One of America’s Favorites – Hotdish

July 6, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A tater tot hotdish

A hotdish is a dish that typically contains a starch, a meat, and a canned or frozen vegetable mixed with canned soup. The dish is usually made with ground beef over tater tots with cream of mushroom soup, but some versions in Minnesota use the official state grain wild rice, or even macaroni, in place of the taters. The dish originates in the Upper Midwest region of the United States, where it remains popular, particularly in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. Hotdish is cooked in a single baking dish, and served hot (per its name). It commonly appears at communal gatherings such as family reunions, potlucks and church suppers.

The history of the hotdish goes back to when “budget-minded farm wives needed to feed their own families, as well as congregations in the basements of the first Minnesota churches.” According to Howard Mohr, author of How to Talk Minnesotan, “A traditional main course, hotdish is cooked and served hot in a single baking dish and commonly appears at family reunions and church suppers.” The most typical meat for many years has been ground beef, and cream of mushroom remains the favorite canned soup. In past years a pasta was the most frequently used starch, but tater tots and local wild rice have now become very popular as well.

Hotdishes are filling, convenient, and easy to make. They are well-suited for family reunions, funerals, church suppers, and potlucks where they may be paired with potato salad, coleslaw, Jello salads and desserts, and pan-baked desserts known as bars.

Typical ingredients in hotdish are potatoes or pasta, ground beef, green beans, and corn, with canned soup added as a binder, flavoring and sauce. Potatoes may be in the form of tater tots, hash browns, potato chips, or shoe string potatoes. The dish is usually seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, and it may be eaten with ketchup as a condiment. Another popular hotdish is the tuna hotdish, made with macaroni or egg noodles, canned tuna, peas, and mushroom soup. Also common is a dish known as goulash, though it bears no resemblance to the familiar Hungarian goulash. Minnesota goulash is usually made with ground beef, macaroni, canned tomatoes, and perhaps a can of creamed corn.

Cream of mushroom soup is so ubiquitous in hotdish that it is often referred to in such recipes as “Lutheran Binder,” referring to hotdish’s position as a staple of Lutheran church cookbooks. The soup is considered a defining ingredient by some commentators.

Tater Tot Hotdish from the Saint Paul, Minnesota, Winter Carnival

Hotdish frequently appears, along with other stereotypical Minnesotan dishes such as lutefisk, in the radio program

A Prairie Home Companion. Hotdish is also described in Howard Mohr’s book How to Talk Minnesotan. Hotdish is an integral element of the book Hotdish to Die For, a collection of six culinary mystery short stories in which the weapon of choice is hotdish

Minnesota public television station, KSMQ in Austin, Minnesota, has produced a 2012 documentary video entitled “Minnesota Hotdish.” providing a historical and humorous look at the popular church supper and family gathering staple.

Hotdish was also the main meal featured in the comedy-drama film “Manny & Lo”.

“Hot Dish” is also the name of an Anchorage-based blue grass band, hotdishbluegrass.com. Their band name was chosen with a nod to mid-western roots of three of the five band members.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Red Beans and Rice

June 29, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Red beans and rice at a restaurant in California

Red beans and rice is an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine (not originally of Cajun cuisine) traditionally made on Mondays with red beans, vegetables (bell pepper, onion, and celery), spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and pork bones as left over from Sunday dinner, cooked together slowly in a pot and served over rice. Meats such as ham, sausage (most commonly andouille), and tasso ham are also frequently used in the dish. The dish is customary – ham was traditionally a Sunday meal and Monday was washday. A pot of beans could sit on the stove and simmer while the women were busy scrubbing clothes. The dish is now fairly common throughout the Southeast. Similar dishes are common in Latin American cuisine, including moros y cristianos, gallo pinto and feijoada.

Red beans and rice is one of the few New Orleans style dishes to be commonly served both in people’s homes and in restaurants. Many neighborhood restaurants and even schools continue to serve it as a Monday lunch or dinner special, usually with a side order of cornbread and either smoked sausage or a pork chop. While Monday washdays are largely a thing of the past, red beans remain a staple for large gatherings such as Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties. Indeed, red beans and rice is very much part of the New Orleans identity. New Orleanian Louis Armstrong’s favorite food was red beans and rice – the musician would sign letters “Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Louis Armstrong”. And in 1965, the R&B instrumental group Booker T. & the M.G.’s wrote and recorded a song titled “Red Beans and Rice” that was originally a B-side but later became popular in its own right.

The similar vegetarian dish Rajma chawal (which translates literally to red beans and rice) is popular in North India. Red beans and rice is also a dietary staple in Central America, where it is known as “arroz con habichuelas”. The dish is popular in Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Haitian and Jamaican cuisine as well.

