22 December 2008

Christmas Recipes

Photo: Evan Sung for The New York Times, food styling by Patty White


There is always a multitude of year-end articles appearing for everything that happened or should be highlighted at this time of year. Of course, ours is food-related. Christmas recipes to be precise, from The New York Times, from an appropriately named article Christmas Recipes. Read the entire article or go to a specific subject:



101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less by Mark Bittman.


The Remaking of Eggnog, Popular Heavyweight Champ by Florence Fabricant.


Panacea (gravy), by Dorothy Allison.


A Seven-Course Feast of Fish by Craig Claiborne.


How a Fat Apple Pancake Saved Christmas by Jonathan Reynolds.


Recipe: Louisiana Gingerbread (Stage Planks or Mule Bellies)


Roasted Fresh Ham for a Crowd


Recipe: Spice-crusted Prime Rib With Whipped Potatoes


Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies by Amanda Hesser.


All the Cookies by Molly O'Neill.


Or view a slide show of Christmas Classics.


Or a slide show of Holiday Party Treats.








And if you want more, visit The Food Network for Christmas Recipes

07 December 2008

Holiday Books: Cooking


Highlighting one or two food-related books at a time on this blog hardly covers even a small portion of culinary publications that appear during the year. The New York Times is better staffed than I am and at this time every year a roundup of cookbooks is presented in their Holiday Books: Cooking, this year by Craig Seligman. So, if you're looking for a gift for someone or a treat for yourself, be sure sure to look at the featured publications.

These books and more are available at Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble online.


29 November 2008

"Knives Cooks Love Selection. Care. Techniques. Recipes.", by Sarah Jay

The importance of a good set of knives for safe and pleasurable food peparation can not be over-emphasized. A dull, poorly balance knife is more dangerous than a high quality, sharp cutting utensil. Investing in a good set of knives is as important as the selection of good cookware. And your investment will last with proper care. A new publication, "Knives Cooks Love Selection. Care. Techniques. Recipes.", by Sarah Jay, can guide you in choosing the correct cutlery. More from Jessica's Biscuit:

"Sur La Table's Knives Cooks Love focuses on some of the most versatile tools in the kitchen—knives. Knives Cooks Love offers instructions on how to buy and care for knives, and how to properly chop, dice, and slice with them to create delicious dishes.

Consider this Knives 101—lessons on everything you need to know to make your experiences behind the blade more straightforward, efficient, and enjoyable. In Knives Cooks Love, trusted cookware authority Sur La Table teams up with writer Sarah Jay to guide chefs of all levels so their knives will last a lifetime. The nuances between knife blades and handles are discussed, as well as cutting surfaces and an array of sharpeners and honers.

Numerous cutting techniques are also showcased with step-by-step instructions and photographs. These skills are then put to the test with more than 20 knife-essential, tantalizing recipes like Mango-Cucumber Salsa, Mediterranean-Style Mussels with Fennel and Tomatoes, Arroz con Pollo with Chorizo and Capers, and Bread and Butter Pudding with Rum and Crystallized Ginger.

Readers will learn what to look for when purchasing quality knives, the best culinary uses for each knife variety, as well as how to properly clean and store them. With sidebar advice from renowned chefs, including tips, tricks, and notes on their favorite knives, Knives Cooks Love is the ultimate guide to choosing and using the most important tool in the kitchen."

Knives Cooks Love Selection. Care. Techniques. Recipes.
by Sarah Jay
Hardcover: 192 Pages
Publisher: Andrews Mcmeel
Pub. Date: Nov 12, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:0740770020
ISBN-13:9780740770029

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit or Sur La Table.

* * *

And view a selection of knives is available from CHEFS and Sur La Table.

23 November 2008

Non Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Photo: Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times.












You can find a multitude of sites telling you how to cook and carve your turkey and prepare your yams and desserts for the Thanksgiving repast. For those of you who want to jazz up the fowl's accompaniments with something a little less traditional, an article for the adventurous chef, "Now, the Side Dishes: Quick and Simple or a Bit More Complex", by Kim Severson, from The New York Times is worth reading:

"As they do every year, people come to the Thanksgiving table with a wide variety of needs and expectations. Some, like the pilgrims, arrive with a sense of hope, and the energy to face something new. Others may want to hold on to tradition and avoid any extra drama."

A variety of recipes offered are worth trying with any meal.

Go to article.

17 November 2008

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, by Heston Blumenthal

Time for some serious gastronomic reading and shopping. Not for the faint-hearted foodies, or penny-pinchers. But a great holiday gift: for that very involved food lover -- or yourself. The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, by Heston Blumenthal, has recently hit the shelves. From Jessica's Biscuit:


"Award-winning chef Heston Blumenthal's eagerly awaited The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is in. As a cookbook, this is not for the intrepid. The recipes are difficult, noteworthy for both the stunning photography and the sub-recipes within. Divided into three parts, History, Recipes, Science, The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is a glimpse into the mind of one of the world's leading chefs. As Jay Rayner wrote in The Guardian: "Blumenthal is big on the flavours of our childhood, the easiest way to open the door to our memories, and he is not afraid to investigate the emotional punch of that nostalgia through his tasting menu."

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is the gift for the professional chef and consummate foodies we know."

***

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook
by Heston Blumenthal
448 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Usa
Pub. Date: Oct 28, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:1596915501
ISBN-13:9781596915503


Published at $250, deals abound, including Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble online.

09 November 2008

White Chocolate

White chocolate. You love it or hate it. It's chocolate. It's not chocolate. Whichever, it is a unique edible. And I enjoy it whether it's chocolate or not.

Here are a few facts from Wikipedia to help you decide:

"White chocolate is a confection of sugar, cocoa butter, and milk solids. The melting point of cocoa butter is high enough to keep white chocolate solid at room temperature, yet low enough to allow white chocolate to melt in the mouth. White chocolate thus has a texture similar to that of milk chocolate however is not technically a chocolate (see misnomers associated with white chocolate)...

