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Peasant Food - food desert style

Peasant Food - food desert style
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  • Peasant Food - food desert style

    Post #1 - December 30th, 2007, 12:27 pm
    Post #1 - December 30th, 2007, 12:27 pm Post #1 - December 30th, 2007, 12:27 pm
    It seems that wherever you read about food, you'll find articles extolling the virtues of peasant cooking. Most of our near-and-dear restaurants right here on LTH are prime examples of this humble cuisine from our own homefront and around the world. However, interspersed among descriptions of peasant food are buzzwords like "fresh," "best," and "imported." To me, these words seem out of place - more appropriate for gouty gourmands like Edward VII, who, after succumbing to three meat courses at each meal, promised his doctor to limit his cigar intake to two before breakfast.

    Peasants are, by definition, of the working class or even more humble means. In Chicago, that probably means you live in a food desert. Fresh vegetables are hard to come by, canned foods are your staple. Processed meats and cheeses may be your only options for protein. Even within this paradigm, choices are extremely limited; the excess of brand names in our grocery stores don't exist at the 7-Eleven. But it is in this extremely restrictive environment that peasant cooking thrives - take away all the meat and leave the bones? Astounding soups appear in the peasant kitchen. Short growing season? Peasants preserve cabbage as sauerkraut, kimchi, or tung tsai. Fishing season short? Peasant ingenuity produces delicacies like baccalao, smoked kippers or lox.

    So, what happens if we take away "fresh," "best," and "imported?" In this thread, I'd like to challenge LTHers to create recipes that make good use of standard non-perishable pantry items: exceptions allowed for onions, garlic, potatoes, apples, oranges and bananas (often but not always available at check-outs in small markets)

    *points off for "gourmet" items that can't be found in a rural grocery store.

    ++Bonus points if you can make a complete, nutritious dish using only foods found in a 7-Eleven, drugstore or corner gas station grocery.

    Here are my offerings:

    Refried beans:
    1 can pinto beans
    1 onion, minced
    Canned jalapenos to taste, chopped
    Cumin* to taste
    1/4 cup water
    Leftover bacon grease

    Rinse beans, heat grease in skillet. Add onion and brown. Add chopped jalapenos and cumin, heat through, add beans and water. Cook thoroughly and mash with a potato masher

    Faux Salade Nicoise

    Image

    1 can of tuna packed in oil (*albacore preferred) or tinned sardines
    Chopped canned black olives
    2 tbsp canned capers*
    2 tbsp canned pimientos
    1 small can green beans
    2 tbsp EVOO*
    1 tbsp wine* or cider vinegar
    1 tsp prepared mustard
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Mix liquid ingredients. Combine dressing with remaining ingredients carefully, so as to keep the tuna as whole as possible. Serve on crackers.

    Image

    (edited to add photos)
    Last edited by Mhays on April 14th, 2008, 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - January 5th, 2008, 6:04 pm
    Post #2 - January 5th, 2008, 6:04 pm Post #2 - January 5th, 2008, 6:04 pm
    Here are some dishes that come to mind:

    Baked beans

    Hominy casserole

    Six-can casserole

    Pasta co' ferraglie

    Rice pilaf

    Bannocks

    Potato latkes

    Peanut-butter oatmeal cookies
  • Post #3 - January 5th, 2008, 7:25 pm
    Post #3 - January 5th, 2008, 7:25 pm Post #3 - January 5th, 2008, 7:25 pm
    Thanks, LAZ! My plan next week is to head up to our local Dollar Store/Pharmacy strip mall and record specifically what kinds of foods are actually available in a food desert; who knows, maybe we'll be surprised! I'm going to work on some more ideas as soon as I know what I'm dealing with.
  • Post #4 - January 7th, 2008, 11:26 am
    Post #4 - January 7th, 2008, 11:26 am Post #4 - January 7th, 2008, 11:26 am
    Mhays wrote:Thanks, LAZ! My plan next week is to head up to our local Dollar Store/Pharmacy strip mall and record specifically what kinds of foods are actually available in a food desert; who knows, maybe we'll be surprised! I'm going to work on some more ideas as soon as I know what I'm dealing with.


    Wow, that will be a challenge, Id' think; intriguing project, MHays.

