Food 4 Thought
An eZine for People Who Eat
July 13, 2018
Exotic fruits beckon from the grocer's shelf. Pineapple is in season. The price is right. Shoppers may be tempted to take one home—even if they're not sure what to do with it. YouTube offers several different ways of preparing golden chunks from the whole pineapple. But what about those pineaple rings that come in cans? Preparing those at home can be messy, but a pineapple corer does almost as well. Run it down the center of the pineapple and pull a long spiral of fruit out. Pineapple tastes great any way you slice it. It's a versatile tropical fruit—a welcome addition to any course of any meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner; appetizer, side dish or dessert. Alone or mixed with other fruits, pineapple is a healthy treat.
Pineapple evolved in the hot tropical regions of South America. By the time Columbus arrived, pineapple was part of Native American agriculture and commerce. Pineapple was one of the New World treasures Columbus brought back from his first expedition. The fruit reminded him of the cones from pine trees, so he named it pine of India. The name stuck and morphed into todayÕs name pineapple. Pineapples were an immediate hit in Europe both as table decorations and as delicacies. The pineapple was a tropical plant and didnÕt grow well in the more moderate European climate. Greenhouses were required, but those were expensive, so only the rich could afford pineapple then. Modern transportation imports pineapple from ideal growing areas at reasonable costs. Today, everyone can enjoy pineapple. ItÕs great plain or fancy.
Grilling takes the frui in a delicious new direction. Grilled pineapple slices offer a great presentation for an appetizer or a main dish. (Add a scoop of ice cream for dessert.) Use slices from the fruit or from a can. Canned are faster and keep in your pantry until an occasion arises. Pineapple chunks taste just as good. Skewer them—solo or in concert—for a welcome addition to any table. Enjoy.
4 slices of pineapple
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp rum
Lay the pineapple in the bottom of a shallow dish or pan. Sprinkle the pineapple with sugar and rum. Let sit an hour—turning once.
Grill over a direct barbecue fire 5 minutes on each side. (A grill basket works well for this step.) Remove the pineapple from the fire and serve.
July 6, 2018
Healthy and tasty: once you try spinach quiche, you will look for opportunities to serve it again and again. It's easy to fix. A selection of dairy products rounds out the health benefits of the spinach. Bacon bits compliment its taste. You're going to dice the bacon to smithereens. You don't need to use the glamorous strips for bacon bits. Orphans and end pieces fry up just as tasty as their fashion model cousins. Treat yourself to this spinach quiche this weekend.
4 strips of bacon
½ bunch of spinach
1 cup sour cream
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup flour
1 tsp onion powder
¼ tsp salt
4 drops Tabasco sauce
2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
Fry the bacon. While it's cooking, preheat oven to 350”F. Wash the spinach, remove the stems and chop it into small pieces. Put it in a colander to drain. When the bacon is done, drain it on a paper towel.. Set the bacon and the spinach aside.
Put the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, flour, onion powder, salt and Tabasco sauce in a blender or food processor. Blend to mix the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, and the Swiss cheese. Crumble the bacon and stir it into the liquid. Coat the sides of a 9 or 10" porcelain quiche dish or 9½" deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray. Pour the mixture in and bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Quiche should be puffed and golden brown.
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
June 29, 2018
Once exclusive to the tables of Russian aristocracy, beef stroganoff survived the fall of the Tsar. It spread from Russia to China, and then beyond to the rest of the world. Today, variations on the theme of beef in sour cream are served in upscale eating establishments everywhere. Simple and affordable renditions like this one can be the focus on a special dinner. Enjoy quality restaurant menus without restaurant quality cost. Make this dish for your next special occasion.
Find more great main dish suggestions in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook
1½ lb sirloin steak
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp butter or margarine
½ onion chopped
¼ lb mushrooms sliced
¼ cup red wine
1 cup beef broth or bouillon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
Cut the steak into ¼" strips about 2" long. Salt and pepper both sides of the meat.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When it is hot, brown the meat in batches 1 minute on each side. Set the meat aside and keep it warm.
