Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


My Inaugural (Cheese) Ball

Like a lot of folks, I'll be catching some of the inauguration festivities tomorrow — all from the comfort of the cozy indoors, thankfully. I shudder to think of all those chilly folks out there on the frigid capital mall...

My coworkers and I are having a little soiree over lunchtime to munch on snacks while we view the swearing in and the inaugural address.

Our first idea for a food theme was red, white and blue foods. But unless you want to throw around a bunch of blue food coloring, there's not a lot of blue food out there.

I've come up with... bluefin tuna (which isn't blue at all), bluefish (which is sorta blue), blue corn chips, blue potatoes (which are often a bit purple) and blueberries.

Anyway, our second thought for a food theme was simply snacks, because that's really what you're looking for when you watch TV anyway.

American Flag

But lo! Inspiration struck: There was one other "blue" food I forgot. Blue cheese! Yes, folks... it's time to make cheese balls.

Now, quite honestly, I'd never made cheese balls before, so these Inaugural Balls really are my inauguration into the world of cheese shapes.

But now that I've made them, I do understand why they're party food classics. Cheese balls are easy to make, they're not terribly expensive, they're endlessly versatile, they're quite popular and best of all... they can be made in advance.

Inaugural Red, White & Blue Cheese Balls!

The Red Cheese Ball
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp roasted red pepper
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
To roll: 3/4 cup crumbled bacon (cooked, obviously)

The White Cheese Ball
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp celery or water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp white pepper

The Blue Cheese Ball
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
3 drops hot pepper sauce
1 pinch cayenne pepper
To roll: 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions for assembling all three cheese balls:

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the other cheese.
2. Blend in all remaining ingredients for the cheese ball (except the chopped nuts or crumbled bacon for rolling) and chill the mixture for 3 to 4 hours or until firm.
3. Roll the chilled cheese blend into a ball, and roll to coat in the chopped nuts or bacon pieces (if necessary).
4. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate.
5. At service time, place the ball(s) on a plate and serve with alongside crackers, baguette slices and/or celery or carrot sticks. The blue cheese ball is also nice with dried fruit and fresh grapes.

While 'tis true that my blue cheese ball isn't really blue as in Smurf-blue or bluejay-blue, it's also true that every one of these cheese balls is true-blue delicious. So there.

Now, if you're going this route, really show off your American pride and use all-American cheeses in your cheese balls. Maytag Blue is one of my favorite examples of the blue family, there's tons of great American goat cheeses and all kinds of domestic cheddars out there (Wisconsin! Vermont! New York!) to tickle your tastebuds.

Happy Inauguration Day to everyone!
Miss Ginsu

Labels: , , , , , ,


FoodLink Roundup: 11.17.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was handily spotted in the grand hall of Grand Central Station. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post your guess in the comments.

Spam Spikes
Apparently, in hard times (like now) Spam production (the meat kind) goes into overdrive.

Talking chocolate with Damian Allsop
Man breaks back and morphs into modern Willy Wonka. Culinary magic ensues.

What the World Leaders Ate
Planet Money posts the White House menu for G-20 world leaders. Mmm... Lamb, Quinoa and Huckleberries.

The Math on the Starbucks Gold Card
Bottom line: you have to be an addict to make it pay.

Scientists turn tequila into diamonds
My high school chem class definitely didn't feature this experiment.

McDonald's sales rise 8.2 percent
"McDonald's is likely benefiting from diners who might ordinarily go to pricier sit-down restaurants but are gravitating to fast food to save money — a phenomenon called 'trading down.'"

New food links — and another postcard from Cupcake — every Monday morning on missginsu.com

Labels: , , , , , ,


Dinner with Sarah. Palin, that is.

Watching the debates tonight? Why not really get to know the candidate and dine Sarah Palin style?

My crafty contact M. in the Bay area used Google's 10th anniversary index yesterday to check around for what the potential Republican veep was cooking up a decade ago.

