with currant sauce, while the other smaller portions went into soups, stews, sausages, pies, and pasties. In addition to game, colonists’ protein intake was supplemented by mutton. The Spanish in Florida originally introduced sheep to the New World, but this development never quite reached the North, and there they were introduced by the Dutch and English. The keeping of sheep was a result of the English non-practice of animal husbandry. The animals provided wool when young and mutton upon maturity after wool production was no longer desirable. The forage-based diet for sheep that prevailed in the Colonies produced a characteristically strong, gamy flavor and a tougher consistency, which required aging and slow cooking to tenderize.

A number of fats and oils made from animals served to cook much of the colonial foods. Many homes had a sack made of deerskin filled with bear oil for cooking, while solidified bear fat resembled shortening. Rendered pork fat made the most popular cooking medium, especially from the cooking of bacon. Pork fat was used more often in the southern colonies than the northern colonies as the Spanish introduced pigs earlier to the South. The colonists enjoyed butter in cooking as well, but it was rare prior to the American Revolution, as cattle were not yet plentiful.

Seafood
Those living near the New England shore often dined on fish, crustaceans, and other animals that originated in the waters. Colonists ate large quantities of turtle, and it was an exportable delicacy for Europe. Cod, in both fresh and salted form was enjoyed, with the salted variation created for long storage. The highest quality cod was usually dried, however, and exported to the Mediterranean in exchange for fruits not available in the American colonies. Lobsters proliferated in the waters as well, and were extremely common in the New England diet.

Prior to the Revolution, New Englanders consumed large quantities of rum and beer, as maritime trade provided them relatively easy access to the goods needed to produce these items: Rum was the distilled spirit of choice, as the main ingredient, molasses, was readily available from trade with the West Indies. Further into the interior, however, one would often find colonists consuming whiskey, as they did not have similar access to sugar cane. They did have ready access to corn and rye, which they used to produce their whiskey. However, until the Revolution, many considered whiskey to be a coarse alcohol unfit for human consumption, as many believed that it caused the poor to become raucous and unkempt drunkards. Yet one item, hops, important for the production of beer, did not grow well in the colonies. Hops only grew wild in the Old World, and as such, importation from England and elsewhere became essential to beer production. In addition to these alcohol-based products produced in America, imports were seen on merchant shelves, including wine and brandy.

In comparison to the northern colonies, the southern colonies were quite diverse in their agricultural diet and did not have a central region of culture. The uplands and the lowlands made up the two main parts of the southern colonies. The slaves and poor of the south often ate a similar diet, which consisted of many of the indigenous New World crops. Salted or smoked pork often supplement the vegetable diet. Rural poor often ate squirrel, possum, rabbit and other woodland animals. Those on the “rice coast” often ate ample amounts of rice, while the grain for the rest of the southern poor and slaves was cornmeal used in breads and porridges. Wheat was not an option for most of those that lived in the southern colonies.

The diet of the uplands often included cabbage, string beans, white potatoes, while most avoided sweet potatoes and peanuts. Non-poor whites in the uplands avoided crops imported from Africa because of the perceived inferiority of crops of the African

Chicken, pork and corn cooking in a barbecue smoker.

slaves. Those who could grow or afford wheat often had biscuits as part of their breakfast, along with healthy portions of pork. Salted pork was a staple of any meal, as it was used in the preparations of vegetables for flavor, in addition to its direct consumption as a protein.

The lowlands, which included much of the Acadian French regions of Louisiana and the surrounding area, included a varied diet heavily influenced by Africans and Caribbeans, rather than just the French. As such, rice played a large part of the diet as it played a large part of the diets of the Africans and Caribbean. In addition, unlike the uplands, the lowlands subsistence of protein came mostly from coastal seafood and game meats. Much of the diet involved the use of peppers, as it still does today. Interestingly, although the English had an inherent disdain for French foodways, as well as many of the native foodstuff of the colonies, the French had no such disdain for the indigenous foodstuffs. In fact, they had a vast appreciation for the native ingredients and dishes.

Thanksgiving

November 17, 2011 at 11:29 AM | Posted in baking, Food | 1 Comment
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With Thanksgiving just a week away I thought I would post a little Thanksgiving facts.

Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has officially been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863, when during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincolnproclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner

celebrated on Thursday, November 26. As a federal and popular holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the “big six” major holidays of the year (along with Christmas, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day). Together with Christmas and the New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated to give thanks to God for guiding them safely to the New World. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 13 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The feast consisted of fish (cod, eels, and bass) and shellfish (clams, lobster, and mussels), wild fowl (ducks, geese, swans, and turkey), venison, berries and fruit, vegetables (peas, pumpkin, beetroot and possibly, wild or cultivated onion), harvest grains (barley and wheat), and the Three Sisters: beans, dried Indian maize or corn, and squash. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.

