Archive for the ‘Food Holidays’ Category
Yes, I said deliciousness. No other nut makes me as happy as pecans. In fact, when I travel down South, I try to find a place to buy pecans in bulk to take home. The problem with pecans, you see, is that they’re also one of the most expensive nuts around (I think the most expensive ones are macadamias and pignolis). But they are cheaper in the South, where they are grown and harvested. When I’m in the vicinity of Montgomery, AL, I stop by Priester’s Pecans, on I-65 South, in Fort Deposit, AL, and get myself a 5-pound bag.
The word “pecan” comes from an Algonquin word meaning “nuts that require a stone to crack.” Pecan trees are native to North America and planting began as early as the 1600s. By the 1700s, pecans played an important part in American commerce, and were exported to various parts of the world. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to love pecans.
Pecans are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. In terms of vitamins, they are an excellent source of vitamin E and B vitamins (such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid), vitamin B-6, and folates. They also contain manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
March 25 is National Pecan Day, so in honor of this most excellent of nuts, here’s my recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Pecan Dressing. Enjoy!
|Roasted Cauliflower with Pecan-Breadcrumb Dressing|
- 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cauliflower, 2 tablespoons of the oil,* and salt and pepper. Combine well. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until tender and lightly browned.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil; add the breadcrumbs and pecans and toast over medium-low heat, stirring often, until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn them. Add the cauliflower, mix well, and cook 1 minute longer.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.
*If you find that not all the cauliflower is coated in oil, add a bit more.
As you might suspect, it’s believed that oatmeal cookies got their beginning in Scotland, where oats are an integral part of life. They began as oat cakes and eventually evolved into the cookie we know today. The first written oatmea- raisin cookie recipe appeared in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook in 1896, in which Fannie Merritt Farmer referred to them as “health food.” Quaker Oats began putting a recipe for oatmeal-raisin cookies on their boxes of oat,s and by the early 1900s, it was a household dessert.
So, in honor of National Oatmeal Cookie Day, March 18, here’s a basic recipe for oatmeal-raisin cookies.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a couple of large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- Using a mixer, cream together the butter with the 2 sugars. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well. Add the flour mixture and blend well. Finally, stir in the oats and raisins.
- Place the dough by the tablespoonful on the baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.
Today is National Banana Bread Day. I love banana bread. It’s filling, satisfying, comforting, and just plain delicious. Plus, when you have those bananas that are just too ripe to eat, instead of tossing them, they can go right into a batter for bread.
We owe the existence of banana bread to the introduction of baking powder to the average household kitchen. Banana bread is in a class of baked goods called quick breads. This basically means that the dough doesn’t have to rise from yeast—it is leavened by a chemical leavener, thereby making it a “quick” bread to bake.
Baking soda is also used for quick rising, but it requires an acid to activate it, such as buttermilk, vinegar, or lemon juice. Baking powder is a chemical leavener that contains both baking soda and an acid. Variants of baking powder were being made in the early 1800s but the types we are familiar with today became more widely used in the late 1800s. By the time World War II rolled around, it was in common use. The use of bananas in bread came about for a simple reason: so money wasn’t wasted on overripe produce during the difficult war years. You can read some more interesting history on Wikipedia.
Because there are people in my life who are gluten free, I make a lot of gluten-free goodies. The banana bread recipe below is adapted from my favorite gluten-free baking book, Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly. I added my own touches to it (including the coconut) and it makes for a delicious, not-too-sweet breakfast bread or snack. I forgot to check on mine, so it got darker than it should have, but it was tasty just the same. Enjoy!
Gluten-Free Banana Bread
Adapted from Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly
3/4 soy flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup rice flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/3 cup coconut oil (or other oil)
2/3 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup mashed banana
1 cup desiccated coconut*
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
2. Mix dry ingredients (up to the eggs) in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients.
3. Mix eggs, oil, sugar, banana, and 1/2 cup coconut; pour into the well. Stir until blended.
4. Spoon batter in to loaf pan. Sprinkle the remaining coconut over the top.
5. Bake until a toothpick comes out dry but with some crumbs attached, about 40 minutes.
* Shredded, unsweetened coconut.
Today is National Homemade Bread Day. Making homemade bread is a beautiful thing and I often wish I had more time to do it. I thoroughly enjoyed the bread-baking class at the Natural Gourmet Institute and the students made some gorgeous loaves. Check out the photos HERE. You can also get the recipe for Whole Wheat Poppyseed Bread there, too (seen in photo on the right).
And because the holidays are coming up, here’s a recipe for Braided Challah Bread, courtesy of Bread-recipe.com.
Braided Challah Bread
2 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast or 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F / 40°C to 45°C) – divided use
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons corn oil
3 large eggs – divided use
4 3/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour – divided use
3 tablespoons poppy or sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, combine yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and sugar. Leave it in a warm place for 5 minutes.
- Beat the rest of warm water with salt, corn oil, 2 eggs, yeast and 2 1/2 cups flour in a separate bowl. Beat often for 5 minutes or until elastic. Stir in 2-1/4 cups more flour gradually, working flour into dough thoroughly.
- Turn flour onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. In a greased bowl, put dough and turn to coat the top. Use a plastic wrap to cover and leave it to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled.
- Prepare 2 cookie sheets and grease with oil.
- Deflate dough and knead for 1 minute. Divide into 6 portions and roll each one into equal 15-inches long. Make 2 braids using 3 strands for each. Cover with a dish towel and leave it to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled.
- Prepare the oven to 375 degrees F preheat settings.
