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The Food Almanac: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Food Almanac: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Food Around The World
Today is Independence Day in Chile, which declared its intent to dislodge its Spanish colonizers today in 1818. Fast forward 173 years, and we find Chile emerging as a major producer of excellent wines at such attractive prices that they caught on quickly in the United States. Chilean wines have two unusual tales to tell The first is that it's one of the largest winegrowing area in the world growing French wine grapevines on their own roots. The phylloxera root louse has not (yet) arrived there, is why. Second, Chile recently discovered that a grape variety they've been calling Merlot is actually Carmenere, an old French variety that is probably extinct in France itself. All of that is secondary to the fact that Chilean wines, grown on volcanic soils at the same latitudes as the other great wine-producing areas of the world, are excellent.

Annals Of Cheese
Elmer Maytag was born today in 1883. He was the son of the founder of the Maytag Corporation, the maker of washing machines and other large household appliances. He is of special concern to us because, as president of the company, he started a dairy farm in Iowa in the 1940s. The farm--still owned by the Maytag family--developed a cow's-milk blue cheese that has become the leading such cheese in America. Eat some crumbles of Maytag blue today in his honor.

Annals Of Cookies
Today is the birthday, in 1956, of Debbi Fields, the founder of Mrs. Fields, whose cookie-baking stores in malls and downtowns all over America sell those soft, warm, gooey cookies everybody seems to love. She is as famous for having been a young mother with no business experience when she opened her first store in Palo Alto, outside San Francisco, in 1977. An apocryphal story, circulating on the Web for years, has it that a customer at a Mrs. Fields asked for the cookie recipe. She was told the price was one ninety-five, and bought it. A charge for $195 showed up on her. To get even, she published it all over the place. The same story is told about Neiman Marcus. Both versions are pure myth.

Today's Flavor
Today is National Blue Cheeseburger Day. The standard cheeseburger--the most popular main dish in America--is so common that more than a few makers of them are always on the lookout for an interesting variant on the idea. The one that's making the greatest inroads these day uses blue cheese in top of the beef. The hamburger restaurants trying to climb upscale have found this one particularly successful. Their customers are not only intrigued by the notion, but willing to spend a much higher price than they would for a cheeseburger with a slice of American, or even grated Cheddar.

Like other cheeseburgers, this one gets much of its allure from the widespread notion that any dish can be improved by adding cheese. This is clearly not so, but in the absence of better ideas (hamburger joints, even the expensive ones, are not exactly on the cutting edge), cheese appears. And the more offbeat the cheese, the better.

In my opinion the combination doesn't work well. The main problem is the heat of the burger. The flavors of melted blue cheese are completely out of whack. I like hamburgers, and I like blue cheese, but I'd rather separate them. Take the lettuce and tomatoes off the burger along with the blue cheese, make it into a side salad, and you have two dishes, both of which are better than the one they were made from.

Deft Dining Rule #766:
Anyone who eats blue cheeseburgers only does so when other people are watching. This is especially true if it's Maytag blue cheese on there.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Burger Creek is 166 miles north (by way of the Sonoma Valley) of San Francisco, in the Coast Range mountains of Mendocino County. It runs about ten miles, making small canyons here and there, before joining the Eel River at a place called Dos Rios ("two rivers"). The Eel flows to the Pacific Ocean. A bridge over Burger Creek was built in 1888, and still carries traffic. This is stunningly beautiful country, with redwoods and sequoias all over the place. The nearest place to get a burger cooked for you is at Chief's Smokehouse, seven miles west in Laytonville on US 101.

Edible Dictionary
Stilton, n., adj.--Stilton is the most famous blue cheese of England. And one of the best in the whole world of blue cheeses. It is the cheese most often eaten with port wine at the end of a dinner, particularly in winter. It originated in the 1700s in the town of the same name, in Huntingdonshire. Its fame spread because it was served to travelers who stopped at the Bell Inn, a popular stagecoach stop. It's a pasteurized cow's milk cheese that begins in much the same way that Cheddar does. By law, its manufacture is limited to the shires of Derby, Nottingham, and Leicester. The blue veining is encouraged by piercing with wires during its four-to-six-month aging period. The mold itself comes naturally, through the air. Stilton is made in large cylinders, and as it ages it gets a light brown coating that's considered a hallmark. It has one of the strongest aromas of any blue cheese; I find it creamier, too. An old practice of carving a hole in a Stilton and filling it with port has, fortunately, gone out of vogue.

