One of America’s Favorites – Cioppino

June 26, 2017 at 5:43 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Cioppino

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine.

 

 

 

 

 

Cioppino with bread

Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combinati on of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish all sourced from salt-water ocean; in this case the Pacific. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce.

The dish can be served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread. In the dish, the bread is as a starch, similar to a pasta. It is freely dipped into the ample quantity of sauce. The bread then absorbs, holds, and modulates the flavorful yet slender (watery) sauce; that is to be freely “sopped up” by the heavy, full bodied breads. The bread’s consumption, after dipping into the sauce, prolongs the flavors on the palate when eating the dish.

 

 

 

Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s primarily by Italian immigrants who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. When a fisherman came back empty handed, they would walk around with a pot to the other fishermen asking them to chip in whatever they could. What ever ended up in the pot became their Cioppino. The fishermen that chipped in expected the same treatment if they came back empty handed in the future. It later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

The name comes from ciuppin which is the name of a classic soup from the Italian region Liguria, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

The dish also shares its origin with other regional Italian variations of seafood stew similar to ciuppin, including cacciucco from Tuscany, brodetto di pesce from Abruzzo, and others. Similar dishes can be found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Greece. Examples of these include suquet de peix from Catalan-speaking regions and bouillabaisse from Provence.

 

Cioppino classique

Generally the seafood is cooked in broth and served in the shell, including the crab, which is often served halved or quartered. It therefore requires special utensils, typically a crab fork and cracker. Depending on the restaurant, it may be accompanied by a bib to prevent food stains on clothing, a damp napkin, and a second bowl for the shells. A variation, commonly called “lazy man’s cioppino,” is served with shells pre-cracked or removed.

 

 

One of America’s Favorites – Danish Pastry

June 19, 2017 at 5:34 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A typical Spandauer-type Danish with apple filling and glazing

A Danish pastry or just Danish (especially in American English) is a multilayered, laminated sweet pastry in the viennoiserie tradition. The concept was brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers and has since developed into a Danish specialty. Like other viennoiserie pastries, such as croissants, they are a variant of puff pastry made of laminated yeast-leavened doughs, creating a layered texture.

Danish pastries were exported with immigrants to the United States, and are today popular around the world.

 

Danish pastry is made of yeast-leavened dough of wheat flour, milk, eggs, sugar and large amounts of butter or margarine.

A yeast dough is rolled out thinly, covered with thin slices of butter between the layers of dough, and then the dough is folded and rolled several times, creating 27 layers. If necessary, the dough is chilled between foldings to ease handling. The process of rolling, buttering, folding and chilling is repeated multiple times to create a multilayered dough that becomes airy and crispy on the outside, but also rich and buttery.

Butter is the traditional fat used in Danish pastry, but in industrial production, less expensive fats are often used, such as hydrogenated sunflower oil (known as “pastry fat” in the UK).

 

In Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, the term for Danish pastry is wienerbrød/wienerbröd, “Viennese bread”. The same etymology is also the origin of the Finnish viineri. Danish pastry is referred to as facturas in some Spanish speaking countries. In Vienna, the Danish pastry, referring to Copenhagen, is called Kopenhagener Plunder or Dänischer Plunder.

 

The origin of the Danish pastry is often ascribed to a strike amongst bakery workers in Denmark in 1850. The strike forced bakery owners to hire workers from abroad, among them several Austrian bakers, who brought along new baking traditions and pastry recipes. The Austrian pastry of Plundergebäck soon became popular in Denmark and after the labour disputes ended, Danish bakers adopted the Austrian recipes, adjusting them to their own liking and traditions by increasing the amount of egg and fat for example. This development resulted in what is now known as the Danish pastry.

One of the baking techniques and traditions that the Austrian bakers brought with them was the Viennese lamination technique. Due to such novelties the Danes called the pastry technique “wienerbrød” and, as mentioned above, that name is still in use in Northern Europe today. At that time, almost all baked goods in Denmark were given exotic names.

 

A cinnamon Danish with chocolate

Danish pastries as consumed in Denmark have different shapes and names. Some are topped with chocolate, pearl sugar, glacé icing and/or slivered nuts and they may be stuffed with a variety of ingredients such as jam or preserves (usually apple or prune), remonce, marzipan and/or custard. Shapes are numerous, including circles with filling in the middle (known in Denmark as “Spandauers”), figure-eights, spirals (known as snails), and the pretzel-like kringles.

