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December 21, 2011     Chester Progressive
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Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 15B F00od on t,he Table: Holiday traditions Heather Hunsaker Chef foodonthetable.com revolve around food. But how did these popular holiday foods become such an intri- cate part of the season's fes- tivities? To learn more, check out the tasty history behind these holiday treats. Gingerbread is a popular Christmas treat that has been enjoyed for centuries around the world. Gingerbread cook- ies were originally only baked exclusively by professional bakers. These cookies were baked year-round and cut into popular shapes based on the season. Later, the general public was given permission Savory ham, spiced ginger- bread, cool peppermint candy canes and chestnuts roasting on a fire -- so many holiday memories, songs and traditions to bake the popular cookies at Christmas and Easter, which may explain the Christmas connection. Ham is the main attraction for many Christmas dinners. Serving pork at holiday cele- brations dates back to Tudor England when a boar's head was a common holiday cen- terpiece for the wealthy. Serv- ing a Yule ham at holiday gatherings was later adapted for ease and accessibility. Candy canes originated, ac- cording to folklore, around 1670, when a German choirmas- ter needed an enticement to keep young singers quiet dur- ing services. Later, in 1847, an Ohio German immigrant used candy canes to decorate his Christmas tree. It wasn't until the early 1900 that the popular colored stripes were added. Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a popular food for Hanukkah. While traditional latkes are made from potatoes, onion and matzah, today there are many different recipes for latkes including latkes made from sweet potato, cauliflower and broccoli, and some come topped with sugar or cream. Caribbean, African and South American foods are tra- ditionally served at Kwanzaa. Since Kwanzaa celebrates African-American, heritage, pride, community and family, food served during this holi- day honors this culture. Popu- lar dishes include fried okra, fried chicken, black bean soup, baked ham and gumbo. Even if your holiday menu does not center around ham, take advantage of the current ham sales at the grocery store and make this Fast and Deli- cious Black Bean Soup. This soup would also work won- derfully with any ham left- overs you might have from the holidays. Fast and Delicious Black Bean Soup Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Serves: 4 - 6 Ingredients: 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 medium onion, chopped 1 green bell pepper, chopped 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 (1S-ounce) cans black beans 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth 2 cups cooked ham, cubed 1/4 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 1 cup sour cream Directions: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, carrot and garlic, and cook 5 minutes, un- til tender. Mix in 1 can black beans and chicken broth. In a blender, puree remain- ing can of beans until smooth. Mix into the pot. Bring sou p to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Mix in ham, cumin, salt and pep- per. Simmer 20 minutes. Gar- nish with cheddar cheese and sour cream to serve. Chef Heather Hunsaker graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. She currently serves as a writer and recipe devel- oper for meal planning site foodon thetable.com. 'Great crepe esq::ape' warms cold winter nights Chef Rachelle Boucher in- vites folks to plan a great crepe escape to warm the hearts of friends and family on cold winter nights. Bouch- er's simple five-in-one batter recipe creates sweet and sa- vory crepes and can be used as an appetizer, entree or dessert. "There is nothing as versa- tile or simple with as much 'wow factor' as a crepe," said Boucher, of Standards of Ex- cellence Appliances and Deco- rative Plumbing. "I come from a long line of French- Canadians, so crepes are in my DNA. For haute cuisine or a simple hot meal, they can be rolled, folded, stacked, filled, laced and even souffied." A convection oven can make this easy recipe even simpler and fail-proof. The fans circuiate the heat for even, more flavorful results and an even, golden brown color. When using convection, adjust the baking tempera- ture down 25 degrees for best results. Five-in-One Crepe Batter In a large bowl combine 3 large eggs, 2/3 cup milk, 3/4 cup water and whisk to com- bine. Add 1 cup flour, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of melt- ed butter and whisk just until smooth. Do not overmix batter or crepes will be less tender. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove lumps. Lightly cover batter and let rest in refrigerator for 30 min- utes. until hot, but not smoking. Heat control is key, a great pan and cook top will insure success. Using a ladle or squeeze bot- tle filled with batter, squeeze batter into the pan, swirling as you go. Cook until edges are brown and lacy, about 5 min- utes, flip and cook about 3 more minutes. Crep.es can be prepared in advance, separated with parchment paper and refriger- ated or frozen. Lace Crepes Using a squeeze bottle with a medium sized hole cut into the tip, pipe a thin stream of batter into a hot pan, making a spider web shape and cook TO cook. heat a few.drops of .as above .... Vegetable oil on medium-high To serve, place pale s]de up .... heat in a crepe pan or a pan and fill with lightly sugared fruit and whipped cream or ice cream. Apple and Brie Stack Start with about 8 large crepes. In a baking dish, place a crepe pale side down and layer 4 - 5 very thinly sliced ap- ples, 12 ounces of brie cheese thinly sliced (brie slices best when cold) and 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts or pecans on- to layers of crepes. Top with a final crepe, brush with butter and cook about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with apple wedges and an extra sprinkling of chopped nuts. Smoked Salmon Rounds Start with 2-1/2 ounces sliced smoked salmon, 2-1/2 - 3 ounces softened cream cheese mixed with 1 tablespoon Five steps to fr ugal feasting Sheri Alzeerah everyone's favorite things, and, as is the case with all just as importantly, let your foodonthetable.com Fact: having a holly, jolly holiday season means eating holly, jolly feasts with family and friends. From crisp apple strudels to schnitzel with noodles, these are a few of J But when it comes to fund- ing a feast that can fill up a table of tummies, your wallet quickly becomes far from full. Fear no more, holiday host extraordinaire. With these simple steps, you can feast like royalty with time, money ]'OEM OF THE WEEK American Life in Poetry Ted Kooser U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004 - 06 In many of those Japanese paintings with Mount Fuji in the background, we find tiny figures moving along under the immensity of the landscape. Here's an American version of a scene like that, by Stanley Plumly, of Maryland, one of our country's most accomplished poets. Off A Side Road Near Staunton Some nothing afternoon, no one anywhere, an early autumn stillness in the air, the kind of empty day you fill by taking in the full size of the valley and its layers leading slowly to the Blue Ridge, the quality of country, if you stand here long enough, you could stay for, step into, the way a landscape, even on a wall, pulls you in, one field at a time, pasture and fall meadow, high above the harvest, perfect to the tree line, then spirit clouds and intermittent sunlit smoky rain riding the tops of the mountains, though you could walk until it's dark and not reach those rains -- you could walk the rest of the day into the picture and not know why, at any given moment, you're there. --Stanley Plumly Poem copyright 2007 by Stanley Plumly American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. holiday meals, yummy food to spare. Go figure The first step to executing a feast within the budget is, of course, to set a budget. Be careful not to be too tight on the numbers though, allowing a bit of leeway for the in- evitable last-minute grocery finds. Look to past grocery re- ceipts to help make a practical budget based on real prices, and as always, keep an eye out for special holiday sales. Make a menu Feeding a crowd is no sim- ple undertaking, and the savviest hosts know that no detail is too small to map out ahead of time. Deciding what to serve well in advance is es- sential to saving money in the store, saving time in the kitchen and best of all, saving stress. From beverages to ap- petizers to entrees to sides to desserts, all the fixin's must be worked out before jotting down a shopping list (another feast-planning essential). Host a potluck Sharing is caring, and when it comes to holiday feasts, you'll definitely feel the love when your workload is divvied up. Instead of taking on the gargantuan task of pleasing the pack, have your guests pitch in and bring a dish. Make sure to make note of who's bringing what and, guests know what everyone is bringing to avoid repeats and