World on a Plate

Exploring culture. One plate at a time.

Month: May, 2005

Oxford American Food Issue

Oxam_2005_1 It’s back. And in a big, juicy tasty way.  More than a year after its last issue, The Oxford American quarterly journal, is now published four times a year by the Oxford Literary Project in Conway, Arkansas. The current issue (pictured at the left) takes a deep long ramble around Southern food.  But it’s so much more than just food. It takes a look at the way food weaves through our lives, through religion, race, family and also creates a sense of place. Guest edited by Southern food writer John T. Edge, a regular Oxford American columnist and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, he has contributed “Fried Chicken: An American Story.” More than a magazine it’s an 144-page anthology with writers such as: Roy Blount Jr., John Egerton, Padgett Powell and Molly Giles. There’s even a previously unpublished essay by Carson McCullers.

Folks this collection is not even comparable to the The New Yorker‘s food issue.  (which, by the way is not an annual).   

Here’s what’s a short-order menu–sautéed frog, squirrel gumbo, Cajun Cola, 6,000 pounds of grits, Patty’s peach pie, grilled deer testicles, flat dumplings, fresh figs, falling biscuits, Pinot Noir cotton candy, sweet, peppery raccoon, roast suckling pig, boiled peanuts, lemon-drenched baby okra, brains and eggs, peanut butter and bacon sandwiches and, of course, barbecue.

One of David Ramsey’s "Some Like it Extra Hot", subtitled "Adventures in Masochistic Dining at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack".  It made me thirsty and eager to taste the fiery fried bird.

And then there’s an full page ad for The Bacon of the Month Club.  Sweet Mama I’m very tempted.  Reserve your place at the table it’s available in bookstores now.

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Farm Fresh to Your Table

Beso Farm-Fresh Meal Kits from San Francisco’s Besos Foods include all the ingredients you need to cook a gourmet meal at home in about 25 minutes.  How much easier could it get with all local, organic ingredients – produce, herbs, meats, sauces,  are portioned and prepped for you?  And now delivery is available throughout the Bay Area.  Menus are very contemporary and diverse and include such fare as Wild Halibut with English Peas, Braised Fennel, Brown Rice and Spring Greens topped with Valencia Orange and Radish Salad and Achiote Crusted Organic Chicken Breast with Posole, Bloomsdale Spinach, Housemade Chorizo & Avocado Salsa.  There’s also desserts such as an Artisanal cheese platter and XOX chocolate truffles.  Meal Kits fall in the price range of $35-$45 for two meals that can be stored for a few days.  So if your schedule keeps you from sitting down to a decent meal with your sweetie or buddy–give them a call. 

IMBB 8 -Torta di Limoncello

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After the stress of switching over to a non-blog URL I thought I’d reward all who were patient with the process with a recipe that is by far one of my most popular, statistically speaking, around the world.  Originally published back in September this cake is best made a day ahead.  Enjoy.

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Here we are again, this time it’s IMBB #8 but only #2 for me. This go round is hosted by Donna via her blog, There’s A Chef in My Kitchen The challenge, "Lift Your Spirits High" is cooking or in my case, baking with a wine or spirit.

I choose to prepare a Limoncello Cake. I dug out a recipe that I had filed away in the "Cakes To Be Made" category that came from a 2003 issue of Italian Cooking and Living magazine. This bimonthly publication is all about Italy and Italian cooking. It’s a part of Italian Culinary Institute and is also affiliated with the Italian Culinary Center in New York City.

Limoncello reminds me of the Amalfi coast Italy where I first tasted it. According to resources, the spirit accounts for 35% of total liqueur consumption in Italy. It’s defined as a liqueur made by infusing grain spirits with the juice and peel of lemons from Italy’s sunny southern Amalfi coast. I choose to use Caravella Limoncello.

There are many spirited desserts out there that I could have chosen: the Caribbean Tortuga Rum Cake, bananas foster, Crepes Suzette, amaretto cheesecake, bread pudding with hard sauce (brandy), there’s also a Jack Daniels Tipsy Carrot Cake, or The Cheesecake Factory’s Kahlua Almond Cheesecake.

However I wanted something special. And this cake is just that–a light 3-layered sponge cake wrapped with a fresh whipped cream frosting. Delicate as a cloud and not overly sweet. However, alcohol-based cakes aren’t to everyone’s liking. Last night I learned that when my friend S. stated, "This cake is ‘boozy’.

