Australia’s Vegemite Sandwich (by Monica Johnson)

vegemite, vegemite sandwich

In the land "Down Under" The Vegemite sandwich is a great Australian snack.

“I said ‘Do you speak-a my language?’ He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich…” Are you bobbing your head and humming the flute melody? Come on! You know it’s in your head! Then again, if you came around in the 90’s or afterwards, you might need an introduction to a song called “Land Down Under.” It was one of the trademark songs of the 80’s. The song, sung by the Australian band Men at Work, provided a generation with its first lesson on Australian cuisine, leaving them to wonder  “Exactly what is a Vegemite sandwich?”

When talking Australian cuisine, it’s hard to overlook Vegemite. It’s one of the staples in a good Australian diet. Vegemite is concentrated yeast extract originally made from a by-product of the beer brewing process and various vegetable and spice additives, and it’s loaded with Vitamin B. Vegemite is extremely popular in Australia. We’re talking the peanut butter and jelly kind of food fame. In fact, Australian children are brought up on Vegemite sandwiches from the time they are able to eat solid foods. Australian adults love it too. They are known to bring a jar of it when they are traveling abroad.

You don’t really see Vegemite here in the U.S. It’s popularity never caught on. It’s an acquired taste…to say the least. The texture of this spread is smooth and sticky like peanut butter, yet it tastes nothing like it. It is salty, slightly bitter, with a smokey malt taste. However, Australia is not alone in its admiration for Vegemite – New Zealanders also enjoy diets enriched with this common Australian treat.

Vegemite was invented in 1923, after World War I.  When a disruption in the import of  Marmite  occurred (Marmite is a popular British product , also made by beer byproducts);  Vegemite was created. Later the registration was cleared and transferred to the U.S. company Kraft Foods. Kraft has maintained an interest in Vegemite since the 1920’s.

Simple Recipe for Making a Vegemite Sandwich (Recipe from whatscookinamerica.net)

▪ Using your favorite bread, some butter or margarine, and of course, Vegemite.

▪ Spread butter on a piece of toast or bread.

▪ Cover very thinly with Vegemite (for the optimum Vegemite sandwich you only need a dab). Dip your knife in the Vegemite, and scrape up just a bit (it will mix right in with the butter and spread easily). Some people like to “marble” the Vegemite into the butter.

▪ Eat it open-faced and enjoy!

Here are a few other ways Australians enjoy Vegemite according to Travelchannel.com:

*Vegemite with butter and bread

* Vegemite with crackers

* Vegemite with avocado

* Vegemite with cheese and crackers

* Vegemite with cream cheese

* Vegemite with tomato

Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood-Cookbook Coming Soon

trishayearwood43-280x210After compiling her first cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen, Trisha Yearwood found 60 or 70 recipes on the chopping block. However, she wasn’t sure those leftovers would ever end up in print since she says it takes about a year to put a cookbook together. To help her make the decision, she enlisted family members to bring their favorite dishes to a reunion — along with the recipe. Then she divided the stack of recipes between herself, her sister and their mother, plucking the best ones. The result is Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood, a new book being served in April 2010.

Calling from the Oklahoma home she shares with husband Garth Brooks, she spent about half of our conversation describing her new dishes, such as asparagus wrapped in bacon, Crock-Pot macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pudding, Key lime cake (her new favorite), ambrosia with apples (contributed by family friend, the late Betty Maxwell), cornbread salad with homemade French dressing and chunky, meaty cowboy lasagna.

After wiping away the drool, we were able to talk about cooking meals for her friends, sharing (or not sharing) famous recipes and holding out for the best brownies.

To read the interview with Trisha Yearwood visit: http://www.cmt.com/news/country-music/1625752/trisha-yearwood-finds-more-family-recipes-for-her-second-cookbook.jhtml

Trinidad: Give me some doubles! (by Monica Johnson)

(Recipe by www.theonefour.com)

doubles, Trinidadian doubles, channa, bara

Doubles are sold as a convenient meal by street vendors in Trinidad and Tobago

If you go to Trinidad, you are sure to see this snack sold by street vendors. It’s called doubles. Doubles are said to have East Indian roots. Many East Indians, newly released from being indentured servants, chose to stay in Trinidad instead of returning to India; therefore, they needed a way to make money. Ever-enterprising, they set up small stalls to sell whatever they could, which just happened to include curried and fried channa (chick peas) in small paper cones. Later on, as the story goes, a vendor discovered that adding bara (East Indian fried bread) would make a nice little meal.

So now you’re wondering how did the name doubles come about, right? There’s always a story. So here it goes! The bara along with the channa caught on so well that people began asking the vendors to double up on the bara. And through the creativity of slang, the request was shortened to just asking for “doubles.” Now doubles are sold on wax paper for a quicker more cost-effective way of serving customers. See the recipe for doubles below.

