28 December 2006

Dulse

If you spend a fair amount of time working with foods, ingredients, and recipes, you occasionally see a reference or the need for dulse (dulce) in a recipe. What exactly is it, as it is appearing more often in various cooking needs? Rather versatile and good for you to boot, it should probably be there on your shelf with your herbs and spices. Wikipedia explains much more fully:

"Dulse (Palmaria palmata (L.) Kuntze), also called dillisk, dilsk, dulse or creathnach, is a red algae that grows along the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, where it is a traditional food. In the Irish provinces of Connacht and Ulster, it is a well-known snack food.

Dulse grows attached to rocks by a holdfast. It grows from the mid-tide portion of the intertidal zone (the area between the high tide and low tide) and into deep water. Fronds may vary from rose to reddish-purple, and range from about 20 to 40 cm (8" to 16"). From June through September, it is picked by hand at low water, brought to drying fields (or spreading grounds) and put through a shaker to remove snails, shell pieces, etc. The fronds are spread thinly on netting and left to dry, turned once and rolled into large bales to be packaged or ground later.

Dulse is commonly used in Ireland and Atlantic Canada both as food and medicine. There it is found in many health food stores or fish markets or can be ordered directly from local distributors. Dulse is traditionally sold at the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. A variety of dulse is cultivated in Nova Scotia and marketed as Sea Parsley, sold fresh in the produce section. Dulse is now shipped around the world.

Dulse can be found in some dietary supplements, where it is often referred to as "Nova Scotia Dulce." Dulse is a good source of dietary requirements; a handful will provide more than 100% of the daily amount of Vitamin B6, 66% of Vitamin B12, a day's supply of iron and fluoride, and it is relatively low in sodium and high in potassium.

Fresh dulse can be eaten directly off the rocks before sun-drying. Sun-dried dulse is eaten as is or is ground to flakes or a powder. It can also be pan fried quickly into chips, baked in the oven covered with cheese with salsa, or simply microwaved briefly. It can also be used in soups, chowders, sandwiches and salads, or added to bread/pizza dough. Finely diced, it can also be used as a flavour enhancer in meat dishes, such as chilli, in place of monosodium glutamate."

Dulse flakes are available online at Shop Natural; dulse powder and liquid at The Vitamin Shoppe.

27 December 2006

Food for the People, Whipped Up by the People - New York Times

An article of interest in The New York Times appears in today's paper about home cooks, about what they read, and what they think. (Hey! We're not mentioned!)

"Of the top 10 best-selling cookbooks of 2006 (according to Nielsen BookScan), not one was written by a professional chef, and all have a decidedly nonprofessional focus. Four of the top 10 are by Ms. Ray, the quick-recipe queen; and four are by former caterers: Giada De Laurentiis, who has two of them; Ina Garten; and Amy Sedaris (although by her own report, Ms. Sedaris’s entire professional repertory consisted of cheese balls and cupcakes)."

Read the article:

Food for the People, Whipped Up by the People - New York Times

26 December 2006

Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon

Taste and curiosity in the cuisines of the less well-known Mediterranean countries has grown enormously in the recent past. In this new book, Arabasque, the culinary flavors of Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey are featured. Jessica's Biscuit has the details:

"In the 1960s Claudia Roden introduced Americans to a new world of tastes in her classic A Book of Middle Eastern Food. Now, in her enchanting new book, Arabesque, she revisits the three countries with the most exciting cuisines today--Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon. Interweaving history, stories, and her own observations, she gives us 150 of the most delectable recipes: some of them new discoveries, some reworkings of classic dishes—all of them made even more accessible and delicious for today’s home cook.

From Morocco, the most exquisite and refined cuisine of North Africa: couscous dishes; multilayered pies; delicately flavored tagines; ways of marrying meat, poultry, or fish with fruit to create extraordinary combinations of spicy, savory, and sweet.

From Turkey, a highly sophisticated cuisine that dates back to the Ottoman Empire yet reflects many new influences today: a delicious array of kebabs, fillo pies, eggplant dishes in many guises, bulgur and chickpea salads, stuffed grape leaves and peppers, and sweet puddings.

From Lebanon, a cuisine of great diversity: a wide variety of mezze (those tempting appetizers that can make a meal all on their own); dishes featuring sun-drenched Middle Eastern vegetables and dried legumes; and national specialties such as kibbeh, meatballs with pine nuts, and lamb shanks with yogurt.

Claudia Roden knows this part of the world so intimately that we delight in being in such good hands as she translates the subtle play of flavors and simple cooking techniques to our own home kitchens."

Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon
by Claudia Roden
Hardcover - 352 pages
Published: October 2006
ISBN: 030726498X
Knopf (Borzoi)

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble. (A limited number of autographed bookplates are still available at Jessica's Biscuit.)

