Archive | April 2nd, 2010

Ham Great for Any Occasion

Ham Great for Any Occasion

A spiral-cut ham saves time.

Easter is only a two days away, so hams are flying out of supermarket cases like turkeys at Thanksgiving. But limiting yourself to ham at this time of year is to deny yourself of one of the easiest treats to serve and enjoy year-round.

All you have to do is follow the label.

That’s it. There are no secrets to remember, no fancy steps to follow.

The label will tell you if you have bought a fully cooked or a partially cooked ham. It will also tell you if it’s spiral cut, which is a real time saver. You just won’t be able to attach any pineapples or maraschino cherries to it during the cooking process.

There is a cooking process to fully cooked hams. You could technically take it out of the wrapper and eat it, but it’s far better if you warm it up according to the directions. You can also glaze it, often with a glaze package attached to the meat. (I find those glazes a little sweet, so in making one I will vary the recipe somewhat, adding a spicy mustard to the mix for a sweet-hot blend. I also use only about half of the amount the packet makes because I want to taste ham first and foremost.)

If you don’t know which ham to buy, then ask yourself a few questions before going to the store:

  • How many people are you going to feed?
  • How long do you want to spend on preparing the ham before serving?
  • How much work do you want it to be after removing it from the oven?
  • What type of ham flavor are you looking for?

The first question is easy. If the ham has a bone, then plan on 2-3 servings per pound. If it is boneless, then it should offer 4-5 servings per pound.

If you would rather concentrate on the rest of your meal, consider a fully cooked or ready-to-eat ham that you can put in the oven and forget about until just before serving. Of the two shapes of hams you’ll encounter at the market, most experts agree that the rounder hams (the rump portion), rather than those with a point (the butt), are easier to carve.

That leads to the next question. Spiral cut hams, no matter the shape, take away a good deal of the work once the meat has been warmed and glazed.

There are numerous varieties of ham out there, from salt-cured country ham to fresh ham, which has no preservatives. Check with your butcher or someone in the meat department of your favorite supermarket about your options.

Once the first big meal is over, most leftover ham will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Ham doesn’t freeze particularly well, so use that bone in soup within several days.

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Frittata With Ham and Spring Vegetables

Frittata With Ham and Spring Vegetables

It’s one of the cook’s best, last-minute main dishes, but the frittata isn’t just an also-ran. It adapts well to seasonal ingredients, and it’s quickly and easily made. This Frittata with Ham and Spring Vegetables is also attractive.

Frittata With Ham and Spring Vegetables

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pound thinly sliced deli smoked ham, chopped
2 bunches green onions, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, cut into small strips
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in small dice
8 large eggs
4 ounces shredded Swiss or Gruyère cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Sauté  asparagus, garlic, ham, green onion, zucchini and red pepper over medium-high heat until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.

Whisk together eggs, cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour into skillet with asparagus mixture and stir to distribute egg mixture through skillet. Cook without stirring until edges are just set, about 2 minutes.

Transfer skillet to oven; bake until center is set, about 20 minutes (But check on it after 10-15 minutes). Cut into wedges and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From Recipe Zaar

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Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs

Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs

Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs

Deviled eggs or stuffed eggs are an Easter tradition and popular finger food any time of year. Here’s a variation on the theme that’s just a little bit swanky.

Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs

12 medium eggs
6 ounces sliced smoked salmon
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: slivers of green olive, roasted red pepper strips, fresh dill sprig or chopped parsley

Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Put eggs in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring gently as water begins to boil, 2 minutes. Cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 6 minutes. Transfer to ice-water bath to cool.

Peel eggs; halve lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks; set whites aside. Using the back of a spoon, push yolks through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Use a wet paper towel to lightly clean off any yellow that remains on the side of the halves of egg white.

Process 5 1/2 ounces smoked salmon and the mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth. Add to yolks; stir in sour cream and dill. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut remaining 1/2 ounce smoked salmon into 1/4-inch squares and either add to yolk mixture or use as garnish. Transfer yolk mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a pastry tip with at least a 1/4-inch opening. Pipe mixture into whites, filling to 1/2 inch over surface.  (Or, fill eggs generously using a teaspoon.) Garnish with any of the options above.

Makes 2 dozen.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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Eggs, Brunch and Easter Traditions

Eggs, Brunch and Easter Traditions

Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs

Eggs are a symbol of spring and fertility.  Early Christians adopted eggs to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated at Easter. But centuries before that, Wikipedia tells us, the ancient Zoroastrians used eggs in their New Year celebration, which falls on the spring equinox.

