Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Just That Simple!™

I have noticed the past couple of weeks that more and more large, food companies are altering their labels to identify with the consumer demand for simplicity. People not only want to know what is in their food products, but be able to at the very least, pronounce them. There is a huge wave of tidal opinion, as well, for food products to get rid of complicated and extended ingredients in the simplest of foods.

Our government tried this back in 2008 to combat obesity but to be honest, take a look at the stats,                                                                 
                                                " It ain't workin' ! "






When I see some famous faces on television, such as Robert Irvine(and he is just one of the many dozens)salt fish before dumping it seasoned bread crumbs(with salt in the seasoning) and deep fry it. Only to add even more salt on top before eating it, I cringle. There is simply no reason to keep dumping salt in our bodies to such an extent.....period!

And then you have the kitchen "experts" tell you certain salts are better for you than others, such as sea salt versus table, or Himalayan salt versus Fleur de Sel or smoked salt versus Kosher.......you get my drift! Salt is salt my friends, let's stop relying on it so heavily in our diets or the death rate from not only obesity but illnesses as a result from high blood pressure will continue to skyrocket.

It is very difficult NOT to use a cake recipe, for example, that doesn't have some salt in it, nor pie recipes.

Now the argument is that salt enhances the sweetness of these desserts. Give that some thought for a minute.............Done?

Yes, I am guilty of creating recipes that truly are not the best, nutritionally, for you but just use some common sense when eating them. Take smaller portions or make these dishes sparingly. My goodness, there are so many other desserts and entrees you can make that makes use of natures flavors to enhance your food.

And when you take a look, or even prepare any of my recipes, I will let you know if a certain lower fat ingredient cannot be substituted, but overall, if a recipe calls for cream, milk or even fat-free evaporated milk is a perfect alternative.

To plug my second cookbook, Refreshed, you will notice not only lower fat recipes, but I utilize fruits and vegetables to a wider extent than most chefs. I also take advantage of fruit purees, fruit juice and fruit itself to lend a sweet touch where sugar is the norm.

Sugar adds sweetness.............THAT IS ALL! The items I just mentioned add sweetness AND flavor.

So toss that extra salt aside and make use of nature's abundant supply of healthy alternatives. If not for yourself, than for the ones you love. Here is a great example of a superbly simply and explosively flavorful dessert that showcases the taste of berries without added sugar. It may take a few tries to understand what true fruit flavors are, but a content smile beats all *$%# out of a guilty frown.

Blackberry Foolish Moose
 
 

3 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup apple juice
1 cup cranberry juice
2 envelopes plain gelatin
2 cups whipped topping

Add blackberries and juices to a food processor or blender and puree, on high, until as smooth as possible. Strain through a wire-mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, pressing the pulp against the sides to extract as much juice as possible. You will end up with about 2 cups.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. While mixture is boiling, lightly sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid, whisking at the same time. Do this slowly or the gelatin will clump up.

Continue whisking vigorously and cooking an additional minute.

Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cooled and starting to thicken.

Remove from refrigerator and whisk in whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate until set and completely cold.

 

Makes about 4 servings

 

 

It's Just That Simple!™

 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Where's The Sugar?

Ya' don't need it! ..... It's Just That Simple!™
 
 
As many of you may know, I am a fruit and berry fanatic. I adore all fruit in any preparation, hence the addition of it in the majority of recipes in my new cookbook, Refreshed, and the center of attention in my third cookbook yet to be released.

I have enjoyed the addition of all types of fruit products from savory dishes to desserts.

Although there may be just as much sugar in(for example) real apple or orange juice as granulated sugar, you are enjoying the benefits of vitamins and fiber that is found in both fruits and berries.

I hold nothing back when I say that I frequently use prepared all-fruit(similar to preserves)found in all supermarkets because of its cost and convenience. And if you ever look on the ingredient list, you will see that it only contains fruit or berries, along with pectin and citric acid. Citric acid helps it from turning color while on the store shelves, plus it aides in a "side of the tongue" tartness. Many will substitute lemon juice when making it at home, but I leave it out below because I do NOT want to mask the flavor of any fruit or berry in my all-fruit.

