Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sweeter Holiday Moments

Are you ready to gear up and make sure you and the family survive the holiday season? Do you miss the sweeter holiday moments? Much of the stress of the Christmas holiday is dealing with the shopping, annoying relatives, and the compromising that comes with being in a relationship and deciding whose family's party is more important. I miss my son during these times. If he lived here, there would be no doubt that he would have been here taking a break from college and his busy work schedule. He has told me he is planning to fly to NYC with a friend in January. I will pick him up and head into Long Island for a belated holiday visit with hubby's family. I have had to learn to survive holidays with little or no family, but I am blessed to have lots of friends!

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is attending and hosting gatherings. An open mic singer/songwriter friend, Phil had told me it was his birthday this past September, and of course I had to ask what kind of cake he might like. When he told me his favorite- Carrot Cake. I decided to make him one since I too love it. I remember how special a person can feel when someone takes the moment to do something thoughtful, or act of random kindness. He was leaving for Saudi Arabia for six weeks, so we set up a date to have him over once he returned. Turned out to be the best thing I could have done for him, since trips to foreign countries can really bring on the "Oh how I miss the food of my homeland" blues.

This past Saturday I had family and friends over to help eat up my big turkey, and a few leftovers. I also made some BBQ ribs with some traditional sauce I bought at the Prairie House in Texas. We picked up some Eland steaks (raised in Texas) I grilled, along with a big pot of collard greens and black eyed peas seasoned with pig jowl bacon and Sambar spice. For dessert we had the bourbon brownie pie, but the highlight was my homemade carrot cake.

That cake was the bomb! To add extra moistness, I added a half cup of apple butter to the recipe. That gave it such a great flavor! There is a confession I am going to make. I have not used pumpkin spice in forever, and I swore by it in my twenties. When I discovered garam masala, I use it in sweet and savory recipes. Yes, my carrot cake has garam masala, and of course loads of carrots. Carrots in the early centuries were used to help sweeten many dishes, and thought to have benefits for eyesight. Oh how I heard that one growing up!

I did not grow up with a love for this variety of cake, or cooked carrots. My choice for most desserts is chocolate, but at some point someone made this cake for me and it was an instant love affair. I began baking them and introduced them to my mom. She quickly shared my sentiments. Her requesting me to make one at least three times a year, I eventually got quite good at making them. Then somewhere along the line I stopped baking, and focused on my cooking career in institutional kitchens. As of late I have been baking like crazy again. Maybe its the empty nest syndrome, or boredom. Pulling out my old carrot cake recipe out and dusting it off was pretty exciting for me. Not to mention sharing all the good food with company. I did make a carrot cake last year for my son in St. Louis, but I just took it off the internet.

Walnut Carrot Cake

2 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped, reserve one for coating outside of cake
3/4 pound raw carrots (about 2 1/2 cups finely grated in food processor)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, or cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Add dry ingredients into mixing bowl and then add rest of ingredients. Beat well (I mix by hand with large serving fork). Add 1 cup of walnuts and stir. I never cared for raisins like some recipes call for, so you may add them if you like.

Note: For a moister carrot cake, add 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple
(well drained) or applesauce to the batter when you add the oil and vanilla extract. You may have to bake the cake a few minutes longer. I added 1/4 cup of apple butter.

Pour mixture into two 9 inch cake pans, and bake 350 degrees for about 37 minutes (my oven is electric), but when toothpick comes out clean and browned it is ready. Let cool in pan and transfer to parchment cutout on cake plate and frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1/4 cup regular raw sugar
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (4 grams) lemon juice
finely grated lemon zest of one lemon

In bowl with electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, just until blended with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and juice. Enough for two layer cake (you may cut cake in half and make a four layer, but increase icing recipe by half).

Sharing treats like this make for a sweeter holiday moment when you find the season a little overwhelming...