Barra

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1 teaspoon yeast

1/3 cup warm water

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 cup oil for frying

Channa Curry

2 cups of chickpeas, canned or soaked over night and boiled until tender.

1 tablespoon curry powder

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, sliced

1 tablespoon oil

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground allspice (if you have it)

1 tsp Pepper sauce

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl place the warm water, sugar and yeast and set to sponge for 5 minutes. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, curry powder and cumin. Add the yeast mixture and enough water to make a slightly firm dough. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky, adding flour if necessary. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow to rise for an hour.
  • For the filling, heat the oil in a heavy skillet, saute the onions until they are translucent, and then add the garlic and spices. Saute for another minute or so and then add the water. Add the chickpeas and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add pepper sauce and season to taste
  • The dough should be punched down and allowed to sit for 10 minutes. To shape the bara, take 1 tablespoon of the dough and flatten to a round, 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
  • Wet your hands so that the dough won’t stick to them but not so much as to make the dough too wet to fry.
  • Fry the baras in hot oil until puffy (about 15 seconds per side), turning once and drain on kitchen paper. When all are cooked, fill with channa by placing a heaping tablespoon of the cooked filling on each bara and top with cucumbers and hot pepper sauce.

Historical information taken from Amazing-Trinidad-Vacations.com

Belgium: Pomme Frites (French Fries)

Think you know about french fries? Maybe you do, but then maybe you don’t. Yes, it’s called french fries, but that only refers to the julienne cut, not the origin of the fast food. Believe it or not, the french fry or more appropriately named the “pomme frite” has its origins in Belgium where it’s twice-fried  and served  in a paper cone with a variety of toppings including mayo. Watch this clip from the Food Network about a little place in New York City that is home to this well-beloved Belgian snack.

 

 

Hot Apple Cider Recipe

hot-apple-cider-400Being an East Coaster nothing ushers in the fall for me like a cup of hot apple cider.  The smell of cinnamon and cloves in addition to the heat of the mug warming my hands on a cold day is one of the great experiences of fall.    Enjoy this recipe from all recipes.com – Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

(Serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice berries
  • 1 orange peel, cut into strips
  • 1 lemon peel, cut into strips

Directions

  1. Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan.
  2. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.
  3. Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.
  4. Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving if desired.

Restaurant Review: Citizen Smith in Hollywood

citizen_smith(We Believe this Restaurant is Now Closed) During this recession people are looking for food which provides the comforts of home. Citizen Smith restaurant in Hollywood combines comfort with an imaginative menu. Located on Cahuenga and just below Hollywood Boulevard, this restaurant boasts of menu items reflecting southern style comfort food but there are some splendid choice exceptions.   When you walk through the doors you get a rustic yet chic feel.
There is a hip back outdoor lounge with couches. Candelabras fill the establishment, but let’s get back to the matter the food shall we?  Citizen Smith prides itself on the “Comfort Macaroni and Cheese.” What distinguishes the dish is the addition of jalapeño to the classic.   The flavor of the jalapeño permeates the dish without overwhelming it.  My guest, Chef Tachelle Lawson, was less than enthused, citing how roasting the jalapeño could have enriched the flavor.

Pumpkin and Shrimp Soup

PumpkinSoup

Pumpkin and Shrimp Soup

 

Ingredients
2 medium onions, sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup milk
1 8-ounce package frozen, peeled, cooked shrimp, thawed
Fresh shrimp in shells, peeled, deveined, and cooked (optional)
Plain low-fat yogurt or dairy sour cream (optional)
Snipped fresh chives (optional)

Directions
1. In a covered large saucepan cook the onions, carrots, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and allspice in hot margarine for 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring once or twice.

2. Transfer the mixture to a blender container or food processor bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth.

3. In the same saucepan combine pumpkin, milk, and remaining broth. Stir in the blended vegetable mixture and the 8 ounces shrimp; heat through. If desired, on small skewers thread additional cooked shrimp. Ladle soup into soup bowls. If desired, top each serving with a spoonful of yogurt, a sprinkling of chives, and a shrimp skewer. Makes 4 servings.

What’s cookin’ in Alaska? (by Monica Johnson)

Image from Caribou Crossings Cabins and Adventures

Image from Caribou Crossings Cabins and Adventures

Go ahead and admit it! When you were younger you thought Alaska was one big sheet of ice with nothing but igloos and Eskimos. Well with time, a few episodes of Northern Exposure, and the help of the cruise industries; Alaska is not as much of an enigma as it once was. However, you still might not know what’s cookin’ in the land of the white nights.

