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.
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.
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.
Photo Credit: Greek Moussaka – All Recipes
The second in this series of Global Recipe Cards is Greek Moussaka. This is another one to try for those who love to cook with ground beef or hamburger. I chose this recipe because I am thinking wishfully about going to Greece this summer. I am admittedly what you might call a Grecophile and was planning to take a trip last year but it didn’t happen due to the pandemic. Making a recipe like this is the next best thing.
Category: Entree, Comfort Food
Global Flavor: Greece
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Photo Credit: Daily Express – Albert R Broccoli
Buon Giorno, Brassica Oleracea Italica! Or otherwise stated “Hello, Broccoli!”. Inspiration for these blogs comes from all kinds of unusual sources! This one comes from the old James Bond 007 movies. I rewatched several last week because they remind me so much of the nostalgic 1970’s Christmases of my childhood. In those days we would sit down in front of the television after a huge Christmas lunch (usually a joint of roast beef with all the trimmings) and watch the afternoon movie. Invariably it would be a Bond movie which enjoyed the same kind of acclaim as today’s Harry Potter series. Curious where this is all leading?
Photo Credit: August Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.
Even though I enjoy cooking from scratch I’ve always been slightly intimidated by the challenge of making certain savory sauces. Especially any involving flour. Undoubtedly making a good sauce is a skill that requires careful measuring, immaculate timing, patience and a watchful eye. Above all, practice is key and to be honest I haven’t got the hang of it yet. However, what helps is knowing that many sauces are variants of 5 basic French recipes. Once you’ve mastered these five mother sauces, you’re all set to make variations effortlessly. If you’re unfamiliar with these sauces, why not add them to your cooking repertoire and impress your family and friends? I think I’m going to make mastering these sauces a personal goal for 2021.