Carrot's in cooking history-

Carrot cake

According to the food historians, our modern carrot cake most likely descended from Medieval carrot puddings enjoyed by people in this part of Europe. Carrots are an old world food. imported to the Americas by European settlers. In the 20th century carrot cake was re-introduced as a "healthy alternative" to traditional desserts. The first time was due to necessity; the second time was spurred by the popular [though oftimes misguided] wave of health foods. Is today's carrot cake healthy? It can be. It all depends upon the ingredients.

History notes here:

"In the Middle Ages in Europe, when sweeteners were scarce and expensive, carrots were used in sweet cakes and desserts. In Britain...carrot puddings...often appeared in recipe books in the 18th and 19th centuries. Such uses were revived in Britain during the second World War, when the Ministry of Food disseminated recipes for carrot Christmas pudding, carrot cake, and so on and survive in a small way to the present day. Indeed, carrot cakes have enjoyed a revival in Britain in the last quarter of the 20th century. They are perceived as 'healthy' cakes, a perception fortified by the use of brown sugar and wholemeal flour and the inclusion of chopped nuts, and only slightly compromised by the cream cheese and sugar icing whcih appears on some versions."

---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 141)

Go on over and read this site, as there are some fascinating recipes for carrot pudding, etc...

Carrot Cake on Foodista

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday & Full Plates

Thanksgiving is gone. Black Friday is here.

This day has developed so many meanings over the last century. Christmas shopping is what comes to mind for many of you out there, or maybe just bargain hunting.

The term "Black Friday" is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, so it officially began on the east coast around January, 1966. The phrase was never a term of endearment to anyone who had to bus or police the crowds. "Black Friday" officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.

The Black Friday concept spread across the country approximately in 1975. Shopping sprees at all cost, no matter what the economy. Economists base spending habits for the remaining days to Christmas on exactly how much retailers earn this day. I find that actual 'bargain' sales seem overly exaggerated, and usually we cannot find anything of real value not already offered before after today.

Hubby has to do a lot of work travel, so we stay home.

This year we did not head to Long Island to celebrate with hubby's family like we have the past ten years. I had already ordered a Bourbon Red heritage turkey from Griggstown Quail Farm for the second year in a row. Hubby wanted all the trimmings, as I was planning on maybe a few. Company Saturday, I plan to break out more food. Like usual I did not cook anything the traditional way, only a few traditional ingredients.

I made a corn casserole stuffing with mustard and a mild blue cheese. We have never really cared for canned cranberry sauce, so I make a torte using apple cider, ginger and maple syrup as the flavor enhancer. Sweet potatoes were mixed with smoked chipotles and garam masala; then were cooked in a terrine using caramelized onions as the center. Then for greens I had planned on sauteed collards, but with time constraints I just wilted some spinach as a base for the plate loaded with carbs; until the heritage turkey hit the plate.

This year I found myself with a rather large 18 pound bird; it was too late when we learned family was spreading out this year to change my order. We will be eating turkey creations with family and friends on Saturday, so no worries. Cutting one half into pieces and brinning it in a shallow plastic container was my ‘new tradition’ idea. Brine- Apple cider pomegranate juice, cinnamon sticks, apples, brown sugar, salt, and nutmeg shavings; heated to dissolve sugar and salt, then diluted with water. Over night bath, and then into a roasting pan with a similar reduction, herbs, red pepper flakes. In the oven for a few hours till done (I placed cut breast over apple slices to keep from overcooking on bottom.

I did branch out with dessert- a chocolate brownie cashew torte; it overflowed onto the cookie sheet, and I did cut back on the recipe. In spite of the messy clean up, the torte was dark chocolate bliss to our week’s end. My idea of a Black Friday! The bottom was a traditional pecan pie recipe, but using cashews; then topping it off with a dark chocolate brownie and baking it in a crust, and in a torte pan.

Today and the rest of our weekend you will find hubby and I relaxing at home. We are taking advantage of some Cyber Black Friday shopping, good music or a movie playing, while nibbling on those yummy leftovers...

