Italy

Archive | December, 2009

Foodie Resolutions for the New Year

Foodie Resolutions for the New Year

New Years Resolutions2For the foodie, creating a list of New Year’s resolutions is a must, and it’s one to carry over from year to year. That’s because we can enjoy so much more of the world than ever before, thanks to the international markets in our community and the availability of fresh produce we’ve never encountered before.

We’d like to hear what you’re thinking about as the new year approaches, and any resolutions you’ve decided to make.

In the meantime, here are a few goals we at SavorSA would like to set forth. Some are simple, others require time and patience. All are worthwhile in your kitchen. In no particular order:

  1. Eat less processed food. Head for the fresh produce, meat and seafood section for more of the foods you’ll prepare this year. Or to the farmers markets in your area. Some of them have gone year-round.
  2. Prepare at least one more meal at home each week. Nothing beats home cooking.
  3. Try a new cooking technique or recipe at least once a month. If you’ve never made pasta at home, or a pie crust, or pesto, what are you waiting for? The more you vary your repertoire, the easier it gets to be in the kitchen.
  4. Give yourself more time for more elaborate dishes. Ever put off making osso buco, rack of lamb or vegetarian terrine because the recipe seemed too elaborate? Dust off that recipe and dedicate some time and, yes, money to preparing the dish. Turn the preparation into a celebration.
  5. Break out of your habit of picking up the same things in the produce department. Once a week, or even once a month, pick up a fruit or vegetable you’re not familiar with. Check out your books or the Internet to see good ways to prepare it.
  6. While you’re pursuing No. 5,  you can be adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  7. Eat more breakfasts. It really is the most important meal of the day.
  8. Vary your approach. At least once, try a new way of preparing a family favorite, whether it’s migas or meatloaf. Your family will let you know whether the new version is better or whether they really appreciate the old standard.
  9. Try new wines and see how they match with food. When was the last time you had a spicy Zinfandel with a bowl of posole? Or lamb with a robust Syrah? Pinot Noir and steak is a pairing you hear less often than Cabernet Sauvignon with steak, yet the two are a great pair.
  10. Dust off a neglected or unused appliance and put it to work. When was the last time you used your hand blender, your juicer or waffle maker?
  11. Make a new dessert at least once a month. Try layer cakes if you always make bundt cakes, or vice versa. Go beyond cake mixes and do everything from scratch. Temper your own chocolate for truffles. Again, give yourself some time, keeping in mind that the end results are worth it.
  12. There are more cheeses in the world than Velveeta, American, Monterey Jack and Cheddar. Find out what they are and what foods go with them.
  13. Make a loaf of homemade bread.
  14. Eat more locally grown food.
  15. Prepare more international food. Don’t stick with a regional style simply because it’s what you grew up with. Explore the flavors that the world has to offer.
  16. Organize your recipe files.  Go through all of your magazine clippings and categorize them by course or ingredient.  Do the same for all of the online recipes you’ve saved off the internet.
  17. Go through your cookbook collection. If you have them handy on kitchen shelves, keep them dusted. If you haven’t looked at one for years, take it down and open it up. It’s a nice way to spend an hour on a rainy afternoon and you just might get inspired.
  18. Make a clean sweep.  Refresh your spice drawer.  Most spices lose their flavor after one year; consider washing out the old jars and refilling them with bulk spices, which can be fresher and cheaper.  Go through your pantry and throw away expired foods; with more space, you can rearrange your pantry to make it easier to find your ingredients when you want them.
  19. Consider organic produce; few chemicals result in a healthier you as well as those who grow the food.
  20. Be more aware of ways of keeping your kitchen clean. Make sure you don’t contaminate anyone by re-using cutting boards without washing them or use utensils that have touched raw meat to be used elsewhere without washing.
  21. Celebrate more with your friends and family over a home-cooked meal. It’s a way of thanking them for the blessings they bring to your life.
  22. Bring a younger person or inexperienced cook into the kitchen with you, and pass on your good skills and knowledge. Or, take them to a cooking class with you. Not all parents have time to teach this vital skill.
  23. Remember that many of San Antonio’s citizens are in need of support when it comes to putting food on their tables. If your church has a food bank, be generous. Also, remember the Food Bank also always takes donations.
  24. Enjoy yourself in the kitchen. Cooking really is fun. Sure, it can be challenging, but think of how much fun it is to master something new. Ask friends over to have a cooking party.

