Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole on plate with broccoli, casserole dish in background

Corn Flakes Top this 1950s Classic

Many home cooks in the 1950s were mad for the new convenience foods — canned this or powdered that.  Although many of these items had become available earlier in the 20th century, they reached their zenith of popularity in the 50s. 

The 1950s were also the decade of casseroles.  “One-pot” recipes of the casserole persuasion have been around since mankind first invented cooking utensils, but people rediscovered them in the 1930s.  And eventually people realized that many of those swell convenience foods — condensed soup in particular — worked well in casserole assembly. 

Tuna Noodle Casserole was the quintessential 50s dish.  It required boxed noodles!  Canned soup!  Canned tuna!  Canned peas!  And a topping of boxed cereal!  How wonderful— you could make it without any fresh ingredients!  Convenient, no?

And amazingly enough, it was also a pretty good dish. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Red-Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes

Red-Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes and Rice on Black Acrylic

This Chinese Classic Is Easier to Make than Beef Stew

Red-braising, also called red-cooking — or in Chinese, hong shoo — is a common cooking method throughout much of China.  It’s similar to a western-style braise, but much quicker because the meat isn’t browned first.  And for most people it’s easier to master than stir fry (the best-known Chinese cooking technique). 

A bit of chopping, a quick sauté of an ingredient or two, then add liquid and braise on the back of the stove or in the oven until done.  It’s a dish that practically cooks itself.

And the flavor?  Exquisite. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Roast Belgian Endive


Roasting Is the Easiest Way to Cook this Versatile Vegetable 

Have you ever been in the supermarket and seen those cute little white, torpedo-shaped vegetables called Belgian endives — and wondered what to do with them?

Well, you can stop wondering. Earlier this week we discussed how to braise Belgian endive. And today we’re going to talk about roasting it, which is perhaps the easiest way to cook it.

And in my book, the tastiest.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Braised Belgian Endive

Braised Belgian Endive in oblong White Ramekin with Fork

The Best Vegetable You Never Eat

When was the last time you ate Belgian endive?  That long ago?  Yeah, me too.

And when did you last cook it at home?  Probably never, if you’re like me.

What a shame.  Because Belgian endive has an appealing bitterness that mellows and sweetens when the vegetable is cooked.  It’s low in calories (each one has about 20), full of vitamins and minerals, and easy to prepare.  What’s not to like?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quick and Easy Pancakes

Pancakes on Black Acrylic with Pouring Syrup

Great for Shrove Tuesday, or Any Time 

Next week is Shrove Tuesday – the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. It’s also known as Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday.”

Traditionally,it’s the day when families use up all the fat, sugar, and other rich foods in their larders in preparation for the Lenten fast (hence, “Fat Tuesday”).  Some cultures turn all that richness into doughnuts.  But when I was growing up, pancakes were the Shrove Tuesday feast food of choice.

Although I rarely eat pancakes for breakfast (too much food too early in the day), they’re fine dinner fare.  And with this recipe, you can walk through the front door and be sitting down to pancakes in about 20 minutes.  Best of all, they’re made with ingredients you probably have on hand already.

So now you know what you’ll be serving for dinner next Tuesday.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Zabaglione

Zabaglione and Berries in Cocktail Glasses

This Foamy Egg Custard is an Italian Dessert Classic

Looking for a festive dessert for a special occasion?  Like Valentine’s Day, maybe?  Something sweet but light — and different?

How about Zabaglione?  Pronounced Zah-bahl-YOH-nay, it can also be spelled Zabaione (same pronunciation).  In France they call it Sabayon. 

Once a staple of Italian restaurants, this foamy egg custard classic has become less popular in recent years.  I don’t know why — it’s a delectable dessert.  And a flexible one!  You can serve it freshly made and warm, or prepare it ahead of time and serve chilled.

Add some fresh berries and mama mia!  You’ll be a star.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Classic Champagne Cocktail

Champagne Cocktail in 2 glasses, close-up

The Most Romantic Drink for Valentine’s Day

Champagne is both celebratory and romantic.  So for Valentine’s Day, it’s a natural.  Who can resist some bubbly?

And serving it as a Champagne Cocktail makes it even more bubbly.  Really.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Velveeta Tex-Mex Dip


The Chile con Queso We All Crave

Who doesn’t like to dip a tortilla chip into a spicy mixture of melted cheese — the Chile (or Chili) con Queso that’s a staple on most Tex-Mex menus?

Queso is Spanish for cheese.  Chile is Spanish for chile peppers.  And that’s what this recipe is all about:  cheese and chile flavor.

OK, so the “queso” here is Velveeta.  Giggle if you want.  But this dish is quick, fun, and highly tasty.  It’s also a party natural.  With the Super Bowl coming up, what better time to try it?