Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PRODUCT REVIEW - Commercial Tuscan Seasoning

Link to my original blog on my original recipe for "Tuscan spice mix ingredients" (Proud to say my blog came up as #1 on google search with the terms in quotes).

Have gained a fond interest in all things TUSCAN, especially the culture and the food.  Have found the "culprit" or MIA in two of the three of the commercial Tuscan seasonings that I reviewed is the lack of FENNEL* in the seasonings and in the third product there is also no fennel but they have added sesame  seeds (rarely used at all in Tuscan cooking)!! 

I think this is a huge oversight on a company this large. I do believe they DIDN'T DO THEIR HOMEWORK.

Photo of fennel seeds:

Photo of caraway seeds

*FENNEL Now, grant you, some people don't like fennel & one of the reasons they don't is that people tend to OVERFENNELIZE products & seasonings.  It's just like:

  • Commercial canned diced tomatoes with garlic. Oh my, I never buy that. After the very first time, years ago, that I bought diced tomatoes with garlic I NEVER BOUGHT THAT PRODUCT AGAIN. TOO MUCH GARLIC. 
  • Same with canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning: OVER DONE especially with OREGANO.
  • NOTE: I personally love garlic and oregano and fennel but commercial producers tend to overdo. I don't know why but maybe they are afraid that people won't think they are getting their money's worth  OR their cooks (certainly not chefs) are so crappy they don't know better. Subtlety is not their forte.
*FENNEL If you have never cooked with fresh fennel then you are missing something.  It is nothing like the dried jarred fennel.  It is subtle and not strong at all. 

PRODUCT 1:  McCormick Perfect Pinch Tuscan (no fennel)


Click on photos to read labels

PRODUCT 2 - McCormick Gourmet Collection Blends: Tuscan Seasoning (no fennel)


Click on photos to read labels


PRODUCT 3 - Victoria Taylor's Seasonings - Tuscan Seasoning (no fennel but sesame oil & seeds??) Researched over 50 websites in April and TODAY and found no sesame seeds in any tuscan spice mixes or cooking.   However, just found something.  Look below this group of photos!


Click on photos to read labels

I found one recipe with coriander seeds that I noticed.   Look at these seeds!! 



Wow, don't they look alike?  Could this be the mistake on the above spice?

WHY AM I DOING THIS?  I think if you are going to be a good cook or even a chef you have to get the ingredients right. If someone doesn't like an herb or spice and you want to make it anyway, cut down the amount.  For someone who doesn't like a lot of oregano or fennel or ... cut down the amount so you will have the ORIGINALITY of the recipe and/or the area. 


Monday, November 26, 2012

PRODUCT REVIEW - Better Than Bouillon - Sodium Watch

The photos speak for themselves:

680 mg of sodium in one teaspoon of this product. 1 tsp makes 1 cup or ...

See photos.  Recommended amount of sodium per day for an adult is 1500 - 2200 (max) per day.

The last photo shows the sodium.  Both chicken and beef have same amount of sodium so i didn't bother with another photo. Now think about it. If you make something for one meal for 2 (1 cup per person) you have over 1/2 of daily alloted sodium per day and that is just the broth. If you drink that and eat one other thing you have GOTTEN YOUR SODIUM FIX FOR THE DAY!! 


There are hundreds of web sites out there warning of sodium dangers.  This is just one above. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

From - Vietnamese Pho Dinner

Nov 7, 2012

Menu: Vietnamese Pho Dinner

Heady, rich, and throughly warming, large steaming bowls of traditional Vietnamese beef and rice noodle pho are the perfect centerpiece for a cold-weather weekend gathering.

Photos from (food link below photos)



Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Harmonists I - 18th & 19th century German cooking

Was in Economy (Old Economy Village), Pa in September (There was a FEST that weekend)
(see my personal photos at bottom of page) 
which is the final home of the Harmony Society, one of America's most successful Christian communal groups. It is a National Historic Landmark that is open year round. There are 16,000 Harmonist objects exhibited in 17 restored structures between 1824 and 1830.

The purpose of this blog is to talk about the food (German) with excerpts from 18th and 19th century German cookbooks in the collections of Old Economy Village.  

Courtesy of the interesting read I purchased entitled "from the Harmonist "Küche" ".

Why am I writing this series?  I am German, Scotch-Irish and Welsh from western Pennsylvania.  
And, yes, I am a Steelers' fan!

PERSONAL STORY 1:  I lived in Germany for a year in the little town of Oberrodenbach (near Hanau and Frankfort) (which means over the Rodenbach river) where I learned to appreciate and come to love "spargle" or white asparagus freshly picked every day and a pound was 25 pfennig (German pennies) (I tried to find out what a pfennig was worth back then but I couldn't find it.  I think at that time in the middle 1960's that the dollar was equal to the mark so the pound of spargle cost me 25 cents American) and was delivered to your door. It was grown in mounds underground to keep the sun from getting to it (thus no chorophyll) so it would be white. The skin was tougher than green asparagus and you had to use a potato peeler to remove the skin.  My German neighbor didn't have one nor had never seen a potato peeler

so I bought one for her when I found out that she had to use a knife to peel.  She was elated; it was like I had given her a ton of pfennigs!!  After you peeled it you boiled it in water with a little vinegar added until tender and put butter and salt and pepper on it!! Nothing better than out of the garden. (NOTE: At that time all of the spargle for western Germany was grown in Oberrodenbach and Niederrodenbach.)

