23 May 2008

2008 IACP Cookbook of the Year: "Fish Forever"

In case you haven't heard what the 2008 IACP Cookbook of the Year is, it is Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood, by Paul Johnson.

From Jessica's Biscuit:

"From a star fishmonger, a unique cookbook and guide to healthful, eco-friendly seafood.

Few people know more about fish than Paul Johnson, whose Monterey Fish Market in San Francisco supplies seafood to some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs, from Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, and Michael Mina to Todd English, Daniel Boulud, and Alain Ducasse. Now, Johnson at last shares his peerless seafood expertise. Written for people who love seafood but worry about the overfishing of certain species as well as mercury and other contaminants, Fish Forever pinpoints today’s least-endangered, least-contaminated, best-tasting fish and shellfish species. Johnson provides in-depth guidance on 70 different fish along with 96 stylish international recipes that highlight the outstanding culinary qualities of each. In addition to teaching readers about sustainable fishing practices, Johnson will be donating a portion of his royalties to Save Our Wild Salmon, an organization that works to restore wild salmon runs. Complete with over 60 beautiful color photographs, how-to tips, and fascinating sidebars, Fish Forever is a must-have kitchen resource for seafood lovers everywhere.

Paul Johnson (Berkeley, CA) is the owner of the Monterey Fish Market, which he founded in 1979. A former chef, he is the coauthor of The California Seafood Cookbook and serves on the advisory board of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program."

Good choice.

Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood
Author: Paul Johnson
HC: 416 Pages
Publisher: Willow Creek
Pub. Date: Jun 21, 2007
Photos: Color and Black and White Photographs

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

22 May 2008

Robert Mondavi 1913-2008

Photo: Scott Manchester/The Press Democrat

Robert Mondavi 1913-2008

"Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living."
~ Robert Mondavi

From Jessica's Biscuit:

"Wine Pioneer and Napa Valley promoter Robert Mondavi passed away on Friday, May 16th. Perhaps no one has done more than Robert Mondavi for both the California wine industry specifically and wine in America in general. To this New World, he brought the Old World, a place where wine has its place on every table. As Thomas Keller said, "By bringing wine to the forefront, he helped establish the culinary fabric of the country and the pleasure we find sitting around the table with friends and family." Mondavi's legacy is a rich one--he created Fume Blanc, popularized Chardonnay, and put Napa Valley on the wine map. Yet he will also be remembered for the contentiousness within his family's business, a legendary fistfight with his brother, and his talent for self-promotion.

Eric Asimov wrote in The New York Times, "As good as his top wines were, Mr. Mondavi’s greatest success was felt not so much in the bottle as in the region. As a missionary for Napa Valley he promoted not just his own wines but those of his neighbors and the region in general. His vision of the good life — of wonderful food, loving family and great music, always accompanied by wine — became synonymous with the image of Napa Valley, never to be undone by the irony of his own family battles." Robert Mondavi will be missed for all that he was and all that he did and we join oenophiles the world over in a cyber toast to him. "

The House of Mondavi The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty
by Julia Flynn Siler
PB: 432 Pages
Publisher: Gotham Books
Pub. Date: May 01, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs

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

15 May 2008

Posole (Pozole); Posole recipe

I see recipes, or hear food terms from someone, or see an item on a menu, such as posole, and sometimes assume it's an ingredient in the item. In this case, posole or pozole, is a generic term for a dish which does contain a main ingredient, hominy (see other blog on this). Wikipedia explains it:

"Pozole (from Spanish pozole, from Nahuatl potzolli; variant spellings: posole, posolé, pozolé, pozolli, posol) is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew made from hominy, with pork (or other meat), chile, and other seasonings and garnish, such as cabbage, lettuce, oregano, cilantro, avocado, radish, lime juice, etc. There are a number of variations on pozole, including blanco (white or clear), verde (green), rojo (red), de frijol (with beans), and elopozole (sweet corn, squash, and meat).

In modern times, pozole is eaten both in Mexico and the southwestern United States, particularly the state of New Mexico. It (or something like it) has been served for centuries by native cultures in southern North America.

The Mexican cafeteria chain Potzolcalli ("House of Pozole") serves a variety of pozoles, including red, white and seafood.

Pozole has been adopted as the local cuisine of the Mexican state of Guerrero and the US state of New Mexico. In New Mexico, pozole is traditionally served on Christmas Eve to celebrate life's blessings. In Colorado, onions are typically used as a garnish instead of radishes. In Guerrero, breakfast pozole is often accompanied by a shot of homemade mezcal, green pozole is typically served on Thursday. A similar Salvadoran soup called Sopa de Pata has cow's foot in it.

A person who is fond of pozole is known in Mexico as a pozolero...