People We'd Like To Dine With
The late James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano on the television show The Sopranos, was born today in 1961. He won all the awards one could win for that role, one of the most complex ever portrayed on the tube. Tony Soprano likes braciole, so I think the restaurant I'd have picked to have dinner with him would have been Impastato's.

Food On The Air
The Columbia Broadcasting System went on the air today in 1927. From its earliest days it broadcast many cooking shows. Many advertising dollars were attracted to such programs. The hosts would have to speak very slowly, repeating everything twice, so that listeners could get the recipes down. It made for stultifyingly boring listening. That's why I rarely give recipes on my radio food show. When I do, I run right through them, giving the general idea, and telling people to go online for the details. The last food show on CBS Radio was a five-minute daily shortie with Chef Mike Roy in the late 1960s. CBS announcers signed off all its radio shows in the Golden Age with, "This is CBS, the Co-LUM-biaah Broadcasting System." I keep that tradition alive when we go to CBS on my Saturday shows on WWL.

Music To Eat Popsicles By
Today is the birthday, in 1944, of singer Michael Franks, whose most memorable song was Popsicle Toes. Interesting, unique style he had. but after listening to five or six of his songs in a row, you about had it for the next six months. Hey! He has a food name!

Food Namesakes
Speaking of franks, we begin with a rare double food name: Bun Cook, a pro hockey player in the Hall of Fame, born today in 1904. American classical composer Norman Dinnerstein started eating today in 1937. . John Berger, an artist and art critic in England, gave his first opinions (perhaps while eating blue cheese!) today in 1926.

Words To Eat By
"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."--Advisors of Debbi Fields, who created Mrs. Fields' cookies. She was born today in 1956.


Swiss Chard & Potatoes

This is a dish my husband grew up enjoying only his Mother used broccoli rabe when she made her version and it reminds me of real country peasant food. You can just imagine an old Nonna picking potatoes and greens from her garden and then cooking them together in this dish. You can use any greens you prefer including Swiss chard, chicory, broccoli rabe, and even spinach though heartier greens work better than spinach in my opinion. Though it isn’t the most attractive dish to look at, it is delicious and very hearty. You could also add some sautéed pancetta or bacon if you like, although we prefer it just the way it is. You can mash the potatoes even more, but I prefer to have my potatoes in larger pieces. I would serve this dish with grilled or roasted meat, and sausages in particular work really well.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2013


Recipe: Glazed Almonds from Walt Disney World

I know you can use a fantastic recipe right about now for holiday noshing and gift-giving! Well, look no further than these killer Glazed Almonds!

You know ’em. Because when you’re in the parks, you can smell them before you even see them. Rich, warm, and spicy-sweet, they are an awesome snack option when you’re looking for a little punch of protein between FastPasses!

These are addictive, delicious, and a must-have on your holiday snack table. You’re welcome. -D

Disney World Glazed Almonds

Ingredients:
1/3 cup butter
2 egg whites
salt
1 cup sugar
1 (16 ounce) package almonds
4 teaspoons cinnamon

Method:
1. Place butter on 15- x 10-inch jellyroll pan and heat in 325F oven until butter melts, about 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, beat egg whites with dash of salt until frothy, then gradually add sugar, beating to stiff peaks. Gently fold in almonds and cinnamon.

3. Pour almond mixture into jellyroll pan and stir, coating with butter.

4. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until almonds are crisp, about 40 minutes.

5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I can almost smell them right now, can’t you??

Will you be making Glazed Almonds for your next holiday gathering? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Neenish Tarts.

Neenish tarts are, as far as I am aware, an Aussie and New Zealand delicacy. We are not just about Lamingtons, Anzac Biscuits, and Pavlova in this part of the world, you know. It is time that those of you not lucky enough to live down here are given the chance to feel what you may be missing.

Neenish tarts are individual sized pastry shells with a sweet custard-like filling and – this is the clincher – the top is decorated with thin dry icing, each half in a different colour. Typically the colours are white and brown, or white and pink, or pink and brown. If you want to see what they look like, just Google the name and you will be offered a large number of images.

