January 23,2019

Dear friends,
I need some fava beans, quick. Like a moth to a flame, I have been drawn to forbidden sweets lately in an unconscious quest to boost the feel-good chemicals in my brain. I hate this but on the other hand, how else would I have discovered Caribbean coconut roll last week?

Yes, it’s complicated. Short version: I am not depressed, but my brain is genetically low in the chemicals that keep me happy. For years I have solved the problem with medication but now want to do so naturally. That means listening to music, meditating, getting plenty of sunshine and eating fava beans, the only food known to contain dopamine, one of the substances my brain is craving. Sugar will give me a temporary feel-good jolt, but I’d like to avoid cleaning out every pastry shop in South Florida.

Luckily, one of my pastry stops last week was Jerk City, a Jamaican carry out in Port St. Lucie, Fla. I don’t know why I stopped; it wasn’t a bakery and I had just finished lunch. But I rushed in, bought
one of the pastries stacked on the counter, and fled.

The scent of vanilla and coconut washed over me when I opened the plastic clam shell in the car. Wow. I figured “coconut roll” would be a sweet bread, but no. It was a roll of flaky pastry wrapped around and around a thick coconut filling. The roll, cut in half for packing, was about 7 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. The interior was moist and bread-y from the dough spiraled around the filling.

The flavor was — well, imagine a mouthful of buttery, flaky, mellow coconut goodness. It was as gentle and cozy a delivery system for coconut as I’ve tasted.

Later I found a recipe for the coconut roll, which turned out to be a Trinidad version. Many islands in the Caribbean have coconut rolls, all with slight variations. Some tint the filling pink. Some slice before baking. Trinidad does neither.

The following recipe is from The Schizo Chef at www.theschizochef.com/2016/03/coconut-roll/. I have not tried it but the winter is young and I haven’t found fava beans yet. Lord help me.

TRINIDAD COCONUT ROLL

Pastry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (4 tbsp.) cold butter, chopped
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold water

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup frozen grated unsweetened coconut, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Topping Ingredients:
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. sugar

For pastry: In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
Add shortening and butter. Using a pastry blender, cut fat into flour until it resembles small peas. Add water and mix just until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.

For the filling: Combine all filling ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Assembly: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spray with non stick spray. Make egg wash by whisking together the egg and water for the topping.

On a lightly floured board, roll out dough into a rectangle. Spread filling on top. Starting on the long side, roll into a tight cylinder, sealing the ends. Transfer to cookie sheet. Brush the top with egg wash. Sprinkle sugar on top.
Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Slow cooker pork, bean and green chili stew; grilled kabobs of marinated top sirloin, baby bell pepper, onion chunks and chunks of corn on the cob; grilled meatloaf burgers, grilled mixed peppers drizzled with vinaigrette, grilled corn on the cob.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Scrambled eggs, ham steak, grits, biscuit and coffee at Pogey’s in Okeechobee, Fla.; a rueben sandwich at Pogey’s; a chocolate glazed doughnut at Dunkin’ Donuts; Popeye’s 3-piece chicken and a biscuit; roast marinated pork, maduros (sweet plantains), black beans, yellow rice and a cafe con leche at El Cubanito Cuban Restaurant in Port St. Lucie, Fla.; a Trinidad coconut roll from Jerk City in Port St. Lucie; grilled shrimp and spicy grits with garlic bread at Good Spirits Lounge near Okeechobee; eggs over easy, grits, ham, biscuit and coffee at Pogey’s.

THE MAILBAG
From Marge S.:
(For Gail B.), I print your recipes by simply copying them and pasting into a Word document. Highlight the text you want, right click within the highlight and choose “copy.” Open a new Word document, right click on it and choose “paste.” Then you can make adjustments if you want, print it, and save it.

Dear Marge:
You and many others proposed that solution, which is how I print recipes from my newsletter, too. Those who get the newsletter via gmail, which does not support editing functions, will have to go to my blog site to copy and paste JaneSnowToday.wordpress.com

Thank you to those who offered suggestions: Debbie N., Dorothy T., Dorothy B., Christine S., Sura S., J.S., Pennie, Sue D., Judy A., Cindy W., Barbara S., Peggy K., Kay in Santa Fe, Ron C., Iris, Carol W., Ellen, Pat and Deb C.

From Carol B.:
I just printed your recipe for bean stew and can’t wait to fix it. Also, I’m curious about what Tony cooks on a 7-inch electric grill.

