Archive for October, 2011
On this day in history, Good & Plenty candy was introduced in 1893. Produced by the Quaker City Confectionery Company in Philadelphia, G&P is the oldest branded candy in the United States. There was a theme song to accompany a cartoon character named Choo Choo Charlie,who was introduced as the “spokesperson” for the candy. These were the lyrics:
Once upon a time there was an engineer
Choo Choo Charlie was his name, we hear.
He had an engine and he sure had fun
He used GOOD & PLENTY candy to make his train run.
Charlie says “Love my GOOD & PLENTY!”
Charlie says “Really rings my bell!”
Charlie says “Love my GOOD & PLENTY!”
Don’t know any other candy that I love so well!
I just remember the commercial from the 1970s with the box that moved like a train in time to the words: “Good n plenty, good n plenty, good n plenty.”
I had a friend and co-worker once who absolutely loved Good & Plenty and once in a while for Christmas or her birthday, I would wrap up a box of G&P for her. It always made her smile.
Anyway, hope this brought back some good childhood memories for you.
I love buffets. You can choose exactly what you want and, sometimes, how much of it. And buffets are very much a social affair. You have to get in line with a bunch of other people, which encourages verbal interaction (“Oo, doesn’t that look good?” “Hey, what’s that?” “I had that earlier. It’s delicious!”), and often share tables with others. And no one goes to a buffet by themselves.
Buffets are also fun for the cook. Over the years, I’ve hosted many parties and they were often buffets. Buffets allowed me to cook multiple dishes and try out all kinds of new things. In fact, they were the perfect vehicles for testing out recipes for my cookbooks. I could put out 10 seemingly disparate dishes across the table and guests could try what they wanted and leave what they didn’t.
It also made things easier for me in terms of serving. I just put everything out and that was that. I might have to refresh some things or make some last-minute preparations in the kitchen, but for the most part, once everything was on the table, I could sit and enjoy my friends while they enjoyed my food.
So, my class at the Natural Gourmet Institute had their mandatory buffet and it was great! Family and friends of the students gathered to enjoy the various offerings and from all accounts, they had an excellent meal.
We received a menu that we had to follow, but we improvised here and there. We got a huge box of figs and one of my classmates roasted them and sprinkled parmigiano over them. We added that to our dessert menu. I was in charge of the Apple Oat Crumble, which we piled into martini glasses, and I placed a fig in each one, which not only looked beautiful but it elevated a simple, rustic dessert to something more gourmet.
But, of course, it wasn’t all strawberries and cream. Some things posed challenges, such as preparing a whole poached salmon for service, which required carefully scraping this gray layer just below the skin without ripping the fish. And, once again, I knocked something over, eliciting a solid curse from me. The same dishwashers who had witnessed my crêpe batter disaster saw this, too. I’m sure they have labeled me the year’s biggest klutz.
Anyway, here’s my class’s menu. I also made the quinoa salad, so below is the basic recipe with my modifications. It’s incredibly easy to make but the results are so good.
All the photos in this blog are by my classmate, Barbara Vadnais (thanks, Babs). The thing that looks like a mummy is the salmon, which we wrapped in cheesecloth to flip it over after it had been poached.
CTP 197 Buffet Menu
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Whole Poached Norwegian Salmon
Cucumber Citrus Salsa
Lemon Dill Mayonnaise
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Vegan Caesar Salad with homemade croutons
Red Lentil Pâté
Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Carrots and Poppy Seeds
Oatmeal Dulse Crackers
Apple Oat Crumble with Pomegranate Reduction
Roasted Figs with Parmigiano
1 cup quinoa
1 ¾ cups boiling water
¼ to ½ tsp salt
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tablespoons basil, parsley, thyme, or other herbs of your choice
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Wash and toast quinoa in a small saucepan. Over high heat, stirring constantly, until it smells nutty and browns lightly (5-7 minutes).
- Remove quinoa from heat. Add boiling water and salt. Bring back to a boil, stirring. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until quinoa is cooked and all liquid is absorbed.
- Fluff with a fork and add tarragon and other herbs before serving.
