I grew up in Southwest Florida, Gator country. There's nary a pickup truck without a University of Florida license plate or bumper sticker. Most kids from my high school spend their junior year focused on getting into UF. The Florida-Florida State game is an event second only to our town's annual parade.
But in my family, Gator hatred runs deep. My parents both grew up in Miami, and are die-hard Canes fans, so in their eyes orange and blue is the most insidious color combination imaginable. I was the loyalist, and attended University of Miami. My sister, the rebel, attended University of Florida. With minimal teeth-grinding my parents made the six-hour drive to Gainesville and moved her into her Swamp-adjacent dorm. They graciously accepted token "Gator Dad" and "Gator Mom" coffee mugs with barely a grimace. Latent football animosity turned on our common rival, Florida State.
Through this earth-shattering changing of loyalties did my parents take into consideration the fact that neither my sister nor I ever gave two thoughts to football? The realization that two rabid football fans raised two kids with athletic aversion seems beyond them. Even now that we've both graduated they gleefully report football scores and play highlights for all three schools, as well as the Miami Dolphins, on a weekly basis during football season.
So, it was with only a little guilt that I cooked and ate Florida State-inspired fish tostadas from “Taste of the Town,” by ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge. They may have been featured under the FSU section but the ingredients, fresh fish, black beans, and grilled veggies, could really celebrate any school from the sunshine state. Like most of the recipes in Blackledge's book, there were no complicated or fussy instructions and the meal came together quickly. I added a few special toppings – crumbled feta cheese and mango salsa – for a salty kick and a nod to Miami.
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Send your favorite tailgating or game day recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include an ingredient list, step-by-step numbered instructions, along with your name, hometown, and e-mail address. Please submit your recipe and football story by October 7. We will contact the winner. The winner's recipe will appear in Stir It Up! and he or she will receive a signed copy of "Taste of the Town" by Todd Blackledge.
Florida State fish tostadas
Reprinted with permission from "Taste of the Town" by Todd Blackledge and J.R. Rosenthal
Four 5-ounce pieces of fish of your choice (grouper, mahi mahi, tuna, or salmon)
2 to 3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
Cooked black beans (see recipe below)
2 to 3 tablespoons grilled mushrooms
2 to 3 tablespoons grilled onions
2 to 3 tablespoons grilled peppers
1 to 2 tablespoons mild or hot salsa
1. Season the fish with Old Bay.
2. Cook the fish on a grill pan until cooked through – do not overcook fish or it will dry out!
3. Lightly butter a 10-inch flour tortilla and brown on both sides.
4. Top the tortilla with black beans and rice, then add the fish, and finish by topping with grilled mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Serve with your choice of mild or hot salsa.
2 pounds black beans
2 teaspoons chopped red and green bell peppers
1 small white onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1. Combine all the ingredients except for the salt and the tomatoes, cover with water, and boil until the beans are soft, stirring frequently and adding water if needed.
2. When the beans are soft, stir in the salt and the tomatoes.
3. Drain the beans of excess liquid and serve with the fish as a side dish.
I have a 1-year-old, a 4-year-old, a husband, a job, a garden, a yard, and a house that we're always semi-renovating, among other things. In short, I have no time. Yet we still need to eat, quite regularly, in fact. And I want what we eat to be both delicious and good for us. So I am a big fan of this simple chicken – it's so easy and so good. And the grilling makes for easier clean up, too.
I like to use boneless, skinless thighs. Thighs are juicier than breasts, cook more quickly and are the perfect size, no cutting required. They're also a lot cheaper than breasts.
As always, try to find meat from a farmer near you that uses humane and organic practices. Just a note that many small farmers can't afford to get organic certification even though they do farm using organic methods. So not having certification is not necessarily a reason to rule a good local source out. The beauty of buying locally is that you can go and visit to see for yourself and/or ask around to get a better sense of what a farm is like. (Or, if you live around here, you can also just go to Fleishers Meats in Kingston, N.Y.!)
It does not take much time to prepare this chicken but you do need to start in the morning by throwing together a quick marinade. I like to use olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a little bit of salad dressing which I think of as "flavor in a bottle." (I can practically hear the little gasps of shock and horror from the purists!)