 

 

In Sweden, Danish pastry is typically made in the Spandauer-style, often with vanilla custard.

In the UK, various ingredients such as jam, custard, apricots, cherries, raisins, flaked almonds, pecans or caramelized toffee are placed on or within sections of divided dough, which is then baked. Cardamom is often added to increase the aromatic sense of sweetness.

In the US, Danishes are typically given a topping of fruit or sweet baker’s cheese prior to baking. Danishes with nuts on them are also popular there and in Sweden, where chocolate spritzing and powdered sugar are also often added.

In Argentina, they are usually filled with dulce de leche or dulce de membrillo.

 

A slice of an American apple crumb Danish

Danish pastry was brought to the United States by Danish immigrants. Lauritz C. Klitteng of Læsø popularized “Danish pastry” in the US around 1915–1920. According to Klitteng, he made Danish pastry for the wedding of President Woodrow Wilson in December 1915. Klitteng toured the world to promote his product and was featured in such 1920s periodicals as the National Baker, the Bakers’ Helper, and the Bakers’ Weekly. Klitteng briefly had his own Danish Culinary Studio at 146 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Herman Gertner owned a chain of New York City restaurants and had brought Klitteng to New York to sell Danish pastry. Gertner’s obituary appeared in the January 23, 1962 New York Times:

“At one point during his career Mr. Gertner befriended a Danish baker who convinced him that Danish pastry might be well received in New York. Mr. Gertner began serving the pastry in his restaurant and it immediately was a success.”

 

 

One of America’s Favorites – Apple Cider

June 12, 2017 at 5:27 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Apple cider (left) is an unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice. Most present-day apple cider is pasteurized, as apple juice (right) is.

Apple cider (also called sweet cider or soft cider) is the name used in the United States and parts of Canada for an unfiltered, unsweetened, non-alcoholic beverage made from apples. Though typically referred to simply as “cider” in those areas, it is not to be confused with the alcoholic beverage known as cider throughout most of the world, called hard cider (or just cider) in North America.

Once widely pressed at farmsteads and local mills, apple cider is now easy and inexpensive to make. It is typically opaque due to fine apple particles in suspension and generally tangier than conventional filtered apple juice, depending on the apples used. Today, most cider is treated to kill bacteria and extend its shelf life, but untreated cider can still be found. In either form, apple cider is a seasonally produced drink of limited shelf-life that is typically available only in autumn. It is traditionally served on the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and various New Year’s Eve holidays, sometimes heated and mulled. It is the official state beverage of New Hampshire.

 

Although the term cider is used for the fermented alcoholic drink in most of the world, it refers to fresh “apple cider” in the United States and much of Canada; hard cider is used there instead for the alcoholic drink.

While some states specify a difference between apple juice and cider, the distinction is not well established across the U.S. Massachusetts makes an attempt to at least differentiate fresh cider and processed apple juice: according to its Department of Agricultural Resources, “apple juice and apple cider are both fruit beverages made from apples, but there is a difference between the two. Fresh cider is raw apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment. Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer. Vacuum sealing and additional filtering extend the shelf life of the juice.” This still leaves unfiltered apple juice that is no longer raw in a gray area, presumably cider but not labeled as such. The addition of sweeteners or reconstitution from concentrate are left even grayer.

Canada recognizes unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice as cider, fresh or not.

 

Historically all cider was left in its natural state, unprocessed. In time, airborne yeasts present on apple skins or cider making machinery would start fermentation in the finished cider. Left on its own, alcohol would develop and forestall growth of harmful bacteria. When modern refrigeration emerged, cider and other fruit juices could be kept cold for long periods of time, retarding fermentation. Any interruption of the refrigeration, however, could invite bacterial contamination to grow. Outbreaks of illness resulted in government regulation requiring virtually all commercially produced cider to be treated either with heat or radiation.

As a result, natural raw cider is a specialty seasonal beverage, produced on-site at orchards and small rural mills in apple growing areas and sold there, at farmers markets, and some juice bars. Such traditional cider is typically made from a mixture of several different apples to give a balanced taste. Frequently blends of heirloom varieties such as Winesap, once among the most sought-after cider apples for its tangy flavor, are used. The US government requires that unpasteurized cider and juice have a warning label on the bottle.

Even with refrigeration, raw cider will begin to become slightly carbonated within a week or so and eventually become hard cider as the fermentation process continues. Some producers use this fermentation to make hard cider; others carry it to acetification to create artisanal apple cider vinegar.