The name of the tart is somewhat of a mystery, and has various spellings, including nenische and nienich, which suggest a German origin. The most popular theory is that they are named for a Mrs. Ruby Neenish, but I don’t believe she has ever been tracked down. If the name rings any bells for you, Germanic or otherwise, please do let us all know via the comments.

One thing food historians really love to do is to track down the earliest known published recipe for whatever it is that is under discussion. The actual cooking of the dish always pre-dates the publishing of a recipe of course, sometimes by a very long interval. Recipes are never actually ‘invented’ from scratch anyhow – they always evolve from an earlier idea. Sometimes what is actually being debated is a new name for an existing dish, or a variation or presentation of an existing idea, as in the case of pavlova, for example.

In the case of Neenish tarts, their earliest known mention is in a Western Australian newspaper, The Bunbury Herald of 12th June 1913, and here it is:

Neenish Tarts.
The little brown-and-white Neenish tarts which are so much liked, and which I have never yet seen an amateur attempt, are well worth trying, and are not nearly so difficult to make as might be imagined. The directions which were given to me were a trifle vague, and discretion must be used, so far as the filling is concerned but in the first place you must make the shell of the tart from 1 lb.of ground almonds, ¾ lb. of icing sugar, the whites of four eggs beaten to a stiff froth, and one handful of flour. If the ingredients are thought too large and you intend only making a few tarts for a beginning, they can easily be halved. Make into a stiff paste, and then get your plain, rather shallow patty-pans, and press the mixture in with your fingers lining the tins evenly to the depth of about one-quarter of an inch. Place in a moderate oven, and bake until the tarts are firm and brown. For the filling you must begin by making a very thick custard of eggs and milk thickened with cornflour. This must allowed to cool until it sets almost like blancmange then put some on a plate, and beat in sufficient fresh butter to make it light and frothy with plenty of vanilla flavoring. Fill the little tarts nearly to the top, and then run over a thin layer of white icing. Now you will need a little coffee glaze for the one-half of the tarts. This is made with ¾ lb. icing sugar and three tablespoonfuls of strong liquid coffee. Stir the ingredients over the fire until just warm, when use at once. This is the way in which professionals put the icing onto the tarts. Dip a rather long knife into the mixture, and then lay the back of it exactly in the centre of the tart, and draw the knife quickly off, keeping the blade perfectly flat all the time. This, will give the right proportion of coffee, and will ensure the centre having a perfectly straight line, almost impossible to obtain in any other manner. Practice will soon make perfect, and after a time you will know exactly how much liquid to allow the blade of the knife to hold.

Naturally, many variations of this concept have evolved over the last century: most have plain shortcrust pastry, many have a tasteless, eggless, gelatin-thickened filling, and occasionally other colours than white, pink , and brown are used for the topping (but there must always be two colours.) I cannot help but feel however, that variations subsequent to this ‘original’ are not improvements.

The ‘original’ recipe, you will note, has almond pastry, a filling of thick custard made with real eggs and enriched with plenty of butter, one half being topped with a carefully applied coffee-flavoured icing which contrasts nicely with the plain white coating on the other half. Does it not sound wonderful? No doubt there are artisan bakers producing magnificent Neenish Tarts like the ones described here, but I do not know their whereabouts. Sadly, the modern commercial version more often than not consists of a cardboard-like shells filled with nondescript flavourless sweet goo, topped with untidy semi-circles of frighteningly pink and chocolate-coloured (but barely flavoured) icing.


The Food Almanac: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - Recipes

It's happening on Granny Mountain, the turning of the seasons. I have to admit, I am a winter loving person. I love the cozy feeling of home once the cold winds start to blow, I think it's because I have Missouri blood in my veins! Springfield is in southern Missouri, but winter's there are cold and snowy. and long. You need flannel sheets, down comforters and a good heat source for your house! We lived in an old house when I was growing up. When Winter set in, the windows would "steam" and "sweat" from the huge difference in outside/inside temps. I'd set in the kitchen while Mom would be cooking supper and draw on those dark windows waiting for Daddy to come home. Funny how you remember things like that. But there are a lot of good memories rattling around in this old head of mine! The cooler weather makes me want to bake, bad for me since I also eat. but I love the smell of cinnamon or bread or soup. you get the idea!

Martha Stewart's Comfort Foods Cookbook has some wonderful recipes for the kind of foods that make the house smell delicious! Things like meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, potato soup, and a wonderful recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Fall is here so let the cookie baking begin!