13 December 2006

The Old-Fashioned Secret of Holiday Treats? - New York Times

Photo: Kate Sears for The New York Times

In this age of sugar alternatives in use everywhere, nothing, absolutely nothing can replace the taste of pure cane sugar, molasses, honey, or maple syrup as sweeteners in prepared foods. Whether you do your own baking, or purchase prepared goods, high fructose corn syrup (not to be confused with plain corn syrup), just doesn't cut it. Today' s New York Times provides the following article of interest:

The Old-Fashioned Secret of Holiday Treats? - New York Times


*****

Sugar cane syrup is available online at Cuban Food Market; pure cane sugar is available at MexGrocer.

10 December 2006

The Oxford Companion to Wine

As either a wonderful reference book on many aspects of wine for yourself, or as a gift for someone who appreciates wines of all kinds, the third edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine, is now available. Jessica's Biscuit describes the new edition:

"Published in 1994 to worldwide acclaim, the first edition of Jancis Robinson's seminal volume immediately attained legendary status, winning every major wine book award including the Glenfiddich and Julia Child/IACP awards, as well as writer and woman of the year accolades for its editor on both sides of the Atlantic. Combining meticulously-researched fact with refreshing opinion and wit, The Oxford Companion to Wine offers almost 4,000 entries on every wine-related topic imaginable, from regions and grape varieties to the owners, connoisseurs, growers, and tasters in wine through the ages; from viticulture and oenology to the history of wine. Tracing the consumption and production from the ancient world to the present day, the Companion is a remarkable resource for gaining further appreciation for a beverage whose popularity has only increased with time.

Now exhaustively updated, this third edition incorporates the very latest international research to present over 400 new entries on topics ranging from globalization and the politics of wine to brands, precision viticulture, and co-fermentation. Hundreds of other entries have also undergone major revisions, including yeast, barrel alternatives, climate change, and virtually all wine regions. Useful lists and statistics are appended, including controlled appellations and their permitted grape varieties, as well as wine production and consumption by country.

Illustrated with maps of every important wine region in the world, useful charts and diagrams, and stunning color photography, this Companion is unlike any other wine book, offering an understanding of wine in its many wider contexts - notably historical, cultural, geographic, and scientific - and serving as a truly companionable point of reference into which any wine-lover can dip, browse, and linger."

The Oxford Companion to Wine
by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding (Editor)
Hardcover - Third Edition
848 pages
ISBN 0198609906
September 2006

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

06 December 2006

A Year-Round Craving for the Latkes of Yore - New York Times; Recipe: Potato Pancakes

Hanukkah (begins December 15th) and latkes. And this time of year. Here's more for your edification from Wikipedia and The New York Times:

"...Latkes or Latkas (Yiddish: לאַטקעס) are shallow-fried cakes of grated potato and egg often flavoured with grated onion. Potato pancakes may be topped with a variety of condiments, from savoury (sour cream, various cheeses) to sweet (apple sauce, sugar with or without cinnamon) but traditionalists prefer them ungarnished...

...Latkes are traditionally eaten during the Jewish Hanukkah festival although they play no fundamental part in Hanukkah ritual. The custom probably evolved due to the preference for eating fried foods during the festival that celebrates a miracle involving oil in the Temple of ancient Israel. Variants include: cheese, apple, zucchini, spinach, leek and rice latkes..." from Wikipedia.

"TIME to make the latkes, and not because it’s almost Hanukkah. These last few years I’ve made latkes in all four seasons for a friend who loves them. Arthur is 82...

A Year-Round Craving for the Latkes of Yore - New York Times: "latkes"

Recipe: Potato Pancakes

Time: 20 minutes

2 large eggs
3 cups grated drained all-purpose potatoes
¼ cup grated onion
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 tablespoons matzo meal, or as needed
Canola oil, for frying
Applesauce and sour cream for serving (optional).

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add potatoes, onion, salt and pepper, and mix well. Stir in 2 tablespoons matzo meal, and let it sit about 30 seconds to absorb moisture in batter. If necessary add more to make a thick, wet batter that is neither watery nor dry.

2. Place a large skillet over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons oil. When oil is hot drop in heaping 1/8 cups (about 2 tablespoons) of batter, flattening them gently to make thick pancakes. When bottoms have browned, after 2 to 3 minutes, flip and brown on other side. Add oil as needed. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with additional salt to taste. If necessary, work in batches, keeping cooked pancakes warm. Serve hot with applesauce and sour cream, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (about 24 small pancakes).

From The New York Times, Published: December 6, 2006.

04 December 2006

The Improvisational Cook

For many people who love to cook, a recipe is merely a base on which to build a dish; a suggestion to have fun with and experiment. When something works, it's often better than the original (I write down the changes, good and bad, to remember them). A recently published cookbook, The Improvisational Cook, is a guide to the those who may be timid in tampering with a recipe that is supposedly "proven" or "tested". More from Jessica's Biscuit on this book:

"In The Improvisational Cook, Sally Schneider helps home cooks declare their independence from recipes and set lists of ingredients and offers an invitation to a fun, more spontaneous way to cook with whatever is on hand. But how do you become an improvisational cook?

