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Archive for Food Holidays

TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Surf & Turf Day

The classic Surf and Turf is a lobster tail and
a filet mignon. Photo courtesy
MackenzieLtd.com.

 

Now, we must ask: Why would anyone make Surf &Turf Day fall on February 29th? Should we celebrate this tasty holiday only once every four years?

Perhaps it’s put on Leap Day because of its ostentatiousness—it is, after all, a dish that combines the two most expensive dishes on the menu, lobster tail and filet mignon.

Of course, mankind has been combining meat and seafood in meals since the dawn of plenty. Fine dining establishments served both lobster and steak on the same plate in the last quarter of the 19th century. Diamond Jim Brady was just one of many gourmands whose table was laden with both beef and lobster.

But the disk known as Surf and Turf (or Surf ‘n’ Turf, to be even more vulgar), is an American invention.

The earliest earliest print reference found by FoodTimeline.org was published in the Eureka [California] Humboldt Standard of August 14, 1964: “An entrée in restaurants in Portland [Oregon] is called surf and turf—a combination of lobster and steak.”

However, there is a second claim, without printed proof, that the same dish by the same name was served at the Sky City restaurant, in the Space Needle, at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

 
The dish is called “Reef and Beef” in Australia. Evidently, ostentatious displays are not limited to the U.S.

Modern Riffs On Surf & Turf

Don”t be constrained by lobster and steak. Pick your favorite seafood and meats: crab cake, crab legs, scallops or shrimp with lamb chops or pork chops, for example.

Or, enjoy a hot dog in a bun paired with lobster, shrimp or tuna salad in a bun, a clam roll or lobster roll.

Fish and chips with a tasty sausage also has its appeal. As does crab cake and ribs.

We could fill the Leap Days for the rest of our life with different options, and not run out.

Happy Surf & Turf Day!

[Updated February 2012]

  

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Clam Chowder Day

Creamy New England clam chowder. Photo
courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

 

We’re happy as a clam that today is National Clam Chowder Day. (Although as our colleague Philip has always asked, why is a clam so happy? It sits immobile on the ocean floor, waiting to be scooped up for someone’s dinner.)

You can celebrate with New England Clam Chowder (sometimes called Boston Clam Chowder), Manhattan Clam Chowder or even Rhode Island Clam Chowder; restaurants tend to serve one or the other. New England Clam Chowder is the oldest version.

According to the book 50 Chowders by Jasper White, the oldest-known printed chowder recipe is for fish chowder, printed in the Boston Evening Post on September 23, 1751. It calls for onions, pork, salt, pepper, parsley, sweet marjoram, savory, thyme and a biscuit (later replaced by oyster crackers or saltines served with the soup instead of cooked into it)—ingredients that are still used today.

Types Of Clam Chowder

  • New England Clam Chowder. If you like creamy soups, the New England style may be more of your cup of soup. It’s milk- or cream-based (with flour as a thickener), and splattering it is unlikely to permanently ruin that shirt or tie.
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  • Manhattan Clam Chowder. If you want to save calories or cut back on cholesterol, Manhattan Clam Chowder is based on broth and tomatoes. It is actually an Italian clam soup, arriving on these shores with Italian immigrants in the late 1800s. It tends to be seasoned with oregano, from its Italian heritage. The original Italian soup achieved broader appeal with the name of New York Clam Chowder, which evolved to Manhattan Clam Chowder.
  • Rhode Island Clam Chowder. This variation, found chiefly in Rhode Island, is made with clear broth.
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    What’s A Chowder?

    All chowders tend to be made with potatoes, onions, and of course, clams. If you have a shellfish allergy, you can opt for Fish Chowder, which substitutes shredded fish, often cod, for the clams, and throws in corn kernels for good measure.

    The word chowder has its roots in the Latin word calderia, which originally meant a hearth for warming things and later came to mean a cooking pot. The word evolved to cauldron, which in French became chaudiere, a heartbeat from chowder.

    The first chowders in our culture were fish chowders, made in cauldrons in fishing villages along the coast of France and in the Cornwall region of Southwestern England. When the fishermen came to the New World, they found clams in huge supply along the northern Atlantic coast, and clam chowder was born.

