One of America’s Favorites – Omlets

June 17, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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Plain omelette with garnish

In cuisine, an omelette or omelet is a dish made from beaten eggs fried with butter or oil in a frying pan (without stirring as in scrambled egg). It is quite common for the omelette to be folded around a filling such as cheese, chives, vegetables, mushrooms, meat (often ham or bacon), or some combination of the above. Whole eggs or egg whites are beaten, sometimes with a small amount of milk, cream, or water.

The fluffy omelette is a refined version of an ancient food. According to Alan Davidson, the French word omelette came into use during the mid-16th century, but the versions alumelle and alumete are employed by the Ménagier de Paris (II, 5) in 1393. Rabelais (Pantagruel, IV, 9) mentions an homelaicte d’oeufs, Olivier de Serres an amelette, François Pierre La Varenne’s Le cuisinier françois (1651) has aumelette, and the modern omelette appears in Cuisine bourgeoise (1784).

According to the founding legend of the annual giant Easter omelette of Bessières, Haute-Garonne, when Napoleon Bonaparte and his army were traveling through southern France, they decided to rest for the night near the town of Bessières. Napoleon feasted on an omelette prepared by a local innkeeper, and thought it was a culinary delight. He then ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs in the village and to prepare a huge omelette for his army the next day.

On March 19, 1994, the largest omelette (128.5 m2, 1,383 sq ft) in the world at the time was made with 160,000 eggs in Yokohama, Japan, but was subsequently overtaken by another, weighing 2,950 kilograms (6,500 lb), made by the Canadian Lung Association at the Brockville Memorial Centre in Brockville, Ontario, Canada, on May 11, 2002. In turn, that record was surpassed on August 11, 2012, by an omelette cooked by the Ferreira do Zêzere City Council in Santarém, Portugal. This record-breaking omelette weighed 6,466 kg (14,255 lb), and required 145,000 eggs and a 10.3-metre (34 ft) diameter pan.

An omelette foldover

Variations
* Nargesi or Spinach Omelette, an Iranian dish, is made with fried onions and spinach, and is spiced with salt, garlic, and pepper
* A Chinese omelette can be egg foo yung or an oyster omelette.
* A Denver omelette, also known as a Southwest omelette or Western omelette, is an omelette filled with diced ham, onions, and green bell peppers, though there are many variations on fillings. Often served in the Southwestern United States, this omelette sometimes has a topping of cheese and a side dish of hash browns or fried potatoes.
* A Hangtown fry, containing bacon and breaded oysters, is an unusual omelette that originated in Placerville, California, during the gold rush.
* An egg white omelette is a variation which omits the yolks to remove fat and cholesterol, which reside exclusively in the yolk portion of an egg.
* The French omelette is smoothly and briskly cooked in an extremely hot pan specially made for the purpose. The technique relies on clarified butter (to ensure a high smoke point) in relatively great ratio to the eggs (prevents sticking and cooks the eggs more quickly). Good with just salt and pepper, this omelette is often flavored with tomato and finely chopped herbs (often fines herbes or tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives) or chopped onions.
* A frittata is a kind of open-faced Italian omelette that can contain cheese, vegetables, or even leftover pasta. Frittata are cooked slowly. Except for the cooking oil, all ingredients are fully mixed with the eggs before cooking starts.

Denver omelette served with hash browns and English muffin

* The Spanish tortilla de patatas, or tortilla española in other Spanish-speaking countries, is a traditional and very popular thick omelette containing sliced potatoes sautéed in cooking oil. It often includes sliced onions (tortilla de patata con cebolla) and less commonly other additional fillings, such as cheese, bell peppers, and cooked diced ham.
* In Japan, tamagoyaki is a traditional omelette in which eggs are beaten with mirin, soy sauce, bonito flakes, sugar and water, and cooked in a special rectangular frying pan. The omelette is cooked by frying a thin layer of egg mixture and then rolling it up quickly with a pair of chopsticks to form a sausage shape in one end of the pan. Another thin layer of egg is then added to the bottom of the pan and is again rolled, with the original rolled, cooked egg at the centre, over to the other end of the pan. This is repeated until all the egg has been used up, resulting in a dense cylindrical omelette containing many thin layers. This is then squeezed into a rectangular or circular cross-section using a sushi mat, and sliced into segments for serving. Omelette (pronounced omuretsu) can mean a Western omelette. Omurice (from the English words “omelette” and “rice”) is an omelette filled with rice and usually served with a large amount of tomato ketchup. Omu-soba is an omelette with yakisoba as its filling.
* In Thai cuisine, a traditional omelette is called khai chiao ไข่เจียว (khai meaning “egg”, and chiao meaning oil-fried), in which the beaten egg mixture and a small quantity of fish sauce is deep fried in a wok filled with 1-2 cups of vegetable oil and served over steamed rice. The dish is usually served with Sriracha sauce and cilantro. A variation on this dish is khai chiao songkhrueang, where the plain egg omelette is served together with a stir-fry of meat and vegetables. Yet another type of Thai omelette is khai yat sai, literally “eggs filled with stuffing”.
* In Parsi cuisine, an omelette is called Pora which consists of eggs, onion, tomato, green chillies, coriander leaves. Usually had for breakfast with Indian/Irani tea and bread.

