What to Eat; Salmon & Violence; Fast-Food Fix; Home Ec Now; Banana Beer; Cocktails; Vietnamese Food

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Laura Avery speaks with Jim Russell, a macadamia nut farmer from Fallbrook, California, who provides the following recipe for Aggression Cookies.

Aggression Cookies
Makes about 8 dozen
Russell suggests that you 'hold on to your hat and fasten your seat belt' as these are 'without a doubt one of the best cookies that we have ever tasted.' He urges bakers to take out their agressive feelings by mashing, kneading, squeezing and beating up on the dough. If you are not feeling aggressive, or if you just want to be a party pooper, you can use a mixer, but he won't guarantee the results!

  • 3 cups shortening (1/2 butter, 1/2 margarine)
  • 3 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 6 cups oatmeal, raw
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 cups chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, white, milk, or semi-sweet
In a large bowl mix, with your hands, shortening, sugar, oatmeal, flour, and baking soda. Add macadamia nuts and the chips (we like white chocolate ones best), and mix in until well blended. Drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350-- 10-12 minutes.

Laura also finds Amelia Saltsman nibbling on cherries. She shares this great recipe. Amelia suggest using several kinds of cherries for flavor, color and texture contrast; a slightly bitter frisee or escarole and wedge of cheese nicely sets off summer's first stone fruit.

Cherry Almond Salad
Makes 4 servings

  • 1/2 head escarole or 2 heads fris&eacut;e
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 1/2 pound) mixed cherries, such as Bing, Rainier, Garnets, and sour Montmorency cherries if you can find them, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1 Eureka lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed or almond oil
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ozs blue cheese or aged goat cheese, such as Redwood Hill Crottin or Boucheret
If using escarole, cut the leaves crosswise into thin ribbons. You'll have 3 to 4 cups. If using fris--e, use the tender, light-colored hearts and tear them into bite-size pieces. Toss together the cherries, almonds, and escarole or fris--e in a salad bowl. Use a zester to peel the yellow skin of the lemon directly onto the salad. Add the oil, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad among 4 plates. Cut cheese into 4 wedges or slices and place a slice on each salad.
-- 2006, Amelia Saltsman

Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat, discusses confusion in supermarkets and what is safe to eat in the 21st century.

Professor Stephen Mihm, who teaches history at the University of Georgia, recently wrote an article in the New York Times Magazine about several studies focusing on the connection between violence and food. In it, he speaks about the research regarding diets rich in vitamins and fatty acids--specifically Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood--and the connection to a reduction in violence among those tested. Here are summaries of the three studies he cites:

  1. Bernard Gesch of Oxford set out to prove that "better nutrition does decrease violence." Over two hundred prisoners signed up for his study. Half received a placebo and the other half received fatty acids and vitamin supplements. Over time, "antisocial behavior" in the inmates taking the supplements dropped by 37 percent.
  2. In 2001 Dr. Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health published the study, "Seafood Consumption and Homicide Mortality." He found a link between Omega-3 fatty acids and lower murder rates.
  3. Researchers in Finland studied the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in violent criminals; hey had lower than normal levels.

Devin Alexander has combined her love of fast food with her knowledge of healthful food to produce Fast Food Fix, which offers home healthy versions of fast-food favorites. She shares her recipes for "Big Macs" and "Cinnabons." She calls it obvious that the key to re-creating the Big Mac is perfecting the sauce. While some say it's simply Thousand Island, she maintains that the clever folks at McDonald's deserve much more credit for this "masterpiece."

Alexander went to great lengths to ensure a supply of sauce that she could taste on its own, traveling to the golden arches and requesting "extra on the side." The woman who attended her produced a "sundae cup half-filled with the neon, salmon-colored sauce. After several sniffs--which yielded a "chemicalesque aroma"-- and tastings, Alexander discovered that the secret ingredient is simple yellow mustard. That and a pinch of sugar to a Thousand Island-style sauce, and you'll be surprised how closely it resembles the real deal.

  • 3 ozs 96% lean ground beef (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 sesame seed hamburger bun + 1 bun bottom
  • 1 slice (1/2 oz) 2%-milk yellow American cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 tsp + 1 Tablespoon McDonald's Big Mac Sauce (see below)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped white onion
  • 1/3 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 rounds dill pickle
  1. Divide the beef in half. On a sheet of waxed paper, shape each half into a 4" patty. Season both sides with salt. Transfer the waxed paper to a plate. Place, uncovered, in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until drops of water sizzle when splashed on the pan. Place the patties in the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until no longer pink. Meanwhile, place the bun top and bottoms, cut-sides down, in the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, or until toasted. (If the pan is not large enough to hold the patties and the buns, first cook 1 patty with the bottom bun and then start assembling the sandwich while the others cook.) Just before the patties are cooked, place the cheese on 1 patty.
  3. Place 1 bun bottom on a plate. Spread on 1 tablespoon sauce. Place the cheeseburger, cheese-side down, on the bun. Spread 1 teaspoon sauce on the second bun bottom and place, sauce-side down, on the cheeseburger. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon sauce, the onion, lettuce, pickles, the remaining burger, and the bun top.
McDonald's Big Mac Sauce
  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tsps dill pickle relish
  • 2 tsps ketchup
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 2 tsps yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 tsp finely chopped white onion
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, sugar, and mustard. Stir to blend well. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Stir in the onion just before serving.

