30 November 2006

Kids Cook 1-2-3

Do you have minimal cooking skills? Or would you like to teach your kids some kitchen basics? This new book, Kids Cook 1-2-3: Recipes for Young Chefs Using Only 3 Ingredients, by Rozanne Gold, may be what you're looking for. And it's a great holiday gift idea (see also our blog on the Green Ham and Eggs Cookbook for another great kids' food book). Jessica's Biscuit tells you more about Kids Cook 1-2-3:

"Learning to cook can be fun and easy! This cookbook is for kids, but beginning cooks of all ages will love the simple and delicious recipes for every meal--all with only three ingredients each.

With more than 100 easy-to-follow recipes, kids can prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts and more, while learning about fresh ingredients and simple cooking techniques. From the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich to crunchy wasabi salmon, young cooks will gain confidence as they prepare homemade soups, delicious macaroni and cheese, and a heavenly chocolate mousse cake.

Award-winning chef and author Rozanne Gold inspires everyone to get cooking! Using her signature, keep-it-simple approach to cooking with fresh, natural ingredients, you won’t need a gourmet kitchen or any experience to get started. With just 1-2-3 ingredients per recipe, you can make amazingly creative meals and feel like a very accomplished cook."

Kids Cook 1-2-3: Recipes for Young Chefs Using Only 3 Ingredients
by Rozanne Gold
Hardcover - 144 pages
September 2006
ISBN: 1582347352 Bloomsbury USA

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

29 November 2006

Goji: wolfberry

Goji juice has become a very popular health food drink in the U.S. It is tasty, full of nutrients and high in antioxidants, which makes it good for you. But what is goji, aka, wolfberry? Wikipedia provides us with some background:

"Wolfberry is the common name for the fruit of Lycium barbarum or L. chinense, two species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae (which also includes the potato, tomato, eggplant, deadly nightshade, chili pepper, and tobacco). Although its original habitat is obscure (probably southeastern Europe to southwest Asia), wolfberry species are now grown around the world, including in China.

It is also known as Chinese Wolfberry, Duke of Argyll's Tea Tree,or Matrimony Vine. The name Tibetan Goji berry is in common use in the health food market for berries from this plant...

...Renowned in Asia as one of nature's most nutrient-rich natural foods, wolfberries have been associated in traditional Chinese medicine as long as recorded Chinese history, a period of nearly 2,000 years. Their undocumented legend, however, is considerably older as wolfberries are often linked in Chinese lore to Shen Nung (Shennong), First Emperor, mythical Father of agriculture and herbalist who lived circa 2,800 BC.

Currently in the United States, other first-world countries and the global functional food industry, there is a rapidly growing recognition of wolfberries for their nutrient richness and antioxidant qualities...

..."Wolfberry" is the most commonly used English name for the plant, while gǒuqǐ is the Chinese name. In Chinese, the berries themselves are called gǒuqǐzi , with zi meaning "seed" or specifically "berry". Other common names are "the Duke of Argyll's Tea Tree", and "matrimony vine." Wolfberry is also known pharmacologically as Lycii Fructus (lycium fruit).

Lycium, the genus name, is believed to derive from the ancient Mid-Asian region of Lydia whereas barbarum, the species name, suggests that the plant was of foreign origin, perhaps originating outside China. Together, these names are used as specific botanical identifiers in the binomial (or binary) epithet. The end abbreviation, L., represents the nomenclature system devised by Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern biological taxonomy. Lycium barbarum L. was apparently first named in the Linnaeus system in 1753.

In the English-speaking world, "goji berry" has been widely used in recent years as a synonym for wolfberry. While the origin of this spelling is unclear, it is probably a simplified contraction of gǒuqǐ...

...The name Tibetan Goji berry is in common use in the health food market for berries from this plant that are have been grown in the Himalaya region. The term was invented by Dr. Bradley Dobos of the The Tanaduk Botanical Research Institute to promote and market the Tibetan and Mongolian variety of the wolfberry in the west. This source produces only about 280 tons of berries per year...

Wolfberries and Lycium bark have long played important roles in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), where they are believed to enhance immune system function, improve eyesight, protect the liver, boost sperm production, and improve circulation, among other effects. In TCM terms, wolfberries are sweet in taste and neutral in nature; they act on the liver, lung, and kidney channels and enrich yin. They can be eaten raw, consumed as juice or wine, brewed into a tea, or prepared as a tincture.

An early mention of wolfberry occurs in the 7th century Tang Dynasty treatise Yaoxing Lun. It is also discussed in the 16th century Ming Dynasty Compendium of Materia Medica of Li Shizhen.

There are also many published studies, mostly from China, on the possible medicinal benefits of Lycium barbarum, however, little of this research has been confirmed by western science, approved as clinical conclusions, or accepted by regulatory authorities...