Dear Carol:
I measured Tony’s dinky grill and it is actually 10 inches in diameter. It looks smaller because the electric element sits inside a ceramic dish that resembles a soufflé dish, with a grid on top. It is a Japanese thing; they do a lot of grilling at the table.

I didn’t think the grill would be effective because we have a bunch of them taking up space in the basement, and the one I tried didn’t emit enough heat to cook a shrimp.
This one surprised me. Tony fired it up to grill corn on the cob, peppers and hamburgers, in shifts. It cooked everything slowly but surely.

The jury’s still out on the toaster oven.

From Susan R.:
What! No Instant Pot?

Dear Susan:
No. I hate it.

From Pat K.:
I’ve always wanted to know, what do you do with your leftovers? The bean stew recipe you ran last week serves 10. There are two of you. While I like leftovers, what’s a lot of leftovers. Do you freeze and then really reheat? I hate to waste food but I also hate eating the same thing all week long.

Dear Pat:
Sometimes I freeze leftovers, but typically I eat them. I love leftovers. Tony does not. Usually it’s just me and a big pot of whatever. We each had two bowls of the stew initially, then I ate stew the next morning for breakfast. It was the perfect breakfast — protein and vegetables in a warming broth. I had it again for lunch and dinner, and lunch the following day and then breakfast again. I was sad when it was gone. Meanwhile, Tony was happy eating peanut butter toast for breakfast and doctored-up instant ramen noodles for dinners. He eats a lot of ramen and spaghetti while I eat leftovers, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, protein shakes and other healthful stuff.

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January 16, 2019

Dear friends,
My brother brought us up to date via Facebook: “I’m sorry you’re missing the weather today — 16 degrees.” It was our second day in Florida. The temperature had dipped to about 45 degrees overnight and by morning had risen to a crisp 55. Not as frigid Ohio, but still soup weather.

I came prepared. Unlike last year, when I brought no recipes and found the Internet in our campground had been wiped out by a hurricane, I came this week with a clutch of recipe ideas to try. I brought a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a grill and freshly sharpened knives. Our camper is equipped with a 3-burner stove, a midget oven and a microwave. If pressed, I could probably make a multi-course feast with that equipment.

(Tony brought a toaster oven and a 7-inch table-top electric grill. What does he plan to make with those pretend appliances, I wonder?)

Update: Tony just read this over my shoulder and said, “Toast.”

Okay, then. Maybe we can eat his toast with the Southwestern pork and Navy bean stew with green chilies I made for dinner. It simmered all day on the kitchen counter in the slow cooker, and it smells heavenly. It tastes pretty good, too. I had a test bowl after 7 hours and another after 8. By then the white beans had broken down and become creamy. The thick stew is studded with big cubes of tender pork, slices of sweet potato and bits of mild green chilies. I deepened the flavor with onions and garlic and seasoned the stew with plenty of cumin and oregano.

I heated the slow cooker on high as I cut and added the ingredients. By the time the last can of beans was drained and scooped into the pot, the temperature of the mixture had risen enough to skip the usual 15-minute preheat on high. This will be convenient for those who assemble the stew before work.

As for me, I’m just hanging around the camper, listening to my stomach growl and waiting for that toast.

PORK AND WHITE BEAN STEW WITH GREEN CHILIES

2 1/2 lbs. pork butt, in 1-inch cubes
1 jumbo white onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cans (about 5 oz. each) chopped mild green chilies, drained
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced thin
2 cans (about 16 oz. each) chicken broth
2 cans (about 16 oz. each) Navy or Great Northern beans, drained

Heat a slow cooker on high. Chop/measure/prepare each ingredient and add to a slow cooker in order given. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 8 hours or until pork is tender and beans are soft and creamy. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with more salt to taste. Makes about 10 servings.

GUT CHECK
(I left my weekly planner and food diary in a motel on the way to Florida, so this week’s report is incomplete. Here’s what I recall:)
What I cooked last week:
Egg salad; scrambled egg on seeded toast with hot sauce.

What I ate in/from restaurants last week:
Southwest salad with chicken and a hunk of baguette at Panera; a Burger King Croissanwich; chicken teriyaki skewer, one salt and pepper shrimp, two spoonfuls of chicken stir fry and a sugar-dusted fried doughnut at Szechuan Buffet in Statesville, N.C. (the only place we could park with a camper in tow); pulled pork, potato salad, corn dodgers and iced tea at Bar-B-Que Hut in Sumter, S.C.; a bacon and pineapple pizza from Pizza Hut in Jacksonville, Fla. (delivered to our motel room); a pulled pork and slaw sandwich and Diet Coke at Memaw’s Bar-B-Q in Palm something (Bay? Harbor), Fla.

