Tag Archives: ham

HAM STEAK WITH PINEAPPLE

Finally. Everyone in the family is back where they are supposed to be. The chefs are back in the restaurant. The scientists are back doing what they do. The college kid is in college, and we are back home resting after child care. Carol was the last to return after a business trip to Hawaii. Because of a comedy of errors she missed her return flight. Fortunately she made the red-eye and was back home in time for the first Sunday family dinner since all of the moving around began. In honor of her Hawaiian “vacation” I decided to make ham with pineapple in as simple a version as possible along with cheesy grits (as appropriate a combination as shrimp and grits). Asparagus vinaigrette finished off the meal.  Asparagus was abundant at the farmers market because Southern California is blessed with a second growing season. Along with fall apples we are beginning to find spring vegetables.

Unless you are over 50, there is a good possibility you have never seen a whole ham festooned with rings of pineapple centered by bright red maraschino cherries. In our family while I was growing up it was considered one of the fanciest dinner offerings. The dish showed up repeatedly in magazines and advertisements. These days not so much. It gets harder and harder to find a bone-in whole ham. One of those things provided a 1950s family with a week of meals: first a festive Sunday dinner, then sliced ham with red-eye gravy, sandwiches, ham and potato casserole, and finally ham and bean soup. These days you can often only find tiny little hamettes (water added) or sliced or diced ham products.  And the idea of pineapple rings, especially when they are centered by a bright red maraschino cherry has fallen out of favor. For this recipe I settled for the largest whole ham slices with the bone still in. I think they made a good substitute, and there was even some left over. I also went retro with the pineapple slices and cherries. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

RECIPE

Ham Steak with Pineapple

Ingredients

  • 2 large ham steaks (about one pound each)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple, well-drained
  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple slices, drained
  • maraschino cherries

Method

  1. Pat the ham slices dry with a paper towel. Arrange one slice in a foil-lined rimmed baking pan that has been well greased.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, mustard, soy sauce, oil, salt, and pepper. Stir in the crushed pineapple. Spread this mixture on the ham slice in the baking pan and then top with the second ham slice.
  3. Arrange the pineapple slices over the ham. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each of the slices. Baste with liquid from the filling.
  4. Bake in an oven preheated to 275°F for one hour. Remove from the oven, cut into serving-sized pieces and serve while still warm.
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BOGUS BOLOGNESE

I’ve been home alone for several days. Times like that call for lots of restaurant visits or eating out of cans and making a lot of popcorn. They are also times to toss together whatever leftovers there are in the refrigerator before it’s time to toss them out permanently. This recipe is inspired by that latter need. It turned out to be a fair approximation of the real thing, but I am certain that Marcella Hazan is looking down and howling with disdain. This recipe should serve one or two persons.

RECIPE

Bogus Spaghetti Bolognese

Bogus spaghetti Bolognese

Bogus spaghetti Bolognese

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 8 peeled “baby” carrots, cut crosswise in thin coins
  • 4 medium crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup packaged diced boneless ham
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup dry white vermouth
  • 1 cup mixed vegetable juice (V-8 or equivalent)
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • good pinch of sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 pound of dry spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent but not browned. Stir in the celery and carrots. Sauté for another 5 minutes. Then stir in the mushroom and ham, continuing to cook until the mushrooms are soft.
  2. Stir in the milk and bring to a low boil. Cook until the milk has been almost completely reduced, but be careful not to burn. Stir in the vermouth and simmer until the wine has almost completely reduced.
  3. Stir in the tomato juice and tomatoes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the nutmeg and sugar. Simmer for another 15 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and slightly falling apart. If needed, add more liquid.
  4. While the tomatoes are simmering, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook to al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. With tongs or a spaghetti tool, transfer the strands of cooked spaghetti directly into the sauce, mixing thoroughly until the ratio of sauce and pasta is to your taste.
  5. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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QUINOA CON GANDULES

Quinoa is gaining recognition as a substitute for rice, pasta, and other starches. Most of my experience with quinoa is by itself or as the base for a cold salad. This recipe substitutes it for rice in the traditional Puerto Rican arroz con gandules which I first enjoyed at an office Christmas party in El Paso. One of my co-workers from Puerto Rico brought the dish to the pot luck table. Indeed, arroz con gandules is apparently a traditional Christmas dish.