This cake is not for the impatient or novice. It involves a lot of time and bowls. There’s the separating of eggs, whipping of whites for the cake; the whipping of cream for the filling and frosting. And there’s the assembly and the frosting of the cake. My kitchen is still a wreck. But as you can see it is pretty has a pleasing taste. The simpler idea would be to brush limoncello over the outside of a lemon or plain pound cake before slicing. But of course I didn’t go that way and discovered an unexpected cake for a special occasion.

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What the Three Bears Knew

Mccanns_2 Oatmeal is one of the all-time great breakfast comfort foods. In addition the slow-burning carbs keep you going long past mid morning, while the fiber keeps your insides healthy. Simple, budget and time friendly oatmeal is one of the best ways to start the day off.

The world over eats porridge of some kind. Scottish shepherds traditionally made their porridge once a week only, pouring it into a draw to set to a gelatinous firmness. Each day, they would cut off a slice or two of this gray mass to take with them to work. Today Scotland plays host every September to the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship. La Ba Zhou, a mix of rice, millets, peanuts, chestnuts, Chinese dates, lotus seeds and red-beans is served on served on the 8th day of 12th lunar month in China.  More commonly found jook, also known as congee or rice porridge which is said to have healing proprieties. Polenta tiragna, a thick maize porridge made with butter and cheese, comforts many an Italian on a cold morning. In India, to herald the coming of summer, bowls of Khara pongal, a savory porridge-like dish made of rice and dhal, is traditionally prepared in the south during the Makar Sankranti festival.  It’s flavored with curry leaves, tumeric, chiles, ghee, mustard seed and cashews.

The recent recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report for Americans suggests that we should be eating more grains. One of the easiest ways is with oatmeal–either for breakfast or as an afternoon snack with some dried berries or fruit. The benefits of insoluble fiber to a healthy digestive system have been known for a long time. Insoluble fiber speeds food through the intestine, promotes regularity and helps prevent colon cancer.

In the May issue of Healthmagazine, awarded Quaker’s Golden Maple flavor a part of their Quaker Take Heart Instant Oatmeal product line the best Hot Cereal in its first ""Best of Food Awards". Two of my other breakfast favorites, Kashi GoLean Frozen Waffles Original Flavor and Stonyfield Farm Organic Lowfat Yogurt Just Peachy are other winners in the breakfast category.

So for those of us who are looking to get a bit healthier, Shape <shape</shapemagazine offers the following nutritional tip–"aim for at least 3 grams of fiber and less than 8 grams (2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving, as some hot cereals get 30 percent of their total calories from sugars." Okay but there’s many types of oatmeal out there. Most Americans, according to A.C. Nielsen, (64%) prefer the instant oatmeal followed by quick oatmeal (20%) and regular oats(16%). What’s the difference? 

  • Instant is thin, precooked oats that need only be mixed with a hot liquid, and may have salt added to it–it’s ready in a flash.
  • Quick/quick-cooking are also thin flakes of oats that are ready in about three or four minutes, typically it is made without added salt.
  • Old-fashioned oats take longer to cook than instant and quick or quick-cooking oats and are usually made without salt.

All of the above oatmeal variations are known as rolled oats which are flaked oats that have been steamed, rolled, re-steamed and toasted.  All of this additional processing causes the final product to lose some of its natural taste and texture. These are also the types of oats you’ll find added raw to granola or muesli mixes, and of course used to make oatmeal cookies.

Then for the discerning gourmet oatmeal eater there’s steel-cut oats. Irish and Scottish oatmeal fit into this category. Whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) cut into two or three pieces to enhance the flavor of the oat. Some sources say that one cup of steel-cut oatmeal contains more fiber than a bran muffin and twice as much fiber as Cream of Wheat. This variation of oatmeal is chewier and takes longer to prepare. In addition Irish oatmeal, which is steel-cut, reportedly, has a lower glycemic number than the traditional oatmeal eaten in the US.

One of the finer Irish oatmeals you will find on the shelf is McCanns. It tastes nothing like Quaker oatmeal and once you try it you will find it’s worth the extra time spent in preparation time. Whatever the brand or style, oatmeal is a food we can all easily fit into our daily menus in some form.  Just like Goldilocks and her bears knew all along.

Irish Steel-Cut Oat Pudding– via IrishAbroad.com- made with eggs, Kerrygold butter, orange zest, raisins and Irish Cream liqueur.  Wake me when it’s ready!

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Cheers!

Jeanne Brophy

Sunday Late Breakfast

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Sunday morning reading with Cha Siu Bao (Chinese Pork Buns), Mama Janisse’s Chile Pepper Sauce & Tea