Thursday, January 23, 2020

European Cheeses May Be Unaffordable Soon

Culture Magazine is a periodical all about the wonderful world of cheese, making it one of my favorite magazines. In fact, I have a birthday coming up. If one of my readers wanted to give me a gift subscription, I wouldn't object.

Getting back on topic, according to their piece Tariffs 101: EU cheeses take a hike, the Trump administration has proposed EU tariff hike, In October of last year, the White House imposed a 25% tax on imports from the EU, including spirits, wine, and cheese. Cheese retailers have begun amassing supplies of Provolone, Roquefort, Edam, Comtè, Emmental, Parmigiano Reggiano, and literally hundreds of other affected cheeses. However, such supplies are expected to be exhausted before 2021.

When I first read about this travesty, I rolled my eyes and said to myself, “This is one more way Trump's f#@&ing things up.” I thought about it though, and realized there's a bit of a silver lining. With imports disappearing from the market, American cheese enthusiasts have a good excuse to really get to know American cheese.

Now, when I say, “American cheese,” I’m not referring to processed cheese made from a blend of milk, milk fats and solids, with other fats and whey protein concentrate. I’m talking about superbly crafted artisan creations which excite the senses and delight the pallet.

Today, hundreds of artisan cheese makers are turning out delicious labors of love. Eaters can find American cheeses in every conceivable flavor and texture, made from a variety of milks.

My favorite of these is Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue. This cow’s milk cheese is cold smoked over hazelnut shells and cave aged, in Central Point, Oregon, to produce a creamy cheese with flavors of; sweet cream, salt, and smoke; reminiscent of bacon. This is just one of a myriad of quality blue cheeses made right here in the United States of America, not to mention the wide array of Cheddar, Swiss-esc, Gouda-esc, Italian inspired, and completely original cheeses produced on our shores.

I’m not suggesting there are obvious American, 1 to 1, replacements for each European cheese that's on the market. Many pasta lovers are going to miss affordable Parmigiano Reggiano. Yet, Cotija is a semi-hard salty Mexican cheese, which American fans of spaghetti may want to consider grating atop of their meal.

Like it, or not, the upcoming shortage will force serious cheese eaters to experiment with alternatives from this side of the pond. We can choose to see such experimentation as a burden or an adventure. I think you know which way I lean.
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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Butter Basting Makes Fried Eggs Better

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On Quora.com, someone asked me how to make “the perfect fried egg.” The question was well timed, since I’d discovered basted eggs the day before. They're easier than over-easy eggs, and they leave the yolk nice & runny for toast.

The following recipe has been modified from another one I found. The author of the original recipe, whoever that was, called for Kosher salt specifically. As far as I'm concerned though, you can use any salt you have on hand; table salt, garlic salt, Himalayan pink volcanic salt if you happen to have some of that lying around. As for me, I used just good old table salt.
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Basted Eggs Recipe
I only wanted one egg, but used the same 2 Tablespoons of 
butter.  My egg's  yolk was mistakenly basted enough to
form that white film over the yolk.  If the yolk
had been constantly basted the yolk would've
overcooked, but luckily it was still perfectly
soft and runny inside.


Ingredients:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
Salt & black pepper to taste
Favorite hot sauce (optional)

Procedure:
Melt 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter in a medium nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, add 2 eggs. As the eggs cook, carefully tip the pan toward you so that the butter puddles towards the edge, then use a spoon to baste the hot butter over the egg whites. I like the yolks to be soft and runny, so I avoid basting the egg yolks. If you like a firmer more set egg yolk, then go ahead and spoon butter over the yolk too. Baste in this manner until the whites have no jiggle to them (2 to 3 minutes).

