Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday’s Side Dish: Old Bay Oven-Fried Potato Wedges

A seasoning that will turn over a different side

We’ll bet that you can’t have just one serving of these yummy potato wedges. Simply toss 1 1/2 lbs of potato wedges in a seasoning mix of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 teaspoons Old Bay, and a pinch of salt. Next, bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn them once after the first 10-15 minutes of baking. You can also add a sprinkle of oregano, which can counter the spiciness of the Old Bay seasoning. This recipe can also season 6-8 chicken wings (depending on their size) before you grill or broil them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday’s Helping: Couscous

Fluffy, filling, fun food

This food ingredient is a staple in several Mediterranean and North African countries. Couscous was originally used by the nomadic peoples in the dry desert climate. Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never prepared or cooked couscous. It’s actually tiny grains of pasta made from semolina, salt, flour, and water. Expect a slightly sweet and nutty flavor from plain couscous. Chefs may use couscous instead of rice, bread, or potatoes. It goes well with seafood, poultry, and meat dishes. Additionally, add your favorite minced herbs or a dash of spices, such as parsley and cumin to any large batch of couscous for a spicy kick. Finally, you can add cinnamon, honey, and nuts and make a sweet variation that can delight your taste buds.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday’s Cupful: Old Bay Seasoning

Pour on this seafood stunner

This spice mix is a Chesapeake Bay institution. What’s in it? It’s a secret combination of 12 different herbs and spices. Gustav Brunn invented the recipe more than 70 years ago and named it after the Chesapeake Bay. The McCormick and Company acquired Old Bay in the 1990s. The Old Bay brand has gradually become popular along the eastern seaboard. Expect salty, sharp, spicy, and slightly hot flavors from this brownish-red spice blend. The Mixed Stew crew likes making a dipping sauce for blue crabs by adding (½ tablespoon) Old Bay to (½ cup) vinegar (and some drops of Tabasco). Old Bay’s strong and spicy seasonings tend to enhance the sweet ocean flavors of seafood.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Old Bay Shrimp Scampi with Couscous

Something old, something new

We spiced up this seafood dish with some Old Bay seafood seasoning and fresh parsley. The shrimp combines with rich melted butter and Old Bay’s spiciness. It all goes well atop a serving of couscous. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 fry pan
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
12 oz couscous, seasoned and cooked
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 ½ lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup chicken stock
Pinch of salt

Cooking and Directions:

Heat up fry pan on medium high heat. Add olive oil, ½ of garlic, and salt. Throw down shrimp and let them cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Next add butter, lemon juice, left over garlic, Old Bay, and chicken stock to pan. Let shrimp braise for another 5 minutes before adding fresh parsley, stirring, and removing pan from heat. Serve immediately with seasoned and cooked couscous.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday's Last Spoonful: Food Surfing

Catching a wave

Food Surfing features fun food links from around the Blogosphere and Internet. These recommended links may give you other interesting ideas for making your life taste better.

The Shake Shack in NYC has established itself as a fun modern twist on the all-American burger and hot dog joint. Try the frozen custard and rich milk shakes. They even serve beer and wine. Here's a link to the announcement about the Shake Shack coming to DC.

We like this food blog for its ice cream posts. Recipes for the frozen dessert are simple yet unique with nontraditional flavors, such as avocado and toasted black sesame.

Finally, Tortilla Soup is a movie about family, good food, and love. Watch out for the gorgeous Latin American food and entrees that form a delicious background theme throughout this family

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday’s Side Dish: Olive Salad Mix

Not your usual grind of spread
Need to spice up your cold cut sandwiches? A spread of Giuliano Italian Style muffuletta olive salad mix will do in a pinch. We bought a 16 oz jar for $ 3.99 at Giant. We’re going to add some to cream cheese for toasted bagels and crackers. The salty and earthy flavor of minced green olives goes well with minced hot peppers and garlic in every spoonful of this salad mix. Also, make your hot dogs and cheeseburgers unique and tangy with this olive-based alternative to regular pickled relish.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday’s Helping: Olives

Green or black, this fruit has a long history

The oil made from them isn’t the only reason to like olives. The evergreen trees known as Olea europaea have been cherished and cultivated since biblical times. Olive oil has been made and consumed since 3000 B.C. The tree originated in the Mediterranean region. The Spanish brought olives to the Americas in the 15th century while Spanish missionaries began cultivating olive trees in California during the 18th century. The fruits have a high fat content – especially monounsaturated fat, which can lower blood cholesterol levels. Olives must be processed and cannot be eaten right after being picked. Processing methods include drying in the sun, curing, brining, or salting. Look for olives with varying degrees of green and nutty flavors. The fruits are normally harvested in September; however, they’re available year around through commercial growers. Consumers can buy olives in cans or jars. Many different varieties exist, such as Kalamata (a big olive with a savory taste that originated in Greece), Picual (a popular Spanish olive with a sweet taste) , Bosana (an olive fro Sardinia used mainly for making olive oil), and Picholine (an olive with a nutty flavor that’s popular in France). Chefs can add olives to salads, any savory paste, or even turkey stuffing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday's Cupful: Chicken Thighs