Once you understand how a basic technique or a recipe works, you can then begin to improvise. Start with one of The Improvisational Cook's essential recipes, such as Caramelized Onions. A special "Understanding" section follows, explaining the internal "logic" of the recipe and its creative possibilities. With that in mind, a savory onion jam; a real onion dip; a quick bruschetta topped with the onions, anchovies, and olives; or a rustic onion soup with dried porcini mushrooms is just a step or two beyond. Sally's notated improvisations illustrate simple, clever approaches and can be followed as is or used as a jumping-off point.

The possibilities are endless. Slow-roast fish at 300 degrees, along with some cherry tomatoes and olives for a sauce. Prepare a savory lemon jam to go with lamb or veal chops, or turn it into a cake filling. Roast a whole lobster instead of a fish in a salt crust. Add minced rosemary or Earl Grey tea to butter cookie dough. Turn a brownie batter into an elegant pepper-scented chocolate cake.

Sally gives you the know-how to embellish, adapt, change, alter, modify, and experiment in your cooking with plenty of encouragement and helpful information -- the tools and insights you need to find your own voice and cook improvi-sationally. These include an exploration of the "inside" of improvisation -- the creative mind-set, where to find inspiration, how to deal with the unexpected, practical approaches to learning "what goes with what," including a chart of classic flavor affinities, and tips on organizing your kitchen to make improvising easier, from long-keeping pantry staples to makeshift tools.

Using The Improvisational Cook, you'll discover a way of cooking that's fun, unfussy, and truly pleasurable. Everyday cooking can become creative every day."

The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
Hardcover - 392 pages
September 2006
Color Photographs
ISBN: 0060731648
Harper Collins

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

03 December 2006

Asparagus


It seems every person I know consumes asparagus at this time of year. Yes, but is it good for you? And, what's that smell afterwards. Do you eat it with a fork or with your fingers? (fingers!) Well, Wikipedia provides some answers and trivia:

"Asparagus is a type of vegetable obtained from one species within the genus Asparagus, specifically the young shoots of Asparagus officinalis. It has been used from very early times as a culinary vegetable, owing to its delicate flavour and diuretic properties. There is a recipe for cooking asparagus in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius's 3rd century CE De re coquinaria, Book III.

White asparagus is cultivated by denying the plants light and increasing the amount of ultraviolet light exposed to the plants while they are being grown...

...In their simplest form, the shoots are boiled or steamed until tender and served with a light sauce like hollandaise or melted butter or a drizzle of olive oil with a dusting of Parmesan cheese. A refinement is to tie the shoots into sheaves and stand them so that the lower part of the stalks are boiled, while the more tender heads are steamed. Tall cylindrical asparagus cooking pots have liners with handles and perforated bases to make this process foolproof.

Unlike most vegetables, where the smaller and thinner are the more tender, thick asparagus stalks have more tender volume to the proportion of skin. When asparagus have been too long in the market, the cut ends will have dried and gone slightly concave. The best asparagus are picked and washed while the water comes to the boil. Meticulous cooks scrape asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler, stroking away from the head, and refresh them in ice-cold water before steaming them; the peel is often added back to the cooking water and removed only after the asparagus is done, this is supposed to prevent diluting the flavor. Small or full-sized stalks can be made into asparagus soup. Cantonese restaurants in the United States often serve asparagus stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, or beef. Asparagus is one of few foods which is considered acceptable to eat with the hands in polite company, although this is more common in Europe.

Some of the constituents of asparagus are metabolised and excreted in the urine, giving it a distinctive, mildly unpleasant odor. The smell is caused by various sulfur-containing degradation products (e.g. thiols and thioesters). Studies showed that about 40% of the test subjects displayed this characteristic smell; and a similar percentage of people are able to smell the odor once it is produced. There does not seem to be any correlation between peoples' production and detection of the smell. The speed of onset of urine smell is rapid, and has been estimated to occur within 15-30 minutes from ingestion.

The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, the asparagus plant being rich in this compound.

Asparagus is one of the more nutritionally valuable vegetables. It is the best vegetable provider of folic acid. Folic acid is necessary for blood cell formation and growth, as well as liver disease prevention. Folic acid is also important for pregnant women as it aids in the prevention of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the developing fetus. Asparagus is also very low in calories; each stalk contains fewer than 4. It contains no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. Asparagus is a great source of potassium and fibre. Finally, the plant is a source of rutin, a compound that strengthens the walls of capillaries."

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
Paperback
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!)

Clementines

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.

Mindlesseating.org

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.

30 October 2006

Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook

Just published, Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook, and what a great idea for a cookbook! If you have kids, or grew up with Dr. Seuss, this sounds like a cookbook for you or as a great gift. More from Jessica's Biscuit:

"Ever wonder what green eggs and ham really taste like? They're yummy. And now everyone can whip up a batch for themselves using this fabulous cookbook. Filled with simple, scrumptious, wacky recipes for such foods as Cat in the Hat Pudding and Moose Juice and Schlopp, this unique cookbook will have the whole family hamming it up in the kitchen. Each recipe is accompanied by the original verse that inspired it, and the pages are laminated to protect against getting splatters of Sneetch Salad, Oobleck, and Solla Sollew Stew."


Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook
by Georganne Brennan and Dr. Seuss
Hardcover
October 2006
ISBN: 0679884408

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

Recipe Redux: 1975: Dick Taeuber’s Cordial Pie - New York Times


Who has tried one of these "Cordial Pies"? Do you remember them?

"Calling it a cordial pie doesn’t quite capture its punch or proof. Booze pie would be more fitting. It’s not the kind of thing you want to serve for a children’s birthday party."

Here's an article from this Sunday's New York Times to remind you what they are:

Recipe Redux: 1975: Dick Taeuber’s Cordial Pie - New York Times


Photo: Tom Schierlitz

26 October 2006

On Top of Spaghetti...

This new publication, On Top of Spaghetti... is for two groups of epicures: those stalwart fans of Al Forno in Providence which have been around forever (both the restaurant and the customers); and for a larger group of food-lovers, pasta consmers. Jessica's Biscuit tells us more:

"On Top of Spaghetti... is an invitation to join Johanne Killeen and George Germon, the renowned chef-owners of Providence, Rhode Island's legendary restaurant Al Forno, on a sensory journey to pasta paradise.

No other food offers the unique, tangible, sensuous enjoyment of pasta. And with a few fresh ingredients, a little imagination, and a lot of love (for cooking and for each other), Johanne and George have been making pasta magic for years. Now, with On Top of Spaghetti . . . , they offer their experience cooking pasta in Italy, in their restaurant, and in their home kitchen. All of the lessons, the techniques, the secrets, and their special pasta affinity are on display for you to achieve perfect results for perfect pasta.

On Top of Spaghetti... is a versatile collection of recipes that proves the ingenuity of pasta. The chapters are devoted to pasta with vegetables, legumes, and herbs; tomato sauces; seafood; poultry, meat, and rabbit; and eggs and cheese as well as baked and fresh pastas, ravioli, and lasagne. You will find authentic dishes here, such as Ricotta Ravioli, Linguine with Classic Ligurian Pesto, and Pasta Shells with Spicy Sausage Red Sauce, as well as innovative new dishes such as Zucchini Flower Lasagne, Saffron-Sauced Pasta and Osso Buco, and the superspicy Spaghetti La Bomba.

In down-to-earth style, Johanne and George include a guide to specialty ingredients that add a whole new understanding to capers, anchovies, and pine nuts, as well as to traditional meats and cheeses-;prosciutto di Parma, prosciutto cotto, pancetta, Pecorino Romano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, including instructions for making homemade ricotta-;that are essential to the true taste of Italian pasta. There is also a section devoted to helpful, sensible tips: why you should always reserve some of your pasta cooking water, which pasta dishes are better served without cheese, how to know when your spaghetti is perfectly al dente, and how to gauge portion size. Topping it all off are sixteen pages of luscious color photographs of the finished dishes.

For utterly simple, fun, fresh, and flavorful recipes that are perfect for a leisurely lunch, an elegant feast, or a midnight spaghetti snack, nothing tops On Top of Spaghetti..."

On Top of Spaghetti...
...Macaroni, Linguine, Penne, and Pasta of Every Kind
by Johanne Killeen, George Germon
Hardcover - 288 pages
October 2006
ISBN: 0060598735
Morrow Cookbooks

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

22 October 2006

Picky eaters? Not these children - At Home Abroad - International Herald Tribune

"The hard part is when our friends from America, or even England, come to visit us there," added Coben, whose husband is American. "Their kids will often only eat 'white' food, or bangers and mash. I find it embarrassing to ask the chef at our local fish restaurant to make plain bowls of pasta for them."

Here's and article from the International Herald Tribune every American parent should read:

Picky eaters? Not these children - At Home Abroad - International Herald Tribune: "Katy Kinsolving, an American mother living in London and a former developer of family recipes for a magazine, believes picky eaters are a product of non-cooking parents."

Whole Grain Baking

I'm always promoting the use of whole grains in all types of food preparations and consumption, and I'm happy to see the publication of a new book by the people who make my favorite flour, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains. Jessica's Biscuit provides some background:

Hang on to your pie plate--King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking will change the way every baker thinks about whole grains.

Forget what you know about whole grain baking. Instead, envision light, flaky croissants; airy cakes; moist brownies; dreamy piecrusts; and scrumptious cookies—all made with whole grains. This is what you get in King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, a revolutionary cookbook that breathes new life into breads, cakes, cookies, pastries, and more by transforming dark and dense alchemy of whole baking into lively, flavorful, sweet, savory treats of all types.

King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking is a book that only the bakers at Arthur Flour could successfully complete, opening up the home baker's repertoire new flours, new flavors, and new categories of whole grain baked goods. It spills over with helpful tips, how-to illustrations, sidebars on history and lore, and a friendly voice that says to readers, "Come into the kitchen with me and let's bake." Thousands of hours were spent testing these recipes, making sure that each one met their high standards. The final result is more than 400 delicious, inviting, and foolproof recipes that have earned a place in King Art Flour Whole Grain Baking--the next generation whole grain cookbook.

