30 November 2011

Not A Cookbook -- Notable for 2011

The New York Times published its list of new and notable cookbook titles. Out of the eighteen, we have reviewed Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. We were convinced we had reviewed Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing and Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan but I suppose we just THOUGHT about it and failed to post. We will rectify that this week.

We have been savoring A New Turn in The South by Hugh Acheson and Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck.

We desperately want to peruse Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet but even with the amazon price tag, one could about buy a new stove...OK, a VitaMix, still it is way out of our price range.

The Mission Street Food book by Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz is shown but not on the list??? We have similar feelings. We kind of wanted it but couldn't decide.

Weigh in with your favorites!

29 November 2011

Cookbook Of The Day in the News

Cookbook Of The Day was happy to be included in Edible Allegheny's feature Online Dish.

As I said in the article, "I believe the way we cook is a window into the culture of a particular time period."

Thanks so much to Katie Green and the staff at Edible Allegheny.

21 November 2011

Not A Cookbook -- An Essay

A decade ago, I was visiting in Key West. I met a woman who had been an editor at British Vogue shortly after World War II. One of her first assignments was to travel to Italy with Elizabeth David. Britain was still reeling from rationing. She told me that they would be riding in a car and David would yell, "Stop!" She would scurry out of the car and pull wild garlic and herbs from the hillside. That is the way I always think of Elizabeth David -- climbing a hillside for wild garlic.

As you know, gentle readers, I adore Elizabeth David. The is a wonderful essay in the New York Time Book Review about bringing David's Italian Food to an American audience. It is by Laura Shapiro, who is not too shabby, her own self!

19 November 2011

Girl In The Kitchen

I have watched Top Chef since the beginning and only once has the chef I wanted to win actually won the competition. Stephanie Izard was that winner. I have been looking forward to her cookbook and Girl in the Kitchen doesn't disappoint. The book captures Izard's sunny and bright personality. She is a girl in the kitchen, so one is never in danger of hearing shouting and cursing in the background. Nothing gets slammed or bammed or yelled at. That is not to say that the recipes are not "chefy." The Pan-roasted New York Steak with Sautéed Cucumbers and Salted Goat Milk Caramel will require 3 days, quited a bit of organizing and sourcing of ingredients. (And convincing anyone there should be caramel on a strip steak...)

Most recipes, however, have a "tip" for getting things done and many have drink ideas in case you don't know what to drink with Fried Cheese with Spring Veggies and Strawberry reduction. (That one stumps me every time. Bourbon? No, rosé.) If you watched Top Chef with Izard as a contestant (or should I say cheftestant? No! No one should ever say "cheftestant."), you will be familiar with her style of slightly Asian inspired Mediterranean cooking. Even the steak's goat's milk caramel has a bit of fish sauce thrown in.

Our one big problem with book is the four column list of ingredients. Surely there was a lot of "design" thought put into this format, but it is distracting.

We don"t mean to obsess on the weird, so here is a rather straight forward and yummy clam dish for you to try.

Clams Steamed with Corn, Bacon, and Fingerlings

12 ounces fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob
24 fresh littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoon crème fraiche
1 tablespoon butter
Several sprigs fresh mint leaves, chopped for garnishing

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2. Toss the potatoes with a few teaspoons olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish and season with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes until they are slightly tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool, then slice into 1/2-inch rounds.

3. Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook it until the fat is rendered and the bacon is just browned, about 7 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and sweat by cooking them until they are tender but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sliced potatoes, corn, and clams and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the wine and cover the pot and steam the clams for about 10 minutes. When the clams are completely open, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the vegetables and bacon to serving bowls or plates, leaving the liquid in the pot. (Discard any clams that do not open.)

4. Stir in the crème fraiche and butter into the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until just thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and spoon the sauce over the clams and veggies. Garnish with mint and serve.

On this cold day, I can think of nothing better.

10 November 2011

Not A Cookbook -- An Article

By now I am sure that most of you have seen the New York Time's article: Are Cookbooks Obsolete?

We scoff.

08 November 2011


We have been waiting a long time for Brad Thomas Parsons book Bitters. That slight touch of bitterness adds a remarkable depth to cocktails and why shouldn't it be used to achieve that same level of nuance in cooking. Inspired by Parsons' book, the canned clementines we wrote about at Lucindaville featured a dash of bitters in our recipe.

There are a plethora of cocktail books out there, but Bitters is so much more. First and foremost, it is cultural history that encompasses food, medicine, and government in a tangled web of who's who. Are bitters food? Alcoholic beverage? Medicine? Well yes and no.