 

Cidering in a contemporary rural area mill. Custom batches pressed directly to bulk containers on demand.

Virtually all commercially produced cider is treated for bacterial contamination, which also extends its shelf life; the most common method used is pasteurization, but UV irradiation is also employed.

Pasteurization, which partially cooks the juice, results in some change of the sweetness, body and flavor of the cider; irradiation has less noticeable effects.

Impetus for Federal level regulation began with outbreaks E. coli O157:H7 from unpasteurized apple cider and other illnesses caused by contaminated fruit juices in the late 1990s. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made proposals in 1998; Canada began to explore regulation in 2000.

The U.S. regulations were finalized in 2001, with the FDA issuing a rule requiring that virtually all juice producers follow Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) controls, using either heat pasteurization, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), or other proven methods to achieve a “5 log” reduction in pathogens.

Canada, however, relies on a voluntary Code of Practice for manufacturers, voluntary labelling of juice/cider as “Unpasteurized”, and an education campaign to inform consumers about the possible health risks associated with the consumption of unpasteurized juice products.

 

Modern cider making has come a long way from early forms of production that involved a man- or horse-powered crusher. These consisted of a stone or wood trough with a heavy circulating wheel to crush the fruit, and a large manual screw press to express the juice from the pulp. Straw was commonly used to contain the pulp during pressing, later replaced by coarse cloth. As technology advanced, rotary drum “scratters” came into use. Today, nearly all small pressing operations use atomic-hydraulic equipment with press cloths and plastic racks in what is commonly called a “rack and cloth press”, and atomic hammermill “breakers”.

Depending on the varieties of apples and using the optimal extraction methods, it takes about one third of a bushel (10 liters) to make a gallon (3.78 liters) of cider. Apples are washed, cut, and ground into a mash that has the consistency of coarse applesauce. Layers of this mash are then either wrapped in cloth and placed upon wooden or plastic racks where a hydraulic press then squeezes the layers together, or the mash is distributed onto a continuous belt filter press, which squeezes the pulp between two permeable belts fed between a succession of rollers that press the juice out of the pulp in a continuous, highly efficient operation. The resulting juice is then stored in refrigerated tanks, pasteurized to kill bacteria and extend shelf life, and bottled and sold as apple cider. The juice may also be fermented to produce hard cider, which then may be further treated by exposure to acetobacter to produce apple cider vinegar, or distilled to produce apple brandy. The waste left after pressing, known as pomace, is sold for cattle feed.

 

Hot mulled cider

Hot mulled cider – similar to “Wassail” – is a popular autumn and winter beverage. Cider is heated to a temperature just below boiling, with cinnamon, orange peel, nutmeg, cloves, or other spices added.

Authentic “sparkling cider” is a naturally carbonated beverage made from unfiltered apple cider. “Sparkling apple juice”, often confused with it and sometimes even labeled as “sparkling cider”, as does the popular Martinelli’s brand, is filtered, pasteurized, and mechanically carbonated and thus not true cider.

Rosé apple cider can be obtained using red-fleshed applecrabs.

“Cider doughnuts” traditionally used the yeast in raw cider as a leavener. Today they are sometimes sold at cider mills and roadside stands, though there is no assurance natural cider is used. Visiting apple orchards in the fall for cider, doughnuts, and self-picked apples is a large segment in agritourism.

 

 

One of America’s Favorites – Fatback

June 5, 2017 at 5:33 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Fatback is a cut of meat from a domestic pig. It consists of the layer of adipose tissue (subcutaneous fat) under the skin of the back, with or without the skin (pork rind). Fatback is “hard fat”, distinct from the visceral fat that occurs in the abdominal cavity and is called “soft fat” and leaf lard.

Like other types of pig fat, fatback may be rendered to make a high quality lard, and is one source of salt pork. Finely

1. fatback

diced or coarsely ground fatback is an important ingredient in sausage making and in some meat dishes.

Fatback is an important element of traditional charcuterie. In several European cultures it is used to make specialty bacon. Containing no skeletal muscle, this bacon is a delicacy.

At one time fatback was Italy’s basic cooking fat, especially in regions where olive trees are sparse or absent, but health concerns have reduced its popularity. However, it provides a rich, authentic flavour for the classic battuto – sautéed vegetables, herbs and flavourings – that forms the basis of many traditional dishes. Today, pancetta is often used instead.