Hubby was my action photographer- Thanks Sweetie!

Sweet Potato-Caramelized Onion Terrine

3 large sweet potatoes, baked night before
-individually wrap the potatoes and bake for an hour, 375 degrees; let cool

1 large red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 heaping tablespoons maple sugar, or 1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine
-in sauce pan caramelize onions; let cool

3 eggs, slightly beaten
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
Pinch of Chipotle Powder
Salt to taste

-Blend well

Line loaf pan with parchment paper, adhering with oil to the bottom and sides; pouring in half of sweet potato mixture, and putting most of onion mixture in middle; then pour the remaining sweet potato mixture on top.

Bake 375- 45 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove parchment, and slice when cool to the touch.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Go Ahead, Give Me The Bird!


Yes go ahead, because now I am ready! I did give my fridge the bird when I looked in and realized I had ordered a rather large heirloom 'Bourbon Red' turkey, and we had no room!

This called for some meal planning and organizing. Cooking for only two people might seem like a small task, but scheduling meals around his traveling, volunteer work, open mic, and my job can be mind boggling. Bringing food home from work and cooking, well, things also begin to stack up, and my freezer space is limited.

A few suggestions for keeping up with food in the refrigerator, and freezer-

  • Keep things arranged so that you can see what is available. Take foods out of the grocery bag before you place them in the freezer. (Buff- you reminded me of this on your post, and I was guilty!)
  • Place smaller items in front, or to the left. Keeping the oldest items in front, and dated to insure spoiled food is not eaten (I recommend two days if not frozen ASAP). Avoid food poisoning.
  • I color code my food by using red containers for items that need to be used in the next day or so.
  • Use clear freezer purpose containers and bags, so that you can see items more clearly. Use containers that will be filled to the top pressing out as much air as possible in order to keep ice crystals from forming (warm air causes condensation, so ice crystals do not always mean freezer burn). Vacuum seal foods if possible.
  • Only save what you know you will consume, and unless you have a deep freezer- do not over buy. Many food pantry's and soup kitchen welcome food donations all year long.
  • Do not over stuff freezer; it keeps needed cold air from circulating around containers, and also might pop open when you are unaware. Avoid Food Poisoning.
  • Rotate ingredients into new dishes, and do not be afraid to play or experiment with recipes. 
  • Thaw out frozen food properly. Take them out the night before, and let sit at bottom of refrigerator and use immediately. Never let meats sit in the sink; unless you run cold water over them until thawed, and use immediately. 
  • Keep a list (if schedule allows) of 'Food Safety and Sanitation Guidelines'' on the refrigerator door. Easily printed from the computer these guidelines help remind us to properly contain and store foods so that our families remain healthy and safe all year round! Children should begin learning this stuff early!
My first task was to figure out how to use up some of our left over's, even I have to be reminded of the above warnings. So, I pulled out a few things from the freezer the night before, and planned my meal. Having some pork loin ends and polenta left from my 'Pinot Noir' tasting, I decided to re-design ingredients for a brunch. An addition of eggs and truffle oil made this leftover dish an exceptional treat for our weekend meal.

Place a few ramekins, or small heat resistant bowls with a small amount of warm water in the bottom in baking dish; set in preheated 200 degree oven. In a hot skillet throw some diced apple, red onion, and olive oil; saute. Then add polenta (cooked; that has sat overnight, and set). Dicing it up into chunks you will season it with some paprika. Dice up desired pork loin ends and add; saute until pork pieces are done, and polenta is crusty brown.


Once you have gotten the desired brown crust, you may place portions into warm ramekin. Crack an egg atop the mixture (The key is making this dish before you are ready to sit down. The egg will take about 7 minutes to set up); drizzle with truffle oil, and cover loosely with foil; place into the oven until egg is cooked to desired texture- easy, medium, or hard consistency. I like mine medium, how about you?