Turns out, she was glazing salmon and submitting her recipes to AlaskaSeafood.org.

glazed mahi

Recipe by Alaska Fisherman Sarah Palin
Wasilla, Alaska

* 1 can (12 oz.) tomato sauce
* 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/4 cup molases
* 3 tbsp. ketchup
* 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
* 2 tbsp. dried minced onion
* 1 tbsp. Worcestershure sauce
* 1 tbsp. mustard
* 1 tbsp. dried bell pepper dices
* 1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg
* 4 to 6 Alaska salmon fillets or steaks (4 to 6 oz. each)

Blend all ingredients, except seafood, in bowl; let set 10 to 15 minutes. Dip seafood into sauce, then place on hot oiled grill, not directly over heat source (coals or gas). Cover and vent. Cook about 6 to 12 minutes per inch of thickness, brushing with extra sauce, if desired. Do not overcook or burn edges.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Also great with Alaska halibut or cod!

Has anyone tried this one?

Maybe a person could pair it with the neglected Palin Syrah?

It's a bummer we don't have a Biden recipe to go with it. Maybe a Biden cocktail is in order. Or Biden biscotti. Or maybe Biden brownies for dessert.


Labels: , , ,


What 1946 Hath Wrought

"The world today looks to the American farmer—To all the American People—for the very means of life. It is a challenge and an opportunity that we shall not shirk."
-Foods 1946

On a recent foraging tour in my new favorite junk shop, Puntaverde Brooklyn's own The Thing (they have a popular myspace page, natch), I came across this irresistible bit of history:

Foods 1946

It's a 1946 edition food processing securities brochure, courtesy of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane. It's essentially profiles and financial information on the major food processing companies of the day: Archer-Daniels Midland, Wesson Oil, Sunshine Biscuits, General Foods, John Morrell & Company, Pillsbury Mills, Inc., and dozens more.

Though that initially might sound as exciting as a sink full of dirty dishes, I can assure you — treasures await.

I picked it up thinking I'd have some fun clip art for the site. There was no way I could resist the proud visage of the post-war American farmer gazing on the face of global famine... and global opportunity. But let me just step aside and let Foods 1946 speak for itself:

"For thousands of years food was raised and eaten in the same community. Famines forced some migration and spices from the East permitted some improvement in food preservation, but generally, our ancestors spent most of their time seeking something to eat and if they did not find it they starved. Food was coarse and plain, there was seldom an abundance and when there was, very little could be kept.

In the past fifty years there has been a world revolution in food."


So this week, I'll guide you through the wonderful world of 1946. We might just discover revealing things about the present. It's a crazy thought. But one never knows...

Tune in tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat channel.

Labels: , , , ,


USDA Changes Pyramid to Pie

USDA pyramid
And at the top, you'll find nutritional enlightenment...

Yeah, maybe most of the world has been watching the Sistine Chapel for a plume of white smoke. Meanwhile, my coworkers have been salivating at their screens, counting down the moments to this morning's USDA webcast announcement for the new food pyramid. (Weirdos.)

Essentially, they've divided the hierarchy into vertical slices of varying widths to represent relative consumption. The slices are color-coded, and you have to check at MyPyramid.gov to get your own, personalized recommendation on what the government thinks you should be eating.

The reactions among the troops here?

"It's stupid!"

"It's terrible information design! The image isn't sufficient on its own. They don't provide labels for the sections, so it's just confusing"

"They tipped the pyramid over and spilled it out all over the place. It's like they're saying, 'hey you figure it out' "

"It's a food pie"

"Well... it takes into account individual people's needs."

"It doesn't tell me why I'm supposed to eat all these grains."

Overall, there's confusion and disappointment. Our nutritionist was the most cautiously optimistic among us.

The bottom line? Eat whole grains, vary your vegetables, focus on fruits, find calcium-rich foods, eat lean proteins, know the difference between fats, and exercise every day.

I haven't yet found a mention about remembering to floss and getting eight hours of sleep every night, but I'm sure that's in here somewhere...

Labels: , , , , ,