 

Bacon

Salo with the rind on

Fatback is processed into slab bacon by many methods, including brine curing, dry curing, smoking, or boiling. Usually the skin (rind) is left on.

This fatback bacon is widely eaten throughout Europe. In Italy it is called lardo, and notable examples are Valle d’Aosta Lard d’Arnad and Lardo di Colonnata. In Ukraine, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union, it is called salo. In Hungary, where it is called szalonna, it is very popular for campfire cookouts (szalonnasütés). In Germany, where it is called Rückenspeck (back pork fat), it is one of two cuts known as Speck.

 

Pork rinds

Breaded and fried fatback

Fatback is a traditional part of southern US cuisine, soul food and traditional Cuisine of Quebec, where it is used for fried pork rinds (known there as cracklings, or Oreilles de crisse in Quebec), and to flavor stewed vegetables such as leaf vegetables, green beans, and black-eyed peas. A common delicacy is strips of heavily salted and fried fatback. Fatback was extremely popular in the South during the Great Depression because it is an inexpensive piece of meat. In the southwestern United States, fried fatback is known by its Spanish name, chicharrón.

 

In sausages
Fatback is an important ingredient in notable traditional sausages including nduja, cudighi, and cotechino Modena.

 

In Cooking

Homemade lard rendered from fatback

In French cooking, very thinly sliced fatback is used to line the mold when making a terrine or pâté, and thin strips of fatback are inserted under the skin of lean gamebirds for roasting. These techniques are barding and larding, respectively, and in both the fatback is used without the rind. Fatback also is used to make lardons, salt pork, and lard.

 

 

One of America’s Favorites – Potato Cakes

May 29, 2017 at 5:19 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A pair of potato cakes

Potato scallop a term that is sometimes applied to various different food preparations using potatoes.

 

 

 

 
Hashed potatoes
In parts of England, the term can refer to a patty of hashed potatoes, a kind of hash brown. These are available pre-made and frozen in supermarkets and are served by many restaurants, such as fast food stands, often as part of the breakfast menu. It can also refer to a sort of potato pancake.

Best eaten warm, with baked beans, as part of a full English breakfast.

 
Mashed potatoes
Another variant popular in the United Kingdom is prepared from cold mashed potatoes and fresh eggs. The two ingredients are combined together, then fried until crispy on the outside.

 
Scallops

American potato cakes, also referred to as a potato patties

In Australia and England potato cakes in the form of thin slices of potato, battered and deep-fried, are commonly sold in fish and chip shops and takeaway food shops. The terminology used in Australia differs from state to state. In New South Wales, Queensland, and the ACT they are usually referred to as “potato scallops”, or simply as “scallops” (to avoid confusion, scallops eaten as seafood may be known as “sea scallops”. In Tasmania and Victoria, the term “potato cakes” is used, while in South Australia and Western Australia “potato fritter” is most common.

Potato scallops originate from central England and are common in fish and chip shops there. This variant is normally a thin slice of potato, dipped in batter and deep fried, with no additional flavoring added except salt and vinegar. This type of “potato scallop” is also found in New Zealand fish and chip shops, however it is referred to as a potato fritter, not scallop. More commonly in New Zealand, a potato cake is made from either mashed or grated potato and is not covered in batter or deep fried. Hash browns, which are also widely available, are distinctly different. In Scotland what are known as potato cakes in Australia are known as potato fritters and are of the same type as the English variant. They are very common in fish and chip shops and are often the cheapest item on the menu.

The term may refer to a preparation of mashed potatoes baked in the form of pie or a scallop made using potatoes or potato flour.

 
Tattie scones

U.S. potato cake

Scottish tattie scones and Lancashire potato cakes are made from mashed or reconstituted potato and flour and baked on a griddle. They are typically served fried with breakfast or as a snack with butter or margarine, although they are often served with other toppings such as baked beans, scrambled eggs, garlic butter or tomato ketchup.

 

 

 

 
Irish potato cakes
Irish potato cakes are typically made from mashed potato and flour or baking soda, and are usually fried. This is not the same dish as boxty, because boxty is made using raw potatoes whereas potato cake is made using cooked potatoes. In Ireland, potato cakes are typically known as potato bread, or spud bread, and are served in traditional breakfasts along with soda bread and toast.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Barbecue Sandwich

May 22, 2017 at 5:22 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A barbecue sandwich served with pickled cucumber

A barbecue sandwich is a sandwich that is typically prepared with barbecued meats. Several types of meats are used to prepare barbecue sandwiches. Some varieties use cooked meats that are not barbecued, but include barbecue sauce. Many variations, including regional variations, exist, along with diverse types of cooking styles, preparations and ingredients.

