Monday, December 27, 2010

How This Avocado BLT Stacks Up

Avocado is my butter, and I absolutely adore it!  Probably because I eat very little butter, I find avocado a special treat.  I remember my mother, a dietitian, always said avocado had a lot of fat, but the good kind - well, bring it on!

Following is my simple version of an Avocado BLT which I've been making for many years (way before the current wave of recipes for it).  But how you stack this sandwich is critical to its fabulous taste.  You want the bacon to impart its salty flavor between the avocado and tomato!

I typically enjoy this sandwich for brunch.  Whether you have it for brunch, lunch, dinner or in between, you'll find it delicious anytime! 

Oh, if you wondered what happened to those tomatoes from my last blog, well....

How to Stack This Avocado BLT*

1.  Toast two slices of a hearty, whole-grain bread (I like a 9 or 12-grain).

2.  Spread mayo on each slice of the toasted bread (I use a reduced fat).

3.  Place a large green salad leaf on one slice of the bread.

4.  Place a couple of slices of tomato on top of the salad leaf.  Add salt and fresh ground black pepper.

5.  Add a couple of slices of cooked bacon (I use an extra-lean turkey bacon; if you like, there is a low-fat pork bacon.)

6.  Add one-half of a ripe avocado,** sliced lengthwise.  Sprinkle with salt.

7.  Top with the other slice of toasted bread.

8.  Cut the sandwich in half with a sharp serrated knife. Enjoy!

*Use premium ingredients.
**An avocado is ripe when slightly soft to the touch.

           And here's a great way to use the other half of that avocado:


I used mozzarella cheese with the avocado in this omelette, but I always use whatever is on hand:  Swiss, Colby, Cheddar, etc.

If you're not quite ready to use the other half of your avocado, I recently discovered this neat gadget which helps retard browning.  You strap the avocado in it like a baby in a car seat and place in the refrigerator. Be sure to cut the avocado evenly, since the idea is to keep the avocado from being exposed to air, and place it in its little seat with the seed intact (there's an indentation for the seed);  a similar gadget is also made for apples:

                                               My "Butter Dish"
                    
Before I place the avocado in the gadget, I sprinkle it with lemon juice and/or "Fresh Fruit" produce protector (a powder typically used for canning and made by Ball) to also help retard browning.  If you keep the sliced avocado more than six hours in the avocado holder, it's still going to brown a little; but the lemon juice and/or powder will help prevent more intense browning.  I generally use the avocado within a couple of days and just scrape off any browning.  Have Fun! 

Printable Recipe 

Avocado on FoodistaAvocado

Monday, December 20, 2010

Steak Night

Are you ready for a big, thick juicy steak in between all the holiday fare?

When my son came over for T-Bones recently, I decided I'd use the oven broiler; I couldn't even remember the last time I had used it.  (My favored old electric grill burned a socket recently.  I knew I should not have been using it because of the condition of the plug, which was so old it wasn't even up to current standards.)

I did a couple of dumb things:  First, I thought I'd use a cooking spray on the broiler pan. Then I put the steaks on the pan in the oven with the broiler preheated; without thinking, I closed the oven door (instead of leaving it cracked open)...the worst mistake!!!  Before I knew it, my home was filled with smoke; and I had to open the sliding glass doors for the place to vent.  It was very cold outside!!  You would have thought I was a novice cook!

Before downsizing, and having the restrictions on grilling in our current community, we had a gas grill which we used until it literally fell apart.  My husband was often spotted grilling outside in the rain or snow.  Nothing beats steaks cooked on an outdoor grill!!

Either way, the following seasoning is terrific on T-Bones, and also in hamburgers.  (The better the cut of a steak, the less seasoning you need:  maybe just garlic powder, salt and fresh ground black pepper.)



