Eat This Word: Hush Puppies

Hush Puppies

 

WHAT? Though just lumps of deep-fried cornmeal batter, this Southern classic can inspire reveries from people below the Mason-Dixon line, where an abiding nostalgia for fish fries and pig pickin's (pork barbecues) requires a steady supply of hush puppies. "A plate of fried fish seems mighty lonely without them," Angela Shelf Medearis wrote in The African American Kitchen, and Southern cooking maven Nathalie Dupree served fried catfish with hush puppies at her wedding. The unusual name is usually attributed to people trying to quiet dogs by throwing them bits of fried treats. Who those people were depends on which story you believe--plantation servants carrying food to the dining room, Southerners hiding from Yankees during the Civil War; Reconstructionists pitying dogs left starving due to food shortages, or hunters rewarding hungry hounds after day-long excursions. Regardless, when hush puppies are made well, there's nothing like 'em. Chow down.

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Eat This Word: Romesco

Romesco

 

WHAT? This classic sauce is a specialty of the Tarragona province in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain. The only essential ingredient that chefs agree on is the special red pepper that gives the sauce its name. Some contend the formula should be nothing more than a simple mixture of olive oil, red pepper, and bread, while others liven it up with flavorful ingredients, such as garlic, wine, chili powder, paprika, almonds or hazelnuts, and vinegar to the blend. Regardless of the recipe, the final product is usually a smooth paste, typically served with grilled poultry or fish. Each spring, there is a competition among fishermen in the Serrallo district of the province to produce the best romesco. Before thousands of spectators, the romesco-masters—who only pass their secret recipes on to their sons—set to work with their mortars and pestles to compete for the championship title.

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Eat This Word: Yuzu


Yuzu

 

WHAT? Thought to be a hybrid of the sour mandarin and the Ichang lemon, yuzu is a golf ball-sized fruit with a thick bumpy rind that ranges from green to vibrant yellow depending on its ripeness. Although the fruit originated in China, the Japanese adopted this ambrosial gem as part of their traditional winter solstice yuzu-yu, a bath in which whole yuzu are wrapped in cheesecloth and floated in the hot water so the fruit's intoxicating aroma—with notes of lime, lemon, and grapefruit—rises to meet the bather. The ultra-tart yuzu is not usually eaten whole but is used as an accent in many traditional Asian dishes.

 

WHERE? The Art of Modern Japanese 

 

WHEN? August 21, 2014 

 

HOW? Black Cod... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Hoecake

Hoe Cakes

Johnnycakes, ashcakes, battercakes, corn cakes, cornpone, jurney cakes, jonakin, jonikins, Shawnee cakes, and hoecakes (or hoe cakes) are all regional variations of flatbreads made with cornmeal, water, and salt. Since Native Americans showed the Pilgrims how to cook with corn, they are also most likely to have taught them how to make these precursors of our modern-day pancake. Hoe cakes were, as Culinaria United States notes, “supposedly created by slaves who cooked ‘journey’ cake batter on their hoes under the hot sun while working in the fields.” The original three-ingredient recipe has evolved during the last 400 years, and eggs, oil, butter, and even baking powder are now standard in most recipes. You can of course opt for a mix, but Aunt Jemima prefers wheat to cornmeal. Whichever recipe you use, the frying pan has become the cooking utensil of preference.

 

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Eat This Word: Strudel

The James Beard Foundation on strudel

 

WHAT? Conquerors' confection. Though the delicate filled pastry gained popularity in 18th-century Austria, strudel is most likely a distant cousin of Middle Eastern sweets like baklava: its signature, razor-thin sheets of dough were passed down from the Persians to the Byzantines to the Turks and finally to the Hungarians during the Turkish occupation.

 

Strudel dough, which is made from flour with a high-gluten content, is traditionally hand-stretched until it is so thin that, as chef David Bouley wrote in East of Paris, you can read a newspaper through it. Sweet strudel fillings like apple and sour cherry are most well-known, but the dish can also be made with savory stuffings like spinach or cabbage.

 

WHERE? Jeremy Nolen's Bold German Cuisine Dinner

 

WHEN? ... Read more >

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