...White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. Regulations also govern what may be marketed as "white chocolate": In the United States, since 2004, white chocolate must be at least 20% cocoa butter (by weight), at least 14% total milk solids, at least 3.5% milk fat, and less than 55% sugar or other sweeteners. Before this date, U.S. firms required temporary marketing permits to sell white chocolate. The European Union has adopted the same standards, except that there is no limit on sugar or sweeteners. White chocolate is made the same way as milk chocolate and dark chocolate -- the difference is the ingredients; however, because of the ingredients, many people (including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) don't consider "white chocolate" to be chocolate at all...

...Because it does not contain any cocoa solids, one benefit of white chocolate is that it also does not contain any theobromine (Theobromine, also known as xantheose, is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant, found in chocolate), which means it can be consumed by individuals who must avoid theobromine for medical or religious reasons. Theobromine is only found in the cocoa solids and other ingredients of chocolate that give it the characteristic brown color. In contrast to white chocolate, dark chocolate contains the largest amount of theobromine, because it contains the largest amount of cocoa solids. The theobromine content of milk chocolate falls somewhere between white and dark chocolate."

***

Premium white chocolate is available in many stores or online at Hotel Chocolat.

The Urban Cookbook, by King Adz

Different approaches to food preparation, food presentation, food writing, or recipes, are some of the criteria I look for when featuring new publications. And this one, The Urban Cookbook, by King Adz, sounds intriguing enough:

"Here is an international culinary first, a cookbook with a difference: recipes to feed the creative appetite, born out of the edgy, rugged culture of the street. Jerk chicken with hot pepper gravy, Ras-elhanout lamb, Trinchada, Potjiekos, Rajad’s perfect steak: King Adz explores five of the world’s greatest cities to seek out and cook forty dishes in all.

From Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam to London and New York, his road-trip rules were to use public transport, eat street food, and stay in cheap, locally run hotels, all of which allowed him to visit places that are seldom covered in traditional travel or food titles.

This being a cookbook unlike any other, once your appetite for food has been sated, you can go on to find all that epitomizes urban creativity through interviews with key photographers, illustrators, fashion designers, digital and street artists, skaters, DJs, club owners, musicians, street-savvy talent scouts, and Internet entrepreneurs", says Jessica's Biscuit.

The Urban Cookbook
by King Adz
Hardcover: 256 Pages
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Pub. Date: Oct 29, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:0500514305
ISBN-13:9780500514306


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

28 October 2008

Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food", by Andrew Carmellini

I like to follow the release of new food publications, and often highlight those which I think will interest only small audiences. This newly released cookbook, "Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food", by Andrew Carmellini, will probably have a mass appeal. Which is okay.

The description from Jessica's Biscuit:

"The recipes that one of New York’s best young chefs cooks in his own kitchen: a cookbook full of soulful, sophisticated food and delicious stories.

While waiting for construction to finish on his restaurant A Voce, Andrew Carmellini faced an unusual challenge. After a brilliant career in professional kitchens (including a six-year tour as chef de cuisine at Café Boulud), he was faced with the harsh reality of life as a civilian cook: no prep cooks, no saucier, no daily deliveries--just him and his wife in their tiny Manhattan-apartment kitchen.

Urban Italian is made up of the recipes that result when a great chef has to use the same resources as the rest of us. In these hundred recipes--covering four distinct courses, side dishes, and base recipes--Carmellini shows how to make stunning, soulful food with nothing more than the ingredients, techniques, and time available to the ordinary home cook. The food is sophisticated but also easy to make: lamb meatballs stuffed with goat cheese; veal, beef, and pork ravioli; roast pork with Italian plums and grappa; fennel with Sambuca and orange; and a honey-flavored pine nut cake.

The book opens with a narrative (written by Carmellini with his wife and coauthor, Gwen Hyman) that traces Carmellini’s culinary education--a series of outrageous tales that will delight anyone who loved Heat or Kitchen Confidential. Also scattered through the book are short pieces on places and ingredients, placed alongside recipes to shed light on the history and practice of simple, beautiful cooking. This is a book you’ll find yourself using all the time--to cook from for weeknights and for special occasions, or just to sit down with and read.

Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food
by Andrew Carmellini
Hardcover: 304 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Usa
Pub. Date: Oct 28, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:159691470X
ISBN-13:9781596914704

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

***

Do you know of a food-related book we should feature? Please let us know through our comments.

24 October 2008

Sous-vide (Cryovacking)

Photo: Mitchell Feinberg for The New York Times

***

Sous-vide (Cryovacking)

The more serious kitchen denizens have heard of "sous-vide". For those of you who don't know quite what the term refers to, Wikipedia provides a brief explanation:

"Sous-vide (pronounced /su ˈvid/), French for "under vacuum", is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period of time at relatively low temperatures. Food is cooked for a long time, sometimes well over 24 hours. Unlike cooking in a slow cooker, sous-vide cooking uses airtight plastic bags placed in hot water well below boiling point (usually around 60°C or 140°F).

The method was developed by Georges Pralus in the mid-1970s for the Restaurant Troisgros (of Pierre and Michel Troigros) in Roanne, France. He discovered that when cooking foie gras in this manner it kept its original appearance, did not lose excess amounts of fat and had better texture. Another pioneer in the science of sous-vide is Bruno Goussault, who further researched the effects of temperature on various
foods and became well-known for training top chefs in the method. As Chief Scientist of Cuisine Solutions, Goussault thoroughly developed the parameters of cooking times and temperatures for different foods. The sous-vide method is used in several gourmet restaurants under Thomas Keller, Jesse Mallgren, Paul Bocuse, Joël Robuchon, Charlie Trotter, and other chefs. Amtrak has used this method of cooking in the dining cars of its long-distance trains, and recently began using the method on its Acela Express trains. Non-professional cooks are also beginning to use vacuum cooking.

