Posts filed under 'Food Literature'
Day of Honey by journalist Annia Ciezadlo will leave you hankering to make so many of the recipes from her time in Iraq and Lebanon. This is not a cookbook but a memoir of reporting from there over a six year period. Freekah or fire roasted green wheat is slowly becoming available here in speciality stores. I love the texture of it and have added it to soups and also made it into pilaf.
Another newcomer to the U.S. are green garbanzo beans! So far I have only been able to find these frozen at Whole Foods. This recipe is very loosely based on the one in Annia's book.
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced, or bag of frozen pearl onions
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 cups freekah
4 cups chicken stock, warmed
1 bag of frozen green garbanzo beans (or regular canned garbanzos), defrosted
Salt and Pepper
Place a large caserole over medium to low heat and allow to warm. Add the oil and butter and melt. Now add the onions, carrot and celery and cook until the vegetable start to get light golden. Pour the freekah in and stir to coat. Once the freekah starts to sizzle, pour in the stock and allow to come to a boil. Cover and cook until all the liquid is all absorbed, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the garbanzos, cover again and let rest for 15 minutes.
Just before serving, toss well, adjust seasonings and add any freshly chopped herbs you like. Freekah pilaf would pair well with my Bahrat Marinated Pork Tenderloin or Moroccan Chicken with Raosted Red Bell Peppers.
August 20th, 2012
If it is your job to bring dessert to the next neighborhood party, make this cake! I have been making it for years, ever since Amanda Hesser published Cooking for Mr. Latte in 2004.
The recipe actaully belongs to Amanda's mother who often baked at night which is one of my habits as well. The cake is made with pantry ingredients and the recipe is quite simple, no mixer required.
Unlike some cakes, this cake stores well in the fridge and it can even be served cold with much success. This is an added bonus for a summer cake. Divine and chocolately, it is one of my all-time favorites. The cake is so moist and lovely. The frosting is made by mixing room temperature sour cream and melted chocolate chips resulting in a glossy, slightly tangy decadent frosting.
Click here, for the original recipe is posted on Food52. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
July 11th, 2012
Normally I am the first person to say, "I am an omnivore, and I don't have any dilemmas"- which isn't exactly true. I participate in Meatless Mondays and really try to carry on the practice 4 times a week. I care greatly about the presence of genetically modified foods in our country. And every spring there comes a need to re-set my eating habits.
Last year Kimberly wrote about her 21 Day Vegan Cleanse. I have just completed a 14 day cleanse that was brought on by my allergies and a need to kick some bad habits that had formed over the past few months. In the process I began to really think about my relationship with food. I am not the only aging food professional who has been on this quest of late either.
Well known NY Times columnist, cookbook author, and blogger Mark Bittman wrote about being vegan before dinner when he learned that he needed to shed some weight for health reasons. Peter Kaminsky's soon to be released book Culinary Intelligence explores how to maximize flavor per calorie. In his own words "This book is all about pursuing the pleasures of the table on the path to good health." And this piece about sugar as a pro-oxidant on 60 Minutes was incredibly interesting to watch and equally compelling to greatly reduce my intake of simple sugars.
In any event, I certainly don't prescribe to the Kate Moss school of "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." However, there is something about spring that makes me want to rid my house and my body of built up toxins. In the process of greatly reducing the amount of calories I ate everyday, not drinkning alcohol, gluten, dairy, sugar or meat, and thinking carefully about what I ate for 14 days I came to an understanding about my eating habits. The end result was a few less pounds, greatly improved sleep and many new recipes and products that I am going to start incorportating into my life (see below).
Before going on my vegan cleanse I thought that not eating meat and cheese for that long would be really difficult. Interestingly enough the hardest things to give up were sweets and wine. Which made me realize that I really needed to make a simple change in my eating habits and replace those cravings with better choices.
Pantry staples for an enjoyable cleanse:
South River Miso – Dandelion is a natural diuretic so this was a flavor I used. Don't hestitate to try all their amazing types of miso.
Rejuvila – Use this is your smoothies. I made it with freshly squeezed orange juice and a banana.
On the days when I needed protein I added a scoop of this raw protein powder which is made from a plethora of raw organic sprouted grains and beans. No, it doesn't taste good but it did the job.
Nettle Tea by Traditional Medicinals
Deep Cleasnse Tea By Bija
It's easy enough to make nut milks but there are quite a few unsweetened milk alternatives on the market that are quite good. I especially like the new cashew, almond hazelnut flavor (which isn't on the website) from Hain Celestial. Some of them have only 50 calories and taste great in chai but are also good for smoothies.