    I, too, am weary of the term "best" in food descriptions -- not for its hoity-toity connotations, but because it frequently seems meaningless.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #5 - January 7th, 2008, 10:07 pm
    Post #5 - January 7th, 2008, 10:07 pm Post #5 - January 7th, 2008, 10:07 pm
    OK, made a foray into the desert today; at my local dollar store I found foods both interesting and horrifying (please excuse my poor montage)

    Image

    As you can see, there is a small frozen food and dairy section - frozen foods offered an odd assortment of meat: bacon-wrapped pork chops and whole flash-frozen fish fillets, whole pumpkin pies, and the ubiquitous Cool-Whip substitutes and ice cream treats. Dairy had a good selection of milks and eggs, some juices as well, and even some real cheese among the cheese food. Oddly, there was a huge selection of condiments and flavoring ingredients - Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, roasted peppers, pickled peppers, mustards, mayo, and a fair selection of cheap spices, but NO FLOUR and no breads other than frozen bagels. There is a HUGE selection of trail mixes containing all kinds of dried fruit and nuts. Plenty of canned vegetables and fruits, particularly canned pears for some reason; and canned pie filling. In the area that should have held flour were sprinkles, cooking spray, sugar, and cinnamon. Go figure. They did have big drums of instant oats.

    So I went around the corner to a national drugstore chain, and was pleasantly surprised to find a fairly decent selection of staples:

    Image

    One thing I forgot to mention about this challenge - use of ingredients as close to whole foods as possible offers bonus points (e.g. points off for canned soup, flavored rices, pastas, or potatoes, etc.)

    The big shocker: NO and I mean NO fresh fruits or vegetables. Not a single potato or onion. Makes the challenge much more difficult.

    So, my first food desert recipe using the above ingredients? (Mind you, I haven't tried it yet, this is just my blueprint)

    Pear and stewed fruit claufuti

    1 5-oz bag dried fruit
    1 cup water
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or wine
    1 cup whole milk
    2 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus some for the pan
    3 extra large eggs
    1/2 cup sugar, plus some for the pan
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 tsp kosher salt
    1 can pears, rinsed, drained, and cut into quarters

    Bring water to a boil - add chopped dried fruit and vinegar. Set aside. Heat the milk and butter together gently until butter has melted. Whisk eggs, sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Add milk and butter and incorporate. Set aside for one hour.

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Drain dried fruit, discarding liquid. Thoroughly butter a 10” cast iron skillet, sprinkle with sugar and shake to coat sides, discarding any extra.

    Pour the rested batter into the skillet. Add pears and fruit. Bake 45 minutes until puffy and golden.
  • Post #6 - January 8th, 2008, 9:02 pm
    Post #6 - January 8th, 2008, 9:02 pm Post #6 - January 8th, 2008, 9:02 pm
    Not bad, for a first try at a clafouti:

    Image

    Dried fruit in question was a combination of sultanas and dried cranberries. If I do it over again, I'll just rehydrate the dried fruit in a mixture of brandy and the pear syrup, along with the pears - apparently alcohol is easy to access in a food desert, and it was good, but could have used some more zing; balsamic just isn't the same as fresh lemon juice.

    Tomorrow: Moros y Cristianos, Food Desert style.
  • Post #7 - January 8th, 2008, 9:31 pm
    Post #7 - January 8th, 2008, 9:31 pm Post #7 - January 8th, 2008, 9:31 pm
    In the interests of your experiment, here's a recipe from the St. Petersburg Times for potato latkes made from potato flakes. I have not tried this.

    Mr. Brown's potato pancakes

    2 cups potato flakes
    1/4 teaspoon white pepper
    5 teaspoons dried onion flakes
    1 cup flour
    1-1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 eggs
    3 cups milk
    Oil for frying.

    Combine the potato flakes, pepper, onion flakes, flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Beat the eggs with the milk in another bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Mix well and let stand 10 to 15 minutes.

    Heat 1 inch of oil in a large frying pan. Add spoonfuls of batter and fry till browned, turning once. Drain on paper towels. 8 to 10 servings.
  • Post #8 - January 8th, 2008, 11:06 pm
    Post #8 - January 8th, 2008, 11:06 pm Post #8 - January 8th, 2008, 11:06 pm
    I lived in a "food desert" of a sorts for a year... in the west loop, before the advent of the Dominicks built to serve the condo-dwellers. Yeah, I know, it's by Fulton Market, but if you needed to shop after 7pm your options were limited. We found ourselves "shopping" at the Walgreens often. Usually dinner was grilled ham and cheese with a side of more cheese (mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes from a box). I can see the effect of all the salt and fat could kill someone if the Walgreens were their regular grocery.

    This thread would have been appreciated, as I didn't think too creatively about what I could do with limited selection.
  • Post #9 - January 9th, 2008, 2:03 am
    Post #9 - January 9th, 2008, 2:03 am Post #9 - January 9th, 2008, 2:03 am
    Mhays wrote:it was good, but could have used some more zing; balsamic just isn't the same as fresh lemon juice.

