Thursday, July 26, 2012

Recalls: Fresh Ground Beef, Frozen Meat and Poultry Products, Corn Chowder Soup

  • This past Sunday, Cargill Meat Solutions issued a recall for about 29,000 pounds of fresh ground beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis.
    FSIS [Food Safety and Inspection Service] became aware of the problem during the course of an ongoing investigation of a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis involving 33 case-patients from 7 states (MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VA, VT-preliminary data, subject to change).
    This is a Class I Recall; the health risk is high. News Release.
  • Buona Vita, Inc., in Bridgeton, NJ, is recalling some 72,500 pounds of various frozen, ready-to-eat meat and poultry products due to possible contamination with Listeria moncytogenes.
    The products subject to recall include:
    • 30-lb. case of Silver Lake ".5 oz Cooked Meatballs made with chicken and beef"
    • 30-lb. case of Buon Gusto ".5 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs made with chicken and beef"
    • 10-lb. case of Buon Gusto "1/2 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs made with chicken and beef"
    • 10-lb. case of Mamma Cacciatore "1/2 oz Mamma Cacciatore Baked Beef and Chicken Meatballs"
    • 10-lb. case of Buon Gusto "1/2 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs made with chicken and beef"
    • 10-lb. case of Buon Gusto "2 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs made with chicken and beef"
    • 10-lb. case of Mamma Cacciatore "1 oz Mamma Cacciatore Baked Beef and Chicken Meatballs"
    • 10-lb. case of Buon Gusto "1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
    • 10-lb. case of Pisa Brand "1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs made with chicken and beef"
    • 10-lb. case of Buon Gusto "1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs made with chicken and beef"
    • 10-lb. cases of Buon Gusto "1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs with Pepper and Onions"
    • 10-lb. cases of Buono Vita "1 oz Baked Gourmet Meatballs with Pork and Beef"
    • 30-lb case of Buono Vita's ".65 oz Baked Gourmet Meatballs with Pork and Beef"
    • 10-lb. case of Sapore Italiano "3 oz Baked Meatballs with Beef and Pork"
    • 10-lb. case of Buon Gusto "1/2 oz Baked meatballs with chicken and beef"
    The problem was discovered through microbiological testing through a third party. No illnesses have been reported to date. News Release.

  • Morgan Foods, Inc. has issued a Class II recall of approximately 94,850 pounds of corn chowder soup products after consumers found pieces of a marker pen in the product.
    The “Hill Country Fare Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder” product was shipped to retail stores in Texas. The “Wegman’s Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder” product was distributed to retail stores in New York. The “Chef’s Cupboard Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder” product was distributed to retail stores in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. The “America’s Choice Chicken Corn Chowder Chunky” product was distributed to retail stores in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
    There are no reports of injury or illness at this time. News Release.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Couscous and Sweet Potato with Mango

I didn't have anything for dinner Friday night and as I have mentioned before, I have not been in the mood to experiment. But I knew I needed a few things so I stopped at Treasure Island on the way home from work with the idea that I might find inspiration for something quick and easy.

I had an eggplant in my hand and the thought that I could braise it when I realized I had purchased a sweet potato the week before that needed to be used before I brought home anything new so I put the eggplant back and went home.

What to do with the sweet potato? I had recently caught an episode of "Essential Pepin" on PBS where Pepin took a sweet potato, sliced it, and cooked it in a little butter, oil, and water. I took that as a springboard and got the sweet potato in the pan. While it started to cook, I realized that I could cook up some couscous in the time that the sweet potato would cook. I had some chickpea liquid in the refrigerator that I had forgotten about so I decided to use that with the couscous.

I needed something that would bring the two together and I remembered a package of dried mango that I had found at Trader Joe's months ago. I bought them because they had no added sugar, or sulfites, which most dried fruits have. I wasn't sure how they would work out. I took a few slices, chopped them, and threw half into the chickpea liquid for the couscous and held the other half to throw into the pan with the sweet potato a few minutes before it would be done.

I decided to keep it simple and just seasoned with salt. The end result was more delicious than I thought it would be. The dried mango had an intensity of flavor that completed the more subtle flavor of the sweet potato slices and caramelized them, and the chickpea liquid gave the couscous a velvety smoothness that was also punctuated by the sweet, intense mango flavor.

