Monday, September 5, 2011

Best women have done the work for you
Use your imagination to taste the joys of avocado pudding, jambalaya grits, onion fries and watermelon pickles. I can’t immediately prove it, but I think I’ve shared an earlier book from Best of the Best before. Three cooks have released “Recipe Hall of Fame: Fresh from the Farmers Market Cookbook” in the “Best” series, which gleans winning recipes from other sources. I love all kinds of cookbooks, but this is one that features something I not only want to make, but can make pretty easily, on nearly every page.
They’re all about fresh, and some are very quick, too. One’s got a slaw recipe with crushed Ritz crackers and grated sharp cheddar cheese. Another has a note that the recipe for Orange Mint drink is so important, it ought to be issued with Social Security numbers. Here’s just one that Gwen McKee, Terresa Ray and Barbara Moseley rounded up:

Edisto Stew
2 12-ounce cans beer
6-8 ears corn
2 teaspoons crab boil seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 pound link sausage, sliced
1 pound shrimp, unpeeled
Bring beer and enough water to cover corn to a boil, add corn and seasonings. Let simmer 5 minutes, then add sausage and simmer 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Drain and spread on newspaper. Dive in; pretend you’re on the island. (“Recipes & Memories,” from South Carolina)

September marks the 21st year of National Rice Month, sponsored by the USA Rice Federation. The group reports U.S.-grown rice contributes $34 billion in economic activity in America and provides 128,000 jobs annually. That’s enough for me to cook up a pot.

Coffee with Wolfgang
If you want to stick to 120 calories, you already have a treat in Wolfgang Puck’s new line of iced coffees in four flavors. His signature in glass is raised on the little milk-bottle shaped servings. But if Café au Lait, Vanilla Fusion, Crème Caramel and Double Blended Mocha are great in the morning think how tempting they’d be as bases for drinks enjoyed in the evenings. Taste toasted, notes, Tahitian vanilla, Viennese chocolate and organic goods in these various blends, as the come. Wolfgang has a few add-in ideas:
Siberian Espresso
Covoa Iced Coffee
2 ounces Wolfgang Puck Café au Lait
1 ½ ounces vodka
½ ounce kahlua
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake well for 10 seconds. Strain into a martini glass.

Crunchy Yogurt
This is one is designed for kids, who will think it’s fun to crunch drops of freeze-dried yogurt, without realizing it’s organic and good for them. Little pouches to slip in the lunch box remind me of Pop Rocks but Plum Organics and Revolution Foods have made Yo’ Drops out of 100 percent certified organic & hormone-free yogurt that’s mixed with real fruit and freeze-dried it into tiny drops. I tried the crunchy yogurt over fresh fruit. It’s got a “candy” sensation children ought to go for. This is from the folks who gave children and their health-conscious parents Mashups Fruit & Veggie Smoothies, also designed for on-the-go children.

The cheese investment
I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to “invest” in a cheese that’s so rich tasting you just need a little bit to get flavor satisfaction. Grana Padano is a hard hunk of sweet, nutty flavor that works with luncheon meats, fruits and vegetables and it works for those who are lactose intolerant, makers say. They ought to know, because monks in Northern Italy discovered about 1,000 years ago they could work with curds and whey and create the world’s first hard cheese, Grana Padano literature reports. It’s an Italian DOP, which to us is a PDO, meaning Protected designation of Origin. It gets tests, brands, marks and stamps to prove it is what it is. . . high quality cheese. I’m enjoying it as an appetizer, but the guide suggests packing it in a lunch box kabob style, with cherry tomatoes and gherkins or even little dippers with hummus and fruit spreads.

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