27 April 2010

Cookin' With Coolio

I own my share (actually, more than my share) of prissy cookbooks, Junior League/church fundraisers, overwrought chef's tomes and even The Joy of Cooing, but if you want to find true joy in cooking look no further than rapper Coolio.

Now let me just say here that Coolio is no Elsie de Wolfe or Julia Child, but neither of them can par-tay in the kitchen like Coolio. Seriously, this ain't Mama's cookbook. And, yes, it may seem like a big old gimmick save for one thing ... Coolio can cook. Seriously, that rapper can cook like a mother fucker. As Coolio will tell us:

I can take a cow out of Compton and make it taste better than Kobe beef at your favorite steakhouse.

Of his late mother, Jackie, Coolio says:

Her fried chicken would literally put on tennis shoes and run the fuck into your mouth.

So when the young Coolio slipped into the kitchen one day and had his dinner get away from him, burning the carpet he waited for her to return, "like I was on death row." When she arrived home Coolio says, two things happened:

1. I got a whooping I wouldn't forget for a long time.
2. After I healed, my Mom said, "Okay, smartass. You want to learn how to cook? All right, you're gonna learn how to cook!"

From that day forward, Coolio never ate a meal he didn't help make.

Once again, I must warn you, Coolio is a rapper. He has little patience with women who don't eat meat (or women in general, remember he is a rapper) but he acquiesces to their needs in a chapter he calls, "Salad-Eatin' Bitches." He has a recipe for a Caprase Salad that he promises will make a woman drop her panties. I warned you! For those of you who do eat meat...

Your Ribs Is Too Short to Box with God

What you will need:

3 pounds beef short ribs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 cup beer or water
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 dime bag salt
1 dime bag pepper
1 cup barbecue sauce

What to do with it:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place those ribs in a large roasting pan.

3. Toss in the garlic, onion, beer (or water for all you friends of Bill), and balsamic vinegar.

4. Empty your dime bags of salt and pepper into the mix.

5. Throw a lid on that concoction and slide it into the oven like it's about to be incinerated.

6. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes.

7. Pull out the pan and slop on the barbecue sauce. Get that all over the meat. Make it look like a horror movie.

8. Re-cover the pan and place it back in the crematorium for 20 to 25 minutes.

9. Even the most agnostic guests will think they died and went to heaven. That's when God's gonna sucker punch them and make them born again--at least until they are done eatin'.

Seriously, funny and good food! If you want to check out Coolio in the kitchen, you can find his video's here.

23 April 2010

Spécialités de la Maison

Saved from the ravages of discarded cookbook hell, Spécialités de la Maison has been given a new life. Some of us have old, beaten up copies, but if you do not own a copy, you can now get a pristine new copy as the book has been reprinted and featured in the New York Times.

The book was put together in 1940 by the American Friends of France. France had many friends, especially among the rich and famous. Spécialités de la Maison is filled with recipes from Tallulah Bankhead to Vivien Leigh to Katherine Hepburn. The are Hearsts, Vanderbilts and Harrimans and Brooke Astor when she was still Mrs. Charles H. Marshall. Throw in Igor Stravinsky and Cecil Beaton and you have quite a cookbook!

Aldous Huxley's...

Paella a la Valenciana

Pork Sausages
Any fish like fresh cod

This dish is composed of many ingredients. The taste will be richer if all of them are used, but some of them can be omitted if preferred. Cut chicken and pork up small and fry in oil, adding onions, garlic, tomatoes and green peppers. When well fried, add rice (Valencia preferably). Mix well and add boiling water. Cook the fish separately and add parsley, mint leaves and saffron. Add to the first mixture. Add red sweet peppers and peas when rice is half cooked. Artichoke hearts may be added when everything is done. This dish is best cooked in and earthenware casserole, not too deep.

Gogo Schiaparelli's...

La Petite Marmite

3lb.s round beef
Wings and legs of 3 chickens
1/2 lb marrow bone
3 carrots
3 white turnips
3 leeks
A few celery leaves
Salt, pepper, spice to taste

Put the meat and bones in 3 qts. cold water. Skim very thoroughly just before it begins to boil. Add vegetables cut in quarters. Season. Bring to a boil, cover pan, and let simmer very slowly for 4 hours. Take off fat, remove bones. Cut up meat and serve meat, vegetables and bouillon all at once in soup plate.