Although I am now beyond redemption in the eyes of true foodies, I will note for the rest of you that I do use a good quality, organic dressing with only unobjectionable ingredients that comes in a glass bottle. And, while I'm confessing all my shameful secrets, I should add that I sometimes use bottled organic lemon juice if I don't have any fresh lemons in the house.
It only takes a few minutes to throw all of this stuff together, promise. Then let the chicken soak up those good flavors all day in the fridge.
When dinner time rolls around, throw the chicken onto a pre-heated grill and cook them over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning them once.
I really hate to throw away a good marinade. So sometimes, I dump it into a frying pan and let it cook down for a few minutes (sometimes I add a little white wine) until I have a nice pan sauce to ladle over the grilled chicken and the quinoa. But that is totally optional, of course.
I like to serve this with quinoa cooked in vegetable broth (so much tastier that way) and either baked sweet potatoes or a salad but it goes well with lots of things if those ideas don't appeal to you.
Simple Grilled Chicken
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs from a farm near you (if you have a lot of big meat eaters to feed, you may want to increase to 1-1/2 lbs)
For the marinade:
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of two lemons (orange, grapefruit, or tangerine would work well, too)
1/4 cup Italian or Caesar salad dressing (use a good one!)
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, rinsed, dried, stems removed and needles chopped
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare the marinade by whisking all the ingredients together.
2. Place the chicken thighs in the marinade, turning to coat all sides. I usually stick the meat with a fork a bunch of times to let more flavor soak in. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to a day.
3. Light the grill and let it heat up to high then clean with a wire brush. Lower the heat to medium and place the chicken thighs on the grate. Cover and cook for 5 minutes then turn and cook for 5 more minutes or until tested done. Remove from the meat from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
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New England is awash in apples this year. Apple trees that had been dormant for years are suddenly dripping with fruit, thanks to the demise of the dreaded winter moth, which has eaten the blossoms and leaves of apple, maple, hawthorn, you name it, every spring for maybe the past 10 years – unless you spray for them, which we didn’t.
We did put strips of duck tape around the trees in our backyard, and slathered them with a sticky substance that would trap the adult moths as they climbed up the trees to lay their eggs. Each fall I’d rejoice at the number of insects we’d caught, and each spring it would be the same story. The valiant trees would sometimes have to put out a second set of leaves – but never blossoms or fruit.
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This year was different. Was it a late or deep frost? A damp spring? Whatever the cause, the five apple trees we inherited when we moved to our home on Boston’s North Shore bloomed and set fruit.
When I say “apples,” you probably picture those gleaming, unblemished, uniformly sized orbs you see in stores. That is not what untamed organic apples look like. Store apples, I’ve come to realize, are gigantic idealized freaks of nature. Most people – and I’m one of them – are appalled when they find a bruise or a tiny hole on an apple. Finding a worm in an apple is ample cause for a heated complaint to the produce manager. The apples in my yard are an education.
These must be the apples our pioneer forebears knew. Apples, it turns out – these apples, anyway – come in a wide variety of sizes, from tiny (golf-ball size) to about the size of a medium store-bought apple. They have mottled green skins, sometimes with a splash of red on them (Cortlands?). Some turn yellow (Golden Delicious?). They are mostly roundish. They have visible insect damage, and perhaps those are squirrel bites. Skunk bites? I hope not. Birds peck them occasionally.
But as our friend who grew up on an Oregon fruit farm said, as she picked up a fallen apple and carefully selected a place to bite into it, “There’s some good on this apple....” That’s all the encouragement I needed. I decided to make some homemade applesauce.
Here's what you need: a sharp knife, a sink or big bowl to wash the apples in, a pasta pot or kettle with a lid in which to heat the apples. A food mill (what a time-saver!) and a bowl to set it on, and a spatula. Brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg (if you like), and salt (if you want). I cannot say how many apples you will need. I start with a lot and and end up using bits from maybe half of them.
