Friday, March 8, 2013

Trends...Or Not.

Food trends are funny things. What's old is new again and what was once "poor" food is now hot and trendy--pork belly anyone? Skirt Steak? How about fried hominy? Not saying that those things aren't great. I LOVE me some pork belly, skirt steak and fried hominy (if you haven't had this, think corn nuts).

But yesterday I read a CBS news story on the Top 5 Kitchen Trends. While I'm on board with the colorful cookware they feature (they show Ingrid Hoffman's fun T-fal cookware), a few photos down is the popcorn maker they gush about: Popcorn makers, including this one from West Bend, were very popular at the show. The dome of this particular model detaches and turns into a bowl. 

I have owned that Westbend popcorn maker for at least 7 years. And I bought it because a popcorn loving friend showed me her well-used maker way back when. Not new.

The very next image is of a microwave with a coffee maker. Ditto--when we remodeled the kitchen in Kentucky 8 years ago, I coveted a multifunction stove/cooktop...

Not to say I don't like some of the items mentioned in the story. Wilton Ametale has cookware that does double duty as serveware..They say it can go straight from the stove to the table. I like that (especially since I never have enough serving bowls)..

I also like the Cubodira, the dish rack that collapses into a cutting board. Again, double duty.  Works for me.

The rest seemed like not-needed stuff to me. I don't need more STUFF. I need less of it. I need workhorses in the kitchen.

You want trends? Make something real. Like this kettle corn (sweet and salty)...and I don't even use my Westbend popcorn maker--a pot, popcorn (you know, the kernels--not the stuff that goes into the microwave), sugar and oil.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ready for Some Creamed Spinach?

What can I say? Creamed spinach is a household favorite. But I've jazzed it up now--all because of last weekend.

Not pretty, but it sure tastes good.
Last weekend I visited Ayse Mezze Lounge in Frederick, MD and had many bites of fabulous food. One of my favorites, one I wanted to recreate, was a creamed spinach with feta dish (side dish on most delicious lamb chops)...I did a decent job here, but I left out the bacon (It wasn't bacon they used, but something called sucuk (pronounced soo-jook) so Bryn would eat it--but I won't leave it out next time...In fact, I think I will use linguica sausage (since I have no clue where I can find sucuk). I liked my version, although I missed the sucuk, and mine had a lot more spinach to bechamel ratio than the version at Ayse.

Barb's Creamed Spinach with Feta (inspired by Ayse)

1 teaspoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch cayenne
1/2 teaspoon oregano 1/4 cup flour
2 cups warm milk (I used skim....bec. that's what I have)
1 20-ounce bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed  and squeezed dry
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 ounces feta cheese

1. Heat butter and oil in large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened. (If using sucuk/bacon/linguica, add it here and cook it with onion.) Stir in garlic, cayenne and oregano and cook another minute. Sprinkle flour over all and stir to coat vegetables.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Slowly add warm milk, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring each time until no lumps are left. Cook about 5 minutes over medium heat. (Now you have bechamel sauce).
3. Stir spinach and lemon juice into bechamel. Continue cooking and stirring until heated through.
4. Crumble feta cheese and stir into hot spinach mixture. Serve immediately.

This serves about 8 (reasonably generous portions).