It may be an ancient tradition, but don’t tell that to kids. They love the traditional Sunday morning Easter egg hunt. Adults, meanwhile, take more pleasure in a few well-prepared egg dishes — and a sumptuous brunch is a great time to serve them.

We’ll share three recipes linked to this article, but if you generally just eat eggs in your breakfast tacos, think again. Here are a few suggestions for thinking outside the carton:

  • Breakfast for dinner: When you can’t think of anything to make for dinner, don’t automatically send someone out for a bag of burgers. Scramble some eggs, make toast, make pancakes, waffles or bacon. It’s satisfying and kids like it.
  • Eggs are appearing more and more as toppers to sandwiches, salads or hot dishes. Put a fried egg on top of cheese enchiladas, a burger, a rice and vegetable stir fry.  Stir a raw egg into steaming hot pasta, add chopped bacon, cream and Parmesan cheese and you have a classic pasta alla carbonara. (So rich, but so good.)
  • Deviled eggs will never go out of style. But we offer a recipe, Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs, from the ever -stylish Martha Stewart. Smoked salmon and sour cream make the difference.
  • You might never buy an egg salad sandwich from a vending machine, but made fresh at home this is a short route to a good meal. Hard cook two eggs, let them cool, peel them and chop them up finely. Add mayo, a dash of Tabasco, a half-teaspoon of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Dill is good in egg salad, too. Use it in a sandwich filling for lunch or put a mound of egg salad on top of lightly dressed greens, sliced tomatoes, avocado and other veggies.
  • Frittata of Ham and Spring Vegetables is colorful, easy to make and delicious.  You can’t go wrong here (unless someone just doesn’t like eggs).  If it’s good as an omelet (ham, cheese, spinach, etc.) it’ll be good in a frittata.
  • Finally, here’s an egg dish from Mexico that doesn’t use any exotic ingredients (at least not to us in San Antonio). But the Tortitas de Huevo con Chile Verde has a difference — find out why.

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Tortitas de Huevo con Chile Verde

Tortitas de Huevo con Chile Verde

Here’s an egg dish I haven’t seen on San Antonio breakfast tables or in restaurants. It comes from Diana Kennedy’s book, “The Art of Mexican Cooking.” After reading the recipe, I immediately went to the kitchen to make it, as I had all the ingredients. It was good — really just a rearrangement of other egg dishes we make. But the little bias-cut omelets are different and pretty, and the sauce is good. To serve a crowd, pile the tiny, warm omelets onto a big, colorful Mexican plate before garnishing and serving family style. Best with hot corn tortillas and frijoles refritos (refried pinto or black beans).

Tortitas de Huevo con Chile Verde

1 pound (about 2 large) tomatoes
Scant 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
4 tablespoons lard or other cooking oil
4 extra large eggs
Sea salt, to taste
Rajas (strips) of charred and peeled chiles poblanos
Optional garnishes: crumbled cotija (salty, slightly dry Mexican cheese) and thinly sliced scallions

Put tomatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer until tomatoes are soft but not falling apart — about 10 minutes. Put tomatoes to a blender jar, discarding the cooking water. Add onion and blend until fairly smooth. The mixture should have some texture. Set aside.

(Make omelets separately and plate them individually or put all of the cut-up omelet on a serving platter, with sauce and chiles,  garnish and present family style.)

To make omelets: Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons lard in a 6-inch frying pan. Beat one of the eggs lightly, adding salt to taste. Pour in pan, turning it around so that it fills the bottom of the pan.  Cook lightly. When firm, slide it out of the pan to a cutting board, roll it into a tight tube, then slice diagonally.  Set pieces on a plate in a warm place and repeat with the other three omelets.

[amazon-product]0307383253[/amazon-product]Heat the remaining lard in a saucepan, add the chile strips and cook over very low heat, stirring them from time to time until they are beginning to change color, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato puree and salt, to taste, and cook until the sauce reduces and thickens, about 8 minutes. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Add the omelet pieces, and just heat through over low heat.

Optional serving suggestion: Put omelet pieces on a serving platter, pour over warm sauce and garnish with chile strips, onions and cotija cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from “The Art of Mexican Cooking” by Diana Kennedy

Photo by Bonnie Walker

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