Here’s what to do: Assuming that you have access to some free, homely apples, go outside with a big plastic tub (bigger than a bushel basket, about half the height of a garbage can) and a sturdy basket. Toss most of the apples – you have to quickly spot the "worth it" from the "not worth it" – into the plastic tub. These bad apples will go to the town composting yard. It may seem like a lot, but you have to pick up all the apples anyway, in order to mow the lawn and to keep the critters in the fallen apples from climbing back into the tree. Every once in a while, you’ll spot apples that are large enough and unblemished enough (no visible bites or very many holes, or even none) worth putting in the basket. Most of these apples will be recent windfalls.
Bring the basket inside and wash the apples. I rinse them off and then let them bob in a big bowl of water. I might scrub them a bit, too. I have the confidence of knowing exactly where they’ve been.
Cut up the apples. Because you’ll be using a food mill, you don’t have to worry about peeling them – or about stems or seeds. But since most of the really gross bugs are in the core, I use a chef’s knife to cut slices away from the core; four cuts. I look at each slice, before I add it to the pot that will become sauce. I cut off bits of the slices, sometimes. Many times I discard entire apples. Sometimes several in a row. But I can usually find a little bit of good on each apple. And maybe once every 20 apples or so, I find a perfect one, worthy of a grocery store. The skin is rough, perhaps, but unblemished, and the flesh is unsullied, white and crisp: It’s a miracle! A vindication of nature’s profligacy. There are too many apples even for the insects or birds or squirrels to get to every one of them. Wow.
I cut them up until I’ve got the pot maybe two-thirds or even three-quarters full. I pour a little water in, maybe half a cup or a little more, cover it, and put it on medium heat until it starts to boil. I turn it down to simmer and stir it every 10 minutes at least. My last batch took an hour and 15 minutes before it was mushy enough – a fork should pierce the apples easily. Err on the side of overcooking rather than not cooking long enough.
Turn off the heat, and ladle some apples (two or three ladles full) into the food mill, which you’ve placed over a bowl, and start turning. The mill will separate the skins, seeds, and stems, and you’ll have applesauce. Dump out what won’t go through the mill (compost it), and ladle in some more until you’re done.
While the apple sauce is still hot, dump in some brown sugar. How much? To a good 6 cups of sauce, I added about one-third of a cup, plus a teaspoon of cinnamon, 10 gratings of nutmeg, and eight or 10 shakes of salt. (Sugar and salt, you ask? Salt is a flavor intensifier, but feel free to leave it out.) Use more or less, according to taste, and remember that it’s easy to add more, but impossible to take some back out. Keep tasting as you go. I let the bowl of sauce cool on the counter and then I cover it and put it in the fridge until I’m ready to decant it.
It turns out you can freeze apple sauce in glass jars if you leave enough headspace in the jar for expansion. The water in the apple sauce will expand by 9 percent when it freezes, so fill the jars a little less than 9/10ths full and you’ll be fine. I use a jar funnel and a ladle to fill them, and I make sure there are no air pockets in the jar. I also put some waxed paper on top, touching the surface of the sauce, to protect against freezer burn. I just rip out a square, push it down so it touches and covers the surface of the apple sauce, and screw on the lid, trapping some of the waxed paper in the threads. This is optional, too.
Congratulate yourself for a job well done, for putting by some delicious food, for connecting with your pioneer forbears. Relax, and rest up. Tomorrow there will be more apples on the lawn.
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I have a whole stack of recipes acquired a parties and other gatherings, scribbled on cocktail napkins, crumpled receipts from my purse or monogrammed note paper from host houses. Because any comment on food always leads to a discussion of favorites and how they are made. And I don’t just idly nod. I ask questions and take notes. Some of my favorite recipes have come home in that way, though sometimes I can’t read my handwriting or have to reconstruct my shorthand when I get in the kitchen.
Here’s another one of these recipes. I took my crazy simple Blender Lemon Pie to a party and was happy to tell everyone how easy it was to make. Then other people started sharing their easy pie recipes, and I jotted this one down. The sweet girl who shared it told me it was her grandmother’s recipe, but her mom started making it in the blender. Her grandmother topped it with meringue, but not her mom, and she doesn’t either. I like a little whipped cream on the top – why clutter such a simple recipe with a complicated topping?