Noel Coward's...

Filet de Chevreuil

Soak venison filet for 48 hours in a marinade of wine, onions, spices and herbs to taste. Roast it or broil it 20 minutes to the lb.'basting constantly with melted butter mixed with some of the marinade. Reduce the remaining marinade on very hot fire, and add it to the gravy. Bind with yolks of eggs and a few spoonfuls of good mustard.

Let's eat.

22 April 2010

The Southern Plantations Cook

The Southern Plantations Cook features recipes from shooting plantations all around the South. For those of you who don't kill your own food, a shooting plantation is like a bed and breakfast with ammo. You go there to stay surrounded by old world charm and in the morning you go out into the fields and hunt things...deer, quail, boar, turkey, whatever might be roaming in the woods. Then you bring your catch back to the plantation and they cook it up with tasty side dishes.

This is not everyone's cup of tea, but I am sure there is a Motel-6 down the road if you are uninclined. The Southern Plantations Cook has a large number of quail recipes and I thing quail is often overlooked bird. The good news about quail is that most anyone can find them frozen in larger grocery stores eliminating the need trudge around in the filed to shoot them.

As for Southern side dishes, well The Southern Plantations Cook has a couple that are truly unique. Recently I heard two well known cooks discuss their favorite casseroles tucked inside Southern church cookbooks. This is definitely a one for the church social.

Hot Pineapple Casserole

1 large can crushed pineapple in natural juices
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 slices bread, torn in bite sized pieces
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon four

Spread pineapple in a grease casserole dish. Top with butter and bread pieces. Mix to combine. Add sugar, eggs and flour and mix again.

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Do not brown.

You have come this far, don't shy away now. The more I read this recipe, the more I believed that would be quite improved by using ACTUAL pineapple. Again, in a large grocery store, one can find fresh pineapple all dressed and ready to go. Turn those bread slices into a nice crumb and Hot Pineapple Casserole is a fine accompaniment to almost any fowl.

And, I'll bet no one you know has made this for guest. Go ahead, you know you want to.

20 April 2010

Cooking School Provence

OK, I know you think I don't need another French cookbook, but you would be wrong. Gui Gedda is thought to be the father of Provencal cooking and when he puts together a cookbook, well , it is a must have. Cooking School Provence is a distillation of Gedda's classic recipes he serves up in his school in Provence.

He delicately explains how to make actual, real Tomatoes Provençal and his Tarte Tropézienne is a thing of beauty. Often with French cooking, there is the desire to be rather quaint and frilly, but if you have a meat and potatoes eater in your house, try this recipe.

Steak with Anchovy Butter

Anchovy Butter:

1/2 dry shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
1 teaspoon (5 mL) brandy
4 tablespoons (60 mL) soft, unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper


2 tender beef steaks (filet mignon or strip loin), each
6 ounces (175 g)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil

Make anchovy butter by blending the shallot, parsley, garlic, anchovies and brandy in a food processor, either one with a small bowl or the hand-held type placed in a small bowl. When you have a coarse purée, add butter and blend in. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat and cook steaks for 11/2 to

3 minutes a side, depending on desired degree of doneness. Transfer steaks to a platter and keep warm. Wipe pan clean with paper towels and add the anchovy butter, cooking just until melted, then spoon or pour over the steaks. Season with pepper and serve.

Now you can have your steak and be French, too.

17 April 2010

Huntsville Heritage Cookbook

Today's cookbook is an oldie but goodie. Direct from Huntsville, Alabama, this copy is a "lucky" 13th printing. The Huntsville Heritage Cookbook, like so many of its southern sisters, was compiled by the Junior League of Huntsville. As with many Junior League (or church inspired) fundraising cookbooks, the recipes vary from the sublime to the ridiculous. It includes recipes from Queen Elizabeth Cakes and Chocolate Tortes to Cheese Whiz Dip with at least 4 cheese ball recipes.