These cookies use both white and brown sugar to give that wonderful texture and flavor to the cookie. You can soak the raisins in a little warm rum or cider to plump them if you'd like but that's not in the recipe so I don't want to confuse you!

Stir together oats, flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl set aside. Add oat mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and mix until just combined. Mix in raisins.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. I like to use granulated or raw sugar to give the tops a little "sparkle."

Bake until golden and just set, about 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days. They won't last that long!
Printable Recipe

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine. Throwing your pet an amazing Dog Birthday Party is so simple thanks to a couple of easy pet birthday crafts. We made this puppy party hat and this amazing Dog Birthday Banner using our Cricut Cutting Machine. Making a Pinterest worthy pet birthday party has never been easier! It has been awhile since we Continue Reading.


The Food Almanac: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - Recipes

Just to give an idea of the variety or lack there of, in the 18th century sailor’s diet.

Provisions listed for the British ship Bellona 74 guns in 1760
listed as provisions for 650 men for four months.

  • Beef 5200 pieces 20800 lbs
  • Pork 9620 pieces 19240 lbs
  • Beer 236 butts 29736 US gallons
  • Water 339 butts 30 puncheons 60 hogsheads 49018 US gallons
  • Bread 650 bags 72800 lbs
  • Butter 3900 lbs
  • Cheese 14160 lbs
  • Oatmeal 19008 lbs
  • Peas 20800 lbs
  • Flour 15590 lbs
  • Suet 2600 lbs
  • Vinegar 709 US gallons

Provisions reported on-board the British Sloop Alert 1777, a sloop of 60 men.

  • Beef 462 pieces in 6 barrels weighing 2238 lbs
  • Pork 777 pieces in 5 barrels weighing 1753 lbs
  • Beer 12 barrels weighing 788 lbs
  • Water 56 hogsheads and 25 casks of 18 gallons each about 4091 US gallons
  • Bread 6048 lbs in 54 bags
  • Butter 420 lbs
  • Oatmeal 20 bushels weighing 800 lbs
  • Pease 16 bushels weighing 928 lbs
  • Flower 1300 lbs in 4 barrels
  • Suet 82 lbs in 1 barrel
  • Raisons 200 lbs in 2 barrels
  • Rum 4 half hogsheads 126 US gallons
  • Vinegar 1 hogshead 63 US gallons

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18 Responses to 18th century Sailor’s food – Ships Provisions

That was just the long term stores, right? They took on fresh things like fruits, veggies and eggs if they could get them when they were in port, didn’t they? Otherwise, no wonder they needed press gangs!

Yes, but the fresh stores would not last long once they were out to sea.

The food was infested with rats and seawater mixed with the drinks, so no, it didnt last long!

I really live this stuff! I am making these into a CD, for the posterity for my family.

Thank goodness for the oatmeal. Only roughage in the diet :<

No wonder the poor devils drank.

Wonder how much of that was already spoiled when it was loaded? There is one of the (War of 1812) Jack Aubrey novels in which Aubrey finally outsmarted the quartermaster of provisions who intentionally sent them spoiled meat. And of course we all know that the flour was oft infested with weevils….and that we always take the “lesser of two weevils”!

Apparently it was a fairly common practice among those responsible for delivering casks of salt pork to outposts and forts to drain off the brine in order to lighten the load. Just prior to final delivery, they would refill the casks with fresh water. Um…what’s that smell?

Does anyone have any information on the H.M.S. George that carried the missionary David Livingstone to Africa on December 8, 1840?

Fresh beef and pork was issued when available which was in port and shortly after leaving. Enlisted sailors diet was essentially what is listed above, the suet and raisins used to make a pudding on special occasions. Sauerkraut was issued in the USN as an anti-scorbutic. Officers were able to stock their own mess with privately purchased food, beverages and livestock (hens for eggs, lamb, etc.) Commissary positions were in the RN were very lucrative. Money saved on inferior rations/skimming ration weights went into the commissariat’s pocket. This was one of the reasons the RN mutinied in the Nore.

Hi Jon, this is really interesting … thanks! Could you share the source of this information?

This info came from the “Anatomy of the Ship” series by Conway Maritime Press. Both ships have specific books devoted to them and the research portion is very good.

Any information on what the rations and provisions would of been on the sailing warship HMS VICTORY ?

