29 March 2007

Blue Ribbon Recipes: 693 Award-Winners from America's State and County Fairs

Many of you have enjoyed visiting county or state fairs, and tasted their way through the produce and recipes (and many strange concoctions) presented. Well, in Blue Ribbon Recipes: 693 Award-Winners from America's State and County Fairs
by Barbara Greenman (editor), you don't have to grimace at some of the presentations, the best have been selected for you. Just published, Jessica's Biscuit says:

"Blue Ribbon Recipes is the ultimate collection of recipes from across the U.S.A. Created and tested by some of the best cooks ever—America’s home cooks—each tasty dish is a proven award-winner from one of the country’s many highly competitive state or county fair cooking competitions.

The recipes are simple to make and include something for everyone, from appetizers and salads to main dishes and entrees, from breads and pastries to desserts and preserves. Regional dishes encourage readers to sample favorites from every corner of America, including Bayou Breakfast Casserole, Corn-Jalapeño Fritters, Green Chile Whiskey Stew, Kansas City Beef, Balsamic Chicken with Peach Glaze, Lemonade Marmalade, Triple Layer Mud Pie, Maine Blueberry Pie, Cappuccino Cheesecake, and Molasses Sugar Cookies. Entertaining features throughout share with readers some state fair history and facts and give the recipes for such favorite fair foods as corn dogs, soft pretzels, and funnel cakes.

Filled with local flavor and handsomely illustrated with original illustrations of the food and ingredients, Blue Ribbon Recipes is a winner—and the perfect addition to every home kitchen."

Blue Ribbon Recipes: 693 Award-Winners from America's State and County Fairs
by Barbara Greenman; editor
Spiral - 400 pages; Black & White Illustrations
Published: March 2007
ISBN: 1579126987
Black Dog & Leventhal

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

25 March 2007

David Eyres Pancakes (and recipe)

It appears this story (and variations) and the recipe, David Eyres Pancakes, has been blogged by others, but it is worthy of another mention. From today's New York Times Magazine:

Food: Recipe Redux -- 1966: David Eyre’s Pancake
By Amanda Hesser, Published: March 25, 2007

Craig Claiborne described making the acquaintance of the oven-baked pancake as if he had met Grace Kelly: “It was discovered some weeks ago at an informal Sunday brunch in the handsome, Japanese-style home of the David Eyres in Honolulu. With Diamond Head in the distance, a brilliant, palm-ringed sea below and this delicately flavored pancake before us, we seemed to have achieved paradise.”

Life was good if you were a food writer in the 1960s. Even when you made mistakes (Claiborne doubled the butter in his recipe), paradise never dimmed. Bloggers did not burn him at the stake. He was not dragged in shame through the corrections column. A few weeks later, he simply mentioned airily, “The food editor was in such reverie on his return from Hawaii he did not notice the gremlins in his measuring spoons.”

Forty years later, readers are still making that pancake (with less butter but no less bliss). It appears on a dozen blogs, embellished with family stories and photos and new-and-improved versions of the recipe.

What keeps cooks faithful to one recipe is often some confluence of ease and surprise. David Eyre’s pancake possesses both. A batter of flour, milk, eggs and nutmeg is blended together, then poured into a hot skillet filled with butter and baked. Anyone confused? I didn’t think so.

The surprise comes, appropriately, at the end, when you open the oven door to find a poofy, toasted, utterly delectable-looking pancake. This soon collapses as you shower it with confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice, slice it up and devour it. It’s sweet and tart, not quite a pancake and not quite a crepe. But lovable all the same.

I sent the recipe to Ana Sortun, the chef at Oleana in Cambridge, Mass., who tried it out with her cooks. “We thought if we were serving it for dessert, it would be a no-brainer,” she said. “We’d just sprinkle it with orange-flower water.” One cook spread it with pear butter, another with rose-petal jam, both with enthusiastic response.