 

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One of America’s Favorites – Biscuits and Gravy

June 10, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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A serving of biscuits and gravy, accompanied by home fries

Biscuits and gravy is a popular breakfast dish in the United States, especially in the South.

It consists of soft dough biscuits covered in either sawmill or sausage gravy, made from the drippings of cooked pork sausage, white flour, milk, and often (but not always) bits of sausage, bacon, ground beef, or other meat. The gravy is often flavored with black pepper.

American English and British English use the word “biscuit” to refer to two distinctly different modern foods. Early hard biscuits (North American: cookies) were derived from a twice-baked bread, whereas the North American biscuit is similar to a savoury European scone.

Early European settlers in the United States brought with them a simpler and easy style of cooking, most often based on meat, ground wheat and warmed with gravy. After the first pigs were carried from England to Jamestown, Virginia in 1608, they became popular as a home-grown edible animal.

The meal emerged as a distinct regional dish after the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), when stocks of foodstuffs were in short supply. Breakfast was necessarily the most substantial meal of the day in the South, for a person facing a day of work on the plantations. In addition, the lack of supplies and money meant it had to be cheap.

Sausage gravy served atop a biscuits and gravy dish

Restaurant chains specializing in biscuits and gravy are found in North Carolina, which has Biscuitville, and West Virginia, which has Tudor’s Biscuit World. In 2015 McDonald’s offered an all-day breakfast menu which served their traditional muffins in most of the United States, but limited biscuits mostly to the southeastern United States.

While biscuits and gravy generally refers to sausage gravy, it can also refer to egg gravy, made in one of two ways:

* by scrambling eggs in bacon grease (dripping), then adding flour and milk to make gravy, and adding crumbled bacon back to the mixture
* by making a basic roux, creating a brown gravy base, then whisking beaten eggs into the boiling gravy
Tomato gravy is white gravy mixed with crushed or diced tomatoes.

In some areas Biscuits and Gravy is also known as a gravy biscuit.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Lasagne

June 3, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Baked meat lasagne

Lasagne are a type of wide, flat pasta, possibly one of the oldest types of pasta. Lasagne, or the singular lasagna, commonly refers to a culinary dish made with stacked layers of pasta alternated with sauces and ingredients such as meats, vegetables and cheese, and sometimes topped with melted grated cheese. Typically, the cooked pasta is assembled with the other ingredients and then baked in an oven. The resulting lasagne casserole is cut into single-serving square portions.

Lasagne originated in Italy during the Middle Ages and has traditionally been ascribed to the city of Naples. The first recorded recipe was set down in the early 14th-century Liber de Coquina (The Book of Cookery). It bore only a slight resemblance to the later traditional form of lasagne, featuring a fermented dough flattened into a thin sheet, boiled, sprinkled with cheese and spices, and then eaten with the use of a small pointed stick. Recipes written in the century following the Liber de Coquina recommended boiling the pasta in chicken broth and dressing it with cheese and chicken fat. In a recipe adapted for the Lenten fast, walnuts were recommended.

The traditional lasagne of Naples, lasagne di carnevale, is layered with local sausage, small fried meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and sauced with a Neapolitan ragù, a meat sauce. Lasagne al forno, layered with a thicker ragù and Béchamel sauce, and corresponding to the most common version of the dish outside Italy, is traditionally associated with the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. In other regions, lasagne can be made with various combinations of ricotta or mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, meats (e.g., ground beef, pork or chicken), and vegetables (e.g., spinach, zucchini, olives, mushrooms), and the dish is typically flavoured with wine, garlic, onion, and oregano. In all cases, the lasagne is oven-baked (al forno).