Dark meat has its appeal

We admit that chicken thighs can make the grade in flavor and juiciness. Leave the skin on for maximum flavor experience. We suggest limiting your portion to one if you want to cut calories. Otherwise, this particular chicken cut has a higher fat content compared to the breasts and wings. Thighs are comprised of “working” muscles that also contain more myoglobin (the biological chemical), which ultimately translates into darker, more flavorful, and succulent meat portions. Do you prefer dark meat or white meat chicken?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Roast Chicken w Black Olives

Dishing up a taste of the Mediterranean

We’re offering up this unique and light rendition of roasted chicken. The olives gradually release natural oils that mingle and flavor the chicken thighs. The tomatoes add color and a tangy taste that complements the salty olive flavors. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 large bowl
1 small bowl filled with 1 cup water
1 baking pan or casserole dish
4 garlic cloves, minced
6-8 chicken thighs
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
¾ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 cup ripe tomatoes, seeded and quartered or 1 cup cherry tomatoes

Cooking and Preparation:
Combine garlic, olive oil, marjoram, salt and black pepper in bowl. Add chicken and coat in ingredients. Let chicken marinade for at least 3 hours. Meanwhile, soak black olives in small bowl of water for 5 minutes to remove excess salt. Add olives to chicken marinade during the last hour of marinade process. Mix well. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Next, carefully position chicken pieces on baking pan or casserole dish with the skin side up. Add olives and wedged tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes) to the baking pan before placing in the oven. Bake for 1 hour. Remove chicken from oven. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Field Trip

Pioneer Pit Beef: Windsor Mill, Md.

We like this little pit beef stand for the large sandwiches that they provide to hungry patrons. When we've gone, paramedics, office workers, and casual diners are often lined up outside the door. An old-fashioned pioneer wagon is painted on the bright exterior. The aroma of smoke and barbecue beef permeates from the kitchen. Sandwiches come in three sizes: regular ($5.50), super ($6.25), and sub ($6.50). We suggest sticking with the regular since it’s already stacked high with beef. Guests can also select rare, medium rare, medium, and well-done pit beef. The meat cutter will tease customers with a sample slice. Mayo, sliced yellow onions, mustard, horseradish, bbq sauce, and tiger sauce make up the array of additions guests can add to their sandwiches. Side menu items include fries ($2.25), fries w/ gravy ($2.50), (coleslaw ($.75), and pickle ($.75). The fries come piping hot but you can add as much ketchup, salt, or vinegar to each batch.

Take exit 17 Security Blvd/MD 122 off 695 you turn LEFT onto N Rolling Road from Security. Pass by the Security Square Mall and under the I-70 overpass. Then turn right at the next light and look for the small shack that’s bright yellow.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday’s Side Dish: Salmon in Banana Leaves

An island flavor twist on fish

Here’s a tropical twist on baked salmon. We seasoned salmon filets with fresh ginger, soy sauce, and cilantro. A touch of hot pepper makes for a spicy zing in every serving. The banana leaf holds in juices and adds a trademark green flavor to the fish. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 baking dish
1 medium-sized bowl
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced ¼ cup green onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, chopped small
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 hot chili pepper, thinly sliced
4 (8 ounce) salmon filets
4 banana leaves, washed, soaked in water and cut into 10-by-12 inch rectangles
8 toothpicks, or else foil to secure the leaf wraps

Cooking and Preparation:

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Combine ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot chili pepper in medium-sized bowl. Mix well. Dip salmon filets in marinade. Wrap and fold each salmon filet in a banana leaf with a teaspoon of the marinade and chopped ingredients. Use toothpicks or foil to secure and seal in each filet. Place wrapped filets on baking dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes and then remove from oven. Let baked salmon rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday's Helping: Banana Leaves

No secret to this wrap

We’ve found them at H Mart and other local specialty food stores. Look for packages of green banana leaves in the frozen foods aisle. One 16 oz. pack usually costs $4.99. Cooking with banana leaves is popular in Southeast Asian and Pacific Island cuisines. It’s a convenient and all-natural wrapping that also lends a slight smokey green tea-leaf flavor to any items that happen to be wrapped inside. You can wrap savory ingredients and seasonings with meat, seafood, or poultry for steaming or baking. The Mixed Stew previously used this food item for making apigige’. We also suggest using banana leaves as placemats or garnish for any island-themed celebration.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday’s Cupful: Hawaiian Roast Pork