THE MAILBAG
From Gail B.:
How do I print some of the recipes you put in your weekly newsletter? I cannot find a print icon. I even went to your blog but no icon there, either. Thanks.

Dear Gail:
I’m sharing your question because others have asked, too. I also get questions about why there is no way to post recipes to Pinterest and other collection sites that enable users to keep track of recipes they want to save.

Unfortunately, I can’t help because I don’t handle the physical production of the newsletter. The kind folks at Mimi Vanderhaven manage the mailing list and editing functions, and I am grateful for their help. I will ask them again if there’s a way to add these features. Meanwhile, maybe there’s a computer whiz out there who has an easy solution for printing recipes from this newsletter.

January 9, 2019

Dear friends,
I’m cooking for just myself for a few days while Tony is off to a cabin in the woods, leaving me in charge of the dog and packing for our annual trip to Florida. We leave this week. We will be gone for two months. I could kill him.

So far I have gathered up a stack of summer shirts and the dog’s medicine. I am frantically making lists and doing laundry while subsisting for two days now on crackers and a big bowl of chicken salad.

Today (I’m writing this on Sunday), I will treat myself. At 6 p.m. I will turn on the TV to watch the Golden Globes red carpet while dining on pan-grilled salmon with coconut-lime sauce. I don’t have a lot of time to cook, so I dreamed up a dish that produces lots of flavor in about 15 minutes, tops.

I will savor the break and try not to feel guilty. I envy Tony, who is much better than I am at pampering himself. He lives in the moment. Then again, somebody has to pack.

PAN-GRILLED SALMON WITH COCONUT-LIME SAUCE

3 tbsp. oil such as Canola
3 green onions
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup light soy sauce
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. minced ginger
4 salmon fillets, each about 2 inches wide
Coarse sea salt
2 tbsp. chopped peanuts

Heat a medium skillet. When warm, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl. Slice white part of onions and sauté with garlic in the warm oil for 1 minute, just until garlic begins to soften. Add soy sauce, coconut milk, lime juice and ginger and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Heat a heavy skillet large enough to hold the salmon over medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, swirl and heat. Place salmon fillets, skin sides down, in skillet. Spoon some of the hot oil over the salmon and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 7 minutes for 1-inch-thick fillets, or until salmon is done to your liking.

Spoon some of the sauce onto each of 4 dinner plates. Place salmon fillets on top of sauce. Chop green onion tops and scatter over salmon. Scatter peanuts over fillets. Makes 4 servings.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Roasted kabocha squash with sweet soy sauce, pan-grilled strip steaks; overnight oats with dried cranberries and slivered almonds; venison spaghetti sauce; chicken salad with red sweet peppers and celery; pan-grilled salmon with coconut-lime sauce.

What I ate in/from restaurants last week:
Half of a Southwestern chicken salad and a piece of baguette at Panera; Wendy’s chili with Cheez-its.

THE MAILBAG
From Ann M:
I know the holidays are past along with the need for sauerkraut ball recipes, but I wanted to tell you about the gluten-free ones we make for my celiac family. I substitute Earth Balance spread for the butter, use gluten-free flour (Pamela’s), and put gluten-free Rice Chex in the blender for the coating. They turn out great.

Dear Ann:
Thank you for sharing that. I’m sure many people will try your suggestions.

From Sonja C.:
Do you have a recipe for the hot sauce served at Aladdin’s Restaurants? I’ve tried imitating it and searched online for recipes to no avail. The sauce is a condiment frequently offered for an additional cost if you order hummus. It looks a bit like a vinaigrette dressing in that is separates. It is orangish, with chunks that are finely diced peppers and garlic, perhaps. We like it for dipping falafel or just to add some spiciness to any of our meals.

Dear Sonja:
You have piqued my curiosity. I’ll have to try it. Meanwhile, if anyone shares a recipe I’ll let you know.

January 3, 2019

Dear friends,
I remember packing raw chickens in dry ice at breakneck speed to make the final Fed Ex pickup of the day. The birds were going to a food lab in Columbus to determine how the chickens in Akron supermarket chickens stacked up against the national average of salmonella in chicken. (Result: about 30 percent were contaminated, same as nationwide).

I remember the day a photographer coaxed me into a fort built from hundreds of my cookbooks for a picture to go with a story about cookbook collecting. Before he could snap the photo, the heavy rear wall of the fort toppled onto me, bruising a shoulder and almost burying me.

