Sunday, May 31, 2020

Monotony Breakers, Baked Goods and Buffets-Food Service in the 80s

I was the first dietitian for university dining services, charged with one primary task: planning monotony breakers for residential dining. Together with the food service managers from the four dormitories, we brain stormed themes for the year. Some monotony breakers were seasonal-some were meant to impress the parents.

The four resident halls ranged in size from 200-1000 students. I tested the recipes in large and small settings. Each hall presented the food differently. The staff dressed for the occasion and enjoyed the time.

The pepperoni rolls, a West Virginia favorite, went over big in the tailgate meals. The fresh oranges flung onto Mountaineer Field when the Syracuse Orangemen arrived were a bad idea.

Popular recipes like the chicken enchiladas were placed on the cycle menu. These were made onsite from scratch. My favorite item-Challah bread-was enjoyed on Rosh Hashanah Eve.

I was recruited to return to the hospital as a senior dietitian. My first task was to revive the bake shop offerings.
There was a movement then to forego bakers' labor and buy processed baked goods from purveyors. I never thought that was a good idea! Our bakers made breads, Challah, 3-flour braided bread, Reuben loaf (for which we won an award), apple strudel, pineapple nut coffee cake and pumpkin roll. We enlarged our repertoire of gourmet cookies (chocolate cordial cups was one of my recipes). 

St. Lucia's Wreath, a holiday bread, came complete with candles and ribbon.  Our bakers received training for cake decorating. 

Patients received decorated items to coincide with special events.

Catering for daily meetings and special events became routine. There was plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Many hors d'oeuvres were homemade. I learned much from the catering managers, production staff and director.

While the department no longer had a meat cutter, the cooks still roasted meats. There were few processed foods and no pre-washed or pre-cut produce. We still bought milk from the university dairy.

I was pleased to find the 3-flour braided bread recipe in the hospital quantity recipe books from the early days. I was even more pleased to find the home-size version in my own recipe collection. This bread is made with half whole grain flours and is moist and soft. The recipe starts with one base dough, divides it in thirds, then adds the other 2 flours (so you can use the same mixing bowl). The only draw-back is it requires quite a few bowls for rising!

Three Flour Braided Bread

(1 loaf-16 servings)

Mix flour, sugar, salt and yeast in bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place.
1 cup 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 tespoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast

Melt butter into warm water.  Gradually add to mixing bowl, beating at medium speed 2 minutes.
1 cup 2 tablespoon water, heated to 125 F
2 tablespoon butter

Add 1/2 cup flour. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of dough.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Divide dough in thirds, placing 2 of the 3 batters in separate bowls.

Whole Wheat Dough
To the dough in the mixing bowl, add molasses and whole wheat flour. Knead at low speed for 5 minutes. Place whole wheat dough in another bowl greased with olive oil spray. Cover bowl.
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 cup 2 tablespoon whole wheat flour

Rye Dough
Place another piece of the original dough in the mixer. Add molasses, caraway, cocoa and whole rye flour. Knead at low speed for 5 minutes. Place rye dough in another bowl greased with olive oil spray. Cover bowl.
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup 2 tablespoon whole rye flour

White Dough
Place the remaining piece of the original dough in the mixer. Add all purpose flour. Knead at low speed for 5 minutes. Place white dough in a separate bowl greased with olive oil spray. Cover bowl.
1/2 cup 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
Allow all dough pieces to rise until double, about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a rope, about 14 inches. Braid 3 ropes together, forming one loaf. Pinch ends together and fold under. Place braided bread dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise until double, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Reliving Hospital Food of the 70s

I was the one who made the whipped potatoes every afternoon. First I steamed the potatoes-yes real potatoes-scrubbed, peeled and halved by early shift employees. Then I mashed them in a mixer taller than I-with gears and clutch to boot! I carefully separated out four batches for specific diets-low salt-fat free, fat free, low salt and regular. To those I added milk, margarine or salt according to the prescription. I did not have a recipe but was given demonstration and guidance from the head cook-Virginia Stoneking-who I adored.

"Stoney" helped me fix things when my whipped potatoes were too runny or too thick and seemed to like me in spite of that!

What foods do I remember from the hot line? I remember meatloaf, roast beef, turkey, chicken a la king, whipped and boiled potatoes with parsley and lots of vegetables. The kitchen had a meat cutting area where whole carcasses of beef were delivered via overhead pulley and cut and prepared by skilled meat cutters. We had one walk-in cooler designated the "bone" room where bones were stored prior to preparing broths and soups. The beef gravy for the potatoes was supreme!

From the cold line-I remember the custard and jello. There were layered salads of jello, some with cream cheese.  The baked custard was made on site with a sprinkling of nutmeg on top and always held it's shape when cut. The milk was made on campus by the university dairy. I couldn't forget the zero dressing, made with low sodium tomato juice and lots of vegetables, then blended and portioned. The smell of the peppers lingered throughout the cold line refrigerators.

I loved the little individual carafes each patient received, filled with either coffee or hot water for tea. The carafes were special, though the coffee smelled strong and after sitting in the large urn I'm suspecting it was just that!

