Lentil Soup – Soup with a taste from the East

May 17th, 2011 / comments 2

In Vermont, even in the third middle of May can be cool enough to have a fire in the wood stove, a perfect night for a soup and toast dinner.

lentil+pot+copy Lentil Soup   Soup with a taste from the EastThe dark pink lentils in my pantry, labeled either as Red or Egyptian lentils in the market, don’t have a seed coat so they will disintegrate into a smooth puree as the soup cooks. Here’ s how I made it.

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Super Snacks for Super Bowl

January 31st, 2011 / comments 11

Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, the day that many Americans have been anticipating since this time last year. For most Americans, Super Bowl Sunday is celebrated with an all day party and an unending spread of finger food.

pd Football c egbert 02  Super Snacks for Super BowlPre-game activities begin after lunch, the game, liberally dotted with commercials, starts at six, is interrupted by the half-time show, then more of the game, and finally the wrap-up. It’s no wonder that most hotels offering Super Bowl packages have a four-day minimum stay – it must take at least two days to recover.

I’m not a football fan. My mind wanders with the interminable delays. I worry about mortal injuries to the referees and camera operators when I see enormous bodies, protected by even more enormous plastic helmets and shoulder pads flying through the air and landing in heaps. I’ve been told that the creative commercials that debut on Super Bowl Sunday are enough reason to watch but I’d rather be putting finishing touches on Super Bowls, Super Platters and Super Sweets to sustain Super Friends who are eating and drinking, cheering and booing in front of the television.

One Super Bowl party website suggested, “serve everyone’s favorite high fat, finger-licking snack foods. After all, your television set is the focal point, not the food.” (Those are fighting words to a cook.) Another site suggested serving “salami, pepperoni, cheese whiz, chips and dips, beer and hot sauce, zingers like salami & cheese stuffed pepperochini.” (I wonder if beer and hot sauce is new mixed drink?) Tailgate classics like Buffalo wings, chili, and layered dips are all possibilities, but I want Super Food, healthy food that is not fussy to prepare and has enough flavor to be a bit of a distraction from the game.

PT Megaphone c egbert Super Snacks for Super BowlChickpeas and chickpea flour, also called besan and gram flour, are on the Super Food team I’m inviting to be part of my Super Bowl menu. They taste good and are an excellent source of protein, fiber, iron, potassium and B vitamins. It takes only a minute to make the batter for Besan flatbread that can be served either hot from the oven or at room temperature. It meets my requirements for a super finger food.

Hummus, a party regular at my house, is also a Super Snack. This blend of ancient ingredients – chickpeas, sesame seeds, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil is readily available at the market but when made at home it is absolutely fresh, with a minimum number of ingredients and is preservative free. When combined with warm pita bread, it is a complete protein that will build muscles so necessary for passing and blocking on the gridiron. (Not bad for a non-sports writer!) Best of all, homemade hummus costs half as much and is at least twice as good as store bought. I took a bowl of hummus, surrounded with carrot sticks to a potluck lunch last Sunday and it disappeared before the chocolate chip cookies.

