When I first moved to Texas I was bemused by the name chicken-fried steak. It made no sense to me. Either something is chicken or it’s steak. Now I’m used to it and the name makes perfect sense. Chicken-fried steak is, quite simply, a piece of steak that’s battered and cooked in the same way one would fry chicken. We think of this dish as being classic Texas comfort food but is it really Texan? Which state is actually known for chicken fried steak and how did it come to exist?
I have been one of the lucky few. However, not so much for others this week finding themselves without power, water and safe drinking water in perishingly cold weather for several days. Eating becomes a survival imperative rather than a culinary experience under such testing circumstances. Shopping for food – whether it involves selecting ingredients or dining out – is a factor of what you can find rather than what you set out to get. And what you cook is limited to what’s in the pantry and what you manage to lay your hands on in the grocery store. Even with the experience and lessons learned from seasonal hurricanes I don’t think any of us anticipated how challenging this week would be. But with the benefit of hindsight here are some healthy no-cook meals I may try to plan in advance next time.
Pasta (sometimes known as noodles in the US) comes in dozens of different shapes and sizes and is used in a variety of different ways in cooking. From long to tubular, from stuffed to special shape and not forgetting the tiny pasta we use in soups. We all use it but how much do we know about it? I have never really stopped to think about why different kinds of pasta exist. Why do the various shapes and sizes matter? Put your culinary knowledge to the test and improve the way you cook with pasta by taking Flavorly’s quiz!
This weekend we are expecting some of the coldest weather in Houston since 1989. When temperatures drop, the fire is lit in our house and the blankets come out. So do winter casseroles. What is a ‘casserole’? There is little difference between a casserole and a stew. A purist would say that a casserole goes in the oven, heating the dish from all directions, while a stew goes on the stovetop and is heated from the bottom. Another point of difference is a casserole is the name of the pot used for cooking. One of my favorite casseroles is a hearty sausage and lentil version, simmered with chopped tomatoes and flavored with garlic and rosemary.
“Only the pure in heart can make a good soup” according to famous composer Ludwig Van Beethoven. As outlandish as this statement appears at first sight, maybe there’s a grain of truth. Because I think what he was trying to say is that anyone can make a good soup if they try hard enough. A good soup doesn’t depend on precise measurement and exact timings. It just needs a large pot, a handful of ingredients and a little devotion to the cause.
When I was little my mother would occasionally refer to someone ‘making a hash of a situation’. It was a British colloquialism meaning ‘to make a mess’ or generally be clumsy in dealing with something. It was only later in life that I made the connection with the culinary term ‘hash’ which broadly speaking is a muddle of skillet-fried chopped meat, potatoes and vegetables. This collision of thrown-together ingredients may be haphazard and unmeasured but rest assured the end result is a deliberate and wholly satisfying all-in-one meal.
I was flicking through one of my favorite Asian cookbooks the other day and came across a recipe I hadn’t tried before – Hong Kong Lamb with Green Onions Cong Bao Yang Roll. It is a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery. Seeing that I wrote a recent blog about why Americans should eat more lamb, I decided to try it this evening and it was so good that I wanted to share.
Photo Credit: Feed Strategy
January 24th was National Peanut Butter Day. Peanuts have received bad press in recent times, partly because of the saturated fat content but mostly for their notorious allergen. However peanuts are one of the few ingredients featured in cuisines around the world and in that sense one might call the peanut a culinary superstar. But what gives rise to such acclaim? The answer lies in much more than flavor alone…
The new meal on Flavorly’s menu this week is Pistachio Roasted Rack of Lamb and I for one couldn’t be happier. For some reason lamb seems harder to find in grocery stores than other meat and is infrequently on the restaurant menu – at least where I live here in Texas. I miss it. Sundays roasts were always something I would look forward to growing up; a kind of a British institution. I have often wondered why lamb is so elusive in the US and have read numerous theories. But it’s time to set the record straight. I can think of at least five reasons why we should be eating more lamb and here they are.
Chances are if you’re looking at Flavorly’s website that you’re in the market for meals for one to two people. I can’t stress enough the joy of opening my freezer and seeing it stacked from top to bottom with creative, imaginative and delicious meals – individually portioned just for me! But there are times when I want to want to cook for myself. I enjoy cooking when I can find the time and don’t have to cater for the variable schedules and taste buds of my family. But cooking for one, or even two, can be challenging. Can you buy just 3 slices of cheese? What do you do with any leftovers? Here are a few tips to get you started.