A plate of red beans and rice with sausage from The Chimes restaurant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Red kidney beans or small red beans are used and they are usually (but not always) soaked beforehand. Add celery, onion, and peppers to the pot along with a ham hock. Add water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for several hours or until the beans are soft.

The dish is highly nutritious. Rice is rich in starch, an excellent source of energy. Rice also has iron, vitamin B and protein. Beans also contain a good amount of iron and an even greater amount of protein than rice. Together they make up a complete protein, which provides each of the amino acids the body cannot make for itself.

In addition, rice and beans are common and affordable ingredients, often available in difficult economic times.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Salad

June 22, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A garden salad consisting of lettuce, cucumber, scallions, cherry tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta

A salad is a dish consisting of a mixture of small pieces of food, usually vegetables or fruit. However, different varieties of salad may contain virtually any type of ready-to-eat food. Salads are typically served at room temperature or chilled, with notable exceptions such as south German potato salad which can be served warm.

Garden salads use a base of leafy greens such as lettuce, arugula/rocket, kale or spinach; they are common enough that the word salad alone often refers specifically to garden salads. Other types include bean salad, tuna salad, fattoush, Greek salad (vegetable-based, but without leafy greens), and sōmen salad (a noodle-based salad). The sauce used to flavor a salad is commonly called a salad dressing; most salad dressings are based on either a mixture of oil and vinegar or a fermented milk product like kefir.

Salads may be served at any point during a meal:

* Appetizer salads—light, smaller-portion salads served as the first course of the meal.
* Side salads—to accompany the main course as a side dish, examples include potato salad and Caesar salad.
* Main course salads—usually containing a portion of a high-protein foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, legumes, or cheese.
* Dessert salads—sweet versions containing fruit, gelatin, sweeteners or whipped cream.

Green leaf salad with salmon and bread

The Romans, ancient Greeks and Persians ate mixed greens with dressing, a type of mixed salad. Salads, including layered and dressed salads, have been popular in Europe since the Greek and Roman imperial expansions. In his 1699 book, Acetaria: A Discourse on Sallets, John Evelyn attempted with little success to encourage his fellow Britons to eat fresh salad greens. Mary, Queen of Scots, ate boiled celery root over greens covered with creamy mustard dressing, truffles, chervil, and slices of hard-boiled eggs.

Oil used on salads can be found in the 17th-century colony of New Netherland (later called New York, New Jersey and Delaware). A list of common items arriving on ships and their designated prices when appraising cargo included “a can of salad oil at 1.10 florins” and “an anker of wine vinegar at 16 florins”. In a 1665 letter to the Director of New Netherland from the Island of Curaçao there is a request to send greens: “I request most amicably that your honors be pleased to send me seed of every sort, such as cabbage, carrots, lettuce, parsley, etc. for none can be acquired here and I know that your honor has plenty,…”.

Salads may be sold in supermarkets, at restaurants and at fast food chains. In the United States, restaurants will often have a salad bar with salad-making ingredients, which the customers will use to put together their salad. Salad restaurants were earning more than $300 million in 2014. At-home salad consumption in the 2010s was rising but moving away from fresh-chopped lettuce and toward bagged greens and salad kits, with bag sales expected to reach $7 billion per year.

Types of salads

American-style potato salad with egg and mayonnaise

A salad can be a composed salad (with the ingredients specifically arranged on the serving dish) or a tossed salad (with the ingredients placed in a bowl and mixed). An antipasto plate, the first dish of a formal Italian meal, is similar to a composed salad, and has vegetables, cheese, and meat.

Green salad
A green salad or garden salad is most often composed of leafy vegetables such as lettuce varieties, spinach, or rocket (arugula). If non-greens make up a large portion of the salad it may instead be called a vegetable salad. Common raw vegetables (in the culinary sense) used in a salad include cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, radishes, mushrooms, avocado, olives, artichoke hearts, heart of palm, watercress, parsley, garden beets, and green beans. Nuts, berries, seeds, and flowers are less common components. Hard-boiled eggs, bacon, shrimp, and cheeses may be used as garnishes, but large amounts of animal-based foods would be more likely in a dinner salad.

Wedge salad
A wedge salad is a specific type of green salad made from a head of lettuce (often iceberg), halved or quartered, with other ingredients on top.

Fruit salad
Fruit salads are made of fruit (in the culinary sense), which may be fresh or canned. Examples include fruit cocktail.

Rice and pasta salads
Rice and pasta may be used as the key ingredient to making a salad. Pasta salads are more common. Some examples of rice salads come from Thai cuisine, like Nasi ulam.

Bound salads
Bound salads are assembled with thick sauces such as mayonnaise. One portion of a bound salad will hold its shape when placed on a plate with a scoop. Examples of bound salad include tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, coleslaw, and potato salad. Some bound salads are used as sandwich fillings. Some pasta salads, i.e. macaroni salad, are bound salads. They are popular at picnics and barbecues.

