One of America’s Favorites – Booyah (stew)

January 13, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 4 Comments
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American-style booyah stew

Booyah (also spelled booya, bouja, boulyaw, or bouyou) is a thick stew, believed to have originated in Belgium, and made throughout the Upper Midwestern United States. Booyah can require up to two days and multiple cooks to prepare; it is cooked in specially designed “booyah kettles” and usually meant to serve hundreds or even thousands of people. The name can also refer to a social event surrounding the meal.

In cooking booyah, one makes a base or broth derived from meat bones, to which vegetables are added. Beef, chicken, and pork are popular varieties of meat for booyah (with all three often in the same kettle), with vegetables such as carrots, peas, onion, and potatoes also in the mix. A wide variety of seasonings are used, sometimes lowered into the kettle in a cheesecloth bag. Typical large-scale booyah kettles can hold more than 50 US gallons and are made from steel or cast iron to withstand direct heat and the hours (or days) of cooking.

The term “booyah” may be a variant of “bouillon”. It is thought to have derived from the French language words for “boil” (bouillir) and “broth” (bouillon). The spelling with an H has been attributed to phonetic spelling by Wallonian immigrants from Belgium. The Dictionary of American Regional English attributes the term to French Canadian immigrants; others attribute it to a derivation from the Provençal seafood dish bouillabaisse.

An article in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on October 29, 1976, speculating on the origin of the spelling and related fundraiser event, reads:

Booyah seasoned with peas, granulated vegetables and chicken

Lester (Rentmeester) relates recollections of his schoolteacher father, Andrew, probably the “pioneer” of the word “booyah” . “At the old Finger Road School where he taught, funds were always in short supply,” he recalls. “So my father hit on the idea of a community picnic to raise money for the school. He went around to parents and neighbors, gathering up beef and chickens for the traditional Belgian soup that would be the main dish at the benefit affair. And he also went down to the office of the old Green Bay Gazette, looking for publicity.” The writer handling the news of the benefit picnic, so the story goes, asked what would be served. “Bouillon—we will have bouillon,” came the reply, with the word pronounced properly in French. “The young reporter wrote it down as he heard it,” Rentmeester relates. “It came out ‘booyah’ in the paper. It was booyah the first time it was served at Holy Martyrs of Gorcum Church—an affair my father also originated–and that’s what people have called it ever since.”

A November 19, 2015, Press-Gazette article repeats Rentmeester’s claim but also suggests that the dish “could have erupted as a tradition in multiple places at once”. The article notes that there are several variations on the name “booyah” around the Upper Midwest that “appear to be attempts to phonetically manage the hard-to-spell word ‘bouillon’, and they all are pronounced roughly the same”.

Booyah is still made in northern and northeastern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at county fairs, VFW gatherings, at booyah cooking contests, and in smaller amounts at private gatherings. In a 2018 article in the Post Crescent, Booyah was reportedly sold at church and other non-profit fundraisers for $20 (U.S. dollar) per gallon. The Green Bay Booyah baseball team was named after the stew.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Cheesecake

January 6, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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Baked cheesecake with raspberries

Cheesecake is a sweet dessert consisting of one or more layers. The main, and thickest layer, consists of a mixture of soft, fresh cheese (typically cream cheese or ricotta), eggs, and sugar. If there is a bottom layer, it often consists of a crust or base made from crushed cookies (or digestive biscuits), graham crackers, pastry, or sometimes sponge cake. It may be baked or unbaked (usually refrigerated).

Cheesecake is usually sweetened with sugar and may be flavored in many different ways. It may be flavored by adding vanilla, spices, lemon, chocolate, pumpkin, or other flavors to the cheese layer. Additional flavors and visual appeal may be added by topping the finished pie with fruit, whipped cream, nuts, cookies, fruit sauce, chocolate syrup, or other toppings.

An ancient form of cheesecake may have been a popular dish in ancient Greece even prior to Romans’ adoption of it with the conquest of Greece. The earliest attested mention of a cheesecake is by the Greek physician Aegimus (5th century BCE), who wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes. The earliest extant cheesecake recipes are found in Cato the Elder’s De Agri Cultura, which includes recipes for three cakes for religious uses: libum, savillum and placenta. Of the three, placenta is most like most modern cheesecakes, having a crust that is separately prepared and baked.

A more modern version is found in Forme of Cury, an English cookbook from 1390. On this basis, chef Heston Blumenthal has argued that cheesecake is an English invention.

Strawberry cheese cake

The English name cheesecake has been used only since the 15th century, but the cheesecake did not evolve into its modern form until somewhere around the 18th century. Europeans began removing yeast and adding beaten eggs to the cheesecake instead. With the overpowering yeast flavor gone, the result tasted more like a dessert treat.

Modern commercial American cream cheese was developed in 1872, when William Lawrence, from Chester, New York, while looking for a way to recreate the soft, French cheese Neufchâtel, accidentally came up with a way of making an “unripened cheese” that is heavier and creamier; other dairymen came up with similar creations independently.

Modern cheesecake comes in two different types. Along with the baked cheesecake, some cheesecakes are made with uncooked cream-cheese on a crumbled-biscuit base. This type of cheesecake was invented in the United States.