Traditionally, pasta dough prepared in Southern Italy used semolina and water; in the northern regions, where semolina was not available, flour and eggs were used. In modern Italy, since the only type of wheat allowed for commercially sold pasta is durum wheat, commercial lasagne are made of semolina from durum wheat.

Emilia-Romagna’s intensive farming economy in the northern region of Italy results in plentiful dairy and meat products, and a commonality in regional cooking – more so than the olive oil found in southern regions of Italy. Pastas from Emilia-Romagna and its capital, Bologna, are almost always served with a ragù, a thick sauce made from ingredients such as onions, carrots, finely ground pork and beef, celery, butter, and tomatoes.

Slice of lasagne with green salad and red cherry tomatoes

In Ancient Rome, there was a dish similar to a traditional lasagne called lasana or lasanum (Latin for ‘container’ or ‘pot’) described in the book De re coquinaria by Marcus Gavius Apicius, but the word could have a more ancient origin. The first theory is that lasagne comes from Greek λάγανον (laganon), a flat sheet of pasta dough cut into strips. The word λαγάνα (lagana) is still used in Greek to mean a flat thin type of unleavened bread baked for the holiday Clean Monday.

Another theory is that the word lasagne comes from the Greek λάσανα (lasana) or λάσανον (lasanon) meaning ‘trivet’, ‘stand for a pot’ or ‘chamber pot’. The Romans borrowed the word as lasanum, meaning ‘cooking pot’. The Italians used the word to refer to the cookware in which lasagne is made. Later, the food took on the name of the serving dish.

Another proposed link, or reference, is the 14th-century English dish loseyn as described in The Forme of Cury, a cookbook prepared by “the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II”, which included English recipes as well as dishes influenced by Spanish, French, Italian, and Arab cuisines. This dish has similarities to modern lasagne in both its recipe, which features a layering of ingredients between pasta sheets, and its name. An important difference is the lack of tomatoes, which did not arrive in Europe until after Columbus reached America in 1492. The earliest discussion of the tomato in European literature appeared in a herbal written in 1544 by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, while the earliest cookbook found with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692, but the author had apparently obtained these recipes from Spanish sources.

As with most other types of pasta, the Italian word is a plural form: lasagne meaning more than one sheet of lasagna, though in many other languages a derivative of the singular word lasagna is used for the popular baked pasta dish. Regional usage in Italy, when referring to the baked dish, favours the plural form lasagne in the north of the country and the singular lasagna in the south. The former, plural usage has influenced the usual spelling found in British English, while the southern Italian, singular usage has influenced the spelling often used in American English.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Fried Chicken

May 27, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Fried Chicken – A chicken breast, wing, leg and thigh fried

Fried chicken (also referred to as Southern fried chicken for the variant in the United States) is a dish consisting of chicken pieces usually from broiler chickens which have been floured or battered and then pan-fried, deep fried, or pressure fried. The breading adds a crisp coating or crust to the exterior of the chicken. What separates fried chicken from other fried forms of chicken is that generally the chicken is cut at the joints, and the bones and skin are left intact. Crisp well-seasoned skin, rendered of excess fat, is a hallmark of well made fried chicken.

The first dish known to have been deep fried was fritters, which were popular in the European Middle Ages. However, it was the Scottish who were the first Europeans to deep fry their chicken in fat (though without seasoning). Meanwhile, a number of West African peoples had traditions of seasoned fried chicken (though battering and cooking the chicken in palm oil). Scottish frying techniques and West African seasoning techniques were combined by enslaved Africans and African-Americans in the American South.

When being cooked, fried chicken is often divided into smaller pieces. The chicken is then generally covered in a batter, often consisting of ingredients such as eggs or milk, and a thickener such as flour. This is used to create a crust on the exterior of the meat. In addition, seasoning is often added at this stage. Once the chicken is ready to be cooked, it is placed in a deep fryer, frying pan or pressure cooker (depending on the method used) and fried in lard or a type of oil.

Paschal’s fried chicken, Atlanta, Georgia

Fried chicken has been described as being “crunchy” and “juicy”, as well as “crispy”. In addition, the dish has also been called “spicy” and “salty”. Occasionally, fried chicken is also topped with a chili like paprika, or hot sauce to give it a spicy taste. This is especially common in fast food restaurants and chains such as KFC. The dish is traditionally served with mashed potato, gravy, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and biscuits.

