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Providing a little background on my unique slant on cooking

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

I was born and raised in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Growing up in northeastern Ohio, I soon learned there was only one sport played in that area—football. From the sandlots, to Pee-Wee League, to Junior League, to high school, to college, to pro football…football was and still is king.
My wife, Karen, and I were married in May 1966 and we (she) raised two football players (what else?), Sean and Aaron, and called Akron, Ohio, our home until retiring to southeastern coastal North Carolina in 2001.
After playing golf daily for a year or two, I realized I needed to get back into the workplace, if only for a couple days a week. One day, I asked Ben Carlson, then editor of The Brunswick Beacon in Shallotte, if he could use some help with some writing chores a couple days a week.
My background the last few years had been writing technical documentation, mostly user manuals (instruction manuals), ranging from software user guides to instructions for operating large equipment.
Needless to say, by the time I had returned home, Ben had called and left a message to call him. “How soon can you start?” he said.
After about a year, the cooking columnist decided she could no longer continue and the paper went looking for a new columnist. I thought, “I love to cook, and I can write instruction manuals. How tough can it be?”
I hope everyone in the Brunswick County community will continue to enjoy my unique slant on cooking and I look forward to providing more of the same.

German Pickled Beef Roast (Sauerbraten)
This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. We usually have this around New Year’s, but I can eat it anytime of the year.
1 4-5 lb. beef roast
For the marinade:
1-1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, chopped
8 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice cloves
4 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
Place the beef in a deep-glass, earthenware or stainless steel bowl. Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat to boiling over high heat. Cool. Pour the cool marinade over the meat, turning to coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate 3-5 days, turning the meat a couple times each day.
To cook the meat:
3 Tbsps. oil (vegetable or peanut)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup gingersnap crumbs (just crush them up)
Three hours before serving, drain the meat, reserving the marinade, and pat meat dry. Heat a large saucepan, and then add the oil. Add meat and brown on all sides, turning frequently, about 30 minutes. Remove meat from the pan and reserve. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Sauté onion, celery and carrot until tender, about 10 minutes.
Return meat to the pan. Strain marinade plus 1/2 cup water into the pan, discarding the marinade vegetables. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until meat is tender, about 3 hours.
Remove meat and keep warm. Puree the liquid in a blender or food processor and strain into pan, adding the red wine. Bring to a simmer and stir in the crumbs. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thickened.
Slice and arrange meat on a serving platter. Serve with sauce and garnish with parsley. Makes at least 6 servings.

German Potato Pancakes
While the grating and frying can be somewhat labor intensive, the results are great. Just make sure to get the oil to the right temperature.
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and grated
1 large onion, peeled and grated
2 whole eggs
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
Pinch white pepper
Vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. flour
Combine the grated potatoes, onions, eggs, nutmeg, salt, pepper and flour until well blended. Heat a generous amount of oil (about a half inch deep) in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, about 400 degrees. Drop the potato mixture in by spoonfuls. Cook the pancakes until golden brown on each side; about two minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Serve immediately. Serve with applesauce or sour cream. Makes about a dozen pancakes.

Baked Sweet Peppers with Tomato Anchovy Sauce
This is a great accompaniment with roast beef. Serve it with plenty of crusty bread.
6 sweet bell peppers
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Fresh basil
1/2 can anchovies (about 4 anchovies)
1 tsp. capers
Hot pepper flakes (optional)
Wash and slice 6 sweet bell peppers and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet (with an edge). Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake 20 minutes in a 350-degree oven; remove and stir peppers, and then bake an additional 20 minutes.
While peppers are baking, cut up four large, ripe tomatoes. In a medium frying pan, sauté sliced garlic in olive oil, add tomatoes, torn basil, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Add anchovies and capers to tomato mixture the last five minutes of simmering. The anchovies will dissolve into the sauce.
Once peppers are baked, place in a serving dish and layer the tomato mixture over the peppers. Hot pepper flakes are optional.

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.