Ironically, modern cheesecake is not usually classified as a cake, despite the name. People who classify it as a torte point to the presence of many eggs, which are the sole source of leavening, as a key factor. For others, the overall structure, with the separate crust, the soft filling, and the absence of flour, is compelling evidence that it is a custard pie. Other sources identify it as a flan or tart.

The United States has several different recipes for cheesecake and this usually depends on the region in which the cake was baked, as well as the cultural background of the person baking it. These cheesecakes are typically baked before serving.

New York style cheese cake

New York–style cheesecake relies upon heavy cream or sour cream. The typical New York cheesecake is rich and has a dense, smooth, and creamy consistency. Sour cream makes the cheesecake more resilient to freezing and is the method by which most frozen cheesecakes are made. However, a lavish variant uses sour cream as a topping, applied when the cheesecake is cooked. It is mixed with vanilla extract and sugar and replaced in the oven, essentially making the cheesecake twice-baked.

Chicago–style cheesecake is a baked cream-cheese version which is firm on the outside with a soft and creamy texture on the inside. These cheesecakes are often made in a greased cake pan and are relatively fluffy in texture. The crust used with this style of cheesecake is most commonly made from shortbread which is crushed and mixed with sugar and butter. Some frozen cheesecakes are Chicago-style.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich

December 30, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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An open bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich

A bacon, egg and cheese sandwich is a breakfast sandwich popular in the United States and Canada. The sandwich is typically made with bacon, eggs (typically fried or scrambled), cheese and bread, which may be buttered and toasted. Many similar sandwiches exist, substituting alternate meat products for the bacon or using different varieties of cheese or bread. The sandwich is often served as a breakfast item with coffee. BEC is sometimes used as an acronym for the sandwich, as is BE&C.

Bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches are particularly popular in urban areas such as New York City. Their popularity in such settings may be attributed to their ubiquitous availability from numerous convenience stores, food trucks, and other small businesses, and the rapidity with which they can be produced. In addition to their availability at the above locations, restaurants exist with menus themed around variations upon the dish.

Many variations of the sandwich exist. Common choices for cheese include American, cheddar, provolone, and Swiss. The bacon can be substituted with many other types of preserved or seasoned meat like breakfast sausage, ham, back bacon (Canadian bacon), or pork roll. Various types of bread roll can be used as the bread for the sandwich, such as a croissant, bagel or kaiser roll. Tomato is sometimes used as an addition, and more robust versions include a hash brown. The dish can also be served as a burrito or taco. The eggs are commonly scrambled or prepared as an omelette, but are occasionally fried. Either whole eggs or egg whites may be used.

A typical sandwich with these ingredients has about 20 grams of fat and 350 calories. A version has been adapted to make a low carbohydrate meal. In the United States, the bacon egg and

McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich using Canadian bacon

cheese sandwich has also been modified into a prepackaged food product as a Hot Pocket (170 calories and 7 grams of fat) and a Lean Pocket (150 calories and 4.5 grams of fat).

In the United States, Sonic Drive-In offers a bacon egg and cheese “toaster”. Arby’s offers a “Sourdough Bacon, Egg & Swiss” with 500 calories and 29 grams of fat. Burger King serves up a “Croissan’wich with Bacon, Egg & Cheese” (360 calories and 22 grams of fat) as well as a “Double Croissan’wich with Sausage, Bacon, Egg & Cheese” (610 calories and 46 grams of fat). In New Zealand and some parts of Australia a “Massive McMuffin” is offered with ketchup, bacon, egg, American cheese and two sausage patties. For a time, Burger King offered an “Enormous Omelet Sandwich” with two egg patties, two strips of bacon, two slices of cheese and a sausage patty.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Pancakes

December 23, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A stack of blueberry pancakes

A pancake (or hotcake, griddlecake, or flapjack, not to be confused with oat bar flapjacks) is a flat cake, often thin and round, prepared from a starch-based batter that may contain eggs, milk and butter and cooked on a hot surface such as a griddle or frying pan, often frying with oil or butter. Archaeological evidence suggests that pancakes were probably the earliest and most widespread cereal food eaten in prehistoric societies.

The pancake’s shape and structure varies worldwide. In England, pancakes are often unleavened and resemble a crêpe. In North America, a leavening agent is used (typically baking powder) creating a thick fluffy pancake. A crêpe is a thin Breton pancake of French origin cooked on one or both sides in a special pan or crepe maker to achieve a lacelike network of fine bubbles. A well-known variation originating from southeast Europe is a palačinke, a thin moist pancake fried on both sides and filled with jam, cheese cream, chocolate, or ground walnuts, but many other fillings—sweet or savoury—can also be used.

When potato is used as a major portion of the batter, the result is a potato pancake. Commercially prepared pancake mixes are available in some countries. When buttermilk is used in place of or in addition to milk, the pancake develops a tart flavor and becomes known as a buttermilk pancake, which is common in Scotland and the US. Buckwheat flour can be used in a pancake batter, making for a type of buckwheat pancake, a category that includes Blini, Kaletez, Ploye, and Memil-buchimgae.