Enough of that story but since my heritage is German (my dad sang to me in German when I was small) and having had the fortune of living there for a year I am interested in all things German, especially German cooking.


Cookbooks in the 18th and 19th century were nothing like they are now!!
No photos and no number of servings 
and no measurements and no temperatures!!

A lot of the recipes come from Tübingen in Würrtemberg, Germany (I lived in Hessen area which you can see on the map north of Würrtemberg)
I have a included a link below from WIKI showing the area.  If you click on the map it will get larger and you can find the area noted. 
NOTE:  I know the link above looks crazy but it works!!




Cabbage Soup
Take half of a white head of cabbage; remove the inner rib. Cabbage is boiled lightly in salted water. Drain, put in fresh cold water. You may use a strainer or a napkin, so that the cabbage is well drained. A piece of butter is added to a broth, seasoned with nutmeg and pepper; allow drained cabbage to boil till soft. (This is confusing to me. Says nothing about putting the cabbage back in the water nor any measurements for the nutmeg and pepper nor for the amount of time to cook it ...) Prepare a soup of meat broth; serve over white bread slices; arrange cabbage in the middle. Pour broth over all. 

Apple Dumplings
Peel sour apples, as many as you need. Chop them fine; roast them a little in LARD.  Take a few peeled, chopped almonds, moisten them just barely in sweet cream. Mix all this together with finely grated bread crumbs.  Add eggs to bring to the right thickness.  Add raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Roll the formed round dumplings in flour and fry in LARD. With this belongs a sweet broth made from sugar, cinnamon, chopped almonds, onions, raisins and a little wine. 

Young Chickens with Currants
Boil or roast young chickens as you like.  Take currants, add wine, cinnamon, and sugar and let boil together.  Pour this broth over the chickens. 

All excerpts above from "from the Harmonist "Küche" ".

What do you think?  This is the FIRST PART OF A SERIES

Below are a few of my personal photos from my trip:


Friday, November 2, 2012

French Food 1975 Part F - Cote d'Azur

If you missed the first 5 segments on French cooking in 1975 here are the links:

Be sure you don't miss links below to some "today" 
French recipes that would be popular in this area. 

"The blue Coast" that is the French Riviera stretches from Monte Carlo to St Tropez in a series of seaside towns and resorts. Nice: the Italiante grand dame of cities; focal point for region; Mardi Gras, Carnival, flower & vegetable markets and has inviting sights. Cannes: Casinos, St. Tropez for beaches. Antibes and Juan-les-Pins for its associations with the Lost Generation.
Throughout the area are numerous museums containing works of painters who have lived there. Focus on food is the bouillabaisse of Marseilles, the anchovy oil and garlic tips, the minestrone-like Soupe Pistou, pissaladiere--an onion and tomato pizza, pan bagnat--a sandwich of tomatoes, onions, peppers, olives and oil, the cream garlic fish stew bourride, fresh sardines stuffed with spinach and dozens of Provencale dishes combining eggplants, artichokes, peppers, garlic and oil.



Crudites in Bagna Cauda

Bagna Cauda, Italian for warm bath, refers to the hot, piquant dipping sauce one finds along the Riviera from Genoa to Barcelona. Assorted raw vegetables, such as celery sticks, carrot sticks, cauliflowerets, broccoli flowers, green pepper strips, mushroom caps, scallions, etc.
1 c. sweet butter     1/4 c. olive oil     2 cloves minced garlic, 
1/4 c. finely minced anchovy filets or 1 t. anchovy paste
Keep vegetables chilled until serving time. Melt butter, add olive oil and garlic and heat for 15 minutes but do not let mixture fry. Stir in anchovies (or paste) and stir over very low hat for 5 minutes.  Serve hot in small pot or dish over candle warmer. 

Bourride Aioli (fish)
(Click on recipe to make larger)

Aioli Sauce for the Bourride Aioli


Tarte Citron (Lemon Tarte)
(Click on recipe to make larger)

1.  Bouillabaisse

  1. Bouillabaisse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille. The French and English form bouillabaisse comes from the Provençal ...
  2. Bouillabaisse Recipe | Simply Recipes
    Jan 2, 2004 – A classic French shellfish and fish stew recipe, prepared with the freshest possible seafood, caught and served the same day. Served with a ...

2.  Soupe Pistou

    1. Provencal Vegetable Soup: Soupe au Pistou Recipe : : Recipes ... › Recipes › Healthy
       Rating: 5 - 11 reviews - 1 hr 30 mins
      Get this all-star, easy-to-follow Food Network Provencal Vegetable Soup: Soupe auPistou recipe.
    2. Pistou Soup Recipe -
       Rating: 4.2 - 13 reviews - 1 hr 30 mins - 456 cal
      Homemade tomato-basil pesto is stirred into this hearty vegetarian soup of beans, zucchini, and potatoes.

                                                                  3.  Pissaladiere

      Pissaladière Recipe : Rachel Allen Recipes | LifeStyle FOOD
      The word 'pissaladière' derives from the Provençal French pissalo or 'salt fish', presumably because of the anchovies that are included in the recipe. The base ...

      Pissaladière (French pronunciation: [pisaladjɛʁ]; Occitan: pissaladiera, ... Recipecourtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2002 · Delia Smiths's recipe, with UK ... Articles containing Occitan language text · Articles containing non-English language text ...