Archive for January, 2009


Ever wonder about the story behind the likenesses on your carton of Quaker Oats and Sun-Maid Raisins? Here’s the scoop: Apparently, the oat guy isn’t Sir William Penn — the Quaker founder of Pennsylvannia — as is popularly assumed. He actually isn’t a “real person” at all, says the company.  He’s just a guy in Quaker garb…. hmmm… so, then Quaker Oats is run by a bunch of Quakers? Nope. Turns out the company’s founders just thought the name would connote honesty and purity in their product.

The raisin girl, on the other hand, is a real person: Lorraine Collett Petersen. According to legend, Lorraine was fond of drying her curly, dark brown hair in the sun in her backyard.  It was 1915 afterall — no hairdryers yet. And one day a friendly artist asked her to pose for a painting while holding a basket of grapes. The image soon made its way into the hands of the young Sun-Maid fruit company, looking for an icon for its boxes of sun-dried delights.



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Looking for a hearty but simple winter meal?  Give Chicken Marsala a try. Pan-roasted chicken breasts are topped with a slice of smoky prosciutto and Italian Fontina cheese. Top it off with some mushrooms and garlic sautèed in butter, olive oil and sweet Marsala wine. A little wilted spinach with garlic and shallots goes perfectly on the side. At the risk of sounding like Rachel Ray, this meal really was ready in 30 minutes.


Gourmet recently featured a spin on this Italian classic using turkey cutlets instead. Check it out.

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Do Oxen moo?  If so, then I’d let out a long “mooooo” of satisfaction over this feast in celebration of the Year of the Ox! (I actually felt like an ox strung out on MSG after grazing here for hours, but I digress…) The food at Chatham Square Restaurant, 6 Chatham Square in NYC’s Chinatown, is solid Cantoneese cooking. Their raw materials were quality and fresh. The seafood dishes were particularly well-done — like the fried whole fish with ginger and scallion, honey glazed prawns and broccoli, and scallops with sugar snap peas. The pork fried rice, shown here, was underwhelming; but the orange-glazed fried pork cutlets were mighty tasty.   Oh, and notice all those bottles on the table?  The restaurant allows BYOB. Cheers!

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What happens when you start a recipe and mistakenly add too much of one ingredient or another? Do you toss it out and start from scratch? Do you proceed anyway and hope for the best?

It can be risky to continue on. But as several of my friends have proven with this concoction, you may just end up with something special. They were hoping for a simple batch of peanut butter cookies: one cup of peanut butter, a little flour, butter and sugar, and presto!  Yet, somehow they added an entire jar of creamy Skippy.  Fearing the resulting batter might produce overly dense cookies, they made the spur of the moment decision to make it into a cake!


Over the years, this ultimate of comfort-food treats has evolved.  It picked up its name from a college custodian who allegedly tossed out an early version of the cake after seeing it on the counter and figuring no one wanted to eat it.  Little did she know, the now-aptly-named “Wendy” cake could only be consumed in small doses because of its richness, hence why so much was leftover.


For those who might question the caloric value of this dessert, the frosting is made with “light” cream cheese and skim milk – it’s the “healthy” portion of the dessert, my friends say.  (They are quick to tell you it even has protein!)

Nutrition aside, this indulgent giant peanut butter cookie topped with cream cheese frosting is delic.

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The brilliance of this dessert is in the cake – not in what’s on top. The batter yields a moist and fluffy texture with a hint of orange citrus and cinnamon. I’d surmise that this is some of the tastiest cake I’ve ever made from scratch.  Kudos to the chefs at Gourmet for the recipe, although I substituted orange juice for the pineapple and cinnamon for the cardamon.

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As much as I’d like to think I have a pretty good handle on things in the kitchen, making this scrumptious loaf of apple bread proved otherwise. Why did I think I could get away with using an 8-inch loaf pan when the recipe called for 9?!  Ladies and gentleman, one inch makes a huge difference.

With the batter overflowing my loaf pan and creating a black, smokey mess, my neighbors were treated to the intermittent, piercing melody of my smoke alarm…. at midnight.

Drama aside, the bread turned out to be tasty and moist, filled with chunks of tart green apples. The sweet, crunchy cinnamon sugar oat topping adds to the goodness in every bite.  Enjoy a slice with your morning coffee – it’s delicious!


Kudos to my friend and colleauge, Kelly Ann, at Just A Taste. You’ll find the recipe there.

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If I was the Slumdog Millionaire, I’d want to celebrate reuniting with my true love (and winning the millions) by enjoying a feast of Chicken Jalfrezi. This take on a traditional Indian curry is absolutely one of my top ten all-time favorite dishes.

The tomato-based curry is a taste explosion of grated fresh ginger, garlic, onion and cilantro. The tender chicken thighs are lightly dry-fried in olive oil, curry and chili powders before stewing with the tomatoes and spices until the meat just falls apart.


Unlike a traditional Jalfrezi, I’m told, this recipe lacks green peppers or green chillies. But in my opinion, the simplicity of this take is its strong suit: your taste buds can focus in on the intense medley of flavors. Served over basmati rice with a side of naan bread, this is a wonderful dish.

It’s first appearance on Peanutbuttermilk has the recipe.

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