Now come on now...give me the bird!Or should I say my Heritage Bourbon Red Turkey...

Next year get the bird from Griggstown Quail Farm and Market, New Jersey. If you do then do not forget to 'Brine' the turkey; it makes for a juicier and more tender bird on the holiday table!

Freezing on Foodista

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Cannot Get Enough!

I have never made it a secret- I LOVE SOUP! I would eat it everyday if hubby would let me get away with it. Cold weather or hot; it would not matter to me. I also love sausage and bacon, but you have to sneak it in when he is not looking. Hubby does not like the smell either. His mother says she is clueless, because he ate them when he lived at home.

This version of Beef Barley Soup is made with red wine chorizo I make and keep in the freezer, and hog jowls I brought back from Virginia in August. I pan roasted carrots, celery, onions with oil; add chorizo and barley along with stock, and voila! My taste buds are happy again!

Well, at least until this pot is gone, and then I will need another fix...

Now I also know a few of you are saying to yourself "Hog jowls"? I grew up eating many parts of the pig, because my family were farmers. My father and mother did not live on a farm, but we consumed foods at their families homes that did. Childhood memories of eating this stuff was not pleasant, but I have often preached that we should revisit tastes to see if you might like them as an adult.

Hog jowls are found mostly in the southern regions of the United States. They are the cheek of a hog, which is usually cured and smoked. The flavor is similar to regular bacon which comes from the upper belly or thigh region of the pig, but also depends on how it is smoked.

Tightly wrapped, it can be refrigerated for up to a week. It's fattier than bacon but can be cut into strips and fried in the same manner; it is also used to flavor stews, bean dishes, greens, and the like. My favorite is on a BLT, and are considered in the Appalachian region to bring good luck!

Chorizo is another one of my favorite meats. I make two versions- The recipe is from my Guatemalan neighbor, Magdony who taught me years ago. I converted it into two varieties, vegetarian with TVP, or using ground pork, veal, and beef. The second recipe is something I played around with using red wine using this recipe (below).

Mexican Chorizo (Sausage)

1 pound meat, or meats of your choice, or vegetarian TVP
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or 3 dried guajillo chile soaked in warm water (do not use tops)
1 Garlic clove
1 tablespoon Vinegar (I have found I need a little more)
2 tablespoons Red Wine*

Blend all ingredients well (food processor if desired) and pack into an air tight container. Will keep for one week in refrigerator. This can also be packed into casings and smoked for flavor, or merely dried overnight between 60 and 70 degrees.

*If using red wine for added flavor, then you must soak meat in red wine overnight and continue with process above.

This recipe yields 1 pound fresh chorizo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Got Raw!

This past summer I read Marc @ No Recipes post on 'Boiled Peanuts', and honestly I had never have eaten boiled peanuts. I know my mother-in-law is crazy about them. Roasted peanuts at the circus is what I always loved, but I was willing to give boiling raw ones a try.

This past September I found a vendor at our local open air farmers market who sold peanuts. I had to convince him to sell me a few pounds of the raw nuts. Health regulations do not allow them to be sold uncooked to the public, but I won him over by telling him I wanted to experiment with my own recipes.

I boiled them as Marc suggested, and his suggested technique worked out beautifully. Also a handful were roasted for my own personal eating pleasure. Both were very good, but then I decided to make peanut brittle with the boiled batch.

I used my friend's mother-in-law's recipe she had made before. Her girls were excited when we made this batch, and we found it so addicting that we had a hard time stopping ourselves from eating it all in one sitting.

I will get the brittle post up as soon as possible, but for now go see what recipe I used with some of these crunchy babies- Stuffed Zucchini You could make these any time of the year!

Oven Baked Fried Chicken Tenders & Stuffed Zucchini

Back in the summer I wrote about market finds and 'A Purist Week'. Local farms surround me here in New Jersey, so the open air markets are great. They offer fresh vegetables, as well as grass feed and natural raised meats. A downfall though; well after the peak of fall, only a few ingredients are available. I do however have my second Bourbon Red Turkey on order for Thanksgiving thanks to Griggstown Farms here in New Jersey. Meals like this (above) will remain in my memory under great summer munchies.

