Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Food Column – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘O’ for Oats, Offal, Octopus, Oranges and Oysters.

Welcome to this month’s The Culinary Alphabet beginning with the letter O bought to you by moi @CarolCooks2. It seems to me that the time is just flying by… Such a funny year so far unprecedented in so many ways…

The letter O…Not as many culinary terms or fruits or vegetables beginning with O but I have a few for you, I hope you enjoy!

Oats

As children, in the winter months, my mum always started our day with a bowl of oats and when it is cold there is no better start to the day…Oats are whole grain, meaning the grain is intact and the kernel is composed of three distinct parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ. Because they are whole grain, they have more nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fibre, than other processed grains. Oats also have more soluble fibre than most grains, much of which is beta-glucan, thought to be beneficial for cholesterol.

Oats are naturally gluten-free, however, many oats get introduced to gluten-containing grains, like wheat, rye, barley, and spelt during farming, transportation, and storage. They become contaminated with gluten and therefore are no longer considered gluten-free. If you are looking for 100% gluten-free oats, they must be labeled, gluten-free, so don’t assume any oat is gluten-free.

As a child, my porridge was served with brown sugar or salt now it is served with all manner of toppings my favorite being a fruit compote or maple syrup (as) a treat…How do you like your oats?

Easy to make oats to top your yogurt or porridge.

Quick crunchy Oats

• 1 cup of uncooked oats
• 1/4 cup of brown sugar
• 3 tbsp butter
• 1 tsp cinnamon powder ( optional)

Let’s Bake!

  1. Mix all 3 ingredients together and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes stirring
  2. I love to add a bit of cinnamon
  3. Allow to cool and top your porridge or yogurt.

O’Brien Potatoes

A dish of pan-fried potatoes with red and green bell papers and onions said to originates in The US in the 1900s although no one can agree on which state and another pool of thought is that it was an Irish militant named William Smith O’Brien 1803-1864 who was the only person with that name who had an association with potatoes.

Ocean Pout

Photo credit: Neil DeMaster on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

This is an eelpout found in the North West Atlantic ocean off the coast of New Zealand and eastern Canada…It has something like anti freeze in its blood, giving it the ability to survive in near-freezing waters. The ocean pout is an eel-like fish that grows in very cold waters of the North Atlantic. Said to have very sweet meat and few bones but it is not a popular commercial fish. This is partly because of its appearance and also due to parasitic outbreaks in the mid-twentieth century. Not a fish I have tried but often little known fish are very tasty…Below is a recipe I found for eelpout. Clifford A. Wright Recipes

Other names: Pout, Eelpout; Congo Eel; Muttonfish

Offal

The entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food….This description is often enough to put many people off eating offal…However, offal is very nutritious.

Liver, for instance is enormously healthy and full of an array of B vitamins, vitamin A, selenium and folate. I believe that liver, especially when it comes from wild venison, lamb, grass-fed beef and pasture raised chicken, is a superfood that is much more nutrient dense than even kale and spinach.

Chicken livers are popular here whereas when I lived in the UK it was lambs or pigs liver which was the most popular chicken livers were not so easily found…Spicy liver is one of our favourites but also here in Thailand every single part of the animal is eaten nose to tail and insides to outside…Most of which I admit I haven’t tried yet…here is one of my recipes: Chicken Liver red curry with green beans

Octopus

Something I have yet to cook myself…I have watched many TV chefs cooking and preparing octopus and it is a frequent sight here but I have yet to cook one myself…To eat when cooked correctly it is a lovely thing but a bit like its smaller sister squid if badly cooked it is like trying to eat bicycle tires chewy and unpleasant.

Okra

Okra is a warm-season vegetable, also known as gumbo or ladies’ fingers. Popular in Asian cuisine it is used here to make thick spicy dips…It is also an ingredient of Gumbo and can be pickled…The only way I have eaten it is Fried dredged in egg and cornmeal and fried to a golden crisp just as they are or curried with some Indian spices…or Oven-roasted. It can be simply flavored with olive oil, salt, and pepper, or smothered with spices. Not my favorite vegetable of choice but it is a vegetable which has properties to improve digestion. Okra water is used as traditional therapy for diabetes.

