24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

 

14 December 2013

Favorite Torte and Cake Recipes


Favorite Torte and Cake Recipes is a lovely homage to 1950's baking, where every woman can, "know the joy of making a perfect cake."

Published in 1951, Favorite Torte and Cake Recipes was published the same year that ConAgra, then the Nebraska Consolidated Mills, bought the rights to Duncan Heinz cake mixes as a way to use more flour. Pillsbury was making a few mixes in the late 40's, but it was the Duncan Heinz brand that pushed boxed cake mix into the American kitchen. Duncan Heinz, a popular food writer at the time, received a penny a box for the use of his name.

Rose Oller Harbaugh knew what readers wanted, having spent years as the manager of the book department at Marshall Field's. Mary Adams was an immagrant who came with her family from Hungary. The cookbook was informatuive, packed with recipes and easy instructions. It featured nifty fifties drawings to accompany the recipes.

Since it is that holiday season and since we love some fruitcake, we were fascinated with this recipe. It is a Hungarian spin on fruitcake.
Hungarian Fruit Layer Cake
3 cups flour
1/4 pound butter
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/3 cups grated walnuts
2 eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
Sift the flower in a bowl. Cut in the butter thoroughly.
Add sugar, lemon rind, and nuts, and mix well.
Beat eggs until lemon-colored and add to the above mixture.
Mix well and shape into a ball.
Roll dough on floured board with light strokes.
Roll pastry into circular shape about 15 inches in diameter.
Place in buttered torte pan, trimming edges like pie.
Prick dough with fork and bake for few minutes and 375F oven to make firm.
Then fill shell first with Apple Filling, then with Poppyseed Filling, and last with Walnut Torte Filling.
Decorate with strips of remaining pastry.
Brush with egg and sprinkle with nuts.
Bake in 325F oven 1 hour.

A very different take on the traditional fruitcake from a very traditional 50's classic.

13 December 2013

Saving the Season


if there is a preserving book we want it. Like our profound love of French cookbooks, we also covet every preserving book. By now, if you can cook it syrup or douse it in a brine, we have stuffed into canning jars. While most canning books are fine, fun, and full of info, few are comprehensive guides to putting up food. Saving the Season by Kevin West is that comprehensive book.

West grew up in the South and watched his grandmother make jam. Living in California for years, West, was a writer and pretty fine cook. On day he impulsively bought a flat of strawberries and realized that he and his friends could never use them all before they rotted. Holding those strawberries pulled him back to his past, like a powerful sense memory. When he thought of all those years he watched his grandmother make jam, he came to the stark realization that he never really knew how she made the jam. Trying to recreate that flavor, he found recipe after recipe of strawberries covered in sugar, pectin, and boiled. West's reporter side kicked in.

 

He started studying and cooking and cooking and finally blogging. His blog, Saving the Season turned into an opus of the same name. Yes, Saving the Season will explain how to make jam, jelly and pickles, but it does much more. You will also find:

 

Lovely photographs

Recipes for using your canning products

Master canners

Food writers

Fiction writers

Poets

Artists

Road trips

An extensive bibliography

An appendix of fruit varieties

An appendix of peak fruit by months

 

If you have never touched a Ball jar, there is something in this book for you. Ever walked into the kitchen after your friends offer to make margaritias. The drinks were great but there is a huge pile of squeezed lime halves. (you know some of them were not squeezed that well as the drinks went on, so there is a lime juice pooling up.) This is a great recipe to make use of those limes. you don't have to make it right now. Stuff the lime carcasses in a Ziploc bag and wait till the buzz is over.

 

Limeade Syrup

1/2 pound of lime rinds

2 1/2 cups of water

3 cups sugar

10 coriander seeds

2 cloves

2 allspice berries

Two 1/4-inch slices fresh ginger root

Optional: 1 Kaffir lime leaf and 2 inches lemongrass stalk, crushed

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store in a sealed bottle in the refrigerator for up to 6 months

 

We were thrilled to see that Saving the Season was one of Amazon's Best Cookbooks of 2013. It was clearly one of ours.