I wanted to share how I used my market finds creating one last purist meal. Sure everyone is wondering where the heck is the stuffed pumpkin. Okay I admit I never made it to the 'pick your own' field, or even bought one to carve into a jack-o-lantern. Guilty. I am however joining my local CSA through Griggstown.

Combing some of my boiled peanuts along with left over Goji Berry and cocao bread rolls and zucchini (I wanted to use before they went south like over abundant summer vegetables can), I made a great side for chicken, beef, or pork. Most of the dishes had all been made with in a week, so it made since to cross them over into one last recipe. I just have not had time to post it until now.

Hollow out zucchini; enough to fill with stuffing, and coating with a small amount of oil. Take dried bread/rolls and place into the food processor along with boiled raw peanuts, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper, zucchini pieces, and one egg; pulsate and blend well.

Bread the chicken with left over stuffing mixture after a buttermilk soak, and bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown. Made a honey mustard or spicy curry sauce for dipping. There you have it, and I did see several other blogs offering some yummy fried goodies this week!

Find out how I made the Boiled Peanuts- I Got Raw!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food ~ Wine ~ Fun

A few months ago hubby and I hosted a 'Pinot Noir' wine tasting for a group of wine enthusiast. I choose the menu, and we consulted together on the wine. This is something we enjoy doing and have done together for almost nine years.

After looking back at the photos (and lack of, only a few were taken due to MIA camera, and I was in the kitchen) trying to figure out what to do with this post; I found this piece in my archives that was written back in the early years of my food, wine, and catering business in Dallas. I feel it is suitable and states our mission as food and wine educators...

The Shared Table

I believe that life is something we should share and experience with others. I believe in educating myself on what life has to offer, in the form of food and drink, a part of my daily living. Doing so brings me joy, especially when I can share joyful flavor with others. I see so many people going through life at such a fast pace that they cannot even remember what they had to eat or drink the night before!

We get up each morning, go to work, come home at night, and spend our evenings alone or with family and friends. We sometimes share foods we have produced or prepared at home, or have purchased from a market, with others. But when was the last time you discussed the foods’ or recipe’s origination or why you selected them?

Naturally, we are designed to be social beings. At least once a week or month, why not get together with others and share the good things that happened—or even the bad—during the week? Whether something was a good experience or bad, we need to tell others and share with them. The same should be true with foods and wines. How do we know that a Viognier wine is the right choice for tonight’s meal? Is it just because the label says so? What is a Viognier, anyway?

So many of us only buy wines under $10 because we do not want to potentially waste our money on something we have never tried—and may despise. After 10 years of ever-increasing wine consumption by Americans, why do you think that Chardonnay and Merlot remain the two most sold wines today? We still stick with what we know.

We are such blended and diverse generations of eaters and drinkers. “Fusion” seems to be one of the newest and hottest (and most over-used) words today. Hey, the word fusion has been around for generations! Long ago, spices came from India to the Americas, down far south, and across again to Asia, in different blends and forms and blended with many varieties of food ingredients!

Take a chance and try something new! Here are some ways to expand your horizons:

-Share some knowledge. Try a different type of wine with some new found friends.

-Taste something that as a child, you could not stand. You might be pleasantly surprised! Our taste buds change about every 10 years or so.

-Maintain traditions by passing family-favorite recipes on from one generation to another. If you alter something, list your new ingredient out to the side of the recipe.

Generations alter traditional foods according to their own taste and the availability of ingredients. Let’s revisit the old. You never know—you might like it, plus, you’ll be keeping your heritage alive.