Believe it or not Alaska has a huge selection of wild berries from the wilderness regions of the state. They are in limited supply and are a very important part of the brown and black bear’s summer diet. Locations like: Anchorage, Kodiak Island, Juneau, Fairbanks, and the Kenai Peninsula contain these berries (commonly used for jams and jellies). Berries include:

• wild blueberries                        wild blackberries

• wild salmonberries                   rhubarb

• wild ligonberries                       wild black and red currants

• wild rosehips                              wild high bush cranberries

• wild mossberries                        wild fireweeds

But it’s not all about the berries, although they are berry, berry delicious (Just a little berry humor…berry little!). Alaska is known for its cold water seafood. What don’t they have is the question? There’s halibut and trout, but Alaskan Salmon rules, and it is often served as smoked salmon, cured salmon, salmon jerky and indian salmon candy. In other words, salmon is king, but the throne is usually presumed to belong to Alaskan King Crab. Alaskan King Crab differs from dungeness crabs, or the blue crabs found in the other states because of the sheer mass of this crustacean. Alaskan King Crab can easily feed a whole family. Now that’s a meal fit for royalty!

Here’s where it gets interesting! So let the game begin, and the hunters in Alaska enjoy game like: moose, caribou, elk, and bear. It’s not just a delicacy; it’s a major part of many Alaskan’s daily protein, especially those who live outside of the main cities. There are not a lot of fresh, fruit and vegetables available in the winter.

Reindeer, although not native to Alaska, is also enjoyed in the form of commercially available sausage. It was brought to Alaska from Siberia in 1892 because the whale’s, which were a major part of native Alaskans diets, were becoming less and less available.

Now if you happen to go to Alaska and you happen to hear somebody call someone “sourdough” –  don’t incite a riot. They are simply using slang for a person who lives in Alaska! The explanation comes from the Klondike Gold Rush. At that time, everyone kept a pot of sourdough starter in their kitchens. By feeding the starter with a little new flour every few days, the wild yeast was kept alive and they could bake bread at any time. That bread is called sourdough bread.

So, now that you know what’s cooking in Alaska, click here for an authentic Alaskan recipe called Bouillabaisse-Alaska. Try this recipe at home!

Information about Alaskan food was taken from the Alaska Wild Berry Products website: Click here to visit their site!

Other sites: Caribou Crossing Cabins and Adventures

Recipe from Alaska – Bouillabaisse-Alaska

Bouillabaisse -Alaska
Ingredients
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 leeks cut in small wedges
4 tomatoes (squeeze out seeds then dice)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon saffron
2 crushed bay leaves
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
3 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil
4 pounds fresh fish cut in bite-size pieces (whatever you have, red snapper, halibut, scallops, salmon, sea perch, etc.) Include, in shell, well scrubbed clams, mussels, whole shrimp, lobster, etc.
4 cups hot water
This wonderful Alaskan dish can be served any time of the year and is especially delightful when made with you very own catch.
Heat olive oil in large pot. Add vegetables and spices to hot oil. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are transparent. Add fish and cover with 4 cups hot water. Heat on high and force boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
To serve, arrange 3/4 slices of French bread (which have been dried in oven and brushed in butter) in bowls before serving.
Serves: 8
* You found this recipe on 1st Traveler’s Choice Internet Cookbook. (www.virtualcities.com)
This Alaska Bouillabaisse is from Henry's Great Alaskan Restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska

This Alaska Bouillabaisse is from Henry's Great Alaskan Restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska

Ingredients

1/4 cup chopped onion

4 leeks cut in small wedges

4 tomatoes (squeeze out seeds then dice)

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fennel

1 teaspoon saffron

2 crushed bay leaves

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

3 teaspoons white pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup olive oil

4 pounds fresh fish cut in bite-size pieces (whatever you have, red snapper, halibut, scallops, salmon, sea perch, etc.) Include, in shell, well scrubbed clams, mussels, whole shrimp, lobster, etc.

4 cups hot water

This wonderful Alaskan dish can be served any time of the year and is especially delightful when made with you very own catch.

Heat olive oil in large pot. Add vegetables and spices to hot oil. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are transparent. Add fish and cover with 4 cups hot water. Heat on high and force boil for 15 to 20 minutes.

To serve, arrange 3/4 slices of French bread (which have been dried in oven and brushed in butter) in bowls before serving.

Serves: 8

* Recipe is from 1st Traveler’s Choice Internet Cookbook. (www.virtualcities.com) and the picture is from Trailside Gourmet

French Bakery: Bonaparte at Baltimore’s Fells Point

Apricot Blueberry tart

We made Bonaparte Breads and Cafe one of our East Coast Pit-stops inBaltimore as we gather sound “bites” about food.  We have it on good authority from our local Baltimore food critic, Monica Johnson and field producer of this webisode that the food is delish! From quiche, desserts to fresh baked breads by a French baker, the restaurant faces the inner harbor what more could you ask for. Take a gander at the foods and hear what the manager says they are serving.

Located at: 903 South Ann Street, Fells Point

Bonaparte

(Dexter Nixon puts mic on the Bakery Manager