 

10 December 2013

The Kinfolk Table

Let's get this out of the way. There are two kinds of people: The people that will LOVE this cookbook and the people that will HATE this cookbook. It is easy to be polarized.
 
Nathan Williams is the editor of the widely popular magazine, Kinfolk.

LOVERS: The magazine's goal is to "offer an alternative idea of entertaining -- casual, intentional, and meaningful."
HATERS: Kinfolk entertaining is tortured, pretentious and devoid of people.

LOVERS: Nathan Williams is a world traveler, collecting recipes.
HATERS: If your world is Portland, Brooklyn, Copenhagen, and the English countryside.
 
LOVERS: The recipes are simple and elegant.
HATERS: The recipes are tedious and don't work.
 
We read dozens of reviews of this book. The glowing reviews all said the book was gorgeous and published a slew of pictures. They waxed poetic about the food, but no one had actually made any of the recipes. The only actual review of the book we could find came from Felicia Sullivan in Medium. She was not a fan.

What do we think?

LOVE IT: If you have ever picked up or for that matter, seen a copy of Kinfolk, you cannot miss it. It is visually arresting. There are few publication out there that one can spot at 100 feet. They love white walls and wooden tables and roasted chicken and so do we. They don't care about immersion circulators or stick blenders or matched china. It is beautiful and we want it for that reason, alone!
 
HATE IT: We love our white walls and wooden table, but we would spend an entire day setting up these photos. They are not just thrown together, they are highly curated. For all the talk of "gatherings" and "community" the photos are hauntingly devoid of people. Most people are alone. The "simple" food is reminiscent of hippie cookbooks from the 1970's. So, in bringing "entertaining" to a new generation, they seemed to have brought mama's old commune coobooks with them.
 
Here's a lentil salad.
Citrus Lentil Salad
1 cup dried green lentils, picked over

6 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine or apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Grated zest of 1 lemon or orange

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse the lentils under cold running water in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

Drain the lentils and return them to the pot. Add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Remove and discard any lentil shells that rise to the top, then drain once again.

Place the lentils in a large bowl and add the scallions, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, zest, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Let the salad rest for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Serve. The salad can be stored,refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to two days.

The Kinfolk Table is an aspirational cookbook. You aspire to lovely blonde and African children. You aspire to copper pots and a house filled with books. You aspire to poached salmon and steamed cod. You aspire to tattoos and bearded boyfriends in Portland or Brooklyn.
Right now I am sitting at my reclaimed wood table, staring at my stark white wall, drinking coffee, alone. I aspire to the pages of Kinfolk, but I am not going to get dressed or clean off the table for the photo shoot!
 

 

06 December 2013

The Little Book of Home Preserving

Preserving books are another of our weaknesses. Really, if you know how to make jam, you really don't need a cookbook. If you don't know how to make jam the vast number of books explaining how to make jam can be daunting. What's a cook to do?


Here's an idea. Grab a copy of The Little Book of Home Preserving by Rebecca Gagnon. It has everything one needs to know about canning a some interesting spins for those of you who can every week. It is the best of both worlds. Yes, it is a little book, but don't let its size fool you. Just because you can slip it into your pocket, might just be a good thing. Ever gone away for the summer and needed to find a reicpe? This book is perfect to toss into your hamper and take on the road.


The recipes are fresh; familiar with a zippy spin. Try the Kumquat-Habanero Marmelade. How about Jicama Apple Cumin Kraut? Or the Citrus Chai Ground Cherry Preserves. She calmly explains that preserving is not always a precise endeavor and she wallks the reader through the vexing variations that occur while canning.

We just love a good shrub, and this one will definitely be on our list.

Elderberry Drinking Vinegar

2 pounds ripe elderberries

1 quart raw apple cider vinegar (such as Braggs)

4 to 6 cups granulated sugar

1. Separate the tiny elderberries from their stems. (An easy way to do this is to place them in the freezer for a half hour and then comb through them with a sterilized, wide-toothed comb.)

