Monday, December 6, 2010

tuna without teasing

My husband makes fun of me when I make tuna salad.  This is because I like to take the time to really make something nice.  He's out at the Big Ed jam tonight (a blues jam session in Greenwich Village every Monday night), so I was able to make tuna minus the humorous commentary.

This is how he makes tuna salad:  can of tuna on a plate.  Blob of mayo next to it.  Some form of bread. 

This is what I put in my tuna salad tonight:  chopped apple, broken walnuts, hard-boiled egg, raisins, fresh dill, olive oil, black pepper, cumin, garlic powder.  And some mayo (we use light mayo around here).

My mother made tuna salad with chopped green pepper rather than celery.  She really didn't use celery much at all.  It was some years before I learned that celery was the default.  There was also a period when she put oregano in everything (except maybe Cream of Wheat), so for a while there was also oregano in her tuna.  (I have to admit that I put cumin in almost everything I can, and thyme comes second.)

The first unusual (non-celery/green pepper & mayo) tuna salad I ever had was in Mohegan Woodlands one summer, made by the wonderful Lila Hammer.  It had tuna, mayo, canned mandarin orange segments, and pecans.  Not only was it an excellent combination, but it taught me to think outside the box regarding tuna salad.

In the early 80s, I worked on the upper west side, and there was a sandwich joint that made tuna salad with a ton of egg in it.  It was actually a mite gloppy, but it tasted wonderful.  Years later, I would get lunch from one of those salad bars, and would take tuna salad and egg salad and mix them.

The cats, of course, don't care how the hell you make your tuna salad, as long as you put down the mostly empty can for them to lick.

Confession:  I love that old-school tuna and mushroom soup casserole.  My mother used to make it, just tuna, cream of mushroom (Campbells, not diluted), and cooked broad noodles, into a dish and into the oven.  It's super-comfort food to me.  I very rarely make it, but when I do, I eat it with a lot of black pepper.  (I eat a lot of things with a lot of black pepper.)

Mac n' cheese (many opinions on this one).  My mother made it with Velveeta.  Sometimes she put in little chunks of kosher salami (we almost always had those little Hebrew Nationals around), which is amazingly good.  Elbow macaroni.  I like to use a pasta that holds melted cheese a little better, usually rotini.  I have used many, many different kinds of cheese, alone and in combination.  My favorite is probably cheddar and jack, with a little grated parm/romano on top.  Eaten with a great deal of black pepper.

I am also making some soup for tomorrow night, since Barry is having tooth and jaw problems and favors soft foods of late.  I'm cooking butternut squash and some carrots in chicken broth, and will then puree the whole thing and add some tofu.  (Have I mentioned, or mentioned lately, how much I love my immersion blender?)  There's cumin in it, just a little.  And I'll probably add my black pepper at the table.  Next project will be a pureed bean soup.

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