...Wolfberry contains significant percentages of a day's macronutrient needs – carbohydrates, protein, fat and dietary fiber. 68% of the mass of a wolfberry exists as carbohydrate, 12% as protein, and 10% each as fiber and fat, giving a total caloric value of 370 for a 100 gram serving.(dubious; discuss)

Seeds contain the wolfberry's polyunsaturated fats such as linoleic (omega-6) and linolenic (omega-3) acids.

Wolfberries contain high levels of many nutrients. These values are for 100 grams of the dried berry.

1. Calcium. Wolfberries contain 112 mg per 100 gram serving, providing about 8-10% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).
2. Potassium. Wolfberres contain 1,132mg per 100 grams dried fruit, giving about 24% of the RDI.
3. Iron. Wolfberries have 9mg iron per 100 grams, which is 100% of the RDI.
4. Zinc. 2 mg per 100 grams dried fruit, hence h 20% of the RDI.
5. Selenium. 100g dried wolfberries contain 50 micrograms, or around 60-70% of RDI
6. Riboflavin (vitamin B2). At 1.3 mg, 100g dried wolfberries provide 100% of RDI.
7. Vitamin C. Vitamin C content in dried wolfberries has a wide range (from different sources) from 29 mg/100 grams to as high as 148 mg/100 grams. The lower value is 35% of the RDI...."

Goji juice and berries are available online at The Vitamin Shoppe.

27 November 2006

Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries: Grand Livre de Cuisine

For the person who is seriously interested in pastries and sweets, THIS is the cookbook to get. Published just this last month, Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries: Grand Livre de Cuisine, is a must for any culinary library. More from Jessica's Biscuit:

"In this magnificent volume, the second in the Grand Livre de Cuisine series, celebrated chefs Alain Ducasse and Frédéric Robert comprehensively cover the art of making desserts, pastries, candy, and other sweets. Everything is here— mousses and fondants; cookies and cakes; ice creams and sorbets; bonbons and nougats; fruit tarts, profiteroles, and sweet crèpes.

The book’s 250 mouth-watering recipes range from traditional treats such as peach melba, candied apples, and oeufs à la neige to audacious concoctions such as tropical fruit– stuffed ravioli and coconut-encrusted lollipops. Decidedly French yet international in flavor, the book presents the authors’ masterful takes on American cheesecake; Italian cannolis, zuppa inglese, and tiramisù; and the Austrian confections known as viennoiseries.

Organized by main ingredient, the Grand Livre’s structure epitomizes Ducasse’s philosophy of cooking and baking, which holds that culinary techniques should accentuate and enhance an ingredient’s true nature—not mask it. The book features more than 650 color photographs, including a full-page, close-up photo of each finished dish. Cross-sectional drawings clearly display the internal “architecture” of some of the more complex creations.

Alain Ducasse is the celebrated chef of four renowned restaurants: Le Louis XV in Monaco, Restaurant Plaza Athénée in Paris, Alain Ducasse at The Essex House in New York, and Beige in Tokyo. In 25 years as a prominent chef, he has not only developed expertise in the culinary arts but also become successful as an educator and publisher.

Frederic Robert has spent the last 25 years working side by side with Alain Ducasse, overseeing all the pastries, desserts, and breads for his restaurants. He has received numerous culinary awards."

Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries: Grand Livre de Cuisine
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robert, Mathilde De L'Ecotais (Photographer)
650 Color Photographs
October 2006
ISBN: 2848440163
Stewart Tabori & Chang

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

24 November 2006

Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food - New York Times

We continue to highlight books on food, whether cookbooks, books on the history of food, books on people involved in food, well you get the idea. Here's one, Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food, that is on a slighlty different tangent:

"ARE we headed for an age of Frankenfoods or superfoods? Mass poisoning by hamburger or improved vitality through next week’s nutrition breakthrough? Do we face global starvation, or is global abundance just around the corner? And if so, how will the planet pay for it?"

Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food - New York Times: "Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food"


Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food
by Warren James Belasco
ISBN: 0520250354
October 2006
Series: California Studies in Food and Culture

It is available online from Barnes and Noble and Alibris.

21 November 2006

Home Baking: Sweet and Savory Traditions from Around the World

Though not a new publication like most of the books we feature, Home Baking: Sweet and Savory Traditions from Around the World, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, is an apt cookbook to feature at this time of year. From the publisher:

"For their new book, authors Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid traveled tens of thousands of miles, to six continents, in search of everyday gems like Taipei Coconut Buns, Welsh Cakes, Moroccan Biscotti, and Tibetan Overnight Skillet Breads. All the while they tested, tasted, interpreted, and recorded the stories behind them, capturing the moments in photography and prose. Then they brought them all back home and put them side by side with Naomi's grandmother's treacle tart, the cinnamon buns Jeffrey grew up with, and many more such treasures. The result is a collection of more than two hundred recipes that resonate with the joys and tastes of the everyday around the globe."

