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Archive for the ‘Main dish’ Category

BuckyBadger

My parents were academics so I was born in a college football town (Go Big Blue!) and even though we moved away while I was a preschooler, our family has been branded with blue and gold forever. Michigan is the team we root for, and for awhile we gave all our family pets names that began with the letter “M.” Last year, I gave everyone rally socks in their Christmas stockings. My niece and nephew, who have no connection to Michigan other than my brother’s enthusiasm, can sing all the words to “Hail to the Victors.”

When I was checking out the recipes in “Taste of the Town,” by ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge I was hoping to find a U of M recipe to test out. But the only Michigan reference in the cookbook was to that other Michigan college town that shall not be named.

So I went with plan B: The University of Wisconsin. We moved to Madison from Ann Arbor and even though we lived in Wisconsin longer than Michigan for some reason we never switched our allegiance. But I will admit two things: (1) “On Wisconsin” is a really catchy tune and (2) I do have a special place in my heart for the Badgers because, well, I met Bucky Badger.

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ratatouille

With August’s arrival comes the abundance of fresh tomatoes. A slow-simmered dish like ratatouille is a delicious use of right-off-the-vine tomatoes and should be part of your summer’s repertoire.

Ratatouille, which comes from the French word “touiller,” meaning “to toss,” is literally a tossing in a pot of summer vegetables and simmering them in olive oil: tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, and seasoned with fresh garlic, basil, and perhaps a bay leaf. There are many varieties of ratatouille. There is the Disney version, made popular by the Pixar film “Ratatouille”; Julia Child sautées the vegetables separately; Alice Waters creates a “basil bouquet” bound with kitchen twine to enhance the flavors of the vegetables as they cook.

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SalmonPotatoes

When most people hear the words “New England dinner” their first thoughts usually run toward a lobster dinner, a clambake, or an oyster shuck. But there is another kind of seafood that has a long association with the Fourth of July, and that is poached salmon with egg sauce.

The legend has it that Abigail Adams served Atlantic salmon, fresh garden peas, and new potatoes to John Adams on the first Fourth of July in 1776. And while many New Englanders admit to eating salmon on the Fourth of July, finding strong ties to Abigail Adams remains, well, fishy.

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sole

In the webinar I am currently teaching “An American culinary journey: From succotash to urban chickens,” we are spending an entire section on Julia Child.

In many ways Julia’s own journey (and I feel like I can be on a first name basis here, since her genius lay in her ability to be accessible and engaging) epitomizes the transition of American cuisine – from one that was recovering from war rations and Jell-O molds into the discovery of cuisine, food as an element able to delight the senses, engage the mind, and empower a cook to exude creativity.

Her own awakening, as it is widely known, came in Rouen, France with sole meunière.

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France, it has long been known, has the power to ignite a passion for food.

Julia Child overcame prejudice and disdain for Americans to earn her culinary badge from Paris Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in the 1950s. Her memoir, “My Life in France,” details her love affair with the country and its culinary masterpieces. Food writer Amanda Hesser wooed a grumpy peasant caretaker in a walled kitchen garden at Chateau du Fey in Burgundy, France, and wrote about it in “The Cook and the Gardner.” And even food blogger-turned author Molly Wizenburg of Orangette fame traces her food writing epiphany to the streets of France in “A Homemade Life.”

A street in Paris from "Cowgirl Chef" by Ellise Pierce (Steve Legato/Courtesy of Running Press).

A street in Paris from “Cowgirl Chef” by Ellise Pierce (Steve Legato/Courtesy of Running Press).

There are countless other Americans who traveled to France and suddenly found a new direction in life centered on food. So revered is French cuisine that its principles are a bedrock in Western culinary schools. In November 2010, French gastronomy was added to UNESCO’s “intangible cultural heritage” world list.

And then there is Ellise Pierce, the Cowgirl Chef, who followed a Frenchman to Paris only to get homesick for Texas. There, in the romantic culinary capital of the world, the former journalist found herself yearning for cornbread, hot chilis, and even – gasp – Milky Way candybars.

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Say the words “boiled dinner” to today’s epicurians and you might be greeted with a grimaced face that seems to say, “Boiled? It sounds simply awful!”

In fact, boiled dinner is quite delicious. The corned beef is cooked until it melts in your mouth and the root vegetables are so tender they can be sliced with a spoon. It’s also so easy to prepare without much watching that it could be called the original slowcooker meal.

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Tuna steak kabobs

Juicy, tasty, healthy, and – best of all – quick, tuna steak kabobs don’t require an outdoor grill. Just stir together some olive oil, lime juice, and Dijon mustard for a tangy-spicy marinade and load up some kabob skewers for just a few minutes under the broiler.

Tuna steak kabobs, or use your favorite fish, is a fast go-to dinner for a busy weekday night.

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Classic lasagna

My friend Jeremy had posted this recipe on my Recipe List page and I finally had a chance to make it when a few friends got together recently for a baby shower.

Lasagna is a perfect potluck item to bring, and although I love this Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagna, I thought our get together would be a good opportunity to try out Jeremy’s recipe. (more…)

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Two nights a week I don’t get home until 9 p.m. after swim practice and I am ravenous! Sometimes I have leftovers on hand so I can eat right away. But most nights I need to make something substantial – and fast.

Beef stir fry with green peppers and onions is a perfect answer. It’s quick, hearty, and has both good veggies and protein for a post-workout meal. You’ll be eating a hot meal within 15 minutes after hanging up your workout clothes to dry.

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I was cleaning out some cabinets in the kitchen the other day and found this recipe that my high school friend Erin sent to me years ago.

I’ve known Erin since we were both 14. I first noticed her in the freshman hallway because she was leaning against my locker flirting with the boy I had a crush on. Later, we ran track together (the boy was eventually forgotten), and many years later I was the maid of honor in her wedding.

Erin remains a talented and dedicated runner and now she is the mom of two boys and just this fall returned to teaching full time. Through it all, she has always paid close attention to what she eats. In high school, she regaled us with unbelievable stories about such things as seaweed soup and carob “chocolate.” These were rare and exotic ideas to me at the time. Erin’s mom, Aubrey, also introduced me to tofu, cooking with maple syrup instead of sugar, and cheese nachos melted in the toaster oven.

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