- Add olive oil, a little at a time, just until quinoa is moistened. Adjust seasoning as needed.Yield: 6 servings
If you love cheese find yourself in Madison, Wisconsin, you must go check out the Third
Annual Wisconsin Cheese Originals Annual Festival. It will take place at the Monona
Terrace in downtown Madison, November 4-5.
This festival will feature cheeses and cheese recipes from various Wisconsin farms at more than a dozen events. There will be creamery tours, cheesemaker dinners, tastings, seminars, and cheese pairing classes (craft beer, wine, rum, and scotch!).
It really sounds like fun. I wish I could go.
For more info, click HERE.
I volunteered to work on several of the days but they only scheduled me for one day, the 2nd (I found out only later that I could have shown up for the other days anyway). So, Sunday, I went to the volunteer tent on 10th Avenue and 15th St. It’s such an interesting area. It’s the border of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, which is becoming the chic neighborhood for the young and well heeled. As you walk from the more easterly part of Chelsea, the atmosphere begins to change. From beautiful, well-maintained brownstones and charming little restaurants, it begins to take on the aura of what you would expect of a meatpacking district: industrial, gritty, and stark. Soon, you reach the overpass and the West Side Highway. Tucked into the little side streets, though, are the original cobblestone streets, remnants of Old New York, and tough as hell to drive over.
What fascinates me about this area, however, is that it’s become the depository of haute designer boutiques. Some designers who have outposts here are Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Alexander McQueen, who designed those nutty shoes Lady Gaga wears in the “Bad Romance” video and who committed suicide last year. This has become known as Gansevoort Market. On 9th Ave., is the Chelsea Market, a gourmand’s Emerald City.
But I digress. From the volunteer tent, we went off to Pier 57 on 11th Ave. Security was tight because apparently they’d had some sort of issue (I guess that’s how you know that chefs are the new rock stars!). This was the Grand Tasting, where restaurants, wineries, and food producers got a chance to show off their goods.
We were given a stack of assignments to choose from and I chose to work with Marble Lane at Dream Downtown restaurant. The special dish they were preparing was Guinness-Braised Kobe Short Ribs on Cheddar Biscuits. And, boy, was that Kobe popular! From about 12 to 5 p.m., I worked non-stop scooping the hot, shredded beef onto a portable flat-top grill, adding jus and salt, then doling it out among the split biscuits, which had been warmed. At various times, I also dotted the biscuits with horseradish sauce and sprinkled chives onto the finished product. The cook I was working with was getting bin and bin of biscuits as needed, sprinkling micro greens at the end, and did the sauce thing initially. When I approached the stall, the guy was really busting his hump and I think I relieved him a little bit. In total, we probably made hundreds of little sandwiches. HUNDREDS! The demand never stopped. Luckily for me, the vendor right next to us was a winery (I’m sorry that I can’t remember the name, but I was busting my own hump), and the guys were really nice and gave us some really lovely Prosecco to try. Thanks, guys.
Five o’clock arrived and I couldn’t believe that 5 hours had passed and I had not taken single break. Not to walk around, not to schmooze, not even to pee. When I emerged from the cave of beef, I realized that people were heading out and vendors were shutting down. I was so busy working, that I had not stopped to actually enjoy the festival! I was probably to only schmuck to do that. And my back was to the public the whole time, so I didn’t even get to see people. I kept hearing Guy Fieri’s voice at the demo stage and I wanted so much to go over there, but I stayed put. I didn’t want the people of Marble Lane to think I was a wuss or a shirker. Executive Chef Manuel Trevino, was really sweet and offered me dinner sometime soon. I really look forward to that.
I said my goodbyes to the guys I was working with and quickly made my way down the aisles, grabbing every sample I could get my hands on, from cheese to chocolate to wine and even pasta. I had some very interesting alcoholic drinks. Don’t ask me to name anything because I was working my way around like a bolt of lightning before everything was gone. I grabbed some blood oranges, which are still waiting to be turned into blood orange martinis.On my way out, I heard applause, so I followed it. There was a stage area near the entrance and someone had just introduced Anthony Bourdain, who came out and sat in a chair. Presumably, it was going to be a chat session. I wanted to stay, but I had another agenda in mind.