Throughout my adult career, I worked at the hospital in four jobs, five different decades, with intervals between graduation and moves to four cities. My 37 year career with WVU Medicine started and ended in the same kitchen. That was the reason I was the designated keeper of the early recipes from the 70s and 80s. Tonight's dinner was made following those original recipes.

Salmon Loaf

(Serves 7)

Saute celery in butter until soft. Add paprika.
2.4 ounce celery, diced
1/2 ounce butter
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pour celery puree over bread cubes.
4.8 ounce bread cubes

Beat eggs. Add milk.
2 eggs
2.4 tablespoon scalded milk
Pour over bread cube mixture.

Drain salmon. Remove skin and bones. Mince with fingers. 
1-14 ounce can salmon

Add salmon to celery-bread and egg mixture. Combine well. Form into a 3 inch loaf.
Place on greased baking tray. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

Note that in the 4 recipe books from the old University Hospital, there is no recipe for whipped potatoes!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Cherry Turtle Bean Brownies

When I first saw a recipe for bean brownies I remember thinking that was a heck of a lot of work to cook and puree beans in baked foods. Yes-it would have been much easier to use canned beans. Yet my cabinets are full of dry beans and grains-and these black beans are locally grown. My friend Julie Mallow of the Vegetable Garden & Davis Brothers in Masontown, West Virginia grows and harvests these tiny black beans. Black beans are full of fiber and minerals and help to keep one full, so what can be better than adding these to brownies? 

This recipe is based on one from Kat Detter.  The sweet cherries were on sale at the grocery store this week-and what goes better with chocolate than cherries?  

Cherry Turtle Bean Brownies

(8 or 12 Servings)

Cook beans in a counter top pressure cooker for 30 minutes.  Allow to naturally release.  Drain beans.
1/2 cup dry beans
2 cups water

Add beans to a food processor.  Add oats, applesauce, dates, eggs, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt and chocolate. Puree until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
10 pitted dates
2 eggs
1/4 cup 100% cacao cocoa (not the Dutch processed kind)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup 48% cacao chocolate, ground
Spread mixture into bottom of a 7-inch springtime pan, greased with olive oil spray. Cover bottom of pan with aluminum foil.

Spread chopped cherries over top of batter.
1/2 cup pitted fresh cherries, chopped fine

Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.  

1 wedge, cut in 8 servings has approximately 150 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of added sugar.  I enjoyed my first piece for breakfast with a glass of milk!



Sunday, May 17, 2020

Leftover Soups Make a Perfect Picnic Meal

Savor homemade soups any season of the year. The leftovers are perfect for a quick picnic meal. This soup made yesterday develops full flavors overnight as it blends and mellows in the refrigerator.
Follow these steps to transport a soup meant to be served hot:

  • Heat water to boiling on stove top or microwave. Fill the thermos with water and close lid.
  • Heat the leftover soup on stove top. This one is not a cream based soup, so I heated it to boiling. (Cream based soups can curdle when too hot.)
  • Empty the thermos of boiling water.
  • Fill with hot soup.
This soup will remain hot for about 2 hours. 

Field Pea & Squash Soup

(Serves 5)

Turn on programmable pressure cooker and set to brown or saute. Add oil and allow to heat 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic and heat for 3 minutes. 
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minces
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stir in seasonings.
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon fresh, grated ginger

Add water, pulses, squash, apples and cinnamon stick.
6 cups water
1 cup dried pulses (mine has yellow split peas, red field peas and green lentils)
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 cup apples, peeled and cubed
1 cinnamon stick
Tighten lid of pot and close the pressure valve. Cook at medium pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally, about 15 minutes. Switch pressure valve to open. When the steam is completely released, remove the lid.

Stir in tomatoes, juice and soy sauce.
3/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Blend ingredients in high speed blender until smooth, taking care to cover lid with a dry cloth to prevent burning.

This soup is full of protein from the pulses and complemented with even more vitamins in the vegetables and fruit.

To round out the meal, serve with a good bread.  This bread is made with my sourdough starter discard.

Sourdough Whole Wheat & Paprika Buns

(Serves 8)

 In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, add 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar and sourdough starter.  Slowly add warm water to bowl.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 ounces water, heated to 125 F

Add egg, oil, salt and 1/2 cup flour to bowl. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1 egg
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Turn speed to low and add remaining flour over the next 5-7 minutes. Scrape bowl down and knead until dough ball leaves the side of the bowl.
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Place dough into a covered dish greased with olive oil spray. Allow to rise until double, about 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle, about 10 X 7 inches long. Brush with melted butter mixed with paprika. 
1 tablespoon melted buttery spread
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Beginning at long end, roll dough into a log. Cut into 8 pieces. Arrange buns into a 8 or 9 inch cake pan, greased with olive oil spray. Brush top of dough with remaining paprika seasoned butter. Allow to rise about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

While this pre-Memorial Day picnic turned into a hot 80 degree day, the picnic under the trees kept us cool enough to enjoy the meal and surroundings.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Gingerly with Sugar-Generous with Goodness

The hummingbirds are back and my household sugar usage increases six fold. Unlike the hummingbirds, I don't need added sugar. My homemade muesli I ate for breakfast has some (in the form of honey). That glass of wine I may enjoy on a weekend has some added sugar. The bread I make requires sugar to feed the yeast. So the sweet desserts I make are infrequent and small.