Use a spatula to transfer the eggs to a plate, leaving the butter behind. Season the eggs with pinches of salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce (I prefer Cholula). Place the pan back on the stove over medium heat and continue to cook the butter until it becomes deeply golden and nutty-smelling, about 2 minutes more. Pour the browned butter over the eggs.
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Not only will you get a perfect golden round runny yolk, but the butter will give the eggs a deeper richer flavor. Of course, you can garnish them with parsley, cilantro, dill, any herb really. Honestly though, the only garnish I need is two strips of bacon and a piece of toast.
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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Food Trends

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The mimosas are gone. The glazed ham, biscuits & gravy, and shrimp & grits have been picked clean. Brunch is over, and the nephews just left with their; toys, books, and puppets; from Uncle James marking an end to Christmas 2019. Now that I have no more cards to write or gifts to shop for, I can finally return to blogging.
Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendys
Subject: Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy's | Date: 05/20/15 |
Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell | This picture was taken by the author of this blog. |

Being a self-proclaimed foodie, I subscribe to a number of food & drink newsletters. While I was perusing my inbox, I came across "The Food Trends Predicted to Take Over Menus in 2020" from Eater.com.

The world of food is as susceptible to trends as the worlds off music, fashion, and haircuts are. No kidding. Over the last few years fast food eaters have dined/snacked on “Ghost Pepper” flavored burgers & fries, Pretzel Buns, and Filled Cores (sundaes, burritos, etc....), while fine dining chefs made a habit using cooking with Alternative Proteins and topping dishes with Sunny Side Up Eggs.

I’m not going to plagiarize Eater.com’s list here, you can click the hotlink for the full list. I simply have some thoughts to share in response to their piece.

The veggie burger trend has been picking up steam since last summer. Frequent readers will remember that I tried Burger King's Impossible Burger and didn't care for it. Not only did it not taste beef, the patty While I will never be a convert to the proverbial church of faux meat, I think it's nice to see products being made available to the vegetarian population.

Of course, corporate food is more interested in creating new revenue streams than in “being nice.” Nevertheless, the result is the same. Yet, I wonder if it wouldn't make more sense to offer a few straight foreword vegetarian options (quinoa bowls, veggie wraps etc....) rather than trying to make vegetarian dishes look like carnivorous fare.

While most food trends have the shelf life of an unrefrigerated gallon of milk, they do serve a purpose. Such trends are the result of experimentation which propels innovation. Think about it, without trends testing the culinary waters, we’d still be eating wedge salads, tuna noodle casseroles, and Chicken a la King our grandparents ate.

That being said, some trends strike me as silly, if not downright stupid. I will never, and you can hold me to this, I will never use a glazed doughnut as a hamburger bun. I don’t know about you, but I don't want mayonnaise, ketchup, or mustard anywhere near my doughnut. Nor, do I want a tough and chewy pretzel bun on my burger or hotdog. The attraction of using a bun which an eater can’t comfortably bite through is lost on me.

At their best, food trends have the ability to keep things fresh and exciting for those of us who like to try new things. This is not to say that eaters should jump aboard every epicurean bandwagon which comes along. If a trend intrigues me, I’ll check it out. I love trying new foods and flavor combinations. However, I won’t latch onto something simply because it is a trend. Sometimes the proverbial emperor is naked.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Tasting The Past

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Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. The promise of roast turkey, savory dressing, and coffee with pie already tickles the tongues of eager Americans. It’s a fun time to be a food lover, unless you've been a food blogger for more than a decade.

In the past, I’ve recommended Gewürztraminer as a wine pairing for turkey, I’ve examined the probable menu for the “first Thanksgiving” feast, I’ve written about Thanksgiving appetizers, and shared my recipe for oyster dressing more than once. In fact, here it is again; why not?
I have nothing new, culinarily speaking, to say regarding Thanksgiving. Nothing. Bupkiss. Sure, I could surf the internet for unique recipes, such as “Sour Cream & Chive Biscuits,” and pass them on to you, but unless I take the time to tweak such recipes, making them my own, I’m committing plagiarism.

Perhaps having nothing new is OK though. If Thanksgiving is about anything it’s about tradition. It’s about passing time honored recipes from one generation to the next. There's much to be said for doing that special dish the way mom used to make it. Taste can connect us to our past in a way old photos and crocheted wall hangings simply can’t.