Looking ahead to Labor Day weekend brings on a hankering for grilled hot dogs. Load them up with your favorite condiments and toppings for a meal on a bun. The meat component basically evolved from the common sausage, which originated in Germany. You can call them hot dogs, wieners, red hots, franks or frankfurters. Remember that hot dogs are sold fully cooked while sausages are sold uncooked. The meat used can be a combination of beef, pork, and chicken or all-beef (kosher) ingredients. Hot dogs are cheap so enjoy them with all the trimmings. Don’t skimp on quality either so spend just a few more cents on good wieners. We also like buying franks that extend beyond the bun to fully appreciate the hot dog experience.There are several stories surrounding the advent of serving the sausage with bread; it is most likely that the Germans were the first ones to eat it with bread. The hot dog bun (as we know it today) is an American invention that became popular at baseball parks and fairs. You know the saying: “It’s as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.” Did you know that there is a National Hot Dog and Sausage Council?
Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Bite into a ripe peach and beneath the fuzzy skin, the soft, juicy flesh may leave you wanting more. (How is that for an extra sensory experience?)The flavor of ripe peaches is mostly sweet and mildly tangy. The scientific name for a peach is Prunus persica. This fruit is native to China. Peaches come in two types: clingstone and freestone. Clingstone peaches have pits that stick to the flesh (difficult to remove) when sliced open; freestone peaches have pits that do not cling to the flesh. Additionally, there are white peaches and yellow peaches. White peaches have a paler outer skin and a lighter flesh color that is nowhere near yellow. A ripe peach is medium-soft to the touch with a reddish-blush coloring its outer skin. Also, smell the fruit for a strong and pleasant peachy scent to indicate the fruit is ripe. Peaches almost taste like a more acidic ripe mango. We suggest adding julienned peaches to your favorite coleslaw or fresh salad.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
A Bollywood rendition for rice
Everything comes together in this side dish, which is an East-Indian departure from the usual baked potato or macaroni salad carb component to a meal. Basmati rice has a delicate texture and popcorn-like aroma that compliments the tart golden raisins and sweet peaches. Adding a cinnamon stick helps bring out the nutty flavor of the basmati rice. The recipe here is one we have used. Different variations of this dish may call for peas, pine nuts, crushed almonds, or minced cilantro. Substitute golden raisins with regular raisins or sun-dried tomatoes. If you’re willing to spice things up, add a pinch of ground cumin or cardamom.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Corn flakes are key to great oven-fried coatings. Generic brands are just as good as name brand cereals in this instance. Combine with panko and you are on your way. If you are unable to find panko, substitute with crushed saltine crackers or homemade toasted bread crumbs. Extreme health nuts can make our recipe with the chicken skin removed. Also, try the coating with fish filets or pork chops. Change things up in our recipe by taking out ½ cup of the panko and then replacing it with finely grated parmesan or Asiago cheese. Adjust the cooking time (shorter) to make oven-fried shrimp or scallops.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Use white meat or dark meat for this recipe that knocks out the fat and mess of deep frying. It’s important to let the chicken rest for 15 minutes after removing from direct heat so be careful not to overcook it while it is still in the oven. Try this variation of baked chicken with peaches. The crispy outer coating locks in juices and flavors.
What you will need:
8-10 chicken pieces (we opted for thighs and drumsticks)
5- 6 yellow peaches, pitted and halved
1 bowl (big enough to hold all chicken pieces)
1 large casserole pan
Pam cooking spray
2 baking pans
1 large Ziploc bag
1 ½ cup milk
¾ cup yellow mustard
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 cups plain crushed cornflakes
Pinch of salt and pepper
Friday, August 21, 2009
Versatile surimi offers options
Try adding chopped surimi in different veggie salads. We recommend using it with mayo-based or infused olive oil dressings. Cucumber and imitation crab sticks are a good combo because they have opposite textures while their flavors combine for a great overall taste. Broccoli works well too with the surimi. Add some pine nuts or sunflower seeds to make a heartier salad. Spice things up with your favorite seafood seasonings. We also suggest making crab salads the night before the party. Turn it into a great sandwich filling with a baguette
Helpful Hint: It’s easier to handle and slice surimi if it’s partially frozen (much like cookie dough).
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Seafood ceviche is a refreshing burst of seafood, chopped onions, garlic, lemon juice, and minced cilantro. This dish is popular in Latin American countries and most likely originated in Peru. In a pinch, it’s simple to make using canned seafood. Yes, you read that right – canned. (And of course, it's a nontraditional version.) Prepare it and let it chill four at least an hour before serving so that all the flavors pickle and fully season the seafood.
What you will need:
1 wooden spoon
1 medium size bowl
Clear plastic wrap
2 - 6 oz cans canned crab meat
1 – 10 oz can canned baby clams
1 garlic clove minced
1 small yellow onion - chopped fine
¼ cup fresh cilantro - chopped fine
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt and pepper
Preparation and directions:
Open and drain canned seafood. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour. Garnish with sliced scallions and serve with warm corn or flour tortilla slices.
Optional: Add ½ jalapeño chopped
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Picking the unreal thing
Imitation crab sticks? Yes, they’re packed with a seafood flavor because they are made with white fish, such as croaker, blue whiting, and Alaska pollock. They’re also called surimi (from Japanese meaning minced fish). Many Asian countries use this ingredient in various dishes. The sticks' crab-like texture and flavor are unmistakable in some Japanese Maki sushi rolls. Meanwhile, Koreans chop crab sticks and make seafood omelets or savory seafood pancakes. We suggest making a salad with it, adding it to pasta salad, or frying it, tempura style.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Craving crustaceans, but what to get?