Simple butterscotch pie
Pastry for 1 9-inch pie (homemade or store bought ready-roll)
1-1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Line a pie dish with the pastry. Cover the crust with waxed paper and weight down with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool and remove the waxed paper and weights. Cool completely.
3. Place the remaining ingredients in the carafe of a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick and pudding like, about 3 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the cooled pie crust and smooth the top. Bake for 10 minutes until the filling is set and just jiggly. Cool completely, then refrigerate for several hours.
4. Serve with dollops of whipped cream.
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Editors Note: "Breaking Bad" may have finally wrapped, but we know there's some of you out there still catching up on past seasons, waiting to watch the final episode, and planning to re-watch the whole series. Enjoy these character-inspired dishes by Amy Deline at The Gourmand Mom.
Have we got any "Breaking Bad" fans out there?
I recently read some comment that watched in reverse, AMC’s "Breaking Bad" tells the inspiring story of drug lord who cleans up his act, beats cancer, reunites his family, and becomes a school teacher. Sounds like a Lifetime movie. In actuality, for the past five seasons, we’ve watched the tale of a seemingly normal man’s struggle with cancer and providing for his family crumble into the most unimaginable chaos, up to the point where last episode left off, with a suggestion that perhaps there’s nothing left of that kind, normal man. The show is widely considered one of television’s best dramas and for good reason. I’m approaching the series finale with mix of eager anticipation and deep sadness for its ending.
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In honor of its finale, the good folks at Cinema Blend asked me to put together a little "Breaking Bad" themed dinner party menu. Though not in any way a show about food, "Breaking Bad" gives us no shortage for dinner party inspiration. Many of the shows pivotal confrontations occur over some of the world’s most awkward meals. The following menu, designed with a New Mexican flare for the show’s setting, should give you a few good ideas for hosting your own Breaking Bad-themed dinner party.
Heisenberg’s Tableside Guacamole
During the past season, Walt, Skyler, Hank, and Marie met for the world’s most awkward double date at a Mexican restaurant. At the height of the tension, an upbeat waiter arrives, eagerly pushing the joint’s signature table-side guacamole. (You can see the clip here.)
Make this guacamole table-side to your guest’s liking, or prepare it ahead of time. *Squeeze a bit of lime juice over the top and cover securely with plastic wrap to prevent browning.
2 ripe avocados, halved
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, very finely diced
1 small tomato, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper
1. Smash the avocado using the backside of a fork, a potato masher, or with a mortar and pestle. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Adjust quantities as desired.
2. Serve with Walt’s signature blue tortilla chips and Jesse’s favorite Funyuns. To go full "Breaking Bad" style, wait to offer this to your guests during the most tense part of the evening. (Orchestrate tension, if necessary.)
Gus Fring’s Los Pollos Hermanos Fried Chicken Tenders over Salsa Verde with Chipotle Drizzle
No "Breaking Bad" menu would be complete without some fried chicken, from Gus Fring’s Los Pollos Hermanos, the fried chicken joint which played heavily into the show’s third and fourth seasons. We served our boneless fried chicken tenders over a spicy salsa verde, drizzled with a bit of chipotle mayo.
2 pounds chicken tenderloins
3 cups buttermilk, divided
2 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1. Soak the tenderloins in 2 cups of the buttermilk in a covered container in the refrigerator for a few hours.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium/medium-high heat, until sizzling hot.
3. Whisk together the remaining cup of buttermilk and the eggs in a large bowl. Transfer the chicken tenders to the egg mixture.
4. In a small baking dish, stir together the flour, garlic powder, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
5. Remove the chicken tenders from the egg mixture. Allow the excess to drip off. Press the chicken into the flour mixture until well coated on both sides. Place in the hot oil. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through and golden brown. (The chicken should sizzle when placed in the oil.) Drain the cooked tenders on a paper towel. Repeat in small batches until all of the chicken has been cooked.
Slightly modified from Rick Bayless’ Salsa Verde
1 jalapeno pepper or 1-2 serrano peppers, halved, stems and ribs removed*
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 white onion, coarse chopped
10-12 cilantro sprigs, bottom portion of stem removed, coarse chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt, to taste
*Use jalapeño for a spicy sauce. Use serrano for a more mild sauce.
