May 24, 2006

Good Foods Fight Illness (Apple-Onion Salad)

In my quest for ways to combine my love of food, science and good health, I sometimes turn up surprising information. This new study reports that . Apparently, the stinkier the onion, the greater the health benefit.

As for cooked onions, the researchers didn't test whether cooking affects their cancer-fighting ability.

The onion's cancer fighting abilities showed up best for colon cancer. Combined with , something like an can deliver a healthy one-two punch.

This salad is refreshingly light, flavorful, and good for you: a wonderful combination.

Apple-Onion Salad (courtesy of Epicurious)

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 pound)

5 hearts of romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise
3/4 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped

Whisk first 8 ingredients in small bowl for dressing. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate. Rewhisk before using.)

Place sliced onion in medium bowl. Cover with cold water; let stand 30 minutes. Drain well. Place 1/3 cup dressing in another medium bowl. Add apples; toss to coat.

Trim off tips of romaine halves, leaving 5-inch lengths. Cut each romaine half lengthwise into 3 wedges. Fan wedges on large platter. Top with red onion slices. Drizzle salad with dressing, then sprinkle with apples and pecans.

Makes 10 servings.

So tie on your apron, tuck in your napkin and don't forget your breath mints!

Posted by linda at 2:16 PM

May 23, 2006

The Donut Debacle (Vanilla Sugar Recipe)

Tastes evolve. There used to be a time when I loved those little donuts with the powdered sugar on them. I even took it in the chin for them once.

As a youngster (around 4 or 5 years-old) I had a penchant for busting my chin open at the drop of a hat. The last time I did was the donut debacle of 1969. I was just tall enough to see over the counter and I often watched my mother cook while I rested my chin on the edge.

So, one day she came home with those little powdered donuts and I, being easily excitable in those days, began hopping up and down in a paroxysm of delight. The outcome was inevitable, my chin met the edge of the counter with great force. The groceries were dropped and I was rushed, for the fifth time, to the doctors office for stitches in my chin.

I don't care much for donuts these days, but I do like powdered sugar on cakes in lieu of frosting. Here's a nice little thing you can do to gussie up plain old 10X.

Vanilla Sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups powdered sugar

Scrape seeds of vanilla bean into a bowl and stir in sugar until combined well.
Note: Vanilla sugar keeps in an airtight container at room temperature 1 month.

Posted by linda at 7:35 AM

May 22, 2006

Garlic Rosemary Roasted Chicken

One of the keys to a happy life (in our house at least) is a kitchen filled with staples. With two busy adults, having the ingredients to throw a satisfying lunch or dinner together at the spur of the moment is essential. One of the mainstays we keep around is a roast chicken. When time is short, we pick up a pre-cooked supermarket bird, but when we have a little extra time, we roast this excellent garlic rosemary chicken. The rosemary from our garden, combined with fresh lemons and garlic, permeates the bird with a heavenly yet subtle flavor. The resulting savory flesh is perfect for chicken salad, tamale filling, or eating by itself. This recipe was originally found at Yum! (unfortunately now defunct and an advertisement for a diet product).

Garlic Rosemary Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

1 large roasting chicken

1 bulb/head of garlic

1 bunch of fresh rosemary

1 large or 2 small lemons, washed

olive oil

salt & pepper

large roasting pan with rack

Directions:

Heat oven to 475°F.

Wash and dry chicken.

Roughly chop the bulb of garlic. (Don't worry about peeling the individual cloves.)

Roughly chop the lemons.

Reserve 4 stalks of rosemary and roughly chop the rest.

Combined the chopped ingredients and stuff into the cavity of the chicken.

Rub the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place chicken on rack in roasting pan. Place reserved stalks of rosemary on top of the chicken. I like to put them where the legs and wings join the body.

Place roaster in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees. Continue to roast for an additional 30 minutes or until browned and crisp.

Posted by david at 12:53 PM

May 19, 2006

The Giant Ho-Ho

I have many warm childhood memories of standing at the kitchen counter watching my mother making a myriad treats for our family. One such treat was a delightfully light confection called a chocolate roll which was filled with whipped cream and resembled a giant Ho-Ho. Mom whipped the egg whites until they formed stiff peaks and turned away to get the cocoa. Meanwhile, I took a big ol' swipe of the stuff (thinking it was sweetened whipped cream) and got a mouthful of the most disappointing flavor and texture describable. I've never forgotten that experience and now make sure to double check anything that's fluffy and white is whipped cream before I taste it.

Chocolate Roll

5 eggs separated
2 T unsweetened cocoa
1/2 C sugar
pinch of salt

Beat egg white and salt until stiff. Beat egg yolks until thick and add cocoa and sugar; continue to beat for 10 minutes. Fold in stiff egg whites. Pour into a buttered and wax paper lined jelly roll pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn out onto tea towel that has been sprinkled with confectioners sugar and roll up while still warm. Cool and unroll; fill with sweetened whipped cream and re-roll. Store in refrigerator until used. Serve with hot chocolate sauce.

Hot Chocolate Sauce (Optional)

1 C water
1 C sugar
1 t corn starch
1 square melted chocolate

In a double boiler, mix sugar, corn starch and water and blend. Add melted chocolate last.