In a landscape of potions and elixirs and prohibition, what bitters survived. In an era of a romantic cocktail renaissance, who are the new players and will they survive this heyday? And you????

Will you head into your kitchen laboratory and whip up your own batch of bitters?

Yes, boys and girls, Brad Thomas Parsons answers all these questions and more. As one might suspect, the vast majority of the recipes in this book are for drinks. However, tucked neatly in the back are a dozen or so recipes for cooking with bitters. We cannot advocate the inclusion of bitters into cooking more. The section on compound butters, alone, will elevate your cooking prowess, not to mention that a "hostess gift" of a lovely log of compound butter will make you a standout in a sea of Two Buck Chuck wine.

Our favorite ice cream gets a bitters boost as do the ubiquitous spiced nuts. Now if you grew up in house with a little home bar, there was probably an old bottle of Angostura bitters floating about. Angostura was always publishing little recipe books and a staple recipe was always the broiled grapefruit with a splash of bitters. In keeping with that tradition, here it is:

Broiled Bitter Grapefruit

1 pink or ruby red grapefruit, chilled
Angostura bitters, Peychaud's Bitters, or other aromatic bitters
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar or turbino sugar
Garnish: maraschino cherry (optional)

Preheat the broiler and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Slice the grapefruit in half at its equator. run the knife along the perimeter of each exposed half and along the membrane of each segment to loosen the segments. Dot each grapefruit half with 2 to 3 dashes of bitters.

In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar and 6 healthy dashes of bitters to form a sugary paste. Cover each grapefruit half equally with the brown sugar-bitters mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Broil until the sugar starts to crisp up and bubble, 2 to 4 minutes, Serve at once.

How fun was that? Now get in there and dig around in that old bar cabinet and find that bottle of bitters and start thinking of all the things to add a slash of bitterness.

03 November 2011

From Season to Season: A Year In Recipes

We love Sophie Dahl. In fact we love all the Dahl's, especially Roald. Sophie is Roald's granddaughter, who took the famous family name when she began to model. She was what we loving call in America a plus-size model.

Ironically,since she has started writing cookbooks, she has slimmed down considerable. But with a second cookbook and a another television show, the British press loves to compare her to Nigella Lawson.

With all that cleavage one worries whether they can even get close to the stove without some sort of Mrs. Doubtfire moment...

...but I digress...

We really loved Dahl's first cookbook, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights. This new book is called From Season to Season: A Year In Recipes. However, when it gets published next year in America is will be titled, Very Fond of Food: A Year In Recipes. Why the name change is beyond me unless they are worried that there are several "season to season" books floating around.

This book is very much like the last. It is filled with comforting food, great photos, and family anecdotes. The recipes are fairly easy to follow and would be at home on any family table. In Britain is would seem that the kebab is very much like the hamburger -- that food one grabs when in a big hurry. Dahl's kebabs offer both a vegetarian and a chicken option, safely providing something for everyone. I must say, the recipe for the dressing is a good one. Often the words "dressing" or "sauce" are usually tedious and the part of the recipe that makes the reader turn the page. So putting everything in the blender and blitzing is quite comforting.


1 large courgette/zucchini, cut into rough chunks
1 packet of halloumi cheese, cut into chunks (or 250g/9 oz of skinless and boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks)
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
250g/9 oz of cherry tomatoes

For the dressing

250g of plain yoghurt
25g/ 1/4 cup of flaked almonds
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro
A small handful of fresh mint
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil

If using wooden skewers, soak them for one hour in cold water first. Light the barbecue or preheat the grill of the oven.

Assemble the vegetables and cheese on the skewers, alternating courgette/zucchini, chunks of halloumi, onion and whole tomatoes. Leave to one side.

To make the dressing, put all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. You can now pour this over the skewers before or after cooking them.

Put the skewers on the barbecue or under the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Last time, the book was coming out before Christmas but Very Fond of Food: A Year In Recipes has a spring release date. If you can't wait, pick up a copy of From Season to Season: A Year In Recipes and find out why Miss Dahl is very fond of food.

02 November 2011


We have acquired several British cookbooks as of late. Now we love a good pie, but frankly we love a great savory pie. Apples and pears and berries, oh my. But for a really spectacular pie try chicken and rabbit and leeks...among other things. Enter the Pieminister. The most funnest pie shoppe in Britain and now the best little pie book one can lay one's hands on. Loads of savory treats and sweet touch or two.

Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon were just two blokes who loved their pie. Then one day it dawned on them that they could be piemakers. They tried out a bunch of recipes and in 2003, they opened a little shop in Bristol. The next year, they became the official pie shop of the Glastonbury Festival. Then they became the pie shop of the Borough Market in London. Pieministers started sprouting around and now, for those of us who live outside their delivery area, Pieminister, the cookbook.