 

 

 
A plethora of meats and preparation styles for barbecue sandwiches exist. Meats may be sliced, chopped or pulled, and various types are used, such as pork, pulled pork, pork shoulder, beef, beef brisket, chicken, sausage, pork ribs and turkey. Some versions use slow-smoked meats. Barbecue sandwiches typically have barbecue sauce included in their preparation, either when the meat is cooked, as a sauce within a sandwich, or both. Some meats may be seasoned with a spice rub. Some barbecue sandwiches may use cooked meats that are not barbecued, but include a barbecue sauce. Coleslaw is sometimes served with barbecue

A pulled pork barbecue sandwich

sandwiches, either on the sandwich itself or as a side dish. Sometimes sautéed vegetables such as onion and garlic are also used. Some versions prepared with beef brisket include both lean and fatty portions from the cut of beef to enhance their flavor. Pre-packaged barbecue sandwiches are also manufactured.

Breads used in the preparation of barbecue sandwiches include white bread, hamburger buns, whole wheat bread and even rye bread. The bread can help to prevent the meat from drying and to retain its temperature.

 

 

Regional variations

Missouri – Kansas City-style barbecue refers to the specific regional barbecue style of slowly smoked meat that first started from the pit of Henry Perry in the early 1900s in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City barbecue is slow-smoked over a variety of woods and then covered with a thick tomato- and molasses-based sauce.

North Carolina – Chopped pork barbecue sandwiches with coleslaw served on the sandwich are common in North Carolina. The term “barbecue” in North Carolina commonly refers specifically to barbecued, chopped pork, whereas other barbecued foods are often referred to by their actual food name.

Tennessee – Chopped pork shoulder barbecue sandwiches served with coleslaw atop them are common in Memphis, Tennessee. For example, Leonard Heuberger, who in 1922 founded a barbecue restaurant in Memphis named Leonard’s, has been reputed there as being the inventor of the “classic Memphis pork barbecue sandwich”. This sandwich was prepared on a bun with chopped or pulled pork shoulder meat, a tomato-based sauce, an

A barbecue sandwich, served with a side of smoked beans

d coleslaw. In the book Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History, it is stated that other restaurants “followed suit” regarding this sandwich style, and that “…the standard has not changed in more than 60 years.” At the Memphis restaurant chain Tops, pork shoulder sandwiches are described in this book as a “mainstay” that have existed as such since 1952, when the first Tops restaurant opened.

Texas – Texas Barbecue is a traditional style of preparing meat unique to the cuisine of Texas. It is one of the many different varieties of barbecue found around the world. Texas barbecue traditions can be divided into four general styles: East Texas, Central Texas, South Texas, and West Texas. The Central and East Texas varieties are generally the most well-known.
Generally speaking, the different Texas barbecue styles are distinguished as follows:
* East Texas style: The meat is slowly cooked to the point that it is “falling off the bone.” It is typically cooked over hickory wood and marinated in a sweet, tomato-based sauce.
* Central Texas style: The meat is rubbed with spices and cooked over indirect heat from pecan or oak wood.
* West Texas style: The meat is cooked over direct heat from mesquite wood.
* South Texas style: Features thick, molasses-like sauces that keep the meat very moist.

 

One of America’s Favorites – New York-Style Pizza

May 15, 2017 at 5:14 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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New York-style pizza from Brooklyn

New York-style pizza is a style of pizza characterized by large hand-tossed thin-crust pies, often sold in wide slices to go. It has a crust which is crisp along its edge yet soft and pliable enough beneath its toppings to be folded in half to eat. This style evolved in the U.S. from a type that originated in New York City in the early 1900s, and today refers to the style of pizza eaten in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This style of pizza is similar to the original Italian version. Regional variations exist throughout the Northeast and elsewhere in the U.S.

 

 

 

Slices of New York-style pizza to-go topped with pepperoni

The first pizzeria in the United States of America was founded by Gennaro Lombardi in New York City’s Little Italy in 1905. An immigrant pizzaiolo from Naples, he opened a grocery store in 1897; eight years later, it was licensed to sell pizza by New York State. An employee, Antonio Totonno Pero, began making pizza, which sold for five cents a pie. Many people, however, could not afford a whole pie and instead would offer what they could in return for a corresponding sized slice,[citation needed] which was wrapped in paper tied with string. In 1924, Totonno left Lombardi’s to open his own pizzeria on Coney Island, called Totonno’s.