    Try cider vinegar. Zingier than balsamic, not to mention cheaper and more readily available. It's a common substitute for lemon juice in old-fashioned recipes.

    But part of the problem is the fruit. Clafoutis is traditionally made with sour cherries for a reason. But I don't suppose you can get bottled morellos at a South Side convenience store. Canned plums maybe?
  • Post #10 - January 9th, 2008, 9:03 am
    Post #10 - January 9th, 2008, 9:03 am Post #10 - January 9th, 2008, 9:03 am
    The dried cranberries (which was my substitute for cherries) were pretty zingy, but there weren't enough of them, and the sultanas offered nice texture but not flavor...other canned fruit options were peaches, mixed fruit, and an odd can of strawberries that I considered for a while. Mostly it was that the fruit didn't have the same full flavor as the dried fruit I used for the Tropical Fruitcake Muffins (which I realized would fit the requirements of this challenge if made with white flour.)

    Still, between "booty" jokes, Sparky snarfed it down. :D

    Another scary part of a food desert - most of the cans at the dollar store were dinged or a bit rusty; took a while to find a can that I felt was OK. Also, oddly - the cranberry/sultana mix stated "may have been produced in the U.S. or South Africa"
    Last edited by Mhays on January 9th, 2008, 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #11 - January 9th, 2008, 9:11 am
    Post #11 - January 9th, 2008, 9:11 am Post #11 - January 9th, 2008, 9:11 am
    This is a pretty interesting project that you have going. It kind of reminds me of when I first moved out of my parents place and was learning to cook on my own. A lot of boxes, and not a lot of fresh ingredients. I surely was not as creative as you have already been with your first creation.
  • Post #12 - January 9th, 2008, 10:31 am
    Post #12 - January 9th, 2008, 10:31 am Post #12 - January 9th, 2008, 10:31 am
    LAZ wrote:I have not tried this.
    :D

    I have actually been thinking about potato flakes - somebody else posted about a potato flake gnocchi I wanted to try. After all, freeze- drying potatoes is an ancient way of preserving them. Interestingly, according to the Journal of Food Science, they retain quality in both nutrition and flavor for quite some time. I don't know how latkes would work, even as a shikseh, I can see serious problems with texture...

    So - next week - potatoes!
  • Post #13 - January 9th, 2008, 5:36 pm
    Post #13 - January 9th, 2008, 5:36 pm Post #13 - January 9th, 2008, 5:36 pm
    Mhays wrote:I don't know how latkes would work, even as a shikseh, I can see serious problems with texture...

    My guess is that they'll be closer to German- or Polish-style potato pancakes in texture than Jewish-style latkes. However, it seems the potato flakes would make them more nutritious than regular flour-egg pancakes.

    After all, a diet mainly of potatoes sustained large populations of peasants across Europe through much of the 18th and 19th centuries. (And, although one of the concerns about "food deserts" is that they typically provide easier access to fast-food outlets than grocery stores, french fries seem to be keeping much of this country's population from coming down with scurvy -- and not just people with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.)
  • Post #14 - January 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm
    Post #14 - January 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm Post #14 - January 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm
    Moros y Cristianos - extra cumin-y

    1 pound dry black beans
    Water
    4 bay leaves
    2 tbsp ground cumin (edit: 1 tbsp whole and 2 tsp ground OR 1 tbsp ground)
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp crushed curry powder
    1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    1 tbsp dried onion flakes
    1/4 tsp onion powder
    1/4 tsp garlic powder
    2 large jars of roasted peppers (or 3 jars of pimientos) drained and chopped.

    Soak the beans overnight in three times as much water as the volume of the beans (if you soak it in your cooking vessel, this will save you time later.) Add remaining ingredients except peppers to beans and water and simmer for 5 -6 hours. Add peppers and cook for another 1/2 hour. Taste, adding additional salt, pepper or cumin as needed. Serve over plain white rice.
    Last edited by Mhays on February 1st, 2008, 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #15 - January 9th, 2008, 11:31 pm
    Post #15 - January 9th, 2008, 11:31 pm Post #15 - January 9th, 2008, 11:31 pm
    Mhays,

    Where are the Christianos? Oh...I see them now.

    :twisted:
    "Bass Trombone is the Lead Trumpet of the Deep."
    Rick Hammett
  • Post #16 - January 10th, 2008, 10:39 am
    Post #16 - January 10th, 2008, 10:39 am Post #16 - January 10th, 2008, 10:39 am
    My mother always called it "Cuban black bean soup," though we did always serve it over white rice. I was charmed by the real name of the dish, which I discovered when bringing it to a Latin potluck just a couple years ago.
  • Post #17 - January 15th, 2008, 9:03 pm
    Post #17 - January 15th, 2008, 9:03 pm Post #17 - January 15th, 2008, 9:03 pm
    So, it turned out better than my usual version...possibly because of the dried seasonings, possibly because I used better bay leaves...who knows. I actually wound up using only 1 jar of roasted peppers, as it conveniently contained two whole red bell peppers. I'd also recommend using chili flakes in addition to cayenne.