There are numerous recipes that credit someone in the title who did not submit the recipe. This is either Southern hospitality at work, giving credit the the original cook or merely an attempt to shield one's reputation if the recipe might suck. Either way, there are some amazing recipes.

Flounder in Foil

4 small frozen flounder
1 cup thick white sauce
1 can minced clams, drained
1 can crabmeat
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Put each frozen flounder on double layer of foil, large enough to completely seal. Combine remaining ingredients and divide sauce equally among flounder. if desired, add butter and lemon juice before sealing foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until tender.

Among the really fun items in the Huntsville Heritage Cookbook is a reproduction of a handwritten invitation to a party for a cow. Not just any cow, but Signal's Lily Flag.

Lily Flag had a banner year as Jersey cows go. She produced a record 1047 pounds, 3/4 ounces of butter as well as 11339 pounds of milk. Given such accomplishments, a party was a must. Alas, no menu survives the party, but I am sure there was a cheese ball of some sort.

Southerner's will party at the drop of a hat or 1000 pounds of butter, which ever comes first.

There is a menu included in the Huntsville Heritage Cookbook. The menu is from the esteemed Mooreland Hunt. Now being a Hunt and also being that this is a Junior League cookbook and not a church cookbook, there is a bit of alcohol involved. The Mooreland Hunt features this recipe:

Passion Punch

5 parts apple brandy
1 part cherry brandy
1/5 part Cointreau
6 1/5 parts sweet apple cider

Combine the ingredients and pour over block of ice in the punch bowl. May be stronger or weaker by varying the amount of cider. Serve cold as cocktail before a hunt breakfast or similar entertainment.

I do love a stiff cocktails before I climb on a horse!

14 April 2010

A Culinary Journey in Gascony

So Kate Ratliffe lives on a 75-year-old barge that is 85-feet long and sails through Gascony, stopping at nifty little restaurants and markets and drags the fresh produce onto her barge and cooks and sails. We do, indeed, hate her.

The good news is she shares her recipes with us. The bad news is that we are in West Virginia and not on a 75-year-old barge that is 85- feet long sailing up and down the canals of Gascony.

Yeah, yeah, lovely recipes, great pictures of places we are not current AT (what bad grammar!), food, food, food. OK, maybe I'm just a bit jealous. For good reason.

"In late spring as the first of the new potatoes arrive in the markets with the black dirt of the river valley still clinging to them, Patrick (the husband) gets a sort of "potato fever." The symptoms appear as soon as we arrive at the market at Tonneins or La Reole. Patrick immediately disappears. within half an hour he returns... he holds out a lumpy plastic sack and I peer inside to find three or four dozen perfect, tiny, round potatoes the size of marbles. "Lunch!" he declares."
See, you might just be jealous, too.

Les Petites Billes

2 lb very small new potatoes, red- or white-skinned
1 to 2 tablespoons duck fat, olive oil or butter
1 tablespoon herbed sea salt (in her description she says they are' "encrusted with a layer of sea crystals from Île de . Clearly, Morton's will not do, but I digress...
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Wash the potatoes but leave their skins on. In a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat, place the potatoes, one-half of the fat and 1/2 cup water. cover tightly.
2. Shake the pan as if you were making popcorn and continue to cook until all the water has evaporated and the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Lower the heat and continue cooking with the lid on, shaking the pan from time to time to prevent burning.
4. When the potatoes are done (test by sticking a skewer or fork into one of the largest), toss with the rest of the fat, the sea salt, pepper and parsley. With the lid off, shake the pan until the potatoes are well covered with herbs and spices. Use the flat of a large wooden spoon to help the salt adhere to the potato skins if necessary. Keep in a hot oven until ready to serve , or serve immediately.

I am pretty sure these taste better in France, but go ahead, give them a try wherever you are... pretend you are in Gascony.