Melt the butter or margarine in the same pan. Add the chopped onions and cook them for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook the mixture 10 minutes more—stirring occasionally. Add the wine and cook 5 minutes, and then the beef bouillon for another 10 minutes. This should leave the vegetables in a thick sauce. Stir the mustard and the meat with its juices into the mixture.
Drop the temperature to low. Blend the sour cream in and warm the dish for 3 minutes or so. Adjust the level of salt and pepper.
June 22, 2018
Star in picnics this summer. The way to their hearts is through their stomachs. Neighbors or lovers: that works over the backyard fence, or across a candle lit table. Bring this three-bean dish from The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook to your next neighborhood soiree. They'll ask you back again and again. Oh, and can you bring enough beans for everybody? Don't plan on bringing home leftovers.
You can make this three-bean pot with canned beans, but canned white lima beans were hard to find. Dry beans are always available. As long as you are going to cook those up, you might as well do the kidney beans right along with them. The homemade beans are better. And making them at home avoids the problem of the ever-shrinking one-pound can. (At this writing, the one-pound can is down to 14.5 ounces—9% short. The two-pound can is only 28 ounces—12.5% light. Look for even lighter cans coming soon to a supermarket near you.)
Use baked beans from the can. Traditional baked beans are cooked 24 hours. That was practical when the stove stayed on 24 hours a day to heat the house. Running your oven for 24 hours for one batch of beans is impractical. Leave baked bean baking to the pros.
Canned or from scratch, you can do it either way.
1 cup dry lima beans or 2 1 lb cans of white lima beans
1 cup dry kidney beans or 2 1 lb cans of kidney beans
1 lb bacon
1 large onion chopped
1 large kielbasa sausage link—sliced
1 2 lb can baked beans
⅔ cup catsup
⅔ cup brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
If making the beans from scratch, place the lima beans and the kidney beans in a large bowl and cover with at least 6 cups of water. Let stand overnight. Drain and wash the beans in a colander.
IÕve read thereÕs a faster way to soak the beans. Put them in water to cover them. Bring to a boil and boil to two minutes. Let sit in that water for 2 hours, then drain and rinse the beans before proceeding. IÕve never tried that method, but if youÕre short on time, you might give it a try.
Place the soaked beans in a soup pot and cover them with salted water. Cook 1 hour.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon and drain it well. Chop the onion and slice the kielbasa while you are waiting. A mandoline works well for this. Pour off most of the bacon drippings, and then stir-fry the onion and kielbasa until lightly browned.
Put all three kinds of beans, the catsup, brown sugar and mustard in a large pot. Add the fried onion and sausage mixture. (Crumble the bacon and add it now or hold it until the end.) Bring the mixture to a boil on high, then turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour.
Serve with crumbled bacon on top if not added earlier.
June 15, 2018
Father's Day is Dad's day to shine. Memorial Day is past, and grilling season is in high gear. Dad can do a lot more than hot dogs and hamburgers. This year, he can show off with a batch of Mushrooms Diablo. The DevilÕs own mushrooms: not for the faint of heart as the name implies. This mushroom dish was born in a grill wok over a charcoal fire. It got raves from every guest who tasted it. Dad's dinner will too. ItÕs going to be hot tonight.
Like many recipes in The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook, Mushrooms Diablo is a dish youÕll want to serve year round. It translated well into the kitchen so you can ignore the weatherman, and enjoy his dish any time of the year.
1 lb mushrooms—quartered
3 tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
½ onion—sliced thick
2 cloves garlic—minced
1 cup Pico de Gallo salsa
¼ cup nacho-sliced jalapeos
Salt and pepper
Marinate the mushrooms in the soy sauce and ¼ cup of olive oil.
Place the onions and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and stir to coat them. Heat a grill wok over a direct fire. Add the onions and garlic to the hot wok. Stir avoiding the flames that shoot up at the start. Cook until the onions are soft. Then add the marinated mushrooms to the grill wok. Stir-fry 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the salsa and the jalapenos. Add salt and pepper to taste.
June 8, 2018
Grooms can cook too. But can he cook as well as his bride's mother? The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook gives him a chance. The book presents dozens of great ways to spoil his bride. They're fast and affordable, and they don't involve oddball ingredients he won't know where to buy. Pork filet mignon or steak Oskar can blow his bride away. Spaghetti Stroganoff or paella feeds the whole gang when his in-laws drop in. How about a side of gazpacho or two-paws-up Brussels sprouts?