Really, the book is filled with yummy casseroles stuffed into pastry. So if one to find one's self trapped at home with no flour or suet, the book would still work. (Though, frankly, if one has,sausage, cider and potatoes, my guess is there is some flour around.) Of course, in America, it is rather hard to find suet anywhere, except in the occasional bird feeder. Keep your fingers crossed that suet will become the new "It" ingredient and start showing up everywhere. While we don't like to tamper with a recipe, the suet-challenged can stuff this into a fine plain pastry.

Sausage, Cider & Potato Pie

500g new potatoes, cut into slices 6-8mm thick
25g butter
1 onion, sliced
1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 tsp sugar
100ml good-quality cider
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
500g herby sausages
1 quantity of suet pastry
handful of grated Cheddar cheese
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
sea salt and black pepper
a little chopped thyme and/or sage, to decorate

Cook the sliced potatoes in boiling water until tender, then drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook gently until softened. Stir in the apple and sugar and cook until the apple slices are tender but sill hold their shape. They should just be starting to caramelize a little. Pour in the cider and simmer until almost completely evaporated. Stir in the mustard, season with a little black pepper and remove from heat.

Slit the sausages open and peel off the skins. Mix the sausage meat with the potatoes, using your hands to break it up a little. Finally, stir in the warm onion and apple to give a loose mixture.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Use to line a pie tin and then fill with the sausage and apple mixture. Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg. If you like, you can add the Cheddar at this stage, pushing it down into the filling to make cheesy pockets. Roll out the rest of the pastry to about 3mm thick and use to cover the pie, trimming off the excess and pressing the edges together to seal. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and then make a couple of holes in the centre to let out the steam. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through – check by inserting a skewer in the centre; it should come out hot. Serve with a WI-competition-winning chutney.

What could be better? I am headed to the kitchen now.

01 November 2011


I often write about my predilection to procure every French cookbook there is and often lament the fact that there really are just so many ways on can make boeuf bourguignon! So leave it to some French author to come up with a cookbook that covers a culinary delicacy I have never thought of cooking.

Blandine Vié has written a book that is the best of what a cookbook can be. Testicles: Balls in Cooking and Culture is part cookbook, part cultural history, part lexicon, an all profoundly entertaining. The book was originally published in France in 2005. It has been masterfully translated by Giles MacDonogh. I regret that my knowledge if French does not allow me the pleasure of reading this work in its original as MacDonogh tells us that Vié has a masterful sense of words, puns and is often plainly untranslatable. In fact, Testicles won the Prix Litteraire de la Commanderie des Gastronomes Ambassadeurs de Rungis.

The book is divided into three section. Mythology offering up a history of balls from anatomy to slang. Method, the bulk of the book, features recipes from ancient to modern. Attributes serves as a dictionary or lexicon of testicular. (Here, Giles MacDonogh augmented Vié's heavily French list to include more of an English slant.)

Having read several of the cookbooks alluded to in this book, I can safely say that one often overlooks the unfamiliar, that is to say, I am more likely to read that thousandth recipe for boeuf bourguignon before delving into say, a ragout of cock's stones. One of the easiest balls to come by or to get ones hands on or well, as you can see, one must chose one's words as carefully as one's balls. Let me start again: Lamb's testicles or "fries" are probably the easiest to procure from a butcher. Here is a small plate of lamb fries, but it can be doubled if you are a big ball eater for an entréé.

Balas à la provençal, as an apéritif

4 lamb’s fries [balas in Provençal]
200g fine soft breadcrumbs or dried crumbs
1 tbsp crème fraîche
oil for deep-frying
2 lemons
fine sea salt
freshly ground white pepper

Remove the membrane surrounding the testicles and rinse them in cold water in which you have added a dash of vinegar or lemon juice. Drain and dry and cut into slices 5 mm thick. Spread out the breadcrumbs on a flat plate. Beat the eggs as for an omelette in a bowl together with the cream.

Lightly season the slices with salt and pepper, dip them in the egg mixture then turn them in the breadcrumbs, making sure both sides are covered.

Next drop them in the hot oil, which should not be smoking (175°C) and fry them for 2–3 minutes on each side until they are golden. Dry them on paper towls.

To serve, arrange them in a pyramid on a hot plate and surround them with lemon quarters.

Note: double the quantities if you wish to serve the balas as a main course. They can be accompanied by a fresh tomato sauce.

If you love food, language, and culinary history, you will have balls of fun with this book. IT makes a great present as I am sure, few out there have a a testicle cookbook!
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