The dish is renowned for being greasy, especially when coming from fast food outlets. It has even been reported that some of those who enjoy eating the food limit themselves to eating it only a certain number of times a year, to keep their fat intake reasonably low. Out of the various parts of the animal used in fried chicken, the wings generally tend to contain the most fat, with almost 40 grams (0.088 lb) of fat for every 100 grams (0.22 lb). However, the average whole fried chicken contains only around 12% fat, or 12 grams (0.026 lb) per every 100 grams (0.22 lb). As well as this, 100 grams (0.22 lb) grams of fried chicken generally contains around 240 calories of energy.

One of the main causes of the large amounts of fat which can be found in fried chicken is the oil which is used to cook it.

Generally, chickens are not fried whole; instead, the chicken is divided into its constituent pieces. The two white meat sections are the breast and the wing from the front of the chicken, while the dark meat sections are the thigh and leg or “drumstick” from the rear of the chicken. These pieces are usually subdivided into the wings, the breasts (the wishbone is often cut out first in home cooking), the legs, and the thighs. The ribs are sometimes left on the breast, but commercially they and the back are usually discarded. Chicken fingers, which are boneless pieces of chicken breast cut into long strips, are also commonly used.

To prepare the chicken pieces for frying, they may be coated in a batter of flour and liquid (and seasonings) mixed together. The batter can contain ingredients like eggs, milk, and leavening. Alternatively, they may be dredged in flour or a similar dry substance, to coat the meat and to develop a crust. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, or ranch dressing mix can be mixed in with the flour. Either process may be preceded by marination or by dipping in buttermilk, the acidity of which acts as a eat tenderizer. As the pieces of chicken cook, some of the moisture that exudes from the chicken is absorbed by the coating of flour and browns along with the flour, creating a flavorful crust. According to Nathan Bailey’s 1736 cookbook, Dictionarium Domesticum, for example, the chicken can be covered in a marinade that consists of the juice of two large fresh lemons, malt vinegar, bay leaves, salt, pepper, ground cloves, and green onions; it then must be settled in the marinade for three hours before being dipped in the batter that consists of all-purpose flour, white wine, three egg yolks and salt, and then slowly submerged in a deep pot of either oil, lard, or clarified butter over an open fire. It can then be topped with fresh, dried parsley dipped in the same frying oil.

Traditionally, lard is used to fry the chicken, but corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil are also frequently used (although clarified butter may be used as well like in colonial times. The flavor of olive oil is generally considered too strong to be used for traditional fried chicken, and its low smoke point makes it unsuitable for use. There are three main techniques for frying chickens: pan frying, deep frying and broasting.

Frying chicken upper wings in corn oil

Pan frying (or shallow frying) requires a frying pan of sturdy construction and a source of fat that does not fully immerse the chicken. The chicken pieces are prepared as above, then fried. Generally the fat is heated to a temperature hot enough to seal (without browning, at this point) the outside of the chicken pieces. Once the pieces have been added to the hot fat and sealed, the temperature is reduced. There is debate as to how often to turn the chicken pieces, with one camp arguing for often turning and even browning, and the other camp pushing for letting the pieces render skin side down and only turning when absolutely necessary. Once the chicken pieces are close to being done the temperature is raised and the pieces are browned to the desired color (some cooks add small amounts of butter at this point to enhance browning). The moisture from the chicken that sticks and browns on the bottom of the pan become the fonds required to make gravy.

Deep frying requires a deep fryer or other device in which the chicken pieces can be completely submerged in hot fat. The process of deep frying is basically placing food fully in oil and then cooking it at a very high temperature. The pieces are prepared as described above. The fat is heated in the deep fryer to the desired temperature. The pieces are added to the fat and a constant temperature is maintained throughout the cooking process.

Broasting uses a pressure cooker to accelerate the process. The moisture inside the chicken becomes steam and increases the pressure in the cooker, lowering the cooking temperature needed. The steam also cooks the chicken through, but still allows the pieces to be moist and tender while maintaining a crisp coating. Fat is heated in a pressure cooker. Chicken pieces are prepared as described above and then placed in the hot fat. The lid is placed on the pressure cooker, and the chicken pieces are thus fried under pressure.

The derivative phrases “country fried” and “chicken fried” often refer to other foods prepared in the manner of fried chicken. Usually, this means a boneless, tenderized piece of meat that has been floured or battered and cooked in any of the methods described. Chicken fried steak is a common dish of that variety. Such dishes are often served with gravy.