Drive-Thru: It's easy to throw together a Big Mac-like burger in minutes once you have the sauce made. So to save time, make a big batch of the sauce, omitting the onions (they are the only ingredient that will spoil quickly). Refrigerate the sauce in a plastic container for up to 1 month. When you're ready to enjoy a burger, simply add the correct quantity of onion to the amount of sauce you're using.

Even Better: Save time and calories by omitting the second bun bottom and simply making 1 patty instead of 2 with the 3 ozs of beef. This way, you'll need only 1 1/2 tablespoons of sauce. You'll be left with a more nutritionally balanced burger. Plus, you'll still have room for some fries or a side salad, all the while still enjoying that great Big Mac flavor . . . in minutes.

Cinnabon: Classic cinnamon Roll
Alexander says that this is probably the most time-consuming recipe in her book, but that after the first bite, every person who's made it swears that they'd make it again--especially knowing the 'Drive-Thru' option. Her version of the Cinnabon has also become her proof that these recipes can be duplicated to satisfy cravings with a fraction of the fat and calories of their original counterparts.
Makes 8

  • Butter-flavored cooking spray
  • 2 Tablespoons light butter from a stick, divided
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup artificially sweetened fat-free vanilla yogurt
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 4 cups unbleached flour, divided + additional for work surface
  • 1 tsp + 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Cinnabon Frosting (see below)
  1. Lightly mist a large bowl with cooking spray. Set aside 1 tablespoon butter to soften.
  2. In a large microwavable measuring cup or a medium microwavable bowl, combine the milk, granulated sugar, and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Microwave on high power for 2 minutes, or until the milk is hot (130--). Add the yogurt. Whisk until the sugar dissolves (some small lumps of yogurt may be visible). Add the egg and egg white. Whisk to beat well. Add the yeast. Whisk until dissolved.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook(s) or in a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the salt. Mix or stir by hand with a wooden spoon to blend. Add the milk mixture. Mix on medium power or stir vigorously to blend. The mixture will be very sticky. Add the remaining 2 cups flour, mixing or stirring until absorbed.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface. (A plastic dough scraper or brittle plastic spatula is helpful for getting out all of the dough and starting the kneading.) Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Add scant amounts of flour as needed. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Place in the reserved bowl. Lightly mist with cooking spray. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the corn syrup, brown sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and the vanilla. Stir to blend well. Set aside. When the dough has doubled, gently punch it down and place it on the lightly floured surface. Knead for about 1 minute. Dust lightly with flour. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Lightly mist an 11" x 7" nonstick baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  7. Using your hands or a floured rolling pin, press or roll the dough into an 18" x 12" rectangle. With a butter knife, evenly spread the softened butter over the dough. Drizzle on the filling. With a knife or spatula, evenly spread it to the edges. Starting at one shorter side, roll the dough, jelly-roll fashion, into a tube, ending seam-side down. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Place, spiral-side up, in the reserved dish.
  8. Cover the dish with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm spot. Let the rolls rise another 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350--. Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, or until very lightly browned but slightly doughy in the center.
  10. With a spatula, transfer one roll to a plate. Using a butter knife, spread 11/2 tablespoons of frosting over the top and 1/2" down the sides. Repeat with the other 7 rolls.
Drive-Thru: To enjoy fresh rolls first thing in the morning, assemble the rolls the night before and then cover them loosely with plastic wrap instead of a damp towel. Refrigerate overnight and the rolls will rise while you sleep, so you can bake as soon as the oven is warm. Or if you'd like to have the luxury of eating them whenever the mood strikes, consider making a batch or two and freezing them after baking and cooling. (Freeze the frosting separately.) Pack in an airtight plastic container. When you crave one, wrap it in aluminum foil and bake it in a preheated 250-- oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is warmed through.

Even Better: Make the dough following the recipe directions, but roll the dough out into a larger rectangle about 221/2" x 11". Roll the dough starting with one of the longer ends. You'll end up with a roll that is 221/2" long. Cut into 15 equal pieces. Place the rolls in a 13" x 9" nonstick baking dish. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. You'll have 15 standard-size cinnamon rolls. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the frosting on top of each.