1. Preheat your broiler.
2. Remove the husks from the tomatillos. Rinse. Cut off the stem, then halve. Place the halved tomatillos, garlic cloves, and jalapeño or serrano pepper on a baking sheet. Lightly rub the tomatillos, peppers, and garlic with olive oil. Roast a few inches under the broiler for about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side for about 5 minutes. Once cool, transfer the entire contents of the tray (including the juices) to a blender. Add the onion and cilantro. Blend to desired consistency. Season with lime juice and salt, to taste.
1 chipotle (from can of chipotles in adobo), pureed or very finely chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of adobo sauce (from can of chipotles in adobo)
Combine all ingredients until well blended.
Skyler’s Creamy Potatoes with Cheddar and Jalapeño
The fifth season’s episode “Fifty-one,” finds Walt, Skyler, Hank and Marie seated once again at a dinner table on Walt’s 51st birthday, reflecting back the past year, with Walt spinning a web of lies while Skyler silently contemplates an escape for herself and her children. Attempting to break the tension, Marie offers a compliment about Skyler’s mashed potatoes, eager to learn how she removed all of the lumps. Skyler distractedly credits the use of a potato ricer, though her potatoes were actually store-bought and microwaved.
It may not truly be Skyler’s trick to creamy potatoes, but a potato ricer is in fact the ticket to smooth, non-gummy potatoes. By pressing the cooked potatoes through the ricer, lumps are thoroughly removed, without disturbing the cooked starches too much. I’ve had my eye on a potato ricer for many years now, though the idea to purchase one always corresponds with the holiday season, when I’m bleeding money and just can’t wrap myself around the added expense. I bought myself one yesterday in honor of this dish. Those are some smooth potatoes!
8 large russet potatoes, peel and chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 cup sour cream
2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup milk
1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, very finely diced
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan. Add water to just cover the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until fork tender. Allow to cool slightly. Mash the potatoes in a potato ricer or food mill. Alternately, use a potato masher. Stir in the sour cream, cheese, milk, and jalapeño, just until blended. Do not over-stir. Add more milk, as desired, to reach your preferred consistency. Season with salt, to taste.
Jesse’s “Americone Dream” Inspired Ice Cream Pie
Oh, Jesse, Jesse, Jesse … poor conflicted man, with any chance of living his American dream looking pretty hopeless right about now. Trapped in a concrete cell by some uber-creeps, Todd (no doubt the creepiest one of all) offers him some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, giving him a choice between Peanut Butter Cup and Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream.
Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream combines vanilla ice cream with fudge coated waffle cone and caramel. This ice cream pie is inspired by the crave-worthy Ben and Jerry’s flavor. A waffle-cone crust gets coated with rich chocolate ganache then filled with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel.
*Did you know that you can make a pie crust out of just about anything that crumbles? Combine two cups of crumbs with enough melted butter to make it stick (I usually use 10-12 tablespoons for 2 cups of crumbs, though other recipes use less butter), then press it into your pie shell and bake for a few minutes to set.
2 cups ice cream cone crumbs (sugar cones or waffle cones)
10-12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup caramel sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Stir together the ice cream cone crumbs and melted butter, until it sticks together when pressed. Press the mixture into a deep dish pie pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Cool.
3. Bring the cream just to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir the hot cream into the chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Pour the ganache onto the bottom of the pie crust. Use a spatula to spread the ganache in an even layer on the bottom and up part of the sides of the crust. Cool.
4. Allow the ice cream to soften at room temperature. Spread the softened ice cream into the prepared crust. Place the pie in the freezer to set.
5. Before serving, drizzle with caramel sauce.
6. For more of a "Breaking Bad" effect, garnish the pie with little bits of blue rock candy or crushed blue hard candy. *You might want to wait until the kids go to bed before adding the crystal blue garnish. It just didn’t seem right to have the kids around pretend drugs, even if they’re clueless about the reference.
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Marcella Hazan, the author of six cookbooks on Italian cooking and the reason most Americans have a taste for pasta, died Sept. 29 at her home in Longboat Key, Fla.
