Letters from readers show the appetite for old familiar foods

HAPPY EATER

April 24, 1994|By ROB KASPER

Sometimes when you hear about olive oil selling at $20 a bottle, or fish that was flown in from the other side of the earth to be the centerpiece of a special dinner, you get the impression that no one is eating plain old simple foods.

Not true. Or to quote a favorite negative expression of Baltimore youth: "Nuh-huh."

A look at the mail, for instance, yields a couple of strong opinions on the correct style of cooking shad.

Another correspondent offers advice on how to cook those PTC dishes of the '90s, creamed chipped beef and pickled beets.

* KETCHUP AND TIME-SOFTENED SHAD

From: Mary Ross, White Hall

Re: Column on dealing with shad bones

Dear Happy Eater,

From one shad lover to another, here is the very best way to prepare shad. The only drawback is time, it takes 5-6 hours in a slow oven.

Slow shad

1 shad, scaled, gutted, head and tail off

1 onion, sliced

1/2 -1 cup ketchup

salt and pepper to taste

Place shad in roasting pan with lid. Put onion slices in fish cavity, pour ketchup on top of shad, add enough water to cover bottom of pan.

Bake in covered pan in 275-300 degree oven for 5-6 hours, basting every 45 minutes with ketchup and water. Add water as needed. For last 2 hours, baste with pan drippings.

All small bones melt, larger bones chew like sardine bones. Only the backbone presents a problem.

* OVER-THE-BAY-BRIDGE SHAD

From: Kaye Blundell, Chestertown

Dear Happy Eater,

Good Friday was always shad day in our family when we were growing up. I hated it.

We moved to the Eastern Shore when we retired 14 years ago, and met a young man who worked on the water. One day he brought us a shad. When I told him I didn't know how to cook it, his mother sent me her recipe.

My husband hates bones. He'll find the one bone in a filleted flounder. But he eats my shad, when we are lucky enough to get one.

Eastern Shore shad

2 quarts stewed tomatoes

1 onion, sliced

2 potatoes, cut up

1-2 stalks celery, sliced

1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Stuff cavity of scaled, gutted shad with some of the mixture and tie closed. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-6 hours in covered roasting pan, occasionally spooning remaining mixture over fish.

EATER RESPONDS: While the stuffings differ, there is agreement on the idea of cooking the fish forever -- that is, until the bones dissolve.

* SECRET TO CHIPPED BEEF: BUTTER

From: Carol Chesney Meyers, Towson

Re: Column on chipped beef for breakfast

Dear Happy Eater,

Creamed chipped beef has always been a favorite of mine, and my children and grandchildren love it.

Most recipes say the way to make it is to make a white sauce then add it to the beef. No way! My mom had the secret to making creamed chipped beef: Melt the butter first, preferably in an iron skillet, break the beef into the melted butter and let the beef "frazzle" -- is that a real word? -- until it cooks around the edges. Then add flour to make a roux, then the milk and cook, stirring until it thickens. Ummm!

Also the best way to make pickled beets is to cover the drained beets with sweet pickle juice right out of the jar. You can add some hard cooked eggs, too, if you want pickled eggs. Always save the sweet pickle juice, use it to thin mayonnaise for potato salad, deviled eggs, etc. It has a nicer flavor than vinegar.

EATER RESPONDS: Not only is frazzle a word that is the rough equivalent of "fray," it is also a state of mind. Walk into any house 30 minutes before supper, and chances are excellent that the cook is "frazzled."

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