Silver dollar pancakes

Pancakes may be served at any time of the day with a variety of toppings or fillings but in America they are typically considered a breakfast food. Pancakes serve a similar function to waffles. In Britain and the Commonwealth, they are associated with Shrove Tuesday, commonly known as “Pancake Day”, when, historically, perishable ingredients had to be used up before the fasting period of Lent.

American and Canadian pancakes (sometimes called hotcakes, griddlecakes, or flapjacks) are usually served at breakfast, in a stack of two or three, topped with real or artificial maple syrup and butter. They are often served with other items such as bacon, toast, eggs or sausage. Other popular topping alternatives include jam, peanut butter, nuts, fruit, honey, powdered sugar, whipped cream, cane syrup, cinnamon and sugar, and molasses. In addition, when a pancake is occasionally served as a dessert, toppings such as ice cream, chocolate syrup, and various fruits are often used.

The thick batter contains eggs, flour, milk, and a leavening agent such as baking powder. The batter can have ingredients such as buttermilk, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, apples, chocolate chips, cheese, or sugar added. Spices such as cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg can also be used. Yogurt may be used to give the pancakes a relatively moist consistency. Pancakes may be ⅓ inch thick and about 4 inches in diameter.

In the US, Mexico and Canada, the franchised restaurant chain International House of Pancakes (IHOP) serves pancakes all day. The Original Pancake House is another chain of pancake restaurants across the US, and Walker Brothers is a series of pancake houses in the Chicago area that developed as a franchised spin-off of The Original Pancake House.

Pancakes and syrup at a pancake feed event

The popularity of pancakes in Australia has spawned the Pancake Parlour and Pancakes on the Rocks franchised restaurants. In British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, the restaurant chain De Dutch serves Dutch and Flemish-style pannenkoeken.

Pancakes are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, which is known as “Pancake Day” in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia, and “Pancake Tuesday” in Ireland and Scotland. (Shrove Tuesday is better known in the United States, France, and other countries as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.) Historically, pancakes were made on Shrove Tuesday so that the last of the fat or lard was used up before Lent. No meat products should be eaten during Lent.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Stuffing

December 16, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Stuffing a turkey

Stuffing, filling, or dressing is an edible mixture, normally consisting primarily of small cut-up pieces of bread or a similar starch and served as a side dish or used to fill a cavity in another food item while cooking. Many foods may be stuffed, including eggs, poultry, seafood, mammals, and vegetables, but chickens and turkey are the most common. Stuffing serves the dual purpose of helping to keep the meat moist while also adding to the mix of flavors of both the stuffing and the thing it is stuffed in.

Poultry stuffing often consists of dried breadcrumbs, onion, celery, salt, pepper, and other spices and herbs, a common herb being sage. Giblets are often used. Additions in the United Kingdom include dried fruits and nuts (such as apricots and flaked almonds), and chestnuts.

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

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

Stuffed turkey

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

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

It is sometimes claimed that ancient Roman and medieval cooks stuffed animals with other animals. An anonymous Andalusian cookbook from the 13th century includes a recipe for a ram stuffed with small birds. A similar recipe for a camel stuffed with sheep stuffed with bustards stuffed with carp stuffed with eggs is mentioned in T.C. Boyle’s book Water Music.

British celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has championed the ten-bird roast, calling it “one of the most spectacular and delicious roasts you can lay before your loved ones at Yuletide”. A large turkey is stuffed with a goose, duck, mallard, guinea fowl, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon, and woodcock. The roast feeds approximately 30 people and, as well as the ten birds, includes stuffing made from two pounds of sausage meat and half a pound of streaky bacon, along with sage, and port and red wine.

In the United States and eastern Canada, multi-bird dishes are sometimes served on special occasions. See gooducken and turducken.

Stuffed orange pepper

Almost anything can serve as a stuffing. Many Anglo-American stuffings contain bread or cereals, usually together with vegetables, herbs and spices, and eggs. Middle Eastern vegetable stuffings may be based on seasoned rice, on minced meat, or a combination thereof. Other stuffings may contain only vegetables and herbs. Some types of stuffing contain sausage meat, or forcemeat, while vegetarian stuffings sometimes contain tofu. Roast pork is often accompanied by sage and onion stuffing in England; roast poultry in a Christmas dinner may be stuffed with sweet chestnuts. Oysters are used in one traditional stuffing for Thanksgiving. These may also be combined with mashed potatoes, for a heavy stuffing. Fruits and dried fruits can be added to stuffing including apples, apricots, dried prunes, and raisins. In England, a stuffing is sometimes made of minced pork shoulder seasoned with various ingredients, sage, onion, bread, chestnuts, dried apricots, dried cranberries etc. The stuffing mixture may be cooked separately and served as a side dish. This may still be called stuffing or it may be called dressing.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that cooking animals with a body cavity filled with stuffing can present potential food safety issues. These can occur because when the meat reaches a safe temperature, the stuffing inside can still harbor bacteria (and if the meat is cooked until the stuffing reaches a safe temperature, the meat may be overcooked). For turkeys, for instance, the USDA recommends cooking stuffing separately from the bird and not buying pre-stuffed birds.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Roasting

December 9, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Tudor style roasting meat on a spit

Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat where hot air covers the food, cooking it evenly on all sides with temperatures of at least 150 °C (300 °F) from an open flame, oven, or other heat source. Roasting can enhance the flavor through caramelization and Maillard browning on the surface of the food. Roasting uses indirect, diffused heat (as in an oven), and is suitable for slower cooking of meat in a larger, whole piece. Meats and most root and bulb vegetables can be roasted. Any piece of meat, especially red meat, that has been cooked in this fashion is called a roast. Meats and vegetables prepared in this way are described as “roasted”, e.g., roasted chicken or roasted squash.