The hard part of this recipe is finding the gandules aka pigeon peas. They were readily available in El Paso, but not so in Santa Fe. After some detective work, I found a single can on the shelf at the local branch of Talin Market World Food Fare. Quinoa made a great substitute for the rice.

RECIPE

Quinoa con Gandules

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) dry pigeon peas, drained
  • 3 mild snacking peppers, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1 packet Goya Sazón cilantro y achiote
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1  red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup ham diced
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, cover, and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until all the moisture is gone. Remove the lid if necessary to finish the cooking. Fluff with a fork, stir in the pigeon peas, diced peppers, and  the Sazón, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over a medium flame. Stir in the onion, garlic, and ham, cooking until the onion is translucent. Add to the quinoa mixture, along with the tomato sauce, and heat over medium flame until everything is warm. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve.

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BAKED STUFFED TOMATOES: STOPPING BY A TEXAS FRUITSTAND

We are back home after a very long two weeks in Shreveport, Louisiana. We had a good time and enjoyed seeing old friends, but taking care of two young children is not in the usual job description for folks as old as my wife and me.

Susan had driven her car all the way from Santa Fe, so we knew that we had a long drive back. We decided we were not going through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex even though it was probably the shortest and fastest return. There is too much traffic; we have been there before many, many times; and the cityscape is, well frankly, boring.

Instead, we left the interstate at Tyler and headed up to Sherman, the home  of a beautiful small liberal arts college, Austin College. The road was like so many country roads in Louisiana and Texas: well paved, not much traffic, and lines with farms and big stands of pines and hardwoods. The further west we got, the smaller the trees became. There were several towns along the way, but most were no bigger that a few hundred people. Every town, though, had an enormous high school and an even bigger football stadium. Every town also had several churches. Some had tall spires while others looked like they were just hanging on.

Still steeped in farm-to-table enthusiasm, we stopped at a small roadside stand several miles from any town. They were advertising fresh homemade ice cream along with fresh produce. We certainly helped their cash-flow that day. Susan bought several jars of homemade preserves, honey, pinto and Anasazi beans, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, watermelon, sweet cherries, fresh peaches, and bright red tomatoes.  We had to re-arrange our already crowded back seat to make room for everything.

We resumed our travel, stopping in Amarillo overnight (That is another story, but probably not appropriate for a blog) and then got back on the interstate to complete our trip home.

Since then, we have been enjoying all of the fruits and vegetables from Shreveport along with more from the fruit stand. We’ve had fresh tomatoes sliced, in a salad, and along with avocado so it occurred to me that a tasty meal might include mashed sweet potatoes, a big slice of ham from the store, and baked tomatoes.  That’s what we had last night.

RECIPE

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3 crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle on top of the tomatoes
  • 3 scallions including green tops, chopped finely
  • ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup panko
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Cut off the stem ends of the tomatoes. If needed, cut a very thin slice off the blossom end so that the tomato will sit flat. With a grapefruit knife or grapefruit spoon, remove the pulp from the tomatoes, leaving a rim of about ¼ inch of the flesh. Rinse, drain, and set aside.
  2. Rinse any seeds from the pulp, sprinkle with salt, chop finely, and set aside to drain any excess water.
  3. In a small pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms until they have given up their liquid and it has evaporated, about three minutes. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms with their cooking oil, scallions, parsley, panko, Italian seasoning, and vinegar. Blot the chopped tomato pulp dry with paper towels and add it to the mixture.
  5. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  6. Stuff the tomato shells with the mixture, packing it firmly. Top with the Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and place in the middle of an oven preheated to 350° F. Bake for 30 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the tomatoes to plates and serve immediately.

 

 

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CROQUE MONSIEUR AND CROQUE MADAME

I have been away from my blog for awhile. First, I spent some time with family at Thanksgiving. That was a lot fun. What has not been fun is frustration in uploading my images to Word Press. Over the last several days, I have worked closely with the folks at Word Press. They demonstrated remarkable knowledge and incredible patience. Together, we were unable to solve the problem. Then I changed to an old wireless router I had replaced a while back and everything – well, nearly everything – worked again. Frustration over.