Happy New Year!

Bonnie Walker, Kristina Mistry and John Griffin contributed to this report.

Posted in Featured1 Comment

SavorSA Shares New Year’s Luck on ‘Great Day SA’

SavorSA Shares New Year’s Luck on ‘Great Day SA’

Bonnie Walker and John Griffin of SavorSA appeared on the Monday edition of “Great Day SA” to share stories of New Year’s traditions.

They spoke with guest host Paul Mireles about how various cultures serve greens, such as cabbage or kale, as a symbol of wealth (cabbage, in fact, was once a slang term for money), while black-eyed peas and carrot coins are also considered a harbinger of prosperity because of their monetary shape.

Recipes for ringing in the new year include Jalapeño Black-eyed Peas With Ham Hocks, Carrot Coins With Honey and Dill, and Cabbage With Dill Butter and Bacon.

Black-eyed peas

Recipe: Jalapeño Black-eyed Peas With Ham Hocks

Carrot coins are a sign of good luck on New Year's.

Recipe: Carrot Coins With Honey and Dill

Boil the cabbage until tender.

Recipe: Cabbage with Dill Butter and Bacon

Posted in Featured, VideoComments Off on SavorSA Shares New Year’s Luck on ‘Great Day SA’

Sprinkle Pecans on Top of Sweet Potato Pie

Sprinkle Pecans on Top of Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato PieSweet Potato Pie

2 cups cooked sweet potatoes, drained
4 tablespoons margarine, melted
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (9-inch) pie shell, baked
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Use a food processor or fork to mash sweet potatoes together with melted margarine. Blend in eggs, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add milk and vanilla. Pour mixture into baked pie shell. Bake for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle on pecans and bake 15-25 minutes or until it doesn’t jiggle.

Makes 8 servings.

Adapted from Sankofa

Posted in RecipesComments Off on Sprinkle Pecans on Top of Sweet Potato Pie

Chicken-fried Steak Made to Your Tastes

Chicken-fried Steak Made to Your Tastes

Chicken Fried SteakPlaywright, novelist and poet Ntozake Shange remembers her very first chicken-fried steak, which she had in Amarillo in June of 1974. “I was totally unprepared for chicken-fried steak,” she writes in “If I Can Cook/You Know God Can.” “All I knew about was chicken fried like chicken or fish fried like fish, but not one animal fried like another kind of animal.” Yet she fell in love with the dish and made it her own. Her recipe is not traditional in that you measure out certain proportions of ingredients. You just follow her lead and make it to your taste:

Chicken-fried Steak

[amazon-product]0807072419[/amazon-product]”I believe in using choice pieces of meat, though that’s not always possible or necessary. Anyway, with a decent piece of sirloin steak that’s been tenderized by piercing with a fork or pounding, cut vertical slits in the rim of fat along the edge so your meat won’t curl up. If you want to be really fancy, this meat can be marinated in Worcestershire sauce, red wine or a mesquite-tinged hot sauce. Meanwhile, fix a batter of milk, eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Dredge your meat on both sides in the batter (then cook) in a thick-bottom frying pan, the old-fashioned kind, I guess. Your oil should be hot so that a sprinkle of water sizzles. The same problem that confronts you when you are frying chicken appears here. We don’t want the crust of the meat to brown too quickly, before the meat is done. That requires you to mediate the range of the fire ‘neath your pan with some focus. I like my meat rare, so my steak is in and out as soon as the crust is a fine brown. I don’t know what to tell you if you want your meat well done. I imagine you’ll be at the stove a bit longer.”

From “If I Can Cook/You Know God Can” by Ntozake Shange

Posted in RecipesComments Off on Chicken-fried Steak Made to Your Tastes

Griffin to Go: In Praise of Soul Food

Griffin to Go: In Praise of Soul Food

Chicken Fried Steak-Featured

When I hear the term soul food, I immediately think of chicken frying on the stove, next to a pot of greens that has been boiling for awhile. Black-eyed peas with ham. Sweet potato pie. I think of home.

I think of all the Southern-style dishes that my mother learned to make when she moved to America from Germany. My dad is from Alabama, and they settled there and in Tennessee before ending up in Kentucky. Since my mother didn’t know how to boil water when they got married, she learned her basics from the women around her.

