Marx Foods…Iron Foodie 2010~

1 11 2010
Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me: -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll

Now this is something different…and it’s challenging…  Marx Foods and Foodie Blogroll are combining efforts in the first every Iron Foodie Challenge!!  Let’s see…what are we supposed to do here…Something tells me we’re going to be cooking here somewhere along the line…  To start with… Ah…to be considered as a contestant, these 5 questions must be answered…

  1. Why do you want to compete in this challenge?
  2. Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?
  3. What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?
  4. Sum your childhood up in one meal.
  5. The one mainstream food you can’t stand

Okay…that’s not too bad, so far…then there’s the timeline…25 actual cooking contestants aka challengers, each with 8 ingredients…3 of which are required.  Hmmm….  Sounds rather like Jousting!!  Bring it on, Baby!  *giggle*  Wait…first there are these questions…

Why do you want to compete in this challenge? I have a competitive spirit.  Always have.  My creeping antiquity is forcing me to reduce my physical competition…just don’t heal as fast as I usta!  *giggle*   It’s true…the body doesn’t heal as fast, and it’s not quite up to some of the stunts of my youth…I work full time, so there goes another hunk of time where I could be competitive.  I love to cook, it solves a lot of dining issues for us, and we both enjoy the results, so this is one of those places where I can still be competitive and have fun doing it.  I love learning and stretching my mind out of the box…which is why I love Jousting in the Royal Foodie Arena.  I love pushing myself to the edge and then just a little farther, to see what’s out there, or what happens when…  The idea of having ANY ingredients from Marx to HAVE to cook with just absolutely enthralls me!  And the idea of putting myself up against the folks here at the Foodie Blogroll…OMGosh!!  There are some absolutely incredible home chefs here!  I can’t think of anything more exciting or fun right now!!

Whose kitchen would I like to spend a day in and why? That one is a little tougher…  I’d love to know what kind of magic lurks in the head of Thomas Keller….who wouldn’t?  Which of us wouldn’t love to be on the set of one of Julia Child’s PBS show?  But who would I really like to spend a day in the kitchen with?  Alton Brown.  I have a scientific mind that wants to know the whys of things and what will I get if I add this to this??   I hear music in multiple parts in my head, and I taste the separate components of food in my mind the same way.  I don’t know why, I’m just wired that way.  I’d love to spend a whole day combining technique and science with taste and texture and…oh what a glorious day that would be!!  I think by understanding the essences and components of our ingredients at their most basic levels, we know better what they will combine with successfully both in harmony and as a foil.  Spending the day in the kitchen with Alton Brown would be like having a computer hardwired into your head while you’re cooking!  Barring that, I’d like to spend the day with John Besh in Louisiana, learning about true “Louisiana-Cajun” cooking, because this is only hypothetical…and cuz my system won’t take that spicy food! Whoo!

What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?  LOL!  A dill pickle chip!  And it doesn’t matter if he’s looking, because the only one I’d snitch from is my husband and he doesn’t ever touch his pickle chips!  A dill spear, on the other hand, I will leave, as he does eat those on occasion.  Other than that, I keep my hands on my own plate.  Always.  I nibble long before plates come out!  Well…Someone has to do quality control!  It’s a tough job, I know…but someone has to do it!  *snicker*

If I were to sum up my childhood in one meal it would be…Fried chicken…more chicken fricaseé than really fried though, with mashed potatoes, country gravy and green beans with Bisquick biscuits.  As a child of the late…oh, before most of you were born…growing up in the 60’s & 70’s, chicken was on the table at least 3 times a month.  My mom didn’t have my curious nature, nor my break out of the box adventurous side when it comes to food.  She knew how to fry chicken, or fricaseé it (as my dad preferred), and that’s what she did with it.  End of report.  Mashed potatoes were the real thing…peeled by yours truly, then simmered and mashed with milk and margarine or oleo as some called it, salt and pepper.  Gravy was made from the pan drippings, flour and milk.  I remember the first time I asked my mother what the white stuff was called, and asked to taste it.  I didn’t think I’d like much that the “flour” was in…it didn’t taste so good by itself!  Remember…the white stuff went into the gravy…the biscuits were made with something else that came out of a box!  LOL!  My job was to cut out the biscuits and put them in The Biscuit Pan.  I still have that pan.  And I use it with fond memories.  It’s carried many a biscuit in its many, many years!  Green beans…we had to have green beans.  We only had canned vegetables.  We only bought certain vegetables in cans.  Green beans.  Corn.  Occasionally peas or spinach, but not very often.  We didn’t even buy the ubiquitous Veg-All.  There may have been other vegetables in the pantry, but I don’t remember them.  And we certainly didn’t have them with fried chicken and mashed potatoes…because you just simply do NOT have corn and potatoes in the same meal…2 starches…big no-no!  Even I knew that!  *giggle*  Now…don’t forget the honey.  We almost always had an abundance of honey.  We had 7 1/2 acres, and let the farmers leave their hives in our back pasture for several years.  We had fabulous blackberries during those years, and the farmers left us big jars of honey when they harvested their combs.  That was my childhood…typical of the time in history, dependable, unchanging, very routine, without a lot of variance…then the moon moved into the 2nd house, and Jupiter aligned with Mars…while peace guided the planets, Love filled the stars, and the Age of Aquarius dawned…