Kalua Pig is the word

This popular dish (similar in consistency to pulled pork) served at the traditional Hawaiian Lu’au. The whole pig is usually slow roasted in an imu, which is an underground oven. Kalua refers to the underground cooking method. Traditional recipes call only for Hawaiian sea salt or coarse salt since the wrapped pork picks up flavors from the banana leaves or ti leaves. Meanwhile, more complex recipes may include a few or all of the following: garlic, ginger, pineapple, soy sauce, and worcestershire sauce. If you don’t have an imu, it’s not unheard of for modern day cooks to make Kalua Pig in the crock pot with liquid smoke. Or, as we do, wrap the roast completely and cook in a smoker or on top of a bbq grill with vents and a lid that can be closed for better temperature control. We improvised. After all, it's the island way! We chose to use the pork shoulder but other recipes recommend the pork butt roast.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Roast Pork Wrapped in Banana Leaf

A special gift from the islands

This method of preparing, seasoning, and roasting pork is Pacific-island inspired. We recommend using a pork shoulder since the roasted meat ends up being juicy and flavorful. The banana leaves help lock in the natural flavors and seasons the roasted pork with a slight green tea taste. Meanwhile, slow roasting the wrapped pork over hot charcoal ensures a tender meat consistency. Here is our rendition:

What you will need:

3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 (7-8lbs) pork shoulder roast
2 large banana leaves
1 tablespoon coarse Hawaiian red salt, sea salt or kosher salt
½ tablespoon cracked peppercorn
1 sharp knife
1 barbecue pit with lid
5lbs hot charcoal

Cooking and Preparation:

Score the skin side of the pork roast (roughly ¼ to ½ inch deep) with a crisscross pattern. Coat and season pork with garlic, salt, and black pepper. Lay out banana leaves on top of each other and place seasoned pork roast at the end of one side. Carefully fold and roll the pork shoulder inside the banana leaves. There should be no exposed sides of the pork shoulder. Next, place wrapped roast on barbecue grill and cover with lid. Try to maintain a steady temperature near 300 degrees. If it drops below that for a bit, add more hot coals to the fire and let the temperature rise for at least 20 minutes or so. For example, we found the temperature dropped to 250 so we added coals to let the pit reach a temperature of 375 and remain that hot for about 20 minutes. The roast should be left alone for 3 ½ hours to 4 hours, if you keep the temperature around 300 consistently, longer if you let it drop below that for a significant period of time without making up for it. We haven't worried about overcooking pork roast this way. The wrap keeps moisture in. Finally, remove done roast from barbecue grill and let is rest for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday's Last Spoonful: Food Surfing

A wave of fun links related to grub

We’re changing things up a bit with a new series. Food Surfing will feature fun food links from around the Blogosphere and Internet. These recommended links may give you other interesting ideas for making your life taste better.

For fellow food bloggers interested in free giveaways, check out the Foodie Blogroll contests page. Current features include Hearst Ranch Grass-fed Flank Steaks, and more.

Up first: Red Velvet Cake Battered Fried Chicken! This site features a dish that combines rich red velvet cake flavors with deep fried chicken for an off-the-wall experience.

We’re mac-n-cheese fanatics but waffled macaroni and cheese? The concept may be going too far or could just be the ticket to capture our flavor senses.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday's Side Dish: Celery and Peanut Butter

Smooth idea for a crunchy bite

This simple and health snack will do in a pinch. The crispy celery goes well with creamy peanut butter for a yummy experience in every mouthful. Why not add some other condiments to the peanut butter for a flavor twist on this traditional favorite? We also suggest adding honey, melted chocolate, or cinnamon. If you’re more daring, stir in slice fresh chives, minced cilantro, bacon bits, or even hot pepper flakes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday’s Helping: Corn Starch

A kitchen powder that makes a difference

We tend to keep corn starch on hand as a food staple item in The Mixed Stew kitchen. Corn starch is a gluten-free alternative to flour. Cooks may use it as a thickening agent in different sauces and gravies. We also use corn starch as coating and breading for frying — it provides a tasteless, crispier, and lighter crunch compared to flour. Corn starch also has more thickening power so use it with discretion while adding it to simmering sauces. Combine this ingredient with just a little bit of water before thickening any gravy or sauces. Creating such a slurry reduces the formation of lumps in the end product.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday's Cupful: Malacca Noodles