Here’s how I made Besan Flat Bread and Hummus: … read more

Hint from the ’50s – Omelets

August 9th, 2010 / comments 2

omelet c egbert1 Hint from the 50s   Omelets

Fish Sauce & Summer Salad with Shrimp and Melon

June 23rd, 2010 / comments 2

The first time I was aware of fish sauce, I thought that the sewage pipe had broken in our Singapore kitchen. I was upstairs getting ready to go out to dinner and Beth, a young Filipina who lived with us, was cooking dinner for my sons. Beth was not a great cook but the boys always enjoyed the chicken adobo she made. I ran to the kitchen, expecting to have to deal with toxic waste, and found Beth laughing. She assured me that the smell was just a bit of fish sauce that she had poured into a hot pan.
fish three c egbert Fish Sauce & Summer Salad with Shrimp and Melon
I couldn’t believe that something that smelled so terrible could make anything taste good. I soon learned that fish sauce has been used, around the world for at least 2500 years to add flavor and as a main ingredient in both dipping sauces and dressings for grilled meat and fish, noodle and vegetable salads. Fish sauce is made by fermenting fish that have been layered with salt and it imparts umami, a Japanese word that translates as “good taste”, to food. Garum was the name for fish sauce to ancient Romans but it was usually referred to as that “evil smelling sauce”. Not only did Romans use it to season meat and fish dishes there is mention of its use in a pear and honey souffle!
fish y c egbert Fish Sauce & Summer Salad with Shrimp and Melon Fish sauce is the ingredient that transformed a shrimp and vegetable salad into a Vietnamese inspired, summer salad that was grand enough to serve at an elegant dinner party. This salad combines many of the flavors of Southeast Asia and can be varied to suit your palate, pantry and pocketbook. Pork or chicken can be substituted for shrimp, and mangos or other melons can be substituted for the watermelon. Rather than making this salad in a large salad bowl I made individual salads. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Papaya Salad & Perry Como

June 16th, 2010 / comments 5

As I was making papaya salad for a party we had on Friday night, my friend Victoria began to sing a song I hadn’t heard since I was eight. My father loved big band music and crooners and Perry Como was one of his favorites.

black tile c egbert Papaya Salad & Perry Como

When he played his 78-rpm record of Perry Como singing Papaya Mama, my sister and I jumped around and tried to dance like Carmen Miranda. She was the Brazilian samba singer who wore hats piled high with fruit and the inspiration for Chiquita Banana. I didn’t think of papaya as something to eat until many years later.

blender c egbert Papaya Salad & Perry Como

The first time I tasted papaya, a friend had whirled it in a blender with milk and ice. The drink was a lovely pale, peachy-orange color and tasted terrible. I next tasted it a few years later with pineapple, mango and banana as part of a tropical fruit salad on a holiday in Puerto Rico and I didn’t mind it. It had a nice texture and I enjoyed it topped with a bit of lime juice.

Papaya is a native of Mexico and it is cultivated in most tropical and subtropical countries around the world. It grows on a tree-like plant that looks a bit like a small umbrella of leaves atop a very long stem. There are two types of papayas, Mexican and Hawaiian. Hawaiian papayas are small, usually weighing about a pound. Mexican papayas are much larger and may weigh as much as ten pounds. I prefer the slightly less intense flavor of the Mexican papaya. The edible seeds from the hollow center of a ripe papaya have a spicy, pepper flavor and are used in salad dressings or salsas.

Packed with vitamins, minerals and natural fiber, papaya delivers a nutritional punch. Indigenous Americans have used papaya, rich in an enzyme called papain, to tenderize tough meat for thousands of years. Rubbing papaya peel on to skin rashes, insect bites, jellyfish stings and burns is a common, natural remedy where papayas grow. Papaya extract is sold in tablet form as a remedy for digestive problems.

Although there are lots of good reasons to eat papaya, the best reason is that it is delicious, particularly when featured in an Indian inspired vegetarian dinner salad. Here’s how I made it: … read more

Sushi Today – Airplane Food Tomorrow

February 18th, 2010 / comments 3

My son Noah and I made sushi for lunch the day before we were to fly off to Sicily for our two month adventure.

sushi 01 Sushi Today   Airplane Food Tomorrow

Noah cooked the rice and cut the carrots and avocado and I went to the market to get yellow tail tuna and ‘crab with a k’.  Crab with a k or krab is also called imitation crab meat or seafood sticks. Krab originated in Japan and is a type of processed seafood made of ”Surimi” or finely pulverized white fish.

Along with the fish, I found pickled ginger powered wasabi and seaweed sheets called nori in the Asian Food aisle of the well-stocked grocery.

sushi 02 Sushi Today   Airplane Food Tomorrow

Ella made sushi hand rolls and Dylan opted for peanut butter. Noah and I made sushi for everyone else. Here’ how we did it .

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