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myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

News Flash! Sous Vide Is Landing in a Home Kitchen Near You!

One of myMEGusta’s favorite things is when science and technology change the “rules” for things related to food.

Modern farming and refrigeration techniques, for example, rendered obsolete the old saw about only eating oysters in the “R” months, referenced in  ”Slurp” (April 13,2012) . http://wp.me/s1VQOz-slurp

Now the Technique of Sous Vide is at our fingertips, safely and, for serious home cooks, not ridiculously expensive.

As background, take a gander at “Sous Vide: Don’t Try this at Home” (January 31, 2012), in which we discussed this new technique for creating fabulously tender, delicious foods, cooked slowly at a low temperature, something great for restaurants with the right equipment, but potentially dangerous in the hands of well-meaning amateurs. http://wp.me/p1VQOz-3W

But, the Personal Technology Section of the New York Times (November 19, 2014) is all about Bringing Sous Vide to the Home Cook, a welcome innovation!

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/technology/personaltech/bringing-sous-vide-to-the-home-cook.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A7%22%7D&module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A7%22%7D&_r=0

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The Best Food/Travel Auction of the Year is Back!

Featuring great getaways in some of myMEGusta’s favorite cities, like San Diego, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, DC, Les Dames d’Escoffier’s online auction is now open for bids at https://www.charitybuzz.com/support/2151.

You can even vie for lunch with ABC TV star Carla Hall, including four VIP tickets to a taping of The Chew in NYC, a truly unique experience for food lovers!

It’s up and running, and open through December 9.

Come today, join myMEGusta in the bidding fun!  And, tell your friends!

To learn more about Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a philanthropic organization of women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality, click on www.ldei.org.

Having Yams for Thanksgiving?

Probably not, unless you live in Japan or Africa, in which case you’re probably not having a traditional turkey feast at all.

The little known fact is that potatoes are not related to sweet potatoes, and neither is related to yams, although the “y” word is often used for the sweet little yellow tubers so popular at Thanksgiving.

As readers of myMEGusta are aware, potatoes originated in Peru, and were brought to Europe by the conquistadors, a deed much more beneficial to humanity than their carting away the Aztec’s’ gold and silver. (Read Mellow Yellow Potato… at http://wp.me/p1VQOz-dx posted on July 2013.)

Potato Festival Display in Cusco, Peru

Potato Festival Display in Cusco, Peru

Potatoes’ popularity spread throughout Europe, so much that many folks actually think they are native to Ireland, and cannot imagine a world without the French fry. Today’s potatoes have been bred and bred and bred, so we have a huge variety of sizes, shapes and textures, although ancestral varieties still can be found in Peru.

Potatoes are in the nightshade family, related to other delicious American natives such as tomatoes, chili and bell peppers, eggplants and tomatillos. Tobacco and belladonna (deadly poisonous) are on different branches of this family tree, and are obviously not cultivated for food.

Sweet potatoes are another plant entirely, members of the morning glory family and also native to the Americas. Perhaps because they look similar, and can be prepared in similar ways, they picked up the potato moniker, confusing everyone.  One delicious way to enjoy them, which has probably been around forever, although it’s relatively new to myMEGusta, is sweet potato fries, the height of decadence.

Baked Sweet Potato!

Baked Sweet Potato!

The best way to enjoy? In the opinion of this good eater, simply baked and garnished with a little butter and salt, perfection. Save the marshmallows for s’mores. They are also nice baked and mashed, and sweet potato pie is a nice alternative to pumpkin pie for the holidays.

Yams in the Market

Yams in the Market

Yams originated an ocean away, in Africa, and their use spread far and wide, including into Japan where they are wildly popular. They are not even distantly related to what we properly call sweet potatoes, and have a much drier texture.

Baked Japanese Yam

Baked Japanese Yam

 

A treat for myMEGusta this fall was the gift of a few of these little treasures which she baked and enjoyed straight out of the oven. Of course, there are innumerable varieties of yams over many continents.

Shirataki noodles, made from Asian yams, are a favorite treat for people on low carb diets, very tasty in soups or with tomato sauce.

Shiritaki Noodles

Shiritaki Noodles

Fans of Japanese cinema will recall a scene in Tampopo, the first “ramen western,” in which a yakuza (mafia) character speaks poetically about eating the grilled intestines of freshly hunted wild pigs who themselves had just feasted on wild yams. Think of it as a barbecued yam sausage.

What Don’t Blazing Saddles and Low Library at Columbia University Have in Common?

OK, there’s a pretty long list, but food is at the center of the question.

Blazing Saddles!

Blazing Saddles!

A reception, including food, preceded a recent screening of Blazing Saddles at Stamford, Connecticut’s wonderful Avon Theater (www.avontheater.org), complete with commentary from local denizen Gene Wilder.  Red flags went up for MyMEGusta, as she has had reception food there before and it was impossible to get to and/or eat standing up. But, they cracked the code, with multiple stations (easy to get to) and the perfect little dishes to complement the film: Baked Beans (if you don’t get the joke, Google it…) and Braised Short Ribs, served off the bone, from Bar Rosso (www.barrossoct.com) . Delicious and perfect.

You would think that the sophisticated caterers who service functions Columbia University’s Low Library would have also done a great job on “standing” food, right? Wrong.  We hope it was a one-time occurrence, but at an alumni event a couple of years ago, they served salmon skewers.  They were tasty, but taking one bite caused the whole thing to fall apart, and the floor was littered with pink bits of teriyaki flecked fish.

It’s a delicate balance, literally and figuratively, when food appears where it would not normally occur.

Take airplanes. It is just not natural for a shrimp to be catapulted in an aluminum tube at 35,000 feet, and myMEGusta has never (repeat, never) had a decent one on a flight.

Better are slow cooked, easily reheated items, but soup is usually not a brilliant solution either, unless there’s pretty good certainty that there won’t be turbulence. PS A lot of napkins got used on that flight.

We all have memories of particularly bad airborne experiences, like a particularly outstanding, and not in a good way, Thai curry (bland and cloyingly sweet at the same time) sauce on cardboard mystery fish courtesy of KLM. And the chemical tasting ersatz chocolate mousse that Air France foists upon Les Miserables in Le Coach is always Une Horreur.

Happier memories include an amazing pumpkin seed mole sauce on perfectly braised chicken in First Class on a plane from Mexico City to Chicago, and I still wonder if someone’s Abuelita (Grandma) was hidden in the galley. Coach food can be excellent, too; there was a very capable shepherd’s pie on a recent Transatlantic flight.

Classic Shepherd's Pie. It can fly!

Classic Shepherd’s Pie. It can fly!

Common elements?  Dishes that accommodate being reheated, and attention to seasoning/flavors.

It ain’t rocket science, folks. Make a comment to share some of your triumphs and tragedies with standing/flying food!

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