Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Deep Fried Cod Fish Balls - Fiskerouletter

Deep Fried Cod Fish Balls

Some of my fondest food memories are from my childhood. The aroma and taste of salt cod fish my father or aunts would prepare is one of my best. The codfish balls or patties, the Fiskerouletter, were a part of their Danish heritage they learned while growing up in the wilds of pioneer-age Michigan. Sadly something so readily available during the 1940-50’s had become an elusive and perhaps an almost extinct food product. Luckily I found a purveyor of salted cod products in California,, and soon after I had myself a supply of salt cod fillets and salt cod pieces.
I am an avid reader and collector of old cookbooks and the oldest I own is from 1890 which had numerous recipes for salted cod. That is quite understandable since refrigeration was not readily available during that era. I also checked my favorite “go to” cookbook, America Cooks: The General Federation of Women’s Clubs Cookbook, my particular copy was published in 1967; the Federation was founded in 1890. This book has numerous recipes for salt cod and I selected one for codfish balls that was submitted by Doris Goodhope and another codfish balls recipe from my 1890 cookbook. With what I remembered watching Dad and Aunt Margie preparing them, I combined the best features of all and tweaked the recipes adding my own touch to come up with my version of Deep Fried Cod Fish Balls.   See complete recipe at:

What I Used:
  1. ½ lb. Salt Cod pieces (soaked for 24 hours in water and well drained)
  2. 4 medium size potatoes
  3. 2 tablespoons butter
  4. ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  5. ½ teaspoon powdered garlic
  6. ½ teaspoon paprika
  7. ½ teaspoon salt
  8. 2 eggs
  9. Bread crumbs
  10. Oil for frying
How I did It:

Peel and quarter the potatoes and add to a pot along with the salt cod, cover with water to cover and bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. There will be a lot of foam: be prepared to skim off a lot of foam and discard. Drain well and add to a bowl and mash until no large chunks are left. Put the bowl on the mixing stand (or use a hand mixer) and beat slowly until a smooth consistency, add the spices and the butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until well combined. Scoop out to form balls (I used a small scoop to form small cocktail-size balls or use a regular-size scoop for dinner size balls). Roll the mixture into a smooth balls and roll in the bread crumbs, then into the egg and then again in the bread crumbs. I found letting the coated balls set for about 5 minutes before frying gave me a better result. The balls that I put directly into the oil after rolling in the crumbs had a tendency to fall apart. Your oil should be around 365°-370°F. I used my Nu Wave induction cook top and easily maintained the temperature of the oil though out the entire process without burning. Remove the cod fish balls when nicely browned and put on paper towels to absorb any residual oil. Serve with your favorite tartar sauce or in this instance I used my homemade horseradish tartar sauce. They were delightful treats; creamy inside texture without a fishy taste surrounded by a crunchy exterior.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Black Bear Diner - Pocatello, Idaho