    Here it is:Image

    I'm thinking about the potato flakes, and remembered something I nearly lived on when I was pregnant:

    Potato Flake Colcannon - (easy to adapt to this challenge:)

    1 cup prepared instant mashed potatoes
    1/2 cup frozen (or canned) greens (collards, kale, mustard or turnip)
    1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

    Mix ingredients together and heat in the microwave. Enjoy - serves 1 extremely hungry pregnant woman.

    Image

    However, that doesn't really do me - so my next challenge recipe will be samosas...but I don't think potato flakes will cut it. I'm thinking that if I combine potato flakes and the dehydrated sliced potatoes with canned peas, I might have something...
    (Edited to add photo)
    Last edited by Mhays on March 8th, 2008, 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #18 - January 17th, 2008, 8:53 pm
    Post #18 - January 17th, 2008, 8:53 pm Post #18 - January 17th, 2008, 8:53 pm
    Dehydrated-potato Samosas

    Image

    Food Desert Garam Masala
    Mix the following together and grind in your blender if using whole spices
    Cinnamon – 1/2 tsp
    4 Cloves or ¼ tsp
    Coriander – 1/4 tsp
    Cumin – 4 tsp
    Pepper – 1 tsp

    For Crust:
    3/4 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons oil
    1/4 cup lukewarm water added a little at a time

    Filling
    1 5.25 oz box dehydrated sliced potatoes (for Scalloped Potatoes, etc.)
    ½ cup Potato Flakes
    ½ cup peas, canned or frozen
    2 tsp cumin (whole if possible; if ground, reduce to 1 tsp)
    ½ tsp Garam Masala (see recipe)
    1 tsp Paprika or red chili flakes, or to taste
    1 tbsp canned jalapenos, chopped, or according to taste
    1 tsp salt
    1 tbsp butter

    2 tbsp oil

    Following the excellent video directions for samosas on Manjulaskitchen, make the crust dough and set aside to rest (I did increase the recipe to allow for the amount of potatoes in a 5.25 oz box of potatoes but found I used much less water.) Open the box of potatoes; throw away the “seasoning packet.” Simmer the potatoes on the stovetop in 2 cups of water for the time recommended on the box. Drain. Add potato flakes, chilis, and drained peas. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry your seasonings for a few seconds. Add potato mixture and fry, mashing lightly (you want it to be chunky but not distinct slices) Cool.

    Prepare 10-12 crusts as shown in the video and stuff with filling. Fry until golden brown and delicious. Enjoy!

    I will be damned if these weren't as good a samosa as I've had (admittedly, I've not had many) I freely admit that this picture shows samosas made with frozen peas and without any chili pepper at all for Sparky's sake, but I think canned peas will do just fine here – just remember to drain and rinse so they don’t add salt to the filling. The potato filling was nicely chunky, more like the smashed potatoes you'd expect in a good samosa - I doubt anyone would be able to tell they were out of a box.

    Really, this project is turning out much better than I'd expected. Interesting to discover that if the universe is wiped out, the prospect of living on non-perishables is not so dismal after all...
  • Post #19 - January 21st, 2008, 3:10 pm
    Post #19 - January 21st, 2008, 3:10 pm Post #19 - January 21st, 2008, 3:10 pm
    Potato-Flake ñoquis:

    Doing research round the 'net, I found a number of recipes, most of which contain eggs - anathema to the Argentine Dia de los ñoquis (or Los ñoquis del 29), an homage to the day before payday when the cupboard is bare save for potatoes and flour (there's stuff out there about some saint, but this idea suits me better)

    I did, however, score withthis recipe, stupidly simple: prepare 1 cup of dried instant mashed potato flakes on the dry side, using about 1/4 cup less water than called for. Add 1 cup of flour (I'm assuming no pastry flour in a food desert, so I skipped that) I also added dried parsley flakes, a bit of dehydrated onion, and should have added a pinch of salt. Mix together, adding water as necessary until it comes together in a dough. Allow to rest at least 10 min or while you prepare the sauce - and avoid overworking the dough.

