Welcome to issue no. 19 of Foodstuff

April 21, 1999

In this issue:

Cooking Personalities

What kind of cook are you? A recent survey by the California Olive Industry revealed that your cooking personality may have more to do with your generation than your palate. Participants in the survey were asked to identify themselves according to one of five cooking styles:

Kitchen Diplomats, who try to please a whole range of family tastes.

Kitchen Explorers, who have adventurous tastes.

Kitchen Procrastinators, who do not know what they are having for dinner until they see themselves making it.

Kitchen Cowards, who are completely intimidated by cooking.

Kitchen Warriors, who use any trick in the book to get meals on the table fast.

There's a direct correlation between cooking styles and age, according to the survey results. Here's what they revealed:

Take a quiz to find out your cooking style at http://www.calolive.org -- the California Olive Industry website, or write to the organization at 1903 North Fine St., Suite 102, Fresno, CA, 93727.

Sweet information about Vidalia onions

Vidalias are Georgia-grown, yellow granex type F hybrid onions (say that five times fast) known for their sweet, mild flavor. The onions were first grown in 1931 in Toombs County, Georgia by a farmer named Mose Coleman. It was a struggle to sell the onions at first, but Coleman persevered, and managed to sell them for $3.50 per 50-pound bag, which in those days was a big price. Other farmers, who, through the Depression years, hadn't been able to get a fair price for their produce, thought Coleman had found a gold mine. They began to follow suit, and soon after, their farms were also producing the sweet, mild onion.

Today these onions have an international reputation as the "world's sweetest onion" and over 70 million pounds of Vidalias are sold each season. Their mild flavor is due to the unique combination of soils and climate found in the 20-county production area. Vidalias are harvested from late April through mid-June. You can usually find them in your grocery store through mid-July. However, due to the introduction of controlled atmosphere storage, stored Vidalias are available through December. Use Vidalias whenever you feel a hot onion would be too overpowering. They are excellent in salads and sandwiches and are a tasty addition to grilled hamburgers and steak. And you can feel very good about using Vidalias as they are a good source of Vitamin C, are low in calories and are fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free.

For the best flavor, sauté onions before adding them to casseroles or other dishes. To caramelize the onions, simply add a teaspoon of sugar to the oil before adding the onions. Caramelized Vidalia onions make a fantastic sweet-savory side dish.

Onion-Cheese Bread

1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups biscuit mix
1 cup grated cheese, cheddar or jack
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoons melted butter

Cook onion in butter until tender and lightly browned. Combine egg and milk; add to biscuit mix and stir until just moistened. Add onion and half the cheese. Spread batter in 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese and poppy seeds over the top. Drizzle with a little melted butter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve hot.

Battered Onion Rings

1 large Vidalia onion
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg white, beaten until stiff

Cut onion into rings and cover with ice water. Refrigerate while making the batter. Combine batter ingredients, folding in stiffly- beaten egg white last. Drain the chilled onion ring slices, dip in the batter and fry in batches in hot oil (375°) for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Cream Of Vidalia Onion Soup
Serves about 4

6 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped Vidalia onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup finely cut green onions
4 tablespoon cream

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the top of a double boiler. Add flour and mix well. Add milk and chicken stock. Beat with wire whip to blend together and keep smooth. Sauté onions in remaining butter until soft, about 3 minutes. Add to soup mixture and cook 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper, green onions and cream. Stir to blend and serve.

For a free recipe brochure with more Vidalia onion recipe ideas, send a stamped, self-addressed #10 envelope to:

Vidalia Onion Committee
P. O. Box 1609-FF
Vidalia, GA 30475

A Classic Spring Menu

Dijon Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
Makes 8 servings

2 pounds fresh or frozen whole green beans
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Cook and stir beans in margarine or butter in large skillet over medium-high heat just until tender-crisp. Add mustard and dill; toss well and heat through. Sprinkle with almonds before serving.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Makes 4 Servings

1 1/2 pounds medium red or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
1/2 cup milk
freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a medium saucepan, combine the potatoes, garlic and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Cover the pan and simmer over moderate heat until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and garlic well, and pass them through a ricer or mash them with a potato masher. Stir in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the mashed potatoes with the olive oil and serve.

Herbed Lemon Dijon Glazed Ham
Makes 10 to 14 servings

2/3 cup Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (5- to 7-pound) boneless fully cooked ham

Blend mustard, honey, lemon juice and oil in small bowl. Stir in parsley, pepper, basil, thyme and garlic powder. Place ham in shallow roasting pan. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours or until meat thermometer reads 140 degrees F., brushing ham with half- cup mustard mixture during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Heat remaining mustard mixture in saucepan over medium heat just until warm. Serve with sliced ham.

Chocolate Mousse Napoleons with Strawberries and Cream
Makes 12 Napoleons

1/2 (17.25-ounce) package Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (6-ounce) package semisweet chocolate pieces, melted and cooled
2 cups sweetened whipped cream or whipped topping
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 (1-ounce) square semisweet chocolate, melted (optional)
Confectioners' sugar

Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven at 400 degrees F. Unfold pastry on lightly-floured surface. Cut into 3 strips along fold marks. Cut each strip into 6 rectangles. Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.

In medium bowl place cream and cinnamon. Beat with electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in melted chocolate pieces. Split pastries into 2 layers. Spread 12 rectangles with chocolate cream. Top with another rectangle. Spread with whipped cream, sliced strawberries and remaining rectangles. Drizzle melted chocolate over pastries if desired and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.

Y2K and Food Stockpiling

How do you feel about food stockpiling? Will you purchase extra "survival" items such as bottled water and canned food in the last few months of 1999? I'd love to hear your comments. Send by email (Debscookin@prodigy.net) or fax (805-497-8933). All comments will be published in the May Foodstuff.

Crème Brûlée Promotion

I continue to work hard promoting my cookbook, Elegantly Easy Crème Brûlée and Other Custard Desserts. This weekend I'll be participating in the Festival of Books on the campus of UCLA. If you'll be attending, please stop by and say hello. Email me for the details.

© 1999, 2003 Debbie Puente
All rights reserved. You may print for personal use, however, without express written permission, you may not reproduce, reprint, or distribute. All content on www.cremebrulee.com is original copyright.