In the Healthy Cafe I once managed, all of our desserts had less than 12 grams of added sugar. That goal corresponded to the American Heart Association guidelines that recommend no more than 25 grams daily of added sugar for women and children and no more than 36 grams for men.

One teaspoon of sugar (white, brown or powdered) has 4 grams of sugar. The same goes for any form of sugar such as in syrups (honey, agave nectar or molasses). In dessert recipes, the grams of added sugar in one portion can exceed the daily recommended amount.

So where do I begin? First I scale down the recipe to make fewer portions in a smaller pan. We're two senior citizens who can't eat a whole cake. I make one layer cakes instead of two and allow for smaller portions. Then I reduce the sugar amount listed in the recipe. In many recipes (depending on the source) sugar can be reduced by one third. 

Vanilla, cinnamon and dried fruit adds sweetness to recipes. This recipe has all of those and is a good source of fiber which allows the sugar to be absorbed much slower.

Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Icing

(Serves 5)

Beat sugar and egg in bowl of electric mixer.
3 tablespoon sugar
1 egg

In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce, oil, vanilla and raisins. 
3 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
4 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup raisins, chopped

In another bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoon whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Add carrots and walnuts to dry flour mix.
3 1/3 cup carrots, grated by hand
1/3 cup walnuts, ground

To mixing bowl, alternately add flour mix to oil mix, beginning and ending with flour mix. Stir only until combined.

Scrape batter into a 7 inch pan greased with olive oil spray. Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake 20-25 minutes more, until pick inserted into center comes our clean. May need to cover the last 5 minutes of baking.

Allow to cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  

Whip together mascarpone with powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and salt.
Frost top of cake.  Sprinkle with grated ginger.  Mascarpone cheese requires refrigeration. I refrigerated the frosting and iced each portion of cake when eating.
5 ounce mascarpone
2 tablespoon confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon evaporated skim milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Dash salt
2 teaspoon ginger, grated

1 serving of cake has 12 grams of added sugar and 4 grams of fiber. Sugar adds tenderness to a cake. Recommended baking ratios allow 1/2 cup sugar per 1 cup flour. That ratio is met in this recipe.

As a bonus, here is a recipe for hummingbird food: 

Hummingbird Food

(Fills 2 feeders)

In a large saucepan, stir sugar into water.
1 quart water
1 cup sugar
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.

it is not necessary to add red food coloring- just place food in a red feeder.  
Empty any old food, rinse and fill feeders. Refrigerate any leftovers. 
Replace mixture once a week.


Friday, May 1, 2020

In Defense of Pride in Work and Innovation

While my heart goes out to community members unable to work during the health crisis, my mood is lifted when I learn of citizens who use their creativity to make products to combat the void.

During the last 5 weeks during the school shut down, my spouse and I packed and delivered school child meal kits. (We are retired and our income is steady)  I witnessed the worry in the young dad and mom faces in the meal kit pick up lines.

In my working career as a food service manager for a major hospital, I hired many people.  The length of service for the 25 staff members in our kitchen exceeded 500 (combined) years. Some staff transferred to other departments in the hospital where they too could achieve.

Taking pride in work creates happiness, contentment, gratitude and a passion for life.

Packing the "meal kits" for school meal delivery, it's apparent that most of the food is processed convenience foods. Pop Tarts, Hot Pockets, "Crustable" Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches  and Corn "Dogs" (sausage filled pancakes) are weekly features. Nothing is homemade.  What a shame, the school cooks missed their chance to shine.

Innovation in meal service allows cooks to use their creativity to make better products. Doing it better is important in the bigger picture. The food is healthier, the presentation improves and the reputation increases. Staff is more engaged in the workplace. 

Here's the catch: it has to be their idea! Back to work in the fall is a good time to make improvements everyday.

Here's my contribution for a meal that could be prepared and frozen individually in packaged containers for a backpack meal or health crisis such as this. The meal could be adjusted to fill 3 components of the child nutrition meal plan.

Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Sauce

(4 enchiladas)

Enchilada Sauce
Heat tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin and oregano in saucepan.
1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup tomato sauce, no added salt

Whisk flour into stock.  Add to tomato sauce and heat, stirring, until thick.
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock 
1 tablespoon flour

Beef-Vegetable Filling
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed

Brown and crumble beef in onion-garlic mix.
6 ounce lean ground beef

Stir in spinach leaves and wilt.  Add corn.
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, stemmed removed
1/2 cup corn

Enchilada Assembly
Grease 8 X 5 inch baking dish with an olive oil spray.
Place 1/2 cup sauce in bottom. 
Fill tortillas with beef-vegetable mix.
4 corn tortillas
Lay enchiladas on sauce.
Top with remaining sauce. 
Sprinkle with cheese.
2 ounce reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Bake at 375 F. for 15-20 minutes.