Home Baking: Sweet and Savory Traditions from Around the World
by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
November 2003
Hardcover, 352pp
Artisan Publishers
ISBN: 1579651747

Available online from Barnes and Noble and Jessica's Biscuit.

18 November 2006

Have a Hassle-free Thanksgiving (Really!)

Prevention.com has a wealth of information on nutrition. And just a wonderful site to explore for recipes, food safety, even vitamins. A useful site to bookmark for reference, this article for Thanksgiving.

Have a Hassle-free Thanksgiving (Really!)


It's the time of year when my favorite orange, the clementine, is in full season. Typically smaller than a tennis ball, seedless, easy to peel, and sweet, it's a treat. One alone is kid size, several a great substitute for your juice in the morning. If you have never tried them, your're missin out on a gem of a fruit. Wikipedia tells you more on the origin of this citrus:

"A clementine or Satsuma, or Mandarin, is the fruit of Citrus reticulata, and may be a cross between a mandarin orange and an orange created by the Algerian priest Pierre Clément in 1902. It has been proposed that it was "originally an accidental hybrid said to have been discovered by Father Clément Rodier in the garden of his orphanage in Misserghin, Algeria." - however, there are claims it originated in China much earlier. The Online Etymology Dictionary In Arabic, it is called "Kalamintina", while in German, it is generally referred to as "Mandarine", that is, as a member of that broader supergroup.

Clementines are sometimes mistaken for tangerines, but the clementine has a thinner and more easily removed skin, a sweeter fruit, and no seeds. It is an oblate, medium-sized fruit. The exterior is a deep orange colour with a smooth, glossy appearance. Clementines separate easily into eight to twelve juicy segments filled with a taste of apricot nectar.

Clementines have been available in Europe for many years, but the market for them in the United States was made only a few years ago, when the harsh 1997 winter in Florida devastated domestic orange production, increasing prices and decreasing availability. This variety was introduced into California commercial agriculture in 1914, though it was grown at the Citrus Research Center at the University of California, Riverside as early as 1909. California clementines are available from mid-November through January; this availability has them referred to in some areas as "Christmas Oranges".

These little mandarins have also caused large headaches for some beekeepers. Big companies like Paramount Citrus in California have threatened to sue local beekeepers for their bees' trespassings on the land the Clementines are grown on. When bees cross-pollinate the Clementines with another fruit, they lose their seedlessness.

As with all fruit, "clementine" can also refer to the tree."

In my opinion, the best clementines come from Spain. Look for them in your local supermarket.

16 November 2006

A Man and His Meatballs

Ahh, finally another new food book with humor! I often devour (pun intended) cookbooks as great novels. Some authors can write, and some need to stay in the kitchen. Here's a book, A Man and His Meatballs, by John LaFemina, that's two meals in one pot. The lowdown from Jessica's Biscuit:

A hilariously funny cookbook-cum-how-I-did-it memoir by the chef-restaurateur who created New Yorks' dazzling Apizz restaurant.

At the age of 37, John LaFemina left a lucrative career as a jeweler to become a chef. Instead of going back to school, or getting on-the-job training, he did it the hard way: he bought a restaurant and then taught himself to cook.

In this gorgeous cookbook, he not only shares scores of recipes, but describes his life as a Canarsie boy learning about meatballs and macaroni in his mother's kitchen. LaFemina takes us step-by-step through the process of finding the perfect location (and figuring out how many meatballs you have to sell to pay the rent), designing a restaurant, procuring all the necessary permits and licenses, and creating the menu.

A Man and His Meatballs
by John LaFemina
Hardcover - 288 pages
October 2006
Color and Black & White Photographs
ISBN: 0060853352
Harper Collins

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

Thanksgiving Meal Wines

Ah, what wine to pair with the turkey? Red, white, rose? Many wines go well with the meal. But a really good wine depends on many things: How robust the the acompaniments and stuffing are, the sophistification of the diners, and even how long your meal lasts. A very informative article with recommendations appears in today' s New York Times, "What Goes With Turkey Again?" by Eric Asimov. For those of you who fret what to serve with the bird, it's worth the read.

One of the wines highlighted is Marsanne. Wikipedia explains further:

"Marsanne is a little used variety of grape, most common in the northern Rhône, where it is often blended with Roussanne. It is also grown in Switzerland where its name has the synonym Ermitage Blanc, and the Goulburn Valley region of Australia. The Australian varieties often require unusually long bottle aging compared to most white wines.

The wines created from Marsanne are rich and nutty, with hints of spice and pear. Often Australian Marsanne has aromas of melon and honeysuckle.

For many years the variety was kept alive by the Tahbilk Winery in the Goulburn Valley but over recent times Marsanne has become much more popular throughout Australian wine regions."

