Friday, July 31, 2009

Grandma's Cucumbers in Sour Cream

Several circumstances aligned to cause me to post today:
1. It's my Mom's 70th birthday today! Happy birthday, Mom!
2. My Grandma's Memorial Service is a week from tomorrow. I was searching through my recipe box for a recipe of hers that I could make for the gathering afterward, and came across her hand-written recipe for Cucumbers in Sour Cream.
3. Some of my friends have reported having a bumper crop of cucumbers this year.
4. My blogging buddy, Shelby, is hosting a blogging event I like called Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun.

I was so happy to find the recipe written in her own handwriting. What a treasure it is. I almost never write recipes on recipe cards any more.

The recipe calls for salting cucumbers and draining them, which makes them denser and more crunchy. The creamy dressing gets its tang from sour cream and vinegar, sweetness from a little sugar, and is accented with some dill. It's old-fashioned but I love it.

Although the recipe is a treasure to me, her "chicken scratch," as she called it, would be illegible to anyone outside the family. She wrote recipes in kind of a shorthand and didn't use a lot of measurements. Here's my translated recipe.

Betty Host's Cucumbers in Sour Cream

4 medium cucumbers, sliced thin (Grandma peeled them but it's up to you)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Vinegar (Grandma used white)
1 Tablespoon sugar (or a little more -- I like a little more)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed (Grandma used McCormick's "It's a Dilly," which is discontinued. You could also use fresh dill - about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
Dash of pepper
Sliced red onion, optional

Put sliced cucumbers in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and sugar and toss. Add vinegar to cover. Let stand 30 minutes -- no longer. Drain well.
Mix the sour cream and seasonings.
Toss the cucumbers and onions, if using, with the sour cream mixture. Chill well.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rochester Native to be on Top Chef

Regular readers of Rah Cha Chow know that I'm a huge fan of Bravo TV's show Top Chef. During a bout of insomnia I surfed the Web and read up on the chefs competing in the upcoming season (it starts on August 26, not that anyone has it marked on her calendar). What do you know, one of the contestants is a native of Rahchacha! Wahoo!

Her name is Laurine Wickett and as far as I can tell, she graduated from Wayne Central High School in 1989. Her culinary education is from A.O.S Culinary Arts and the C.I.A. She currently lives in San Francisco and is chef/owner of Left Coast Catering. Laurine's Top Chef bio can be found here.

I'm a little concerned about her background, because catering chefs don't seem to fare as well in the competition as restaurant chefs. On the other hand, she's got a bit of a badass sneer on her face -- she reminds me a little of Sandra Bernhard -- so maybe she'll do OK. Either way, I'll be cheering for our native gal.

My insomniac Web browsing turned up a bit of bad news as well: Toby Young, the inane British judge who replaced Gail Simmons during her wedding, is back for another season. He was widely panned last season so I can't imagine why the powers that be at Bravo made that decision.

The show will take place in Las Vegas -- not a city that excites me at all. The memory of walking in a wind that felt like an enormous blow dryer shooting sand in my face isn't a pleasant one. But every time I've been to Las Vegas, it's been a business trip for a ginormous trade show, so maybe I haven't given the city a fare shake.

Anyhoo, I'm looking forward to another season of Top Chef. In the meantime, I thank the folks at Bravo for giving us Top Chef Masters to tide us over between seasons. I won't waste precious summertime writing recaps of that show, but for what it's worth, my money is on Rick Bayless.
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