But when it came to tweaking it, Sortun headed in another direction. Smitten with the pancake’s crisp, puffy and eggy qualities, she decided to play around with the idea of crossing a popover (puffy, eggy) with the Moroccan squab pie bisteeya (crisp). She seasoned the batter with cinnamon and nutmeg, then assembled a filling of shredded chicken, almonds, harissa, saffron and lemon. Instead of a skillet, she baked the popovers — she calls them dumplings — in muffin tins, changing the shape entirely. Like the skillet for the pancake, the muffin tin was preheated so the popovers would cook quickly, searing on the edges.

The batter toasts and swells and envelops the filling, a trifecta riff on popovers, dumplings and bisteeya. They deflate like pricked balloons, so their journey from the oven to the table must be quick. Sprinkle them with lemon juice and cilantro as you go.

1966: David Eyres Pancake recipe

This recipe appeared in a Times article by Craig Claiborne.

2 eggs

½ cup flour

½ cup milk

Pinch of ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Juice of half a lemon

Fig or blackberry jam, pear butter or any kind of marmalade, for serving (optional).

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk and nutmeg and lightly beat until blended but still slightly lumpy.

2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet with a heatproof handle over medium-high heat. When very hot but not brown, pour in the batter. Bake in the oven until the pancake is billowing on the edges and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

3. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and, using a fine-meshed sieve, sprinkle with the sugar. Return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with jam, pear butter or marmalade. Serves 2 to 4.

2007: Moroccan Chicken Dumplings recipe

By Ana Sortun, the chef at Oleana in Cambridge and the author of “Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Cooking-oil spray

¾ cup cooked, shredded chicken (from about half a chicken breast or 2 thighs)

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 ½ teaspoons harissa

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

1 lemon

Pinch of saffron

½ cup flour

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup whole milk

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, to garnish

Chicken broth (optional).

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with 6 half-cup molds with cooking-oil spray. In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, almonds, harissa and olive oil. Season with salt.

2. Juice half the lemon. Cut the remaining half into 6 wedges and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the saffron in 2 teaspoons lemon juice; let sit for 10 minutes.

3. Place the muffin tin on a sheet pan and put it in the oven to heat, about 5 minutes. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center, add the eggs, milk and saffron mixture and beat gently, leaving the batter a little lumpy.

4. Remove the muffin tin from the oven and distribute the melted butter evenly among the molds. (It is important that each cup has enough butter, as the batter will fry in it when baked.) Divide the batter among the molds, no more than halfway up each. Drop about 2 tablespoons chicken filling into the center of each. Bake until the edges are browned and the batter is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Top with cilantro and serve with lemon wedges. Eat as is or with homemade chicken broth poured on top. Serves 6 as an appetizer; with broth, it would serve 2 or 3 as a main course.

***

Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, by Ana Sortun, is available online from Jessica's Biscuit.

20 March 2007

Nominees for the James Beard Foundation Book Awards and The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Awards

Left: T h e J a m e s B e a r d F o u n d a t i o n



Rather than picking and choosing individual food books award nominees, here is almost the entire list of Nominees for the James Beard Foundation Book Awards and The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Awards, announced on the same day, yesterday. Courtesy of Jessica's Biscuit (please excuse any typos and/or omissions!):

Highlights are:


*** 2007 IACP AWARD FINALISTS ***
_________________________________________

AMERICAN CATEGORY
Cookbooks that focus on ethnic, cultural, or regional cooking in the United States of America.
_________________________________________

Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert; The Cooking of South Texas
by Melissa Guerra
_________________________________________

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
_________________________________________

Sharing the Table at Gardner's Lodge
by Amanda Stine and Mary Garland
________________________________________

BREAD, OTHER BAKING, AND SWEETS CATEGORY
Cookbooks that focus on breadmaking, desserts, confections, and sweet or savory pastries or doughs.
_________________________________________

About Professional Baking
by Gail Sokol
________________________________________

Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
_________________________________________

Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
_________________________________________

CHEFS AND RESTAURANTS CATEGORY: CALIFORNIA TABLE GRAPE COMMISSION AWARD
Cookbooks by or about chefs, collections of recipes from chefs, or books that focus on the cuisine of a specific restaurant.
_________________________________________