Clostridium botulinum bacteria can grow in food in the absence of oxygen and produce the deadly botulinum toxin, so sous-vide cooking must be performed under carefully controlled conditions to avoid botulism poisoning. To help with food safety and taste, relatively expensive water-bath machines (thermal immersion circulators) are used to circulate precisely heated water. Differences of even one degree can affect the finished product."

Also, refer to Under Pressure, By Amanda Hesser (Published: August 14, 2005), in The New York Times.

Now that you know what sous-vide is, you may be interested a new publication, Under Pressu
re, by Thomas Keller. A synopsis from Jessica's Biscuit:

"In Under Pressure, Thomas Keller shows us how sous vide, which involves packing food in airtight plastic bags and cooking at low heat, achieves results that other cooking methods simply cannot--in flavor and precision. For example, steak that is a perfect medium rare from top to bottom; and meltingly tender yet medium rare short ribs that haven't lost their flavor to the sauce. Fish, which has a small window of doneness, is easier to finesse, and salmon develops a voluptuous texture when cooked at a low temperature. Fruit and vegetables benefit too, retaining their bright colors while achieving remarkable textures. There is wonderment in cooking sous vide--in the ease and precision (salmon cooked at 123 degrees versus 120 degrees!) and the capacity to cook a piece of meat (or glaze carrots, or poach lobster) uniformly."


Under Pressure
by: Thomas Keller

Hardcover, 304 Pages
Publisher: Artisan

Pub. Date: Oct 01, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:1579653510
ISBN-13:9781579653514

***

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

22 October 2008

"Biden, McCain and Palin's states bring a mix of flavors to the table" , by Jenn Garbee

Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times



A timely article on our political contenders and their rich regional heritage of foods makes for interesting reading in an article today in the Los Angeles Times, "Biden, McCain and Palin's states bring a mix of flavors to the table" by Jenn Garbee:

"A menu featuring dishes and recipes from regions representing all four candidates might be dangerously closer to a Las Vegas hotel buffet than a state dinner. It'd be a crazy quilt of influences and tastes: for John McCain, a duck tamale from a favorite Arizona restaurant, for example, with some Virginia ham; for Barack Obama, pirogi and pizza from Chicago alongside tropical fruits from Hawaii and spices from Indonesia; roasted game and wild blueberries from Sarah Palin's Alaska; shoofly pie from Pennsylvania and a heritage poultry breed, the Delaware chicken, from Joe Biden's states. But instead of chaos, culinary professionals see delicious combinations."

Maybe you can use this article to narrow your Presidential choice by recipes...

Go to LOS ANGELES TIMES to view the full story.

12 October 2008

FOOD FIGHTS! a la New York Times

Photo: Martin Klimas for The New York Times


For those of you who do not read The New York Times, this week's issue of The Magazine, FOOD FIGHTS!, is devoted to all aspects of food: production, consumption, and much more.

Not knowing which of the many good articles to highlight, I recommend glancing (and reading) the entire issue. Informative and intriguing. And some recipes as a bonus. Even the political/environmental consequences:

"After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact."

Go to The New York Times Magazine.

10 October 2008

Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World

Attention carnivores: This recently published book, Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World
by Andres Rimas, is for your library.

A historical survey, rather than our usual cookbook review, it is another fascinating exploration on one aspect of our diet worth reading. More from Jessica's Biscuit:

"The cow. The most industrious animal in the world. A beast central to human existence since time began, it has played a vital role in our history not only as a source of food, but also as a means of labor, an economic resource, an inspiration for art, and even as a religious icon. Prehistoric people painted it on cave walls; explorers, merchants, and landowners traded it as currency; many cultures worshipped it as a god. So how did it come to occupy the sorry state it does today—more factory product than animal?

In Beef, Andrew Rimas and Evan D. G. Fraser answer that question, telling the story of cattle in its entirety. From the powerful auroch, a now extinct beast once revered as a mystical totem, to the dairy cows of seventeenth-century Holland to the frozen meat patties and growth hormones of today, the authors deliver an engaging panoramic view of the cow's long and colorful history.

Peppered with lively anecdotes, recipes, and culinary tidbits, Beef tells a story that spans the globe, from ancient Mediterranean bullfighting rings to the rugged grazing grounds of eighteenth-century England, from the quiet farms of Japan's Kobe beef cows to crowded American stockyards to remote villages in East Africa, home of the Masai, a society to which cattle mean everything. Leaving no stone unturned in its exploration of the cow's legacy, the narrative serves not only as a compelling story but as a call to arms, offering practical solutions for confronting the current condition of the wasteful beef and dairy industries.

Beef is a captivating history of an animal whose relationship with humanity has shaped the world as we know it, and readers will never look at steak the same way again."

Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World
by Andres Rimas
Hardcover
256 Pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Pub. Date: Sep 30, 2008
ISBN-10:0061353841
ISBN-13:9780061353840

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

29 September 2008

Why Maple Syrup Costs So Much

Sometimes it's nice to know why the price of something goes up. Sometimes it even makes sense, as is the case for maple syrup ( a favorite, occasional indulgence). No, thankfully, it's not because of market speculation, but something far bigger: global warming.

"Blame it on global warming, perhaps. But for the past three years, Quebec has seen cold winters turn very quickly into warm springs, which played havoc with sap collection. (Under ideal conditions, temperatures rise during the day and then dip back below freezing at night. This pattern encourages sugar maples to release their sap). That has cut sap production season in half, to two to three weeks. Quebec's output slipped to 58.7 million tons this year, down from 61.7 million in 2007 and 86.4 million tons in 2004."

Read the entire article, "Why Maple Syrup Costs So Much", by Pallavi Gogoi, at Business Week.

And, did you know: "Canada makes more than 80 percent of the world's maple syrup, producing about 7 million US gallons in 2005. The vast majority of this comes from Quebec: the province is by far the world's largest producer, with about 75 percent of the world production (6.515 million US gallons in 2005). The provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island produce smaller amounts. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, with 450,000 US gallons in 2007, followed by Maine with 225,000 US gallons and New York with 224,000 US gallons. Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut all produced marketable quantities of maple syrup of less than 100,000 US gallons each in 2007." Wikipedia.

