Friday, 10 February 2017 20:22

The Women in the Family

Written by John Reardon
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Hello my Foodie Friends! Guess what weekend this is! Yes it’s the weekend before Valentine’s Day and I know the quickest way to someone’s heart is great cooking! I grew up in an Italian/ Irish household (passionate mix). My fondest childhood memories were of all of my Aunts and Uncles coming over with my cousins. The house was full of activity, laughter, and of course, tons of food. The women in our family would conjure up traditional family recipes for all of us to devour while the men in the family chatted about politics, sports, and general life issues. As time has passed, many of our older family members have passed. This past week, I lost my Aunt Rosie who was the last of the Aunts in my blood line. My Aunt Rosie was very special to me. She loved to make people happy with her incredible smile, love for cooking, and her true love in listening to Engelbert Humperdinck sing. We actually made sure our band played a Humperdinck song for her at our wedding “Spanish Eyes”. One of my mom’s and Aunt Rosie’s precious cooking tools was the cast iron Dutch oven! I can recall the smells of sauce, stews, and soups being made in this versatile vessel. They were in every one of my friends kitchens also. It was one of my favorites as head dishwasher in the family because it was the easiest pot to clean since there was no soap used and just hot water and a stiff brush and you were done! When mom said to get the Dutch oven out of the cabinet and put it on the stove we knew we were in for a great meal! I have had many customers stop in and talk about how they love their Dutch ovens and how they use it for just about everything. One piece that many folks have discussed is how they bake bread in their LeCreuset French oven or a Lodge Dutch oven So what is the difference between a French and Dutch oven? Dutch ovens and French ovens are essentially the same thing: tall, heavy pots with tight-fitting lids. They are used primarily for slow-cooking methods such as braising and stewing. “Dutch oven” is the generic term for these pots. 1. Function • The often rustic all-iron Dutch ovens can be used both on stove tops and in ovens, and some can be used over and under coals. • The more stylish French ovens specifically are known for their ability to go from the stove top--for quick starting techniques such as browning--straight into the oven for the longer cooking process. 2. History • Dutchmen were making what would be called Dutch ovens in the early 1600s using a Dutch method of sand casting that produced smooth-surfaced pots. • In 1925, a new cookware foundry called Le Creuset started manufacturing their famous enameled cast iron pots, or “Cocottes,” which would also be called “French ovens.” 3. Types • Dutch ovens (Lodge) are typically made of iron, but they can be made of aluminum, stoneware (Emile Henry) or stainless steel (All-Clad). French ovens are known for their sturdy enamel coating and “designer color” exteriors. • The Dutch oven may have gotten its name not from the Dutch-specific casting process, but because it was sold by traveling Dutch traders who’d sell the pots from their peddling wagons. • The French oven, more straightforwardly, is called so because it’s made by French cookware companies. So who wins, the Dutch or the French? Well, whether you like Dutch or French you will love the way they cook your food and how easy they are to clean and keep looking beautiful! When you are working together to bake or cook, there is a bond and a kind of excitement that you don’t receive when you work by yourself. I do wonder though how I would have gotten through my teen years without helping mom out in the kitchen! The women in our families are there for us as we grow up and even through our adult years. The women in our family work through and answer the questions about the biggest secret in the universe, women! I know there are many who don’t like Valentine’s Day but my mom loved it! She would bake cookies and bread like it was Christmas! There were three boys in my family and every year we would give her a card and a present. Recently my sister passed me some of my mom’s personal items that she kept in perfect condition. One of them was a beautiful Valentine’s Day card from me! It was full of beautiful words that I underlined about her, while adding my own thoughts to the card. I was proud that I had done that because when you lose someone you always feel like you could have done more and said more. So when you get a card and some flowers and maybe some chocolate for your wife, husband or sweetheart, please remember your mom, because she’ll appreciate it! Stop by Compliments to the Chef, located at 46 Marion Avenue and pick up your own French or Dutch oven and bake some love with your sweetheart! Sing “Spanish Eyes” to the one that has your heart. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and remember to say “I love you” to those who are special to you. Remember my Foodie Friends “Life Happens in the Kitchen!” Eat, sing, and treasure the moments you have with family and friends. Take Care, John and Paula. Olive Parmesan Bread INGREDIENTS 4 cups flour 1 teaspoon dry active yeast 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups warm water 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup finely grated, divided 7 ounces Kalamata olives, halved Olive oil INSTRUCTIONS Preheat oven to 450 F. In a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment, combine flour, yeast, salt and 1 cup water. Mix briefly. Once combined, add remaining water, 1 cup grated Parmesan and olives. Mix until dough is thoroughly combined. It should not be sticky. Form the dough into a round with your hands, and place in a bowl that has been brushed with olive oil and dusted with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until tripled in size and dough springs back when touched, about 3 – 4 hours. Brush the Dutch oven with olive oil or butter. Place dough round in the center. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F. Bake until golden brown and internal temperature is 200°F. Allow the bread to rest in the Dutch oven for 20 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack before slicing.
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