Dinner salads

Ambrosia

Main course salads (known as dinner salads or as entrée salads in the United States) may contain small pieces of poultry, seafood, or steak. Caesar salad, Chef salad, Cobb salad, Chinese chicken salad and Michigan salad are dinner salads.

A wider variety of cheeses are used in dinner salads, including Roquefort blue cheese (traditional for a Cobb salad), and Swiss, Cheddar, Jack, and Provolone (for Chef and Cobb salads).

Dessert salads
Dessert salads rarely include leafy greens and are often sweet. Common variants are made with gelatin or whipped cream; e.g. jello salad, pistachio salad, and ambrosia. Other forms of dessert salads include snickers salad, glorified rice, and cookie salad.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Jambalaya

June 15, 2020 at 6:49 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Jambalaya with chicken, andouille sausage, rice, shrimp, celery and spices

Jambalaya (/ˌdʒæmbəˈlaɪ.ə/ JAM-bə-LY-ə, /ˌdʒʌm-/ JUM-) is a popular dish of West African, French (especially Provençal cuisine), Spanish and Native American influence, consisting mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked meat such as andouille, along with pork or chicken and seafood (less common), such as crawfish or shrimp. The vegetables are usually a sofrito-like mixture known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking, consisting of onion, celery, and green bell pepper, though other vegetables such as okra, carrots, tomatoes, chilis and garlic are also used. After browning and sauteeing the meat and vegetables, rice, seasonings and broth are added and the entire dish is cooked together until the rice is done.

Jambalaya is similar to (but distinct from) other rice-and-meat dishes known in Louisiana cuisine. Gumbo uses similar sausages, meats, seafood, vegetables and seasonings. However, gumbo includes filé powder and okra, which are not common in jambalaya. Gumbo is also usually served over white rice, which is prepared separate from the rest of the dish, unlike jambalaya, where the rice is prepared with the other ingredients. Étouffée is a stew which always includes shellfish such as shrimp or crayfish, but does not have the sausage common to jambalaya and gumbo. Also, like gumbo, étouffée is usually served over separately prepared rice.

Jambalaya may have its origins in several rice-based dishes well attested in the Mediterranean cuisines of France or Spain especially, the Spanish dish paella (native to Valencia), and a French pilau dish in which the word jambalaia is native to Provence) Other seasoned rice-based dishes from other cuisines include pilaf, risotto and Hoppin’ John.

Chicken jambalaya at a restaurant

The first is Creole jambalaya (also called “red jambalaya”). First, meat is added to the trinity of celery, peppers, and onions; the meat is usually chicken and sausage such as andouille or smoked sausage. Next vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, followed by seafood. Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end. The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the recipe, with infrequent stirring. Towards the end of the cooking process, stirring usually ceases. Some versions call for the jambalaya to be baked after the cooking of all the ingredients.

The second style, more characteristic of southwestern and south-central Louisiana, is Cajun jambalaya, which contains no tomatoes (the idea being the farther away from New Orleans one gets, the less common tomatoes are in dishes). The meat is browned in a cast-iron pot. The bits of meat that stick to the bottom of the pot (sucs) are what give a Cajun jambalaya its brown color. A little vegetable oil is added if there is not enough fat in the pot. The trinity (of 50% onions, 25% celery, and 25% green or red bell pepper, although proportions can be altered to suit one’s taste) is added and sautéed until soft. Stock and seasonings are added in the next step, and then the meats are returned to the pot. This mixture is then simmered, covered, for at least one hour. Lastly, the mixture is brought to a boil and rice is added to the pot. It is then covered and left to simmer over very low heat for at least 1/2 hour without stirring. The dish is finished when the rice has cooked.

In a less common method, meat and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice. At the same time, rice is cooked in a savory stock. It is added to the meat and vegetables before serving. This is called “white jambalaya”. This dish is rare in Louisiana as it is seen as a “quick” attempt to make jambalaya, popularized outside the state to shorten cooking time.

Many people in the south, and typically in Louisiana, enjoy a simpler jambalaya style. This style is cooked the same as the Cajun style, but there are no vegetables. Many restaurants serve this style as opposed to the others, because it is more child-friendly, has a more consistent texture, and is easier to make.

Jambalaya is considered by most Louisianans to be a filling but simple-to-prepare rice dish; gumbos, étouffées, and creoles are considered more difficult to perfect. Most often a long grain white rice is used in making jambalaya.

Ingredients for jambalaya in a pot beginning to cook

Jambalaya is differentiated from gumbo and étouffée by the way in which the rice is included. In these dishes, the rice is cooked separately and is served as a bed on which the main dish is served. In the usual method of preparing jambalaya, a rich stock is created from vegetables, meat, and seafood; raw rice is then added to the broth and the flavor is absorbed by the grains as the rice cooks.