 
 
 

 
Anyway, enjoy these 5 recipes for your very own Homemade All-Fruit to use on all types of dishes, or simply on a good ol' peanut butter sandwich, knowing that there is not a trace of added sugar.....none needed!


Each of the following recipes gives you about 1 1/2 cups total product when done. You will also notice that I use only a half of a box of pectin per recipe. You will have to open the envelope inside the box and measure out what you need into a bowl, closing up remainder to use again. Why do I do this?

I would much, much rather have to make this all-fruit again if I need more.

You can also make two different kinds of all fruit at the same time, without making too much.

 

From left to right we have Blackberry, Mango, Strawberry, Blueberry and Peach All Fruit.

 

 
Blackberry All-Fruit

 

2 cups fresh or frozen(and thawed) blackberries *
1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons(half a 1.75 ounce package)no sugar needed pectin

Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender until as chunky or smooth as desired. Transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Let rapidly boil for 1 minute, and remove from heat. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a container. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

* If you desire no seeds, then puree blackberries with juice and strain before cooking, resulting in a more jelly-like end result.

 

Mango All-Fruit

 
2 cups chopped mangoes(about 2 small mangoes)
6 tablespoons mango nectar or juice
2 tablespoons(half a 1.75 ounce package)no sugar needed pectin

Follow same directions as in Blackberry All-Fruit

 

Strawberry All-Fruit

 

2 cups chopped strawberries
6 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons(half a 1.75 ounce package)no sugar needed pectin

Follow same directions as in Blackberry All-Fruit

 

Blueberry All Fruit

 

2 cup frozen, but thawed, blueberries
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Follow same directions as in Blackberry All-Fruit, but without the pectin.

 


Peach All-Fruit

You can use any blend of juice with peaches, but make sure it is 100% juice blend.

 
2 cups chopped, fresh peaches(4 peaches)
6 tablespoons peach nectar or juice
2 tablespoons(half a 1.75 ounce package)no sugar needed pectin

Follow same directions as in Blackberry All-Fruit

Friday, July 15, 2016

Submarines versus Italians vs. Hero's vs...................

Boy, this was a tough nut to crack. Especially because of the various names used for basically the same sandwich. To nail down who was first to make, what we know consider, the Italian sandwich was easy. What was difficult was finding the origin of, and the components of, each sandwich. Let me explain, with my conclusion at the end.


The TRUE Italian

 
Submarine Sandwiches(or Subs for short) that we here in New England, with Maine in particular, refer to, are cheese, meat and veggie-laden sandwiches. They are also called Italians, although each should be given a stand-alone distinction, they are even alluded to as Italian Subs at times. 
 
But why are they called Italians? No, they aren't Italian in origin or components, but because they were first prepared by an Italian immigrant named . That's right! The same man as the current restaurant chain is named after. The Amato family decided to name these popular sandwiches after their home country and self proclamation, a sort of reverence and dedication, if you will.

Giovanni owned a small bakery/sandwich shop on India street in Portland, Maine in 1902.  The brunt of his noontime clientele were the dock workers on the ocean front. Come lunch time, Giovanni was selling his bread by the slice, and then the meat and cheese to order and separately to these workers.
After leaving Amato's shop to enjoy lunch, these same workers had to take the time to assemble their own sandwiches. It didn't take a genius to understand that if Giovanni were to make this sandwich ahead of time, throwing in some sliced green peppers, onions, olives and tomatoes, sans the pickles and lettuce-he could sell them at a higher profit and make his dock workers satisfied to the point they would come back time and again.
 
The construction of this early sandwich consisted of good, dry-cured ham(not salami as many food historians may allude to) and as mentioned, did NOT include lettuce and pickles. Both of these came many decades later during the early 70s, along with the cheaper boiled ham.
 
Many deli's and "Sub" shops continue to produce an almost exact copy of this original, including Bratt's Store in Stetson, Maine.