2. Place the elderberries in a large glass bowl, crush them gently with a masher, and cover them with the vinegar. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store somewhere at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 1 week.

3. Strain the vinegar out of the elderberries into a large bowl, using a fine mesh sieve. Press gently on the berries to help them release all of their remaining juices. The vinegar will be a beautiful purple color.

4. Measure the vinegar and pour into a preserving pot. For every 1 cup of vinegar, add 3/4 to 1 cup of granulated sugar. Over very low heat, stir the vinegar until the sugar melts. (Keeping the vinegar well below the boiling point helps it to remain "raw" and healthful.) Once the sugar is fully dissolved, turn off the heat and remove the pot.

5. Sterilize the jars.

6. Let the drinking vinegar cool completely before storing in sterilized airtight glass bottles or canning jars at room temperature, where it will remain good for one year. To enjoy, pour 2 tablespoons in the bottom of a glass, and top with seltzer or still water.


If you are looking for a niftly stocking stuffer this Christmas,The Little Book of Home Preserving is just the ticket. You can read more from Rebecca Gagnon at her popular blog, CakeWalk.

 

04 December 2013

Mast Brothers Cookbook

When you look up "hipster" in the dictionary you will find a picture of the Mast Brothers.  They may be the original hipsters, though I am sure there is someone else ready to claim the title.

So here's the story:  Two young boys from Iowa leave to find fortune in the big city.  Tired of working for other people, they look for a creative outlet. They ask a simple question. Where does chocolate come from?  In their spare time they roasted chocolate in there tiny apartment.  They crack the beans by hand and wrapped them in fine papers. The rest is history.

OK, maybe not "history" but surly a moment in hipster history.  The Mast Brothers become obsessed. They immerse themselves in all things chocolate.  The ask more questions.  Why is there no bean-to-bar chocolate available?  How do we get from bean to bar?  Where do we find the folks that grow cacao beans?  After answering these questions, they began selling bars at farmer's markets.

Then one day, while visiting New York, pastry chefs at the French Laundry bought Mast Brothers chocolate.  They were ecstatic and raved to Thomas Keller but it takes more than that to impress Keller.

Keller thought the chefs had found another pair of artisans working at home.  Yes it was good, but could they sustain it.  By the time Keller paid the boys a visit, they had a small factory.  The Midwestern farm boys were strapping, over six feet tall, bearded, looking more like lumberjacks than chocolatiers.
They were no dilettantes, they were the real deal.

And now, they have a cookbook.  Clearly, if you make tons of chocolate, you eat tons of chocolate.  If you eat tons of chocolate, you have good  ideas about how to use that chocolate. The Mast Brothers know how to use their chocolate.

I confess, I adore chocolate.  I also admit that I am not a fan overly sweet chocolate.  I adore chocolate in savory dishes.  I make a winter spice rub with cocoa that makes wonderful chicken and baked squash.  I make squab with a stuffing infused with bits of chocolate.  My favorite bread is made with a chocolate stout and studded with chunks of chocolate.

The average chocolate cookbook has tons to cakes and cookies but few savory elements.   The Mast Brothers Cookbook has the requisite brownies and cakes, but there is a section of savory recipes that make this cookbook special.  Try this vinaigrette.

Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette

fresh rosemary                 1/2 sprig
cacao nibs                        1 tablespoon
cocoa powder                   2 teaspoons
sea salt                             2 teaspoons
black pepper                    1 teaspoon
balsamic vinegar              1/4 cup
honey                               2 teaspoons
extra virgin olive oil          1 cup

1. remove rosemary leaves from stem and roughly chop.
2. combine rosemary leaves,nibs, cocoa powder,salt,and pepper and grind in a mortar and pestle.
3. place  ground ingredients in a medium bowl.
4. Add balsamic vinegar and honey and whiskey.
5. Slowly add olive oil while whisking quickly to emulsify.
6. Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Who says you can't have your salad and eat chocolate, too?   If there is choco-holic in your house, this is the perfect gift.