The origin states jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron. As time went on, French influence became strong in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish. In modern Louisiana, the dish has evolved along a variety of different lines. Creole jambalaya, or red jambalaya, is found primarily in and around New Orleans, where it is simply known as “jambalaya”. Creole jambalaya includes tomatoes, whereas Cajun jambalaya does not.

Cajun jambalaya originates from Louisiana’s rural, low-lying swamp country where crawfish, shrimp, oysters, alligator, duck, turtle, boar, venison, nutria and other game were readily available. Any variety or combination of meats, including chicken or turkey, may be used to make jambalaya. Cajun jambalaya is known as “brown jambalaya” in the New Orleans area; to Cajuns it is simply known as “jambalaya”. Cajun jambalaya has more of a smoky and spicy flavor than its Creole cousin.

Creole jambalaya with shrimp, ham, tomato, and andouille sausage

The first appearance in print of any variant of the word ‘jambalaya’ in any language occurred in Leis amours de Vanus; vo, Lou paysan oou théâtré, by Fortuné (Fortunat) Chailan, first published in Provençal dialect in 1837. The earliest appearance of the word in print in English occurs in the May 1849 issue of the American Agriculturalist, page 161, where Solon Robinson refers to a recipe for ‘Hopping Johnny (jambalaya)’. Jambalaya did not appear in a cookbook until 1878, when the Gulf City Cook Book, by the ladies of the St. Francis Street Methodist Episcopal Church, was printed in South Mobile, Alabama. It contains a recipe for “JAM BOLAYA”.

Jambalaya experienced a brief jump in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s because of its flexible recipe. The dish was little more than the rice and vegetables the populace could afford; the recipe grew from humble roots.

In 1968, Louisiana Governor John J. McKeithen proclaimed Gonzales, Louisiana, “the Jambalaya capital of the world”. Every spring, the annual Jambalaya Festival is held in Gonzales.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Jambalaya

June 15, 2020 at 2:10 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Jambalaya with chicken, andouille sausage, rice, shrimp, celery and spices

Jambalaya (/ˌdʒæmbəˈlaɪ.ə/ JAM-bə-LY-ə, /ˌdʒʌm-/ JUM-) is a popular dish of West African, French (especially Provençal cuisine), Spanish and Native American influence, consisting mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked meat such as andouille, along with pork or chicken and seafood (less common), such as crawfish or shrimp. The vegetables are usually a sofrito-like mixture known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking, consisting of onion, celery, and green bell pepper, though other vegetables such as okra, carrots, tomatoes, chilis and garlic are also used. After browning and sauteeing the meat and vegetables, rice, seasonings and broth are added and the entire dish is cooked together until the rice is done.

Jambalaya is similar to (but distinct from) other rice-and-meat dishes known in Louisiana cuisine. Gumbo uses similar sausages, meats, seafood, vegetables and seasonings. However, gumbo includes filé powder and okra, which are not common in jambalaya. Gumbo is also usually served over white rice, which is prepared separate from the rest of the dish, unlike jambalaya, where the rice is prepared with the other ingredients. Étouffée is a stew which always includes shellfish such as shrimp or crayfish, but does not have the sausage common to jambalaya and gumbo. Also, like gumbo, étouffée is usually served over separately prepared rice.

Jambalaya may have its origins in several rice-based dishes well attested in the Mediterranean cuisines of France or Spain especially, the Spanish dish paella (native to Valencia), and a French pilau dish in which the word jambalaia is native to Provence) Other seasoned rice-based dishes from other cuisines include pilaf, risotto and Hoppin’ John.

Chicken jambalaya at a restaurant

The first is Creole jambalaya (also called “red jambalaya”). First, meat is added to the trinity of celery, peppers, and onions; the meat is usually chicken and sausage such as andouille or smoked sausage. Next vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, followed by seafood. Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end. The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the recipe, with infrequent stirring. Towards the end of the cooking process, stirring usually ceases. Some versions call for the jambalaya to be baked after the cooking of all the ingredients.

The second style, more characteristic of southwestern and south-central Louisiana, is Cajun jambalaya, which contains no tomatoes (the idea being the farther away from New Orleans one gets, the less common tomatoes are in dishes). The meat is browned in a cast-iron pot. The bits of meat that stick to the bottom of the pot (sucs) are what give a Cajun jambalaya its brown color. A little vegetable oil is added if there is not enough fat in the pot. The trinity (of 50% onions, 25% celery, and 25% green or red bell pepper, although proportions can be altered to suit one’s taste) is added and sautéed until soft. Stock and seasonings are added in the next step, and then the meats are returned to the pot. This mixture is then simmered, covered, for at least one hour. Lastly, the mixture is brought to a boil and rice is added to the pot. It is then covered and left to simmer over very low heat for at least 1/2 hour without stirring. The dish is finished when the rice has cooked.