If I had thought quickly enough I would have toasted some walnuts to add texture and crunch to the dish. It was fine without it, but they would have elevated it from delicious to sublime. I will be making this again.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 4 side or 2 main servings

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup water (or vegetable or chicken broth)
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
1/4 cup dried mango, chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
Kosher salt to taste

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add only as many sweet potato pieces as will fit in a single layer in the skillet and cook for a few minutes on each side, until they have started to brown. As they brown, move them aside and add the rest of the slices.

When all of the pieces have browned, add the liquid, lower the heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are just tender. Remove the cover, add half of the dried mango, and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking bring combine the water and half of the mango in a one-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Add salt and the cousous and turn the heat as low as it will go. Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from the heat, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork.

Serve the potato over the couscous and top with the toasted walnuts.

adapted from a recipe by Jacques Pepin

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Green Market Find: Suiho

As I have mentioned before, one of my goals each year at the Green Market is to find something with which I am unfamiliar or have never cooked before and bring it home with me. I achieved this goal early this year at one of my favorite vendors, Leaning Shed Farm. Actually, I have found quite a few unusual and new to me items there.

I could not find much information online about suiho, but it appears to be a form of Chinese kale that is similar to broccoli and is related to the mustard family. Looking at it and tasting it, I can believe that. It has a little of that mustard bite combined with that broccoli rabe bitterness. The flowers are edible, and although I could discern no added flavor from them, they did add a nice textural contrast.

I decided to make fried rice with it, along with my last batch of sugar snap peas for the season. I added an orange bell pepper for a bit of color.

It was a happy combination. The sweetness of the peas provided a lovely contrast to the slight bitterness of the suiho, punctuated by bursts of soury sweetness from the pepper. I would definitely bring suiho home with me again.

You can find my fried rice recipe here. Just substitute these vegetables for the mushrooms, water chestnuts and frozen peas, adding the longest cooking items first.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Capellini with Peanut Sauce

I've got a few non-blogging projects going on right now so I don't have much time to post. It's unseasonably hot as well, even for the middle of summer, so I'm not inclined to be spending a lot of time over a hot stove anyway. I am still somewhat busy in the kitchen; I'm just not working on a lot that's new. Most of my time is spent making things that require little prep and few ingredients. That can be a bit of a challenge, and this Sunday I found myself with little in the pantry, less interest in going to the grocery store, and even less inclination to cook anything.

I even decided that I would just order delivery and make a night of it. But as is often the case, I couldn't settle on a choice as I sorted through my stash of delivery menus (yes, I still have those). I knew I was going to get hungry and I didn't have anything prepared and I had no plan, which does not happen that often to me these days.

I finally thought maybe I would just make my quick and easy tomato garlic sauce and cook up some whole wheat pasta, but even that seemed like too much effort for too little reward.

But pasta seemed like a good possibility, so I started to think about other sauces I could use with it. And that's when the inspiration hit for pasta with peanut sauce. A quick mental review told me I had most of the ingredients that I needed. I even had a little bit of lime juice in the freezer.

What I did not have was coconut milk. But I did have some unsweetened organic coconut flakes in the freezer that I was pretty sure would do the trick. I used twice the amount of water and added half a cup of the flakes and lit them soak while I got the rest of the ingredients together. I guess I made my own coconut milk! I decided not to strain it because I hadn't really soaked it long enough to get all of the coconut flavor out of the coconut shreds. The end result gave the sauce an interesting texture. I don't know if I would do it again, but it was not all bad.

I had half of a red torpedo onion, cucumber, and cilantro. Those added just the right amount of crunch, texture and extra flavor to make for a satisfying dinner that took just minutes to make.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half a pound of any long pasta (I used capellini because that is what I had on hand) and cook according to the package directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining.