Join in and appreciate what others have experienced lately. Rediscover what your family has done in the past, and keep those memories alive. Many of our female ancestors did not work. They kept house and ensured that home-cooked meals were always on the table for family members and anyone else who happened to stop by. The great cooks in our families didn’t receive any true glory or honor for what they did—except from those us who enjoyed their delicious meals.

Some of us who stood on our tippy toes by the stove, observing a loved on in action—concentrating on the right consistency for a sauce or ensuring something didn’t boil over or burn—made our career choices right then and there. What a great feeling it is to watch each fork be lifted to each mouth and then see a smile of satisfaction slowly spread on each face as the food prepared delights the taste buds and settles the hunger.

Make someone happy with your favorite food creation. Take a chance on a wine you cannot pronounce, or one that is more than just a pretty label or bottle. Add some books on “gastronomy” and ingredients to your home library. Elevate the quality of your food and drink.

Take time to enjoy what’s available to consume, educate yourself on each item and share the information with others!

August 26th, 2009- I served a five course meal that was paired with a blind Pinot Noir tasting; 24 people in attendance...


Grilled Veggie Antipasti

Cheese Plate:
3 Local Griggstown Cheeses /w Pesto & Nuts
Housemade White Chocolate and Sekel Pear Crostini

Asian Vinegar Yellow & Red Beet Salad over mixed musclun /w Toasted Egg Roll Wrappers

Sliced Griggstown Duck Breast /w Sweet Mulberry Sauce over Duck Confit Risotto

Wild Boar Pork Wellington over Caramelized Apple Polenta, Baked Parm Tomatoes

Bacon Candy Chocolate Ice Cream, Waffle Cone Crisps


Willm, Cremant D’Alsace, Blanc de Noirs, NV, $15.99
Barth Rene, Pinot Blanc, Alsace, 2006, $12.50

Westrey, Pinot Noir, Williamette Valley, 2007, $28.75
Cristom, Pinot Noir, Mount Jefferson Cuvee, 2007, $29.99
Fischer. Pinot Noir, Thermenregion, Austria, 2006, $30.00.
Robert Stemmler, Pinot Noir, Nugent Vineyard, Russian River Valley, 2005, $24.99
Xavier Monnot, Beaune 1er Cru “Cent Vignes”, 2005, $32.99

Wines listed in order of dollar value. If interested in Wine Spectator Rating or pairing-

Local, Organic, grass feed and natural, homemade...the only way to go!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Trader Joe's Moved Into The Neighborhood

Is this scenario I am about to describe looking familiar in your neighborhood? Many strip malls sit two thirds, or half empty. Small businesses, one by one have closed over the past year. Your favorite restaurant is locked when you pull the handle, but you are pretty sure they were open last week.

I witnessed the economy slowly sinking years ago in Texas, but when I moved to New Jersey I thought the worst of times were behind me. Lots of small businesses closed before the big companies began to move out of the area, or shut down period. Many of my friends were out of work, and have had to move out of state to find jobs. Even hubby had to seek employment in the mid-west before he found solid income base in New Jersey four years ago. Is his job secure we ask ourselves today. People keep telling me that it will turn around. Tale-spin is what I say. Yet, chains like Trader Joe's seem to find a way to open in New Jersey. Have you wondered what the secret is?

When you work in the food industry over the years you learn that starting small, peaking the consumers interest, and keep the prices reasonable is a smart start. I have always loved giant gourmet and organic markets such as Central Market (Texas), Wegman's and Whole Foods, but face it the prices can be astronomical on the food budget. Curbing budgets with the economy changes is a challenge. Friends, clients, and many of you want good prices, but we all still want to satisfy taste buds with hard to find treats and ingredients...I discovered Trader Joe's.

