Food Wine and Marcy
CAN NACHOS PREVENT A HANGOVER?
Moderation, lots of water (eight ounces for every drink) and a full stomach are important when imbibing. What you munch on with your martini makes a difference, too. High fat foods can slow the alcohol absorption rate by up to fifty percent.
According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, “Foods, and especially fats and oils, delay the passage of the stomach’s contents into the small intestine, giving the stomach enzymes more time to work, slowing the rise in blood alcohol, and reducing its peak to about half of what it reaches on an empty stomach.”
Drink responsibly, appoint a designated driver, and order the nachos.
WHO PUT THE SHORT IN SHORTCAKE?
Why the short in shortcake? Because they are, well, short? Because they are associated with strawberries and the strawberry season is short?
Those are a few of my guesses, and while there may not be a definitive answer, the one common factor is butter or lard, aka shortening, is used in all the recipes.
Now let’s talk about the most famous shortcake of all. (Apologies to Miss Strawberry Shortcake.)
During the depression, Jimmy Dewar wanted to make an inexpensive snack. He noticed that shortcake pans were only being used during the limited strawberry season. That wasn’t a thrifty practice, so he developed a snack that could be made year-round.
Dewar injected his shortcakes with banana crème filling. A name for his thrifty and tasty invention eluded him until he passed a billboard for Twinkle Toes Shoes. Soon thereafter Twinkie became the name for the iconic treat.
Twinkies became an instant hit for Hostess. When bananas were rationed during World War II, necessity became the mother of invention again. The banana crème was replaced with the vanilla crème we still enjoy today.
HITTING THE JACK POT WITH DOUBLE CHERRIES?
Bing cherries are one of the delights of summer. I always feel lucky when I get a doubled cherry. But should I?
For farmers, doubling is unlucky.
Doubled cherries are a result of conditions the summer before they were picked. In excessive heat, the immature ovum doubles, much like conjoined twins. It’s not until the following spring that the farmer can see he has two cherries on a stem not one, but then it’s too late.
Farmers are paid for the size of their cherries and doubled ones are considered inferior.
Doubling does not affect flavor. All Bing cherries should be firm and shiny when purchased with green steams. Don’t wash them before you put them in the refrigerator because their skins will absorb the water and shorten their shelf life.
WHAT WORDS ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY WITHOUT SINGING?
“My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R. My bologna has a second name, it’s Mayer.”
“Oh I ‘d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener, that is what I’d truly like to be-ee-ee, ‘cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would be in love with me.”
Two of the longest running and most recognizable commercial jingles of all time started with one man.
Oscar Mayer isn’t a fictional name – there really was an Oscar. He came to the United States from Germany in 1873 and was later joined by his brothers Gottfried and Max. Together they opened a butcher shop in Chicago. Oscar made bologna, hot dogs and he brought home the bacon, too.
At the turn of the century, you had to wait in line at the butcher counter to have your bacon sliced to order. It was Oscar’s nephew, Carl, that pointed out that buying bacon should be convenient and available in self-serve cases, just like cheese and lunch meats. Oscar heeded his suggestion and started packaging pre-sliced bacon in a cardboard frame wrapped in cellophane. The idea was so unique, Oscar was issued a US patent in 1924.
And that’s no bologna.
Throwback Thursday - I'm reposting my 2009 Thanksgiving blog:
My pal John Lasseter (pictured left) invited me to be a balloon handler for Buzz Lightyear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Pixar sponsors the Buzz Lightyear balloon and they are entitled to provide twenty of the fifty handlers.
The festivities began the night before the parade.
Pixar artist and Buzz balloon designer Roger Gould grew up on W77th street. He's watched the balloons being inflated on Thanksgiving eve outside his family's apartment for over forty years. It's such an important tradition his family hosts a "Blow Up" party annually, as does many of the neighbors. If you have an invitation that will get you past the police barricades at Central Park West and W77th or W81st, you can watch the lifeless balloons as they are being filled with helium and preview the entire line-up.
After noshing on Carnegie Deli's pastrami sandwiches, homemade chopped liver and gluten-free cupcakes, we called it a night as we had a 4:30A wake-up the next morning.
On Thanksgiving day we arrived at the New Yorker hotel at 5:30A and joined the rest of our group. A long line wrapped outside the building and down two blocks. We made our way into the lobby at 7:30A. Once inside, the organization was impeccable.
After putting on our Space Ranger costumes, we made our way to the bus. Ten minutes later we were dropped off at W81st street where Buzz waited, inflated, and under a giant net.
We checked in with one of the captains and we were introduced to our pilot. He doesn't fly in the balloon, but he is he's responsible for navigating it safely around the buildings, skyscrapers, light posts, landmarks, billboards and people.
Fifty strangers, all novices, and fifteen minutes to lay out the ground rules.
We were taught hand signals for start, stop and slow down. We learned about raising and lowering the balloon with our "bones," the dog bone shaped handle that holds the ropes attached to Buzz.
We were warned to never stop at an intersection because the cross winds could be dangerous.
Talk about team work. This was pretty serious.
Buzz Lightyear is formidable. He's 67 feet long, 39 feet wide and 34 feet tall. His helmet is 17 feet in diameter. As Buzz ascended into the air, I could really feel the tug on my line. Several times along the parade route I had to use all my strength to maintain the rope tension and not let go. Turns are tricky. If you are on the outside of the turn, you have to run to keep up because you have farther to go. We raised and lowered our ropes many times depending on the city scape around us.
The biggest blast about carrying Buzz was seeing all the people.
Three million of them. Six rows deep.
Two and a half miles flew by in a nanosecond.
Our last chore was to deflate Buzz. All the helium was released and he slowly collapsed in a giant heap. After we rolled him up and put him in his storage hamper, all the Space Rangers were dismissed.
I am awaiting my next Mission.
Lift off is Thanksgiving day 2010.
A camel likes a hot, dry enviroment. So does grilled cheese! Butter the bread, not the pan.
I had the opportunity to demo a recipe from my book, SNACKS: Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle on my pal Chef Josh Silver's program, Cooking in Sonoma.
|On the Ginger Grille set at G&G|
I made soupwiches. A fusion of two of my favorite comfort foods: Grilled cheese and tomato soup. It starts with a compound butter, or as Josh says, "Butter mixed with other things." For mine, I combine Campbell's condensed tomato soup, minced shallots and softened butter.
My favorite bread for grilled cheese is English Muffin bread, but sourdough and French are terrific, too. Smear the butter on both sides and add grated cheese - it will melt faster and more evenly.
|I made a dozen to feed our studio audience|
After lightly brushing both sides of the sandwich with olive oil, I cooked them on a hot griddle and sliced them on a diagonal. I have to confess that I was nervous awaiting the reaction of the audience (and Josh). I'm a homecooker after all, not a chef, and this was my first time cooking for anyone other than friends and family. But lots of folks came back for seconds and I took that as a compliment.
Mmmm mmmm good!
Serves 4 as a Soupwich or 12 as an hors d’oeurve
1 stick butter, room temperature
¼ cup Campbell’s Tomato Soup, condensed (i.e. straight from the can)
1 tablespoon onion or shallot, minced
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
8 slices bread, I prefer English Muffin bread, French or sourdough
Mix butter, soup and onion.
Spread one tablespoon of tomato soup butter on each slice of bread.
Put ½ cup cheddar cheese on four of the slices and close.
Press on Soupwich to seal it.
Using a pastry brush, lightly paint the outside of the Soupwich on both sides with olive oil. Alternately you can use soft or melted butter.
Heat a heavy or non-stick skillet on medium high. When it is hot, add Soupwich.
Squish and flip a few times until browned on both sides and the cheese is melted.
*If you are serving the Soupwiches as an hors d’oeurve, remove the crusts and cut on the diagonal.
*Go ahead and make the rest of the soup. Be sure to fill the can ¾ full, not all the way to the top.