The original pizzerias in New York used coal brick ovens and baked their pizza with the cheese on the bottom and sauce on top.[citation needed] By 2010, over 400 pizza restaurants existed in New York City, with hundreds more of varied cuisine also offering the dish.

 
New York-style pizza is traditionally hand-tossed, consisting in its basic form of a light layer of tomato sauce and dry,

New York-style pizza with various toppings

grated, full-fat mozzarella cheese; additional toppings are placed atop the cheese. Pies are typically around 18 inches in diameter, and commonly cut into 8 slices. These large wide slices are often eaten as fast food or a “street snack” while folded in half from the crust, as their flexibility sometimes makes them unwieldy to eat flat. Folding the slice also allows it to be eaten with one hand.

New York-style pizza gets its distinguishing crust from the high-gluten bread flour with which it is made. Minerals present in New York City’s tap water supply are also credited with giving the dough in metro area pies their characteristic flavor. Some out-of-state pizza makers even transport the water cross-country for the sake of authenticity.

 

Typical condiments include dried oregano, dried basil, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and dried red chili pepper flakes.
New York-style pizza is most prevalent in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but can be found throughout the Northeastern region and beyond. Outside this area, many pizzas described as “New York style,” including those of major pizza chains such as Pizza Hut, generally do not fall within the variations commonly accepted as genuine in its native area.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Moon Pies

May 8, 2017 at 5:26 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Moon pie

A moon pie or MoonPie is a confection, popular in parts of the United States, which consists of two round graham cracker cookies, with marshmallow filling in the center, dipped in a flavored coating. The snack is often associated with the cuisine of the American South where they are traditionally accompanied by an RC Cola. Today, MoonPies are made by the Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, TN.

The traditional pie is approximately four inches in diameter. A smaller version exists (mini MoonPie) that is approximately half the size, and a Double-Decker MoonPie of the traditional diameter features a third cookie and attendant layer of marshmallow. The four main flavors are chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana. Double Decker MoonPies also come in lemon and orange; MoonPie Crunch comes only in peanut butter or mint. In 2014, a salted caramel flavor was introduced.

 
MoonPies have been made daily at the Chattanooga Bakery since the incorporation of MoonPie on April 29, 1917. Earl Mitchell Junior said his father came up with the idea for MoonPies when he asked a Kentucky coal miner what kind of snack he would like to eat, and the miner requested something with graham cracker and marshmallow. Popular folklore, repeated and encouraged by the Chattanooga Bakery itself, states the miner then asked the snack be “as big as the moon”, which inspired the name “moon pie”.

There is a custom for eating MoonPies with RC Cola, although the origin of this is unknown. It is likely that their

A double-decker Moon Pie split in half.

inexpensive prices, combined with their larger serving sizes, contributed to establishing this combination as the “working man’s lunch”. The popularity of this combination was celebrated in a popular song of the 1950s, by Big Bill Lister, “Gimmee an RC Cola and a Moon Pie”. In 1973, NRBQ had a minor hit with the song, “An RC Cola and a Moon Pie”.

Since New Year’s Eve 2008, the city of Mobile, Alabama has been raising a 12-foot-tall lighted mechanical moon pie to celebrate the coming of the new year. The giant banana colored MoonPie is raised by a crane to a height of 200 feet as the clock strikes midnight. Also, the city had for the 2008 New Year’s celebration the world’s largest MoonPie baked for the occasion. It weighed 55 pounds and contained 45,000 calories.

An annual RC & MoonPie Festival is celebrated in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and a MoonPie Eating Contest is held in Bessemer, Alabama.

On October 16, 2010, Sonya Thomas, a competitive eater known as the “Black Widow”, ate 38 MoonPies in eight minutes in Caruthersville, Missouri.

Newport, Tennessee held its first annual MoonPie Festival in May 2012.

 
Mardi Gras tradition
The MoonPie became a traditional “throw” (an item thrown from a parade float into the crowd) of Mardi Gras “krewes” (parade participants) in Mobile, Alabama during 1956, followed by other communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The westernmost outpost of the MoonPie as an important Carnival throw is Slidell, Louisiana, which has a parade by “The Krewe of Mona Lisa and MoonPie”. Also, in the town of Oneonta, Alabama, there is a MoonPie eating contest started by Wal-Mart employee John Love when he inadvertently ordered too many. This anecdote was featured in Sam Walton’s autobiography, Made in America.

