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50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #21 Ree Drummond - Tuna Melts

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 women...one per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
21. Ree Drummond- O Pioneer Woman! You rule the World Wide Web.

I don't know about ruling the www, but I see the attraction.  I really do.  Ree is very accessible to everybody.  She serves up good food that is easy enough for pretty much anybody to make.  And just in case you were to wonder how to do it, she's got step-by-step photos.  An average of five hundred step-by-step photos per post.  If I stop by to check out a recipe, I usually find myself skimming to the bottom of the page.  I mean, do I really need to see 500 pictures of random ingredients being added to a bowl.  I know what scooping flour looks like.  And leveling flour.  And pouring flour into a bowl.  And the bowl after the flour is in it.  (Take for instance this post on fry bread.  The fry bread itself and the tacos made from it look stellar, and actually I don't mind the photos of it frying.  It's the scooping and measuring flour and other white powdery ingredients that I don't think are necessary...sigh.  That's just me.  But I can scroll down, no biggie, right?  Right.)  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind step-by-step photos when they are necessary.  I'm guilty of doing lots of them when I first started blogging, actually. But give me something cool like cutting down a side of beef, or bruleeing sugar, or stages of a complicated yeast dough.  Not barbecue sauce being measured into a measuring spoon and then put into a bowl. Just sayin'.  At least the pictures are clear and beautiful, though.  If they were fuzzy, that would be the end-all.  That said, I think she's deserving of making the list.  Her food makes me hungry and she's an inspiration.

In case you've been living under a rock (or just not checking the food blog circuit), check out The Pioneer Woman to see what all the fuss is about.  She also has a cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, plus another being released early next year, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier and a book chronicling the love story between her and the Marlboro Man...the one everybody loves to swoon over (yes, myself included...I love a good love story), The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--A Love Story.  Plus, though I haven't seen it, she has a new show on The Food Network.
Tuna Melts
slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman (changes noted) 
Servings: 6  (eh.  I don't know about that...I'd say 2½ people to 5 people)

5 oz. tuna (tuna weight, not water or oil weight)
¼ c. red onion, finely chopped
¼ c. red bell pepper, finely chopped
1  Jalapeño, finely chopped
2  Hard Boiled Eggs, chopped  Seemed like a lot
6 whole Sweet Gerkins, sliced  I used 3...and still thought it was excessive
⅓ c. Mayonnaise
2 Tbs.Dijon Mustard
Splash Of Pickle Juice
Salt & Pepper, to taste
6 whole English Muffins, split I only had enough mixture for 5 halves
5 slices cheese (swiss, muenster, provolone) I used aged Swiss
Combine tuna with onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, eggs, and gerkins. Stir in mayonnaise, Dijon, and pickle juice. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place English muffin halves on a lined cookie sheet. Place a large spoonful of tuna salad on each of the English muffin halves. I used a level ¼ cup scoop for each half. Use the spoon to spread/flatten.  I didn't. Put pan into the oven for five minutes, then briefly remove and lay a slice of cheese on each muffin. Return to oven and turn on broiler. My broiler is separate from my oven, so I just slid them back in the oven for 5 minutes longer.  Watch carefully to avoid burning; bake until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Pretty. Good.  Not wow.  A bit too sweet...too many gherkins (and I halved the amount called for!) for me.  I'll admit, my favorite version of the tuna melt is monochrome in comparison, but I love it.  Could be that I grew up with it.  That's the way my mom makes them.  That's the way my grandma makes them.  For me, that's the way they're supposed to be.  But I realize as I'm talking about them, I've never actually posted them here. So I will.  Soon.
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?

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