Call me silly but I’m guessing the ‘raisons’ weren’t for a lovely pork roast, floured, browned in butter, sliced thin with a topping of rum and raisin reduction.

The Raisons where issues for the ships crew to eat as it was found to help prevent Scurvy. and it was easy to dry them at any time of the year. So even with the first know Green houses, Grapes could be grown year round to provide a continuous supply of them. The Ship’s stores would also contain the Juice of 1000 lemons. and if available they would also have Barrels of Apples, as they can go for a long time before spoilage would set in.


Greek Golden Dawn member arrested over murder of leftwing hip-hop artist

The alleged murder of a prominent leftwing hip-hop artist by a self-confessed member of the far-right Golden Dawn party has sent political tensions soaring in Greece.

As the crisis-hit country was brought to a standstill by striking workers on Wednesday, police raided several Golden Dawn offices in Athens after the fatal stabbing late on Tuesday of 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas, a well-known activist on Greece's vibrant anti-fascist scene.

The raids came within hours of a 45-year-old man being arrested in connection with the murder. The alleged perpetrator, who has not been named, reportedly admitted having links to the extremist group, according to police.

Fyssas, Greece's foremost hip-hop artist who performed under the stage name Killah P, is said to have identified the culprit as he was being taken to hospital after being injured in the brawl which broke out shortly after midnight in Piraeus's working-class district of Keratsini.

"They were his last words before he succumbed to his wounds," said one source requesting anonymity.

Keratsini's mayor, Loukas Tzannis, said that black-clad Golden Dawn cadres were behind the attack and that Fyssas had been "ambushed" as he left a cafe after a heated altercation over a football match. Activists, who have accused the extremist group of increasingly targeting leftists, claimed police stood by when a mob of neo-Nazi thugs assaulted the singer.

In an atmosphere that has become increasingly polarised on the back of economic desperation – and soaring support for Golden Dawn – the backlash has been fierce.

Hundreds of anti-fascist supporters gathered at the scene of the murder in the early hours, with leftists announcing a much bigger rally later on Wednesday. The killing comes days after Golden Dawn cadres attacked members of the Greek Communist party in a similar late-night raid.

"Golden Dawn is intensifying its attacks [because it is] enjoying complete asylum from the police," the anti-racist group Keerfa said in a statement.

Greek law enforcement officers have been increasingly accused of colluding with Golden Dawn, whose calling card appears to be open-ended violence.

The vehemently anti-immigrant organisation fiercely denied involvement in Fyssas's death. A spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, announced that the party had already started launching lawsuits against those who made such claims.

Golden Dawn, which has 18 MPs in Greece's 300-seat parliament, is currently polling at around 15% and is the country's fastest-growing political force.


How to Make this Recipe

Chocolate hummus is easy to make in about 5 minutes. All you need to do is add everything to a food processor or high-speed blender such as a Vitamix and blend until smooth. Here are a couple tips for dessert hummus success:

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. You can use your own cooked chickpeas but if you&rsquore using canned, drain, reserving the chickpea liquid if you plan to use in the recipe, then give them a good rince in warm water.
  2. Add to a blender or food processor. I used my Vitamix to make this recipe. If you don&rsquot have one, I&rsquod recommend using a food processor. If you have neither, no problem, it might just take a bit of work to finishing blending.
  3. Blend and scrape. You might be able to get it going in one blend if you start on low and slowly increase speed until smooth but if it jams up, stop and scrape the ingredients back down and continue blending until it&rsquos thoroughly combined.
  4. Adjust as needed. Once it&rsquos blended, adjust as needed to suit your taste preference. You may also need a bit more liquid to get it to blend. If the hummus is too thick and won&rsquot blend, add extra water or milk, 1 tbsp at at time until it reaches the right consistency.
  5. Store. This dip can be stored in the fridge for up to 1-week. I haven&rsquot tried freezing it but I think that should be fine too!


I've been feeding my dogs a raw food diet for eight years and have learned the following hacks to save time and make meal prep easier:

  • a potato masher helps to break down chubs of food, making it easier to mix.
  • wooden mixing spoons seem to be the most sturdy.
  • adding water to the food makes mixing easier.
  • mix the powders/seeds in water first, then add to the meat

Or, if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, use it! It blends the food thoroughly and effortlessly.


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