Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pioneer Day Food 2010

July 24th is this Saturday. In Utah it's celebrated as Pioneer Day, the day the Mormon Pioneers crossed into the Salt Lake valley. It also turns out to be the Christian Liturgical Feast day for several Saints. I don't mind sharing.

As with many summer feast fests barbecue abounds and picnic food is proffered. This year, I thought I'd offer a few suggestions from the previous posts.

Appetizers / Sides
Potato Wedges  - Don't forget the Fry Sauce
Buttermilk Biscuits or Conference Cornbread  or Newman House Dinner RollsQuick Baked Beans
Deviled Eggs
Potato Salad
Simple Green Salad

Grilled Bacon Double-Cheeseburgers
Slow-cooker Pulled PorkGrilled Sausage and Onions

American Flag Cake
No-Cook Peanut Butter Chews
Ribbon Jello or No-Cook Peach Pie
Smoked Apples with Peanut Butter
Easy Peanut Butter Pie

Happy Pioneer Day!

Photo by Chris Coglietti

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cooking Couscous

A precooked pasta-like product hailing from the Berber people of northwestern Africa, couscous has become a popular food around the world. Because of their historical Moroccan and Algerian "connections," the French now consider it part of their national cuisine. It's popularity has made it readily available in most US grocery stores and natural food shops.

Couscous is made by rolling and shaping semolina wheat. It's a pretty arduous process. The finished granules are roughly spherical and about one millimeter in diameter, before cooking that is.

Traditionally, couscous is served under a meat or vegetable stew. It's a pretty versatile food, though and can be eaten plain, flavored, warm, or cold. Moroccans will steam couscous in a special pan over the stew they are cooking. This way is quicker, and easier.

Equipment needed
Medium saucepan with lid
measuring cups and spoons

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Bring the water to bowl in a medium saucepan. Add the salt, oil, and couscous. Remove from the heat, stir, and cover, letting it stand for 5 minutes.

Return the pan to the stove and cook over medium heat, stirring with a fork, for 3 to 5 minutes until done. Do not overcook or you will have mush.

Flavor and serve with cooked vegetables, meat, cooked dried fruit, nuts, or whatever else you want.

Serves 4.

Photo by Anissa Thompson

Friday, July 2, 2010

How to Make a Flag Cake

With Independence Day just around the corner, what better way to celebrate than with food? I decided to try making a classic Flag Cake.

Traditionally, this is made with a white sponge cake and white vanilla frosting, but any flavor of cake will do. Just make sure the frosting is white. I made this one with a store-bought white cake mix and cream cheese frosting. You can make your own from scratch if you like, or even buy a plain frosted one from the bakery.

If you're making you own flag cake, from a box of from scratch, bake it in a 9 inch by 13 inch pan. Let it cool completely before generously frosting it. You make want to refrigerate it for a few minutes before decorating.

This was my first flag cake, and I wanted it to turn out, well. All I could find at the grocery store were those huge mutant strawberries, so I cut them up a bit more than you should. It also made my cake look more like a red field with white spots than stripes, but everyone who had it got the idea, and enjoyed it.

1 9 inch x 13 inch cake, generously frosted white
1 pint blueberries
1 quart small to medium strawberries

Wash and drain the fruit. Cut the green tops off the strawberries and then cut them in half, lengthwise; set aside.

In the top left corner, arrange the blueberries into an outline, 5 inches wide and 4 inches tall. Press the berries deep into the frosting. Fill the remaining space in with the blueberries, making neat little rows of blue, with white frosting “stars” shining through.

Place the strawberry halves, cut-side down, in rows going across the cake to make the red stripes. The top and bottom stripes of the American Flag are red, so start there. Add another row at the bottom of the blueberry field, and then fill in the other rows evenly, up and down. You probably won't be able to make all 13 stripes, but that's okay. Your friends and family will get the idea. Be sure to press the strawberry halves deep into the icing.

Serve the cake slices with any leftover berries and ice cream.

You may want to put the fruit on just before serving. You'll need to refrigerate the cake if you add the fruit, before. You can do that, but if you wait too long, the cut strawberries will leak their juice out onto the frosting, ruining the effect. I know because this happened to me. I gently dabbed up the juice with a paper towel, saving the cake, but I'd rather not have done that.

Here's wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July celebration!