Before I had heard the news, I had decided last night to make a simple tomato sauce to go over fresh mushroom ravioli. A couple heirloom tomatoes that I had picked up from the farmer's market the week before were threatening to spoil and this was the perfect quick use for them. The process was simple: I sautéed diced onion in butter in a sauce pan until they softened, chopped up the tomatoes and added them to the onions, seasoned everything with salt, laid in a bay leaf, and then let it simmer for about a half an hour, occasionally stirring and mashing the larger chunks of tomato with the back of wooden spoon until the sauce was the consistency to my liking.
Spooning the sauce over the ravioli and topped with grated Parmesan when I took a bite I wondered why I even bother to buy jars of tomato sauce. This kind of simplicity and awareness of how easy and delicious freshly prepared Italian food can be is the direct result of Ms. Hazan, an accidental teacher of Italian cooking to thousands of Americans.
Hazan helped to expand the American definition of Italian beyond spaghetti with dark tomato sauce. She emphasized simplicity and never tired of wining her husband's approval and celebration over a delicious dish.
Born in Egypt Hazan grew up in her father's native Italy as the country was overcome by World War II. Later, in the process of pursuing a doctorate in natural science (she failed her zoology exams three times), she met Victor Hazan, an Italian Jew who had moved to America with his family to escape the war. He had returned to Italy as a young man to reconnect with his roots, ponder literature and art, and consume great food.
In a 2008 Monitor review of her memoir "Amarcord: Marcella Remembers," it is clear that Victor was a significant influence in Hazan's destiny of becoming the mother of Italian cooking in the United States:
"As their friendship progressed, Hazan was puzzled that Victor mostly wanted to talk about food. Meals blended into Hazan’s life like a stunning sunset – remarkable but everyday normal. Up to this point, she hadn’t thought much about the food she ate. Neither did she think much about its preparation. Her culinary skills had been mostly utilitarian (fattening a pig for slaughter, for example).
"But food for Victor was a poetic experience. He loved her mother’s messicani (veal roll-ups) and her father’s sweet wines. And soon, despite objections from his family in New York, they married.
"It was through Victor, and the course their joined lives would take, that food became the dominant creative force in the Hazan household."
After relocating to Manhattan so Victor could join his father's fur business, Hazan faced what challenges so many immigrant brides: cooking in a strange land.
"Finding standard Italian ingredients (olive oil, Parmigiano, pancetta, artichokes, and fava beans) required extra effort. And the traditional long Italian lunch at home was considered a joke in industrious America. After a brief stint working in a lab, while Victor pursued a career in advertising, Hazan remained at home preparing meals and caring for their infant son. Life became dull for the little family. Soon Victor decided what they all needed was to move back to Italy, beginning a series of transatlantic relocations....
"But this cross-pollinating is exactly what enabled them to bloom in both cultures and introduce regional Italian cooking to thousands of Americans. After one relocation to New York, Hazan began teaching cooking in her apartment to her fellow classmates in a Chinese cooking class on a whim. What started out as six classes, stretched to nearly a whole year and then finally to an entire life devoted to teaching Italian cuisine."
Hazan always wrote out her cookbooks in longhand in Italian, relying on Victor to translate them into English and get them ready for print. They did the same for her memoir.
On Hazan's Facebook page on Sunday, Victor posted a simple tribute for her legions of fans: "She was the truest and the best, and so was her food."
Here at Stir It Up! we love a good tailgate or a watch party, and we know good eats play a big part when fans get together – no matter who's winning. We're looking for your favorite game day appetizers, casseroles, and crowd pleasers to share with Stir It Up! readers. If we pick your entry as our favorite submission you will receive a signed copy of ESPN's cookbook "Taste of the Town" by Todd Blacklege, a former quarterback for Penn State and the Kansas City Chiefs, and current college football analyst.
Send your favorite tailgating or game day recipe to email@example.com. Please include an ingredient list, step-by-step numbered instructions, along with your name, hometown, and e-mail address. We also want to hear your football story, is the recipe tied to your college team? Your hometown team? An old family favorite?
Please submit your recipe and football story by October 7. We will contact the winner. The winner's recipe will appear in Stir It Up! and he or she will receive a signed copy of "Taste of the Town" by Todd Blackledge. (This contest is not open to employees of CSMonitor.com or their families.)