Let the groom spread his wings and cook outdoors. Beer-can chicken cooks out there on the grill—weather permitting. So does the young couple's first holiday ham or turkey. The entire dinner can come from the barbecue. Asparagus, grapefruit, and pineapple all grill to perfection beside the main dish. The gourmet groom can do more than just dogs, burgers, or steaks with the cookbook you give him.
The groom will delight his bride with surprises like eggs Benedict or stuffed mushrooms. He can bask in her hugs and bank some atta-boys for a rainy day. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook is a valuable addition to a new couple's kitchen. Be the one to give them a copy.
June 1, 2018
The first home-cooked meal shouldn't end the honeymoon. A bride's first dinner is the stuff of corny jokes and country songs. It doesn't have to be that way. Get the couple started off right with their own copy of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. It offers a selection of tasty recipes—like his mother used to makeÉor better. Dinner is made from ingredients that fit a newlywed budget. There are no mad dashes to the grocery store: dinner is made from things found in every starter pantry. Most recipes are fast, easy and foolproof. And they're fun.
Cooking well ought to be as much fun as eating well. The first step in making beer can chicken is "open beer, drink half." For Valentine's Day, start with "marinate significant other, set aside." The text is peppered with food quotes from luminaries from George Carlin to Popeye. An unstressed cook sets a happy table.
Every night is date night when you're on your honeymoon. Romantic dinners don't have to be difficult or expensive. The book offers restaurant quality dinners without the quality restaurant prices. Pork filet mignon is easy and affordable. So are chicken parmesan and bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp. A simple tomato bisque would be a great start to many a special dinner.
Brunch is the perfect finale to a date night dinner. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook makes some great suggestions there. Try crustless crab quiche or faux lox to start the new day off right. How about the morning after the night before brunch? The recipe is in there.
This cookbook will be a family treasure long after the honeymoon is over. There are more great recipes for everyday cooking. Paella, ham or turkey can feed a crowd when the in-laws visit. Meatloaf, pot roast, and pasta are everyday favorites. Vegetables to accompany those delicious main dishes aren't reminiscent of the cafeteria steam table. The cookbook offers great alternative presentations.
The bride and groom will eat well now and for years to come with your gift of The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook.
May 25, 2018
Plain or fancy, pork chops are the start of many a great meal. The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook offers a selection of delicious and affordable pork chop main dishes. Treat yourself to one of them soon.
Sauted peppers and onions spruce everyday pork chops up. Start with pan-fried pork chops. For a basic dinner, just cook the chops following the first step in this recipe and serve. To dress them up, add the pepper medley. Or go all the way: add a little color; make one of the bell peppers red.
4 pork chops
Salt, pepper and rosemary
2 bell peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with salt, pepper and rosemary to taste. Cook in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes—longer for extra thick chops. Flip and cook 4 minutes more. Stop there for a fine pan-fried pork chop meal.
While the meat is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Peel and chop the onion. Stem, seed and chop the peppers. When the pork chops are finished, add a little more vegetable oil and the onions. Cook about 2 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom. Stir in the peppers, the garlic and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook until the peppers are tender.
Serve the pork chops smothered in the pepper mixture.
May 18, 2018
Chicken parmesan is an imitation Italian dish popular in America and Australia, but not in Italy. Like its veal and eggplant cousins: if chicken parmesan isn't Italian, it ought to be. It combines parmesan and mozzarella cheeses with a hearty tomato sauce to deliver a delicious Italian taste. For another great Italian-style taste, try Chicken Parmesan from my The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook. That recipe includes parmesan cheese and spinach to create a Florentine themed chicken dish. Both are delicious.
2 cups simple tomato sauce (recipe follows)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Italian seasoning (optional)
Prepare the tomato sauce.
Preheat a frying pan over medium low heat. Preheat the oven to 400”F
Salt and pepper the chicken breasts generously. Flatten them to 1/4" thickness. Cover each with wax paper and beat it with a meat mallet. No mallet? Use a rolling pin. No rolling pin? A 750 ml wine bottle will do. Sprinkle both sides of each breast with flour, salt and pepper.