deficiencies. Say bye to brands For generic ingredients, it doesn't hurt to buy the grocery store's generic brand. Though your taste buds could easily distinguish your favorite soda from the no-name offshoots, a good portion of cooking and baking ingredients are compa- rable in taste and quality. The only difference? The amount you pay. Flour, sugar, oils, spices, butter and cheeses are just a few basics that can easi- ly pass brandless. Do right with what's left When food is put to waste, money is put to waste, and when a feast is served, left- overs are a big, fat, Tupper- wared given. After the last bite of dessert has been eaten and goodbyes have been said, it's time for cleanup. As you clean, divide leftovers into meal-sized portions to be refrigerated or frozen for meals to follow. Plan and store accordingly, and soon enough, you can put the "over" in "leftover." Feasts don't have to be a beast of an undertaking when carefully planned ahead of time. This year, be holly, jolly and best of all, stress-free and with money to spare. Sheri Alzeerah is a journalist and freelance writer for meal planning service foodonthetable.com. chopped chives and seasoned with salt and pepper, and 8 large crepes. Spread a small amount of cream cheese across each crepe, top with smoked ' salmon, roll into a cylinder shape and cut into rounds. Arrange on a platter and squeeze lemon juice across all the rounds or sprinkle with very finely grated lemon zest. Garnish with lemon slices and capers and a tiny sprig of dill if desired. Mocha Crepes Add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and 4 tablespoons of cold espresso or strong black coffee into the batter and stir to blend. Make crepes as listed above. When ready to serve, fill the crepes with a generous scoop of coffee ice cream, fold over and drizzle with choco- late sauce. Decorate with chocolate espresso beans. Lemon Souffle Crepe Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1/3 cup sugar in small bowl until light and fluffy and add 1 tea- spoon of lemon zest. Beat in 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 table- spoons sifted flour, zest of 3 lemons and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Heat 1 cup of milk in small saucepan. Stir in butter mix- ture over low heat until mix- ture thickens. Remove from heat. Add 4 egg yolks and stir. Transfer mixture to large bowl; cool. Beat 6 egg whites in sepa- rate bowl until soft peaks form; fold into cooled mixture. To assemble: Place crepe pale side up onto a parchment lined baking tray. Place 2 table- spoons of the souffle mixture on one side. Fold crepe in half. Bake in a 375-degree convec- tion oven for 15- 20 minutes. When cooked, dust with pow- dered sugar. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. For more recipes and ts from Chef Rachelle Boucher, visit. chefrachellebucher'cm and "'like" at facebook.com/chef rachelleboucher. TOWN HALL THEATRE Presents THE MUPPETS Fri., Dec. 23 - Tues., Dec. 27 2pm Matinee on Sat., Dec. 24 Rated PG 110 min. Family Comedy On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world's biggest Muppct fan, and his friends Gary and Mary from Smalhown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman "rex Richman to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath VIlE the Muppets' former stomping grounds. To stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways. Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate. Keep an eye out for the secret signature, celebrity cameos. HAPPY FEET TWO Fri., Dec. 30 & Sat., Dec. 31 Rated PG 100 min. The sequel to the Academy Award-winning animated smash hit, Happy Feet Two returns audiences to the magnificent landscape of Antarctica, reuniting us with the world's most famous tap-dancing penguin, Mumble, the love of his life, Gloria and their old friends Ramon and Lovelace. Mumble and Gloria now have a son of their own, Erik, who is struggling to find his own particular talents in the Emperor Penguin world. But new dangers are threatening the penguin nation, and it's going to take everyone working -:and dancing - together to save them. Specml Event Rentals R,,e Tables Chairs Chair Covers = ,I'. Linens China Chargers Flatware :'; Food Service Glassware Tents :. ::: Canopies Dance Floor Staging  " Wedding Items Bar Equipment 00}:55 Delleker Dr,, Portola 530-832-5455N '" COMING: J. EDI ;AR OSH ALL THEATRE Showtime: 7pm Sunday Matinee 4pm Adults .................. *'/.00 I Students & I Seniors ................. 6.00 J Children ................ '5.00 ] 283-1140 469 Main St., Quincy, CA Visit us at www.quincytownhall.com