Fried chicken

Variants
* Barberton chicken, also known as Serbian Fried Chicken, is a version created by Serbian immigrants in Barberton, Ohio, that has been popularized throughout that state.
* Chicken Maryland, a form of pan-fried chicken, often marinated in buttermilk, served with cream gravy and native to the state of Maryland. The recipe spread beyond the United States to the haute cuisine of Auguste Escoffier and, after heavy modification, found a place in the cuisines of Britain and Australia. The dish is made when a pan of chicken pieces and fat, as for pan frying, is placed in the oven to cook, for a majority of the overall cooking time, basically “fried in the oven”.
* Popcorn chicken, also known as chicken bites or other similar terms, are small morsels of boneless chicken, battered and fried, resulting in small pieces that resemble popcorn.
* Chicken and waffles, a combination platter of foods traditionally served at breakfast and dinner in one meal, common to soul food restaurants in the American South and beyond.
* Hot chicken: common in the Nashville, Tennessee area, a pan-fried variant of fried chicken coated with lard and cayenne pepper paste.
* Fried chicken sandwiches: a bun, biscuit or doughnut which is filled with fried chicken and assorted toppings, popular in Washington, D.C.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Coleslaw

May 20, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Coleslaw made with mayonnaise

Coleslaw (from the Dutch term koolsla meaning ‘cabbage salad’), also known as cole slaw or slaw, is a salad consisting primarily of finely-shredded raw cabbage] with a salad dressing, commonly either vinaigrette or mayonnaise. Coleslaw prepared with vinaigrette may benefit from the long lifespan granted by pickling.

The term “coleslaw” arose in the 18th century as an anglicisation of the Dutch term “koolsla” (“kool” in Dutch sounds like “cole”) meaning “cabbage salad”. The “cole” part of the word comes from the Latin colis, meaning “cabbage”.

The 1770 recipe book The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World contains a recipe attributed to the author’s Dutch landlady, who mixed thin strips of cabbage with melted butter, vinegar, and oil. The recipe for coleslaw as it is most commonly prepared is fairly young, as mayonnaise was invented during the mid-18th century.

According to The Joy of Cooking (1997), raw cabbage is the only entirely consistent ingredient in coleslaw; the type of cabbage, dressing, and added ingredients vary widely. Vinaigrette, mayonnaise, and sour cream based dressings are all listed; bacon, carrots, bell peppers, pineapple, pickles, onions, and herbs are specifically mentioned as possible added ingredients.

In America, what most think of as today’s coleslaw originated with the arrival and creation of mayonnaise in the 18th century, but many international coleslaws don’t contain mayonnaise — or even cabbage. Coleslaws can be a light crunchy blend of julienne or grated vegetables tossed in vinaigrette, or shredded vegetables with nonfat Greek yogurt combined with spices and herbs.

Coleslaw is generally eaten as a side dish with foods such as fried chicken and barbecued meats and may be accompanied by French fries or potato salad as another side dish. It also may be used as a sandwich ingredient, being placed on barbecue sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs along with chili and hot mustard. A vinegar-based coleslaw is the signature ingredient to a Primanti Brothers sandwich. Coleslaw also is used on a variant of the Reuben sandwich, with coleslaw substituting for the sauerkraut; the sandwich is commonly called a Rachel to differentiate it from the Reuben.

Coleslaw has an extremely low glycemic index (cabbage 10) and glycemic load (cabbage 0.58) and is rich in fiber.

Purple cabbage coleslaw

There are many variations of the recipe, which include the addition of other ingredients such as red cabbage, pepper, shredded carrots, onion, grated cheese, pineapple, or apple, mixed with a salad dressing such as mayonnaise or cream. A variety of seasonings, such as celery seed, may be added. The cabbage may come in finely minced pieces, shredded strips, or small squares. Other slaw variants include broccoli slaw, which uses shredded raw broccoli in place of the cabbage. Cream, sour cream, or buttermilk are also popular additions. Buttermilk coleslaw is most commonly found in the southern United States.

In the United States, coleslaw often contains buttermilk, mayonnaise or mayonnaise substitutes, and carrot, although many regional variations exist, and recipes incorporating prepared mustard or vinegar without the dairy and mayonnaise are also common. Barbecue slaw, also known as red slaw, is made using ketchup and vinegar rather than mayonnaise. It is frequently served alongside North Carolina barbecue, including Lexington style barbecue, where, unlike in the rest of the state, a red slaw is the prevailing variety.