The crab is king for many seafood lovers. A visit to Maryland wouldn’t be the same without enjoying steamed blue crabs or authentic Maryland-style crab cakes. Here are just some of the different types of edible crabs found around the world.
Blue Crabs – are known for their beautiful appearance in the wild in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Mid-Atlantic on down the Coastal Waterway to the Gulf of Mexico. Their shells have blue and green colors. Maryland law requires that crabs must measure at least five and one-fourth inches across. Served steamed with seafood seasonings like Old Bay or turned into crab cakes.
Dungeness Crabs – are harvested from the shores of Alaska down to the coast of Mexico. Dungeness crabs can be as large as 10 inches across. Their consistently large size means more bang for the buck and or more crabmeat per crab. Regional crab lovers enjoy the crab meat dipped in drawn butter and lemon juice. Dungeness crab meat can be used to make crab cakes.
Spanner Crabs – also known as frog crab because of its appearance. These crabs are harvested off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. There are restrictions against harvesting females. Their price is increasing since their popularity is rising with exports to crab hungry Asian markets. We’ve enjoyed the claws of steamed spanner crabs at the Taste restaurant in the Westin Hotel in Guam. At Taste, diners can pick their crab pieces with other seafood selections and have them grilled with garlic and peppers.
Spider Crabs – refers to several crab species (Snow Crabs, Alaskan King Crabs, Japanese Crabs) that have a similar appearance: small body, spiny or pointy shells, and long legs. These crabs are prized for their crab legs, which are often found at fine-dining buffets. We’ve watched crabbers harvesting Alaskan King crabs on the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch.
Stone Crabs – Floridians swear by stone crab meat. Only the claws (one per crab) are harvested and the crab must be thrown back into the sea. Claws must equal one and half inches or more in order for harvest. Don’t worry because the crab can regenerate a new claw. Additionally, the claws are proportionally larger than the rest of the crab’s body. The claw meat is enjoyed all along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. Claws are served with drawn butter and lemon juice.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
A winning black and yellow combo
Corn and black beans offer an interesting blend for the senses. The colors are a feast for the eyes at any party or potluck. This is a viable alternative to tomato-based salsas. The sweetness of corn kernels blends with the earthy flavor of black beans. Add chopped onion, salt, black pepper, chopped garlic, minced jalapeño, and minced cilantro for a spicy and yummy salsa. Also, squeeze some lime or lemon juice. Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips. Or, put a spoonful on top of grilled fish as a condiment.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Sweet kernels are a gold standard
Yes, we really are children of the corn. Around the world, maize or corn may be found. Historians believe the plant was first cultivated in Mexico. The Spanish are credited with bringing this crop to Europe where it eventually spread to Asia. The major type of corn cultivated in the U.S. is called dent corn, which has a rich taste. Standard dent corn is best eaten just hours after harvest. Farmers now cultivate hybrids that are known as sugar-enhanced or supersweet varieties. These hybrids will hold their flavor and sweetness several days to a week after harvest. There are also specialty corns like popcorn, Asian baby corn, and purely ornamental corn.
The best roadside and farmers' market vendors of corn know that chilling the cobs helps them retain their sweetness. At our nearby farmers' market, the bins that contain the ears are packed with ice. At a roadside stand in Delaware where Nelly bought the last batch we tried, the farmer kept freshly picked ears in a plastic wagon cooler with ice at the bottom and a damp towel across the top to maintain moisture.
Helpful Hint: Shoppers should look for ears that have bright green husks that are still tightly packed around each ear and the bottom, where they have been cut from the stalk, should not be dried out.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
1 medium-size bowl (filled with ice water)
1 frying pan
1 shallow casserole dish
3 cups water
6 Japanese eggplants *(see Helpful Hint below)
4 large eggs or 5 medium eggs
¼ cup milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Now, heat up frying pan on medium high heat. Add oil to heated pan. Dip eggplants in egg mixture. Immediately place dipped eggplants in frying pan. Let them brown slightly, or more if you prefer, on one side. The timing will vary depending on the thickness of the eggplant. Turn over each piece once and let brown on other side.
*Helpful hint: You can also use the round Italian eggplants for a version of this. Simply cut the large eggplant into 1/8-inch slices or thinner, blanch each slice in boiling water to soften and then dip pieces into the egg wash so that each side is coated. Then fry in heated pan with oil like above.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
1 small onion chopped
¾ cup soy sauce
¼ cup vinegar, palm vinegar is preferred but cider vinegar will do, too
1 large bowl
1 wooden spoon
kitchen plastic wrap
Pinch of salt and pepper
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Farmers’ markets are hopping across the country. Nelly and I are big fans of farmers’ markets for their fresh produce. Last year, a vendor introduced Nelly to a type of heirloom tomato that has a pineapple flavor. Look for unique varieties of fruits and vegetables that don’t show up in big-chain grocery stores, such as white eggplant, white cucumbers, striped tomatoes and purple beans. We’ve found large red onions with leafy green stalks that are sweet and less acidic. Giant ears of corn sold from huge wooden crates by the dozens at our nearby market often attract customers.Maple syrup, honey, and organic eggs are some other specialty food items available at farmers’ markets, depending on the region. Who knows? You just might find smoked salmon and different smoked cheeses at the market one day.
The outdoor weekend flea market on Guam has fresh produce year-round. Produce and their by-products are in abundance. On a recent trip, Mom bought some aromatic coconut oil -- a must-have at home as a soothing salve for stomach aches.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Tomatoes are native to the hot Central and South American regions. The Spanish are credited with spreading tomatoes around the world. The fruits’ tart and tangy flavors make it a welcome ingredient in many dishes. Tomatoes may be found in Mexican salsas, Italian pasta sauces, and American burgers. Tomato pastes and canned tomatoes, which we talked about in an earlier post, are also available for cooks.