In a less common method, meat and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice. At the same time, rice is cooked in a savory stock. It is added to the meat and vegetables before serving. This is called “white jambalaya”. This dish is rare in Louisiana as it is seen as a “quick” attempt to make jambalaya, popularized outside the state to shorten cooking time.

Many people in the south, and typically in Louisiana, enjoy a simpler jambalaya style. This style is cooked the same as the Cajun style, but there are no vegetables. Many restaurants serve this style as opposed to the others, because it is more child-friendly, has a more consistent texture, and is easier to make.

Jambalaya is considered by most Louisianans to be a filling but simple-to-prepare rice dish; gumbos, étouffées, and creoles are considered more difficult to perfect. Most often a long grain white rice is used in making jambalaya.

Ingredients for jambalaya in a pot beginning to cook

Jambalaya is differentiated from gumbo and étouffée by the way in which the rice is included. In these dishes, the rice is cooked separately and is served as a bed on which the main dish is served. In the usual method of preparing jambalaya, a rich stock is created from vegetables, meat, and seafood; raw rice is then added to the broth and the flavor is absorbed by the grains as the rice cooks.

The origin states jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron. As time went on, French influence became strong in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish. In modern Louisiana, the dish has evolved along a variety of different lines. Creole jambalaya, or red jambalaya, is found primarily in and around New Orleans, where it is simply known as “jambalaya”. Creole jambalaya includes tomatoes, whereas Cajun jambalaya does not.

Cajun jambalaya originates from Louisiana’s rural, low-lying swamp country where crawfish, shrimp, oysters, alligator, duck, turtle, boar, venison, nutria and other game were readily available. Any variety or combination of meats, including chicken or turkey, may be used to make jambalaya. Cajun jambalaya is known as “brown jambalaya” in the New Orleans area; to Cajuns it is simply known as “jambalaya”. Cajun jambalaya has more of a smoky and spicy flavor than its Creole cousin.

Creole jambalaya with shrimp, ham, tomato, and andouille sausage

The first appearance in print of any variant of the word ‘jambalaya’ in any language occurred in Leis amours de Vanus; vo, Lou paysan oou théâtré, by Fortuné (Fortunat) Chailan, first published in Provençal dialect in 1837. The earliest appearance of the word in print in English occurs in the May 1849 issue of the American Agriculturalist, page 161, where Solon Robinson refers to a recipe for ‘Hopping Johnny (jambalaya)’. Jambalaya did not appear in a cookbook until 1878, when the Gulf City Cook Book, by the ladies of the St. Francis Street Methodist Episcopal Church, was printed in South Mobile, Alabama. It contains a recipe for “JAM BOLAYA”.

Jambalaya experienced a brief jump in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s because of its flexible recipe. The dish was little more than the rice and vegetables the populace could afford; the recipe grew from humble roots.

In 1968, Louisiana Governor John J. McKeithen proclaimed Gonzales, Louisiana, “the Jambalaya capital of the world”. Every spring, the annual Jambalaya Festival is held in Gonzales.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Old Bay Seasoning

June 8, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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Old Bay Seasoning’s distinctive yellow can, with a mound of the seasoning in front.

Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that is marketed in the United States by McCormick & Company and originally created in Baltimore, Maryland.

The seasoning mix includes celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and paprika. It is regionally popular, specifically in Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic States, the Southern States, and parts of New England and the Gulf Coast.

Old Bay Seasoning is named after the Old Bay Line, a passenger ship line that plied the waters of the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia, in the early 1900s. In 1939, a Jewish-German immigrant named Gustav Brunn started the Baltimore Spice Company. There, in his new company on Market Place in downtown Baltimore, and having fled the Bavarian town of Bastheim, Germany in 1937 at the outset of the second World War with only a small spice grinder, Brunn created what would later become known to the world as Old Bay seasoning. He produced the “Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning”, as he first named it, to service the needs and tastes of the nearby seafood market. A catchier name was later suggested and Old Bay seasoning was born.

For many years, the Baltimore Spice Company produced Old Bay until the legal rights to the seasoning brand were purchased by McCormick & Co in 1990 and the rights to the Baltimore Spice Company itself were purchased by the Fuchs Group, a German spice company. McCormick continued to offer Old Bay in the classic yellow can. Gustav Brunn had worked for McCormick for a short time before starting his own spice business.

McCormick has a number of other products under the Old Bay banner, including seasoning packets for crab cakes, salmon patties and tuna, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and seafood batter mix. They also make other seasoning blends that mix Old Bay seasoning with garlic, lemon, brown sugar, herbs and blackened seasonings. McCormick has offered a lower-sodium version of Old Bay Seasoning.

