Ham Salad – here I am attempting again … ugh, am I destined for failure?

I know I say my favorite (only) ham salad is from the Apple Market, but it is true. And then I look at the list of ingredients and see this: chopped ham. sweet relish, mayonnaise, onions, and black pepper.

D&D_2041And that really kind of makes me grumpy. Why can I not make a great ham salad out of simple ingredients. I do it with chicken salad, so what is the difference?? Makes me slightly crazy.

I do know I am going to have a ham salad sandwich for breakfast tomorrow. Yes, I eat all kind of random things for breakfast – cold tofu pad thai, pasta, cold pizza – and then some traditional things – peanut butter toast, toast with really good salted butter and apple jelly, toast with really good salted butter and local honey. Yes, toast seems to be a thing. Pop Tarts – specifically blueberry or brown sugar.

Okay, after wondering far afield, let us get back to ham salad.

1st – what kind of ham to buy and what to do with it. In the Apple Market version is seems more than just chopped as I know it. Almost minced. Maybe run through a food mill, or pulsed a few times in a food processor?  Wonder who at Apple Market I can bribe to find out the answer?

So what I did was buy an 8oz ham steak, trimmed that weird stuff that is around the outside edge, and cube it. Then I put it in the food processor for 8-10 pulses, until it looked like what I thought would work best. 

2nd – The sweet relish always made sense to me, but you should not go overboard, nor should you make it to liquidy – drain that relish for the most part, just like you do with deviled eggs.

This ended up to be about 3 Tbs, but that is a subjective thing – more or less if you would like.

3rd – Mayonnaise, Duke’s specifically, needs to be just enough to hold it together, but not go overboard. This might be subjective but as my mom would say, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Guess that’s why I will add this last.

It was only 2 Tbs and that was almost too much, but in the end, it worked out well.

4th – Onion – yikes there are lots of options here, but I think I will start simply. Yellow onion grated on the large holes of a box grater.  Again, it’s the – how much – that’s the issue.

Tasting as I go along will be key. I took a small onion and instead of grating on a box grated, used the food processor to pulse it to very small pieces and kept the juice and used it too – about 3 Tbs total when it came down to it. I’d say 3/4 of a small yellow onion.

5th – Seasoning with black pepper should not be a problem. I love black pepper.

Now the question is do I just make it or do I have some Apple Market ham salad to compare. Is that wise? Perhaps or perhaps not.

Also, I must let this sit for at least a day or two. It tasted okay as I was going along, but I know I won’t really have a good idea for how it will work until it has sat in the fridge for at least, I’m thinking, two days.

It did make a difference. I had been worried I put too much mayonnaise , but after a days rest in the fridge, it worked well. Actually might have needed a bit more.

It is a rant … Dressing vs. Stuffing

It is that time of year … the time when people seem to be very confused by two terms. Stuffing & Dressing. Come, come people! This is not that frigging difficult.
Stuffing – seasoned bread (onion, celery, etc.), used to stuff a bird of some sort and then roasted.
Dressing – seasoned bread (onion, celery, etc.), esp. cornbread in the South, baked in a casseroles dish – read: not inside a bird.
Please do not use these terms interchangeably. They may have, mostly, the same ingredients, but the methodology makes them very different.

Hamburger Steak with mushrooms and onion gravy

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Hamburger Steak with mushroom and onion gravy

My mom (here it is again) used to make hamburger steaks for us when I was young and I really enjoyed them.  She would heat a cast iron skillet to just about blazing and put salt in the bottom, then add the ground beef patty.  The layer of salt seasoned and kept it from sticking. Kind of like cornmeal on a pizza crust.  But for a blog, this is just more brown food. Thank goodness the MotH has a way with a camera and for that I am ever grateful.