Vegetables were slowly simmered until they fell apart at the touch of a fork. Every scrap of meat was used, because budgets were tight. Every part of the vegetable – from beet to beet green, turnip to turnip green – was used, as long as it was edible.

It was an approach that anyone who grew up in the Depression knew and passed on to their children.

We don’t always respect the wisdom of our elders. We don’t want to listen to how hard others have had it. And so, I have heard people deride the term “soul food” because it has negative connotations attached to it. It’s seen as poor people’s food, what you’d find only in certain low kitchens. Or it’s strictly African-American food born out of hard times.

What a waste. Food is something to celebrate, not mock.

As playwright and poet Ntozake Shange writes in her culinary memoir, “If I Can Cook/You Know God Can,” “… although we may leave home, get rid of our accents, and change our names and diets, the aroma of certain foods will trigger warm memories and fill us with a longing and taste to return home. Once in Rome, I passed someone’s apartment and the smell of collard greens ‘gently stewing in the pot,’ as Langston Hughes wrote, made my eyes tear and knees buckle. I wanted to go home.”

All food is soul food if it comes from something within you and you share it with others, be it your family at dinner time or friends at an elaborate party. It’s a gift that we share, especially at this time of year. Think of the Jewish tradition that infuses latkes at Hanukkah. Or the family traditions shared at Christmas while the tamales are being made or the oyster stew is cooking on the stove.

We continue the same communal bond over Kwaanza, into the New Year and on to Epiphany, which is a great feast day in the Greek community.

In Texas, our soul food includes everything from chicken-fried steak to breakfast tacos to slow-smoked barbecue. We have our family traditions on how we prepare each. Think of the myriad family secrets for how to make barbecue, from the wood used to the special rubs and sauces.

So, share some soul food with your family this week. Honor your ancestors and recount their impact on your own story. Feed minds as well as bodies.

Chicken Fried Steak

Recipe: Chicken-fried Steak Made to Your Tastes

Sweet Potato Pie

Recipe: Sprinkle Pecans on Top of Sweet Potato Pie

Black-eyed peas

Recipe: Jalapeño Black-eyed Peas With Ham Hocks

Posted in Blogs, FeaturedComments Off on Griffin to Go: In Praise of Soul Food

SavorSA to Appear on ‘Great Day SA’

SavorSA to Appear on ‘Great Day SA’

Pork, black-eyed peas, greens and carrot coins have significance as New Year's foods.

Pork, black-eyed peas, greens and carrot coins have significance as New Year's foods.

Bonnie Walker and John Griffin of SavorSA are scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. Monday on “Great Day SA,” which airs on KENS-5.

The pair are planning to discuss New Year’s foods and culinary traditions in various cultures. Some of the dishes they will discuss are Jalapeño Black-eyed Peas With Ham Hocks, Carrot Coins With Honey and Dill, and Cabbage With Dill Butter and Bacon.

So, tune in to “Great Day SA” Monday for a bit of New Year’s luck and sample a few delicious dishes.

Posted in News2 Comments

Jalapeño Black-eyed Peas With Ham Hocks

Jalapeño Black-eyed Peas With Ham Hocks

Black-eyed peasThis recipe uses two foods widely recognized as being lucky if consumed on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  In the American South, especially, pork and the coin-like peas are demanded for ringing in the new year.  White rice cooked in with the beans turns the dish into Hopping John, another Southern tradition.

This dish has spread to other parts of the country as well.  We can also make the case for jalapeños being nominated to the ranks of good-luck foods: They can be sliced into rounds, symbolizing coins, and they are usually green, the color of money.

Those who eat this traditional recipe instantly receive the benefits of great taste and inexpensive nourishment. That might be the best fortune of all!