I headed back over to the volunteer tent to get directions to the very last event: The after-party hosted by Guy Fieri at his “Garage” on 15th St. I was volunteering my time to work that event, too, in the hopes of getting to meet some people. Two of my classmates had volunteered, too, and they met a bunch of Food Network people. I, on the other hand, had met no one. One of my classmates and I managed to get into the “kitchen,” where food was being prepared for Guy’s private party. The kitchen was really just a big studio space, set up with a food prep station by the caterer. As best as I can remember, the menu consisted of bruschetta that we brushed with a variety of barbecue sauces Guy came out with, and topped them with flank steak (at least, I think it was flank), sliced thinly by the catering staff; sliders of beef and slaw; and warmed tortilla chips with salsa. We all worked very hard to get everything done on time.
Aside from trays coming back because Guy either wanted them warmer or with more meat, everything went pretty smoothly. Shouts of “He’s coming up. He’s coming up!” kept getting me all excited, but he never came up to see us, which sucked. Later, when the work was over, I went downstairs to the main party and watched him onstage as he said some stuff. Although he did thank the volunteers and said that none of it could have happened without us, I felt gypped that I didn’t get to meet him or anyone. My friend and I stood there, trying to unwind with some apple martini-type drinks we’d grabbed and realized that that was pretty much it for us. Anne Burrell passed by, as did Claire Robinson from Food Network Challenge, but that’s as close as I got to any of the FN chefs.
I couldn’t stay for the party because I had to be at work the next day and it was already close to 11 p.m. I guess I’ll have to wait until I become a celebrity chef myself to meet any others. C’est la vie.
And that was my big, wild experience at the Food Network Food & Wine Festival. I didn’t even get a souvenir. If I get to do again next year, I’m going to do it right.
I was visiting a friend in Alabama this weekend and the Alabama National Fair was just getting underway. (Not the State Fair—that, apparently, is a different thing). Anyway, my friend and I went and our one goal was to check out a new dish we’d heard about, the most heinous of culinary concoctions: the donut burger.
What is a donut burger? you might ask. It is a beef burger with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion sandwiched between a split, glazed Krispy Kreme donut. I kid you not. The inventor of this monstrosity clearly was not taking into consideration the national obesity epidemic.
Seriously, this burger clocks in at 1,500 calories. The average person who engages in moderate activity should be consuming approximately 2,000 calories per day. This thing uses up three quarters of your daily calories, and with the best possible elements!
So, that’s the health aspect. Let’s talk about the culinary aspect of it. It’s a sugary glazed donut on beef, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Um, I’m sorry but I just don’t get the appeal. But then I also don’t get the appeal of pineapple on pizza, bacon in ice cream, or cumin in candy. Maybe it’s just me but one does not go with the other.
This abomination was supposedly invented by a bar owner in Decatur, Georgia, who ran out of buns for his burgers and grabbed some donuts to sandwich the meat patties in. Now, some of the best culinary inventions happened by chance. Take, for example, the ice cream cone: For that wonderful summer treat, we have some quick-thinking vendors at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. According to legend, an ice cream vendor ran out of cups and took waffles from a waffle vendor, rolled them up, and put his ice cream in them, thus creating a permanent fixture in the culinary landscape. Another example would be the ice cream soda, invented in 1874 by Robert M. Green, who ran out of ice for his sodas at his eatery and started using ice cream, hoping it would go unnoticed, and instead created a much-loved American beverage.
Somehow, I don’t think this accidental gastronomic creation known as the donut burger was quite as serendipitous as those others. Or as appetizing. Some things were meant to be; some things should never be.
What cracks me up is that the concession sign at the fair boasted: “Fresh, Never Frozen.” As if this was supposed to make me want to eat it. “Oh, wow, it’s fresh, not frozen! Well, then, it must be of the finest quality and good for you, too!”
Right. And next I’ll head out to Wisconsin where I hear they have chocolate-covered bacon on a stick.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.