INTERNATIONAL CULINARY CORNER



THINGS DON'T CHANGE

The world is a simple place. The two things that are common but define nations, ethnic diversity and diffrence are food and music.  We all eat.  And we all have a love somewhat of music.   Yet to some the habits and customs of either the food or the music might not be so appealing.

In Greece, they mix ground beef or lamb with rice and herbs and wrap it in a blanket of grape leaves and tastefully drape it with a sauce made from lemons.  In Israel they mix ground beef with rice, herbs and spices, wrap it in a blanket of grape or cabbage leaves and cook it in a sauce made with a tomato base. Similar dishes are found in central Europe and the middle east.

In almost every other country that has beef and rice the story is similar including corn meal, beef and rice or chicken and rice  served in a taco shell or soft burrito.   The answer is simple, the Greeks in volcanic soil grow a lot of lemons, the Israelis are big on hydroponic farming, actually world leaders, the Mexicans know corn meal.

Same foods,  different condiments, bases or spices.  Common to all those countries is peppers which are grown world wide in varying strengths and potencies.

When you seek recipes on the web there are ten thousand variants of the same thing. Here are recipes that I may of culled stock ideas from and modified from the web closest to how I cook.  I rarely use a cookbook, most chefs on TV never show you the stock recipes they cook from, adding a pinch here and a new flavor there.  And rarely show you the ten to twelve people backstage that make them look so good.

I rarely write things down. I am what they call taste motivated and you would not like some of the concoctions I have made since I thought they were terrible too.  Simple lousy taste on occasion, I missed, blundered and fortunately our condo has a garbage chute for simple, and fast removal of the evidence.  

Many processes came from my Mom, memory and family, since I am older now, a lot older than some of these TV chefs and I chuckle a bit since most of these common recipes have been around, some dating back centuries, some slightly different based on country of origin. 

TOURISTAS INVADE
THE COOK-OFF ANSWER
We are also a tourist town during the whole year and a Winter Wonderland for the snow birds or as we say the Southern Home of our Northern neighbors who are running from harsh winters, isolation, cars that don’t start, snowplows and other things.  Can’t blame them.  

When they get here most do a lot of eating out, creating traffic jams, a few car accidents, (the right turn from the left lane is a killer) and crowded restaurants.  Nevertheless its good for local economy and business, especially body shops, you just have to pick the right times to go out.  

And gathering with friends for a community cook together is a new thing I’m promoting,THE FOOD CLUB.  We have four couples I’m putting together, a theme is picked and we bring the dish or cook together at each others homes on a rotating basis with some great stuff on weekends with friends for fun.  

Since Its on a rotating basis, the theme and the location changes each time.  The four course meal is Appetizers, Soup, Entree and Desert.  You rotate the course each week and that is your assignment for the next cook-off at the next host-house.   One time I got my Mom involved and she taught me her fabulous recipe and technique for the Jewish version of stuffed cabbage in tomato sauce similar to the classic Greek version using grape leaves and lemon sauce called  Dolmathakia..

We had done this before and the parties were fabulous, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two things.  First make sure your couples are compatible.  And keep it simple.  The quality of the dishes will improve with every party and people love new things.  Second, Diversify, with the web even ethnic dishes are found quite easily and constructed.  

Theme rotate and may also may also be on the basis of a draw. Labeled Poker Chips,  One time Tex-Mex Burritoville, Americana Traditional, Chinese - Japanese Night, Ocean Seafood (Fish Night), Middle east, India, Micronesian, Ethnic call, House Specialty, and once done, removed from the other chips. You can start over later.

I will tell you now, with a good crew, the food will just absolutely skyrocket week after week as the players look to improve on their diversity and skills, great competition and you get three meals back for each one you do.




I WISH YOU WELL

Have fun in the kitchen, just like the Dean and Duchess of French cooking, Julia Childs and Jacque Pepin used to say. "Bon Appetite”!  French cooking would not be as popular if it wasn’t for these two people.  But there is a small problem...

Between her (Julia's) scratchy voice and Jacque's blurred French accent attempting English, I couldn't understand either of them. I called it "cooking by pictures".  I couldn't understand a word and my ears pained and strained to understand what he was saying.  Thats why his daughter who speaks perfect Engleeeesh…was on his newest series of shows.

On the reruns on the Food Network, I turn on music instead and hit the TV mute button because even on the reruns I still can't understand a word he says, some things are timeless and I like good music. I just look at the pictures and get the drift.

VOILA!  Brilliant…they made a book.  They have a fantastic book out available on Amazon and thats an easy read and a way into American French Cooking.  The product number is B00009WO95 and it's called Julia-Jacques-Cooking-At-Home.  In English, you can read it, you do not need an interpreter nor muffled earphones.


AN ANNUAL SERBIAN EVENT
This festival is all about fun, food and bravery,” said Ljubomir Erovic, the Serbian chef and testicles gourmand specialist who organizes the bizarre cooking festival and has published a testicle cookery book.