    On a floured surface, roll dough into long "snakes" about 1/2" wide and cut into little squarish bits (here's where some tutelage from Abuelita would have been helpful, but alas, I learned from guessing, so our gnocchi are a bit odd-shaped) Comandeering the help of a youthful assistant, smash squarish bits with a well-floured fork and peel off into a cylindrical shape.

    Image

    Toss into salted boiling water 5-8 at a time, stirring gently to separate. Watch carefully - it only takes a minute or two; when they float, they're ready. Drop into prepared sauce immediately to hold as you cook the remainder (this is where an oil or butter sauce is helpful.) We tried two sauces, which could be adapted to this project: Walnut-Lemon sauce, in which you might substitute a lemon-infused vodka for zest with bottled lemon juice - We did use dry parsley this time, which worked fine, but I can't abide canned parmesan, so we used fresh grated. This time as a first step I pre-chopped the nuts with a knife and fried them in the oil and butter, which I highly recommend. Add ñoqui cooking water to the sauce at the end to emulsify.

    Image

    For sauce #2, I followed a suggestion of greens, garlic and blue cheese (not food desert-friendly) but realized that the blue cheese was superfluous: I used frozen greens, but would venture to guess that canned greens sauteed in garlic and oil or butter would have been fine. At any rate, it's more photogenic:

    Image

    Searching Argentine recipe sites for traditional sauces for Los ñoquis del 29 offered recipes for tomato marinara, salsa quatro quesos, butter and sage, or just plain butter and parmesan, most of which are easy to work into this project. The ñoquis turned out quite nice - a little more toothsome than roasted-potato but in no way heavy; they didn't have quite the potato flavor I'd hoped for (which was pronounced in the samosas) but I think the dough needed some salt. They were really good, fairly easy, and we ate every bit of them.
  • Post #20 - February 5th, 2008, 2:24 pm
    Post #20 - February 5th, 2008, 2:24 pm Post #20 - February 5th, 2008, 2:24 pm
    Pissaladiere
    1 cup canned fried onions (AKA French's Fried Onions) and a handful for topping
    1 cup red wine
    1 tbsp butter
    1 tsp ground thyme
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1 tin anchovies
    Milk, cream or half-and-half to soak anchovies
    1 handful black olives, sliced
    EVOO
    cornmeal
    1/2 recipe raw pizza crust dough (I cheated and used 1/2 thawed frozen pizza dough)

    Now, I have to come clean, here: I've been meaning to make this for a very long time, but I never got around to it...so, to be completely honest, I've never eaten this before :D . However, I am a big fan of olives, anchovies and onions, so I thought I had a good grip on what to expect.

    I reverse-engineered this recipe, starting with eatchicago's version and looking up a few recipes on epicurious. Crucial to the recipe, of course, are slow-cooked raw onions, which presented a problem if following the rules of the challenge...I doubted that you could get the same texture from dehydrated onions; but I had a can of French Fried onions left over from a failed crock-pot experiment, and I thought, hmm...those might work - So, I heated up some butter and wine, and added ground thyme and garlic powder

    Image

    and 1 cup of french fried onions.
    Image

    I simmered them until the wine was reduced by about 1/2 and then turned them off the heat and let them soak for a bit. I was rewarded with a lovely, dark burgandy onion jam that tasted of wine and onions and fond (they did stick a bit towards the end)

    Image

    While my onions were simmering, I removed and rinsed the anchovies, and soaked them in a bit of milk (Using lowfat milk didn't help here, I think you need the fat to draw some of the salty oil. For future reference, I'd do this first; IMHO they were pretty pungent)

    Image
    I rolled out and stretched my pizza dough to make a thin crust pizza, and spread it with the onion mixture (easy scratch pizza dough recipehere, to keep it within the challenge) and then topped it with a crosshatch of thinly-sliced anchovies with sliced olives in the middle.
    Image

    A drizzle of EVOO on the whole thing, and a sprinkling of crushed fried onions over that, and then onto a preheated cornmeal-dusted pizza stone in a 400 degree oven until the crust is golden brown and delicious (probably about 10 minutes?) The onion jam and EVOO married beautifully and bubbled and spread out as it cooked. Lacking a pizza peel, I lost a bit of my artistry, but the thing turned out darn well, if I do say so myself (nobody is more surprised than me)

    Image

    It was very, very good, a bit on the rich and salty side for an entire meal, but terrific for a nosh or to accompany a glass of wine. (if you want to tone down the richness a bit for a meal, I'd start soaking the anchovies that morning, and double the onion mixture) Sparky, not being a fan of onions, wine, or olives, made his own pizza, which he dubbed "Whomping Wombat Cuckoo Pizza" topped with pesto, pepperoni, cheese and, god bless him, anchovies. Fortunately, this meant more Pissaladiere for me!
  • Post #21 - February 27th, 2008, 12:22 pm
    Post #21 - February 27th, 2008, 12:22 pm Post #21 - February 27th, 2008, 12:22 pm
    This thread put me in mind of something I do regularly, which I believe would fit the criterion of this challenge:

    Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup for the Soul

    Stock:
    1 tray of leftover chicken bones from a large order of chicken wings, rinsed
    Or leftovers from a fried chicken meal, including breast and wing bones - you need at least enough bones to fill a gallon ziploc bag (I usually eat wings, put the bones in said ziploc, and make soup the next day)
    2 ribs of celery from said order of wings - and 2 carrot sticks if avail.
    1/4 cup of canned diced tomatoes, or spaghetti sauce, or fresh grape tomatoes
    1 bay leaf
    1 tbsp onion flakes
    shot of lemon juice (maybe a tsp?)
    Water
    Salt to taste (start with 2 tsp)
    Pepper to taste
    Chili flakes to taste

    Put all the ingredients together in the largest pot you have (or your slow cooker) and add water, covering at least 2" deeper than the depth of the bones. Simmer for 4-5 hours, taste and adjust the seasoning. Strain, discarding solids. (Before I got my lovely cast-iron casserole for Christmas, I would do this in my multi-pot with the pasta drainer insert; all you have to do is lift out the insert and toss everything in it)

    Stock can be frozen in quart-size ziploc bags, or can go right into soup:

    1. Noodle Soup
    To every 2 cups of stock, add 1/4 cup of canned diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup of dry pasta. Cook according to directions on pasta package.

    2. Matzoh ball soup (yes, it's a nontraditional broth for this, but it works)
    Make matzoh balls:
    2 eggs,
    2 tablespoons of olive oil
    2 tbsp of your stock.
    1/2 cup crushed matzo crackers
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Beat the eggs well, blend in remaining ingredients. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Form into a dough, and roll the dough into walnut-sized balls. Now, here I'm torn - recipes I've read say to parboil your matzoh balls in water before adding them to the soup; I say it's a waste of time and just toss them in - it may make the soup a little cloudy, but who cares! At any rate, they'll need a total of 30 minutes at a simmer in the liquid of your choosing.

    Serve hot in your chicken stock. I don't know if matzoh crackers are available in a food desert, but I'd imagine you could substitute a salt-free oyster cracker or saltine - you need to check ingredients and adjust for both salt and fat, though, as matzoh is made with only flour and water...
  • Post #22 - February 29th, 2008, 3:44 pm
    Post #22 - February 29th, 2008, 3:44 pm Post #22 - February 29th, 2008, 3:44 pm
    Mhays wrote:I don't know if matzoh crackers are available in a food desert

    If they are, I imagine you can get matzo meal, too.
  • Post #23 - March 1st, 2008, 8:55 am
    Post #23 - March 1st, 2008, 8:55 am Post #23 - March 1st, 2008, 8:55 am
    I was looking over all my non-matzoh crackers and realizing that they were just plain wrong for the job - maybe using canned breadcrumbs? You'd have bread dumplings, then, but no reason those aren't good...

    I like my matzoh balls to have a bit of texture to them - is that anathema to the concept? I have to say, I had a bit of trouble getting them to hold together - I'd have been better off waiting a couple hours for the "soak" to happen properly, as dumplings formed later in the process did better...
  • Post #24 - March 1st, 2008, 9:14 am
    Post #24 - March 1st, 2008, 9:14 am Post #24 - March 1st, 2008, 9:14 am
    Finally, though you're going to have to wait a bit before I food-desertize this recipe, I got my MIL's original recipe for

    Linguine with White Clam Sauce:

    1 lb linguini
    1/2 cup butter or margarine
    3-5 small garlic cloves, minced
    1 onion, chopped
    1/2 cup chopped parsley (she subs dried, in an equal amount - which is what makes me think this might work here)
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp basil
    dash black pepper
    2 10 1/2oz cans minced clams
    1 8-oz bottle clam juice

    Start cooking pasta. As you do so, heat butter in a large skillet and add onions, garlic, parsley, salt, basil and pepper until onion is tender. Add clams and juice, boil 1 minute. Serve over hot pasta.

    The recipe is from "Good Housekeeping - Menus for a Whole Year of Dinners" I'm going to have to do some toying with the onions, to see how to sub out fresh, but at least the original recipe is safe here until I'm back home...
    Last edited by Mhays on March 8th, 2008, 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #25 - March 1st, 2008, 5:39 pm
    Post #25 - March 1st, 2008, 5:39 pm Post #25 - March 1st, 2008, 5:39 pm
    Mhays wrote:I like my matzoh balls to have a bit of texture to them - is that anathema to the concept? I have to say, I had a bit of trouble getting them to hold together - I'd have been better off waiting a couple hours for the "soak" to happen properly, as dumplings formed later in the process did better...