Rub for T-Bone Steak

1.   Dry each side of the steak with a paper towel.

2.   With the back of a spoon, rub in about 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce on each side.

3.   Sprinkle each side with and rub in about:
  •    1/8th tsp. garlic powder 
  •    1/8th tsp. seasoned salt 
  •   1/8th tsp. fresh ground black pepper

      4.  Then divide about 1/8th tsp. dried thyme leaves between each side and rub in. (This makes it!!)

      Use your favorite method of grilling or cooking and throw in a baked potato and salad with a crusty bread. Enjoy!


      What's That Got to do with This? 

      I'm rebelling! Want to join me?  I'm fed up with the American illogical placing of commas and periods inside quotation marks, regardless of the situation (other than a letter or number).  I'm a very logical person; therefore, I have great difficulty accepting the American practice. The British place commas and periods logically when quotation marks are involved.  My teachers must have all been British!  I'll try to be consistent, since apparently that's the most important thing.  What do you think?

      Interesting - As a result of historical accident: When type was handset, a period or comma outside of quotation marks at the end of a sentence tended to get knocked out of position; so American printers, preferring convenience, placed the periods and commas inside the quotation marks.  Logical British printers continued to risk the misalignment of their periods and commas. 
      "Quotation Marks:  Where Do the Commas and Periods Go--and Why?"
        
      Tomatoes are accustomed to controversy (since not everyone agrees on the pronunciation of their name).
       

                                                 You should come "inside."



                                                 No, I want to go "outside".




       

      Thursday, December 16, 2010

      They Cleaned The Store Out!

      Can you believe it? Someone picked up 50 jars of the Crosse and Blackwell Rum and Brandy Mincemeat at the Publix I frequent since my last blog (and tweet) about the Holiday Mincemeat Salad! Coincidence?

      Were they actually taking my advice? But with extreme hoarding? Or for a Really Big Party? Save a jar or two for the rest of us! What do you think? Will the mystery shopper please come forward?

      Monday, December 13, 2010

      Holiday Mincemeat Salad

      This is another recipe I got from catering school, and the story is that the school secretary created it. If that's true, she should have been teaching the course!  It's one of the best and most unique recipes that was presented during school, and I've been making it every Thanksgiving since.  As a friend suggested, because of it's crimson red color, it would be great for Christmas I'm providing you with more in-depth directions and hints from my experience after having made it for so long; and also, I know a lot of today's cooks have not had that much experience in working with gelatin.

      Many people do not understand what mincemeat is. Today's product does not contain meat at all. The name, as explained @crosseandblackwell.com, goes back to medieval England, where meat pies were stretched to feed more by including raisins and currants.  By the 1800's, meat was no longer an ingredient, and the minced fruit filling was used in pies and desserts.




      Serves 12

      Ingredients

      • 2 ea. 3 oz. pkgs. (or one 6 oz. pkg.) cherry gelatin
      • one 8 oz. can crushed pineapple - drain and save juice (mix saved pineapple juice with water to equal 3 1/2 cups liquid)
      • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin plus 1/4 cup cold water
      • 20.5 oz jar Crosse and Blackwell Mincemeat with Rum and Brandy*
      • 1 small, unpeeled red delicious apple, cored and cubed (to retard browning of the apple, combine with the drained, crushed pineapple)
      • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
      • 1 cup of sour cream (served as an optional side for topping)  

      *Tip:  Only use Crosse and Blackwell Mincemeat with Rum and Brandy - Don't compromise on quality in this recipe - This is the best brand, and you want the Rum and Brandy flavor!  Sometimes all the stores may have available is the 29 oz. jar - In this case, just measure out 2 cups and save the rest to use as a condiment or side dish.

      Also, consider yourself forewarned - This is a seasonal item - I encourage you to play it safe and stock up now for the following year Thanksgiving and/or Christmas!  It has a very long shelf life.  I typically can find it at Publix during season, but it may not be on the shelves until after Thanksgiving.


      Directions

      1.  Heat the 3 1/2  cups liquid (pineapple juice mixed with water) to boiling and pour into an approximate 9" x 13" glass dish (using a shallow dish like this will help the gelatin to set more quickly).  With a wire whisk, stir and thoroughly dissolve the cherry gelatin into the hot liquid. Set aside.


