Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Hospital Food's Saving Grace


I haven't posted in some time for the simple reason that I've been in the hospital. No, it wasn’t COVID-19 related, but the problem with my innards was nasty enough to knock me down for the count, requiring emergency surgery.

Hospital food isn't what you think it is. It's a hundred times worse than your worst culinary imaginings. I'm still having nightmares about their meatloaf and, so called, "mashed potatoes."

While I was initially tempted to chalk this house of epicurean horrors up to sadism, the reason for the bland flavors and funky textures is far more mundane.  A single kitchen has to produce the healthiest possible food (low salt, low fat, etc...) for hundreds of patients, each with their own dietary needs and restrictions.  Frankly, it's a miracle hospital kitchens do as well as they do.   Being aware of this fact didn't make the crispy chunks of mashed potatoes or the grey chicken based sausage any easier to eat though.

| Subject: Orange Sherbet |
| Date: 01/16/2021 | Photographers: Shelby Hester & James Kiester |
| Permissions: Photo taken for this blog |

Just as all hope seemed lost, I found a single purse among the proverbial pigs ears.  I am, of course, speaking of the sweet confection known as sherbet (or sometimes sherbert).  According to TheFreeDictionary.com, Sherbet is "a frozen dessert made mainly of fruit juice or fruit purée, usually with sugar and milk or cream."

As the cups of creamy sweet tart deliciousness were keeping me sane, I suspected the hospital served it for its non-dairy properties.  Turns out, I wasn’t entirely correct.  Like sorbet, sherbet is made of fruit juice and sugar.  What sets sherbet apart from its fruity cousin is the 1% to 2% inclusion of milk or cream in order to produce the creamy texture sherbet is known for.

Sherbet is perfectly balanced between juiciness & creaminess, and sweetness & tartness.  Yet, the confection is almost entirely associated with grade schools and/or hospitals.  I'd be willing to wager that most people reading this blog haven't even thought about sherbet since eating it with a little wooden spoon during a sixth grade field trip.   Once I was released from the hospital, I corrected the error of my ways by treating myself to a gallon of sherbet to keep in my freezer.   It's become my new favorite dessert.   

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Downsizing Thanksgiving

I haven't posted a food blog since August 10th.  Between watching people politicize the pandemic, and a truly weird election, I've been feeling too blah to care about who's putting prime rib on a cheeseburger.  And honestly, I've done so many Thanksgiving food blogs, that I told myself I'd never write another one.  I simply couldn't imagine having anything else to say about the traditionally glutinous holiday meal.  Thus, it's ironic that I'm breaking my dry spell to write about said meal. 

Of course, as we're being asked to limit the size of our gatherings, this year, to avoid infection, this won't be a traditional Thanksgiving for many of us.  My house is no exception. 

Since it will be just two of us, we've decided to forgo the turkey, and roast a small game hen.  It doesn't make sense to work all day on a big turkey, only to be stuck with two weeks worth of leftovers.  And frankly, I think game hen has more flavor than turkey. 

However, I wanted to maintain that same holiday sage flavor profile.  I did some research and FOUND the following recipe for Cornish Game Hen With Sage Butter at Food.com

Cornish Game Hens With Sage Butter:

Recipe found at Food.com
READY IN: 1hr 5mins, SERVES: 2 


 1 Cornish hen, split into halves|
 4 tablespoons butter, softened|
 2 tablespoons fresh sage (or 3 tsp dried sage), chopped|
 1 garlic clove (or more to taste), minced|
 Zest of half a lemon, grated|
 0.25 teaspoon paprika|
 salt and pepper to taste| 


Blend 3 tablespoons of butter with the sage, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Separate breast and leg skin from hens. Press the mixture under the skins and spread evenly. Melt remaining butter and add paprika Brush this butter over the hen. 

 Place hens in single layer in shallow oiled pan. Roast at 400 F, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes. Baste twice with pan drippings.

Keep in mind, this isn't my recipe.  Nevertheless, if executed well, it should provide a taste of Thanksgiving without all the work of a turkey. 

Likewise, we feel no need to make every side dish either.  Some dressing with gravy, cranberry sauce, a few *deviled eggs, and a nice Riesling will make a good holiday meal.  Some pumpkin pie with coffee afterwards and you’re all set.

Of course, you could always go the popcorn and toast route. 

*=Recipe from prior Thanksgiving blog.

Monday, August 10, 2020

August Is National Goat Cheese Month

In order to give a boost of support to a particular segment of food producers, the American Legislature will honor food with its own day, week, or month. August is National Goat Cheese Month.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

"Goat Cheese" is a term which  carries a degree of confusion along with it. When many people use the term, they're referring to Chevre, such as the one from La Bonne Vie (as pictured on the left) in France.  

Chevre is made from bacterial cultures and rennet being added to raw or pasteurized goats' milk.  The mixture coagulates over time, forming ad dense curd.  The curd is then separated from the whey and put into molds to age and develop complexity of flavor.  

The end result is  a roll of soft crumbly cheese with a salty flavor and mildly tart finish.   Such cheeses can be purchased plain, or with various ingredients (Italian herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, etc...) mixed in.