Allegra's Color Cookbook
by Allegra Mcevedy
_________________________________________

Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating
by Michel Richard
_________________________________________

In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics
by Heston Blumenthal
_________________________________________

COMPILATIONS CATEGORY
Cookbooks comprised of material previously published in another format, or compiled by a staff of writers or editors.
_________________________________________

The 150 Best American Recipes: Indispensable Dishes from Legendary Chefs and Undiscovered Cooks
by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens, editors
_________________________________________

All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Cooking Light magazine
_________________________________________

The Professional Chef, 8th Edition
by Culinary Institute of America
_________________________________________

FIRST BOOK: THE JULIA CHILD AWARD, Sponsored by Sur La Table
The first cookbook by a writer who has not previously authored or co-authored a cookbook.
_________________________________________

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors
by Andrea Nguyen
_________________________________________

CHEFS AND RESTAURANTS CATEGORY: CALIFORNIA TABLE GRAPE COMMISSION AWARD
Cookbooks by or about chefs, collections of recipes from chefs, or books that focus on the cuisine of a specific restaurant.
_________________________________________

Allegra's Color Cookbook
by Allegra Mcevedy
_________________________________________

Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating
by Michel Richard
_________________________________________

In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics
by Heston Blumenthal
_________________________________________

COMPILATIONS CATEGORY
Cookbooks comprised of material previously published in another format, or compiled by a staff of writers or editors.
_________________________________________

The 150 Best American Recipes: Indispensable Dishes from Legendary Chefs and Undiscovered Cooks
by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens, editors
_________________________________________

All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Cooking Light magazine
_________________________________________

The Professional Chef, 8th Edition
by Culinary Institute of America
_________________________________________

FIRST BOOK: THE JULIA CHILD AWARD, Sponsored by Sur La Table
The first cookbook by a writer who has not previously authored or co-authored a cookbook.
_________________________________________

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors
by Andrea Nguyen
_________________________________________

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
_________________________________________

Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan
_________________________________________

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY AND STYLING CATEGORY
Awarded to a photographer and stylist for food photography and styling that clearly, accurately, and artistically represents the book's recipes or cooking techniques, enhances the text with stimulating visual images, and reflects the overall tone of the book.
_________________________________________

The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes from Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg
Photographer: Deborah Jones
_________________________________________

Secret Destinations: Asian Spa Cuisine
by Edmund Ho
_________________________________________

Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
Photographer: Earl Carter
_________________________________________

FOOD REFERENCE/TECHNICAL CATEGORY
Reference books of culinary terms, histories, techniques or ingredients.
_________________________________________

Culinary Biographies
by Alice Arndt
_________________________________________

Modern Garde Manger
by Robert Garlough
_________________________________________

The Spice And Herb Bible, Second Edition
by Ian Hemphill
_________________________________________

GENERAL CATEGORY
Multiple-subject books, all purpose cookbooks, and personal recipe collections.
_________________________________________

The Filipino-American Kitchen: Traditional Recipes, Contemporary Flavors
by Jennifer Aranas
_________________________________________

The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
_________________________________________

Opera Lover's Cookbook: Menus for Elegant Entertaining
by Francine Segan
_________________________________________

HEALTH AND SPECIAL DIET CATEGORY
Cookbooks that focus on healthy eating, nutrition, dietary concerns, and special or restrictive diets.
_________________________________________

Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper and Lisa Holmes
_________________________________________

Spa Cuisine by Charlie Trotter
by Charlie Trotter
_________________________________________

Desserts: New Healthy Kitchen
Williams-Sonoma
by Annabel Langbein
_________________________________________

INTERNATIONAL CATEGORY: THE LE CORDON BLEU AWARD
Cookbooks that focus on particular geographical regions or cultural identities outside the United States of America.
_________________________________________

Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
_________________________________________

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors
by Andrea Nguyen
_________________________________________

The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
_________________________________________

LITERARY FOOD WRITING CATEGORY: THE CUISINART AWARD
Non-fiction or fiction food and beverage books that are distinguished by the quality of their prose. These books may or may not include recipes.
_________________________________________