 Black Bear Diner
190 Bullock Street
Chubbuck, ID 83202

The first diner that would become Black Bear dates back about twenty years to California near scenic Mt Shasta. Bruce Dean (aka Sugar Bear) and Bob Manley (aka Papa Bear) began their enterprise with the intent of making good food at reasonable prices. They have apparently done quite well towards that aim. They now have about a dozen units in 6 Western states and are in the process of adding additional units in another two states.
This newly opened family style diner has a lot to offer from is spacious booths and scenic mountain décor to its friendly and very attentive staff.  Entering the restaurant you notice the chain saw-carved black bears. They are the name sake of the diner and represent the forested mountains at the foot of Mt. Shasta where the diner chain was born. The bear carvings are done by Ray Schultz and the bears at each location are posed differently to reflect the uniqueness of the local surroundings. What is your take on the Chubbuck bears?
The menu covers are replicas of a newspaper from 1969, the decade of the founding of Black Bear Diner, featuring the major headline from way back then. The big news of the day was that “The Eagle Has Landed.” Also featured are news item from Chubbuck, “The Chubbuck Days Parade.”  It also gives you something else to read, notably 1969 trivia.  Open it up and you have the menu; it is divided into the three major meal periods, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each one offers the guest regular size portions but also a lighter selection as well.
For breakfast there are classic egg combos, pancakes, omelets and a breakfast burrito. On a diet? There are four other selections using egg whites.  Fresh squeezed orange juice is offered all day, 16oz for $4.49 and 10oz for $3.49.  Lunch offers burgers with fries served on a platter or you can opt for the more classic approach and have your burger and fries served up in a basket.   You are offered Chicken strips, fish tacos, nine different sandwich combos from Turkey clubs to a hot Turkey sandwich and even a Cubano, a fire roasted pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese sandwich served up on a soft Tribeca roll.
There are a nice selection of salads featuring a Bacon Cheeseburger salad, an Asian Chicken Cabbage salad and four others to choose from.  Dinner offers “home style” dinners featuring homemade meatloaf, slow cooked pot roast or Dijon crusted salmon along with several steaks and ribs combos.  You can get a Dinner Deal of Chicken and Waffles, a hot Turkey plate or herb crusted Trout. You can add soup or salad for $3.99 and a nice selection of “Extras” including but not limited to onion rings, baked potato and Italian Green Beans or a seasoned vegetable.
Black Bear features Java City coffee, assorted juices, Pepsi products and the usual selection of milk, teas etc.  For dessert they offer you a nice selection of cobblers, cakes and pies along with ice cream shakes and treats.
I had the Old Fashioned Burger for $7.99 (A 1/4 lb. Burger and French fries, served in a basket – just like the good ol’ days!) and my friend had the California Burger with Avocado and Jack cheese for $10.49 (All 1/3 lb. Specialty Bear Burgers are built with a golden brioche bun, shredded lettuce, tomato, diced red onion, dill pickle chips, mayonnaise & Thousand Island dressing.) Each order came with a generous serving of golden French fries. (Bob’s Big Bear Burger and all specialty burgers are served with your choice of side: French fries, house-made potato salad, fresh coleslaw, green salad OR cup of soup. Substitute a Gardenburger upon request.) The burgers were good size with a nice char on the meat, the toppings were fresh and they did not skimp on portion size. You get unlimited drink refills for coffee, teas, soda products but not the fresh squeezed Orange Juice.
Condiments on the table include a selection of the signature hot sauces. Crazy Cuz is a Sriracha Chili Sauce, Baby Burin (perhaps a shortened reference to bruin) is their original Pepper sauce, Mama Burn is a Chipotle Chili Sauce, and Papa Burn is a Habañero Sauce. If you fancy any of the sauces there are available for sale as well as other souvenir merchandise.
During peak lunch or dinner times the noise level can become quite high but not to the point that you need to yell across the table. Please note they will sing and clap to you if it’s your Birthday so if that’s your forte by all means let them know.  Also of note is they do not rush you as other eateries do, we lingered long after our meal was done and at no time did the servers act as if they wanted us to leave, on the other hand they kept refilling our glasses.  I was favorably impressed with the offerings from Black Bear Diner and will be visiting again in the future; it is a nice place to eat and a good addition to our area.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Shrimp Salad or Yummy Salad

I found this 1950’s-era, hand-written recipe for Shrimp Salad in my mother’s recipe box. At first glance I thought a joke of some kind since it included shrimp with chicken soup. I asked my brother if he remembered anything like this and he said, “No.” My curiosity was aroused and after thinking about for a time I did some on-line research. I managed to find a similar recipe that called the salad “Yummy.” I surmised that it was a legitimate recipe and after some consideration I decided to give it a try. I have listed my mother’s version as well as the internet version for comparison.
Mother's Version:
1 can condensed chicken noodle soup
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1  3-ounce package lemon gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup each chipped green pepper, chopped green onion and chopped pimento
1 4-ounce can shrimp, drained

Internet Version from
1 can condensed chicken noodle soup
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1  3-ounce package lemon gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup combined chopped celery, green inion and pimento stuffed green olives
1/2 cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
1 4-ounce can shrimp, drained
DIRECTIONS: (Yummy specific directions in bold-underline) Heat soup (undiluted) and cream cheese over heat until combined. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water combine mayonnaise in gelatin, stir into soup mixture and cool .Add chopped vegetables and drained shrimp into cooled mixture and pour into 8x8 or 4x4 pan, chill until set.