The first documented thanksgiving feasts in territory currently belonging to the United States were conducted by Spaniards in the 16th century. Thanksgiving services were routine in what was to become the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607, with the first permanent settlement of Jamestown, Virginia holding a thanksgiving in 1610.

On December 4, 1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred, which comprised about 8,000 acres on the north bank of the James River, near Herring Creek, in an area then known as Charles Cittie, about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia had been established on May 14, 1607.

The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a “day of thanksgiving” to God. On that first day, Captain John Woodlief held the service of thanksgiving. As quoted from the section of the Charter of Berkeley Hundred specifying the thanksgiving service: “We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

During the Indian massacre of 1622, nine of the settlers at Berkeley Hundreds were killed, as well as about a third of the entire population of the Virginia Colony. The Berkeley Hundred site and other outlying locations were abandoned as the colonists withdrew to Jamestown and other more secure points.

After several years, the site became Berkeley Plantation, and was long the traditional home of the Harrison family, one of the First Families of Virginia. In 1634, it became part of the first eight shires of Virginia, as Charles City County, one of the oldest in the United States, and is located along Virginia State Route 5, which runs parallel to the river’s northern borders past sites of many of the James River plantations between the colonial capital city of Williamsburg (now the site of Colonial Williamsburg) and the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia at Richmond.

The modern Thanksgiving holiday traces its origins from a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. This was continued in later years, first as an impromptu religious observance, and later as a civil tradition.

Squanto, a Patuxet Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them (Squanto had learned English while enslaved in Europe and during travels in England). Additionally the Wampanoag leader Massasoit had donated food stores to the fledgling colony during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient. The Pilgrims set apart a day to celebrate at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest, in 1621. At the time, this was not regarded as a Thanksgiving observance; harvest festivals existed in English and Wampanoag tradition alike. Several colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims, most of whom were Separatists, are not to be confused with Puritans who established their own Massachusetts Bay Colony nearby (current day Boston) in 1628 and had very different religious beliefs.

U.S. tradition compares the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is continued in modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner, traditionally featuring turkey, playing a central role in the celebration of Thanksgiving.

In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. Firstly, baked or roasted turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table (so much so that Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as “Turkey Day“). Stuffing,

Oven roasted turkey

mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, various fall vegetables (mainly various kinds of squashes), and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. All of these are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived. Turkey may be an exception. In his book Mayflower, Nathaniel Philbrick suggests that the Pilgrims might already have been familiar with turkey in England, even though the bird is native to the Americas. The Spaniards had brought domesticated turkeys back from Central America in the early 1600s, and the birds soon became popular fare all over Europe, including England, where turkey (as an alternative to the traditional goose) became a “fixture at English Christmases”.

The less fortunate are often provided with food at Thanksgiving time. Most communities have annual food drives that collect non-perishable packaged and canned foods, and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods and Thanksgiving dinners.

On October 6, 1941, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution fixing the traditional last-Thursday date for the holiday beginning in 1942. However, in December of that year the Senate passed an amendment to the resolution that split the difference by requiring that Thanksgiving be observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November, which was sometimes the last Thursday and sometimes (less frequently) the next to last. On December 26, 1941 President Roosevelt signed this bill, for the first time making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law. However, for several years some states continued to observe the last-Thursday date in years with five November Thursdays, with Texas doing so as late as 1956.

Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the United States with one live turkey and two dressed turkeys, in a ceremony known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. In a tradition that began as a one-off joke by Ronald Reagan in 1987 and made permanent by George H. W. Bush in 1989, the live turkey is “pardoned” and lives out the rest of its days on a nearby peaceful farm. There are legends that state that the “pardoning” tradition dates to the Harry Truman administration or even to an anecdote of Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son’s pet turkey; both stories have been quoted in more recent presidential speeches, but neither has any evidence in the Presidential record.[30] In more recent years, two turkeys have been pardoned, in case the original turkey becomes unavailable for presidential pardoning.

The foods included in the first Thanksgiving meal were very different than what is typically served today at a traditional Thanksgiving feast. The First Thanksgiving meal included:

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth By Jennie A. Brownscombe (1914)

Duck, Geese and Swan
Venison
Fish, Lobster, Mussels, Eel and Clams
Pumpkin
Squash and Corn
Cabbage
Red and white grapes
Red and black plums
Berries
Dried fruit

National Dish of the Week – United Kingdom

October 27, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Posted in baking, Food | 3 Comments
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English cuisine encompasses the cooking styles, traditions and recipes associated with England. It has distinctive attributes of its own, but also shares much with wider British cuisine, largely due to the importation of ingredients and ideas from places such as North America, China, and India during the time of the British Empire and as a result of post-war immigration.