The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater
by Nigel Slater
_________________________________________

My Life in France
by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
_________________________________________

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation
by David Kamp
_________________________________________

SINGLE SUBJECT CATEGORY
Cookbooks that focus on specific foods, cooking methods, techniques, or appliances.
_________________________________________

Hot Chocolate : 50 Heavenly Cups of Comfort
by Fred Thompson
_________________________________________

Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchetti
_________________________________________

Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
by Deborah Madison
_________________________________________

WINE, BEER, OR SPIRITS CATEGORY
Books on the history, evaluation or production or alcoholic beverages; mixology; serving or pairing with food.
_________________________________________

Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier's Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food
by Evan Goldstein with recipes by Joyce Goldstein
_________________________________________

Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails
by Mittie Hellmich
_________________________________________

What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
__________________________________________________________________________

*** 2007 James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Book Award Nominees***
__________________________________________________________________________

CATEGORY: ASIAN COOKING
_________________________________________

Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
_________________________________________

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors
by Andrea Nguyen
_________________________________________

The Sushi Experience: Everything You Need to Know About Sushi--Understanding It, Making It, Enjoying It
by Hiroko Shimbo
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: BAKING AND DESSERTS
_________________________________________

Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
_________________________________________

Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters
by Marilynn Brass and Sheila Brass
_________________________________________

King Arthur Flour: Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains
by King Arthur Flour
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: COOKING FROM A PROFESSIONAL POINT OF VIEW
_________________________________________

Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries: Grand Livre de Cuisine
by Alain Ducasse and Frederic Robert
_________________________________________

Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating
by Michel Richard

_________________________________________

The Professional Chef, 8th Edition
by Culinary Institute of America
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: ENTERTAINING AND SPECIAL OCCASIONS
_________________________________________

The Big Book of Appetizers: More than 250 Recipes for Any Occasion
by Meredith Deeds and Carla Snyder
_________________________________________

The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters and Bill Jamison
_________________________________________

Opera Lover's Cookbook: Menus for Elegant Entertaining
by Francine Segan
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: FOOD OF THE AMERICAS
_________________________________________

Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert; The Cooking of South Texas
by Melissa Guerra
_________________________________________

Kathy Casey's Northwest Table: Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Southern Alaska
by Kathy Casey
_________________________________________

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: GENERAL
_________________________________________

Family Kitchen: Easy and Delicious Recipes for Parents and Kids to Make and Enjoy Together
by Debra Ponzek
_________________________________________

The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
_________________________________________

Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: HEALTHY FOCUS
_________________________________________

The Diabetes Menu Cookbook: Delicious Special-Occasion Recipes for Family and Friends
by Barbara Scott-Goodman and Kalia Doner
_________________________________________

EatingWell? Serves Two: 150 Healthy in a Hurry Suppers
by Jim Romanoff and EatingWell? Magazine's Test Kitchen
_________________________________________

Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: INTERNATIONAL
_________________________________________

Arabesque
by Claudia Roden
_________________________________________

The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
_________________________________________

Spice : Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean
by Ana Sortun
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: REFERENCE
_________________________________________

Culinary Biographies
by Alice Arndt
_________________________________________

Organic Cook's Bible: How to Select and Cook the Best Ingredients on the Market
by Jeff Cox
_________________________________________

What to Eat: An Aisle-by Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices
by Marion Nestle
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: SINGLE SUBJECT
_________________________________________

Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine
by Daniel Boulud
_________________________________________

The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes from Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg
_________________________________________

Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
by Deborah Madison
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: WINE AND SPIRITS
_________________________________________

Keys to the Cellar: Strategies and Secrets of Wine Collecting
by Peter D. Meltzer
_________________________________________

Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
_________________________________________

Wines of France: The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers
by Jacqueline Friedrich
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: WRITINGS ON FOOD
_________________________________________

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
by Bill Buford
_________________________________________

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
_________________________________________

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation
by David Kamp
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: PHOTOGRAPHY
_________________________________________

