It is time to bring the "Doonesbury" technique to this column.
Lately the comic strip has been advocating reader participation.
First with tongue in cheek, a "Doonesbury" character urged Americans to become "Just Like the Prez" and become tax residents of Texas, a state without a personal income tax. About 25,000 readers have filled out a mock form, printed in the comic strip, asking for the same income tax break as Texas resident George Bush.
Then, shortly after Gennifer Flowers said she was paid by a tabloid to tell the story of her alleged affair with Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton, "Doonesbury" printed another gag form. This one, called "Trash for Cash" asks readers who have slept with presidential hopefuls to confess the details about their affairs, in return for $25.
While this column can't offer that kind of money or those kind of saucy subjects to readers, it does believe in reader-participation.
And, to prove it, we are today printing letters -- including some about capers. These are letters that readers wrote with their own hands, and mailed with their own stamps.
The hominy caper
From: Margaret Tyler, Baltimore
Re: Columns on capers and hominy
Dear Happy Eater,
I, too, have never been sure where the silly looking things (capers) came from. I have been suspicious of the color -- too intense a green to appear "normal." And I also tossed out a XTC bottle of them I had once purchased when I had felt adventurous. Then timidity took over and I never did use them. If I missed a "goaty" flavor then the toss-out fully justifies the waste. Exactly what is a "goaty" flavor?
From: Norma Petersen, Ellicott City
Re: Column on capers
Dear Happy Eater,
A while ago you wrote about not finding capers useful, tasty . . . whatever.
I think I may have read of this preparation in a Martha Stewart book. I put a little oil in a small frying pan very hot. And I drop into it a couple of spoonfuls of drained capers. If all goes well they burst open as they get crisp.
I love them this way and usually sprinkle them over swordfish.
Eater Replies: I am so glad that someone else thinks those green bottles that capers come in, are suspicious. Inquiring minds want to know what is going on behind that green glass?
More pork, more crab
From: Faye Ream, Talmage, Pa.
Re: Column on regional pork cooking contest for chefs.
Dear Happy Eater,
Would you please tell me where I can find the recipe for the pork loin stuffed with crab meat?
Eater Replies: The pork loin stuffed with crab came from Jimmy )) Sneed, chef and general manager of Windows on Urbanna Creek restaurant in Urbanna, Va.
Pork stuffed with crab, chicken
1 boneless pork loin
4 ounces boneless chicken breast
5 ounces heavy cream
1 pound fresh Shiitake mushrooms
1 pound fresh lump crab meat
1 large shallots diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 bunch fresh chives
12 ounces Edwards' smoked sausage links
pork caul fat or bacon strips
Cook sausage links and cut into small chunks.
Slice mushrooms and cook in olive oil in a hot pan stirring constantly. Salt and pepper well while they are cooking. When cooked add the shallots, garlic and stir. Be careful not to let the shallots and garlic color or they will turn very bitter.
Puree the chicken breast in a food processor until smooth. Add the cream, some salt and pepper and puree in 4-second spurts until smooth. Scrape the bottom with a rubber spatula and puree more seconds. Cool in refrigerator 15 minutes.
Mix mushrooms, crab meat, sausage, chives and chicken "mousse" together. Make a pocket down the center of the loin with a sharp knife. Stuff the pocket as full as possible. Wrap the pork in caul fat (or bacon) with at least two layers.
Sear in cast iron pan until brown. Finish in a 450-degree oven, approximately 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.