* * * * *

You can find a variety of maple syrup and maple syrup products online at E.D. Foods (Quebec) and Massachusetts Bay Trading Co.

25 September 2008

The Art and Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet

The high season of baking is approaching: The cooler weather, the abundance of autumn fruit, the holidays, and the pure joy of the act itself.

In time for this season, a new publication has hit the shelves (or in my case the internet bookstore), The Art and Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet.

From Jessica's Biscuit:

"The Art and Soul of Baking guides readers through the world of baking, where alluring aromas of chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon fill the air and tempt the palate. Culinary authority Sur La Table teams with professional pastry chef and baking instructor Cindy Mushet to create the ultimate book for bakers. The Art and Soul of Baking demystifies the friendly science of baking through delicious recipes and photography sequences that illustrate proper techniques for carmelizing sugar, or working with croissant dough.

From tantalizing tarts, decadent cakes, and delicious cookies, to more complex creations like crusty breads and flaky pastries, to melt-in-your-mouth meringues, and lighter-than-air souffles, The Art and Soul of Baking offers the instruction of a private baking class at home. Beautiful photographs and more than 250 fool-proof recipes, as well as information on over 100 popular baking ingredients and more than 50 pieces of baking equipment, ensure that Sur La Table's The Art and Soul of Baking is destined to inspire passion in any baker and make the craft of baking not just accessible, but a true passion."

The Art and Soul of Baking (HC )
by Cindy Mushet
Hardcover 464 Pages
Publisher: Andrews Mcmeel
Pub. Date: Sep 15, 2008
Color Photographs
ISBN-10:0740773348
ISBN-13:9780740773341

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

12 September 2008

2008 Hudson ValleyGarlic Festival™; Garlic Pumpkin Cookies with Nuts recipe

Artwork: Vincent McDonough


It's coming soon: the 2008 Hudson ValleyGarlic Festival™, September 27 & 28, 2008, at the Cantine Field in historic Saugerties, NY.

Advance discount tickets are available for $5. Online ticket sales from the www.hvgf.org Web site will end midnight, Saturday, Sept. 20th.

In the newsletter heralding this year's event, an intriguing recipe was included, reprinted here:

Garlic Pumpkin Cookies with Nuts
From "Mad for Garlic - A Cookbook for Garlic Lovers" by Pat Reppert.

Yield: 60 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter, softened 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar 1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup white sugar 1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 large eggs (or 4 small) 1 cup finely minced garlic
1 can unseasoned pumpkin 2 cups chopped nuts (pecans or
1 cup flour walnuts)
1 cup rolled oats 1 cup raisins
1 tsp baking soda 1/3 cup crystallized ginger (chopped)
1 tsp baking powder 60 thin slices of garlic - cut vertically so
2 tsp salt they resemble slivered almonds

Garnish: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
Raw or turbinado sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and continue to beat until well mixed.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt & spices. Gradually add that to the pumpkin mix, beating. Then beat in the minced garlic. Stir in the nuts, raisins and ginger.
3. Grease a cookie sheet, then drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto the sheet. Put a think slice of the garlic on top of each cookie (it looks like a slivered almond - take my word for it). Bake in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Take sheet out of oven and brush egg on top of each and sprinkle generously with the raw sugar. Return to oven and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Cool on wire rack - then store in air-tight containers. Good for 2 days at room temperature.
Refrigerate or freeze if keeping for longer period of time.

09 September 2008

The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book and Latin Evolution by Jose Garces

Two, new noteworthy food books for your consideration: The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book and Latin Evolution by Jose Garces.

From Jessica's Biscuit, a synopsis on The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book:

"The eagerly awaited America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book is here. A companion to the wildly bestselling America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, this is a comprehensive cookbook with more than 700 kitchen-tested recipes. With recipes ranging from the simple -- bowl cakes, quick breads, and no-bake cookies -- to the more demanding -- artisan bread, wedding cake, and pastry --- this cookbook has it all. In addition to the recipes, there are test kitchen tips, recipes at a glance with mini tutorials, and illustrated troubleshooting guides. This practical guide will become the go-to book for many cooks, and makes a great housewarming, shower, and no-reason-at-all gift."

The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
by America's Test Kitchen
SP: 552 Pages
Publisher: Cook's Illustrated
Pub. Date: Sep 01, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:1933615222
ISBN-13:9781933615226

And on Latin Evolution:

"Acclaimed Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Jose Garces, of Tinto and Distrito (and Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago) has released his first cookbook, Latin Evolution. It is the next chapter in Latin cuisine, taking its inspiration from the Basque region of Spain, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and the beach-side restaurants of Ecuador. In Latin Evolution, classic dishes are reimagined with avant garde techniques and unexpected ingredients. As Garces says in the introduction, "The process of breaking down dishes and taking a fresh look at the elements--not just their flavors but also their shape, texture and colors--allows me to be inspired time and again by these 'original recipes.' My version of basic South America shellfish ceviche, for example, uses traditional techniques while incorporating nontraditional ingredients such as black truffles, Meyer lemon, and micro arugula. The result is a dish that reflects in every bite both my heritage and my contemporary style.'"

Latin Evolution
by: Jose Garces
HC: 256 Pages
Publisher: Lake Isle Press
Pub. Date: Sep 25, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:189110537X
ISBN-13:9781891105371

Both are available online at Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

17 August 2008

The American Cookbook Project

Do you have a family heirloom recipe? A favorite recipe version of an everyday dish? A local specialty? An ethnic favorite?

This site is for you:

The American Cookbook Project - Recipies and stories from across the USA

The American Cookbook Project is a forum for sharing food stories. People from across the country are invited to share their favorite recipes and memories associated with this dish. This is not simply an online cookbook but a collection of memories and recollections of great meals from the past.