In the Early Modern Period the food of England was historically characterized by its simplicity of approach and a reliance on the high quality of natural produce. This, was in no small part influenced by England’s Puritan flavor at the time, and resulted in a traditional cuisine which tended to veer from strong flavors, such as garlic, and an avoidance of complex sauces which were commonly associated with Catholic Continental political affiliations. It is possible the effects of this can still be seen in traditional cuisine.

Traditional meals have ancient origins, such as bread and cheese, roasted and stewed meats, meat and game pies, boiled vegetables and broths, and freshwater and saltwater fish. The 14th century English cookbook, the Forme of Cury, contains recipes for these, and dates from the royal court of Richard II. In the second half of the 18th century Rev. Gilbert White, in The Natural History of Selborne made note of the increased consumption of vegetables by ordinary country people in the south of England, to which, he noted, potatoes had only been added during the reign of George III: “Green-stalls in cities now support multitudes in comfortable state, while gardeners get fortunes. Every decent laborer also has his garden, which is half his support; and common farmers provide plenty of beans, peas, and greens, for their hinds to eat with their bacon.”

Other meals, such as fish and chips, which were once urban street food eaten from newspaper with salt and malt vinegar, and pies and sausages with mashed potatoes, onions, and gravy, are now matched in popularity by curries from the Bangladesh and Pakistan, and stir-fries based on Chinese and Thai cooking. Italian cuisine and French cuisine are also now widely adapted. Britain was also quick to adopt the innovation of fast food from the United States, and continues to absorb culinary ideas from all over the world while at the same time rediscovering its roots in sustainable rural agriculture.

The Sunday roast was once the most common feature of English cooking. The Sunday dinner traditionally includes roast potatoes (or boiled or mashed potatoes) accompanying a roasted joint of meat such as roast beef, lamb, pork, or a roast chicken and assorted

Sunday roast, consisting of roast beef, roast potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding.

other vegetables, themselves generally boiled and served with a gravy. Sauces are chosen depending on the type of meat: horseradish for beef, mint sauce for lamb, apple sauce for pork, and bread sauce for chicken. Yorkshire pudding normally accompanies beef (although it was originally served first as a “filler”), sage and onion stuffing pork, and usually parsley stuffing chicken; gravy is now often served as an accompaniment to the main course. The practice of serving a roast dinner on a Sunday is related to the elaborate preparation required, and to the housewife’s practice of performing the weekly wash on a Monday, when the cold remains of the roast made an easily-assembled meal. Sunday was once the only rest day after a six-day working week; it was also a demonstration that the household was prosperous enough to afford the cost of a better than normal meal. An elaborate version of roast dinner is traditionally eaten at Christmas, with almost every detail rigidly specified by tradition. Since its widespread availability after World War II the most popular Christmas roast is turkey, superseding the goose of Dickens’s time. Before the period of cheap turkeys, roast chicken would be more common than goose although Chicken was still a once a year treat until the 1950’s; goose being unsuitable for small groups of diners. Game meats such as venison which were traditionally the domain of higher classes are occasionally also eaten by those wishing to experiment with a wider choice of foods, due to their promotion by celebrity chefs, although they are not usually eaten frequently in the average household.

It is a widespread stereotype that the English “drop everything” for a tea time meal in the mid-afternoon. This is no longer the case in the workplace, and is rarer in the home than it once was. A formal tea time meal is now often an accompaniment to tourism, particularly in Devon and neighboring counties, where comestibles may include scones with jam and clotted cream (together known as a cream tea). There are also fairy cakes, simple small sponge cakes which can be iced or eaten plain. Nationwide, assorted biscuits and sandwiches are eaten. Generally, however, the tea time meal has been replaced by snacking, or simply dispensed with.

Although a wide variety of fish are caught in British waters, the English tend to mainly eat only a few species. Cod, haddock, plaice, huss, and skate are the fish-and-chip shop favorites. (The unadventurous approach and the tendency to eat fish battered were mocked by Keith Floyd with the phrase “unidentified frying objects”. A few other species, such as coley and pollack are found in the anonymous form of breadcrumbed fish cakes and fish fingers.

English sausages are colloquially known as “bangers”. They are distinctive in that they are usually made from fresh meats and rarely smoked, dried, or strongly flavored. Following the post World War II period, sausages tended to contain low-quality meat, fat, and rusk. However, there has been a backlash in recent years, with most butchers and supermarkets now selling premium varieties.

Pork and beef are by far the most common bases, although gourmet varieties may contain venison, wild boar, etc. There are particularly famous regional varieties, such as the herbal Lincolnshire, and the long, curled Cumberland with many butchers offering their own individual recipes and variations often handed down through generations, but are generally not made from cured meats such as Italian selections or available in such a variety as found in Germany.