For roasting, the food may be placed on a rack, in a roasting pan or, to ensure even application of heat, may be rotated on a spit or rotisserie. If a pan is used, the juice can be retained for use in gravy, Yorkshire pudding, etc. During oven roasting, hot air circulates around the meat, cooking all sides evenly. There are several plans for roasting meat: low-temperature cooking, high-temperature cooking, and a combination of both. Each method can be suitable, depending on the food and the tastes of the people.

* A low-temperature oven, 95 to 160 °C (200 to 320 °F), is best when cooking with large cuts of meat, turkey and whole chickens. This is not technically roasting temperature, but it is called slow-roasting. The benefit of slow-roasting an item is less moisture loss and a more tender product. More of the collagen that makes meat tough is dissolved in slow cooking. At true roasting temperatures, 200 °C (390 °F) or more, the water inside the muscle is lost at a high rate.

A Sunday roast consisting of roast beef, potatoes, vegetables……..

* Cooking at high temperatures is beneficial if the cut is tender enough—as in fillet Mignon or strip loin—to be finished cooking before the juices escape. A reason for high temperature roasting is to brown the outside of the food, similar to browning food in a pan before pot roasting or stewing it. Fast cooking gives more variety of flavor, because the outside is brown while the center is much less done.
* The combination method uses high heat just at either the beginning or the end of the cooking process, with most of the cooking at a low temperature. This method produces the golden-brown texture and crust, but maintains more of the moisture than simply cooking at a high temperature, although the product will not be as moist as low-temperature cooking the whole time. Searing and then turning down to low is also beneficial when a dark crust and caramelized flavor is desired for the finished product.
In general, in either case, the meat is removed from the heat before it has finished cooking and left to sit for a few minutes, while the inside cooks further from the residual heat content, known as carry over cooking.

The objective in any case is to retain as much moisture as possible, while providing the texture and color. As meat cooks, the structure and especially the collagen breaks down, allowing juice to come out of the meat. So meat is juiciest at about medium rare while the juice is coming out. During roasting, meats and vegetables are frequently basted on the surface with butter, lard, or oil to reduce the loss of moisture by evaporation. In recent times, plastic oven bags have become popular for roasts. These cut cooking times and reduce the loss of moisture during roasting, but reduce flavor development from Maillard browning, somewhat more like (boiled or steamed) stew or pot roast. They are particularly popular for turkeys.

Until the late 19th century, roasting by dry heat in an oven was called baking. Roasting originally meant turning meat or a bird on a spit in front of a fire. It is one of the oldest forms of cooking known.

Whole roast chicken

Traditionally recognized roasting methods consist only of baking and cooking over or near an open fire. Grilling is normally not technically a roast, since a grill (gridiron) is used. Barbecuing and smoking differ from roasting because of the lower temperature and controlled smoke application. Grilling can be considered as a low-fat food preparation, as it allows any fat in the food to drip away.

Before the invention and widespread use of stoves, food was primarily cooked over open flames from a hearth. To roast meat, racks with skewers, or, if accessible, complicated gear arrangements, would be utilized to turn the piece(s). In the past, this method was often associated with the upper class and special occasions, rather than customary mealtimes, because it required freshly killed meat and close attention during cooking. It was easy to ruin the meat’s taste with a smoky fire or negligence to rotate it at regular intervals. Thus, elite families, who were able to afford quality meat, appointed this task to servants or invested in technology like automatic turning devices. With further technological advances, cooking came to accommodate new opportunities. By the 1860s, working families were able to afford low-priced stove models that became sufficiently available. However, the key element of observation during roasting became difficult and dangerous to do with the coal oven. Hence, traditional roasting disappeared as kitchens became no longer equipped for this custom and soon thereafter, “baking” came to be “roasting”.

Roasting can be applied to a wide variety of meat. In general, it works best for cooking whole chickens, turkey, and leaner cuts of lamb, pork, and beef. The aim is to highlight the flavor of the meat itself rather than a sauce or stew, as it is done in braising or other moist-heat methods. Many roasts are tied with string prior to roasting, often using the reef knot or the packer’s knot. Tying holds them together during roasting, keeping any stuffing inside, and keeps the roast in a round profile, which promotes even cooking.

Red meats such as beef, lamb, and venison, and certain game birds are often roasted to be “pink” or “rare”, meaning that the center of the roast is still red. Roasting is a preferred method of cooking for most poultry, and certain cuts of beef, pork, or lamb. Although there is a growing fashion in some restaurants to serve “rose pork”, temperature monitoring of the center of the roast is the only sure way to avoid foodborne disease.