Kale – Making kale chips was a critical as it gave me something crunchy and slightly salty, I also got in the habit of putting a raw piece of kale into freshly squeezed orange juice and blending it up. Spinach works well too.
If you need something creamy to eat, cashew hummus will satisfy.
When is the last time you re-evaluated your relationship with food? If you make the effort for spring cleaning your home, maybe it is time to consider a spring cleanse for your body?
May 4th, 2012
Our book club recently finished "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. The hosts of the evening decided to pay homage to the southern spirit of the book and serve us the food that the white women of Jackson, Mississippi made on the days when they didn’t have "the help" to cook for them. Thank goodness there was good chablis to wash it down.
We started off with Salmon Loaf from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook circa 1958. The recipe is not on their website but the salmon was from a can and had loads of pepper. Cheese squares with canned olives and pretzels were artfully presented along with canned crab on cream cheese with chili sauce pour over the top. Of course there was a can of Cheese Whiz and Ritz Crackers and Saltines.
For starters there was canned fruit cocktail replete with the cherries! Being overly exposed to canned fruit cocktail as a child has scarred me for life, I still can not eat fruit salad of any kind, fresh or otherwise.
For the main course we were treated to ham studded with canned pineapple and cherries, canned butter beans (creamy white beans that were perty darn tasty), canned black eyed peas and scalloped potatoes from a box! O.K., O.K., I was indeed surprised at the texture of the potatoes. They were firm and actually tasted like potatoes. Ahhhh, food technology at its finest. Meatballs in canned tomato sauce and Russian Salad rounded out the meal. Green bean casserole was missed.
For dessert we enjoyed Mock Apple Pie (a true marvel from the 1930′s made almost entirely out of Ritz crackers) and a green giggly molded Jello (the kind that scared me as a kid with canned mandarins trapped inside) also from the vintage BHG cookbook. The piece de la resistance was Classic Banana Pudding with Nilla Wafers and Cool Whip.
In real life our hostesses are wonderful cooks who adore food and entertaining. They both commented that they had never opened so many cans to cook in their life but also said this was one of the cheaper meals they had ever made.
This meal made me thank Julie Child, Madeleine Kamman, Jacques Pepin and Alice Waters (just to name a few foodie pioneers) for introducing Americans to the delicious (uncanned) food revolution!
February 24th, 2010
I won’t even attempt to be linear in explaining all that I learned at the French Culinary Institute’s Harold McGee Lecture Series. Day 3 was of particular interest to me as I had just completed The Taste of Sweet by Joanne Chen, a most compelling read for any flavorista. Paired with what we did on day 3, it was all the more valuable.
We started the day with an incredible exercise.The photo above features a small cup with a substance that looks a bit like dirt. That is gymnema sylvestre a tropical plant from India that has been used there to stabilize blood glucose levels. The gynmemic acid apparently works by blocking the sweet receptors on the palate. Dave Arnold purchased it from a local health food store and emptied the contents of the capsules for us. We were warned that it would taste bad but that we had to keep it on our tongue in order for the experiment to work. Indeed, it was awful but worth it.
The first thing we put in our mouths was pure sugar. It was like having sand on my tongue. The grape juices had little to no flavor, the already anemic strawberry provided nothing but texture, the marshmallows were bizarre and the apple was crisp and juicy, but that was it. The only substance that had a robust floral essesence, strong enough for me to identify it, was the honey.
So what is the possible lesson to be gained from such an experiment? It serves as a reminder that we sense things as a whole but it’s really an integrative experience. We each live in our own sensory universe and when part of our internal universe is blocked, i.e. when you have a bad cold or burn your tongue, taste is no longer the same thing.
I guess it was of particular interest to me because I help companies develop products. So often I feel that prepared foods and packaged items are overly sweet. After confirming with the PROP test that I am "a super taster" that makes sense. Super tasters taste louder (which isn’t always great and is no badge of honor). Chen’s book does an honorable description of the test so I won’t even try.
In any event, the exercise helped me to truly appreciating the art of flavoring food in a balanced way. I wonder if there is potential in marketing goods to super tasters? With PROP testing it usually works out that 1/4 of the people can’t detect the flavor, 1/4 are highly sensititive (like me) and 1/2 sense it but only mildly (the masses).