 
Apollo 11 great moon walk tradition
The MoonPie is a traditional celebratory food for remembering the Apollo 11 moon walk that took place on July 20, 1969. MoonPies are used in the commemorative celebration by aerospace workers and enthusiasts across the globe.

 
A MoonPie is made with marshmallow, which is a low-fat but high-sugar food. The nutritional content of a chocolate full-size or Mini MoonPie (from 2004) is detailed below, showing (full-size) 226 calories, saturated fat 3.5g, carbohydrate 40g, protein 4g, iron 5%, of a total weight of 57 grams (2 ounces). The nutritional data for a chocolate Mini MoonPie is about 65% the amount of full-size.

The ingredients are as follows: enriched wheat flour (niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), corn syrup, sugar, vegetable shortening (contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil and/or cottonseed oil and/or coconut oil and/or palm kernel oil and/or palm oil), soy flour, dutched cocoa (processed with alkali), cocoa, kosher gelatin, baking soda, lecithin, salt, artificial flavoring, sodium sulfite.

 

 

Wagon Wheels are similar to moon pies and are found in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada

In the northern areas of the U.S. a similar product is called a “Scooter Pie” and there is also a single-cracker marshmallow cookie called “Mallomars”. Little Debbie also makes what they call “Marshmallow Pies” which are nearly identical to the Moonpies. In the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada a similar product is called “Wagon Wheels” and in Japan, “Choco Pie” and the smaller-sized “Angel Pies” by Morinaga.

Some South Korean and Taiwanese companies produce “Choco pies”, and in Mexico there are similar cookie pies called “Mamut” (Spanish for “Mammoth”, sold by Gamesa), and “Rocko” (marketed by Marinela); there are several other minor brands as well. In Turkey, a similar pie is called “Halley”. In Egypt, a similar pie is called “Bimbo”. In Argentina a similar treat is “Alfajor”, more than 20 brands marketed as “alfajores” are very popular.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Cacciatore

May 1, 2017 at 5:14 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Chicken cacciatore

 

 

Cacciatore (pronounced [kattʃaˈtoːre]) means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine.

Cacciatore is popularly made with braised chicken (pollo alla cacciatora) or rabbit (coniglio alla cacciatora). The salamino cacciatore is a small salami that is seasoned with only garlic and pepper.

 

 

 
A basic cacciatore recipe usually begins with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil heated in a large frying pan. Chicken

Rabbit cacciatore

parts, dusted with salt and pepper, are seared in the oil for three to four minutes on each side. The chicken is removed from the pan, and most of the fat poured off. The remaining fat is used to fry the onions, peppers or other vegetables for several minutes. A small can of peeled tomatoes (drained of liquid and chopped coarsely) is typically added to the pan along with rosemary and a half cup of dry red wine. Bay leaf may be used, along with chopped carrot to give extra sweetness. The seared chicken parts are returned to the pan which is then covered. The dish is done after about an hour at a very low simmer. Cacciatore is often served with a rustic bread or pasta on the side.

 
Chicken cacciatore typically, but not always, includes base ingredients of onion, garlic, and tomato.

 

 

U.S.-style chicken cacciatore

There are many different variations of this entree based upon ingredients available in specific regions. For example, in southern Italy, cacciatore often includes red wine, while northern Italian chefs might use white wine. Some versions of the dish may use mushrooms.
In the United States, cacciatore dishes may be prepared with marinara sauce, though in Italy the dish does not always include tomatoes.

 

One of America’s Favorites – The Baked Potato

April 24, 2017 at 5:31 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A baked potato with butter

A baked potato, or jacket potato, is a potato that has been baked for eating. When well cooked, a baked potato has a fluffy interior and a crisp skin. It may be served with fillings and condiments such as butter, cheese or ham. Potatoes can be baked in a conventional gas or electric oven, a convection oven, a microwave oven, on a barbecue grill, or on/in an open fire. Some restaurants use special ovens designed specifically to cook large numbers of potatoes, then keep them warm and ready for service.