In Britain, Ireland, and Australia, a roast of meat may be referred to as a joint, or a leg, if it is a leg.

Some vegetables, such as potatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, cauliflower, asparagus, squash, and peppers, yam and plantain lend themselves to roasting as well. Roasted chestnuts are also a popular snack in winter.

It is also possible to roast fish as meat.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Tomato Soup

December 2, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Tomato soup with basil

Tomato soup is a soup made with tomatoes as the primary ingredient. It may be served hot or cold in a bowl, and may be made in a variety of ways. It may be smooth in texture, and there are also recipes which include chunks of tomato, cream and chicken or vegetable stock. Popular toppings for tomato soup include sour cream or croutons. In the United States, the soup is frequently served with crackers, which may be crumbled onto the soup by the diner, and a grilled cheese sandwich. Tomato soup is one of the top comfort foods in Poland and the United States. It can be made fresh by blanching tomatoes, removing the skins, then blending them into a puree.

The first published tomato soup is mentioned by Eliza Leslie in 1857 in her final publication New Cookery Book. Joseph A. Campbell’s recipe for condensed tomato soup in 1897 further increased its popularity.

Commercially prepared tomato soup is available in a variety of forms, including canned, condensed and in dehydrated powder form. “Tomato” ranks among the top three flavors of soup produced by the Campbell Soup Company.

The main ingredients for tomato soup are tomato puree and wheat flour.

The cell wall structural importance for the plant’s growth and stability in the ripening process is equally as important to the quality of the tomato products it can produce. The pectin and cellulose are what determine the apparent viscosity of the tomato product. If they are broken at higher temperatures more enzymes are deactivated than if they are broken at lower temperatures.

High-fructose corn syrup is sometimes added to tomato soup to make it sweeter. HFCS is composed of both glucose and fructose in their free monosaccharide from that doesn’t crystallize readily. HFCS is also important in binding water, the monosaccharaides of fructose and glucose have the ability to bind to water in the product. The binding of water helps to reduce microbial growth by removing available water from the product it can also prevent the separation of water in products like sauces and soups.

Wheat flour is composed of six main groups, carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes, lipids, minerals and vitamins. Flour is added to tomato soup to increase its viscosity. The starch in the flour acts as a gelling agent and increases the viscosity of the product. When starch granules found in the flour are heated in solution they become less ordered and begin to gel. During this process of gelatinization the crystal like structures of the starch granules disappear and the swelling starts creating a viscoelastic product.

Tomato soup served with a grilled cheese sandwich

Gazpacho is a tomato soup of Spanish origin, served cold. It originates in the region of Andalucía in southern Spain. Gazpacho is widely consumed in Spanish cuisine, as well as in neighboring

Portugal, where it is known as gaspacho. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its refreshing qualities and cold serving temperature. Many variations of gazpacho exist.

Tomato soup is often paired with a grilled cheese sandwich, toast, crumpet or English muffin.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Thanksgiving Dinner

November 25, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Thanksgiving Dinner

The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and in Canada is a large meal, generally centered on a large roasted turkey. It is served with a variety of side dishes which vary from traditional dishes such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, to ones that reflect regional or cultural heritage. The majority of the dishes in the traditional American version of Thanksgiving dinner are made from foods native to the New World, as according to tradition the Pilgrims received these foods, or learned how to grow them, from the Native Americans. Thanksgiving dinner is the largest eating event in the United States; people eat more on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.

According to what traditionally is known as “The First Thanksgiving,” the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony contained waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. William Bradford noted that, “besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many.” Many of the foods that were included in the first feast (except, notably, the seafood) have since gone on to become staples of the modern Thanksgiving dinner. Early feasts of the Order of Good Cheer, a French Canadian predecessor to the modern Thanksgiving, featured a potluck dinner with freshly-hunted fowl, game, and fish, hunted and shared by both French Canadians and local natives.

The use of the turkey in the US for Thanksgiving precedes Lincoln’s nationalization of the holiday in 1863. Alexander Hamilton proclaimed that no “Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day,” and Benjamin Franklin had high regard for the wild turkey as an American icon, but turkey was uncommon as Thanksgiving fare until after 1800. By 1857, turkey had become part of the traditional dinner in New England.

The White House Cook Book, 1887, by Mrs. F.L. Gillette, et al., had the following menu: oysters on half shell, cream of chicken soup, fried smelts, sauce tartare, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, baked squash, boiled onions, parsnip fritters, olives, chicken salad, venison pastry, pumpkin pie, mince pie, Charlotte russe, almond ice cream, lemon jelly, hickory nut cake, cheese, fruits and coffee.

A Thanksgiving Day dinner served to the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 included: pickles, green olives, celery, roast turkey, oyster stew, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, dressing, creamed asparagus tips, snowflake potatoes, baked carrots, hot rolls, fruit salad, mince meat pie, fruit cake, candies, grapes, apples, clams, fish, and many other food harvests. French drip coffee, cigars and cigarettes.