08 August 2008

Real Food for Healthy Kids, by Tanya Wenman Steel

More and more parents are becoming concerned about what is in the foods their kids are consuming. And with good reason: Just look at the ingredients on the label of the stuff you buy for them -- I bet you don't know what half the stuff is. You probably take better note of what you put in your car than what you put in your kid! And you wonder why your child is overweight, sluggish, or worse.

For some of you who care, a new publication, Real Food for Healthy Kids 200+ Easy, Wholesome Recipes, by Tanya Wenman Steel, is for you. A synopsis from Jessica's Biscuit:

"Parent-tested and kid-approved, a comprehensive, practical resource for wholesome, healthful meals children of all ages will eat—and love.

In an era of McDiets, packed schedules, and stressful jobs, it's harder than ever to incorporate nutritious food into our children's daily lives. But you no longer have to rely on microwaved hot dogs and frozen pizza. In this essential cookbook, food—and parenting—experts Tracey Seaman and Tanya Wenman Steel offer help and hope, whether you're experienced in the kitchen or more inclined to head to the drive-through.

Real Food for Healthy Kids features more than 200 easy-to-make recipes for school days and weekends, including breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and even parties. Each recipe has been taste-tested by children and analyzed by a nutritionist.

* A power breakfast might feature Carrot Cake Oatmeal, Green Eggs-in-Ham Quiche Cups, or Hole-y Eggs!
* Keep kids energized with a Real Food lunch, such as Hail Caesar, Jr. Salad, Turkey Pinwheels, or Egg Salad Double-Decker Sandwiches.
* Seaman and Steel's snacks include Zucchini Tempura with Horseradish Dunk, Chewy Granola Bars, Happy Apple Toddies, and much more.
* Serve a mouthwatering family dinner: Peachy Keen Chicken, Super Steak Fajitas, or Princess and the Pea Risotto.
* Enjoy a scrumptious dessert: Cheery Cherry Plank, Brown Mouse, or Chocolate-Covered Strawberries.

Seaman and Steel have spent the last four years developing and testing recipes to create nourishing dishes that kids of all ages, from babies to grad students, and even finicky eaters, vegetarians, and kids with food sensitivities will enjoy. Whatever recipes you choose, this indispensable cookbook is sure to become the resource you turn to every day for years to come. Equal parts cookbook, nutrition guide, daily menus, party planner, and parenting guide, Real Food for Healthy Kids will get your kids engaged in eating, happily and healthfully for a lifetime.

Tanya Wenman Steel is editor in chief of the award-winning food website Epicurious.com."

Real Food for Healthy Kids 200+ Easy, Wholesome Recipes
by Tanya Wenman Steel
HC: 384 Pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Pub. Date: Aug 05, 2008
Photos: Black and White Illustrations
ISBN-10:0060857919
ISBN-13:9780060857912

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

01 August 2008

Absinthe


I've been hearing more and more about absinthe recently, as some of you also have. Illegal, impossible to try, or get, until recently. Most people only know about it because of its notorious past. A little education for some of us from Wikipedia (see bottom of blog for absinthe lollipops!):

"Absinthe is traditionally a distilled, highly alcoholic (45%-75% ABV), anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, also called wormwood. Absinthe is typically of a natural green color but is also produced in both clear and artificially colored styles. It is often called “the Green Fairy.”

Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a liquor. Absinthe is unusual among spirits in that it is bottled at a high proof but is normally diluted with water when it is drunk.

Absinthe originated in Switzerland. However, it is better known for its popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Due in part to its association with bohemian culture, absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Aleister Crowley were all notorious “bad men” of that day who were (or were thought to be) devotees of the Green Fairy.

Absinthe was portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug. The chemical thujone, present in small quantities, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in most European countries except the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although absinthe was vilified, no evidence has shown it to be any more dangerous than ordinary liquor. Its psychoactive properties, apart from those of alcohol, had been much exaggerated.

A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, when countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale. As of February 2008, nearly 200 brands of absinthe were being produced in a dozen countries, most notably France, Switzerland, Spain, and the Czech Republic...

...Traditionally, absinthe is poured into a glass over which a specially designed slotted spoon is placed. A sugar cube is then deposited in the bowl of the spoon. Ice-cold water is poured or dripped over the sugar until the drink is diluted to a ratio between 3:1 and 5:1. During this process, the components that are not soluble in water, mainly those from anise, fennel, and star anise, come out of solution and cloud the drink. The resulting milky opalescence is called the louche (Fr. "opaque" or "shady", IPA [luʃ]). The addition of water is important, causing the herbs to "blossom" and bringing out many of the flavors originally overpowered by the anise.

Originally a waiter would serve a dose of absinthe, ice water in a carafe, and sugar separately, and the drinker would prepare it to their preference. With increased popularity, the absinthe fountain, a large jar of ice water on a base with spigots, came into use. It allowed a number of drinks to be prepared at once, and with a hands-free drip, patrons were able to socialize while louching a glass.

Although many bars served absinthe in standard glasses, a number of glasses were specifically made for absinthe. These had a dose line, bulge, or bubble in the lower portion denoting how much absinthe should be poured in. One "dose" of absinthe is around 1 ounce (30 ml), and most glasses used this as the standard, with some drinkers using as much as 1 1/2 ounces (45 ml).

In addition to being drunk with water poured over sugar, absinthe was a common cocktail ingredient in both the United Kingdom and the United States, and continues to be a popular ingredient today. One of the most famous of these is Ernest Hemingway’s "Death in the Afternoon" cocktail, a concoction he contributed to a 1935 collection of celebrity recipes. His directions are as follows: 'Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.'"

Go to Wikipedia for the full article, and KegWorks for absinthe lollipops.