In 2017, McCormick changed the packaging from metal cans to plastic containers in an effort to reduce the packaging costs.

Putting Old Bay on crab legs.

The seasoning is chiefly used to season crab and shrimp. It is also used in various clam chowder and oyster stew recipes. The seasoning is also used as a topping on popcorn, salads, eggs, fried chicken, french fries, tater tots, corn on the cob, boiled peanuts, dips, chipped beef, baked potatoes, potato salad, potato chips, and guacamole. Several movie theaters in the Chesapeake region offer it in the condiment section.

Potato chip manufacturer Utz created the original “Crab Chip” based on a similar mix of spices. The popular potato chip variety was later copied and marketed by Herr’s Snacks (however, Herr’s uses Old Bay seasoning and it is sold as “Herr’s Old Bay Chips”). Lay’s introduced its own Old Bay-seasoned “Chesapeake Bay Crab Spice” flavored chips in 2018.

Early in its history, the Subway sandwich shop used Old Bay when mixing their seafood and crab salad. Many local Subway shops still have Old Bay for use on sandwiches.

Old Bay is also occasionally used around the Chesapeake Bay region as an ingredient in Bloody Marys, and even in places as far south as The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. Some bars in the Baltimore region also often sell what is known as a ‘Crabby Bo’, which is National Bohemian beer where the lip of the glass or mug that is being used is moistened and dipped into a container of Old Bay seasoning. In 2014, the Maryland-based brewery Flying Dog created an Old Bay-inspired summer ale named Dead Rise to celebrate the seasoning’s 75th anniversary.

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One of America’s Favorites – Pound Cake

June 1, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A pound cake with almonds

Pound cake is a type of cake traditionally made with a pound of each of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. Pound cakes are generally baked in either a loaf pan or a Bundt mold, and served either dusted with powdered sugar, lightly glazed, or sometimes with a coat of icing.

It is believed that the pound cake is of northern European origin that dates back to the early 1700s. A recipe for pound cake is in the first U.S. cookbook, American Cookery, which was published in 1796.

Over time the ingredients for pound cake changed. Eliza Leslie, who wrote the 1851 edition of Direction for Cookery, used 10 eggs, beat them as lightly as possible, mixed them with a pound of flour, then added the juice of two lemons or three large oranges. This changed the flavor and texture of the cake. In the 2008 issue of Saveur, James Villas wrote that cake flour would not work in place of all-purpose flour because it lacks the strength to support the heavy batter.

An early variation on this cake replaced some of the flour with cornmeal made from dried corn (maize), which was then called Indian meal. A recipe for Indian pound cake was first published in 1828 by Eliza Leslie and later included in The Indian Meal Book, which was published in London in 1846, when people in Ireland were looking for alternatives to expensive wheat flour.

There are numerous variations on the traditional pound cake, with certain countries and regions having distinctive styles. These can include the addition of flavoring agents (such as vanilla extract or almond extract) or dried fruit (such as currants or dried cranberries), as well as alterations to the original recipe to change the characteristics of the resulting pound cake. For instance, baking soda or baking powder may be incorporated to induce leavening during baking, resulting in a less dense pound cake. A cooking oil (typically a vegetable oil) is sometimes substituted for some or all of the butter, which is intended to produce a moister cake. Sour cream pound cake is a popular variation in the United States, which involves the substitution of sour cream for some of the butter, which also is intended to produce a moister cake with a tangy flavor. Some of these variations may drastically change the texture and flavor of the pound cake, but the name pound cake is often still used. Some of the variations are described below.

Slices of pound cake

American South style
A traditional American pound cake would contain one pound each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. This recipe is quite popular in the cuisine of the Southern United States.

French style
In France, the pound cake is well known. The name of the pound cake “quatre-quarts”, means four quarters. There are equal weights in each of the four quarters. In tradition, the popular cake of the French region of Brittany, as its name implies, uses the same quantity of the four ingredients, but with no added fruit of any kind. However, the Caribbean parts of the world that speak French traditionally add rum to the ingredients for Christmas Eve or even mashed bananas for extra moisture. In some cases the French might have beaten egg whites instead of whole eggs to lighten the batter. Other variants include adding chocolate or lemon juice for flavor.

Mexican style
In Mexico, the pound cake is called panqué. The basic recipe of Mexican panqué is much like the traditional U.S. recipe. Most common variants are panqué con nueces (pound cake with walnuts) and panqué con pasas (pound cake with raisins).

Colombian and Venezuelan style
Ponqué is the Colombian and Venezuelan version of the pound cake: the term ponqué is itself a Spanish phonetic approximation of pound-cake. The ponqué is essentially a wine-drenched cake with a cream or sugar coating, and it is very popular at birthdays, weddings and other social celebrations.