They opened years ago back home in Texas, but it was exciting to learn we had one opening just south of my house. Sure, people like Donna-FFW who live in Jersey are saying "Well E, there is one up north in Westfield"! Hey, Donna I am turning into a true New Jersian...I do not want to drive out of my neighborhood unless we are having lunch some day! *hint hint*

Trader Joe's is not your normal grocery market experience. The company actually began as a convenience store in the LA area; until someone realized they were up against a chain (I was employed with the Southland Corporation during my early college years), 7-11. Changing the company's strategy has kept them thriving. Turning the business into something more than what is the 'norm' was brilliant. A book has even been written explaining their strategy, 'Turning a Unique Approach to Business into a Retail and Cultural Phenomenon', The Trader Joe's Adventure, written by author Len Lewis.

I made a phone call asking my friend Gen if she had been to the new store, and what did she think. She got so excited telling me she had been there three times just since its opening at the end of September (I wrote this piece at the beginning of October). Gen went on to explain that you will find Trader Joe’s own manufactured products in most of their isles, and with decent prices. Finally I explained that I already was aware of TJ's concept via living in Dallas.

Hubby made a stop into Trader Joe's while I was traveling. He bought a few things for me to try when I returned- Wild Garlic bulbs, hummus, bread, and a few jars of sauces bearing the Traders Joe name. I am all for good narcissistic marketing particularly when it offers me a better price. He complained that the fresh produce section is small for our dark green vegetable eating habits. An upside is that they sell local organic produce at low prices, along with other sections that would not disappoint consumers.

The downside to Trader Joe's (most markets have one) is many of their products are not organic, local, and many packaged goods contain sugar, excess salt, cornstarch and other refined ingredients. Even with the convenience of ready made products, we have to keep our health in mind. So, as with any store, I recommend reading the labels before making your final selections.


Pork Medallions with Garlic Rice & Black Beans

1 Pork Tenderloin, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces-

Place pork in between plastic wrap and use mallet to flatten to 1/4 thick; drizzle with olive oil, salt/pepper to taste.

4-7 Cloves of garlic; slice thinly, and set aside
1/2 Red Onion; half, and then thin slices
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

In medium hot pan place oil, and just before smoking point add garlic and onion; remove just as it begins to brown, or will turn bitter; remove to plate.

Cook pork in seasoned oil, and remove as each medallion brown.

Add rice into same pan, and brown with another table spoon oil; add stock, and cook per instructions.

Trader Joe's
US Highway 1
Princeton, NJ
(609) 897-0581

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Am Trout!

Food can be poetry...

New Jersey keeps their lakes and rivers stocked with trout in the spring, summer, and fall, and is some of the best trout fishing in the north east. Hubby and I like searching out good spots to fish, catch, and most of all eat trout. The Pequest Hatchery, and river up north is surrounded with beautiful river spots, so on our way home from Salmon fishing we decided to cast another hook. Well hubby caught one, as I patiently waited by the bank with my pen and paper.

Once home, I cleaned and prepared the trout for our dinner. Using a recipe I developed years ago- Apple Cider Poached Fish: apples, garlic, red onions, Jamaican Allspice, salt/pepper to taste, and local made Apple Cider. To me this is the perfect fall fish recipe.

In the past poaching using this recipe was done in a medium sauce pan to cover more of the fish with liquid. Playing with my original recipe the fish started out in the oven, but worked better with the stove top method. The infused flavors give the fish a wonderful fall flavor.

I perfected this recipe in my cafe; it is very flavorful with most types of white fish such as talapia and Basa. Salmon poached in packets with the same ingredients has been just as delicious. Just add some Asparagus tips for an additional and healthy touch.

The great side dish came about by combining olive oil, red onion, chopped bacon, small red bliss, and chiffonade savoy cabbage (amounts up to you); then saute ingredients in medium hot skillet; then covered with lid to steam cook the potatoes a bit more. Spread mixture on a plate and top off with fish; spoon on thickened juices from pan.

Pan Sauce: Reduce the apple cider mixture; thicken with a tablespoon of flour; drizzle over the fish and slaw mixture. Hubby opened up a Chardonnay we picked up in the Finger Lakes Region of Lake Seneca on our anniversary.