KaisekI: The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto's Kikunoi Restaurant
by Yoshihiro Murata, Foreword by Nobu Matsuhisa & Ferran Adria
Photographer: Masashi Kuma
_________________________________________

Michael Mina : The Cookbook
by Michael Michael, Jo-Ann Cianciulli, Andre Agassi, and Karl Petzke
Photographer: Karl Petzke
_________________________________________

Tartine
by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
Photographer: Grant Symon
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR
Will be announced May 7, 2007
_________________________________________

CATEGORY: COOKBOOK HALL OF FAME
Will be announced May 7, 2007

***

Most of these books can be found online at Jessica's Biscuit (see great magazine offer there), Barnes and Noble, and Alibis Books.

Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa

It's that time of year when the nominees for the James Beard Awards are announced. A number of the nominees have already been highlighted in some of our past blogs. We'll present others we've mised. The first we missed, is in the INTERNATIONAL CATEGORY: THE LE CORDON BLEU AWARD, for cookbooks that focus on particular geographical regions or cultural identities outside the United States of America, The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa, by Marcus Samuelsson.

Jessica's Biscuit
says:

"In The Soul of a New Cuisine, award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson takes his formidable culinary talents and curiosity to Africa to bring the continent’s diverse cultures and cuisines alive for home cooks. Sharing more than 200 recipes from all parts of Africa, from Curried Trout with Coconut-Chili Sauce of Kenya to Braai Vegetables of South Africa, Samuelsson recounts fascinating stories of his journey across the continent. Beautifully designed in full-color throughout and featuring more than 250 breathtaking color food and travel photos, the book is ideal for readers who would like to explore the free, relaxed spirit of African cooking."

Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
Marcus Samuelsson, Heidi Sacko Walters, Gediyon Kifle (Photographer)skip to next title
Hardcover, 368 pages
September 2006
John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 0764569112

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

14 March 2007

A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France

Just published, A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France, by Georgeanne Brennan, is a memoir that promises fine reading. Jessica's Biscuit whets our apetite:

"From the author of Potager: Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style comes another extraordinary memoir of a woman embarking on a new life--this time in the South of France. Thirty years ago, James Beard Award-winning author Georgeanne Brennan set out to realize the dream of a peaceful, rural existence en Provence. She and her husband, with their young daughter in tow, bought a small farmhouse with a little land, and a few goats and pigs--and so began a life-affirming journey. Filled with delicious recipes and local color, this evocative and passionate memoir describes her life cooking and living in the Provencal tradition--an entrancing tale that will whet the appetite and the spirit--perfect for foodies, Francophiles, or anyone who's dreamed of packing their bags and buying a ticket to the good life.

"'Georgeanne Brennan's captivating memoir reminds me of why I, too, was enchanted by Provence. She beautifully captures the details of living in a place where the culture of the table ties a community together-where everyone knows the butcher and the baker, and everyone depends on the farmers.'
-Alice Waters, owner, Chez Panisse"

A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France
by Georgeanne Brennan
Hardcover - 224 pages
February 2007
ISBN: 081185213X
Chronicle

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

Corned Beef; Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

It's that time of year (St. Patrick's Day) when many enjoy a version of corned beef and cabbage. A version. Whether with cabbage and potatoes. Or with turnips. With or without Irish Soda Bread (see bottom of blog). As a Reuben. Or your own hand-me-down recipe. But why is it call corned beef? Wikipedia provides some info:

"The Corn in Corned beef refers to the "corns" or grains of coarse salt used to cure it. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the usage of "corn," meaning "small hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt," to 888, and the term "corned beef" to 1621 (While the process of preserving meat with salt is ancient, food historians tell us corned beef (preserving beef with "corns" or large grains of salt) originated in Medieval Europe. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the first use of the word corn, meaning "small hard particle, a grain, as of sand or salt," in print to 888. The term "corned beef" dates to 1621.).

In the United States, corned beef is often purchased precooked at delicatessens. Perhaps the most famous sandwich made with it is the Reuben sandwich, consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread which is then grilled on a flat griddle or in a cast iron pan. It is served hot...