Sugar, among other food commodities, was rationed from 1942 to 1946. In 1947, as part of a voluntary rationing campaign, the Harry Truman Administration attempted to promote “Poultryless Thursdays,” discouraging Americans from eating poultry or egg products on Thursdays. Because Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, this meant that turkey and pumpkin pie, two Thanksgiving staples, were discouraged, not only for that holiday, but for Christmas and New Year’s Day as well, since those holidays landed on Thursday in 1947. (Pumpkin pie was discouraged because it contained eggs.) The National Poultry and Egg Board furiously lobbied the President to cease promoting the plan; it culminated in a truce at the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation shortly before Thanksgiving. Turkey was no longer forbidden, but Eggless Thursdays remained for the rest of the year, meaning no pumpkin pie was served at the White House dinner that year.

Oven roasted turkey

Turkey is the most common main dish of a Thanksgiving dinner, to the point where Thanksgiving is sometimes colloquially called “Turkey Day.” In 2006, American turkey growers were expected to raise 270 million turkeys, to be processed into five billion pounds of turkey meat valued at almost $8 billion, with one third of all turkey consumption occurring in the Thanksgiving-Christmas season, and a per capita consumption of almost 18 pounds. The Broad Breasted White turkey is particularly bred for Thanksgiving dinner and similar large feasts; its large size (specimens can grow to over 40 pounds) and meat content make it ideal for such situations, although the breed must be artificially bred and suffers from health problems due to its size.

Most Thanksgiving turkeys are stuffed with a bread-based mixture and roasted. Sage is the traditional herb added to the stuffing, along with chopped celery, carrots, and onions. Other ingredients, such as chopped chestnuts or other tree nuts, crumbled sausage or bacon, cranberries, raisins, or apples, may be added to stuffing. If this mixture is prepared outside the bird, it may be known as dressing. Deep-fried turkey is rising in popularity due to its shorter preparation time, but carries safety risks.

The consumption of turkey on Thanksgiving is so ingrained in American culture that each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey to the President of the United States prior to each Thanksgiving. These turkeys were initially slaughtered and eaten for the President’s Thanksgiving dinner; since 1989, the presented turkeys have typically been given a mock pardon to great fanfare and sent to a park to live out the rest of their usually short natural lives.

Non-traditional foods other than turkey are usually served as the main dish for a Thanksgiving dinner. Ham is often served alongside turkey in many non-traditional households. Goose and duck, foods which were traditional European centerpieces of Christmas dinners before being displaced, are now sometimes served in place of the Thanksgiving turkey. Sometimes, fowl native to the region where the meal is taking place is used; for example, an article in Texas Monthly magazine suggested quail as the main dish for a Texan Thanksgiving feast. John Madden, who appeared on television for the NFL Thanksgiving Day game from 1981 to 2001, frequently advocated his fondness for the turducken, deboned turkey, duck and chicken nested inside each other then cooked. In a few areas of the West Coast of the United States, Dungeness crab is common as an alternate main dish, as crab season starts in early November. Similarly, Thanksgiving falls within deer hunting season in the Northeastern United States, which encourages the use of venison as a centerpiece. Vegetarians or vegans may have a tofu, wheat gluten or lentil-based substitute; or stuffed squash. In Alaskan villages, whale meat is sometimes eaten. Irish immigrants have been known to have prime rib of beef as their centerpiece since beef in Ireland was once a rarity; families would save up money for this dish to signify newfound prosperity and hope. Many Italian-Americans will serve capon as the main course to the Thanksgiving meal.

In the United States, a globalist approach to Thanksgiving has become common with the impact of immigration. Basic “Thanksgiving” ingredients, or the intent of the holiday, can be transformed to a variety of dishes by using flavors, techniques, and traditions from their own cuisines. Others celebrate the holiday with a variety of dishes particularly when there is a crowd to be fed, guests’ tastes vary and considering the financial means available.

Many offerings are typically served alongside the main dish—so many that, because of the amount of food, the Thanksgiving meal is sometimes served midday or early afternoon to make time for all the eating, and preparation may begin at dawn or on days prior. Copious leftovers are also common following the meal proper.

Traditional Thanksgiving foods are sometimes specific to the day, such as riced potatoes, and although some of the foods might be seen at any semi-formal meal in the United States, the meal often has something of a ritual or traditional quality. Many Americans would say it is “incomplete” without cranberry sauce, stuffing or dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and brussels sprouts. Other commonly served dishes include winter squash and sweet potatoes, the latter often prepared with sweeteners such as brown sugar, molasses, or marshmallows. Fresh, canned, or frozen corn is popular and green beans are frequently served; in particular, green bean casserole, a product invented in 1955 by the Campbell Soup Company to promote use of its cream of mushroom soup, has become a Thanksgiving standard. Other roasted vegetables are often served, such as carrots or parsnips, celery stalks, beets, turnips, radishes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower. A fresh salad may be included, especially on the West Coast. A relish tray, with various pickles, olives, onions or peppers, is often included either with the meal itself or as a pre-meal appetizer. Bread rolls, biscuits, or cornbread, the latter particularly in the South and parts of New England, may also be served. For dessert, various pies are usually served, particularly pumpkin pie, though apple pie, mincemeat pie, sweet potato pie, cherry pie, chocolate pie, and pecan pie are often served as well.