Olives and Olive Oil

Olives a fruit that I never liked as a child but acquired the taste for as I grew older…Olive oil is a beautiful thing and when I am not using coconut oil for cooking I use olive oil and it most suited to Mediterranean type recipes as well…But be careful when you buy it as is the case with everything now some oils are a blend of many oils or so highly processed and are not classed as proper Olive oil….There are so many different dishes which are all better for the addition of a good olive oil. Healthwise it is classed as a superfood as it is so beneficial to our health.

One of my favorite tapas dishes is made with chorizo sausage…Chorizo cooked in olive oil makes a lovely little snack or tapas with some lovely bread to mop up the juices. Just take some sliced chorizo and cook it in Olive oil until it is browned and the lovely orange color from the chorizo leaks into the olive oil….Just beautiful and so easy to make at home.

Onions

Do you know your onions?

The onion is part of the Lily family, which includes garlic, leeks, shallots, welsh onions, and chives. The word onion comes from the old English word unyun derived from the French word oignon, which in turn came from the Latin unio. There are words for the vegetable in ancient languages but none seems to be related to each other indicating how widespread the use of the vegetable was.

Onions have been used for thousands of years as a seasoning for otherwise bland food and today we can buy them all year round and use them raw or cooked in a wide variety of dishes…

I would say most people use the onion every day as part of their cooking whether it is shallots, red onion, brown onions, spring onions( green onions) so many varieties.

They can be eaten cooked, raw or pickled.

Lovely with some fresh bread, cheese and either pickled or raw they make a lovely Ploughman’s lunch.

Raw in a cheese and onion sandwich

Spring onions are lovely in an omelet or quiche. A cheese and onion turnover which is a pastry eaten as a snack.

Who hasn’t has Onion Bhaji with your Indian meal?

Spring Onions if you just make a few cuts in the green part and pop them into cold water they curl up and look so pretty decorating a green salad.

This stuffed Onion is one I have made many times and it is lovely for a vegetarian and quite special so looks like you have made an effort to cook something nice and tasty. But equally as nice for a light meal with a glass of vino

Stuffed Onion with goat’s cheese and sun dried tomatoes

Ingredients:

• 4 large onions.
• 150 gm goats cheese
• 50 gm fresh breadcrumbs (I use olive oil breadcrumbs)
• 8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil chopped and drained. I am lucky that I live somewhere nice and sunny so I can sundry my own tomatoes please click HERE to see how.
• 2 tbsp oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
• 1 small egg, beaten
• 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
• 2 cloves of garlic chopped
• 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
• 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
• Salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Just reading that list of ingredients makes my mouth water….I am salivating.

Let’s cook

  1. Add the onions in their skins to lightly salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the boiling water, drain and cool. When they are cool enough to handle cut in half and remove the skin.
  2. Using a small dessert spoon scoop out the center leaving a thick outer layer, 3 layers are sufficient.
  3.  Reserve the flesh for later.
  4.  Pre-heat your oven to 190C/375F
  5.  Place the onion shells in an oiled ovenproof dish.
  6. Add all the other ingredients except for the tomato oil and pine nuts to the scooped out onion flesh and season well. Stir in the pine nuts.
  7. Divide the mix between the 4 scooped out onion shells and cover the dish with foil.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and drizzle with the sun-dried tomato oil cook uncovered for a further 25-35 minutes until bubbling and cooked.
  9. Baste occasionally during cooking.

And smell…. your kitchen will be filled with such a lovely aroma and even those who are not onion lovers will be salivating…I have had many a convert to this dish.

It is lovely just served with warm bread or as a side to some lovely grilled sardines.

Now all of those ingredients have amazing health benefits.

Some lovely variations to this recipe include using Feta cheese instead of goat’s cheese and substitute mint and pitted green/black olives instead of the other ingredients for a real Mediterranean taste. Just stir into the scooped onion mix; you could also add some currants or sultanas.

If you don’t want sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts use 75 gm chopped walnuts add them to the scooped out onion mix add 115 gm chopped celery and cook in a tbsp oil until the celery is soft and put in the onion shell.

Experiment by substituting your own favorite ingredients that is what cooking is all about.
Onions and garlic are also lovely pickled.