Most larger supermarkets in England will stock at least a dozen types of English sausage: not only Cumberland and Lincolnshire but often varieties such as pork and apple, pork and herb; beef and stilton; pork and mozzarella, and others. There are estimated to be around 400 sausage varieties in the United Kingdom.

Sausages form the basis of toad in the hole, where they are combined with a batter similar to a Yorkshire pudding and baked in the oven, this can be served with an onion gravy made by frying sliced onions for anywhere over an hour on a low heat then mixed with a stock, wine or ale then reduced to form a sauce or gravy used in bangers and mash.

Northern European countries generally have a tradition of salting, smoking, pickling and otherwise preserving foods. Kippers, bloaters, ham, and bacon are some of the varieties of preserved meat and fish known in England. Onions, cabbage and some other vegetables may be pickled. Smoked cheese is not common or traditional, although apple-wood smoked cheddar has become available in many supermarkets. Meats other than pork are generally not cured. The “three breakfasts a day” principle can be implemented by eating bacon sandwiches at any time. (These have many colloquial names such as “bacon sarnies” or “bacon butties”).

Traditionally pubs in England were drinking establishments and little emphasis was placed on the serving of food, other than “bar snacks”, such as pork scratchings, and pickled eggs, along with salted crisps and peanuts which helped to increase beer sales. If a pub served meals they were usually basic cold dishes such as a ploughman’s lunch. In South East England (especially London) it was

Traditional pub food - a pie and chips, along with a pint

common until recent times for vendors selling cockles, whelks, mussels and other shellfish, to sell to customers during the evening and at closing time. Many mobile shellfish stalls would set up near pubs, a practice that continues in London’s East End.

In the 1950s some British pubs would offer “a pie and a pint”, with hot individual steak and ale pies made easily on the premises by the landlord’s wife. In the 1960s and 1970s this developed into the then-fashionable “chicken in a basket”, a portion of roast chicken with chips, served on a napkin, in a wicker basket. Quality dropped but variety increased with the introduction of microwave ovens and freezer food. “Pub grub” expanded to include British food items such as steak and ale pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Sunday roast, ploughman’s lunch, and pasties. In addition, dishes such as burgers, lasagna and chilli con carne are often served.

Since the 1990s food has become more important as part of a pub’s trade, and today most pubs serve lunches and dinners at the table in addition to (or instead of) snacks consumed at the bar. They may have a separate dining room. Some pubs serve meals to a higher standard, to match good restaurant standards; these are sometimes termed gastropubs.

Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, took the tea habit to Great Britain around 1660, subsequently to the introduction of coffee. Initially, its expense restricted it to wealthy consumers, but the price gradually dropped, until the 19th century, when tea became as widely consumed as it is today.

In Britain, tea is usually black tea served with milk (never cream; the cream of a “cream tea” is clotted cream served on top of scones than normally strawberry jam on top, a tradition originating from Devon and Cornwall). Strong tea served with lots of milk and often two teaspoons of sugar, usually in a mug, is commonly referred to as builder’s tea. Much of the time in the United Kingdom, tea drinking is not the delicate, refined cultural expression that the rest of the world imagines—a cup (or commonly a mug) of tea is something drunk often, with some people drinking six or more cups of tea a day. Employers generally allow breaks for tea and sometimes biscuits to be served. A mug of tea is the standard accompaniment to a meal in an inexpensive unlicensed eatery, such as a café or”caff”.

Earl Grey tea is a distinctive variation flavored with Bergamot. In recent years, herbal teas and speciality teas have also become popular.

Beer was the first alcoholic drink to be produced in England, and has been brewed continuously since prehistoric times. England is one of the few countries where ale (cask conditioned beer) is still a major part of the market. Lager or Pilsener style beer has

A glass of Bitter

increased considerably in popularity since the mid 20th century, and is often used as an accompaniment to spicy ethnic food. Any kind of beer may accompany a meal in a pub. English beer cookery includes steak and ale pie and beer-battered fish and chips.

Stout is a globally known style of beer which originated in England, although it came to be associated with Ireland. It has a culinary association with oysters; they can be used to flavor stout, or it can be drunk with them.

In Britain, “cider” always means an alcoholic drink of fermented apple juice. Technically, it is a member of the wine family, but it is always served by the pint or half pint like beer. It is traditionally associated with certain regions, such as the South West, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, but commercial brands are available nationwide. The cloudy, unfiltered version is called scrumpy, and the related beverage made from pears, is called perry. In England it is sometimes distilled into apple brandy, but this is not as widespread as with Calvados in France. culinary, cider is sometimes used in pork or rabbit dishes.

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