27 November 2013

Wild Raspberries

A touch of whimsy during this holiday season.   In 1959, before he would become the Godfather of Pop Art, Andy Warhol made a living drawing for advertising agencies.  It was at the agency, Young and Rubicam,  that he met Suzie Frankfurt, who was married to one of the art directors.

Warhol and Frankfurt decided to collaborate on a cookbook.  Warhol was fascinated with the elaborate presamment featured in the old cookbooks.  He drew recreations of these elaborate cakes, decorated joints of meat, and huge displays of fruits. 
 
The faux recipes were tongue in cheek and the title was overt reference to Ingmar Bergman's wildly successful, Wild Strawberries.  Warhol's drawings were hand colored by friends who gathered at coloring parties.   There is no firm count on the number of copies of the self-published edition of Wild Raspberries.  In 2012, a good copy of the booklet brought $30,000 at auction.

 In 1997, Bulfinch published a lovey reproduction.

Piglet

Contact Trader Vic's and order a 40 pound suckling pig to serve 15. Have Hanley take the Carey Cadillac to the side entrance and receive the pig at exactly 6:45. Rush home immediately and place on the open spit for 50 minutes. Remove and garnish with fresh crab apples.


26 November 2013

Eggs

It is one of our favorite cookbook subjects: the incredible, edible egg.  Now this little book is a rare and cool treat.   We must digress....

Once upon a time a guy named Nick Fauchald decided to do a series of magazine/cookbooks and he headed to Kickstarter.  The idea was to create small, hand made cookbooks.   The idea was a big hit.

Volume One featured eggs; you had us at eggs....

Enter the writer of Eggs, one Ian Knauer.   Yes, you might look at Mr. Knauer and think:  hipster poser dude.   You would be wrong.  Knauer has serious food chops.  He was also raised on a farm.  An actual farm!  He wrote a fine cookbook about food from that farm entitled, The Farm, and we liked it very much.

Moving on... The Farm is now a PBS show.  (PBS is this really weird entity where each individual station picks and chooses what they air and, where I live, never really shows the programing that is getting the buzz which is a huge pain, but I digress again...) Do check your listing and best of luck.

Since the Holidays are upon us, we thought we would give a shout out to an eggy drink that is not a nog, but a fizz.

Strawberry Rhubarb Rum Fizz

2 fresh strawberries, hulled
2 ounces white or amber rum
1 ounce Aperol
1 ounce cream sherry
Angostura bitters
1 large egg white

Muddle the strawberries in a cocktail shaker.  Add enough ice to fill the shaker halfway, then add the rum, Aperol, sherry, bitters and egg white.  Shake until your hands are very cold, about 45 seconds.  Strain the fizz into a chilled coupe and serve.

Each little Short Stack has a witty cover and brightly colored pages.  Each booklet is hand stitched by folks with developmental disabilities, giving them a job.  Yes, there is a "but" coming on.
The bright and zippy paper often makes for lousy contrast.  Eggs is on a nice yolky colored paper, so the contrast is OK, but be forewarned, you may need a good light to read the recipes.

Grab up a set of Short Stack Editions here.

Follow Ian Knauer's The Farm here and you just might find a PBS channel to watch his show.


15 November 2013

Cool Cooking

 

Today's Famous Food Friday features rock stars of old...some of them still rocking today. Cool Cooking by Roberta Ashley was published in 1972 by the Scholastic Book Service. It was a draw for YA rocker who liked to cook as well as rock.


How old is this book?


So old that The Honey Cone was giving the Supremes a run for their money.

So old that Elton John was straight.

So old that that Michael Jackson was black, not to mention alive.

So old that Paul McCartney was a carnivore.

You will find:

Aretha Franklin's Chitlins.

Glen Campbell's Scrambled Eggs and Lamb

David Cassidy's On-the-Set Salad

and this winner from George Harrison.

Banana Sandwich
ripe banana
bread
peanut butter (optional)
Slice a ripe banana lengthwise and lay it on a piece of bread. If you like, you can spread the bread with peanut butter.
We just love these old cookbooks that are compilations of famous folk making their own food! Grab some peanut butter, flip on "oldies" channel, and rock on to Cool Cooking.