    Here’s a review of one of our favorite New England Clam Chowders, available by the can from Bar Harbor Foods.

    How Many Types Of Soup Have You Had?

    Check out our delicious Soup Glossary.

      

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    TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Tortilla Chip Day

    blackbeansoup_230L

    Tortilla chips are made with yellow, white
    and blue corn. Riding the whole grain
    nutrition wave, they’re also made in
    multigrain blends. Photo courtesy Garden
    of Eatin’.

     

    On the heels (perhaps too close on the heels) of National Corn Chip Day (January 29th), February 24th honors one of America’s favorite snack foods, the tortilla chip.

    Surprisingly, tortilla chips are not a traditional Mexican food. They were first popularized and mass produced in southwestern Los Angeles in the late 1940s by Rebecca Webb Carranza, who, with her husband, owned a Mexican deli and tortilla factory.

    Misshapen tortillas were rejected from the tortilla manufacturing machine, and she turned them into chips—cutting them into triangles, frying them and selling them in snack-size bags.

    Needless to say, they sold well, and became a popular appetizer in Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in California. They expanded beyond California in a big way in the late 1970s, with the growth of Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, replacing corn chips like Fritos as America’s favorite corn chip snack.

    As we mentioned in our post on corn chips, the main difference between the two types of chip is that a tortilla chip is cut from a whole tortilla, and a corn chip is corn meal processed into a particular shape.

     

  • See our favorite gourmet tortilla chips.
  • Make this tortilla soup recipe—a favorite Mexican dish, blending chicken, corn and tortilla chips.
  • Enjoy one of our favorite guacamoles with your chips, Yucatan Guacamole—not only delicious, but organic and kosher.
  • Find our favorite salsas in the Salsas and Dips section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
  • Before they were tortilla chips, they were tortillas. Read about our favorite tortillas, from Tumaro’s.
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    TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Banana Bread Day

    To celebrate National Banana Bread Day, we offer you two recipes:- Peanut Butter Banana Bread from our friends at P.B. Loco
    Chocolate Chip Banana Bread from acclaimed pastry chef Pichet Ong, formerly of the Jean Georges Vongerichten empire and now proprietor of P*ONG in New York CityThe one tip we can give when making banana bread is: use very ripe bananas. If your bananas are overripe, don’t thrown them out—make banana bread (or banana daiquiris). And if you’re making the chocolate chip recipe, buy the best-quality chocolate chips you can find.
      Chocolate Chip Banana BreadUse top-quality chocolate chips and very ripe bananas, and bake up a loaf of heaven.
     

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    TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Sticky Bun Day

    Sticky Buns

    Be precise: Sticky buns have a sticky top, iced cinnamon rolls aren’t sticky buns. Photo courtesy Wolferman’s.

     

    Some people would like to celebrate National Sticky Bun Day, February 21st, every day.

    Sticky buns, a breakfast pastry for the sweet-toothed, are also known as a honey buns, and are closely related to cinnamon buns, cinnamon rolls and cinnamon swirls.

    Many people use the terms interchangeably, but a sticky bun needs to have the sticky topping (caramel, honey, maple syrup, sugar syrup) and not all cinnamon rolls do.

    The buns are baked together in a pan and then cut apart.

  • In the original recipes, the honey and pecan topping is baked like an upside-down cake, with the sticky topping on the bottom of the pan and the dough placed on top of it.
  • Some recipes add raisins to the dough.
  • The pan is inverted after baking and the sticky bottom becomes the top. Today, many sticky buns are baked with the topping on top of the dough.
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    Sticky buns seem to be of Germanic origin, and came to the U.S. with German immigrants in the 1800s. You can find sticky buns called “schnecken” (especially in Pennsylvania Dutch country).
     
    However, in German-Jewish cooking, schnecken are crescent-rolled rugalach-type pastries. “Schnecken” means “snail” in German, and the crescent shapes are certainly snail-like.

    You can read about it, and agree to disagree, here.

    We’re not getting into any arguments today—we’re just heading over to our favorite local bakery to pick some up some freshly-baked sticky buns.

    Those who do not live near an artisan bakery can head to the nearest Cinnabon for an iced cinnamon roll.

    It’s not a sticky bun, but it will suffice!

     
      

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