The one mainstream food you can’t stand…  I had just about convinced myself that there wasn’t any mainstream food I really can’t stand…that it more had to do with preparation than the actual item…until I remembered uni.   I truly, honestly have a problem getting uni down.  I tried.  I tried very hard.  For the most part, I adore sushi…but uni I do have to take a pass on, while I really do like most other roes.  It was a textural thing.  Raw scallops hit me the same way, but I’m fine if they’re in ceviche or if they’ve even been lightly grilled.  Fully raw…not so easy.  However…I’ve learned to love raw oysters, and foie gras…so go figure.  I’m pretty brave too, so it’s not really easy to push me over the edge!

I would seriously love to participate in this challenge!  Marx Foods has thrown the gauntlet down…and I’m polishing my armour…er…sharpening my knives!  My trusty steed awaits…  Whoa, Cuisinart… Steady there, Kitchen Aid…  Whoa….there!  We have to wait…  Patience.  Patience…  Time will tell if we are worthy…



Cooking Italy: Pasta é Fagioli~

1 11 2010

The last week of October at Cooking Italy had us preparing Marcella Hazan’s recipe Pasta é Fagioli as described in her book, Essentials of Italian Cooking.   This was particularly fun for me, because 2 weeks ago, I prepared Marcella’s son’s (Giuliano’s) recipe for the same soup from his book, Thirty Minute Pasta.  I confess, now I’m really sorry I didn’t keep just a few ounces of Giuliano’s version frozen for a side-by-side taste comparison.  Hmmm…well…that’s not to say I couldn’t make another batch of Giuliano’s version…oh!  Don’t get me going!  LOL!  They’re both very, very good, and we loved the rich heartiness of both versions.

One of the main differences between Marcella’s version of this soup and her son’s is the beans.  Marcella cooks her beans from raw-fresh (I’ve never even SEEN a fresh-raw cranberry bean in person!) or dried (not available in my town…go figure).  I went for cooking from dried, and didn’t let them soak long enough…that’s why they split open.  In this application that didn’t matter much.  Canned cranberry beans aren’t available here either, which is why I used canned cannellini beans when I made Giuliano’s soup.  I would seriously consider making that substitution with this version as well.

Other than that, most of the ingredients are the same…there’s onion, carrot, celery…tomatoes, beans…I used our own tomatoes, in both recipes.  We have them falling off the vines, still.  Hey…it’s California.  The temps are supposed to be up into the 70’s again…go figure.  By the way…does anyone have any absolutely-to-die-for green tomato recipes??  I have at least a lug…maybe 2…green tomatoes that I’m sure won’t ripen.  Whoops…back to the soup…  There were two other major differences in the soups… Marcella’s recipe called for a ham bone…a bit of pork, even a pork chop while Giuliano’s called for none, and Giuliano’s soup called for a cooked, riced potato, which Marcella’s did not.  Interesting.

Here are the two soups together…

This is Giuliano’s soup on the left.  It had a really thick and robust consistency.  A lot of that was due to the potato, but equally as much due to the thick rich consistency of the beans.

Now we have Marcella’s soup on the right.  The color difference is due to the difference in the choice of beans.  The cranberry or borlotti beans cooked up darker than the canned cannellini beans.

Tasting Notes~
I don’t think it really matters a whole lot which version of this soup you make…you just need to make one of them some chilly Fall night.  They both have incredibly flavor and are truly hearty enough to be supper.  This soup with a little hearty garlic bread…add a salad if you like…toss a small steak on the grill…boil up a few ravioli…paired with or stand alone, this is one of my favorite soups!  It’s got that peasant-rustic quality that draws me in every time!  It also has holding power.  It can be reheated with the addition of a little water or broth quite easily for a quick lunch or to add it as a primi course!  Just don’t deny yourself…either recipe is easy enough to make this a wonderful Autumn treat!