All you have to do is walk in to this neighborhood store and say "I will have an Italian please.". In a couple of minutes, you will have a 'sub' roll filled with ham, American cheese, pickles, green peppers, onions and olives.....NO LETTUCE! Those kinds of stores are few and far between so kudo's to my great friends at Bratt's, they are well worthy of a plug here.
I must also add that I was somewhat underhanded when I called my local Amato's in Bangor, Maine. I wanted to see for myself if they, too, lived up to the same standard as Bratt's. When a worker answered the phone, I asked him outright, "If I were to order simply an Italian, what would you put in it?" Gladly, and luckily I might add, he rattled off everything a true Italian should contain. Bravo to you folks as well.
 

(See paragraph below on Dominic Conti for the name of the sandwich that DOES consist of lettuce, but keep it out of my Italian!)


The Submarine
 
There was a certain Dominic Conti(1874-1954)an immigrant of Italian heritage from Montella, Italy. who moved his family to New York at the turn of the 20th century. He uprooted his family once again to move to Paterson, New Jersey a number of years later and opened a grocery store/deli in 1910 on Mill Street. For about 8 years, he was selling his version of a meat and cheese sandwich without a name.
In 1918, he marveled at a sunken submarine(the Fenian Ram) as it was being displayed at the Paterson Museum and noted that the hull looked just like his sandwiches. He immediately started calling his sandwiches Submarines. The main sticking point, of which actually separates a submarine sandwich from an Italian, is the lettuce that Dominic added to it from the beginning.
 
Another story, as related by his granddaughter Angela Zuccaro, is that Dominic didn't see the submarine until 1927, and that is was called the Holland I. She goes on to say that her grandfather saw the Holland I at Westside Park in Paterson, not the museum.
 
Many say that Benedetto Capaldo was the originator of the Submarine sandwich. Benedetto, who was a restaurateur from New London, Connecticut during the WWII era, made his "Grinder"(as he first referred to them as) with salami, onions, cheese and tomato. Benedetto changed the name of these sandwiches when he noticed that his sandwiches were little replicas of the submarines being built in the local shipyard. I will state, rather unequivocally, that I don't believe this story for one main reason, although several exist. It is way too similar to Conti's story, which is at least a dozen years earlier, and even up to over 20 years older, whichever the references you believe.
 

We also have the Hoagie, which has been around since the '30s in and around the Philly region.
 
Wedges are a New York term for the same sandwich. It is said to be a shortened version of the word sandwich.

Bombers in upstate New York are, in essence, the same as the Italian.

Also from the New York area is the Hero. These are said to have been "invented" at the turn of the 20th century by Italian immigrants. The story goes on to relate a beginning that is eerily duplicate to Dominic Conti, so this author will pass. The name, itself, however, is usually assigned to Clementine Paddleford, a writer for the New York Herald Tribune. She is said to have remarked "You'd have to be a hero to finish one."
 Grinders are rightfully NOT Italians! They refer to any hot sandwich that contains both meat and cheese. Why are they so called Grinder? That will be up to future food historians to figure out.
 
 
Many historians have cited the Oxford English Dictionary with relation to the beginnings of each of these names, but fail to take into account that a term or word does not make it into a standard dictionary until it has been in circulation for many years.
 
 
 
And lastly we have a combination of both names, as seen by an advertisement for Charley's Italian Submarine Sandwich Shop, on his grand opening. According to the 4 December 1936 issue of the Journal-Every Evening (Wilmington, DE), pg. 37, col. 4, he advertises for people to come and buy one of his:
 
              "Italian Submarine Sandwiches"
 
So Portland, Maine can rightfully proclaim to be the birthplace of this sandwich, regardless of the spin offs and names. We can all thank Giovanni for the introduction of this purely American sandwich as well as the purely American......way of confusing things. Sa-a-a-a-lute! 
 
 
 
 Here is an interesting reference to the Submarine Sandwich:
 
 
1943:
 
"FIRST PRIZE and RECIPE
MRS. ADRIAN ECK
Box 385, Pandora, Ohio
SUBMARINE SANDWICH
 
Split a coney roll: hollow out: butter completely. Fill fore n 'aft and in the middle with three different fillings. Baked beans with onions, chopped egg and mayonnaise, diced ham with relish."
 
               -- The Lima News. Lima, Ohio. 12 April 1943. Page 5.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Refreshed

Refreshed


 
Now that I am done with creating recipes, I am also bringing to a close another chapter of my culinary life, writing. Starting in September, I will no longer be accepting requests or offering my weekly food column to both online and print newspapers.
 