Set up a dredging production line with flour, then beaten egg, and finally Parmesan.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the heated pan. Dredge the first breast through the line. Add it to the pan smooth side down. Brown it on both sides and cook until just done—5 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second.. Spread two ½ cup spots of the basic red sauce on the bottom of a 9"x13" glass baking dish. Lay the first cooked breast on top of one. Dredge and cook the second breast the same way. Lay it on the spot beside the first.
Smother with another cup of the red sauce. Top that with 1½ cups of shredded mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted—about 10 to 15 minutes. Top with Italian seasoning flakes if desired.
¼ cup olive oil
½ stalk celery
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp basil
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, dice the vegetables fine. Add them to the pan and saut 6 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the basil and cook a minute longer.
Stir the tomatoes in. Bring the mixture to a boil. Drop the heat to medium low, partially cover the pot and simmer for half an hour. Season with salt and pepper.
May 11, 2018
Gazpacho is the classic Spanish dish is the salad you eat with a spoon. Gazpacho was adapted from a Moorish dish during their occupation of Spain. Gazpacho began as a peonsÕ dish—food for peasants. DonÕt let that discourage you. Remember: lobster was once a poor personsÕ dish. Look how well that turned out. Give gazpacho a try.
Ripe tomatoes star in modern gazpacho recipes. The original Moorish version contained none. Columbus hadnÕt brought tomatoes back from the New World yet. In the beginning, many Europeans shunned tomatoes as non-Christian food because they werenÕt mentioned in the Bible. Others assumed tomatoes were poison because rest of the plant was. Tomatoes have been exonerated on the poison charges, and have no lingering religious issues. Today, modern tomato-based gazpachos are even better than the original recipe.
The Champagne Taste/Beer Budget Cookbook recipe spruces up a medley of tomatoes and other fresh vegetables with an oil and vinegar dressing of its own. Prepare this soup in a blender and chill it. No cooking necessary. Serve the soup cold. ThereÕs little danger of leftovers; but if you do prepare too much, it will keep in the refrigerator. Gazpacho celebrates the fresh vegetables of summer—flawless red tomatoes, glistening green peppers, aromatic onions and more. Serve it chilled for a refreshing summer time dinner.
½ green pepper—seeded
2 stalks celery
3 green onions
1 tbsp or 3 sprigs parsley
2 cloves garlic—peeled
½ cup cold water
2 tbsp tarragon wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp pepper
A few drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
Cut the tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery into manageable-size pieces. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Scoop some into a blender jar and chop until all the large pieces have been processed (10 to 15 seconds). Pour the contents into a second bowl and repeat until finished. Chill and serve in soup bowls.
May 4, 2018
Make Mom's brunch extra special this year. An artistic presentation can take your brunch from good to great. The aroma of a frittata baking in the oven tantalizes the whole house with the promise of great taste to come. Pull this fancy frittata out of the oven, and you'll want to dig in before it cools off. But don't. Give everyone a chance to admire this fancy frittata.
Serve this dish at your next special breakfast, or any time you feel like doing something special. You won't be disappointed. It tastes as good as it looks.
10-12 spears of asparagus
1 onion halved and sliced thin
½ red or green bell pepper chopped
½ lb mushrooms sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup cottage cheese
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Remove the woody stems of the asparagus spears. Put the spears in boiling salt water. Boil them 10 minutes and remove them from the water. Cut the top 4 to 6" off each spear. Select the prettiest ones for your design and set those aside. Chop the rest of the asparagus into 1 to 2" pieces.
While the asparagus spears are cooking, preheat the oven to 350”F and prepare the onions, the peppers, and the mushrooms.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 10 to 12" skillet. Add the vegetables plus the small pieces of asparagus. Cook for 8 minutes stirring occasionally .
Make an egg batter while that's cooking. Whisk the eggs, cottage cheese, and lemon juice together. Add salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the cooked vegetables. Array the reserved spears on top like the petals of a flower or the spokes of a wheel.
Bake 20 – 25 minutes and let stand 5 minutes. Let your guests admire your creation before cutting and serving it.