 

12 November 2013

The Meringue Girls Cookbook

We bought this cookbook for the cover. Really, we did. It is a book about meringues. Who among us hasn't made meringues. My Mother loved them. She, unfortunately, never made the clear connection between the humidity outside and the outcome of the meringues. There meringues are not my mother's meringues.

Here's the back story. Two young cooking school grads decide to team up and go on a cooking show to take a product from the kitchen to the marketplace, but, alas they have no product. Cupcakes have been done...and done and done anddoneanddoneanddone. Then there were cake pops and cookie pops and pie pops and well, pie. Then Alex Hoffler and Stacey O'Gorman thought of the simple meringue.

They perfected a meringue. Made it bite-sized, gave it exceptional flavors, and then made it beautiful and The Meringue Girls were born. Soon after, The Meringue Girls Cookbook was born. The biggest complaint about the book is about the book. That is, its a book about meringues. There are people out there who complain that it is a book about meringues. Basically a two ingredient one-trick pony.

Seriously, if you made meringues like this

you would not be complaining.

Meringue Girls Mixture

150g free-range egg whites (5 medium eggs)
300g caster sugar

Start by lining a large baking sheet with baking paperLine a deep tray with baking paper and heat 300g caster sugar at 200C until the edges are just beginning to melt. Heating the sugar helps it to dissolve in the egg white more quickly, creating a glossy and more stable mixture.Now, turn the oven down to 100C.
Add egg whites to clean bowl of a stand mixer. At first whisk slowly allowing small stabilizing bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form medium peaks.Using a large spoon, add the sugar spoon by spoon while continuing to whisk. It is ready once you have a full bodied, stiff and glossy mixture (about 5 minutes).
Turn a disposable piping bag inside out, and use a paintbrush to paint stripes of natural food colouring on the inside. Fill the piping bag ensuring there are no air bubbles, and cut the tip off to the size of a 20p piece.
Pipe small kisses onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Its good to keep our meringues mallowy and soft in the middle, so take them out of the oven as soon as they lift off the baking paper with the base intact.

 

The Meringue Girls offer up a detailed, three page version for their meringue, so you will need the book. Remember my Mother? This is my Mother's recipe in grams. She use a cup of egg whites and two cups of sugar. She made them for years; every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. One in every four batches screwed up. Yes, there are only 2 ingredients, but it is trickier than one might think. My Mother made vanilla meringues. Sometimes she added pecans. That was it. But the world of meringuey goodness is as vast one one's imagination. So grab a copy and get creative. Remember, one only needs two ingredients!

*Update. Had a formatting problem! hope we worked it out.

07 November 2013

Le Pigeon: Cooking At The Dirty Bird


We have been waiting to get a copy of Le Pigeon: Cooking At The Dirty Bird by Gabriel Rucker.   It did not disappoint.  We spent so much time looking at it, that the cat became jealous and finally planted a paw on each page, successfully stopping any more perusing for the evening.

Rucker will quickly point out that he grew up in Napa -- not the wealthy, winey Napa, but the working class Napa.  That juxtaposition of fantastic ingredients, world-class dining, and making do with what one has clearly influenced the chef.

His drink pairings apologetically lists Bud Light Lime with a "don't know it till you try it" admonition.
Where else will you find a cookbook with an entire chapter on tongue.

Then there is the luxe treatment of foie gras, served with Eggo waffles.  A recipe that will have you saying, "Letgo my Eggo!"  

Rucker is also adamant that this is a restaurant cookbook.  He refused to dumb-down the more complicated recipes, which he argues are not so much complicated as a bit time consuming.  Stick with him and you will find a memory on the plate.  Like this one.  Not so much a dish as a meal.  Think of it as three components: a salad, a fish protein, a vegetable and there you have dinner.