Already in dozens of sites and newspapers across the country, with special emphasis on New England states, my time is quickly catching up to me and there are exciting opportunities arising at each passing day that I MUST take advantage of.
 
But, I will give everyone a heads up. Between now and September, I will honor and write for any publication FREE OF CHARGE if they contact me before September. Those who are currently accepting my columns...don't worry one bit. I will continue to honor my commitment to you for many years to come, and I will also continue to write for any publication that signs up in the next 2 months for as long as you carry my column.
 
 
 
I can't thank everyone enough for standing beside me all these years and I hope to continue writing for my current clients, as well as any new subscribers.
 
It is very difficult to give quality content when you have children at home, extensively travelling to judge food festivals and, at the same time, continue to do appearances to promote ANYTHING New England related.
 
And for those interested, know that my columns are geared toward your geographic location. I do not write a column devoted to New England cooking if your publication is based, or is geared toward a different audience other than the Northeast or even America for that matter.
 
I write with ease of preparation, cost effectiveness and the bounty of nature as my backdrop and inspiration.
 
Please feel free to contact me at yankeeenterprises@aol.com for more information.
                                                                     
 
 

 
It's Just That Simple!™

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Button Up and Belly Up

Puff Dough Recipe



This recipe is perfect for that pot pie you have been wanting to make or a great substitute for any recipe using puff pastry. It cooks up tender with a slight puffiness and layers of flakiness that works every time.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick(1/2-cup) cold butter or margarine
1/2 cup cold sour cream

 

In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking powder well. Add the butter, in pats, and mash into flour mixture using a fork or pastry cutter until it is half the size of peas. Using a sturdy wooden spoon or equivalent, vigorously stir in the sour cream until well incorporated.

On a well floured work surface, with additional flour at hand, begin kneading for a minute or so, until smooth, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll out dough into a rectangle with a rolling pin, with the dough about a half inch thick. Fold over one of the ends a third of the way, repeating with the opposite end. Roll out again to the same size as the original rectangle, working quickly.

Repeat this step 4 more times. fold over one more time without rolling out. Wrap tightly with a couple of pieces of film wrap as airtight as possible. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days before using.

To use, roll out to desired shape and size while cold between two large pieces of film wrap to prevent sticking.



Pork Button Pie
 
A true meat pie but the mushrooms are the star of the show here. Instead of flavoring this pie with meat, I flavored the mushrooms with this spicy Italian sausage.
 

1 Puff Dough recipe, above
4 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 link hot Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
2 pounds button mushrooms, sliced thick
1/2(6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

 

Make Puff dough and refrigerate 60 minutes. Meanwhile, make Pork Button Filling.

Using a large skillet over medium high heat, add shallots and sausage, stirring to break up sausage. Cook, while stirring frequently, until sausage is cooked through. Drain fat and add mushrooms, stirring to combine. Cook until all the moisture has come out of mushrooms and they are cooked, about 10-12 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together tomato paste and broth. Add to mushroom mixture and continue cooking until thickened, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crumbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool until ready to fill pie.

Roll out half the dough between 2 sheets of film wrap until large enough to cover a 9-inch pie pan; set aside. Repeat with remaining dough. You may also dust work surface with flour and roll out accordingly.

Place one dough circle in pan, empty mushroom mixture on top, spreading out evenly. Top with remaining dough and crimp edges. Poke holes in the top to vent, brush egg over the top and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until well browned on top. Remove to cool slightly before cutting to serve.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lest We Forget.....

.....the deliciousness of tapioca. I remember as a child, tapioca pudding could be enjoyed at most restaurants, school cafeteria's and at home. We never blinked an eye when we were served this "soft-lumped" sweet, vanilla-tinged pudding. But that was the extent of the flavor...vanilla!




I don't even remember anything but a firm glob of whipped cream sitting on top, only to be folded in before we lifted a spoonful into our mouths.

I do believe, however, that it is a sign of the times that we rarely see this pudding served anywhere and anymore. Not because our palates have changed, per se, but because parents do not cook at home nearly as much as they did many years ago. Don't you agree?