I think this came to mind when one of my favorite places (Shaggy’s) had it on the special board a few weeks ago. Didn’t order it, but thought about all the things I like about this really simple meal. I mean, mushrooms and onions are involved. What’s not to love? Got me. I looked up several recipes, but decided to put together a version that would work for me. A bit of meatloaf idea, but not quite really.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (one piece sandwich bread)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp McCormick Montreal Seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
8 ozs mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs flour
1 cup beef broth

Process bread in food processor until finely ground. Mix, by hand, ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, black pepper, Montreal seasoning, salt, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Form into 4 patties.
Heat olive oil in skillet in medium heat. Add patties to the pan, do not crowd. Sear on both sides 3-4 minutes each. Add sliced onions to the pan and cover pan cooking for 4 minutes more. Remove patties to plate and keep warm.
Add mushrooms and cook until the release juices and start to dry out a bit. Spread flour over pan, and cook for 3 minutes. Slowly add broth.
Once gravy thickens, return patties and turn heat down to low simmer. Cover and cook for 8 minutes. Uncover and let simmer 7 minutes more. Serve warm.

Squash Relish

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Squash Relish

So after the last batch of squash pickles (Oct 2014), I decided I needed to work on the texture of them. Following the Man of the House declaring he liked the flavor, but not the texture. The texture was, how shall I put this, um, squeeky when you chewed them. So they weren’t really like a pickle at all which caused me to look at the method of making them.

First, considering the squash: using smaller, less ripe squash would help. Smaller would also lead to less interior seed space which gets softer faster. Removing the seeds entirely would help too, especially in larger squash.

Second, taking a lead from cucumber pickles, weigh the squash/onions down while salting/draining them. And consider chilling them with ice while doing this as well.

Then …

I went back to the original recipe and read it again. It appears I had been doing this wrong the whole time – for 10 years! I had always sliced the squash in rounds like, well, pickles. But the recipe is squash relish, not squash pickles, and if you read it, which I apparently didn’t, the squash and onions are chopped, not sliced. Duh.

So I actually did the recipe as it was supposed to – finally. I still think I want to come up with a way to deal w/the pickle idea. I was half way there without really trying.

10 cups squash, chopped
4 cups onions, chopped
5 Tbs salt

4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix squash and onions with salt and let sit overnight

Drain, mix all ingredients together and boil for thirty minutes.
Put in jars and seal. Can be hot water canned or refrigerated.

  • 5 June 2004. First adventure in canning
  • 12 June 2004
  • 4 September 2004 using turmeric is important, give pickles a honey color
  • 22 June 2008 made w/squash from Patton/Jeanette. Vg crunchy sweet/spicy

This vinegar / spice blend is pretty amazing. I have done this recipe with all sorts of variations  – but keep the ratio the same. Squash to onions to vinegar to sugar.

 

Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

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Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

This recipe is so old and so altered, but it is from a tiny little tea room I worked at when I was young and dumb. I like because it does not have, in my opinion, too many eggs. I like a denser quiche. But the flavors of this are truly worth the work, not that there is much work involved really.

You can substitute frozen spinach that is thawed or frozen broccoli that is thawed – both have to be well drained.

This is great with a side salad and some homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. I happen to like a little ranch on the quiche as a counter point. I will be posting my version of buttermilk ranch soon. Making it at home is just beyond belief, but I’m not expecting really great photos — I mean, buttermilk, mayo and herbs. Sigh, more blah colors. Can’t wait for spring to truly kick in and get some colorful veggies on the plate.

Makes 2 quiches (is that the plural?)

2 5 ozs. bags of fresh spinach
16 ozs mushrooms, white or cremini, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 14 oz can evaporated milk
16 ozs mozzarella cheese, grated
crust for 2 nine inch pie pans*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté onion in a couple Tbs. of olive oil until soft. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Add Balsamic and let it reduce too. Top with washed and mostly dried spinach. Turn into pan to wilt down. And again let most liquid evaporate. It’s important to get this as dry as possible. Let cool in pan to room temperature.

In a large-ish bowl, mix together beaten eggs, evaporated milk and mozzarella. Add cooled spinach and mushroom mixture and combine well.

Blind bake pie crusts* I prefer glass pie plates with pie weights – for 12 or so minutes and return to oven without weights for about 3 more minutes. When the crusts are slightly cooler, divide the spinach mixture between them.

Bake quiche for 30 – 35 minutes or until lightly brown on top.

* rant forthcoming