Oranges

Low in calories and full of health benefits is the Orange…They are an excellent source of vitamin C…Lovely segmented and eaten as they are also lovely in a fresh fruit salad or the zest and juice are lovely flavors in baking and sauces. They can be candied, made into marmalade, the peel can be dried so many uses. One of my favorites is this recipe it is a recipe I was given many years ago when we were in Jamaica for our daughter’s wedding. Jamaica is the home of jerk spices and this Spicy Jerk Chicken with Blood Oranges is awesome.

Sticky Jerk Chicken with Blood Oranges

Oyster Sauce

A staple in Asian cooking and I use a brand with no added nasties and msg which are becoming increasingly popular here as even Thais are getting more food aware…Used in many stir-fries it is one of my favorite seasonings…Don’t live in Asia? All Asian stores and supermarkets and even mainstream supermarkets will stock it…

Traditionally, oyster sauce is made by slowly simmering oysters in water until the juices caramelize into a thick, brown, intensely flavourful sauce. Today, many shortcuts have been made to create a similar flavor more quickly and at a reduced cost. Oyster sauces today are usually made with a base of sugar and salt and thickened with corn starch. Oyster extracts or essences are then used to give flavor to the base sauce.

Oyster Plant

A common name for a variety of flowering plants namely black and purple salsify, oyster leaf or bears breeches…What to do with it? Well, it’s easy to prepare and cook. Cut off the root end and peel off the outer skin and coating. Put freshly peeled salsify into a solution of water and lemon juice to stop it browning.

It can be cubed and added to soups and stews; I boiled my salsify and mashed it like parsnips, with a little cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Some chefs cook the vegetable in a mixture of milk and water for a richer flavor. Don’t overcook it though or you could end up with a stringy mush. Salsify can also be roasted with a drizzle of oil and perhaps some chopped herbs and garlic.

Oysters

Edible oysters have been a part of the human diet for at least 700 years, but have likely been eaten in raw or cooked forms for much longer. The edible component is the meat inside the oyster, and once the shells have been cracked, you can cook this meat in a variety of ways. They can also be eaten raw and are often preferred in that way. How do you like your oysters? I prefer mine raw with a Thai spicy sauce…I don’t like them cooked

Thank you so much for reading this and please as always let me have your thoughts as I love your comments…Next time the letter ‘P’…..Have a great week xxx

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  Amazon US

Connect to Carol

Blog: Carol Cooks 2
Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo
Facebook: Carol Taylor

My thanks to Carol for sharing this series with us as she also works on her cookbook and novel this year…As always we are delighted to receive your feedback and if you could share that would be great.. thanks Sally.

This entry was posted in blogging, Carol Taylor Cook from Scratch A - Z of Food by Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

My name is Sally Cronin and I am doing what I love.. Writing. Books, short stories, Haiku and blog posts. My previous jobs are only relevant in as much as they have gifted me with a wonderful filing cabinet of memories and experiences which are very useful when putting pen to paper. I move between non-fiction health books and posts and fairy stories, romance and humour. I love variety which is why I called my blog Smorgasbord Invitation and you will find a wide range of subjects. You can find the whole story here. Find out more at https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-me/

43 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Food Column – Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘O’ for Oats, Offal, Octopus, Oranges and Oysters.

  1. I love the look and sound of the stuffed onions.
    I like my oats coked in milk and/or cream with a little salt and some golden syrup drizzled over.
    I’ve come across salsify before, but never associated it with bear’s breeches. That was an interesting fact.
    And I can’t bear oysters–at least, not raw. It’s like swallowing a load of phlegm. They go down so quickly there’s no taste. But I so like octopus, although, like you, I’ve never cooked it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The O that caught my eye is “offal.” Pennsylvania Dutch cooking features pig stomach (stuffed with potatoes, sausage, and parsley.) Some people turn up their noses at the idea, but I grew up with it, so it doesn’t seem odd or disgusting. You’ve done your research, Carol!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes to spuds, olive oil, oats (porridge every morning here), oranges, and I wouldn’t mind trying okra. But onions? Am I the only person in the world who hates the slimy, slithery, smelly things? The only restaurants I can comfortably order food in is Italian ones; they don’t automatically add onions to everything without indicating their presence on the menu. Now garlic – that’s another story, I could eat buckets of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 2nd – 8th August 2020 – Music, Octopus and Oysters, Dog Stories, Waterford, Book Reviews, Children’s books and funnies. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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