King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains
by King Arthur Flour
Hardcover
ISBN: 0881507199
October 2006
Countryman Press

Available from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

21 October 2006

Howstuffworks "How to Beat Heartburn: Tips and Guidelines"

Well, we promote many different foods and cuisines. Some are really good, some so-so. Either can cause heartburn. It seems, of course, that some of those favorites cause the most heartburn, because they are favorites, and you can't stay away from them. You can find ways to moderate or curtail foods that cause this problem. If it's a persistent problem, see your doctor.

Here is a good article on heartburn for more information:

Howstuffworks "How to Beat Heartburn: Tips and Guidelines"

19 October 2006

Opera Lover's Cookbook: Menus for Elegant Entertaining

Here is a new cookbook with a theme, which is often an engaging way to present themed recipes along with a subject that is dear to one's heart. Opera Lover's Cookbook: Menus for Elegant Entertaining covers two serious aspects of "entertaining". From Jessica's Biscuit:

"Great music and great food make an exhilarating duet. Taking her cues from the world’s most beloved operas, food diva Francine Segan has composed a cycle of menus that are sure to have your family and friends shouting, “Brava! Bravissima!”

Each chapter of Opera Lover’s Cookbook presents a culinary performance—an elegant five-course dinner, a brunch, a dessert party— scored to a particular operatic motif or keyed to the work of a renowned composer. Operas set in Spain—Carmen, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Don Giovanni—are the exotic backdrop for a tapas fiesta. The far-flung locales of Puccini’s La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, and Turandot inspire an eclectic international buffet. A rustic Italian dinner is orchestrated to the strains of Verdi’s Traviata. And Gilbert and Sullivan, of course, provide the overture for an English-style pub supper.

Sumptuously illustrated with photographs of featured dishes and lavish productions mounted by New York’s Metropolitan Opera Company, Opera Lover’s Cookbook also dispenses advice on home entertaining and on setting the scene with stunning table decor. Its more than 125 recipes include appetizers and hors d’oeuvres; soup, salad, fish, and pasta courses; main dishes; sweets; and thematic aperitif, cocktail, and after-dinner drinks."

Opera Lover's Cookbook: Menus for Elegant Entertaining
by Francine Segan
Hardcover - 224 pages
October 2006
ISBN: 1584795360
Stewart Tabori & Chang

Available online from Jessicas' Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

17 October 2006

Fodor's Travel Wire | New York: Hotel Dining Gets Haute

To keep you up-to-date on New York City's changing restaurant scene, the hotel restaurant scene, here is a recent article from Fodor's on the newest eateries:

Fodor's Travel Wire | New York: Hotel Dining Gets Haute

For even more information on restaurants in NYC (and elsewhere), visit ZagatSurvey.

16 October 2006

Yachana Jungle Chocolate from The Rain Forest Site

We like to promote good causes by promoting other good causes. Huh? Well, if you buy Yachana Jungle Chocolate from The Rain Forest Site, you help farmers in Ecuador, and with your purchase help preserve a little bit of the world's rain forest:

The Rainforest Site will preserve 1145.0 sq. ft. of land for each box of Yachana Jungle Chocolate purchased. From the rainforest of Ecuador to your home -- prepare yourself for a unique chocolate experience! This is not processed chocolate with added ingredients! The cocoa beans are sun-dried, slow-roasted, coarsely cracked, and sweetened with a touch of fresh sugarcane juice.

Unlike processed chocolate that contains milk, butter, sugar, vanilla and other ingredients, Yachana Jungle Chocolate will not melt and has a long shelf-life. Just a few morsels in the palm of your hand are enough to satisfy the cravings of most chocolate lovers. Sprinkle them onto ice cream or yogurt, add them to baked goods, or just eat out of hand!

Yachana Gourmet pays farmers 200% to 300% above the local market price for their cacao. The Ecuadorian Government says that this project is a truly viable alternative in Ecuador to industries involved in the growing and trafficking of cocaine. Not only will you and your chocolate-loving friends love this new Jungle Chocolate's great taste, but you'll be making a positive difference in Ecuador! Fair Trade Federation certified.

The Rainforest Site

15 October 2006

Ode to Joy - New York Times; Joy of Cooking


It's nice when an article appears that reflects my views and aptly fits into my blog, as this one does in today's New York Times.

Hey, if someone writes so nicely about something, give them credit:

Ode to Joy - New York Times

The Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition
by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker
Hardcover, 1152 pages
ISBN: 0743246268
Pub. Date: October 2006
Scribner


The Joy of Cooking is available online at Barnes and Noble and Jessicas's Biscuit.

14 October 2006

Pots and Pans; Teflon

And so, the great Teflon debate continues. (See today's New York Times: "Teflon Is Great for Politicians, but Is It Safe for Regular People?")

Is it, or isn't it safe to use?

Well, as long as there is any question about the safety of Teflon in pots and pans, I don't use it. Actually, I rarely have. I tell people who use it, that their may concern must be cleaning and not cooking. You can't saute, brown or reduce properly in non-stick. And once there's a scratch, the pan should be thrown away.