Carrot Butter–Poached Halibut, Anchovy-Roasted Carrots, Fennel

2 pounds (900 g) small carrots, with tops
3 1/2 cups (875 g) unsalted butter
3 anchovy fillets, minced
3 lemons
Kosher salt
2 cups (500 ml) fresh carrot juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed, plus 1 whole clove garlic
1 bay leaf
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
4 halibut fillets, each about 6 ounces (185 g)
Maldon flake salt

Fennel Salad
1 fennel bulb, sliced 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick using a mandoline
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped white anchovies (boquerones)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black
Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
2. Remove the carrot tops, wash, and set aside. Peel the carrots and halve them lengthwise. In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup (125 g) of the butter with the anchovies and the grated zest from two of the lemons. Add the carrots and season with kosher salt. Transfer to a baking sheet, spread in a single layer, and roast in the oven until slightly softened but still a little crunchy, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with the juice of one lemon.
3. In a shallow saute pan over medium heat, combine the carrot juice, the crushed garlic, bay leaf, and orange zest. Cook until reduced by three quarters, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups (750 g) butter and stir until melted, then reduce the heat to very low and keep warm.
4. Next we’re going to buzz our carrot top pesto. Simply combine the carrot tops, the whole clove garlic, the olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and a pinch of kosher salt in a blender and blend until you have a fine pesto consistency. Set aside.
5.To make the fennel salad, in a bowl combine the fennel, olive oil, chives, and anchovies and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
 6. Now, to poach the fish. Heat the carrot butter to 130°F (55°C) over low heat. Season the halibut with kosher salt and add the fish to the butter. Keeping the butter at 130°F (55°C), poach the halibut until you can press down on the fish with a fork and don’t feel a pop (that pop is connective tissue that hasn’t yet broken down), about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the halibut to a plate lined with paper towels. Squeeze the juice of the third lemon over the fish and sprinkle with Maldon salt.
7. To serve, place roasted carrots in the center of four shallow bowls and top each with a halibut fillet. Top each halibut fillet with the fennel salad. Drizzle the pesto around the fish, spoon a tablespoon of carrot butter over each plate, and serve.
Face it, there are some things in the cookbook you will never cook and there are some you will want to cook.  There a glorious photos and practical drawings.   There are recipes and an ode to the Plymouth Valiant and it will make your cat jealous.  What more do you want?

05 November 2013

Duck, Duck, Goose

How To Spot  An Only Child
To spot an only child, yell "duck" in a crowded room.  People raised with sibling will intuitively cover their head and crouch.  An only child will raise its head and ask, "Where is the duck?  What kind of duck is it?"

Hank Shaw offers up a lot of answers to the only child and others in his book Duck, Duck, Goose.   Duck, Duck, Goose is Shaw's second book.  Hunt, Gather, Cook is one of our favorites.  (And, as we have said before, we were absolutely sure, we had written about that book and it seems we have not!  Shame on us.)

So, you always order duck in a restaurant, but rarely cook it.  You have hear all those scary stories of how duck is soooooo fatty, and it will be greasy and tough and gamy and on and on.  Not true.  Not if you follow Shaw's hints and tips.  Just take a breath, read the recipes and you will be on your way to making a perfect, succulent fowl.   Not to mention that Shaw has always been a great defender of our favorite fowl part, the gizzard.  We are definitely making a big batch of corned gizzards. 

The adventurous among us can grab a gun and shoot your own duck, which Shaw often does.  Not the shooting type?  Well, just pick up a duck at the grocery store. It will be easier than you think.  Either way, you will quickly learn that duck does not taste like chicken, but it might just be that easy to cook.

Who doesn't love a good duck confit.  If it seems another of those "too much trouble" recipes, Shaw's Crock Pot recipe will have you whipping up confit this Saturday.  From a personal standpoint, we feel that any meat braised to the point of falling off the bone perfection is the best sauce for a pasta.  Duck Confit is no exception.



Duck Confit with Pasta and Lemon


Make sure you have all of the ingredients prepped before you start cooking, as this dish comes together quickly. Have the water boiling, and give it plenty of salt; you want it to taste of the sea. 
 