Marsanne and roussanne wines, as well as other wine recommendations for your Thanksgiving are available online at Wine.com.

12 November 2006

The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work - New York Times

If you like to make bread, and I do, you'll find this article in The New York Times of some interest. I intend to try this soon. Look for my other blogs here for bread recipes.

The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work - New York Times

From top: 1. When dough is bubbly, it is ready to be worked. 2. Fold dough once or twice; do not knead. 3. Shape it into a ball and let it rise. 4. Wheat bran flies as Jim Lahey lifts dough and drops it into a hot pot. 5. After baking, the crusty result.


Photographs by Ruby Washington/The New York Times; Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

11 November 2006

Turducken, chuckey, et.al.

Turducken, chuckey, et.al.

Unless you have had it or made it, you probably have no idea what turducken is. And since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, a bit of trivia on it is appropriate. Wikipedia provides some background:

"A turducken is a de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. The cavity of the chicken and the rest of the gaps are filled with, at the very least, a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture or sausage meat, although some versions have a different stuffing for each bird. Some recipes call for the turkey to be stuffed with a chicken which is then stuffed with a duckling. It is also called a chuckey.

The result is a relatively solid, albeit layered, piece of poultry, suitable for slow cooking by braising, roasting, grilling, or barbecuing. The turducken is not suitable for deep frying Cajun style (to deep fry poultry, the body cavity must be hollow to cook evenly). Turducken fans say that it is complex and usually quite agreeable in texture and flavor, as the juices of the turkey and chicken baste the duck, and the more robust duck bastes the turkey and chicken.

Turducken is a uniquely American development and is believed to be Cajun in origin, although it may also have originated in eastern Texas or northern Louisiana. Lake Charles, Louisiana, claims that turduckens were invented there. While such elaborate layering of whole animals, also known as a farce, from the French word for "stuffing", can be documented well back into the Middle Ages of Europe, some people credit Cajun-creole fusion chef Paul Prudhomme with creating the chimerical dish. However, no one has ever verified his claim...

...Turducken is generally associated with the "do-it-yourself" outdoor food culture also associated with true barbecueing and crawfish boils, although some people now serve them in place of the traditional roasted turkey at the Thanksgiving meal. Turduckens can be prepared at home in the span of 12-16 hours by anybody willing to learn how to remove the bones from poultry, instructions for which can be found on the Internet or in various cookbooks. As their popularity has spread from Louisiana to the rest of the Deep South and beyond, they are also available through some specialty stores in urban areas, or even by mail order...

...In addition to the aforementioned chuckey, some enthusiasts have taken it a step further, and come up with the turduckencorpheail. This is a standard turducken, which is then stuffed with a cornish game hen, which is then stuffed with a pheasant, and finally stuffed with a quail. The turduckencorpheail is not for the faint of heart; it is an extremely time consuming endeavor, as birds of the proper size must first be obtained, and then prepared.

Chef Paul Prudhomme brought renewed popularity to the Osturduckencorpheail with his own Osturduckencorpheail recipe. There is a similar dish in South Africa called the Osturducken, an ostrich stuffed with turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken.

A further variant is the gurducken, where the external bird is a goose, rather than a turkey.

In the UK the Turducken is commonly known as a three-bird roast. English chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall expanded this into a ten-bird roast (a turgoduckmaguikenantidgeonck - turkey, goose, duck, mallard, guineafowl, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon, woodcock).

The largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the 19th Century: a bustergophechideckneaealckideverwingailusharkolanine - bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan and a passerine. Since passerine is a generic term, it is not known exactly what kind of bird was used as the smallest in the actual roast, although a pied flycatcher has been suggested. The recipe notes that the final bird is small enough that it can be stuffed with a single olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds."


Well, there you have it. And if you don't want to do it yourself, prepared turducken is available online at Gourmet Grocery Online.

07 November 2006

Mindless Eating

I come across all kinds of sites on foods, ingredients, cookbooks, etc. This is one I found that is worth visiting, mindlesseating.org. Here is a brief excerpt from the site:

"What does it mean to mindlessly eat?

Most of us don’t overeat because we’re hungry. We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.

Our studies show that the average person makes around 250 decisions about food every day – breakfast or no breakfast? Pop-tart or bagel? Part of it or all of it? Kitchen or car? Yet out of these 200+ food decisions, most we cannot really explain. Mindless Eating shows what these decisions are and how to make them work for you rather than against you."

Worth a visit.


05 November 2006

For Those Happiest Elbow-Deep in Flour - New York Times

I like to feature new cookbooks and books about food on this blog. In today's New York Times there is an article that highlights many new cookbooks on baking, and explains each beautifully.

For Those Happiest Elbow-Deep in Flour - New York Times

Many of the books mentioned can be found at Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.