...In the United States, corned beef is also associated with Saint Patrick's Day, when many Irish Americans eat a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage. According to the History Channel, while cabbage has become a traditional food item for Irish-Americans, corned beef was originally a substitute for Irish bacon in the late 1800s. Irish immigrants living in New York City's Lower East Side sought an equivalent in taste and texture to their traditional Irish bacon (similar to Canadian bacon), and learned about this cheaper alternative to bacon from their Jewish neighbors.

A similar dish is the boiled dinner, consisting of corned beef, cabbage, and root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and potatoes, which is popular in New England and parts of Atlantic Canada...

...Corned beef hash is commonly served as a breakfast food with eggs and hash browns...

...Corned beef is prepared before the actual cooking of the meal by seasoning a cut of beef with salt (large grains of salt were known as corns) and spices and the natural meat juices. This meat is then placed whole, like a rump or pot roast into a crock pot, which in olden times was a ceramic pot over a fire, filled with cabbage and carrots, and, when available, red potatoes. However, after Luther Burbank's alteration of potatoes, the potatoes were chopped when placed in the pot. Rutabaga or turnips are also common ingredients.

This meal can be left in a crock pot all day but must be kept in the naturally humid environment of cooking meat. Corned beef and cabbage is often served as a whole meal.

Common condiments include horseradish, mustard, and vinegar."


Following is one version of Corned Beef and Cabbage from the FoodNetwork:

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

INGREDIENTS

One 3-pound corned beef brisket (uncooked), in brine
16 cups cold water
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 whole allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1/2 large head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cut into 8 thick wedges
8 small new potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved
Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the corned beef in a colander in the sink and rinse well under cold running water.

Place the corned beef in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid; add the water, bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice, and cloves. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Cover and transfer pan to the oven, and braise until very tender, about 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Transfer the corned beef to a cutting board and cover tightly with foil to keep warm. Add the cabbage and potatoes to the cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cabbage to a large platter. Slice the corned beef across the grain of the meat into thin slices. Lay the slices over the cabbage and surround it with the potatoes. Ladle some of the hot cooking liquid over the corned beef and season with pepper. Serve immediately with the mustard or horseradish sauce.

***

And see the article on Irish Soda Bread (left), "Not Irish, but Maybe It’s for the Best", in today's New York Times.

***

Corned beef is available online at Omaha Steaks; Irish Soda Bread from Food Ireland.

***
Photo: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

09 March 2007

Raclette

Everyone knows what fondue is, whether the cheese, bourguigninone (meat), or chocolate version, is. But do you know what a raclette is. A relative of the Swiss fondue, and just as enjoyable if you like this form of dining. Wikipedia provides a bit of background:

"Raclette is both a type of cheese and, informally, a dish featuring the cheese.

The cheese: Traditional Raclette is a semi-firm, salted cheese made from cow's milk. However, varieties exist made with white wine, pepper, herbs, or smoked. The cheese originated in the Swiss canton of Valais, but is today also fabricated in the French regions of Savoie, Franche-Comté and Bretagne.

The cheese is usually fashioned into a round of about 6 kg (13 lb).

The dish: Raclette is also a dish indigenous to parts of Switzerland, Wallonia and France. The Raclette cheese round is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners' plates; the term raclette derives from the French racler, meaning "to scrape". Traditionally, it is accompanied by small firm potatoes (Bintje, Charlotte or Raclette varieties), gherkins, pickled onions, dried meats (such as prosciutto and viande des Grisons), sliced peppers, tomato, onion, mushrooms, watermelon rinds, pears, paprika and fresh black pepper.

In the Swiss canton of Valais, raclette is typically eaten with tea or other warm beverages, or with a type of white wine called Fendant, made from the Chasselas grape. Drinking water along with your raclette is said to interfere with the digestion of the cheese, although this is likely an "old wives' tale" as there is no scientific basis for this. It is normally accompanied by a white wine, such as the traditional Savoie wine, a Riesling or a Pinot Gris.