However, "Goat Cheese" can also refer to any cheese made with goat milk, including, but not limited to:
  •  Anari cheese
  • Añejo cheese 
  • Anthotyros
  • Ardagh Castle Cheese
  • Ardsallagh Goat Farm
  • Banon cheese
  • Bastardo del Grappa
  • Blue Rathgore
  • Bluebell Falls
  • Bokmakiri cheese
  • Bonne Bouche
  • Bouq Émissaire
  • Brunost
  • Bucheron
  • Cabécou
  • Cabrales cheese
  • Caciotta
  • Capricious
  • Caprino cheese
  • Caprino dell'Aspromonte
  • Castelo Branco cheese
  • Cathare
  • Chabichou
  • Chabis
  • Chaubier
  • Chavroux
  • Chèvre noir
  • Chevrotin
  • Circassian cheese
  • Circassian smoked cheese
  • Clochette
  • Clonmore Cheese
  • Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
  • Corleggy Cheese
  • Couronne lochoise
  • Crottin de Chavignol
  • Dolaz cheese
  • Faisselle 
  • Feta (Great on salads, tacos, and pizzas)
  • Formaela
  • Garrotxa cheese
  • Geitost
  • Gevrik
  • Dunlop cheese
  • Gleann Gabhra
  • Glyde Farm Produce
  • Graviera
  • Halloumi
  • Photo of Humboldt Fog Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
  • Harbourne Blue
  • Humboldt Fog 
  • Jibneh Arabieh
  • Kars gravyer cheese
  • Kasseri
  • Kefalotyri
  • Kunik cheese
  • Leipäjuusto
  • Majorero
  • Manouri
  • Mató
  • Mizithra
  • Nabulsi cheese
  • Pantysgawn
  • Payoyo cheese
  • Pélardon
  • Picodon
  • Picón Bejes-Tresviso
  • Pouligny-Saint-Pierre cheese
  • Queso Palmita
  • Rigotte de Condrieu
  • Robiola
  • Rocamadour cheese
  • Rubing
  • Sainte-Maure de Touraine
  • Photo of Ash covered Selles-sur-Cher Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
  • Santarém cheese
  • Selles-sur-Cher cheese
  • Snøfrisk
  • St Helen's
  • St Tola
  • Testouri
  • Tesyn
  • Tulum cheese
  • Valençay cheese
  • Van herbed cheese
  • Xynomizithra
  • Xynotyro
Interestingly, when lawmakers declared August to be National Goat Cheese Month they didn't define their terms.  Were they referring to the rolls of soft tangy cheese only, or were they intending to honor all cheeses made with goats' milk?  Because we want our lawmakers to be masters of ambiguity.  HA!  

On the other hand, such ambiguity gives us a good excuse to try a variety of these delicacies during the rest of this month.

Stay healthy, safe, and sane, my friends. 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Alfredo Sauce By Any Other Name

I've been blogging since before the term had become part of our collective vocabulary.  As far back as 1996, I was uploading science fiction book & movie reviews, via dialup, to my own site.  On 9/11/2001, I switched to writing political opinion pieces, adding food related pieces a few years later.  With such a body of work to my name, it's a challenge to not repeat myself. 

On July 9th, 2020, Delish.com posted Olive Garden Launched An Amazing Alfredos Menu With More Sauce.  The Americanized Italian food chain is adding 30% more sauce to their current Alfredo dishes; Fettuccine Alfredo, Chicken Alfredo, Shrimp Alfredo, and Seafood (shrimp + scallops) Alfredo; and adding Steak Alfredo (a grilled 6 oz. top sir loin steak topped with garlic butter and served over Fettuccine Alfredo).

Having grown up in suburban America, I've come to be fond of a white savory cream sauce served over pasta.   It's the version of "Alfredo" which  Olive Garden, and most American eaters base their recipes on.  Yet, strictly speaking, it's not Italian Alfredo. 

I began writing this blog to explain the difference, before I realized I'd written an identical piece in 2015.  I was tempted to scrap this entry, but decided that some things bare repeating. 

What we think of as Alfredo Sauce would be more accurately described as a Parmesan Cream Sauce.  This style can be prepared separately then added to the Fettuccine noodle once they're cooked, which  is nice for restaurants.  It has the added advantage of being something that can be put into a bottle and sold. 

Americanized Alfredo Sauce:

|Subject: Fettuccine Alfredo at the Olive Garden in Fair Lakes, Fairfax County, Virginia | Date: 03/15/2020 | Photographer: Famartin| This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International |

1/4 pound (1/2 cup) sweet butter, melted,
1 cup heavy cream, warmed,
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese,
Salt to taste,
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients. Pour over 4 servings of warm pasta (I use fettuccine). Serve immediately.


However, cuisine aficionados, such as Lynne Rossetto Kasper maintain Pasta Alfredo is a way of preparing a pasta dressing, rather than a sauce, named for the Restaurant Alfredo in Rome.   It's assembled in the pan alongside the warm noodles so the pasta absorbs the flavors of the cheese, garlic, and pepper. 

Roman Style Fettuccine Alfredo:

|Subject: Fettuccine Alfredo made with Fettuccine egg noodles, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano | Date: 09/05/2017 | Photographer: Meliciousm | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International |

1 lb pasta,
1 stick (4 oz) butter,
1.5-2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano,
1 cup heavy cream,
1 clove of garlic,
salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in the pan with salt and pepper. Add the garlic to the butter when melting but don't brown it. Add the freshly-cooked hot pasta to the butter and mix it together over low heat.  Then add cream in to the pasta and let the cream and butter will be absorbed by the pasta as you continue to toss the pasta.  Finally sprinkle on grated Parmesan cheese and keep tossing until the cheese joins with the coating on the noodles.  Season once more with salt and pepper if necessary end serve.
Truthfully, I enjoy both versions.  I simply wish people would quit confusing one for the other. 

If Olive Garden delivers to my area, I hope to review their Steak Alfredo soon.  We'll see. 🤷‍♂️

Recipes Print as pages 2 & 3.