There are also regional differences as to the stuffing or dressing traditionally served with the turkey. The traditional version has white bread cubes, sage, onion, celery and parsley. Southerners generally make their dressing from cornbread, while those in other parts of the country may opt for wheat or rye bread as the base. One or several of the following may be added to the dressing/stuffing: oysters, apples, chestnuts, raisins, and sausages or the turkey’s giblets.

Other dishes reflect the region or cultural background of those who have come together for the meal. For example, Sauerkraut (among those in the Mid-Atlantic; especially Baltimore) is

Green bean casserole

sometimes served. Many African Americans and Southerners serve baked macaroni and cheese and collard greens, along with chitterlings and sweet potato pie, while some Italian-Americans often have lasagne on the table and Ashkenazi Jews may serve noodle kugel, a sweet dessert pudding. Other Jewish families may consume foods commonly associated with Hanukkah, such as latkes or a sufganiyah; the two holidays are usually in close proximity and on extremely rare occasions overlap. It is not unheard of for Mexican Americans to serve their turkey with mole and roasted corn. In Puerto Rico, the Thanksgiving meal is completed with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) or arroz con maiz (rice with corn), pasteles (root tamales) stuffed with turkey, pumpkin-coconut crème caramel, corn bread with longaniza, potato salad, roasted white sweet potatoes and Spanish sparkling hard cider. Turkey in Puerto Rico is stuffed with mofongo. Cuban-Americans traditionally serve the turkey alongside a small roasted pork and include white rice and black beans or kidney beans. Vegetarians or vegans have been known to serve alternative entree centerpieces such as a large vegetable pie or a stuffed and baked pumpkin or tofu substitutes. Many Midwesterners (such as Minnesotans) of Norwegian or Scandinavian descent set the table with lefse.

The beverages at Thanksgiving can vary as much as the side dishes, often depending on who is present at the table and their tastes. Spirits or cocktails sometimes may be served before the main meal. On the dinner table, unfermented apple cider (still or sparkling) or wine are often served. Pitchers of sweet tea can often be found on Southern tables[citation needed]. Beaujolais nouveau is sometimes served; the beverage has been marketed as a Thanksgiving drink since the producers of the wine (which is made available only for a short window each year) set the annual release date to be one week before Thanksgiving beginning in 1985, and it is said to pair well with the wide variety of food served for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of eggnog season.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Ham

November 18, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in Ham, One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Half ham

Ham is pork from a leg cut that has been preserved by wet or dry curing, with or without smoking. As a processed meat, the term “ham” includes both whole cuts of meat and ones that have been mechanically formed.

Ham is made around the world, including a number of regional specialties, such as Westphalian ham and some varieties of Spanish jamón. In addition, numerous ham products have specific geographical naming protection, such as prosciutto di Parma in Europe, and Smithfield ham in the US.

The preserving of pork leg as ham has a long history, with Cato the Elder writing about the “salting of hams” in his De Agri Cultura tome around 160 BC.

There are claims that the Chinese were the first people to mention the production of cured ham. Larousse Gastronomique claims an origin from Gaul. It was certainly well established by the Roman period, as evidenced by an import trade from Gaul mentioned by Marcus Terentius Varro in his writings.

Typical slice of ham

The modern word “ham” is derived from the Old English ham or hom meaning the hollow or bend of the knee, from a Germanic base where it meant “crooked”. It began to refer to the cut of pork derived from the hind leg of a pig around the 15th century.

Because of the preservation process, ham is a compound foodstuff or ingredient, being made up of the original meat, as well as the remnants of the preserving agent(s), such as salt, but it is still recognised as a food in its own right.

 

Methods
Ham is produced by curing raw pork by salting, also known as dry curing, or brining, also known as wet curing. Additionally, smoking may be employed.

Besides salt, several ingredients may be used to obtain flavoring and preservation, from black pepper (e.g. Prosciutto Toscano) to saffron (e.g. the “Zafferano di San Gimignano.

Dry-cured

Sea salt being added to raw pork leg as part of a dry cure process

Traditional dry cure hams may use only salt as the curative agent, such as with San Daniele or Parma hams, although this is comparatively rare. This process involves cleaning the raw meat, covering it in salt while it is gradually pressed draining all the blood. Specific herbs and spices may be used to add flavour during this step. The hams are then washed and hung in a dark, temperature-regulated place until dry. It is then hung to air for another period of time.

The duration of the curing process varies by the type of ham, with, for example, Serrano ham curing in 9–12 months, Parma hams taking more than 12 months, and Iberian ham taking up to 2 years to reach the desired flavour characteristics. Some dry cured hams, such as the Jinhua ham, take approximately 8 to 10 months to complete.

Most modern dry cure hams also use nitrites (either sodium nitrite or potassium nitrate), which are added along with the salt. Nitrates are used because they prevent bacterial growth and, in a reaction with the meat’s myoglobin, give the product a desirable dark red color. The amount and mixture of salt and nitrites used have an effect on the shrinkage of the meat. Because of the toxicity of nitrite (the lethal dose of nitrite for humans is about 22 mg per kg body weight), some areas specify a maximum allowable content of nitrite in the final product. Under certain conditions, especially during cooking, nitrites in meat can react with degradation products of amino acids, forming nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.