Raclette was mentioned in medieval writings as a particularly nutritious meal consumed by peasants in mountainous Switzerland. It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or "roasted cheese." Traditionally, the Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of some bread.

A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small 'pans' to heat slices of raclette cheese in. This method of serving, although not authentic, is considered more practical by some."

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Various raclettes dishes, as well as a book of recipes, are available from Sur La Table.

Raclette cheeses are available from iGourmet and Cheese Supply.

07 March 2007

The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook

Did you know March is National Peanut Butter Month in the United States? I didn't. (For more on peanuts, see our other blogs.) And what better way to observe the occasion than with a book on peanut butter? The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook, by Lee Zalben, Jerry Seinfeld has been around a while, and is a nice addition to your food library. From the publishers:

"In 1998, a cozy Greenwich Village café named Peanut Butter & Co. was born—with a menu consisting entirely of peanut butter creations. The restaurant was an instant hit, with features on Good Morning America and Nightline, and profiles in Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. People liked their peanut butter so much that it's now available in gourmet shops and grocery stores around the United States. Now proprietor and restaurateur Lee Zalben is spreading the joy of peanut butter with The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook. Here are more than 80 gooey recipes for everything from decadent desserts (Four-Layer Peanut Butter–Honey Cake) to delicious, nutritious snacks (Baked Apples with Peanut Butter) and sensational entrées (Peanut Butter Pad Thai). Of course, no peanut butter cookbook would be complete without sandwiches—here are recipes from the traditional (The Lunch Box Special) to the deliciously daring (Peanut Butter BLT). With full-color photographs and tons of quirky statistics, The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook is sure to answer every peanut butter craving!

Author Biography: Lee Zalben, a.k.a. "The Peanut Butter Guy," is the president and founder of Peanut Butter & Co. Having created an entire menu of peanut butter sandwiches and desserts, he is, without a doubt, peanut butter's number one fan!"

Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook
by Lee Zalben, Jerry Seinfeld, Theresa Raffetto (Photographer), Theresa Raffetto (Photographer), Jerry Seinfeld (Foreword by)
Paperback, 112 pp
ISBN: 1594740569
Pub. Date: November 2005
Quirk Publishing

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit (with complimentary peanut butter), and Barnes and Noble.

01 March 2007

Yerba Mate

Looking for an alternative to coffee or tea for a healthy pick-me-up during the day? Have you tried (or heard of) yerba mate? Read on, from Wikipedia:

"Yerba mate (Spanish) or erva mate (Portuguese) (Ilex paraguariensis) is a species of holly (family Aquifoliaceae) native to subtropical South America in Argentina, southern Paraguay, western Uruguay and southern Brazil.

The infusion called mate is prepared by steeping the dry leaves (and twigs) in hot water rather than boiling water like black tea or coffee. It is slightly less potent than coffee and much gentler on the stomach[citation needed]. Drinking mate with friends from a shared hollow gourd (also called a mate in Spanish, or cabaça or cuia in Portuguese) with a metal straw (a bombilla in Spanish, bomba or canudo in Portuguese) is an extremely common social practice in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, eastern Chile and southern Bolivia and Brazil.

Its use has also been introduced into Lebanon and Syria, particularly among the Alawi, Druze and Ismaili minorities. It's a very popular social drink in Salamiyah, Syria.

The flavor of brewed yerba mate is strongly vegetal, herbal, and grassy, reminiscent of some varieties of green tea. Many consider the flavor to be very agreeable, however, it is generally bitter if steeped in boiling water, so is made using hot but not boiling water. Unlike most teas, it does not become bitter and astringent when steeped for extended periods, and the leaves may be infused several times. Additionally, one can purchase flavored mate in many varieties.

In Brazil, a toasted version of mate, known as chá mate or "mate tea", is sold in teabag and loose form, and served, sweetened, in specialized shops, either hot or iced with fruit juice or milk. An iced, sweetened version of toasted mate is sold as an uncarbonated soft drink, with or without fruit flavoring. The toasted variety of mate has less of a bitter flavor and more of a spicy fragrance. It is more popular in the coastal cities of Brazil, as opposed to the far southern states where it is consumed in the traditional way (green, drunk with a silver straw from a shared gourd).