While the pasta is cooking, add half of a chopped red onion or half a bunch of scallions into a large bowl. Add the cooked pasta, peanut sauce, cilantro, and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Mix gently until the peanut sauce and pasta are well combined. Top with chopped, seeded cucumber. Garnish with cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beet Green and Orange Bell Pepper Frittata

I have stopped counting the number of frittata posts I have done. I just can't stop making them, and each one is different so I feel the need to share them with you so you can be as amazed as I am.

This time, I had beet greens, red onion (with tops), and an orange bell pepper in the refrigerator, so I went to work with those. I also had a fresno pepper left over from my latest stir fry, so I chopped that up and threw it in as well.

The result was a spicy, savory frittata with a hint of sweetness from the orange bell pepper. It is such an easy thing for me to do that I don't even have to think about it when I am making it.

First, I heated olive oil and added the onion (without the green tops) and minced garlic. While they were starting to sweat I chopped the stems from the beet greens and added those, then I chopped the bell and the fresno peppers and added those. When everything was tender, I added the chopped beet greens and the sliced onion greens. In the few minutes that it took for those to get tender, I cracked the eggs in a mixing bowl and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

I removed the skillet from the heat and tempered the eggs by adding just a little bit of the hot mixture and stirring it in before adding the rest. Then I wiped out the skillet with a paper towel and put it back on the stove over medium heat and added a scant tablespoon of butter. Because I use a non-stick skillet I don't really need the butter, but I like the taste of it so I use just a little bit to enhance the flavor.

As soon as the butter melted and was sizzling, I slowly poured the egg mixture into the skillet and immediately turned down the heat as low as I could get it. I let it cook for 20 to 30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes to make sure it wasn't burning on the bottom.

While it was still wet on top, I turned on the broiler and wrapped my skillet handle with foil (it works - really!). I sprinkled about a fourth of a cup of grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese on top and put it under the broiler for about 2 minutes, long enough to cook the top and brown the cheese. I removed it from the broiler, slid it from the skillet onto a plate and let it cool for a few minutes before I sliced it into four pieces.
And then I had breakfast for the next four days. Woohoo!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Snow Peas with Cashews

What I love the most about buying seasonally is how much I look forward to each of my favorite items that slowly comes into season, grows into abundance, and then fades back out for the rest of the year. Spinach and asparagus start off the season for me. There is nothing like baby spinach pulled right out of the ground, and for just a few short weeks it is available in abundance, and then just as quickly it is gone. Asparagus hangs around for a little while longer, but then it, too, exits the stage.

I especially look forward to sugar snap peas and snow peas. As a child, I hated peas and pushed many a one around my plate, looking for something under which I could shove it. Following the example of my older sister, I finally learned to mix them into my mashed potatoes and swallow them whole. Not the most satisfactory solution, but it got them down and I was able to leave the dinner table with the rest of the family.

Those were canned peas, which I still detest. At some point my mother converted from canned to frozen vegetables, and I found that frozen peas were more palatable; I could chew them before swallowing them although I never really liked them.

But on those rare occasions that my father would bring home fresh peas in the pod, I could not get enough of them raw. Uncooked, they did not have that mealy texture that I so detested in cooked peas. We would spread newspaper over the kitchen table and crack open the pods, scoop out the peas, and pop them into our mouths.

Which is why I love both sugar snap and snow peas. Both are cooked in their pods, and I love them best when they are cooked barely enough to take off their raw edge.

The last time they were available at the Green City Market, I bought both. I made this simple saute with the sugar snaps.

I made an equally simple stir-fry with the snow peas. It takes about 10 minutes to prep this dish (ok, 15 if you have to toast the cashews) and another 5 minutes to cook it. It doesn't get much better than that.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 4 side servings

2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sherry
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp garlic/ginger paste
1 pint fresh snow peas, rinsed and trimmed
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted cashews
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

To toast the cashews: Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Place the cashews in a small oven-proof pan or baking sheet in a single layer and cook for about 10 minutes, checking after 7 minutes to make sure they do not burn. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl immediately to keep them from cooking more and let them cool.

Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sherry and brown sugar in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and stir to combine.