The dry curing of ham involves a number of enzymatic reactions. The enzymes involved are proteinases (cathepsins – B, D, H & L, and calpains) and exopeptidases (peptidase and aminopeptidase). These enzymes cause proteolysis of muscle tissue, which creates large numbers of small peptides and free amino acids, while the adipose tissue undergoes lipolysis to create free fatty acids. Salt and phosphates act as strong inhibitors of proteolytic activity. Animal factors influencing enzymatic activity include age, weight, and breed. During the process itself, conditions such as temperature, duration, water content, redox potential, and salt content all have an effect.

The salt content in dry-cured ham varies throughout a piece of meat, with gradients determinable through sampling and testing or non-invasively through CT scanning.

Wet-cured
Wet-cured hams are brined, which involves the immersion of the meat in a brine, sometimes with other ingredients such as sugar also added for flavour. Meat is typically kept in the brine for around 3 to 14 days. Wet curing also has the effect of increasing volume and weight of the finished product, by about 4%.

The wet curing process can also be achieved by pumping the curing solution into the meat. This can be quicker, increase the weight of the finished product by more than immersion, and ensure a more even distribution of salt through the meat. This process is quicker than traditional brining, normally being completed in a few days.

Smoking
Ham can also be additionally preserved through smoking, in which the meat is placed in a smokehouse (or equivalent) to be cured by the action of smoke.

The main flavor compounds of smoked ham are guaiacol, and its 4-, 5-, and 6-methyl derivatives as well as 2,6-dimethylphenol. These compounds are produced by combustion of lignin, a major constituent of wood used in the smokehouse.

Labeling

A platter of ham and cheese sliced for sandwiches

In many countries the term is now protected by statute, with a specific definition. For instance, in the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) says that “the word ‘ham’, without any prefix indicating the species of animal from which derived, shall be used in labeling only in connection with the hind legs of swine”.

In addition to the main categories, some processing choices can affect legal labeling. For instance, in the United States, a “smoked” ham must have been smoked by hanging over burning wood chips in a smokehouse or an atomized spray of liquid smoke such that the product appearance is equivalent; a “hickory-smoked” ham must have been smoked using only hickory. However, injecting “smoke flavor” is not legal grounds for claiming the ham was “smoked”; these are labeled “smoke flavor added”. Hams can only be labeled “honey-cured” if honey was at least 50% of the sweetener used, is at least 3% of the formula, and has a discernible effect on flavor. So-called “lean” and “extra lean” hams must adhere to maximum levels of fat and cholesterol per 100 grams of product.

Whole fresh pork leg can be labeled as fresh ham in the United States.

Protected designations
A number of hams worldwide have some level of protection of their unique characteristics, usually relating to their method of preservation or location of production or processing. Dependent on jurisdiction, rules may prevent any other product being sold with the particular appellation, such as through the European protected geographical indication.

 

One of America’s Favorites – French Toast

November 11, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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French toast served at a restaurant

French toast is a dish made of sliced bread soaked in eggs and milk, then fried. Alternative names and variants include eggy bread, Bombay toast, German toast, gypsy toast, poor knights (of Windsor), torrija and Arme Riddere.

The earliest known reference to French toast is in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating to the 4th or 5th century, where it is described as simply aliter dulcia (“another sweet dish”). The recipe says to “slice fine white bread, remove the crust, and break it into large pieces. Soak these pieces in milk and beaten egg, fry in oil, and cover with honey before serving.”

A fourteenth-century German recipe uses the name Arme Ritter (“poor knights”), a name also used in English and the Nordic languages. Also in the fourteenth century, Taillevent presented a recipe for “tostées dorées”. Italian 15th-century culinary expert Martino da Como offers a recipe.

The usual French name is pain perdu, “lost bread”, reflecting its use of stale or otherwise “lost” bread — which gave birth to the metaphoric term pain perdu for sunk costs. It may also be called pain doré, “golden bread”, in Canada. There are fifteenth-century English recipes for pain perdu

An Austrian and Bavarian term is pafese or pofese, from zuppa pavese, referring to Pavia, Italy. The word “soup” in the dish’s name refers to bread soaked in a liquid, a sop. In Hungary, it is commonly called bundáskenyér (lit. “furry bread”).

French toast topped with fruit, butter and cream, served with maple syrup.

Slices of bread are soaked or dipped in a mixture of beaten eggs, often whisked with milk or cream. Sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla may be variously added to the mixture. The bread is then fried in butter or olive oil until browned and cooked through. Day-old bread is often used, both for its thrift and because it will soak up more egg mixture without falling apart.

The cooked slices may be served with sugar or sweet toppings such as jam, honey, fruit, or maple syrup.

According to the Compleat Cook (1659) as quoted in the OED, the bread was dipped in milk only, with the egg mixture added afterwards.

Alternatively, the bread may be soaked in wine, rosewater, or orange juice, either before or after cooking.

French toast was popularly served in railroad dining cars of the early and mid-20th century. The Santa Fe was especially known for its French toast, and most of the railroads provided recipes of these and other dining car offerings to the public as a promotional feature.

 

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