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Friday, October 28, 2011

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 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?

I am also sharing this post with:
fridaypotluck FCFButton Foodie Friday Logo 2 friday food at mom trends

Would you like to comment?

  1. That looks absolutely delicious! I've always been a little apprehensive on attempting to make a tune melt (it always threw me off to pair cheese with fish) but the photos alone wash away my fears. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pioneer woman or no Pioneer Woman, I love me some Tuna Melts. I also grew up on the bland but delicious version. These sound like they're worth a try, though, if only for the change of pace.
    I totally agree with you about Ree's billion step by steps. On my Chili recipe I was shocked. And when I looked down at the actual recipe, there were, like, three simple directions! Oh well, then how come she's making millions and we're....not?

  3. Well, you have certainly made the tuna melt look gorgeous (something that is hard to do). I think I'd be okay with the amount of hard boiled eggs. It's the sweet gherkins that seem a bit excessive, right? It seems like it would add way too much crunch and way too much salty and briney flavor.

    Your version does look delicious though!

  4. I do love a good tuna melt, and Kim is right - you made a difficult subject look wonderful.
    I'd definitely put Ree in the "controversial" category for the 50 game-changers. I can think of so many other top bloggers... well, you know what I mean. ;-)

  5. You picked a good recipe to feature here. It sounds delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  6. Wow! Talk about a major tuna melt ... if I didn't know better, I'd say Ree's from Texas instead of Oklahoma. Still, the flavors put into that bowl are really interesting! Your photos are terrific, too! They make that homey tuna melt look all cozy folksy! Love it!

  7. I think she is popular because she has a story to tell and she is just lucky. ( right place, right time, right connections) Anyway. I think her food does look delicious...but much of it is too heavy for me to enjoy in it's original state. She is a wonderful photographer...but I agree...way to many step by step photos. I have seen her FN show, and it's enjoyable to watch. Half cooking, half about life on her ranch. With that said, I think these tuna melts look fantastic1 Although I would have to use reduced fat mayo and cheese! Just sayin! :)

  8. I love Ree! I havn;t seen her tuns melts before. They look might tasty!

  9. There are really 500 per post!!! How could I not have realized there were that many! I always scroll down also, though. So maybe that's why.

    I actually almost made this but I couldn't get around the gherkins. Seemed a little too much for me. Give me some plain old tuna and cheese and I'm good to go!

  10. Heather, this looks delicious! I'm on a cleanse right now and can't eat cheese, so it's kind of a sweet punishment. But yum! Thanks for bringing to Friday Potluck!

  11. Good recipe choice...and super photos. While Ree is not a favorite of mine, I give her credit. She seems like a nice woman and works hard. She deserves the success.

  12. Mmm... se vé y "suena" muy rico eh?

  13. @Sue.. so true, so true.

    @Erin... ick! I choose a cleanse where I eat ONLY cheese ;P

    @Pily... Supongo que es un poco ricos, pero las cebollas y los encurtidos ayudar a cortar que bastante.

  14. The tuna melts sure looks like a colorful delightful treat with oozing cheese:)

  15. My son loves tuna melts - love your photos. I could never take as many pictures as Ree does for her blog, and although not necessary, they are super high quality, easy on the eye, and usually have me hungry by the time I get to the recipe.

  16. I love tuna melts...they were a favorite of my kids when they were young. Yours look absolutely yummy!

  17. I love oooy gooey cheese so this is right up my alley. Thanks for sharing.

  18. You did a grand job with a quintessential American recipe - which Ree seems to do so well. You're making me take another look at her blog!

  19. Tuna melts remind me of my childhood, and they are still one of my favourite go to's when I haven't planned a menu. Love the addition of spice!

  20. This looks great - thanks for sharing!

  21. I love PW's blog, but I scroll down to the bottom if I want the recipe, too. I don't need 5 different pictures of how to chop an onion. Tuna melts are one of my favorite sandwiches :)

  22. 500 pictures per post??? Wow, I like seeing pics, especially of the process of how things are made and stuff but that's a LOT of pics, it'd probably take a day just to load a page!

  23. Now I'm craving tuna melts. I think I might make them for the kids this week, I haven't had one in ages!

    Thanks for linking up to Momtrends Friday Food!

  24. Whew, thanks for this reply, babes! I truly think YOU are more talented in the kitchen than Ree. I am always amazed and in awe when I visit here (which I am embarrassed to say I don't - can't do as often as I should)... More people should stand up and voice their opinions on some of the sad stuff happening in the food blogging world. Love you, Heather!

  25. And I feel the same way about inspire me, Jamie!  You know what?  I am actually glad that you "put this out there"!  I know many, MANY people who feel this way.  I don't think you're off base.

  26. Shall I be the controversial one here? I was horrified when I saw Ree on this list of true game changers, most of whom are truly talented women! She is not really a good cook: her recipes are often made with boxed or packaged foods, are too rich and heavy and, as I have often heard, often don't work. There were too many truly incredible, talented women who were left off the Top50 list - and to make room for Ree? Tragedy! She has little influence outside the American Food Blogging World, and that influence is usually awe over her business sense (or her PR team) and the lifestyle she has created and sells. That said, Heather I love you! You are one talented lady!

  27. Thanks Jamie, luv u 2!!  And I think you are more talented, as joke.  About the visiting- you know I'm the same way.  Often I only have a few minutes to read, so I will read and then run off to do something else without commenting.  I'm pretty bad about that, as well.