Fusion dish to delight the tastebuds

This noodle dish really hits the spot with a tasty and light soy-based meat sauce that’s made with ground pork. A healthy dose of diced celery, sliced cucumber, and fresh bean sprouts adds another layer of flavors and crunch in every mouthful. The Al dente angel hair pasta (doesn’t have to be Asian) adds a fusion touch to the whole shebang. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 fry-pan with lid
1 (13.25 oz) package multigrain angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2lbs. ground pork
3 tablespoons cooking oil
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
2 cups water
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in ¼ cup water
Pinch of salt and black pepper

1 whole cucumber, de-seeded and julienned
Fresh bean sprouts, sliced cilantro, and sliced green onion

Cooking and Directions:

Heat fry-pan on medium high heat. Add oil. Throw in garlic and yellow onion while constantly stirring. Next add ground pork. Make sure to crumble ground pork with wooden spoon. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Cover pan with lid and let the meat cook for 10-15 minutes. Once meat is done, add soy sauce and water to pan. Lower heat to medium and let the ingredients simmer for another 8-10 minutes. Let liquid reduce. Toss in sriracha and mix well. Finally, add cornstarch mixture to make a thickened meat sauce. Serve with warm pasta and fresh toppings on the side so that diners can add them (at their discretion) to their bowls.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Labor Day

The Mixed Stew Crew wishes everyone a Happy Labor Day! Here’s info on the flood emergency in Pakistan and how you can help the American Red Cross.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday's Last Spoonful: Field Trip

Honey Pig Korean BBQ: Ellicott City, Md.

We love this crazy Korean BBQ restaurant that’s even open 24-hours a day. Honey Pig can be an extra-sensory overload since the staff grills menu items right in front of diners. Each chrome table has a fancy fry-pan/ grill on top. We recommend the Spicy Pork Bellies ($ 12.99), Beef Tripe ($ 12.99) and Beef Brisket ($ 12.99). Seafood lovers can sample the Spicy Seafood ($ 14.99) with octopus and squid. The platters arrive with elegantly laid-out ingredients. Next, a staff member barbecues the meats, which makes for a unique and fun experience. You may need to use your chopsticks and raise your plate as the cooked meats are portioned out. The cook also grills a complimentary platter of kimchi seasoned sliced-fresh veggies. Any meal also comes with banchan, lettuce wraps, sliced-hot peppers and dollops of spicy bean paste. Remember to order enough steamed rice for your party.

Honey Pig Korean BBQ

10045 Baltimore National Pike

Ellicott City, MD 21042-3673

(410) 696-2426

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thursday’s Side Dish: Different types of tacos

What’s inside really counts

The U-shaped hard taco is an American invention or adaptation of the Mexican taco. Mexicans have made their tacos for generations, so it’s no surprise that they’ve developed different varieties. Also, the fillings, toppings, and meat ingredients may vary from one region of Mexico to another. By the way, some of these authentic versions are popping up in restaurants everywhere. Here is a short primer:

Tacos De Asador - (grilled tacos) may be one or a combination of carne asada(beef steak) tacos, chaizo asado (Spanish-style sausage) tacos, or beef tripe tacos, which are grilled until crisp.

Tacos Al Pastor - (shepherd style) are made of thin slices of pork seasoned with adobo seasoning and pineapple. The meat is then skewered and overlapped on one another on a vertical rotisserie cooked and flame-broiled as it spins.

Tacos De Pescado - (fish tacos) are made of grilled or fried fish, lettuce or cabbage, pico de gallo, and a sour cream or citrus/mayonnaise sauce, all placed on top of a corn or flour tortilla. Sometimes served with coleslaw and salad dressing.

Mutila Tacos - (Little Mules aka Gringos) made with beef or pork between two tortillas and garnished with Oaxaca cheese. Wheat flour tortillas are prepared for these tacos.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday’s Helping: Soft vs. Hard Tacos

Some like meat in a shell, others like meat in a wrap

There’s more than meets the eyes for lovers of hard tacos and fans of soft tacos. We suggest keeping forks, spoons, or sporks handy if you’re serving hard tacos to a crowd. The hard shells, made from corn, possess that trademark crunch and inevitably break apart while eating. Meanwhile, soft tacos hold more of everything – taco meat, lettuce, graded cheese …etc. – without the mess. When talking about soft tacos, people usually mean the flour tortilla. It’s impossible to fit a lot into hard tacos without breaking the shell. Don’t expect soft tacos to spill or fall apart. Finally, there’s a subtle difference in flavors. Hard tacos come wrapped in a shell that tastes, and feels, similar to tortilla chips while soft tacos come wrapped in fresh tortillas with a flour taste; however, there are also soft tacos made with corn tortillas so they still have that corn flavor.