Jalapeño Black-eyed Peas With Ham Hocks

3 small ham hocks
1 medium onion, chopped, divided use
1/2 bay leaf
2 large cloves garlic, mashed, divided use
1 pound dried black-eyed peas (see note)
1 green jalapeño, seeds pulled out and sliced into rounds, or to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Tabasco sauce, for condiment
Vinegar, for condiment

Simmer ham hocks in a pot with plenty of water (cover hocks over with at least 4-5 inches of cold water). To the water add half of the chopped onion, the bay leaf and 1 of the mashed garlic cloves. When the ham is falling off the bone (this takes a couple of hours of simmering), take the pot off the stove. Pull out the ham hocks and set them on a plate to cool. Strain the broth, then put broth back into the cooking pan, measuring to be sure you have as much broth as the package of peas calls for. If you don’t, add water. Add the black-eyed peas, the rest of the onion and garlic, and as much of the jalapeño as you like.  Bring the peas to a gentle simmer, cover and let cook until they are tender. (This time varies depending on how fresh the peas are. If you are using fresh (not dried) peas, it won’t take long at all. If using dried peas, it takes longer. (Be sure to check them for doneness after a half-hour or so.)

When the hocks have cooled enough to handle, take off the meat with your fingers and chop it. Put it into the soup. Discard the rest of the fat and bones.

Season with pepper and salt, to taste. Serve with Tabasco sauce and vinegar, if you like these condiments with your beans. Also you might top with finely minced fresh onion and cilantro.

Note: Black-eyed peas are available fresh, cooked and vacuum-packed, and canned. This recipe is for a one-pound bag of dried peas. For fresh peas, make the ham stock as instructed and put in 2 pints of fresh peas. Cover them with about 2-3 inches of the ham stock. For canned or cooked peas in vacuum packs, heat them up and put in chopped ham as well as the jalapeño, onion and a little more garlic, if you wish.

Makes 8-10 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

This version contains recipe correction.



Posted in Recipes4 Comments

Ring in the New Year With Cabbage Dish

Boil the cabbage until tender.

Boil the cabbage until tender.

Serving cabbage on New Year’s is meant to signify that you’ll be rolling in money for the rest of the year. Whether it’s true or not is beside the point when you taste this Scandinavian cabbage dish crowned with dill butter and bacon.

Cabbage With Dill Butter and Bacon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup salt
1 head cabbage, cored and halved
1/4 pound bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Sea salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, using a fork, mix the butter with the dill. Refrigerate.

Combine 4 quarts of water and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cabbage, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the cabbages are tender but still offer some resistance when pricked with a fork.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon in the unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat for 7 to 9 minutes or until crisp.

Fry the bacon in a pat of melted butter.

Fry the bacon in a pat of melted butter.

Drain the cabbage well and cut into quarters. Place on individual plates. Add the dill butter and bacon. Season each with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from “Kitchen of Light” by Andreas Viestad

Posted in Recipes3 Comments

Carrot Coins With Honey and Dill

Carrot Coins With Honey and Dill

Carrot coins are a sign of good luck on New Year's.

Carrot coins are a sign of good luck on New Year's.

One of the New Year’s  good luck traditions prevalent worldwide is to consume foods that are reminiscent of coins or cash. Here, we’ve added butter and honey to add richness and sweetness to the dish. Also, a bit of orange juice, as oranges are another New Year’s food tradition in some areas of the world.

Carrot Coins With Honey and Dill

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced crosswise into ‘coins,’ about a quarter-inch thick
2 tablespoons melted butter
1-2 teaspoons honey, or to taste
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon dill weed (1 tablespoon, if using fresh)
Pinch of salt

Steam or simmer carrots until they are tender, but not mushy. Drain water. Add to the pan the butter, honey, orange juice, dill and a pinch of salt. Toss gently to glaze the carrots with the sauce. Serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

Posted in RecipesComments Off on Carrot Coins With Honey and Dill

Savor the Season

Savor the Season

May your season be flavored with bountiful joy.

May your season be flavored with bountiful joy.

We at SavorSA wish you a wonderful holiday, a happy New Year and plenty of good food and cheer.

As most of you will be doing, we’ll take a short break to enjoy the season. But SavorSA will be online every day, as usual, so you can double-check recipes, find ideas for meals, from breakfast to fancy dinners to seafood feasts.

We thank you for your support these past months we’ve been on the Web.  Look forward to more food, news, features and some surprises coming up in 2010, as we continue our commitment to offer you the best daily food news, views, events and recipes San Antonio diners can find online!

John Griffin
Bonnie Walker
Nicholas Mistry
Kristina Mistry
Pam Flentge
Cecil Flentge

Posted in Featured, News7 Comments