- Whisk the egg and brush it over the loaves in an upward motion. Sprinkle top with seeds and bake for 35 minutes. Loosely cover with foil if it appears to brown too fast. Cool over wire racks when done.
- Makes 2 loaves.
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.
August 6 is National Root Beer Float Day, and if you have a sweet tooth, there’s nothing easier than a root beer float. There are some fancy schmancy recipes out there that call for eggs, vanilla extract, and some other ingredients, but the original, and purest, recipe calls for only two ingredients: vanilla ice cream and root beer.
Ice cream sodas in general were invented by Robert M. Green in 1874, when he ran out of ice for his sodas and decided to use ice cream instead, hoping it would pass unnoticed. Needless to say, it went over pretty well. Credit for the root beer float is generally given to Frank Wisner of Cripple Creek, Colorado. The story goes that he was drinking a glass of root beer and the full moon illuminating the snow-capped Cow Mountain inspired him to drop some vanilla ice cream into the root beer, which is why it’s also sometimes called a ‘”brown cow.”
So here is a simple, but excellent, recipe for a classic American root beer float.
Root Beer Float
Vanilla ice cream
How much you need of each depends on how big of a float you want.
Place a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream in the bottom of a tall glass. Slowly pour root beer into the glass until the foam recedes and the root beer reaches the top of the glass.
Serve with straws and spoons.
Blueberry waffles. Belgian waffles. Buttermilk waffles. They all sound good, right? Waffles have become an American breakfast classic. And today is National Waffle Day. Happy, happy, joy, joy!
Waffles may seem like a contemporary invention, but they’ve actually been around quite a long time, some say as early as the ancient Greek period. The word waffle is derived from the word wafer. According to legend, during the Middle Ages, bakers wanted to compete with monasteries, where communion wafers were made, and came up with the waffle.
Waffles received a marketing boost when Thomas Jefferson bought a waffle iron in France and began serving waffles in the White House. Culinary history tells us that he began a waffle trend, and “waffle parties” became de rigueuracross the U.S. Belgian waffles became popular after they were introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, New York.
The waffle iron was invented by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York. He patented his “device to bake waffles” on August 24, 1869.
In the interest of keeping things healthy, here is a recipe for “Healthy Waffles,” courtesy of Waffle-Recipe.com. Enjoy!
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups skim milk or water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat a waffle iron, and coat with cooking spray if necessary.
2. Sift dry ingredients – flour, flax seed, wheat germ, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
3. Beat eggs in a separate bowl.
4. Add remaining liquid ingredients – milk, oil, applesauce, and vanilla together and whisk until well blended.
5. Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture and stir until smooth.
6. Pour batter into waffle iron and cook until crisp and golden brown.
Okay, I don’t know who came up with this one, but it’s National Junk Food Day. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some junk food every now and then–especially during a certain time of the month. I probably single-handedly put someone’s kid over at the Dorito factory through college. But a day to glorify the artery-clogging, diabetes-inducing, blood pressure-elevating, fake, synthetic, chemical-laden, dye-colored, fried, carbo-loaded crap? I don’t know how I feel about that.
Although, I must say, when you have that craving for something crunchy, salty, sweet, gooey,
chocolatey, flavor-packed snack that reminds you of your childhood or your fun college days, or that’s always made you feel better when you’re depressed, there doesn’t seem to be an adequate substitute.
Okay, okay. Just for today. Go get a Twinkie. Or Dipsy Doodles. Or some Jolly Ranchers.
Now, where’s that bag of Doritos?
Do you really need a reason to eat ice cream? Neither do I. But in case you’re looking for one, here it is: July 19 is National Ice Cream Day. This is aside from National Ice Cream Month, which I wrote about HERE. (Remember Tom Carvel and those commercials?) Did you know that both National Ice Cream Month and Day were proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan? Yep. So, whether you approved or disapproved of him as a President, this, if nothing else, was a good thing he did.
There are so many different kinds of ice cream and so many different flavors that you could have something different every single night for a year and never have the same thing twice. And making your own is not difficult. In my book, What, No Meat? Traditional Italian Cooking the Vegetarian Way, I have recipes for Tortoni and the classic Spumoni. Here is my recipe for Spumoni. Enjoy!
© Roberta Roberti
From What, No Meat? Traditional Italian Cooking the Vegetarian Way
2 cups milk
5 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (½ pint) heavy cream
1/3 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
1/3 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
Turn the refrigerator control to the coldest setting. Bring about an inch of water to a boil in the bottom part of a double boiler, then reduce it to a simmer.
In the top part of the double boiler, mix the milk, egg yolks, salt, and 3/4 cup of the sugar. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until a thin layer coats a metal spoon, about 8 to 12 minutes. Allow it to cool at room temperature, or to cool it quickly, place the top part of the double boiler in a bowl filled with ice water and stir it. Add the vanilla and blend well.
Pour the mixture into a clean casserole dish, a mold, or a loaf pan and freeze it until it is almost firm, about 2 hours.
Whip the cream with an electric beater on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in the remaining sugar, the cherries, almonds, and brandy and blend well.
Remove the first mixture from the freezer. Scoop up the middle and push it up the sides of the dish to create a well in the center. Fill the well with the cream mixture. Cover the mold with plastic wrap and freeze it until firm, about 3 to 4 hours.
Scoop out the spumone and place it into individual dessert dishes. Or to plate the entire mold, invert it over a serving dish. Rub the bottom and sides of the tray or dish with a hot cloth until it slides off the spumoni. Serve immediately, alone or with pizzelles or chocolate rolls on the side.
Store it in a container with a tight-fitting lid in the freezer up to 4 weeks.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.