Before You Start: Though this recipe requires a time span of several hours, only part of that time is hands-on. They're the perfect lazy-weekend project, especially with kids in the kitchen. Each time you make the recipe, you'll develop more of a "feel" for the yeast dough. Or if you have a bread machine that can handle 2-pound loaves with a sweet-dough setting, prepare the dough in it by adding the ingredients in the manufacturer's suggested order.

Cinnabon Frosting
Makes about 3/4 cup, enough for 8 restaurant-size rolls or 15 standard-size rolls

  • 11/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons reduced-fat (Neufch--tel) cream cheese from a block
  • 3 Tablespoons light butter from a stick, softened
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fat-free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cream cheese, butter, milk, and vanilla. Mix on low speed with an electric mixer fitted with beaters or stir with a spoon for about 1 minute, or until combined. If using a mixer, increase the speed to high. Beat or stir vigorously for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Allow the frosting to set for at least 10 minutes. Place in an airtight plastic container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Just before using, stir well with a spoon.

Mitzie Cutler, Program Director for the Los Angeles Chapter of the national C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) program, speaks about a recent awards ceremony in which awards were given out to a group of Los Angeles students for their excellence in the culinary arts. The students won scholarships of various amounts.

Sang Yoon of Father's Office visited our Good Food studio with some unusual beers, including one that smells of bananas.

Ha Roda lived in Saigon until she was 10. As far as she remembers life was normal, even with the war raging in the North. But when the communist regime of North Vietnam controlled the entire country, things changed. She recounts her fascinating tale of a child in a war-torn country and the tie that bound her family together in A Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Family Recipes.

B--n Thit Nu'--'ng (Grilled Pork Noodles)
4 to 6 servings
Preparing time: 15 to 30 minutes
Marinating time: 3 hours
Cooking time: 15 to 30 minutes
Roda says that this simple and popular dried-noodle dish is one of her husband's favorites because of the crispy yet tender grilled pork, complemented by the sweet and sour fish sauce on top of rice noodles and vegetables. She says eggrolls are a great substitute for grilled pork.

  • 2 lbs pork sirloin, Canadian back, OR boneless shoulder
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Hoisen sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed and minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped lemon grass
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper
  • 10 shish kebob sticks
  • 1 bag (16-oz) of b--n cooked rice stick vermicelli noodles
  • 1 bunch mint leaves
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 lb bean sprouts
  • 1 cup unsalted chopped roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups Sweet and Sour Fish Sauce (see below)
  1. Clean and drain all of the meats and vegetables thoroughly. Slice the pork into 1/2x 3 inch strips. Tenderize with a tenderizer. Combine pork with soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, Hoisen sauce, garlic, onion, green onion, lemon grass, and black pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  2. Skewer the meat onto the shish kebob sticks. Make approximately 10 sticks. Grill the sticks on a barbecue grill for approximately 15 minutes or until the pork is golden brown.
  3. Separate desired amount of cooked noodles into 4 medium to large sized bowls. Top the noodles with grilled meats (approximately 21/2shish kebob sticks per bowl), a few mint leaves, cilantro, a handful of bean sprouts, and 2 teaspoons of roasted peanuts. Add desired amount or 2 to 3 tablespoons of Sweet and Sour Fish Sauce on top of everything.
Nu'--'c Mam Ngot (Sweet and Sour Fish Sauce)
Makes 5 to 6 cups or 4 to 6 servings
Preparing time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
This fish sauce is used as a condiment for Vietnamese food such as eggrolls, springrolls, rice or noodle grilled pork, vietnamese salad, or beef vinegar hot pot. The sweet and sour taste compliments many meat-flavored dishes.
  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper (optional)
Combine 4 cups of water, fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar in a saucepan at high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the garlic and optional pepper. Allow the mixture to completely cool for at least 30 to 60 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tip: This sauce may be stored in a refrigerator for several months.

Lu--c B--'n Kh-- hay Pho' Kh-- (Boiled Dried Noodles)
4 to 6 servings
Cooking time: 5 to 10 minutes
Boiling dried noodles is quick and painless. Certain noodles require longer cooking than others. There are dried uncooked noodles and there are fresh cooked noodles. The dried uncooked noodles such as B--n -- vermicelli rice sticks and ph--; noodles require boiling for 5 to 10 minutes. Mi--n bean thread noodle is also another type of dried noodles but it is prepared differently. Mi--n is easily overcooked. Soaking mi--n noodles in hot water before cooking will prevent the noodles from expanding and absorbing too much water. Hard to find fresh cooked noodles require boiling for a short period time (2 to 3 minutes), just enough to warm up the noodles.

16 oz dried noodles (b--n or ph--)