Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

chickenmarengoChicken Marengo is an amazing Italian savory dish named for being themeal Napoleon Bonaparte feasted on after the Battle of Marengo (a battle between the French and the Austrians in the 1800s).

Apparently Napoleon demanded a quick meal once the battle ended. His chef was forced to come up with something great with only meager supplies on hand; chicken (and some eggs), tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, olive oil and crayfish. The chicken was allegedly cut up with a sabre and fried in olive oil.

A sauce was made from tomatoes, garlic and onions (even some Cognac from Napoleon's flask) while the crayfish was cooked up on the side and all was served over eggs with some of the soldier's bread ration on the side. Napoleonraved overthe food and since he had won the battle, considered this dish lucky. On future occasions Napoleon refused to have the ingredients altered, even when his chef wanted to omit the crayfish.

Modern versions of this dish, such as this one, leave out the crayfish and add olives for flavor. Serving this over polenta also makes this comfort food to the max. The flavors are over the top and you will love how moist the chicken becomes.

You have to try this, you will love, love, love it!!

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porkdinnerTechnically defined as “thin cuts of meat, sautéed and cooked in a rich sauce,” the scaloppini fashion for cooking pork, chicken, and veal is simple and elegant. In the midst of my stew, soup and comfort food wintertime phase, I ere toward the side of something fresh and light in betwixt the heaviness comfort food affords. Enter my Skinny Pork Chop Scaloppini.

Lemon, garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley and white wine all meld and mélange together to form a succulent sauce with the renderings of the thinly slice pork cutlets.

Why pork for this dish? Well, to quote my Mimi, “If I have to eat one more piece of chicken, I may scream! There IS another white meat!” Upon delivery of such a statement, Mimi and I drove to a fast food chain and scarffed down cheeseburgers and fries. Sometimes there is nothing better. Back to the dish at hand!

Like my Mimi, I do like a break from chicken and thinly sliced pork cutlets fit the bill. Veal too is luscious in this manner but many folks have an aversion to said meat; thus, the pork cutlets make do marvelously. This cut of meat is economical, easy to handle and the perfect portion to plate. They brown well, yielding that flavor as a delightful element for the sauce. Ahhhhh – the sauce!

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turkeystove.jpgWith Thanksgiving around the corner, my wife and I have started talking about the menu. Mostly we want to enjoy favorite dishes. One of those is a turkey liver pate I adapted from a chopped liver recipe my mom made when I was a kid.

Even people who love chicken livers view turkey liver as too much of a good thing. Whoever has the job of prepping the turkey on Thanksgiving Day frequently looks with bewilderment at the large double-lobed liver in the bag tucked ever so neatly inside the turkey.

Following my mother's lead, my solution is to turn lemons into lemonade or, in this case, turkey liver into pâté. My mother prepared chopped liver using a shallow wooden bowl and a beat-up, double-handled, single-bladed mezzaluna knife that her mother had given her.

She would cut up and sauté the turkey liver with a chopped up onion. Two eggs would go into boiling water. Once hard-boiled, they would join the sautéed liver and onion in the wooden bowl, which she would hand to me along with the mezzaluna. While she prepared the turkey, she put me to work.

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steakfetaA good steak never needs something extra to make it stand out.  However, sometimes I do have a craving for an extra twang to go with my meat.

We love ribeye steaks.  I would say 90% of the steaks I buy are ribeyes; they just always grill to perfection.  I guess I should thank my husband for that. 

Anyway, yesterday I had a craving for something to go on top of my meat.  I remembered seeing a recipe for a vinaigrette topping ribeyes.  I searched my recipes until I found it, Ribeyes with Red Wine-Feta Vinaigrette.  It was exactly what I was craving.

Vinaigrette on meat you say?  Yes, a million times yes.  The vinegar and feta cut through the richness of the steak perfectly, leaving you with this melt in your mouth experience.  I loved it.  I suspect this would also go well with grilled ahi tuna steaks or pork chops.  If you add more oil it would also be perfect in a Greek salad.

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somethingfrom.jpg Recently I was at a library book sale and as usual I scanned for hidden treasure among the cookbooks. Browsing cookbooks is nothing short of a history lesson. Here's what I found, as men came back from fighting overseas and Americans travelled abroad for pleasure, their hunger for exotic recipes increased and so did the number of international cookbooks.

Cooking on a budget was a popular theme in times of recession like the 1970's. Curiously the cookbooks from the 50's and 60's were dominated by the use of processed foods. Browsing the volumes, I began to wonder, just how did processed food come to such popularity anyway?

Not long after my shopping trip I began reading Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America. Not a cookbook at all, but a rich and fascinating history of cooking in America in the post WWII period up until the early 60's. Suddenly it all made sense! 

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