One of America’s Favorites – Hot link (sausage)

May 13, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Hot chorizo links

A hot link also referred to as a “red link” is a type of sausage often associated with the cuisine of the Southern United States, featured commonly as a part of American barbecue, soul food, and Cajun and Louisiana Creole cuisines. It is sometimes referred to as a “Louisiana hot link”. It is also a part of Texan cuisine and the cuisine of Chicago, Illinois. The hot link is usually prepared using pork, beef, or a combination of both. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as jambalaya and gumbo. Hot link sausages are mass-produced by some companies in the United States.

Pork or beef, or a blend of both, is typically used as the primary meat ingredient. The hot link can be spiced using red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. Additional spices may be used, such as thyme, paprika, crushed bay leaves and onion flakes. Hot link sausages are sometimes smoked.

By location:
Louisiana
In Southern Louisiana, where Cajun cuisine is abundant, a hot link sausage on a bun is consumed more frequently than hot dogs.

Texas
In Texas, the hot link is typically prepared with beef, and is usually cooked over indirect heat. Common sides to accompany the Texas hot link includes sliced white bread, crackers, orange cheese, onion slices and pickles. In Pittsburg, Texas, the hot link is a popular food and has been produced there since 1897. In Pittsburg, hot links are typically broiled or baked to the point of having a “half-burned look”. In 1983, Pittsburg Hot Link Packers, Inc. in Pittsburg, Texas was producing 12,000 pounds of hot links per week. Almost all of the hot links produced by Pittsburg Hot Link Packers were consumed within 100 miles of Pittsburg during this time.

Illinois
In Chicago, Illinois, hot links are typically prepared using pork, may be spiced with pepper, fennel and sage, and are typically covered with a barbecue sauce. They are commonly available at soul food barbecue restaurants in the city’s south side, often served with french fries and white bread. They may be slow cooked in a barbecue pit.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Poached Egg

May 6, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A poached egg in a Salad Niçoise

A poached egg is an egg that has been cooked, outside the shell, by poaching (or sometimes steaming), as opposed to simmering or boiling liquid.

This method of preparation is favored for eggs, as it can yield more delicately cooked eggs than cooking at higher temperatures such as with boiling water.

The egg is cracked into a cup or bowl of any size, and then gently slid into a pan of water at approximately 75 Celsius (167 °F) and cooked until the egg white has mostly solidified, but the yolk remains soft. The “perfect” poached egg has a runny yolk, with a hardening crust and no raw white remaining.

Broken into water at the poaching temperature, the white will cling to the yolk, resulting in cooked egg white and runny yolk.

Any given chicken egg contains some egg white that is prone to dispersing into the poaching liquid and cooking into an undesirable foam. To prevent this, the egg can be strained beforehand to remove the thinner component of the egg white. A small amount of vinegar may also be added to the water, as its acidic qualities accelerate the poaching process. Stirring the water vigorously to create a vortex may also reduce dispersion.

A single broken poached egg on 2 pieces of toast

The term “poaching” is used for this method but is actually incorrect. The egg is placed in a cup and suspended over simmering water, using a special pan called an “egg-poacher”. This is usually a wide-bottomed pan with an inner lid, with holes containing a number of circular cups that each hold one egg, with an additional lid over the top. To cook, the pan is filled with water and brought to a simmer, or a gentle boil. The outer lid holds in the steam, ensuring that the heat surrounds the egg completely. The cups are often lubricated with butter in order to effect easy removal of the cooked egg, although non-stick egg poachers are also available.

The result is very similar to the traditional coddled egg, although these steamed eggs are often cooked for longer, and hence are firmer. Eggs so prepared are often served on buttered toast.

Poached eggs are used in the traditional American breakfast/brunch dish Eggs Benedict.

Poached eggs are the basis for many dishes in Louisiana Creole cuisine, such as Eggs Sardou, Eggs Portuguese, Eggs Hussarde and Eggs St. Charles. Creole poached egg dishes are typically served for brunches.

Eggs Benedict, a dish often served for breakfast or brunch.

Several cuisines include eggs poached in soup or broth and served in the soup. In parts of central Colombia, for instance, a popular breakfast item is eggs poached in a scallion/coriander broth with milk, known as changua or simply caldo de huevo (“egg soup”).

The North African dish shakshouka consists of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.

In Italy poached eggs are typically seasoned with grated parmigiano reggiano and butter (or olive oil).