It was a treat to have home baked cookies, pies, cakes and puddings because not only did our parents take the time to cook for us, but the array of sweet treats found at any store was miniscule compared to today's inventory.

With the vast array of candies, pastries and sweets found on counters, next to the cash registers, now, our taste transcends just simple and sweet. We have choices of flavors that we didn't have a generation ago, but those flavors are manufactured.

And because of our "fake food" indulgences of today. our bodies are slowly begging for change. Accepting the man-made treats with ingredients that are manufactured in a lab, is universally accepted by our bodies, forgoing anything natural and homemade.

Let's take a few minutes and prepare this classic dessert, but with something that compliments this dish, and ingredients our body desires.....fruit and flavor!



Beautiful Lemon-Coconut Pudding 

 
 

Such a gorgeous presentation, only "one-upped" by the flavor of lemon, coconut and strawberries, all mingling on your tongue as brightly as the visual impact of this Brazilian-inspired dessert. The coconut water is widely available in most supermarkets and if desired, add a couple drops yellow food coloring to the pudding before refrigerating.



Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups coconut, plus more for dusting
3 cups small pearl tapioca *
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups fat free or low fat sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups coconut water, divided
Grated rind from 1 lemon
Juice from one lemon
1 cup lemon curd
1 pint fresh strawberries
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Lightly grease a 9 x 12-inch pan(or equivalent) with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine coconut, tapioca and sugar; set aside. Bring milk, 1 cup coconut water, lemon rind and juice to scalding over medium heat, stirring frequently. When just starting to come to a boil, immediately remove from heat and pour over coconut mixture. Blend in the curd completely and pour into prepared pan. Cover(without film wrap touching the pudding)and refrigerate until completely cold and firm.

Meanwhile, hull strawberries, slicing and setting aside 3 of them. Roughly chop remainder and add to a small saucepan with cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly and add remainder of coconut water. Mash with a sturdy fork while bringing to boiling over medium high heat. Once boiling, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble, cut firm pudding into 12 equal-sized squares. Place 1 square on a serving dish, add a couple tablespoons macerated strawberries and top with another square of pudding. Repeat and serve cold, dusted with additional coconut.

* Or use 10 ounces(Four 2.75-ounce boxes) minute tapioca

Enough for 6 servings





Strawberries and Cream Tapioca

 
 

Tapioca is quite confusing. It is marketed in several forms, with each company portraying their product in different manners. To put all this in a nutshell, minute, quick cooking and instant are all the same. This is the type of tapioca I use in this "best of the best" strawberry pudding. There is also pearl tapioca, coming in small and large pearls. These can be substituted in this recipe as well by simply doubling the amount of tapioca and adding 1 additional egg. Cook as directed below, and you will have a treat even the hesitant children will love.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled
2 1/2 tablespoons(25g)minute tapioca minute
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Place the milk in a container that is marked with volume measurements, such as a large measuring cup or blender container. Slice strawberries into the milk to bring it up to 3 cups total volume. Puree until as smooth as possible. Transfer to a medium saucepan with remainder of ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to scalding over medium heat, stirring almost constantly as it heats up. When thickened and hot. remove from heat, stir in vanilla and pour into large bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until completely cold.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and stir in as many chopped, fresh strawberries as desired. Spoon into serving bowls and add whipped topping if desired.

Serves 4

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Last Month

I am been truly blessed with the outpouring of people who took advantage of the past 11 months with regards to creating recipes for particular websites, businesses and companies. I have been nonstop(with the exception of 2 weeks at the beginning)developing and creating unique dishes and there is only 1 month to go.




This will be the last month, the last time actually, that I will be doing this because of a number of projects I am involved with.

I want to thank over a dozen businesses for taking advantage of the "cheapest" rates anywhere for developing recipes. I began this promotion because it is the 100th anniversary of The Yankee Chef name, so I drastically cut my rate over 50% and boy, did that bring out the folks.

Again, this is the last month and the last time I will ever do this, so take advantage now because this is it people.

Want recipes that EVERYONE will enjoy, but in a way NOONE else can prepare? Yup, that's me!




It's Just That Simple!™