Similarly a form of mate is sold in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in tea bags to be drunk in a similar way to tea. This is known in Spanish as 'Mate cocido' or more commonly 'Cocido'. In Argentina this is commonly drunk with breakfast or 'la merienda' (afternoon tea) often with a selection of 'facturas' (sweet pastries). It is also made by heating yerba in water and straining it as it cools.

The yerba mate plant is a shrub or small tree growing up to 15 meters tall. The leaves are evergreen, 7–11 cm long and 3–5.5 cm wide, with a serrated margin. The flowers are small, greenish-white, with four petals. The fruit is a red berry 4–6 mm diameter...

...The plant is grown mainly in South America, more specifically in, Northern Argentina (Corrientes, Misiones), Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná). The Guaraní are reputed to be the first people who cultivated the plant; the first Europeans to do this were Jesuit missionaries, who spread the drinking habit as far as Ecuador.

When the yerba is harvested, the branches are dried sometimes with a wood fire, imparting a smoky flavour. Then the leaves and sometimes the twigs are broken up.

There are many brands and types of yerba, with and without twigs, some with low powder content. Some types are less strong in flavor (suave, "soft") and there are blends flavored with mint, orange and grapefruit skin, etc...

...Mate contains xanthines, which are alkaloids in the same family as caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in coffee and chocolate. Mate also contains elements such as potassium, magnesium and manganese [2]. Caffeine content varies between 0.3% and 1.7% of dry weight (compare this to 2.5–4.5% for tea leaves, and 1.5% for ground coffee).

Mate products are sometimes marketed as "caffeine-free" alternatives to coffee and tea, and said to have fewer negative effects. This is often based on a claim that the primary active xanthine in mate is "mateine", erroneously said to be a stereoisomer of caffeine (as it is not chemically possible for caffeine to have a stereoisomer). "Mateine" is an official synonym of caffeine in the chemical databases.

Researchers at Florida International University in Miami have found that yerba mate does contain caffeine, but some people seem to tolerate a mate drink better than coffee or tea. This is expected since mate contains different chemicals (other than caffeine) from tea or coffee.

From reports of personal experience with mate, its physiological effects are similar to (yet distinct from) more widespread caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or guarana drinks. Users report a mental state of wakefulness, focus and alertness reminiscent of most stimulants, but often remark on mate's unique lack of the negative effects typically created by other such compounds, such as anxiety, diarrhea, "jitteriness", and heart palpitations.

Reasons for mate's unique physiological attributes are beginning to emerge in scientific research. Studies of mate, though very limited, have shown preliminary evidence that the mate xanthine cocktail is different from other plants containing caffeine most significantly in its effects on muscle tissue, as opposed to those on the central nervous system, which are similar to those of other natural stimulants. Mate has been shown to have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue, and a stimulating effect on myocardial (heart) tissue.

Mate's negative effects are anecdotally claimed to be of a lesser degree than those of coffee, though no explanation for this is offered or even credibly postulated, except for its potential as a placebo effect. Many users report that drinking yerba mate does not prevent them from being able to fall asleep, as is often the case with some more common stimulating beverages, while still enhancing their energy and ability to remain awake at will. However, the net amount of caffeine in one preparation of yerba mate is typically quite high, in large part because the repeated filling of the mate with hot water is able to extract the highly-soluble xanthines extremely effectively. It is for this reason that one mate may be shared among several people and yet produce the desired stimulating effect in all of them.

In-vivo and in-vitro studies are showing yerba mate to exhibit significant cancer-fighting activity. Researchers at the University of Illinois (2005) found yerba mate to be 'rich in phenolic constituents' and to 'inhibit oral cancer cell proliferation'."

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Yerba Mate is available in many health and vitamin stores, and online at Shop Natural, iGourmet, and Fair Trade Online Store.