21 July 2008

Asafetida; Red lentils with asafetida recipe

I came across asafetida while searching for new recipes for red lentils. Ah, an herb I had never heard of or seen in stores. I'll try the recipe below when I find it. As for what asafetida is, a synopsis from Wikipedia:

"Asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida), alternative spelling asafetida, pronounced /æsəˈfɛtɪdə/ (also known as devil's dung, stinking gum, asant, food of the gods, Hing (Gujarati, Hindi), Ingua (Telugu), Hilteet, and giant fennel) is a species of Ferula native to Iran. It is an herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2 m tall, with stout, hollow, somewhat succulent stems 5-8 cm diameter at the base of the plant. The leaves are 30–40 cm long, tripinnate or even more finely divided, with a stout basal sheath clasping the stem. The flowers are yellow, produced in large compound umbels.

Asafoetida has a foul smell when raw, but in cooked dishes, it delivers a smooth flavor, reminiscent of leeks...

...This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment and in pickles. Its odor is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers; otherwise the aroma, which is nauseating in quantities, will contaminate other spices stored nearby. However, its odour and flavor become much milder and more pleasant upon heating in oil or ghee, acquiring a taste and aroma reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic. In India, it is used especially by the merchant caste of the Hindus and by adherents of Jainism, who do not eat onions or garlic. It is used in most vegetarian and lentil dishes to both add flavor and aroma and reduce flatulence. It is mainly grown in Iran and Afghanistan. The Indian companies Laljee Godhoo, Laxmi Hing (R M Kanani & Co - Gujarat) are the world's largest producers of compounded asafoetida."

***

Red Lentils with Asafetida

INGREDIENTS

2 cups red lentils

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ground asafetida

1 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

4 or 5 dried red hot chilies

DIRECTIONS

Rinse the, then drain and place in a heavy saucepan.

Add 6 cups water and the turmeric. Stir and bring to a simmer (do not boil). Cover loosely, lower the heat and allow to simmer gently 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the salt and mix. Leave covered over very low heat.

Put the oil in a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the asafetida. Then add the cumin seeds, allowing them to sizzle for a few seconds. Add the red chilies. As soon as they turn dark red (should be a few seconds), pour the frying pan's oil and spices into the lentil pan. Cover immediately to trap the aromas, then serve.

Servings: 7 to 9.

16 July 2008

Trends: Sliders; slyders

Photo: Evan Sung for The New York Times


THE new food trend is one you may have been a part of without knowing it.

If you have eaten White Castle hamburgers, aka "slyders", sliders, whatever you want to call them, you started this (in a way). Never heard of White Castle, visit Wikipedia to learn more.

As for sliders, a New York Times article, "In Manhattan, Sliders for All Tastes" by Florence Fabricant (Published: July 16, 2008), declares:

"Are they greasy but lovable little staples of down-market fast food? Or are they trendy, high-end bar food fussed over by chefs and served with fancy ketchup on miniature brioche buns? Right now, at restaurants in New York and elsewhere, they are both. Take your pick."



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To read the whole article, visit The New York Times.

10 July 2008

Nine noteworthy foods

There have been many lists appearing recently touting the 'best' foods to eat for health and nutrition. The same foods appear on many of the lists -- with minor variations. A very nice, concise article in the Tennessean (Nashville) -- reprinted from 'Woman's Day', is as good as any:

"If you were stuck on a deserted island, what foods would you want with you? At first you might think about your favorite snacks, but ultimately you'd need nutrient-packed foods to keep you healthy for the long haul. To figure out what would make the cut, Woman's Day magazine analyzed dozens of foods. Points were awarded for the amount of key nutrients that each food contains, and any that had trans fats or high amounts of saturated fat or sodium were crossed off the list."

The foods included are almonds, avocados, broccoli, eggs, kale, quinoa, raspberries, sweet potatoes, plain non-fat yougurt.

Go to Tennessean to read the article.

03 July 2008

Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China

Are you a Summer Olympics fan (or fanatic)? Or just appreciate the multitude of Chinese cuisines? Or both? Then, this book is for you: Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China, by Jeffrey Alford, and Naomi Duguid.

The description, from Jessica's Biscuit:

"A bold and eye-opening new cookbook with magnificent photos and unforgettable stories.

In the West, when we think about food in China, what usually comes to mind are the signature dishes of Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai. But beyond the urbanized eastern third of China lie the high open spaces and sacred places of Tibet, the Silk Road oases of Xinjiang, the steppelands of Inner Mongolia, and the steeply terraced hills of Yunnan and Guizhou. The peoples who live in these regions are culturally distinct, with their own history and their own unique culinary traditions. In Beyond the Great Wall, the inimitable duo of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid--who first met as young travelers in Tibet--bring home the enticing flavors of this other China.

For more than twenty-five years, both separately and together, Duguid and Alford have journeyed all over the outlying regions of China, sampling local home cooking and street food, making friends and taking lustrous photographs. Beyond the Great Wall shares the experience in a rich mosaic of recipes--from Central Asian cumin-scented kebabs and flatbreads to Tibetan stews and Mongolian hot pots--photos, and stories. A must-have for every food lover, and an inspiration for cooks and armchair travelers alike."

Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China
by Jeffrey Alford, and Naomi Duguid
HC: 384 Pages
Publisher: Artisan
Pub. Date: Apr 01, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:1579653014
ISBN-13:9781579653019


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

Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties, by Julia Reed

A new notable "cookbook" is on the shelf that appears to go beyond just recipes (which I like): Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties An Entertaining Life (with Recipes), by Julia Reed. Jessica's Biscuit says:

"Julia Reed spends a lot of time thinking about ham biscuits. And cornbread and casseroles and the surprisingly modern ease of donning a hostess gown for one’s own party. In Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties Julia Reed collects her thoughts on good cooking and the lessons of gracious entertaining that pass from one woman to another, and takes the reader on a lively and very personal tour of the culinary—and social—South. In essays on everything from pork chops to the perfect picnic Julia Reed revels in the simple good qualities that make the Southern table the best possible place to pull up a chair. She expounds on: the Southerner’s relentless penchant for using gelatin; why most things taste better with homemade mayonnaise; the necessity of a holiday milk punch (and, possibly, a Santa hat); how best to “cook for compliments” (at least one squash casserole and Lee Bailey’s barbequed veal are key). She provides recipes for some of the region’s best-loved dishes (cheese straws, red velvet cake, breakfast shrimp), along with her own variations on the classics, including Fried Oysters Rockefeller Salad and Creole Crab Soup. She also elaborates on worthwhile information every hostess would do well to learn: the icebreaking qualities of a Ramos gin fizz and a hot crabmeat canapé, for example; the “wow factor” intrinsic in a platter of devilled eggs or a giant silver punchbowl filled with scoops of homemade ice cream. There is guidance on everything from the best possible way to “eat” your luck on New Year’s Day to composing a menu in honor of someone you love. Grace and hilarity under gastronomic pressure suffuse these essays, along with remembrances of her gastronomic heroes including Richard Olney, Mary Cantwell, and M.F.K. Fisher. Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties is another great book about the South from Julia Reed, a writer who makes her experiences in—and out of—the kitchen a joy to read."

Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties An Entertaining Life (with Recipes)
by Julia Reed

Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin'S Press
Pub. Date: Jul 08, 2008
ISBN-10:031235956X
ISBN-13:9780312359560

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

30 June 2008

NYC keeps the cannoli but drops the trans fats

AP Photo: Chef Franco Amati stuffs cannoli shells at the Ferrara Bakery in New York's Little Italy...


Well, now you may not feel as guilty if you eat six cannoli in New York City...but, seriously, and finally, a small step towards healthier eating.

They said it couldn't be done:

"Chefs who relied on trans fats to make their pie crusts flaky, their crackers crispy and their muffins moist have worked overtime finding substitute ingredients. They have burned through hundreds of gallons of oil, shortening and margarine trying to retool old recipes without damaging flavor, texture or color.

Yet, with the deadline looming, it appears that few, if any foods, are getting whacked."

Read the entire article HERE.

22 June 2008

Izakaya; Izakaya The Japanese Pub Cookbook

You probably are familiar with Spanish tapas and tapas bars. How about the Japanese version, an isakaya? Huh? Here's a little edification from Wikipedia:

"An izakaya (居酒屋, izakaya?) is a type of Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks. The food is usually more substantial than that offered in other types of drinking establishments in Japan such as bars or snack bars.

They are popular, casual and relatively cheap places for after-work drinking.

The name "izakaya" is a compound word consisting of "i " (to remain) and "sakaya" (sake shop), showing that izakaya originate from sake shops which allowed customers to remain on the premises to drink.

Izakaya are sometimes called Akachōchin (red lantern) in daily conversation, because these paper lanterns are traditionally found in front of an izakaya.

Depending on the izakaya, customers sit on tatami mats and dine from low tables in the traditional Japanese style, or sit on chairs and drink/dine from tables. Many izakaya offer a choice of both, as well as seating by the bar.

Usually, you will be given an oshibori (wet towel) to clean your hands with; next an otōshi or tsukidashi (a tiny snack/an appetizer) will be served. This is local custom and usually charged onto the bill in lieu of an entry fee. Japanese people in Kantō region call it otōshi and Kansai people call it tsukidashi.

The menu may be on the table, or displayed on walls. Picture menus are common in larger izakaya. Food and drink are ordered throughout the course of the session as desired. They are brought to the table, and the bill is added up at the end of the session. Unlike other Japanese styles of eating, food items are usually shared by everyone at the table.

Common formats for izakaya dining in Japan are known as nomihodai ("drink all you can") and tabehodai ('eat all you can'). These formats are especially popular in large, chain izakaya. For a set price per person, customers can continue ordering as much food and /or drink as they wish, with a usual time limit of two or three hours."

Interested in more? Here is a recent publication, Izakaya The Japanese Pub Cookbook (HC), by Mark Robinson, with a description from Jessica's Biscuit:

"Japanese pubs, called izakaya, are attracting growing attention in Japan and overseas. As a matter of fact, a recent article in The New York Times claimed that the izakaya is 'starting to shove the sushi bar off its pedestal.' While Japan has many guidebooks and cookbooks, this is the first publication in English to delve into every aspect of a unique and vital cornerstone of Japanese food culture.

A venue for socializing and an increasingly innovative culinary influence, izakaya serves mouth-watering and inexpensive small-plate cooking, along with free flowing drinks. Readers of this book will be guided through the different styles of establishments and recipes that make izakaya such relaxing and appealing destinations. At the same time, they will learn to cook many delicious standards and specialties, and discover how to design a meal as the evening progresses.

Eight Tokyo pubs are introduced, ranging from those that serve the traditional Japanese comfort foods such as yakitori (barbecued chicken), to those offering highly innovative creations. Some of them have long histories; some are more recent players on the scene. All are quite familiar to the author, who has chosen them for the variety they represent: from the most venerated downtown pub to the new-style standing bar with French-influenced menu. Mark Robinson includes knowledgeable text on the social and cultural etiquette of visiting izakaya, so the book can be used as a guide to entering the potentially daunting world of the pub. Besides the 60 detailed recipes, he also offers descriptions of Japanese ingredients and spices, a guide to the wide varieties of sake and other alcoholic drinks that are served., how-to advice on menu ordering, and much more.

For the home chef, the hungry gourmet, the food professional, this is more than a cookbook. It is a unique peek at an important and exciting dining and cultural phenomenon."
Izakaya The Japanese Pub Cookbook
by Mark Robinson
HC: 160 Pages
Publisher: Kodansha America Inc.
Pub. Date: Mar 28, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:4770030657
ISBN-13:9784770030658

*********

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

16 June 2008

Artichokes

Did you know the artichoke is part of the thistle family? Or just a fun, finger-eating vegetable? No matter, here is a bit more information on it, along with a suggested preparation from The California Artichoke Advisory Board.