I use two basic sets of pots and pans: a set of commercial hard-anondized Calphalon pots and pans, and additional mis-matched tri-ply stainless-teel Calphalon and All Clad cookware I purchased through the years. The commercial set is great for all cooking, but pot holders and/or mitts must be used, because the handles get hot. Both the All Clad and Calphalon are really nice to use, the handles do not get hot, and all cooking utensils can be used, although wood or nylon are recommended. I find the Calphalon with the advantage, as the handles are better designed for holding. And all of these are oven-proof, too. My favorite: my All Clad roaster. What a beauty (and an investment!). And it cleans more easily than any of my friends' stuff who insist on using non-stick junk.

All of the All Clad and Calphalon cookware clean with just a sponge if you first read the manufacturers' suggestions on the use of the cookware: "Hey, I know how to use a pan! Throw it on the flame and make believe you're Emeril!" Save the Teflon for the eggs or crepes, if you really must use it at all.

Visit the CHEFS web site to see all the items available from all the different cookware manufacturers. Remember, cookware like Calphalon and All Clad have lifetime warranties, and will almost certainly outlast you.

Now, what about the safety of Teflon-treated pillow protectors and mattress protectors? Do I really want to sleep on Teflon, too? I'll let someone else take on this question...

11 October 2006

Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

An autobiography by Madhur Jaffrey, Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India, is our latest reading recommendation. Jessica's Biscuit provides a wonderful description of the publication:

"Today’s most highly regarded writer on Indian food gives us an enchanting memoir of her childhood in Delhi in an age and a society that has since disappeared.

Madhur (meaning “sweet as honey”) Jaffrey grew up in a large family compound where her grandfather often presided over dinners at which forty or more members of his extended family would savor together the wonderfully flavorful dishes that were forever imprinted on Madhur’s palate.

Climbing mango trees in the orchard, armed with a mixture of salt, pepper, ground chilies, and roasted cumin; picnicking in the Himalayan foothills on meatballs stuffed with raisins and mint and tucked into freshly baked pooris; sampling the heady flavors in the lunch boxes of Muslim friends; sneaking tastes of exotic street fare—these are the food memories Madhur Jaffrey draws on as a way of telling her story. Independent, sensitive, and ever curious, as a young girl she loved uncovering her family’s many-layered history, and she was deeply affected by their personal trials and by the devastating consequences of Partition, which ripped their world apart.

Climbing the Mango Trees is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to evoke memory. And, at the end, this treasure of a book contains a secret ingredient--more than thirty family recipes recovered from Madhur’s childhood, which she now shares with us."


Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India
by Madhur Jaffrey
Hardcover - 320 pages
October 2006
ISBN: 140004295X
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

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

10 October 2006

The New Greek Cuisine by Jim Botsacos, Judith Choate

Our newest featured food publication is The New Greek Cuisine, by Jim Botsacos, Judith Choate, Judith Choate (With). Jessicas' Biscuit gives us a brief taste:

"Before the Livanos family opened Molyvos they wanted to be sure their food hit all the right notes. So they hired gifted chef Jim Botsacos and took him on a tour of the Greek isles, spending many nights dining and cooking in Greek homes. Jim’s immersion in Greek cuisine and his own bistro-influenced sensibility made an immediate impression on New York restaurant critics, including Ruth Reichl, whose three-star rave thanked Molyvos for reminding her “how truly wonderful Greek food can be.”
Now, with The New Greek Cuisine, anyone can “go Greek” with flair.

While staying true to tradition, the recipes in The New Greek Cuisine bring everything to the next level by emphasizing ingredients and presentation and intensifying flavors. Home cooks can start small by learning to make marvelous mezes, including mussels with mint or a crustless leek and cheese pie. When it’s time to move on to entrees, there are plenty of tasty and satisfying options, from braised lamb shanks with orzo to plank-grilled prawns. Inventively simple sides such as roasted “cracked” potatoes with coriander and red wine, or comforting pastitsio, a Greek macaroni and cheese, could become new family favorites. And no Greek meal would be complete without desserts like semolina cake with yogurt and spoon sweets or easy pinwheel-shaped baklava.

Based on staples such as fish, whole grains, and olive oil, Greek food is not only healthy and delicious but offers a welcome break from other overexposed Mediterranean cuisines. And this richly illustrated cookbook by one of the new Greek’s most talented practitioners is the perfect way to discover its many delights."

The New Greek Cuisine
by Jim Botsacos, Judith Choate, Judith Choate (With)
Hardcover - 320 pages, Color Photographs
Published: October 2006
ISBN: 0767918754
Broadway Books

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

The Global Gourmet - New York Times

I try not to repeat sources too often or after one another, but this is one that had to be :

"MUMBAI, INDIA Trishna, Birla Mansion, Sai Baba Marg, Fort; (91-22) 2270-3213.

This, I think, is the only truly remarkable restaurant I have ever discovered solely on the recommendation of a friend of a friend. Dubious, Betsey and I made our way there one night years ago and liked it so much that we went back 72 hours later. It was not the décor, which is shabby, or the service, which can be surly, and certainly not the menu, which is very nearly useless. It’s the food, stupid, the seafood."