When warm I could taste the creaminess of the cream cheese blended with the soup and shrimp, it was a harmonious mixture and pleasant to the palette. Once chilled I tried it and was not as impressed, although the mixture is still creamy I don’t care for the texture of chopped celery, onions, peppers adding that crunch and distinctive taste to the bite. Although I did chop them to a small dice perhaps a smaller almost invisible texture would suite my taste better. With an odd noodle here and there you cannot discernibly

find the chicken noodle soup both in appearance and in taste. Upon first bite you find a slight undertone of sweetness from the lemon Jello but it is quickly offset by the crunch and taste of the vegetables and then you come across the shrimp.

These shrimp are the canned salad variety, which are very small and minimal in taste but chewy in texture, taking a random fork full of salad one would not casually spot the shrimp mixed with the chopped vegetables.

When noshing the salad you come across a rather dense mixture of “stuff” which is set apart from the crunchy, creamy salad you think you are eating. The on-line version called for the addition of chopped green olives which in reflection might have been far superior save just the addition of pimentos. The saltiness of the olives would have lightened the sweetness of the gelatin but also add the tang which this salad desperately needs.

Would I try it again with these changes in mind? I really don’t know. First, it is not a cheap salad to make. Secondly, it makes a large pan full, and since it is so rich only a small portion need be taken. So you need either to have a large dinner party or a great liking for this salad to get your money’s worth. I did use a 4-ounce can of shrimp from the pantry to make the salad, extended cost of about $14.75 a pound. If you shop your supermarket seafood section, you usually can find 40-50 shrimp for about $7.00 a pound and the extended price for a 4-ounce purchase would be about $1.75. Planning ahead to make this salad would pay dividends. I think the flavor would be enhanced using fresh shrimp rather than the canned shrimp.

I asked two of my adult children to taste the salad. I didn’t tell them what the ingredients were to help keep an open mind. Here are their first impressions and initial critiques: Frist taster: It tastes good, slightly sweet but I like it, it sort of has a fish taste but can’t make out what type of fish. I would like this on crackers rather than as a salad, but I would eat it again if offered. Second taster: It is really good, perhaps do something about the sweet but otherwise the overall taste is really good. You could use it in a pinwheel roll up or stuffed in celery would also be a nice way to use this salad.

Late Note: In talking long-distance with brother, we have come to the conclusion that we did, in fact, as children, taste this concoction. We are now sure that the green mold salad mother made for festive occasions in a small fish-shaped mold was one-in-the-same as this recipe. For the most part we have no specific recollection save this: Brother asked if the salad had “celery crunch.” He does remember a greenish gelatin dessert or salad that had a pronounced celery crunch that he did not care for. Green gelatin dessert that crunches with celery? This had to be that same salad from sixty plus years ago.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Hot & Spicy Bread and Butter Style Picked Eggs

Hot and Spicy
Bread and Butter-Style
Pickled Eggs 

I like to experiment; try and create a taste I think would be pleasing.     
This is a variation on my other pickled eggs recipes for a change of pace.

1 to 3  tablespoons of sugar (Depending on taste)*
¼ to 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds*
½ to 1 teaspoon black peppercorns*
½ cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1 small onion, sliced
8 baby carrots sliced lengthwise then sliced again
1 to3 small jalapenos (or 1 Large) seeded*
6 eggs hard boiled and shell removed
Add sugar, water and vinegar to a stainless or glass pot. Add all vegetables and spices; heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved.
Place eggs into a 1-quart mason jar, add vegetables filling the jar to the very brim. Add the liquid; cap and place in refrigerator for several days for flavor to develop.
To serve: Individually: slice egg in half and place in small dish with accompanying pickled vegetables;
OR place sliced eggs in a small platter, spoon vegetables around sliced eggs, I like to garnish with paprika sprinkled lightly over the eggs and a garnish of fresh parsley, you can also place the eggs and vegetables on top of a fresh bed of spinach.
I like my eggs slightly on the more vinegary and spicy side so I use less sugar and spices, however if you care for the bread and butter pickle taste do use the larger amounts of ingredients as listed.