In Korean cuisine, poached eggs are known as suran (수란) and is topped with variety of garnishes such as chili threads, rock tripe threads, and scallion threads.

Turkish dish çılbır consists of poached eggs, yogurt sauce with garlic and butter with red peppers.

In India, fried eggs are most commonly called “poached,” but are sometimes also known as bullseyes, as a reference to “bullseye” targets, or “half-boil” in Southern India, indicating that they are partly cooked. These eggs are “poached” in name only and so do not share the same preparation method as poached eggs in other countries.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Tortilla Chips

April 29, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A plate of tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole

A tortilla chip is a snack food made from corn tortillas, which are cut into wedges and then fried—or baked (alternatively they may be discs pressed out of corn masa then fried or baked). Corn tortillas are made of corn, vegetable oil, salt and water. Although first mass-produced in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, tortilla chips were always considered to be a Mexican food, known as totopos and tostadas. Though usually made of yellow corn, they can also be made of white, blue, or red corn. Some manufacturers include many other ingredients including wheat, sugar, food coloring, and monosodium glutamate.

The triangle-shaped tortilla chip was popularized by Rebecca Webb Carranza in the 1940s as a way to make use of misshapen tortillas rejected from the automated tortilla manufacturing machine that she and her husband used at their Mexican delicatessen and tortilla factory in southwest Los Angeles. Carranza found that the discarded tortillas, cut into triangles and fried, were a popular snack, and she sold them for a dime a bag at the El Zarape Tortilla Factory. In 1994, Carranza received the Golden Tortilla award for her contribution to the Mexican food industry.

Tortilla chips are the quintessential and often complimentary appetizer in Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere. Their popularity outside of California saw a steady rise in the late 1970s when they began to compete with corn chips, the dipping chip of choice during the first three-quarters of the 20th century. They are typically served with a dip, such as salsa, chile con queso, or guacamole. When not served with a dip, the chips are often seasoned with herbs and spices. Although they are now available worldwide, the United States is one of the main markets for tortilla chips. Commercial brand names for tortilla chips include Phileas Fogg snacks, Tostitos, Doritos, and Don Tacos (in Japan).

A more elaborate dish utilizing tortilla chips is nachos. First created circa 1943 by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, nachos are tortilla chips served with melted or shredded cheese, although often other toppings are added or substituted, such as meat, salsa (such as pico de gallo), refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, diced onions, olives, and pickled jalapeños. More elaborate nachos are often baked for a short period of time to warm the tortillas and melt shredded cheese.

A similar fried corn snack is the corn chip, which is not made from a tortilla, but from corn meal which has been processed into a particular shape, typically a small scoop. Fritos are an example of this. The principal difference between the corn in tortilla and corn chips is that the corn in a tortilla chip has undergone a process known as nixtamalization, which involves processing the raw corn with quicklime. Both tortilla and corn chips are referred to as “corn chips” in Australia and Oceania.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Baked Beans

April 22, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Baked beans over scrambled eggs on toast

Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce.] Most commercially canned baked beans are made from haricot beans, also known as navy beans (a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris) in a sauce. In Ireland and Great Britain, a tomato sauce is most commonly used, and they are commonly eaten on toast or as part of a full English, Scottish, or Irish breakfast.

American Boston baked beans use a sauce prepared with molasses and salt pork, the popularity of which has led to the city’s being nicknamed “Beantown”. Beans in a tomato and brown sugar, sugar, or corn syrup sauce are widely available throughout the US.

Canada’s Quebec-style beans often use maple syrup. This style is also popular in states bordering Canada’s eastern provinces.

Canned baked beans are used as a convenience food. They may be eaten hot or cold, straight from the can, as they are already fully cooked.

The beans presently used to make baked beans are all native to South America and were introduced to Europe around 1528. The dish is commonly described as having a savory-sweet flavor and a brownish- or reddish-tinted white bean once baked, stewed, canned or otherwise cooked. According to alternative traditions, sailors brought cassoulet from the south of France or northern France, and the Channel Islands, where bean stews were popular. Most probably, a number of regional bean recipes coalesced and cross-fertilised in North America and ultimately gave rise to the baked bean culinary tradition familiar today.

While many recipes today are stewed, traditionally beans were slow-baked in a ceramic or cast-iron beanpot. A tradition in Maine of “bean hole” cooking may have originated with the native Penobscot people and was later practiced in logging camps. A fire would be made in a stone-lined pit and allowed to burn down to hot coals, and then a pot with 11 pounds of seasoned beans would be placed in the ashes, covered over with dirt, and left to cook overnight or longer. These beans were a staple of Maine’s logging camps, served at every meal.