Traditional German Osterlamm which often is made of Eischwerteig mit Fett

German style
The German Eischwerteig mit Fett (roughly “egg-weight dough with fat”) is a recipe very similar to the pound cake, but thought of in multiples of the weight of the average egg used. For example, in a German cooks vocational school book from the 1980s the basic recipe for such a cake baked in a 26 cm spring form tin is given as four eggs, 3 egg-weights of butter, 4 egg-weights of sugar, three egg weights of flour and one egg-weight of starch. If you add it all up, it is close to the English pound of each and the French four equal quarters.

Thinking of the dough in terms of base egg-weight makes it a very versatile base recipe which can be easily scaled to different sized tins by increasing or decreasing the number of eggs and the dependent ingredient weights. And so, with the simple addition of nuts, chocolate, dried fruits and alcohols, and the use of different shapes and sizes of tins, a wide variety of traditional German cakes are made. For example, this dough or a minor variation of it is often used to make cakes made in a loaf tin (Orangenkuchen – orange cake; Nußkuchen- hazelnut cake), marbled cakes in a bundt tin (Marmorkuchen ) and other flavor combinations in shaped tins (Falscher Rehrücken – fake venison saddle with bitter chocolate and almonds, Osterlamm – Easter Lamb with vanilla and rum.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Tamale Pie

May 25, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A tamale pie

Tamale pie is a pie and casserole dish in the cuisine of the Southwestern United States. It is prepared with a cornmeal crust and ingredients typically used in tamales. It has been described as a comfort food. The dish, invented sometime in the early 1900s in the United States, may have originated in Texas, and its first known published recipe dates to 1911.

Tamale pie is prepared with a cornmeal crust and typical tamale fillings arranged in several layers. Beef is traditionally used, but it can also be prepared using other meats such as chicken and turkey meat, and can also be prepared as a meatless dish. Although sometimes characterized as Mexican food, these forms are not popular in Mexican-American culture, in which the individually wrapped style is preferred. Tamale pie has been described as a “comfort-food classic” in the book The Ultimate Casseroles Book, published by Better Homes and Gardens.

Ingredients that are used include beef and ground beef, pork, chorizo, chicken, beans, cheese, cornmeal, corn, creamed corn, beans, black olives, onion, garlic, tomato, bell peppers, chili peppers, salsa, butter, seasonings such as chili powder, salt and pepper. Standard fine cornmeal can be used, as can masa harina, a corn-based tortilla flour. Cheese used may be used to top the dish, and can also be inside of the pie. The dish is typically baked in an oven. Garnishes used include cheese, sliced tomatoes, avocado slices, cilantro and olive oil.

A portion of a tamale pie

Tamale pie was invented sometime in the early 1900s in the United States, and circa the mid 1910s the dish was included in the curriculums of some home economics classes in U.S. high schools. The dish may have originated in the U.S. state of Texas. John F. Mariani’s 1983 title The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink claims the first published recipe for tamale pie dates to 1911. Recipes for this style of dish were also published prior to this time. The 1899 book The Capitol Cook Book, published in Austin, Texas included a recipe for a similar pot pie prepared with a wheat flour crust on the top of the dish, and the 1905 book The Times Cook Book #2, published by the Los Angeles Times, included a recipe for a casserole with “cornmeal crusts above and below.” Another cookbook published circa the time of World War I has a tamale pie recipe, stating that the dish can be utilized to save wheat.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Hominy

May 18, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A bowl of cooked hominy

Hominy is a food produced from dried maize (corn) kernels that have been treated with an alkali, in a process called nixtamalization (nextamalli is the Nahuatl word for “hominy”). “Lye hominy” is a type of hominy made with lye.

Hominy, also called nixtamal, emerged around Cahokia in the 9th century AD. The Maya used nixtamal to produce beers that more resembled chicha than pulque. When bacteria was introduced to nixtamal it created a type of sourdough.

Hominy is made in a process called nixtamalization. To make hominy, field corn (maize) grain is dried, then treated by soaking and cooking the mature (hard) grain in a dilute solution of lye (sodium hydroxide) (which can be produced from water and wood ash) or of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide from limestone). The maize is then washed thoroughly to remove the bitter flavor of the lye or lime. Alkalinity helps dissolve hemicellulose, the major glue-like component of the maize cell walls, loosens the hulls from the kernels, and softens the corn. Also, soaking the corn in lye kills the seed’s germ, which keeps it from sprouting while in storage. Finally, in addition to providing a source of dietary calcium, the lye or lime reacts with the corn so that the nutrient niacin can be assimilated by the digestive tract. People consume hominy in intact kernels, grind it into sand-sized particles for grits, or into flour.

