27 December 2010

Around My French Table

Shocked, I am sure you are SHOCKED to find that one of my favorite books of 2010 is a French cookbook. Well, every year there has to be a new French cookbook.

This year it is by Dorie Greenspan. Greenspan is one of those "foodies" that everyone seems to love. Her books are always informative and this one is no different. There is a lot of explanation, but in a friendly, "You can do it" kind of way. There are tips and ideas and lovely photos, so what more could one ask for.

Well, most of these recipes are culled from actual encounters Greenspan has had with people who actually cook. Then she has taken a cookbook writes mind to the recipes and the reader gets an actual French recipe with none of the hassle.

Dorie in the kitchen. We love showing cooks in their kitchens!

Here is a recipe that you might not think about at first glance. We have all seen pumpkins used as soup terrines, but here is a way to really use a pumpkin. (Remember to get a cooking pumpkin and not a big old Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin.)

Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good

1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into ½-inch chunks
¼ pound cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into ½-inch chunks
2–4 garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped
About ¼ cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
About 1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that’s just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot — which is an appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn’t so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I’ve always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet method, and so far, I’ve been lucky.

Using a very sturdy knife--and caution--cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o’-lantern). It’s easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.

Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper--you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure--and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled--you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little--you don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (But it’s hard to go wrong here.)

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours--check after 90 minutes--or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.

When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully--it’s heavy, hot, and wobbly--bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you’ll bring to the table.

Our Best of 2010:

Around My French Table

24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

from all the reicpes at

Cookbook Of The Day

23 December 2010

Another Best...

One of our favorites this year featured the area of the country we live in -- Appalachia. Joan Aller did a great service in writing, Cider Beans, Wild Greens and Dandelion Jelly.

Here is a recipe for the Mountain Molasses Stack Cake, pictured above. when times were tough, people would bring a single cake layer to a gathering and then they would be put together with an apple sauce filling into a multi-layered cake.

Mountain Molasses Stack Cake


1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


2 cups finely chopped apples
1/2 cup water
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour the outside bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans.

To make the cake, cream together the brown sugar and butter in a large bowl until light. Slowly add the egg and molasses and blend well. Beat in the buttermilk, vanilla, and nutmeg.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour half of the batter into each prepared cake pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on their pans on a wire rack.

While the cakes are cooling, make the filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the apples and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and, stirring constantly, cook the mixture until a light syrup forms.

Place one of the cooled cake layers on a serving plate and spread half of the filling on top. Place the second layer on top, and spread the remaining filling over the top.

Get a copy of our favorite:

22 December 2010

The Geometry of Pasta

We have been saving some of our best for last.

So what happens when you combine a graphic novel, 2008's London restaurant of the year, and pasta sauce? You get The Geometry of Pasta. Unlike most cookbooks The Geometry of Pasta began as a visual idea. Noted graphic designer, Caz Hildebrand, is a Creative Partner at Here Design. He envisioned a cookbook that would focus on a common yet varied ingredient -- pasta. Once he conceived of the graphics, he needed an equally creative chef to develop sauces for each of the pastas. He really only had one choice.

Jacob Kenedy is the chef/proprietor of Bocca di Lupo. The often finicky Giles Coren wrote in the The London Times:
"Bocca di Lupo I went to only yesterday, and my tongue is still singing, my lip quivering, my brain dancing. Bocca di Lupo is just bloody marvellous."
I must say I have been quite spoiled with cookbooks featuring full color images, but this stripped down, graphic cookbook is a treasure. It features recipes for my favorite campanelle which means bell-flowers. It is getting harder to find and I am always upset when it is not on the shelf.

Here is the recipe for the famous puttanesca

Whore’s sauce

200g spaghetti
50ml extra virgin olive oil
180g cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chilli flakes
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
40g salted capers, soaked until tolerably salty and drained
120g black olives (Gaeta, if possible), pitted and roughly chopped
4 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
100ml light tomato sauce (page 15), or tomato passata
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

What more colourful name could there be than ‘whore’s pasta’? This Neapolitan recipe may have originally been cooked by the proprietor of a brothel for his customers, a quick and cheap substantial dish to give them energy, or been inspired by the lurid colours of the ladies’ biancheria (undergarments). In any case, it is delicious, widespread, and enjoyed by people at every grade of respectability.

A few minutes before the pasta is cooked, heat a wide frying pan until smoking hot. Add the oil, followed immediately by the tomatoes, chilli and garlic. Fry for a minute until the garlic is just starting to colour and the tomatoes soften. Add the capers, olives and anchovy, reduce the heat to medium and fry for a minute more before adding the tomato sauce.

Simmer for a minute or so until the pasta is cooked a touch more al dente than you want it on the plate; drain it and add to the sauce along with the herbs. Stir together for 30 seconds over the heat, adding plenty of black pepper but probably no extra salt. Serve straight away.

Oh my, how good is this book? A favorite of 2010...

The Geometry of Pasta

21 December 2010

Another Fave in 2010

We love getting our quarterly "cookbook" from the girls at Canal House Cooking. Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton do a bang up job. Every time I get a copy in the mail, I just want to drive to New Jersey and move in with them.

Canal House Cooking Volume 5 features a wonderful essay by Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef at Prune (and the sister of Melissa Hamilton). I have been waiting for Gabrielle Hamilton to publish a cookbook forever and FINALLY her book Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

20 December 2010

Best Of 2010

Well, we haven't liked ANYONE's "Best Of..." lists so we are doing our own. Our first choice (in no particular order)

16 December 2010

More Lists

We are very happy with Eater National and their list of six books that are not Noma.

Cookbook Of The Day has three from the list! Read our post on The Frankies Spuntino.

15 December 2010

A David Lebovitz List

Food blogger and chef, David Lebovitz has an interesting list of best of 2010 cookbooks. A few of them might just be 2009, but who is counting. It is also a nice, long list with some of our favorites, including his very own Ready for Dessert. (We totally approve of adding one's own cookbook it a "best of " list. I mean, if you don;t think it is WONDERFUL, why should we?)

13 December 2010

Esquire's List

Esquire's Food For Men blog is featuring a "Cookbook of the Day" from now till Christmas.

Their first pick is The New Brooklyn Cookbook. Check it out.

04 December 2010

The End of an Era...

R.I.P. Elaine Kaufman

Elaine's is one of those places that lingers in the historical memory like The Stork Club or Studio 54. It is a place of fantasy and imagination for most of us, rather than an actual destination. Elaine's became synonymous with insider glamour in New York City. Elaine was never into the "Food Network" type of promotion claiming it was simply a way to sell pots. There was no "Elaine's Cookbook." In the end, the attraction at Elaine's was never really the food, but Elaine herself.

There are plenty of obituaries out there, but in keeping with Elaine's style, here is an interview she gave to Vanity Fair. A much more fitting way to remember her.

In lieu of a cookbook, the famed writer A. E. Hotchner wrote a book of fond remembrances entitled, Everyone Comes to Elaine's.

The good news is, God finally got a table.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin