Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Michigan Herb Cookbook" - Santa Fe Salmon Salad

Date I made this recipe: July 26, 2009

Michigan Herb Cookbook by Susan Breckenridge and Marjorie Snyder
Published by: The University of Michigan Press
ISBN: 0-472-08694-4
Recipe: Santa Fe Salmon Salad – p. 101

People, my cookbook collection is now up to 1,086 (and still counting) and last weekend, that was just 1, 085 books too many to contemplate. I could not come up with a recipe to make if my life depended on it.

At first, I thought of paying homage to Bastille Day (July 14) but the date came and went and all the recipes I looked at just seemed too heavy for summer.

Next up was a possible homage to Walter Cronkite who passed away last week. But again – what does one cook to honor the most trusted man in news? I didn’t even know where to begin so I passed on that as well.

I then pulled out a couple of other cookbooks but just couldn’t bring myself to really commit to finding a recipe and so they sat (and still sit) on my dining room table.

It didn’t take long for me to throw in the towel, make myself a bowl of pasta using sauce from a (gasp) jar and call it a day. It also didn’t take too long for blogger’s guilt to set in—you know the “I should have made a recipe for my blog this weekend except I was too lazy” guilt. But this, oddly enough, gave me the strength to carry on.

And so for no discernable reason whatsoever, I pulled the Michigan Herb Cookbook off the shelf and found something that turned out to be exactly what I needed— a refreshing, summer recipe using fresh herbs and vegetables and even fish (and I am not too fond of fish). And now I am renewed of spirit and ready to roll.

This salmon salad recipe is definitely a keeper and was just what the doctor ordered on a somewhat dreary (and a little bit nippy) day. Even the salmon passed muster and for me, that’s a biggie.


Santa Fe Salmon Salad – serves 4

1 lb salmon fillets (not steaks)

1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
½ c. EACH fresh lime juice, orange juice, and oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Salt
¾ tsp EACH sugar and ground cumin

Salad Mixings
2 bunches watercress, picked over and cleaned
1 head romaine, cleaned and shredded
½ c. cilantro, chopped
½ c. EACH red and green pepper, julienned
(optional) 1 jicama, peeled and chopped

4 scallions, chopped
2 tomatillos, husks removed and minced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (the recipe recommended Italian but they looked horrible so I went with Bushel Boy)

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients and pour about ¼ cup over salmon and place in a resealable plastic food storage bag and refrigerate for 1 hour. Combine salsa ingredients and set aside.

Grill or broil salmon till done. Salmon can be served cold or warm. On a large platter place the salad mixings and toss with a little of the vinaigrette. Place salmon around salad mixings and top with salsa.

By the way, I have to confess that I accidentally made a recipe from a cookbook I previously cooked from, sort of my own personal “No-no” for this blog (my rule is one recipe per book). The book is called Food in Good Season by Betty Fussell and I made the Sweet Corn and Cucumber Soup on page 152. I liked it so you may want to give it a try; it went great with the salad.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Oscar Mayer Cookout Fun" - Smokie Curry

Date I made this recipe: July 12, 2009

Oscar Mayer Cookout Fun by Oscar Mayer & Company (pamphlet)
Published by: Oscar Mayer & Company
© 1959
Recipe: Smokie Curry – p. 11

Well, as per usual, it seems as if celebrities die in threes: Michael Jackson died, Farrah Fawcett passed away, and my own personal hero, Oscar Mayer—as in Oscar Mayer of Oscar Mayer Weiner fame – left us at age 95.

Now I hate to say but when I heard that Oscar Mayer died, I said to my husband “didn’t you think he was already dead?” No offense to the man, but seeing as how I grew up eating Oscar Mayer products (and I will be 51 in October) it just seemed like the namesake of the company would be long gone but surprise, surprise he hung in there for 95 years – good for him!

We traveled a lot as a family and lunch almost always consisted of sandwiches made out of…wait for it….Oscar Mayer products. In addition to the famous bologna, we often purchased a variety pack and to this day I have cravings for pickle and pimento loaf and the olive loaf that were part of that pack (there is nothing more fun that pushing the olives out of the loaf and then sticking one’s tongue through the hole…usually at my sibling). And of course, no bonfire at the beach would be complete without Oscar Mayer Wieners; I preferred them with one heck of a charred (read: crispy) skin that had been blackened by a fire comprised of driftwood – ah, that smell! There wasn’t anything else that said “summer at the beach” like an Oscar Mayer hot dog.

So of course, upon hearing the news, I had to pull out this little pamphlet and wouldn’t you know, the recipe I selected had diddley boo to do with outdoor cooking (as the title says), and instead involved a chaffing dish. But I like to be different and hey, we can’t always go with the obvious salute to Oscar Mayer (i.e. hot dogs) and so I made this recipe instead. By the way, the title of this section is “The gourmet touch! CookOut Fun with a Foreign Flavor,” featuring Ham Polynesian, Little Italian Pizzas (English muffins with spaghetti sauce and little sausages) and this recipe for Smokie Curry.

Now I wouldn’t go so far as to call this gourmet food but back in 1959 this was downright exotic so what the heck, give it a whirl. But the next time you’re in the lunch meat section of the grocery store, take a moment to honor the man who made bologna (and hot dogs) king and start singing (to yourself) these well-known ditties: “My bologna has a first name, it’s O.S.C.A.R….” and “Oh I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer Wiener, that is what I’d truly like to be-eee-eeee….” I’m sure Oscar would be happy.

Smokie Curry- makes 4 servings
1 package Oscar Mayer Smokie Links, cut in thirds
1 can (1 lb 4 oz) sliced pineapple
¼ green pepper, thinkly sliced
1 Tbsp. butter
3 cups cooked rice
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups liquid (pineapple syrup plus water)
1 bouillon cube

Brown Smokie Links, drained pineapple and pepper in butter. Arrange on hot rice and keep warm. Blend remaining ingredients, add to butter in pan. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour over rice.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Betty Crocker's Outdoor Cook Book" & "Real American Food" by Jane and Michael Stern -Burger Dogs and (Cinncinati) Queen of Chilis

Date I made these recipes: July 5, 2009

Betty Crocker’s Outdoor Cook Book by Betty Crocker/General Mills
Published by: General Mills
© 1961
Recipe: Burger Dogs – p. 84

Real American Food - Jane and Michael Stern’s Coast-to-Coast Cookbook by Jane and Michael Stern
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf
© 1986
Recipe – Queen of Chilis – p. 244

As per usual, the 4th of July weekend snuck up on me. We have barely had a summer in Minnesota (lots of rain and cold) and now we’re on the descent – rats! Okay, perhaps that is a little pessimistic, but we all know how it goes—no sooner have we taken out the summer clothing than the winter stuff gets hauled back out. (And might I just say that although I understand the fashion industry simply can’t help themselves by putting out fall stuff in July—stop it! Stop it now!). We like to joke that there are two seasons in Minnesota – winter and road construction. A friend in Ohio said that they like to joke that the orange construction barrel, found along highways everywhere in the summer, is the state flower. Good one!

And as per usual, I am always stumped with what to make for the 4th of July. (As it turns out, we spent part of the 4th with Andy’s mom and so moved our feast to the 5th). Corn seems in order and yet corn is best on the cob (roasted or boiled) with lots of butter. Don’t need a recipe for that one.

When I queried my husband, he had two words for what he wanted for the 4th: hot dogs. So this brings to mind a funny scene from the movie, Big Night.

In the movie, brothers Primo (played by Tony Sholub) and Secondo (played by Stanley Tucci) are tying, most unsuccessfully, to set up a true Italian restaurant in New Jersey in the 50’s at a time when spaghetti and meatballs were all the rage. In one scene after a customer sniffed at the risotto, Prmio and Secondo were talking about how to make the restaurant work. Secondo wants to take the risotto off the menu and Primo replies something to the effect of “maybe we should just serve a…what do you call it? Hot…Hot dog? Hot dogs? I think people would like that.”

Of course, Primo didn’t really want to lose the risotto to the hot dog and the way he delivered the line, sort of drawing a hot dog with his hands was hilarious. Whenever my husband and I say we want a hot dog, we use that line although we add an “a” to the phrase which is how my grandma Verme used to say it “Hota doga!”

So we had hota dogas. I knew that the recipe I selected was a bit boring but it was in the cookbook I pulled out and Andy wanted them so there.

Now the chili recipe is another story. I’ve heard about Cincinnati’s chili in that the thing comes in layers: spaghetti, chili meat sauce, kidney beans, cheese and raw onions (we passed on those) but have never made it. But people, you just can’t go wrong with a dish served up by my favorite authors, Jane and Michael Stern, who never fail to find the best of American cuisine (although given the fact that they travel the states in search of good food, it would be disappointing if they didn’t find the best!).

This recipe has a lot of interesting spices – cinnamon, allspice, cumin, coriander and even grated unsweetened chocolate – stuff that might normally give me pause but I tell you what, it’s a winner. As Jane and Michael indicate, the flavors are best when the mixture sits overnight although truth be told, we barely had any leftovers!

So about Cincinnati—I’ve been on the beltway around the city several times but have never stopped downtown to look around. Nonetheless, there wasn’t a time that I didn’t think of the popular TV show from the 70’s – WKRP in Cincinnati. What was not to love about that show? We had Les Nessman delivering the farm report (and who taped the floor to show where his “office” was); bombshell Jennifer (Loni Anderson) whose doorbell sounds like one that my girlfriend has, prompting me to dub it her “Loni Anderson doorbell;” Venus “I am the air” Flytrap (you don’t know how often I use that line) and Mr. Carlson “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” And then there was Herb Tarlek, the polyester pantsuit-wearing radio-station salesman. I often reference Herb when I tell people about a salesperson at one of my former companies. All I have to say is “This guy was the Herb Tarlek of data processing” and they get it. Then there’s Bailey Quarters, Andy (Randy Andy) Travis and Johnny (Dr. Fever) and you have yourself a whole team of crazies. And I loved them so.

Enjoy your post-4th of July repast!

Burger Dogs – 8 servings (I made half the recipe)
1 lb. ground beef
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
8 frankfurters, split lengthwise
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tbsp. water
8 frankfurter buns

Brown beef in vegetable oil in heavy skillet over hot coals (or on a burner). Add frankfurters, tomato sauce, onion and water. Cook about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat buns wrapped in foil. Serve hot mixture on heated buns.

(Note: for a little more flavor, you can doctor up the tomato sauce or add condiments like relish or mustard).

Queen of Chilis – serves 4
3 onions
1 pound ground chuck
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ ounce unsweetened chocolate, grated
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon tumeric
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
Tomato juice, as needed (I didn’t)
9 ounces spaghetti, cooked and buttered
1 16-ounce can kidney beans, heated
1 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
Oyster crackers

Chop 2 of the onion and set aside; chop remaining onion fine. Salt a large skillet. Turn heat to medium and add meat, finely chopped, onion and garlic. Break up the meat with fork and cook until it is browned. Drain fat.

Add barbecue sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Add remaining seasonings.

Cover and simmer over very low heat 30 minutes, stirring and tasting occasionally, adding tomato juice if mixture is getting too dry to ladle up easily. (We like this chili best when it is reheated after being allowed to “age” overnight in the refrigerator.)

To construct the plate of 5-way, layer spaghetti on a plate (a small oval plate is traditional), top it with hot chili, then with a sparse layer of beans, then reserved chopped onions. Pat on plenty of cheese while chili is still hot and serve immediately, with oyster crackers on the side.

Note: For the barbecue sauce, I went with local favorite, Ken Davis but there are plenty on the shelves from which to choose. (Shopping used to be so easy, didn’t it?!).