Ah, this is fro the kind of list, "ten favorite favorite restaurants abroad", I really enjoy reading. Even more so because of the untimely way it had to be published, the death of its author, R.W. Apple. It's worth reading the whole list:


The Global Gourmet - New York Times

A Dangerous Fat and Its Risky Alternatives - New York Times

"In the United States, the National Academy of SciencesInstitute of Medicine has concluded that the optimal intake of trans fats is zero. Earlier this year, Dr. Walter Willett, a leading nutrition researcher, and his colleagues at Harvard University estimated that if artificially produced trans fats were removed from the American diet, up to 228,000 heart attacks could be prevented each year."

More on this important story we have been following appears in today's New York Times. To read the whole article:

A Dangerous Fat and Its Risky Alternatives - New York Times

09 October 2006

Croissants

The best croissant I ever had (there are, of course, great differences) was in the Gare du Nord, in Paris, years ago. It was very early on a cold, damp, rainy morning, my first time in Paris. I was 18, and alone. Everything was gray, gray, gray. And I was kind of lost. And hungry. A little traveller's cafe was open and the smell of coffee was floating through the cold air. I ordered a cafe au lait (in a bowl) and pointed at what someone at a nearby table was eating -- I had never had a croissant. The combination was indescribable. I may say it was the best meal I've ever had in Paris. I may have had two or three cafes, and an equal number of croissants that early morning. And I've never had any as buttery and tasty.

Have you ever tried to make croissants? It is an education in patience and gives you an appreciation of what a really good croissant is. I won't even comment on what 90% of people think a croissant is. Wikipedia explains the basics of the tasty pastry:

"A croissant , (anglicised variously as IPA: /krə'sant/, /kwa'son/, etc.) is a butter-laden flaky French pastry, named for its distinctive crescent shape. Croissants are made of a leavened variant of puff pastry by layering yeast dough with butter and rolling and folding a few times in succession, then rolling.

The French are famous for their skill in making croissants. Making croissants by hand requires skill and patience (as one batch of croissants can take several days to complete), but the development of factory-made, frozen, pre-formed but unbaked dough has made them into a fast food which can be freshly baked by unskilled labor. Indeed, the croissanterie was explicitly a French response to American fast food. This innovation, along with the croissant's versatility and distinctive shape, has made it the best-known type of French pastry in much of the world...

...Croissant pastry can also be wrapped around almond paste or chocolate before it is baked (in the latter case, it becomes like pain au chocolat, which has a different, non crescent, shape), or sliced to admit sweet or savoury fillings. In France, croissants are generally sold without filling and eaten without added butter, and sometimes with almond filling. In the United States, sweet fillings or toppings are common, or warm croissants are filled with ham and cheese or feta cheese and spinach."

Several recipes for croissants can be found at the FoodNetwork.

08 October 2006

The Lee Bros. Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners


The appearance of new cookbooks is as abundant as apples in the fall. We can only feature a few that appear to be especially worthy or strike our fancy. How about The Lee Bros. Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners by Matt Lee, Ted Lee, for your consideration? This is what Jessica's Biscuit says about it:

"From the New York Times food writers who defended lard (see our blog on lard!) and demystified gumbo comes a collection of exceptional southern recipes for everyday cooks. The Lee Bros. Cookbook tells the story of the brothers' culinary coming-of-age in Charleston--how they triumphed over their northern roots and learned to cook southern without a southern grandmother. Here are recipes for classics like Fried Chicken, Crab Cakes, and Pecan Pie, as well as little-known preparations such as St. Cecilia Punch, Pickled Peaches, and Shrimp Burgers. Others bear the hallmark of the brothers' resourceful cooking style--simple, sophisticated dishes like Blackened Potato Salad, Saigon Hoppin' John, and Buttermilk-Sweet Potato Pie that usher southern cooking into the twenty-first century without losing sight of its roots. With helpful sourcing and substitution tips, this is a practical and personal guide that will have readers cooking southern tonight, wherever they live."

The Lee Bros. Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners

by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
Hardcover; Illustrations and Color Photographs
October 2006
ISBN: 039305781X
W.W Norton

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

04 October 2006

Tapioca

Mention tapioca to someone and the response is huh, boring. But it really is quite good. I prepared some plain recently, with a really good, real vanilla, and wow, it's more than the comfort dessert food I remembered. Satisfying, full taste. An article in today's Los Angeles Times, "Sensuous, with smooth new style", vindicates my feelings (uh, taste). But first Wikipedia explains what those little pearls are:

"Tapioca is an essentially flavourless starchy ingredient, or fecula, produced from treated and dried cassava (manioc) root and used in cooking. It is similar to sago and is commonly used to make a milky pudding similar to rice pudding. Purchased tapioca comprises many small white spheres each about 2 mm in diameter. These are not seeds, but rather reconstituted processed root. The processing concept is akin to the way that wheat is turned into pasta.

