Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Nod To The Past

This blog is about the way food has evolved over time, and how that evolution tells us something about our history. As a salute to the previous operator of this blog, I'd like to share some of the the recipes that she pasted along over 5 years ago.

Before we begin, I'd like to say thank you to my husband who encouraged me to begin this "historic" journey. So in thanks, I'd like to as all my visitors to please visit his quartz infrared heaters website called Mirage Infrared Heaters. That concludes this love/commercial interruption.


Now on to the recipes!


Roasted Asparagus Bundles

1 Pound of asparagus
Olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic - finely minced
Pancetta or center-cut bacon
1/4 Cup fine bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley - finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Trim the asparagus and cook them in boiling water a minute or two until they are crisp-tender. Drain, plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process, then drain them well.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until lightly golden. Add the bread crumbs, stir and cook until they are toasted. Place the mixture in a bowl. Add the parsley, lemon zest, and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lightly coat the asparagus with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Butter a baking dish, and preheat the oven to 450.

Divide the asparagus into bundles. Wrap each with a piece of pancetta or bacon, then lay the bundles in the buttered baking dish. Put a bit of the seasoned bread crumbs on top of each bundle. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy.

Asparagus, Strawberry & Turkey Spinach Salad

1 Pound asparagus spears
1/3 cup bottled poppy seed salad dressing
1 tsp. orange zest
1 Tbs. orange juice
8 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries (you can substitute blueberries)
1 pound turkey, cut into 1/2" cubes (I usually buy smoked turkey)
1/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut them into 1" pieces. Blanch them in boiling, salted water for a couple of minutes (until just crisp-tender). Drain the asparagus and plunge in cold water until completely cooled. Drain again.

Meanwhile, for the dressing, blend together poppy seed dressing, orange peel, and orange juice.

In a salad bowl, combine the spinach, asparagus, strawberries, and turkey. Lightly toss with the dressing. Place on serving plates and garnish with toasted pecans.


Brown Derby Cobb Salad

I've read a lot of stories regarding the origin of Cobb Salad, but this one seems the most plausible to me. Arthur Schwartz says it comes straight from the Brown Derby archives:

"One night in 1937, Bob Cobb, then owner of The Brown Derby, prowled hungrily in his restaurant's kitchen for a snack. Opening the huge refrigerator, he pulled out this and that: a head of lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, some cold breast of chicken, a hard-boiled egg, chives, cheese and some old-fashioned French dressing. He started chopping. Added some crisp bacon -- swiped from a busy chef. The Cobb salad was born. It was so good, Sid Grauman (Grauman's Chinese Theatre), who was with Cobb that midnight, asked the next day for a 'Cobb Salad.' It was so good that it was put on the menu. Cobb's midnight invention became an overnight sensation with Derby customers, people like movie mogul Jack Warner, who regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick up a carton of the mouth-watering salad."

Here's what I'm curious about: According to this account, Bob Cobb owned that particular Brown Derby restaurant. I've read other accounts that say Bob Cobb was the General Manager, and the restaurant was owned by Herb Somborn (ex-husband of Gloria Swanson), Wilson Mizner (a screenwriter), and Sid Grauman. Hmm ... think I'll research that some more. [UPDATE: I just read that Bob Cobb took over ownership in 1934, upon the deaths of Herb Somborn and Wilson Mizner.]

At any rate, here are recipes for Cobb Salad, and for Cobb Salad Dressing

1/2 head Iceberg lettuce
1/2 head Romaine lettuce
1 small bunch chicory
1 bunch watercress
2 tomatoes
6 strips crisp bacon
2 cooked chicken breasts
3 hard-boiled eggs
1 avocado
1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped chives

Chop the Iceberg, Romaine, chicory and half of the watercress together. Place in a big salad bowl. Chop the remaining ingredients and lay in strips on top of the greens. Sprinkle chives and remaining watercress on top, and dress with Cobb Salad Dressing.

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry English mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup salad oil

Blend all ingredients together, except oils. Slowly blend in oils. (Note from the Brown Derby: The water is optional, depending upon the degree of oiliness desired in the dressing.)

Bobby Flay's Ginger, Garlic and Lime Grilled Shrimp

2 large shallots, chopped
2" piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds shrimp, shells and tails on

Mix the shallots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a blender. Add the green onions, peanut oil, and black pepper. Blend until combined.

Put the shrimp in a bowl, pour the marinade over them, and let stand at room temperature for 1/2 hour.

Bring the grill up to high. Grill the shrimp a minute or two on each side.

NOTE: Everybody's grill is different, so keep an eye on your shrimp. It's easy to overcook them. And get the biggest shrimp you can find.

Green Beans with Goat Cheese and Bacon Vinaigrette

Serves 6
1-1/2 pounds green beens (the younger the better) - cleaned & trimmed
1/2 cup chopped shallots (red onions work fine)
1-2 garlic cloves (depending on your taste & how big they are) - peeled & minced
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (about 4 ounces)
dried cherries or dried cranberries (optional)

Pre-cook the beans in boiling, salted water until crisp-tender, then drain and rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and set aside.

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain. In the same skillet, add the chopped shallots (or red onions) and garlic and saute in the bacon drippings until they begin to get soft. Add vinegar and mustard and whisk, scraping up the brown bits. Whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

To serve, toss the beans with the warm dressing. Sprinkle the cheese, bacon bits, and any dried fruit on top.

And for Desert.. Glittering Eye Molten Chocolate Cakes

Dave of The Glittering Eye posted a recipe for Molten Chocolate Cakes for a Valentine's Day Carnival of the Recipes. I made them immediately. To die for. All I can say about Dave is that the man can cook! And hubby loved them. I haven't made these luscious, gooey, chocolately cakes since Valentine's Day, and have decided on this recipe for birthday boy's dessert. Here is Dave's recipe (read through to the bottom to see how I've embellished them just a bit).

1 stick unsalted butter
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450. Butter and lightly flour four 6-oz. ramekins, tapping out the excess flour. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Melt the butter with the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl at high speed until thickened and pale. Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Fold the chocolate and flour into the egg mixture. Spoon the batter into the ramekins and bake for 12 minutes or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold.

Serve immediately.

Great place to learn your history is the History Channel, and for food, the Food Network.