I wonder if my 8 year old is a super taster? Every flavor, with the exception of salt and sugar, screams in his mouth while the rest of us wonder if there could be a bit more spice in our food. I think he fears tasting new foods as a result.
Anyway there is so much more to learn on the subject and I will continue to explore the science of flavor. Stay tuned for the test we did with yumberry!
November 12th, 2009
I picked up this book a the IACP conference and have really enjoyed reading it. Written by Jennifer 8 Lee (and no that number 8 is not a typo but her given middle name), The Fortune Cookie Chronicles is a fascinating read on the story of Chinese restaurants and food in America.
As a reporter for the New York Times, she did an amazing job researching the topic, inlcuding traveling to remote places in China re-connecting with her roots and discovering the truth about General Tso’s Chicken – amoung other Chinese restaurant favorites. But this isn’t just about the food. As always food is tied to more than just eating. Lee chronicles the journeys people made in order to immigrate to the U.S. and work in American-Chinese restaurants. I highly recommend this book. You will learn a lot.
Click here for some excerpts.
April 20th, 2009
The International Association of Culinary Professionals has a conference every year and lucky me this year it’s in Denver! This conference is where cookbook authors, chefs, cooking school professionals, food magazine professionals, and other foodies converge to discuss topics concerning the state of our industry. Here’s a list of who I am hoping to hob nob with over 3 days of foodie fun:
Anne Mendelson author of Milk Through the Ages
Molly O’Neill – American Culinary Traditions – and has been nominated for an award in journalism.
Kathleen Flinn – The Sharper your Knife the Less you Cry - I just finished this wonderful book that Kimberly highly recommended.
Betty Fussell – author of newly published Raising Steaks among other amazing books over the years.
Jennifer McLagan – Author of Fat – I have to know what inspired such a superb topic.
Joanne Chen - Author of The Taste of Sweet – soon to be reviewed by me but I’ll tell you now it’s fascinating!
Martha Holmberg – author of Puff – a fabulous book of recipes using puff pastry from the food editor of the Oregonian and past editor of Taunton’s Fine Cooking.
Stay tuned for great posts from the event!
April 1st, 2009
Flavorista Kitty gave me this culinary coming of age book for my birthday. I devoured it in less than a week, which is a pretty gigantic accomplishment around here, as the majority of books I get through from cover to cover are on CD, in the car stereo.
Kathleen Flinn’s memoir is a very easy read. She is an excellent writer who really draws the reader into her story. "The Sharper Your Knife" tells the tale of a woman who gets fired, chases her dream of a Cordon Bleu education and falls in love. Professional chaos, French food and a love story, what’s not to like?
I have made one recipe, Mustard Chicken, from the book; it was completely delicious. I have photos of said dish, but a beige sauce on top of browned chicken does not make good amateur food photography so I am sparing you the brown on brown delight. Instead try to imagine, perfectly tender chicken thighs, seasoned to a T, finished with a divine, cream-based mustard sauce. Oh yeah, it was that good.
Be sure to check out Flinn’s blog, Eat. Write. Now. I was mightily impressed that she posted a photo of her disheveled spice drawer to illustrate the importance of keeping spices fresh in order to yield the best flavor.
PS – Flinn’s book is being made into a movie, how cool is that?
March 10th, 2009
My grandfather loved having pancakes for supper on Sunday nights. The children’s book by that title is wonderful with beautiful graphics. Below is our family recipe for Pancakes for Supper. Be sure to serve your pancakes with really good bacon and/or your favorite sausage links.
Whole Grain Dinner Pancakes
Obviously,these are just as good for breakfast. They are really exceptional with little bits of banana cut in and folded into the batter.
1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup bran
1/4 cup cornmeal or oat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soa
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated, whites beaten until stiff
Sift together dry ingredients. Blend wet ingredients, except egg whites. Blend throughly with the wet. Fold in the egg whites. Cook on a hot griddle until golden on each side.
January 25th, 2009
One of my icons is Betty Fussell, who has been researching and writing about food for over 50 years. Her memoir, My Kitchen Wars is a great read and a wonderful view into to the lives of the women of her generation who were laying the ground work for the woman’s lib movement.
One of her greatest tomes is The Story of Corn which has been recently re-published. I have yet to try her cookbooks but her ability to research and tell the story is not only thorough, but passionate. She has a new book out about the history of beef in the U.S. Raising Steaks, which is sure to be a thriller.
January 18th, 2009