...In the American Southwest, the spelling "posole" is more common, and is often used as a synonym for hominy. In parts of northern New Mexico some of the native Hispanic people pronounce it with a silent E "posol".

Ánd one of many recipes around courtesy of FoodNetwork:

Posole Rojo

Recipe courtesy Gourmet Magazine


1 large head garlic
12 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
4 pounds country-style pork ribs
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
2 ounces dried New Mexico red chiles
1 1/2 cups boiling-hot water
1/4 large white onion
2 teaspoons salt, plus 1 teaspoon
2 (30-ounce) cans white hominy (preferably Bush's Best)
8 corn tortillas
About 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Accompaniments: Diced avocado, thinly sliced iceberg or romaine lettuce, chopped white onion, diced radishes, lime wedges, dried oregano, and dried hot red pepper flakes


Peel the garlic cloves and reserve 2 for the chile sauce. Slice the remaining garlic. In a 7 to 8 quart heavy kettle bring water and broth just to a boil with sliced garlic and pork. Skim the surface and add oregano. Gently simmer pork, uncovered, until tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

While pork is simmering, wearing protective gloves, discard stems from chiles, and in a bowl, combine chiles with boiling-hot water. Soak chiles, turning them occasionally, for 30 minutes. Cut onion into large pieces and in a blender puree with chiles and soaking liquid, reserved 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt until smooth.

Transfer pork with tongs to a cutting board and reserve broth mixture. Using 2 forks, shred the pork. Discard the pork bones. Rinse and drain hominy. Return pork to broth mixture and add chile sauce, hominy, and remaining teaspoon salt. Simmer posole 30 minutes and, if necessary, season with salt. Posole may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

While posole is simmering, stack tortillas and halve. Cut halves crosswise into thin strips. In a 9 to 10-inch skillet heat 1/2 inch oil until hot but not smoking and fry tortilla strips in 3 or 4 batches, stirring occasionally, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer tortilla strips with a slotted spoon as fried to brown paper or paper towels to drain. Transfer tortilla strips to a bowl. Tortilla strips may be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

Serve posole with tortilla strips and bowls of accompaniments.

07 May 2008


Bilberries are closely related to blueberries and have a similar taste. Bilberries and bilberry supplements are reputed to help in eye health, and notably nightvision. Regardless, when you 'see' bilberry jam in your market, try it. It is very tasty, a la blueberries, if it has not been over sweetened. And I bet your nightvision will improve. Here's a bit of background on bilberries from Wikipedia:

"Bilberry is a name given to several species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae) that bears fruits. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., also known as European blueberry, blaeberry, whortleberry, whinberry (or winberry), myrtle blueberry, fraughan, and probably other names regionally. They were called black-hearts in 19th century southern England, according to Thomas Hardy's 1878 novel, The Return of the Native, (pg. 311, Oxford World's Classics edition)...

...Bilberries are found in damp, acidic soils throughout the temperate and subarctic regions of the world. They are closely related to North American wild and cultivated blueberries and huckleberries in the genus Vaccinium. The easiest way to distinguish the bilberry is that it produces single or pairs of berries on the bush instead of clusters like the blueberry. Another way to distinguish them is that while blueberry fruit pulp is light green, bilberry is red or purple, sometimes staining the fingers and lips of consumers eating the raw fruit.

Bilberries are seldom cultivated but fruits are sometimes collected from wild plants growing on publicly accessible lands, notably in Fennoscandia, Scotland, Ireland and Poland. Note that in Fennoscandia, it is an everyman's right to collect bilberries, irrespective of land ownership, with the exception of private gardens. Bilberries can be picked by a berry-picking rake like lingonberries, but are more susceptible to damage...

...The fruits can be eaten fresh, but are more usually made into jams, fools, juices or pies. In France they are used as a base for liqueurs and are a popular flavoring for sorbets and other desserts. In Brittany, they are often used as a flavoring for crêpes, and in the Vosges and the Massif Central bilberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) is a traditional dessert...

...Possible medicinal uses

Often associated with improvement of night vision, bilberries are mentioned in a popular story of World War II RAF pilots consuming bilberry jam to sharpen vision for night missions. However, a recent study by the U.S. Navy found no such effect and origins of the RAF story cannot be found.

Laboratory studies have shown that bilberry consumption can inhibit or reverse eye disorders such as macular degeneration, but this therapeutic use remains clinically unproven.

As a deep blue fruit, bilberries contain dense levels of anthocyanin pigments linked experimentally to lowered risk for several diseases, such as those of the heart and cardiovascular system, eyes and cancer.

In folk medicine, bilberry leaves were used to treat gastrointestinal ailments, applied topically, or made into infusions. Such effects have not been scientifically proven.