In Mexican cooking, hominy is finely ground to make masa. Fresh masa that has been dried and powdered is called masa seca or masa harina. Some of the corn oil breaks down into emulsifying agents (monoglycerides and diglycerides), and facilitates bonding the corn proteins to each other. The divalent calcium in lime acts as a cross-linking agent for protein and polysaccharide acidic side chains. Cornmeal from untreated ground corn cannot form a dough with the addition of water, but the chemical changes in masa (aka masa nixtamalera) make dough formation possible, for tortillas and other food.

Dried (uncooked) form of hominy (US quarter and Mexican one-peso coins pictured for size comparison).

Previously, consuming untreated corn was thought to cause pellagra (niacin deficiency)—either from the corn itself or some infectious element in untreated corn. However, further advancements showed that it is a correlational, not causal, relationship. In the 1700s and 1800s, areas that depended highly on corn as a diet staple were more likely to have pellagra. This is because humans cannot absorb niacin in untreated corn. The nixtamalization process frees niacin into a state where the intestines can absorb it. This was discovered primarily by exploring why Mexican people who depended on maize did not develop pellagra. One reason was that Mayans treated corn in an alkaline solution to soften it, in the process now called nixtamalization, or used limestone to grind the corn. The earliest known use of nixtamalization was in what is present-day southern Mexico and Guatemala around 1500–1200 BC.

In Mexican and Central American cuisine, people cook masa nixtamalera with water and milk to make a thick, gruel-like beverage called atole. When they make it with chocolate and sugar, it becomes atole de chocolate. Adding anise and piloncillo to this mix creates champurrado, a popular breakfast drink.

The English term hominy derives from the Powhatan language word for prepared maize (cf. Chickahominy). Many other indigenous American cultures also made hominy, and integrated it into their diet. Cherokees, for example, made hominy grits by soaking corn in a weak lye solution produced by leaching hardwood ash with water, and then beating it with a kanona, or corn beater. They used grits to make a traditional hominy soup that they let ferment, cornbread, dumplings, or, in post-contact times, fried with bacon and green onions.

Hominy recipes include pozole (a Mexican stew of hominy and pork, chicken, or other meat), hominy bread, hominy chili, hog ‘n’ hominy, casseroles and fried dishes. In Latin America there are a variety of dishes referred to as mote. Hominy can be ground coarsely for grits, or into a fine mash dough (masa) used extensively in Latin American cuisine. Many islands in the West Indies, notably Jamaica, also use hominy (known as cornmeal or polenta, though different from Italian polenta) to make a sort of porridge with corn starch or flour to thicken the mixture and condensed milk, vanilla, and nutmeg.

Rockihominy, a popular trail food in the 19th and early 20th centuries, is dried corn roasted to a golden brown, then ground to a very coarse meal, almost like hominy grits. Hominy is also used as animal feed.

 

One of America’s Favorites – Oysters Rockefeller

May 11, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Oysters Rockefeller consists of oysters on the half-shell that have been topped with a rich sauce of butter, parsley and other green herbs, and bread crumbs, then baked or broiled. Lemon wedges are the typical garnish.

Oysters Rockefeller topped with bacon

The original sauce may or may not include spinach, a popular shortcut for achieving the dish’s signature bright green color. Many contemporary adaptations use diced oysters instead of whole. Also, diced bacon often appears as a non-traditional topping in addition to or in place of the sauce.

The dish appears as a popular restaurant appetizer throughout the United States and is served as a brunch item in the South.

Oysters Rockefeller was created in 1889 at the New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s by Jules Alciatore, son of founder Antoine Alciatore. Jules developed the dish due to a shortage of escargot, substituting the locally available oysters. The recipe remains unchanged, with an estimated three and a half million orders having been served.

The dish was named Oysters Rockefeller after John D. Rockefeller, the then-wealthiest American, for its extreme richness. It consists of oysters on the half-shell topped with a green sauce and bread crumbs, then baked or broiled. Though the original sauce recipe is a secret, it includes a purée of a number of green vegetables that may include spinach. Similar versions of the dish have proliferated in New Orleans, with none noted as an accurate duplicate.

Chef Alton Brown states in the “Shell Game” episode of his Food Network series Good Eats that Alciatore took his recipe to the grave and any version since is merely an assumption. While many achieve the sauce’s trademark green color simply using spinach, Antoine’s chefs have repeatedly denied the dish contains it. A 1986 laboratory analysis by William Poundstone in Bigger Secrets indicated its primary ingredients were parsley, pureed and strained celery, scallions or chives (indistinguishable in a food lab), olive oil, and capers.

Pernod Fils absinthe liqueur, a popular Victorian-era inclusion that fell out of production in 1915, is a possible original ingredient. Malcolm Hébert, native Louisianan, cookbook author and wine and food editor, decries spinach, and adds the anise-flavored liqueur Herbsaint. It is not possible that Herbsaint was in the original recipe, as Herbsaint debuted in 1934, nor Pernod Fils, which did not appear until after the First World War.

 

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