11 April 2010

The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook

I love Trader Joe's. I never thought of making it a career, though! Cherie Mercer Twohy did think of it and here is The I "heart" Trader Joe's Cookbook. Well, I must say I also heart Trader Joe's with the following caveat. EVERY time I find something I can't live without, Trader Joe's stops selling it and tells me that no one else bought it. I find that soooo hard to believe since I always bought the items such as yuzu honey, extra long spaghetti, Grana Pando cheese in it's own grater, the list goes on. My new favorite is pureed sweet potatoes in a can! My guess is I just bought the last of them as I am sure they will discontinue them by the next time I get to Trader Joe's.

Still, when I go to D.C. the thing I most want to visit is Trader Joe's.

Here is a fresh and easy summer dish that you will just love... and you don;t really have to shop at Trader Joe's to make it.

Roasted Asparagus with Hazelnuts and Clementines

1 (16-ounce) package fresh asparagus
drizzle of olive oil
handful of chopped hazelnuts
2 clementines, peeled and sliced (not sectioned)
salt and pepper
shaved Parmesan, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast 5 minutes. Scatter hazelnuts on top of asparagus and roast another 3-4 minutes. Place on serving plate and scatter clementine slices on top. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Now imagine how GREAT this would be with a bit of yuzu honey mixed into that olive oil and some Grana Pando cheese grated on the top from its own grater!!

02 April 2010

A Platter of Figs

I love A Platter of Figs by David Tanis.

He asks the age-old question: Do you really need a recipe for a platter of figs?
(OK, maybe it's not an age-old question, but still...)

Truth be told, much of what we cook really doesn't need a recipe. Too many cookbooks out there have long, involved recipes for ... well, a platter of figs.

David Tanis respects his food. He spends half of his year as the chef at Chez Panisse and the other half of the years cooking in Paris. (So, really we HATE him!)

This book has lovely, practical advice. If you can shop, you can cook from this cookbook, and in the end, isn't that what you want to do? Here's what Tanis says about his book:

"What can you learn from this book? That a party can be any gathering of eaters at a table. That a fine meal doesn't have to necessarily be elaborate. The best meals mirror nature and celebrate the seasonal."

What more do you want? Or need?

Goat Cheese with Honey

Two 6-ounce logs mild goat cheese
Chestnut honey or other artisanal honey

Slice each goat cheese log into 5 pieces with a thin sharp knife or cheese wire. Arrange the cheese on a platter. Top each round with a good teaspoonful of honey.

You so want to eat this for dessert. P.S. if you don't have a cheese wire, use dental floss -- the best cheese wire in your medicine cabinet! Unflavored, please.

Yesterday we issued the:

Cookbook Of The Day Challenge:

1. Go to your shelf and pull out your favorite cookbook.

2. Check the purchase price.

3. Donate that amount to Feeding America.

We took the challenge with A Platter of Figs. Don't forget to donate!!

01 April 2010

April Food Day

At Cookbook Of The Day, we spend all our time writing about FOOD. Food for us is abundant and exotic and just plain fun. We have never gone to bed hungry. We have never faced an empty shelf. We have never listened to children whose stomach growl because they did not have dinner.

If you read this blog, you probably love your cookbooks so here is the...

Cookbook Of The Day Challenge:

1. Go to your shelf and pull out your favorite cookbook.

2. Check the purchase price.

3. Donate that amount to Feeding America.

Here are a few of their statistics…

* Feeding America is annually providing food to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children. This is an increase of 46 percent over 2006, when we were feeding 25 million Americans, including 9 million children, each year.
* That means one in eight Americans now rely on Feeding America for food and groceries.
* Feeding America's nationwide network of food banks is feeding 1 million more Americans each week than we did in 2006.
* Thirty-six percent of the households served have at least one person working.
* More than one-third of client households report having to choose between food and other basic necessities, such as rent, utilities and medical care.
* The number of children the Feeding America network serves has increased by 50 percent since 2006.
* Feeding America food banks provide food and groceries to 33,500 food pantries, 4,500 soup kitchens and 3,600 emergency shelters.
* 68 percent of pantries, 42 percent of soup kitchens, and 15 percent of emergency shelters rely solely on volunteers and have no paid staff.
* 55 percent, are faith-based agencies affiliated with churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious organizations; 33 percent are other types of non-profit organizations.

For more info, check out the April Food Day blog.
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