    The optimum texture of matzo balls is a religious argument. However, it's mostly to do with the ratio of liquid to matzo meal. The recipe I use calls for a half hour in the fridge after you mix it together. But I'm a staunch fluffy conservative -- the lighter the better.
  • Post #26 - March 8th, 2008, 8:14 pm
    Post #26 - March 8th, 2008, 8:14 pm Post #26 - March 8th, 2008, 8:14 pm
    So, the food desert project version, which I halved for a convenient just-Mom-and-Sparky dinner. One of my objections to the original dish is that it doesn't necessarily look appetizing; in the absence of fresh parsley I decided to add roasted red pepper.

    The onions, as usual, presented a problem - but I decided to try reconstituting both them and the parsley in a bit of wine, which I decided to sub for clam juice (both expensive and hard to find) Again, I was surprised that it worked quite well: after an overnight soak, I had what appeared to be freshly chopped onion. It retained its texture through the cooking process somewhat better than fresh onion, and added some nice crunch and brightness. I also kept the idea of "onion jam" with the french fried onions, and reduced the salt accordingly, which was helpful since the reconstituted onions didn't melt the way fresh would have. While the appearance of the herbs didn't improve, the parsley at least tasted closer to fresh.

    Again, IMHO better than the original and much better than I expected - though a bit more work.

    2 tbsp dried minced onion
    2 tbsp dried parsley
    1 tsp dried basil
    1/2 cup white wine (I used 3-buck Chuck)
    2 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp EVOO
    1 1/2 tsp jarred minced garlic
    1/8 tsp granulated dried garlic
    1/4 cup french fried onions
    1 can minced clams with juice
    1/4 cup finely minced canned roasted red pepper
    1 tsp red pepper flakes

    Place onions in a small bowl and cover with an equal amount of wine, refrigerate overnight. Mix parsley and basil in another bowl and repeat.
    Heat butter and EVOO in skillet, add minced garlic.
    Image

    Drain onions, reserving liquid, and saute with garlic until fragrant.
    Image

    Add remaining ingredients, including soaking liquids, clam juice, and reserved wine.
    Image

    Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
    Image

    Serve over pasta (I didn't have any linguine on hand, so I used tiny penne instead.)
    Image
  • Post #27 - March 10th, 2008, 8:16 pm
    Post #27 - March 10th, 2008, 8:16 pm Post #27 - March 10th, 2008, 8:16 pm
    I am rapidly reaching the bottom of my bag of tricks for this project, but seeing Stevez's beautiful photo inspired me. I've had a can of salmon waiting in the pantry for a couple weeks now, and was planning on simple Salmon Cakes in the manner of Bacalao cakes I'd made before. However, yesterday was one of those misleadingly springlike days, with bright sunshine laughing at you through a bitterly cold day, and I wanted something springlike, and thus:

    Salmon Cakes Benedict

    1 can Red Salmon
    1 box dehydrated potatoes, "flavor packet" discarded
    3 tbsp white wine
    3 tbsp dried minced onions
    1 tbsp dried parsley
    2 tsp dried chives
    2 tbsp capers
    1/2 cup minced roasted red pepper
    1 tsp salt
    Oil
    6 eggs, separated
    Fresh breadcrumbs*, dried breadcrumbs or panko
    1/4 cup sherry
    additional parsley, chives, salt and pepper
    Poached Eggs

    Rehydrate onions and spices overnight in 3 tbsp white wine. Alternatively, place onion and wine mixture in microwave-safe container and nuke 30 seconds. Let stand while you prepare the potatoes. Following package directions on potatoes using only water, cook potatoes (mine said simmer in 4 1/2 cups of salted water for 20 min) Drain potatoes and mash lightly, leaving chunks. Allow to cool. Lightly beat together 5 egg whites and 1 whole egg. Fold into potatoes with onion mixture, salt, capers, and red pepper.

    Lightly poach 8 eggs** and place in an ice bath in the refrigerator. Leave poaching water on the stove to reheat just before serving.

    Heat about 1" of oil in a cast iron skillet until a small piece of potato mixture sizzles when added.

    In a large bowl, break the salmon into large flakes. Gently fold in potato mixture.
    Image
    Form into 8-10 patties. Working with 3-4 cakes at a time, dredge each cake thoroughly in breadcrumbs and fry in skillet, turning when browned on the bottom (about 2-3 min)
    Image
    Place finished cakes in warm oven on a wire rack placed on a cookie sheet. Continue until all cakes are fried.