From Wikipedia:

"The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a perennial thistle originating in southern Europe around the Mediterranean. It grows to 1.5-2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves 50–80 cm long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the "heart"; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the "choke." These are inedible in older larger flowers.

The origin of artichokes is unknown, though they are said to have come from the Maghreb (North Africa) where it is still found in the wild state. The cardoon, a naturally occurring variant of the same species, is native to the Mediterranean, even though it has not been mentioned in Classic literature. Artichokes were cultivated in Sicily in the Greek period, the Greeks called them kaktos. In this period the cultivated leaves and flowerheads, which cultivation had already improved from the wild form, were eaten. The Romans, who called the vegetable carduus received the plant from the Greeks. Further improvement in the cultivated form appear to have taken place in the Muslim period in the Maghreb, although the evidence is inferential only...

Globe Artichokes are known to have been cultivated at Naples around the middle of the 9th century, and are said to have been introduced to France by Catherine de' Medici. Pierre de L'Estoile recorded in his journal on June 19, 1576, the fact that at the wedding of two courtiers, Queen Catherine de Medici 'ate so much that she thought she would die, and was very ill with diarrhea. they said it was from eating too many arthchoke bottoms.'

The Dutch introduced artichokes to England, where they were growing in Henry VIII's garden at Newhall in 1530. They were introduced to the United States in the 19th century, to Louisiana by French immigrants and to California by Spanish immigrants. The name has originated from ardi shauki (أرضي شوكي), which is Arabic for ground-thorn, through a Northern Italian dialect word, articiocco.

Today, Globe Artichoke cultivation is concentrated in the countries bordering the Mediterranean basin. The main producers are Italy, Spain, and France. In the United States, California provides nearly 100% of the U.S. crop, and approximately 80 percent of that is grown in Monterey County; there, Castroville proclaims itself to be "The Artichoke Center of the World," and holds an annual festival at which artichoke ice cream is served. The cultivar 'Green Globe' is virtually the only kind grown commercially in the U.S."

The California Artichoke Advisory Board recommends the following in preparation:

Bend back outer petals, snapping them off at the base.

Continue snapping off petals until the leaves are half green (at the top) and half yellow.

Using a stainless steel knife, to minimize discoloration, cut the top cone of the leaves at the point where the yellow meets the green. (Green is fibrous.)

Cut the stem level with the base and trim any remaining green from the base of the artichoke. (Just like peeling the skin from an apple.)

Plunge into acidified water.

Steam whole; for stir-fry or sauté, cut in half or quarter horizontally. If there are purple or pink leaves, cut them out. (Those leaves will be tough.) If the interior is white, the entire artichoke is edible. Place in acidulated water to minimize browning while prepping.

COOKING ARTICHOKES

BOIL
Stand prepared artichoke in deep saucepan or pot with 3 inches boiling water. (If desired, oil, lemon juice and seasonings can be added to cooking water.) Cover and boil gently 25 to 40 minutes, depending on size, or until petal near the center pulls out easily. Stand artichoke upside down on a rack to drain,

STEAM
Place prepared artichoke on a rack above an inch or two of boiling water. Cover and steam 25 to 45 minutes, depending on size, or until a petal near the center pulls out easily.

MICROWAVE (700 watt oven)
For one: Set one medium sized prepared artichoke upside down in a small glass bowl (a 2 cup measure will do) with ¼ cup water, ½ teaspoon each lemon juice and oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high 6 to 7 minutes. Let stand covered 5 minutes after cooking.

06 June 2008

Local produce online

Fiddleheads (from Wikipedia)


Local fruit, berries and vegetables are available everywhere. And on several blogs we've promoted local, especially organic fare. But to some, especially urban or busy individuals, there's not always the time to search for it, or shop for it. Voila! The Internet! An article in today's New York Times, "Salad Days for the Internet", by Michelle Slatalla, shows how you can benefit both your local farmer and yourself with a few clicks at home (or work).

"Shopping online to eat locally is not just about the food. With oil prices so high, making an effort to reduce the energy costs associated with transporting food from farm to table can be a political stance."

To read the full article and see the web sites featured, visit The New York Times.

03 June 2008

The New England Clam Shack Cookbook (2nd Edition), by Brooke Dojny

I'm originally from New England (Rhode Island), and anything with seafood is heaven, especially in summer. From all-day clambake orgies to a simple steamed lobster, it always seems to taste better near the New England shore. There are as many ways to prepare any fish/shellfish/sea creature as there are towns and cities there. And there seems to be as many cookbooks. And another hits the market: The New England Clam Shack Cookbook (2nd Edition), by Brooke Dojny. Jessica's Biscuit says:

"Rich buttery lobster, fried clams, and thick chowders are the foods that taste of long summer days in New England. Fresh sweet seafood, simply prepared, brings back warm afternoons and cool salty evenings on the beaches of Cape Cod, Maine, Connecticut, and the North Shore of Massachusetts, where local clams were first battered, deep fried, and served up with creamy, tangy tartar sauce.

Simple authentic coastal fare doesn't get any better than in the second edition of Brooke Dojny's culinary tribute, The New England Clam Shack Cookbook. Take a bite of New England's clam shack traditions with nearly 100 recipes gathered from the region's best casual seafood eateries. Here are all New England classic seafood preparations, from clam chowder to lazy man's lobster.

All the sides and sweets are here too, as well as the names and addresses of more than 100 eateries, plus three regional weekend itineraries for the true clam shack devotee."

The New England Clam Shack Cookbook (2nd Edition),
by Brooke Dojny
PB: 240 Pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Co.
Pub. Date: May 01, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs
ISBN-10:1603420266
ISBN-13:9781603420266

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

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
ISBN-10:076458779X
ISBN-13:9780764587795

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
ISBN-10:1592403670
ISBN-13:9781592403677


* * *



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

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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.