Show us your creations: We love food photos. So feel free to send us photos of your game day recipes or your football memories. (Hint: natural light works best. For reproduction on the Web, photos should be 600 x 400 DPI.) Pin your photo on Pinterest or tweet your Instagram picture using the hashtag #tailgatingchallenge. Follow us on Pinterest and Twitter for contest updates.
We look forward to hearing from you! If you have any questions, please feel to be in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
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I was born in a college football town (Go Big Blue!) and even though we moved away while I was a preschooler, our family has been branded with blue and gold forever. We still root for Michigan.
When I was checking out the recipes in “Taste of the Town,” by ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge I was hoping to find a U of M recipe to test out. But the only Michigan reference in the cookbook was to Michigan State. No go.
So I went with plan B: The University of Wisconsin. We moved to Madison from Ann Arbor and even though we lived in Wisconsin longer than Michigan for some reason we never switched our allegiance. But I will admit two things: (1) “On Wisconsin” is a really catchy tune and (2) I do have a special place in my heart for the Badgers because, well, I met Bucky Badger.
That’s right. Bucky Badger once strolled into my second grade classroom, waving like it was an everyday routine. Most of us were so overcome we froze in our spots. And then – you won’t believe this – he took off his enormous head and there was a man inside. Bucky was a real person! How could this be! And then the clincher: Bucky Badger was the son of our teacher! Our 7-year-old minds were blown for the rest of the day. And obviously I still think about this celebrity encounter.
Sure enough, “Taste of the Town” includes a recipe for macaroni and cheese from Avenue Bar in Madison, which apparently is a popular hangout among the college kids and football players.
The Avenue Bar recipe is as over the top as anything you might expect from The Cheese State. It has 7 cups of cheese in a serving for four people. Let that sink in a bit. I’m assuming they mean four really hungry football players because after one scoop of this decadent, cheesy mustard-flavored pasta dish topped with buttery panko bread crumbs you’ll need to lie down for an hour, which makes it a perfect football-watching meal when you’ve gathered a crowd in your living room to root on your favorite team.
I may wear blue and gold on game days, but Bucky, my heart belongs to you.
Avenue Bar Macaroni and Cheese
From “Taste of the Town” by Todd Blackledge
10 ounces rigatoni
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 medium onion, diced
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Fat Tire Amber Ale [I used 1/2 cup of apple cider]
1/4 tablespoon Colman’s dry mustard
3 cups whole milk
2 cups Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mild cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain in a colander running under water and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the diced onion, and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).
3. Add the flour and stir until it forms a paste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add ale [or apple cider] and the mustard and stir vigorously to combine. Whisk in the milk, continue stirring, and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the shredded cheese until fully combined.
5. Put the pasta in a greased deep, large baking dish, pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, and stir until the pasta is fully coated.
6. To make the topping: Combine the bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta mixture and cheese mixture. Top with the shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. [Note: Next time I may reverse the panko and cheese toppings because I like my bread crumbs crispy.]
7. Place under the broiler and broil until the topping is melted and lightly brown.
Want to win a signed copy of “Taste of the Town” by Todd Blackledge so you can make recipes from your favorite team’s hometown? Enter the Stir It Up! tailgate recipe challenge. Details on the contest can be found here.
Of all the Peanuts characters invented by Charles Schultz, the one I identify with most is Linus. Not Charlie Brown, not Snoopy, not Lucy – although I've been told I'm more like Lucy. C'mon, are you kidding, Lucy's a bossy know-it-all who .... oh. Wait. Never mind.
Anyway, Linus. The reason I identify with Linus is he has a security blanket which is literally his blanket. I would argue that most people have their own version of Linus's blanket: something that gives them peace of mind and is kept close at hand. My security blanket is having cookie dough and brownies stocked in my freezer. Does that sound weird?
First, you have to understand whenever I get together with friends or family, I always, always bring goodie bags of baked goods. Whether I'm meeting one person or 20, I bring goodie bags for each one. Second, I don't always have a lot of time to bake, given a full-time job and life outside of my kitchen. If I have a last-minute get together, I need to be able to put a goodie bag together quickly.