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Posted by linda at 6:30 PM

May 18, 2006

Multiplying Fish Dish (Salmon Papillotes with Red Onion, Lemon and Rosemary)

Every now and then, a recipe will leap from our kitchen and go forth and multiply, speading through our friends and family. For me to recommend a recipe, it must either taste great or have extreme ease of preparation, and these salmon papillotes combine both.

When we first moved back to Alabama, we decided to include more fish in our diets. With salmon both cheap and accessible, I dug through my cookbooks and the internet looking for a quick and tasty way to cook this fish. Luckily, this recipe has both qualities. Plus, you can prepare the papillotes up to a day in advance, and pop them in the oven when needed.

These salmon papillotes are simple yet tasty, click "more" for the recipe (via the University of Missouri's Heart & Palate Recipes)...

Ingredients
1 bunch fresh rosemary sprigs
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1-1/2 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, skinned, and cut into 4 equal pieces
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 large lemon, very thinly sliced
olive oil spray
4, 24-inch x 16-inch pieces parchment or foil

Directions

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Fold each parchment or foil piece in half crosswise and cut each piece to make a large, rounded heart shape. Open a parchment heart. Place a few rosemary sprigs in the middle of one side of each heart. Lay the salmon on top of the rosemary. Spray top of salmon fillet with olive oil spray. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon wine and salt and pepper. Arrange 1/4 of the lemon slices and 1/4 of the red onion slices on top.

Beginning at bottom end of center crease, in overlapping 1-inch segments fold edges of parchment, crimping as you go, to form a tight seal. Make 3 more papillotes in the same manner. [Papillotes may be made up to this point 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered.]

Put papillotes on a large baking sheet and bake 9 to 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted through the parchment and into the fish slides out smoothly.

Serve immediately, cutting them open at table. Alternatively, open each packet and transfer fillet with juices to a plate.

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Posted by david at 6:30 PM

May 17, 2006

Favorite BBQ Restaurants (David's)

If you want to start a spirited discussion (a literal food fight) , gather food lovers from Alabama, North Carolina and Texas and ask them which state serves the best barbecue. Omnivore that I proudly am, I have a soft spot in my stomach for all three. Alabama's smoky pulled pork with tomato-based sauce is most readily available, and a sandwich of pulled pork and cole slaw is a regular lunch when I'm hurried. North Carolina offers a sauce heavier in vinegar, but often bright, tangy and refreshing. Texas BBQ disdains pork for beef, smoking briskets to a tender, spicy version of heaven.

Here are my favorite places for barbecue:

Top Hat Barbecue, Blount Springs, Alabama: If you are looking for ambiance, pass this restaurant on US Highway 31 by. If you can look past the torn upholstery on the seats and the occasional fly inside the place, you can eat some great pulled pork. Perfectly smoked, moist meat paired with a slightly sweet tomato-based sauce make this my favorite place for BBQ (and the fried catfish is pretty good, too). I almost did a cartwheel when they opened a second restaurant twenty minutes closer to us.

Johnny's Bar-B-Q, Cullman, Alabama: In the city where the leading tourist attraction is a monk's version of Jerusalem in miniature (Ave Maria Grotto) is one of my favorite restaurants. Johnny's is not fancy, but the pork is always smoky without being overpowering, and never dry. The tomato-based sauce is spiked with heat and is always a pleasant surprise.

Stubbs BBQ, Austin, Texas: Stubbs' Brisket may not be the best in Texas (or even Austin), but when you combine the food with the bar and especially the music venue, you have a winner. I've had many late dinners at Stubbs before seeing a show during SXSW or my trips to the city, and have never been disappointed with either the food, the beer, or the music.

The Rendezvous, Memphis, Tennessee: The rendezvous is all about their ribs. Dry-rubbed and falling off the bone, they are worth a trip to Memphis by themselves.

Dreamland, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Many years ago I spent a year going to every Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa with a friend, not for the football, but for the lunch or dinner at Dreamland. Back then they served a minimalistic menu: only their dreamy ribs and white bread on butcher paper, but it made the trip worthwhile.

Big Bob Gibson's, Decatur, AL: A local favorite recently commended by the Wall Street Journal for their overnight delivery offerings, this is where we usually pick up our BBQ fix. The pork is good and the sauces, especially their white sauce built with mayonnaise and vinegar, are tangy without overpowering the pork or chicken.

Posted by david at 5:43 PM

May 16, 2006

A Romantic Appetizer

My wife and I fell in love over a meal. Almost years ago we sat at the Highlands Oyster Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama, drinking a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon while enjoying our respective braised lamb shank and trout. Somewhere between the candlelight, the clattering of both flatware and voices, and my acapella rendition of the Reverend Horton Heat's "Bales of Cocaine," we realized that we were soul mates (or, at the very least, "filet of sole" mates).

This past June we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary, and our marriage has been filled with a shared passion for food. My wife says she is most fulfilled when we are both in the kitchen, working on a dish together. To her, this is the perfect metaphor for happiness. I have to agree, sharing a meal (whether the preparation or consumption) gives us the chance to reconnect after a busy day apart, the opportunity to work together toward something we love.

Today we launch our food blog, and hope to share our culinary lust with the world in our recipes, anecdotes, and friends who will share our virtual kitchen. Participation is optional, but feel free to drop us a line, send us a recipe, post a comment, or suggest a cookbook. Food has a wonderful way of bringing people together, it has certainly worked wonders for us.

Bon appetit.

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Posted by david at 5:16 AM