Canned beans, often containing pork, were among the first convenience foods, and it is in this form that they became exported and popularised by U.S. companies operating in the UK in the early 20th century. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated in 1996, “It has for years been recognized by consumers generally that the designation ‘beans with pork,’ or ‘pork and beans’ is the common or usual name for an article of commerce that contains very little pork.” The included pork is typically a piece of salt pork that adds fat to the dish.[citation needed]

Canned baked beans with small pork sausages are still available, as are variants with other added ingredients such as chili.

In the United States, Bush’s (Bush Brothers and Company), Van Camp’s, B&M (Burnham & Morrill Inc.), Allens, Inc., the H. J. Heinz Company, and the Campbell’s Soup Company are well-known

Beans on toast

producers or brands of packaged baked beans. B&M specializes in Boston-style baked beans often sold in beanpot-shaped jars, and canned brown bread, a traditional regional accompaniment to baked beans, whereas Bush and Van Camp produce multiple flavor varieties of canned beans, some styles using cured bacon to flavor the products.

In the New England region, baked beans are flavored either with maple syrup (Northern New England), or with molasses (Boston), and are traditionally cooked with salt pork in a beanpot in a brick oven for six to eight hours. In the absence of a brick oven, the beans were cooked in a beanpot nestled in a bed of embers placed near the outer edges of a hearth, about a foot away from the fire. Today, baked beans can be made in a slow cooker or in a modern oven using a traditional beanpot, Dutch oven, or casserole dish.

In southern states and along the eastern seaboard of the U.S., the beans become tangier usually due to the addition of yellow mustard. For example, the baked beans of Tennessee-based Bush’s include mustard in most of their varieties of beans. Ground beef may also become common alongside bacon in the home versions some of these bean styles. They may take on a flavor similar to Cowboy Beans, a home-mixed stew, somewhat similar to a chili but made instead with sweet baked beans.

Baked beans are a staple side dish for various types of barbecue. This is due in part to the ease of handling, as they can be served hot or cold, directly from the can, making them handy for outdoor eating. The tomato-based sweet sauce also complements many types of barbecue. The already-cooked beans may also be baked in a casserole dish topped with slices of raw bacon, which is baked until the bacon is cooked. Additional seasonings are sometimes used, such as additional brown sugar or mustard to make the sauce more tangy.

Heinz baked beans became very successful as an export to the UK, where canned baked beans are now a staple food. In America, the H. J. Heinz Co. continue to sell baked beans, although they are not always as widely distributed as competing American brands. Despite their international fame, there are currently substantial differences between the Heinz baked beans produced for the UK market (descended from the original American recipe) and the nearest currently equivalent American product (Heinz Premium Vegetarian Beans).

The American product contains brown sugar where the British beans do not, and the U.S. product contains 14 g of sugar per 16 oz tin compared to 7 g for the British version (equating to 140 versus 90 calories). The U.S. beans have a mushier texture and are darker in color than their UK counterpart. This has resulted in a situation where the product is now imported back to the brand’s home country. For several years, UK Heinz Baked Beans have been available in the U.S., either in different-sized cans from those sold in the UK or in a 385-gram can (the same can as the 415-gram can in the UK) with an “export” label with American English spelling and the word “baked” dropped from the title on the label. These are sold in many U.S. specialty stores, attesting to the popularity of baked beans and their appeal to expats. Bush, Van Camp, B&M, and Heinz all produce pork-free baked beans labeled as vegetarian beans, making this American dish available to people who abstain from pork for religious, dietary, or ethical reasons.

Three beanpots used for cooking homemade baked beans. The small one is glazed with the letters “Boston Baked Beans”

In the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore, the term baked beans usually refers to tinned beans in a tomato sauce. They were originally imported from American companies, first sold in the UK in 1886 in the upmarket Fortnum & Mason store in London as an expensive foreign delicacy.

Today, baked beans are a staple convenience food in the UK, often eaten as part of the modern full English breakfast and particularly on toast (called simply “beans on toast”). Baked beans freshly cooked from raw ingredients, much closer to their original unprocessed, unindustrialised form, are offered by a few upmarket brunch establishments.

The best-selling brand in the UK is Heinz Baked Beans.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Panini (sandwich)

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

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

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

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

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

A tri-tip panini with salad

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

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

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

 

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