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Posts Tagged ‘Alton Brown’

DO YOU LIKE TO COOK?  DO YOU LIKE TO ENTERTAIN AT HOME?  IF THE ANSWER IS YES, WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE ENTERTAINMENT AND COOKBOOK AUTHORS?

I love to cook and eating, in my humble opinion, is a form of entertainment.

Some of the sweetest of life’s moments are when I’ve set a fine table. Family and friends are gathered round. Grace is given. Plates are passed. Then, there is that fleeting moment when I can taste the quiet and all are content in their meal.

 Second helpings? I purr like a kitten.

May I have this recipe? A friend for life.

Yes. I like to cook. I often read cookbooks as a bedtime stories .

When Tom’s great-aunt Ethel needed to move into a senior facility from the house her parents built on their homestead, she wrote  asking me if I would like anything. I wrote back my appreciation of the offer and wondered if I could have one of her cookbooks.

Ethel gave me all of her recipes; many written in her own hand, others cut from local newspapers or magazines, small little cookbooks from advertisers and notebook pages with bold penmanship. There is an original Nestles chocolate wrapper with the recipe for chocolate chip cookies and directions on how to score and cut the chocolate for chips. Dandelion wine. Meatloaf for the threshers.

Among these treasures is a “receipt” book from the local church, dated 1883. Inside, on pages of printed recipes, are other recipes on slips of paper, sewn onto the pages with a few well placed stitches. I imagine Ethel’s mother, at day’s end, sewing them in by the light of a kerosene lantern, securing their place in the time-honored ritual of feeding one’s family. A farmer’s wife of one hundred years past would not have had the money for paper clips. Straight pins were needed for patterns and hems. There would have been just needle and thread and tired hands basting page onto page of “receipts”.

My favorite cookbook authors of today?

Ina Garten of The Barefoot Contessa. Her recipes never disappoint. I have and use her cookbooks. I had the pleasure of meeting her with my friend Cindy. We both came home with signed books and smiles.

Alton Brown. He’s goofy and silly, I know, but he makes cooking seem like a fun chemistry project. I enjoy watching him and made his recipe for corned beef hash with the leftovers from our St. Patrick’s Day dinner. It was delicious.

I also enjoy watching Lidia’s Italy.  She inspires me to experiment with simple ingredients. Her love of family hits home with me.

I also enjoy reading Dana Treat. You might like to check her blog and her many vegetarian recipes.

My favorite cookbooks are what I fondly refer to as the “church lady cookbooks”. They are the ones compiled from the PTAs, booster clubs, the Junior League or local fire stations. They have the best recipes, even though you may make only one from the book you bought for $10, spiral bound, a local artist’s rendering on the cover. No woman I know would submit a flawed recipe and every woman I know plumps with pride when told you cooked her recipe with great success.

Do you like to cook or entertain? Do you have a favorite cook or cookbook?

Dana Carvey's "church lady".

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Heavenly Hash

I have never been a fan of corned beef hash. It wasn’t a staple in our house as I was growing up, although my mother made some for herself once in a while out of a can. My sister liked it. She still does. Of course, Dottie was also known to sneak a bite of dog food whenever she could.  She would show up just as my Aunt Christina was opening a can of Ideal dog food and offer to take it to Punchy, their resident boxer. My cousins and I were on to her, though.  We knew what Dottie was up to. I’m not kidding you on this one, folks, and I have eyewitnesses who will corroborate. Maybe the connection with Ideal dog food tainted my taste buds, but, corned beef hash and my lips never met.

Until recently.

Late one night right around St. Paddy’s day last year, I caught an episode of Alton Brown on the Food Network. I don’t watch him very often, but, when I do I like his quirky approach to food with a little bit of chemistry and a lot of silly camera angles mixed in with some good and easy recipes. This particular episode showed how to make corned beef hash. This wasn’t the hash I remembered as a child. It was made with leftovers from St. Patrick’s Day that looked really good and easy and I gave it a try. Tom and I both liked it, it used up the leftovers and I think it will become a yearly event.

We had our once-a-year hash tonight and I thought you might like to try it. All the credit, of course, goes to Alton Brown and the Food Network. I told Dottie about it today. She said what we both say when one or the other calls and teases about something we know the other one likes. “Stop it. You’ll make me hungry”.

Corned Beef Hash (Alton Brown) Which I adapted to personal tastes.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced (I omitted this as someone-who-won’t be named doesn’t like garlic. I added 1 cup of diced onion instead)

5 cups leftover Corned Beef and Cabbage*

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme**

1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano**

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

* I diced up 5 cups of my leftover corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes.

** I left this out, as I had no fresh herbs. It was still good.

Melt butter in a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Add bell pepper and onion and saute for a few minutes.

Spoon in the rest of ingredients, press down with a spatula and place a heavy plate of pan on top. I used a smaller skillet and then put a tea kettle on it as well.

Cook until browned, about 10 minutes.

Stir and press down again, about 1o minutes more.

I repeated one more time to make it a little browner.

We smiled through our delightful leftovers tonight, disguised as heavenly hash.

 

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