Recently I wrote about baking pain de mie for the express purpose of making croque monsieur and croque madame sandwiches. That is exactly what I did with the bread. If you are a big fan of these sandwiches, you already know that there are many, many recipes  some of them not much more than an American grilled cheese and others very elaborate

There are, however, some absolute essentials: good bread (hence the pain de mie), the best sliced ham you can find, and Gruyère cheese. Of course for the croque madame, you will need a perfectly fried egg.

You can sauté the sandwiches  in a pan, broil them, toast them in a panini press, or use a traditional French sandwich mold that makes them look a bit like a giant madeleine.  Then you have to decide whether or not you want to go to the trouble of making a béchamel to moisten the contents and provide a topping  – with more Gruyère, of course – that can be browned under a broiler.

This, then, is only one version, but it was fun to make. I chose to use the French sandwich press that has been hanging for years on our kitchen wall as a sort of decoration. I also added some béchamel.

RECIPES

Béchamel

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • salt and white pepper

Method

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Be careful not to brown.
  2. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat.
  3. Adjust seasoning with slat and white pepper.  Set aside.

Croque monsieur

Ingredients

  • 4 slices pain de mie
  • 4 tablespoons béchamel
  • 4 thin slices ham
  • 2 slices Gruyère
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • béchamel
  • sliced Gruyère

Method

  1. Spread béchamel on one side of each slice of bread
  2. Arrange one slice of ham on each slice of bread. Then place a slice of Gruyère on two of the slices. Form into two sandwiches.
  3. With a pastry brush, paint both sides of both sandwiches with the melted butter and arrange the sandwiches in the sandwich mold.
  4. Close the sandwich mold and heat over an open flame on your range, turning once or twice until the sandwiches are well-toasted on both sides.
  5. Place the finished sandwiches on oven-proof plates, top with more béchamel and Gruyère, and place briefly under a broiler until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Croque madame

Ingredients

  • 1 croque monsieur sandwich
  • 1 fried egg

Method

  1. Top the sandwich with the fried egg.
  2. Serve immediately

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HAM, POTATO, AND ONION GRATIN – CLEARING OUT THE FREEZER, PART THREE

In my quest to get to the bottom of our freezer, I found a plastic bag containing four thick ham slices separated by waxed paper. I managed to break one of them free and decided to make a gratin of potatoes, onions, and ham. One of our family favorites is Julia Child’s râpée morv andelle (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volume 1, page 153). In that recipe, though, you are supposed to grate the potatoes and finely dice the ham. The ham steak from the freezer seemed too big and thick to suffer the indignity of fine dicing.

I was reminded of a wonderful dish that a Swedish friend of ours always prepared for her Christmas smörgåsbord: Jansson’s frestelse (Jansson’s Temptation). Potatoes and anchovy filets were arranged in alternating rows and then topped with onions, cheese, cream, and eggs. The casserole was baked until the mixture was puffed and golden.  I decided to try that same thing, substituting thinly sliced potato for the grated potatoes and ham cut into bâtonett instead of dice. Scallions would serve as the onion representative.

RECIPE

Ham, Potato, and Onion Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 medium russet potato, unpeeled
  • 1 ham steak, ½ inch thick and about 8 ounces
  • 3 scallions including green tops, cut into ¼ inch rings
  • 4 ounces Swiss (Emmental) cheese, grated
  • 3 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper

Method

  1. Using a mandoline, slice the unpeeled potato crosswise into 1/16 inch thick rounds. Soak in water until ready to assemble the casserole.
  2. Remove any fat and bone from the ham steak and cut into strips ½ inch x ½ inch x 2 inches. Set aside until ready to assemble the casserole.
  3. Combine the beaten eggs with the cream and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
  4. In a well-greased 8 x 8 x 2 inch ovenproof glass pan, arrange an overlapping row of potato slices that have been drained and patted dry.
  5. Next to the row of potatoes, arrange a row of the ham slices. Then begin a second row of potatoes, another row of ham pieces, and finish with another row of potato slices.
  6. Sprinkle the top with half of the cut-up scallions, half of the grated cheese, and cover with half of the egg and cream mixture.
  7. Make a second layer of alternating potato and ham slices, using all of both. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and grated cheese.  Cover with the remaining egg and cream mixture
  8. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 350° (175°C) for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the top becomes too brown, cover with aluminum foil.
  9. When the casserole is golden brown and the potatoes are tender (test with a small knife), remove from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes to set up a bit, and serve immediately while still warm.

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