    In a double boiler, place the remaining egg yolks and the sherry. Add parsley, chives, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk thoroughly until the mixture is frothy and lemony. Continue to heat and whisk until mixture begins to thicken; remove top of double boiler from stove and continue to whisk until your sauce is thickened and doubled in volume.

    Reheat your poached eggs in the original poaching liquid. Plate a salmon cake with a poached egg, and top with the Sherry Sabayon. Enjoy.
    Image Image

    * I often make breadcrumbs out of the inevitable leftover hot dog buns at the end of the package; just let them dry a little bit and zizz them in the blender.
    ** I poach eggs in my nonstick skillet, filled most of the way up with water to which I've added salt and a little vinegar. Carefully shell each egg into a saucer and slip it into barely simmering water; wait a few seconds before repeating. When the bottom is set, turn the eggs over using two spoons. Poach until you can poke the top of the egg with your finger and feel very gentle resistance (You should still be able to feel liquid inside, but the white should be thoroughly cooked) Scoop out with a slotted spoon into icewater.
  • Post #28 - March 24th, 2008, 2:26 pm
    Post #28 - March 24th, 2008, 2:26 pm Post #28 - March 24th, 2008, 2:26 pm
    I thought of this thread when I read that there's a new book out: "The 99 Cent Only Stores Cookbook". Story via The Grinder on CHOW: http://www.chow.com/grinder/5126
  • Post #29 - March 24th, 2008, 2:58 pm
    Post #29 - March 24th, 2008, 2:58 pm Post #29 - March 24th, 2008, 2:58 pm
    To me, the ultimate "survival food" -- a dish made entirely of stuff you can stick in the basement for the whole winter, is Newfoundland Cod Cakes. And they're delicious. Here's my recipe for these very practical Newfie classics.

    Newfoundland Cod Cakes

    2 lb. salt cod
    8 medium red potatoes (about 3 to 3.5 lb.)
    3/4 cup finely chopped onion
    1 tsp dried summer savory
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 lb. salt pork fat

    Put the salt cod in a deep bowl and cover it with cold water. Put the bowl in a cold room or the refrigerator. Soak the cod for at least 18 hours, changing the water a couple of times during that period.

    Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil them in lightly salted water until they are very tender. Drain the potatoes, put them in a large bowl, and mash them. Stir in the summer savory and chopped onion. You could also add some fresh-ground black pepper and a tablespoon of butter to the potatoes, if you like, but those are urban refinements, and not necessary to the success or authenticity of the dish. Set the mashed potatoes aside to cool.

    After the fish has soaked, drain it, and remove the skin and the bones—and fins, of course, if the pieces you bought have them. (The bones may be small, so look carefully, but don’t panic, as you will have two other stages where you can catch strays.)

    Cut the cod into pieces and put it in a non-reactive saucepan (so no aluminum; non-stick pans okay). Cover the fish with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the cod flakes easily.

    Drain the fish, and separate into flakes. (If you let it cool a little, you can use your fingers, which offers another opportunity to search for bones.) Then mix the flaked cod into the mashed potatoes.

    Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Put the flour in a pie pan or on another sheet of wax paper. Scoop up a good handful of the cod and potato mixture and form it into patties about three inches across and 3/4 inches thick. Dip each cod cake into the flour, coating it evenly on both sides. Shake off excess flour, and place the cod cake on the baking sheet. Continue until you have used up all the mixture. (This should produce about 12 to 14 cod cakes, depending on how large you make them.) Put the cakes in the refrigerator to cool. (Half an hour is needed, but you can leave them in there for several hours, if you want to make these ahead of time.)

    Cut the salt pork fat into 1/4-inch dice. In a large frying pan, fry the salt pork over medium heat, turning it frequently, until it is crisp and has rendered all its fat. Remove the scrunchions from the pan, and save or discard, as you wish.

    In the fat remaining in the pan, fry 3 or 4 cod cakes at a time over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side, until they are crusty and well browned. Turn the cakes only once. As they are done, transfer them to a platter and keep them warm until all the cakes are fried. Serve with reserved scrunchions, if you so desire. Serves 6–7 (two cod cakes per person).
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #30 - March 24th, 2008, 4:16 pm
    Post #30 - March 24th, 2008, 4:16 pm Post #30 - March 24th, 2008, 4:16 pm
    Louisa Chu wrote:I thought of this thread when I read that there's a new book out: "The 99 Cent Only Stores Cookbook". Story via The Grinder on CHOW: http://www.chow.com/grinder/5126


    Louisa, that is too funny! :lol:

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