“The bulls’ testicles are the best, goulash style,” said last year’s winner Zoltan Levai, stirring a metal pot heated by a wood fire and filled with vegetables and large testicles that he said were provided from a state-run slaughter house.  Goes to show you the Cro-Magoons still exist and we owe it all to "Biendover". 

Testicles are regarded as a gourmet delicacy in Serbia and the country is hoping to develop an export market.  Serbian daily newspaper Glas Javnosti said the contest in the village of Savinac, close to town of Gornji Milanovac, was won by gourmet testicle chef Dejan Milovanovic from Belgrade. 

His specialist dish prepared using testicles from a bull and a boar beat off challengers from around the world, who cooked their way through more than 20 kilos of prepared testicles.  No franchises were sold in the United States to date though it was commented that we should start this delicacy dish in Washington DC where we could secure the testicles from some of our Congressmen who have no use for their balls either.

RECIPE'S ARE JUST GUIDES
Feel free to alter, change, modify, correct, substitute, and let your taste buds lead the way.... These recipes are endless and passed down through the generations, once in a while a burnt hair smolders in my kitchen reminding me of the real chefs a long time ago who scratch cooked things and wrote them down...on cave walls, the beginning of the recipe.

After my Mom passed on I realized when I cleared out her belongings for charity, I never found a cookbook, no notes, it was all in her head, passed down from her mother. 


EATING AND DYING OUT

CSPI’s Most Outrageously Unhealthy Restaurant Meals (Condensed)

Every year the Washington, D.C., consumer-watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) takes a look at menus from the country’s top chain restaurants and figures out which meals are so unhealthy, they deserve some kind of dishonorable mention.  Hence, those with shocking amounts of calories, fat and sodium, which contribute to the nation’s problems with obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases, are below.

Xtreme Eating list, published in the June issue of CSPI’s Nutrition Action Newsletter.

IHOP’s Chorizo Fiesta Omelette
The omelet alone, made with chorizo sausage and pepper-jack cheese, and topped with sour cream, has 1,300 calories. But it comes with three buttermilk pancakes (or hash browns, toast or fruit). With the pancakes and four tablespoons of syrup, this breakfast has a day’s worth of calories (1,990) and two days’ worth of saturated fat (42 grams).

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s 3 Meat Plate
For this combo meal, CSPI chose Polish sausage, pork ribs and beef brisket, and sides of Fried Onion Tanglers and mac and cheese, plus the free roll, pickles, onions and a 32-ounce (the only size offered) sweet tea. Diners can also have as much free soft-serve ice cream as they want. With just one half-cup of ice cream in a cone, this 2,500-calorie meal has 49 grams of saturated fat and 4,700 milligrams of sodium (about 2 1/2 to 3 days’ worth), plus 29 teaspoons of sugar. CSPI says it’s like eating three Big Macs with five Vanilla Cones.

The Cheesecake Factory’s Louisiana Chicken Pasta
This Parmesan-crusted chicken from repeat offender The Cheesecake Factory is served over pasta with mushrooms, peppers and onions in a spicy New Orleans sauce. At a hefty 1½ pounds, it has 2,370 calories (more than a day’s worth), 80 grams of saturated fat (a four-day supply) and 2,370 milligrams of sodium. It’s the equivalent of two orders of fettuccine Alfredo plus two breadsticks at Olive Garden.

Sonic’s Pineapple Upside Down Master Blast
A 32-ounce cup filled with vanilla ice cream, pineapple and “salted caramel & pie crust pieces,” this is topped with several inches of whipped cream. It has 2,020 calories, 61 grams of saturated fat (three days’ worth), 4½ grams of trans fat (over two days’ worth) and about 29 teaspoons of added sugar. That’s the same calories of roughly four Dairy Queen Banana Splits.

Steak ’n Shake’s 7×7 Steakburger ’n Fries
This burger from the midnight-to-6 a.m. Up All Night menu features seven beef patties and seven slices of cheese, plus a side of fries, totaling 1,570 calories and more than two days’ worth of saturated fat. With a 960-calorie Chocolate Fudge Brownie Milkshake, the grand total comes to 2,530 calories, 68 grams of saturated fat, more than 5,000 milligrams of sodium and 26 teaspoons of added sugar. It’s like sitting down to four 9-ounce Outback Steakhouse sirloin steaks, each topped with two half-cup scoops of Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream.

Outback Steakhouse’s Herb Roasted Prime Rib Dinner
If you eat this 16-ounce prime rib, with a dressed baked potato and classic blue cheese wedge, plus half of the bread on the table with a little butter, you’ve consumed 2,400 calories, 71 grams of saturated fat and 3,560 milligrams of sodium. It’s the same as eating three Outback 10-ounce rib eye steaks, each served with garlic mashed potatoes.



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