Doing research for my book, SNACKS: Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle, I asked Chef Clark the best way to store seafood at home. His answer started out simply, "Just like it is displayed at the market, on ice," but then it got slightly more complex, and interesting:
For every 2 degrees above 32 degrees that you store your fish for one day, it loses one day of shelf life.
Most home refrigerators hover around 40 degrees. So if you bought tilapia on Tuesday, flopped it in the fridge, and didn't eat it until Wednesday's dinner, the fish instantly aged four days. However, if you store your fish between the freezing point of water, 32 degrees, and the freezing point of fish, 28 degrees, your fish will remain true to its age.
When you get home, place your fish in a plastic bag, but please, never seal it. Sealing traps gasses and encourages the fishy order. Set the bag on a plate or shallow bowl of ice (be sure the bag is folded away from the ice so melt won't get in) and place a light amount on top of the fish. Store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
The Ghost Host.
Paul Frees is the voice you hear when you enter the Haunted Mansion, "Welcome foolish mortals..."
SNACKS: Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle, it was Doughboy's connection to my beloved Disneyland that inspired one of my first recipes:
DOUGHBOY BREAKFAST ROLLS
Poppin’ Fresh crescent rolls were a staple at holiday dinners when I was growing up in the San Fernando Valley. I take them to a new level, and a new time of day, with these kid-friendly, eat with your hands, breakfast rolls.
Nothing says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven.
8 slices pancetta or 8 strips bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
½ small red bell pepper, diced
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
4 tablespoons chives, or more to taste, minced
1 package Pillsbury crescent rolls
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the pancetta or bacon in a hot skillet until browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. Wipe the excess oil from the pan.
Melt the butter and add the red bell peppers. Cook 5 minutes.
Add the eggs and stir gently a few times.
Add the cheese.
Cook until eggs are just binded, not completely cooked. Remove eggs from heat sooner than you normally would to set, as they will continue cooking in the oven.
Mix in chives and set aside.
Unfold the rolls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Spoon 2 teaspoons of the egg mixture into the center of the dough and fold each edge toward the center.
Bake for 13 - 15 minutes.
|Chef D and Me|
The skill development class was taught by the affable Chef D, John DeShetler, who has been a professor at the Hyde Park campus for over thirty years.
I knew we were going to be a match when he opened our first lecture with a crack about cooking vegetables:
"Listen, I get the to each his own thing, but for me, undercooked vegetables are nothing more than hot crudite."
Now that's funny. It may be somewhat of an inside, foodie-centric joke, but it spoke volumes to me about why I was at the CIA. There are standards in professional kitchens and while I may not always practice them at home, I wanted to learn about them and share them in my book.
Everything from when to use a lid when cooking your veggies to the hidden treasures in kiwi fruit and chicken.
There are fifteen aisles of tales, tips, technique and trivia.
C'mon, have a Snack!
|Guy Fieri, Mollie Katzen and me outside our KJ recording studio.|
(Never fails: One door closes, another opens.)
The backstory begins while I was reminiscing about the show with frequent guest and Kitchen Cabinet Member Mollie Katzen. She commented that she had listened to the radio feature SNACKS on my website. When she suggested I should turn them into a book I was taken aback. I wasn’t a writer. Mollie was a writer - and a James Beard award wining one at that. When she offered to introduce me to her literary representative I was flabbergasted, but heeding the depression-era advice of my dear pal William T. Young, I took the cookies when they were passed. That was nearly four years ago. An agent named Steve, three proposals, a dozen submissions, and a big YES from Nancy Hancock at HarperOne, SNACKS:Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle will be released on May 7.
SNACKS is more than cooking and culinary advice, it's a storybook with recipes.
The recipes pair with the anecdotes - that way you can share an hors d’oeurve featuring endive and settle the argument about how to correctly pronounce it, too.
Since I prefer food shopping to any other shopping, clothes and shoes included, I set the book in a supermarket. You never know what tidbit or tasty treat you'll find in each aisle.
Check it out by clicking on the SNACKS book cover or right here.