      2.  In a small custard or similar cup, stir the unflavored gelatin into the 1/4 c. cold water.  After soaking for about five minutes, the gelatin should be thick and well absorbed into the water.  In a small saucepan, bring about one inch of water to a simmer, remove from the stove and set the cup of thick gelatin in the water (the water should come no higher than about half way up the cup).  Stir the gelatin in the cup over the hot water in the pan until the gelatin is thoroughly dissolved.


      3.  Whisk the dissolved unflavored gelatin into the liquid cherry gelatin.  Put in the refrigerator and let set until egg-white consistency.  This could take maybe an hour or so.  It's important the gelatin mixture be set to egg-white consistency so the other ingredients will not settle to the bottom and will be well incorporated into the salad, yet you don't want it to set so firmly you can't mix the other ingredients in easily.


      4.  Remove the gelatin mixture from the refrigerator, add all the other ingredients and pour into an approximate 8 cup (2 qt.) mold** which has been sprayed with a butter-flavored cooking spray. (This is another recipe where my daughter and I traditionally steal maybe a 1/4 cup for ourselves - soooo good!)  Return the mixture to the refrigerator and set until firm - I generally make the day before and let set overnight. (You could make and set two nights ahead if it helps you).

      **I found the fluted plastic mold, which I use exclusively for this recipe, at a dime store (which would now be a dollar store?) years ago - I guess that means I have another vintage piece! Also, this recipe fills about 14 one-half cup individual molds or 21 one-third-cup molds (don't use over one-half cup size individual molds).


      5.  To unmold:  Let the mold sit briefly in the sink in a little warm water (about a couple of inches up from the bottom of the mold). Watch carefully - You don't want it to sit in the warm water too long, or it will start to melt.  After removing from the water and drying the mold, I then (and this is one of my biggest tips!) use a plastic collar stay, because it's so thin, to gently run around the edges of the mold to release the salad.  If you can't get your hands on a plastic collar stay (they're like gold to me!), just carefully use a very thin bladed knife. 

      Centering over your serving platter, carefully invert the mold and give it a little tap.  Holding the mold to the platter with both hands, shake a little if necessary to release the congealed salad.  As everyone applauds your successful release of the salad, have a sip of wine and pat yourself on the back!

      Surround the salad with pretty greens or parsley. You can serve sour cream as an optional side for topping. Congratulations upon creating a great centerpiece!

      Now honestly, if you know how to make it, this is a very easy recipe; and my intentions were to hopefully make it just that for you!   Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

      Printable Recipe


                                                   Thanksgiving 2010        


      A Little Anecdote:  I have to tell you I can be very tenacious at times, and I was just that recently when I tried to pick up a jar of my mincemeat at the grocery store which I frequent.  The Rum and Brandy Flavor was not on the shelf, and I was told "they only put out what they were sent."  I explained how important it was to my recipe which I made every year for Thanksgiving! 

      There was a lot of back and forth with the stock clerk and the assistant manager (I had asked for the manager!) for longer than I want to admit.  Then I "pulled one" for which my husband was famous:  the dreaded "I would like to have the district manager's name and phone number!"

      The assistant manager told me I could go to customer service and fill out a special request for this item.  I explained that I just wanted the D.M.'s contact information to lobby for my product and I would fill out the request after I finished my shopping. Well, not two minutes later, the assistant manager appeared with a jar of my precious Crosse and Blackwell Rum and Brandy Mincemeat in each of his hands!  Wow! How magical!  He said he dug a little deeper "in the back" and discovered it.  Well, how about that - I learned from the pro - my husband!

      Disclosure:  I have not been compensated in any respect by Crosse and Blackwell or Publix, or communicated with either regarding endorsement.  I just feel that strongly about the product brand and know Publix is one store that generally stocks it - in season, of course.  (Naturally, I'd be happy if I did hear from them!)