I remember interviewing a nice guy in a kitchen absolutely trashed from an apparently intense cooking session. Although the photographer had a tough time getting a serene shot, I loved the guy’s green chili stew. For years afterward I imagined the scene when his wife got home from work that day: You let them photograph this??

I remember naming the sauerkraut ball Akron’s iconic food, and Gino’s its best pizza. I remember generous chefs who shared their knowledge and recipes and readers who shared their life stories.

In 24 years as food editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, I amassed a lifetime of memories. I held the position from September 1982 through November 2006, the latest in a line that stretched back to the 1800s. Standouts along the way were Glenna Snow (1932 to 1946) and Polly Paffilas (1961 to 1974), but all 12 of the food writers whose bylines I unearthed in the newspaper archives helped Akron-area readers shop and eat better and more knowledgeably.

Today I’m asking what YOU remember. I am writing a chapter on the Beacon Journal’s food coverage as part of a history of the newspaper untaken by my colleagues. The eventual book will be published by the University of Akron Press. I would like to include readers’ comments on what they liked (or disliked) about the Food section.

I know what I think — the design, artwork and photography were some of the best in the country, and the content when I was writing the section was the result of much blood, sweat and tears.

But what about you? Are there any articles you especially remember? Were you helped by any of the nutrition or food safety advice? Did we make you laugh occasionally? Did any recipes become favorites? In sum, what made the Beacon Journal’s food coverage special?

Many of the recipes I printed became favorites of mine. Among the treasured stack I keep in a mixing bowl in the kitchen are recipes from readers, chefs and cookbooks, along with a handful of recipes I created. Do you have a favorite? The following bread pudding recipe is one of mine. It is from reader Geoff Hewitt, who was profiled in an In the Kitchen column in 1988. The addition of pecans and shredded coconut puts his version over the top.

LOUISIANA BREAD PUDDING
1 long loaf French bread
1 cup chopped pecans
4 cups milk
2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs
1 tbsp. dry sherry
2 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup raisins
1 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Tear the bread into pieces of various sizes and let air-dry for three days. Spread chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Combine all ingredients except bread and mix well. Add bread and stir well, using your hands to thoroughly mix the ingredients. The mixture should be quite moist but not soupy. Add more milk if it appears to be too dry. Pour into a greased, 9-by-13-inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes. Serve warm with bourbon sauce.

BOURBON SAUCE
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bourbon or other liquor

Stir butter and sugar over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in egg yolk. Stir in bourbon gradually. Heat until warm but not boiling. Spoon over individual portions of bread pudding.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
A bone-in half ham (shank) with honey-mustard glaze; ham, potato and butternut squash soup; ham quiche. (Eternity is two people and a ham.)

What I ate out last week:
Baked brie en croute, marinated chicken kabob, steamed rice, couscous, green salad and a cut-out cookie at my niece, Heidi’s; chicken pad Thai at Giant Eagle in Cuyahoga Falls.

THE MAILBAG
From Dorothy G.:
“The West Point Market Cookbook” by Russ Vernon is for sale on Amazon.

Dear Dorothy:
I was stunned to see how much the book has soared in price since it was published in 2008. Used copies are going for as much as $132 on Amazon, although a number of more reasonably priced copies in good condition can be had for $25 to $30. Again, I would check the shelves at the Bookseller in Akron first.

From Bill B.:
A book you said you want to get, “The Flavor Matrix,” sounds good. Have you read “The Flavor Thesaurus”? It is what the title says it is: Synonyms and antonyms for flavors. I also recommend “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” by Samin Nosrat. Both books are great for understanding flavors.

Dear Bill:
I currently am watching the four-part documentary on Netflix based on “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” It is entertaining and instructive. As for “The Flavor Thesaurus,” that sounds like a good book for a restaurant critic. Personally, in my years of reviewing I was always searching for a new way to say “mediocre.”

From Karen B.:
It’s good to see that you were recently at Sushi Katsu (in Akron’s Merriman Valley). We were just talking about it yesterday! My son and friend had both been there but it was years ago, and they really enjoyed it. I told them I wasn’t sure how it is since Tony left but apparently it’s pretty good if you were there. Any other thoughts?

Dear Karen:
Tony and I go at least once a month. The sushi is very good. Tony taught the chefs before we handed it over. Sometimes there will be something not up to Tony’s standards, and he will make the chefs aware of it. The sushi is more adventurous under chef Tin than it was under Tony, who is a sushi purist. The tired decor, which Tony wouldn’t let me change, is sleek and modern now. Go! Enjoy!