Tapioca is a word derived from the Tupi-Guarani language of Brazil (from tipi meaning residue or dregs and ok to squeeze out. This refers to the process through which cassava (Manihot esculenta) is made edible. [We should note, however, that as the word moved out of South America it came to refer to similar preparations made with other esculents: 'Tapioca' in Britain often refers to a rice pudding thickened with arrowroot, while in Asia the sap of the Sago palm is often part of its preparation]...

...The cassava plant can have either red or green branches. The toxin found in the root of the red-branched variant is less harmful to humans than the green-branched variety. Therefore, while the root of the red-branched variant can be consumed directly, the root of the green-branched variant requires treatment to remove the toxin.

It is processed into either fine dried flakes or, more commonly, small hard white spheres or "pearls" that are soaked before use. These spheres are a common ingredient in Southeast Asian desserts, in puddings such as tapioca pudding, and in Taiwanese drinks such as bubble tea where they provide a chewy contrast to the sweetness of the drink. Cassava flour (tapioca flour) is commonly used as a food thickener, and is also used as a binder in pharmaceutical tablets. In Malaysia, fried tapioca crisps are one of the many selections found in the local snack kacang putih....

In Brazilian cuisine, tapioca is a dessert made by combining tapioca with shredded coconut. The tapioca is stirred, drained through a sieve, fried into a tortilla shape, and sprinkled with coconut. It is then filled with your choice of either "doce" (sweet) or "salgado" (salty) ingredients. Choices range from chocolate, bananas with condensed milk, chocolate with bananas, to various forms of meats. The ending result is folded much like a Mexican taco and served warm."

Tapioca is available online at Shop Natural and Suttons Bay Trading Company.

03 October 2006

Baking: From My Home to Yours

We don't seem to feature many books on just baking, but Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, which has recently been published, deserves to be singled out. From Jessica's Biscuit:

"Dorie Greenspan has written recipes for the most eminent chefs in the world: Pierre Hermé, Daniel Boulud, and arguably the greatest of them all, Julia Child, who once told Dorie, "You write recipes just the way I do." Her recipe writing has won widespread praise for its literate curiosity and "patient but exuberant style." (One hard-boiled critic called it "a joy forever.") In Baking: From My Home to Yours, her masterwork, Dorie applies the lessons from three decades of experience to her first and real love: home baking. The 300 recipes will seduce a new generation of bakers, whether their favorite kitchen tools are a bowl and a whisk or a stand mixer and a baker"s torch.

Even the most homey of the recipes are very special. Dorie"s favorite raisin swirl bread. Big spicy muffins from her stint as a baker in a famous New York City restaurant. French chocolate brownies (a Parisian pastry chef begged for the recipe). A dramatic black and white cake for a "wow" occasion. Pierre Hermé"s extraordinary lemon tart. The generous helpings of background information, abundant stories, and hundreds of professional hints set Baking apart as a one-of-a-kind cookbook. And as if all of this weren"t more than enough, Dorie has appended a fascinating minibook, A Dessertmaker"s Glossary, with more than 100 entries, from why using one"s fingers is often best, to how to buy the finest butter, to how the bundt pan got its name.

Dorie Greenspan has written or cowritten eight cookbooks, including Baking with Julia, which won a James Beard Award and an IACP Award; Desserts by Pierre Hermé, which was named IACP Cookbook of the Year; and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, which won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for the best English-language cookbook. She created many recipes for The All-New Joy of Cooking and is a special correspondent for Bon Appétit, for which she writes the "Tools of the Trade" column."

Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
Hardcover - 528 pages
August 2006
Color Photographs
ISBN: 0618443363
Houghton Mifflin, Inc.

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

02 October 2006

Trans Fat Nation - New York Times

More on trans fat, an op-ed; this should be the start of a big movement in the food and restaurant industry (see our earlier blog):

Trans Fat Nation - New York Times

01 October 2006

‘The United States of Arugula’ - New York Times


Just published and reviewed in today's New York Times "First Chapters" is The United States of Arugula. I'll let you be the judge of the book after a reading at:

‘The United States of Arugula’ - New York Times: "‘The United States of Arugula’"

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation
by David Kamp
Hardcover - 304 pages
September 2006
ISBN: 0767915798
Broadway Books

The book is available online at Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

29 September 2006

173rd Oktoberfest and FREE Cookbook Offer

October almost here. Octoberfest. Free cookbook (s&h applies) from GermanFoods.org:

O'Zapft 'Is ! The Keg's Been Tapped!

September 2006 -Yes, that's right, the keg's been tapped and the 173rd Oktoberfest, the world's largest beer bash, is underway in Munich, Germany. Meanwhile, all over the US and Canada, preparations are underway for hundreds of American-style Oktoberfests, so there's no need to miss out on the festivities even if you can't make it to the "real" Oktoberfest! You'll find a comprehensive list of Oktoberfest celebrations on our Oktoberfest resource page along with recipes and ideas to stage your own party. And make sure to visit us at the Fredericksburg Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, Texas to receive free samples of authentic German specialties and a free cook-book amongst other goodies!

GermanFoods.org