Prior to cooking, the potato should be scrubbed clean, washed and dried with eyes and surface blemishes removed, and basted with oil (usually Olive oil) or butter and/or salt. Pricking the potato with a fork or knife allows steam to escape during the cooking process. Potatoes cooked in a microwave oven without pricking the skin might split open due to built up internal pressure from unvented steam. It takes between one and two hours to bake a large potato in a conventional oven at 200 °C (392 °F). Microwaving takes from six to twelve minutes depending on oven power and potato size, but does not generally produce a crisp skin. Some recipes call for use of both a microwave and a conventional oven, with the microwave being used to vent most of the steam prior to the cooking process.

Some varieties of potato such as Russet and King Edward potatoes are more suitable for baking than others, owing to their size and consistency.

Wrapping the potato in aluminium foil before cooking in a standard oven will help to retain moisture, while leaving it unwrapped will result in a crisp skin. When cooking over an open fire or in the coals of a barbecue, it may require wrapping in foil to prevent burning of the skin. A potato buried directly in coals of a fire cooks very nicely, with a mostly burned and inedible skin. A baked potato is fully cooked when its internal temperature reaches 99 °C (210 °F).

Once a potato has been baked, some people discard the skin and eat only the softer and moister interior, while others enjoy the taste and texture of the crisp skin. Potatoes baked in their skins may lose between 20 and 40% of their vitamin C content because heating in air is slow and vitamin inactivation can continue for a long time. Small potatoes bake more quickly than large ones and therefore retain more of their vitamin C. Despite the popular misconception that potatoes are fattening, baked potatoes can be used as part of a healthy diet.

 

 

Baked potato and sweet potato, with kale

Some people bake their potatoes and then scoop out the interior, leaving the skin as a shell. The white interior flesh can then be mixed with various other food items such as cheese, butter, or bacon bits. This mixture is then spooned back into the skin shells and they are replaced in the oven to warm through. In America these are known variously as loaded potato skins, filled potatoes and twice baked potatoes. In Great Britain, toppings or fillings tend to be more varied than they are in America: baked beans, curried chicken, tuna, and prawn fillings are popular, and in Scotland even haggis is used as a filling for jacket potatoes.

A variation is Hasselback potatoes, where the potato is cut into very thin slices almost down the bottom, so that the potato still holds together, and is then baked in the oven, occasionally scalloped with cheese. The proper noun “Hasselback” refers to the luxurious Hasselbacken hotel and restaurant in Stockholm which originated this dish.

 
Many restaurants serve baked potatoes with sides such as butter, sour cream, chives, shredded cheese, and bacon bits. These potatoes can be a side item to a steak dinner, or some similar entree. Sides are usually optional and customers can order as many or as few as they wish.

Large, stuffed baked potatoes may be served as an entree, usually filled with meat in addition to any of the ingredients mentioned above. Barbecued or smoked meat or chili is substituted. Vegetables such as broccoli may also be added.

 

 

A baked potato with shrimp, cottage cheese, dill, tomato and lettuce

Idaho is the major producing state of potatoes. The Idaho baked potato was heavily promoted by the Northern Pacific Railroad in the early 20th century, often using Hollywood movie stars.

Hazen Titus was appointed as the Northern Pacific Railway’s dining car superintendent in 1908. He talked to Yakima Valley farmers who complained that they were unable to sell their potato crops because their potatoes were simply too large. They fed them to hogs. Titus learned that a single potato could weigh from two to five pounds, but that smaller potatoes were preferred by the end buyers of the vegetable and that many considered them not to be edible because they were difficult to cook because of their thick, rough skin.

Titus and his staff discovered the “inedible” potatoes were delicious after baking in a slow oven. He contracted to purchase as many potatoes as the farmers could produce that were more than two pounds in weight. Soon after the first delivery of “Netted Gem Bakers”, they were offered to diners on the North Coast Limited beginning in 1909. Word of the line’s specialty offering traveled quickly, and before long it was using “the Great Big Baked Potato” as a slogan to promote the railroad’s passenger service. When an addition was built for the Northern Pacific’s Seattle commissary in 1914, reporter wrote, “A large trade mark, in the shape of a baked potato, 40 ft.long and 18 ft. in diameter, surmounts the roof. The potato is electric lighted and its eyes, through the electric mechanism, are made to wink constantly. A cube of butter thrust into its split top glows intermittently.” Premiums such as postcards, letter openers, and spoons were also produced to promote “The Route of the Great Big Baked Potato”; the slogan served the Northern Pacific for about 50 years. The song “Great Big Baked Potato” (words by N.R. Streeter and H. Caldwell ; Music by Oliver George) was written about this potato.

 

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