Heat the wok over high heat. When it is smoking, add the peanut oil and swirl it around to cover the bottom of the wok. Add the garlic/ginger paste and let it sit for a few seconds before moving it around the bottom of the wok. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the snow peas. Cook them, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Add the onions and stir them once or twice around the wok before adding the soy sauce mixture. As soon as the sauce is bubbling, which will be almost immediate, add the toasted cashews, stir once, then add the cornstarch and water mixture. Stir until the sauce is thick and remove from the heat. Add the sesame oil, stir everything together and serve immediately.

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Recalls: More Mexicali Cheese, Romaine Lettuce

  • Last week's alert by New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine warning consumers in the Metropolitan New York area not to consume certain cheese products made by Mexicali Cheese Corp has been expanded to include two additional products. Here is the total list:
    Mexicali Queso Fresco Mexicano, Mexican Style Fresh Cheese;
    Acatlan Queso Fresco, Fresh Cheese;
    Mi Quesito Mexicano, Mexican Cheese; and
    Quesillo Ecuatoriano, Ecuadorian Style Cheese
    A routine sampling was discovered to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Press Release.
  • Pacific International Marketing has issued a voluntary recall of 19 cases of bulk Romanie Lettuce sold at Vons and Pavilions stores in California and Nevada due to potential Salmonella contamination. No illnesses have been reported at this time. Press Release.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Recalls: Organic Sprouts, Hearts of Romaine, Queso Fresco

  • Banner Mountain Sprouts is voluntarily recalling organic sprouts under the following names:
    4oz. zesty greens, 5oz. sprout salad, 4oz. clover, 2lb. clover, 4oz. alfalfa/broccoli, 4oz. alfalfa sprouts, and 1lb. & 2lb. alfalfa sprouts
    Routine testing indicated that these items may be contaminated with salmonella. No illnesses have been associated with any Banner Mountain sprouts. Press release.
  • Dole Fresh Vegetables is voluntarily recalling 2,598 cases of bagged hearts of romaine due to a possible health risk of Listeria monocytogenes. The salads were distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Press release.
  • The New York State Agricultural Commissioner warned consumers in the New York area about possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination in certain fresh cheese products made by Mexicali Cheese Corp. Affected product names are Mexicali Queso Fresco Mexicano, Mexican Style Fresh Cheese; or Acatlan Queso Fresco, Fresh Cheese. The Division of Milk Control and Diary Services took a routine sample to be tested by their food laboratory. No illnesses have been reported to date. Press release.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Chicken with Mustard and Apricots

This is a seasonal dish that I have been working on for a couple of years. As soon as apricots come into season, I buy some and cook them with chicken and thyme. It is a good combination, with the potential to be great, but I have not yet found the perfect proportion of the ingredients to make everything shine together.

This year it was close, I think. I put a layer of roughly chopped onion and a head's worth of garlic cloves in the bottom of the baking dish, then added several sprigs of fresh thyme. To that I added about a cup of sliced apricots. I seasoned with salt and pepper, then sprinkled olive oil over the top. I then had the brilliant idea of adding some of my homemade mustard, so a few tablespoons of that as well.

I layered the seasoned chicken (I use the leg quarters, as that is my favorite part of the chicken), and then inserted fresh thyme and sliced apricots between the skin and the meat. I covered the chickens with more mustard and sprinkled more thyme around the dish, then added another cup of sliced apricots.

I baked the chicken at 375 deg. F. for 45 minutes, then lowered the heat to 350 deg. F. and baked for another 30 minutes, until the skin was browned and crisp.

The result was good, but not great. I think the main reason I did not hit it out of the park is that I used too much of the mustard, or at the very least, did not add any honey or sugar to help offset the acidity of that particular mustard. It was a little too tart, and the flavor was overpowering instead of enhancing. It could also have used a little more thyme.

I was going to add the first of the season's new potatoes to bake with the chicken, but I forgot about them until the chicken was halfway baked. Instead, I removed the onions (but not the garlic!) from the cooking liquid, put it into a saucepan, and cooked the potatoes in that. And again, the acidity from the mustard was a little too much, but it was otherwise good.

And I had no trouble whatsoever eating the results of this experiment. Depending on how long the apricot season is this year, I might try it again now instead of waiting until next year. But whether it's this year or not, I believe my next attempt will be the keeper.

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