If I have a big social gathering coming up and I have to put together multiple goodie bags, I plan ahead so I'm not making six or seven different things on the day of – I never have that kind of time. I don't always feel like baking either (rare but it happens) even if I do have time, so it's just best to be prepared. So I like to make up batches of cookie dough ahead of time, ready to be baked off at the last minute. Or I bake brownies or bar cookies, cut them into individual serving sizes, wrap them in plastic wrap and place in freezer bags to store in my freezer until I need them. If I go too long without restocking my freezer with cookie dough or brownies, I get nervous.
So I've done a lot of cookie posts lately to restock my freezer. Including these soft chocolate sugar cookies I found on Pinterest. The dough mixes up more like a thick brownie batter than cookie dough so you might want to chill it briefly after you mix it up before you portion into dough balls for easier handling.
I chilled the whole bowl for 20 minutes or so, scooped out into dough balls, froze them and then baked them off whenever I needed them. The key for this cookie is going to be the cocoa. If you use a bland grocery-store cocoa powder, you're not going to get a rich chocolate punch. In other words, Hershey's isn't going to cut it. I used Pernigotti from Williams Sonoma (also available on Amazon) but you can use any high quality dark cocoa powder. The darker the cocoa, the more chocolate richness you'll get. The lighter the cocoa, you'll probably get more sweet than chocolate flavor.
These cookies turned out to be an unexpected hit at work. I say unexpected because to me, they would've gone in "yup, good" category but not enough for me to warrant having a second cookie. My bar is rather high for that. Yet I put a couple dozen of these cookies out at work at 8 a.m. and two hours later, there were only three left. I also got a personal visit from one co-worker who dropped by my office while eating one to tell me they were good, an e-mail from another saying the same thing, an instant message from a third and a personal thanks from a fourth when I was in the kitchen getting some water. There you go then – lots of recommendations from my co-workers and heaven knows they've had to be my guinea pigs on less successful experiments so they know their baked goods.
Chocolate sugar cookies
From Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1/3 cup (2-1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (8 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2-1/4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
14 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups packed (12-1/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1. Pour the granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.
2. In a large bowl, melt 10 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave. Microwave the butter until just melted. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter until melted. Allow the butter to cool for 5-10 minutes (it should be about 90-95 degrees on an instant read thermometer).
3. Whisk the brown sugar, vanilla, and salt into the melted butter until the mixture is completely smooth. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Chill the dough briefly to firm up if it's too soft. Scoop into dough balls, about 2 tablespoons per cookie. Freeze for baking later if desired.
4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Roll the dough balls in the granulated sugar and place on lined (with parchment or silpat liners) baking sheets.
6. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until they have puffed and have cracks running through the top, about 12-14 minutes. Don't overbake or the cookies will be dry. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack to cool completely.
Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
I once had started a project where I thought I might create a smoothie cookbook. So I started jotting down all my flavor ideas and combinations. I was stoked! I came up with a 100 I think. I was excited. Then I started making them.
And that’s when I got discouraged. Or is overwhelmed the right feeling? Anyway, at the time it seemed like such a big endeavor to take on, especially with me being the only one drinking them. Though my smoothie "idea book" is on the back burner for now, I thought I’d share my favorite one of the lot. As it turns out, it also happens to be very much inspired by fall flavors.
RECOMMENDED: Five breakfast meals to go
Cranberries have become my new "go to" smoothie fruit. I love that they are tart, relatively low on the glycemic index and offer all kinds of antioxidants. But I like to eat them because they taste good (and they’re inexpensive). But here’s the surprising part. Even though they are tart, I find that if I add them to a smoothie, I’m less likely to add other sweeteners, like honey or maple. It’s supposed to be tart, so why change it? And, I love the tart flavor. It’s refreshing.
Fall cranberry pear smoothie
1 cup frozen cranberries
2 medjool dates, pitted
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, or milk of choice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon all spice
Throw it all in the blender and whirl it until smooth. Add a couple ice cubes if not thick enough, but I find just the frozen cranberries are enough. Drink up.
RECOMMENDED: Five breakfast meals to go
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