2 confit duck legs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon duck fat, or as needed
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound fresh tagliatelle
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated lemon zest, for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, pick all of the meat off the duck legs and reserve the skin. Tear the meat and skin into small pieces. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon duck fat, and the duck meat and skin. Turn the heat down to medium.
Generously salt the boiling water, then add the pasta and stir well. 
Add the garlic to the sauté pan and mix well. Watch the garlic: the moment it begins to brown, turn off the heat. When the pasta is al dente, drain it into a colander, then
add it to the sauté pan. Alternatively, use tongs to transfer it from the boiling water to the sauté pan. Turn on the heat to medium and toss the pasta to coat well with all of the ingredients, adding more duck fat if the mixture seems too dry. Season with pepper, add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and toss again. Taste and add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice if you want. Serve immediately, garnished with the lemon zest.

On a personal note:   On three separate occasions we have missed meeting Hank Shaw.  It seems we are always a day early for one his readings and frankly we are getting sick of it.   We were very happy to actually see Hank Shaw hunting with Andrew Zimmern.  We watch a lot of cooking shows and would like to say that Hank Shaw should have his own show.   He has a different point of view, he has won a James Beard Award, he has a cool website. so come on, give him a show.

04 November 2013

COOKBOOKS Of The Day...

A while back, my friend Deanna, who is facing a move, asked if I might like some cookbooks. Quick, guess the answer. I didn't hear much about it after the initial question and she has been in the middle of gigantic move, so one doesn't ask. The she mentioned on Facebook that a friend had done a post office run and my name was one one of the packages.

 

Sure enough, a lovely box of cookbooks arrived. So, I will be posting soon.

 

In the meantime, thank you, thank you, thank you, Deanna.

 

30 October 2013

Biscuits and American Cookies

All week Celia Sacks has been taunting me with lovely copies of cookbooks by Ambrose Heath.  Some I do have and, alas, some I don't.   It seems only fitting and proper that we feature our newest Ambrose Heath.  As you know, The Home Entertaining Series is one of my favorites. 

The Home Entertaining Series featured small, slim volumes on everything from banana recipes to growing and using herbs. They were published in London by Herbert Jenkins in the 1940's and 50's.  Like many an old-fashioned cookbook, there is very little in the way of directions; no tidy list of amounts, no exact baking times, just enough info to get one in trouble.

Today's entry is Biscuits and American Cookies.  In true British form, American Cookies are an after thought in this books.  There is one recipe given that cam be used for drop, rolled, sliced or squared cookies, the last being actually a bar cookie.  To this basic recipe there are about twenty additions to make that American cookie almond, chocolate, nut, lemon, and on and on.  Heath points out that Americans have a desire for filled cookies; a cookie achieved by placing a filling of some jam or mincemeat on one cookie and topping it with the other.

We do love this rather straight forward approach to baking.  What better to serve with a biscuit than a glass of wine.  Or should we say what better to serve with wine than a biscuit.

Wine Biscuits

Rub half an ounce of butter in half a pound of flour sieved whit a pinch of salt, and mix to a stiff paste with cream.  Roll out half an inch thick, cut into three-inch rounds, roll these out again wafer-thin, and bake them in a quick oven watching them carefully, as they need little more than just crisping.


We do long for a modern cookbook with gentle guidance instead of rigid numbers.  We want to cook something that needs, "little more than just crisping."

25 October 2013

Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey

 If I see one more rail-thin chef with a radish tattooed on his ass and FOOD tattooed across his knuckles going after a piece of kindling with a pair of tweezers and removing a splinter of said kindling and setting on top of a dime-sized dollop of pond scum foam sitting in the center of plate the size of a old LP and telling me it's the entrée, I will freaking scream.

Don't get me wrong, I like a little pond scum foam as much as the next gastronaught, but at some point we just need something to eat.  Something like Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey.  Think about it...it's cold, rainy and all you have had today is coffee.  Would you choose Door #1 -- A musty, dry-aged kindling over a pond scum foam, gathered just his morning; or Door #2 --Barbecue and Bourbon?

Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey is the first book by Big Bad Chef, John Currence.  It's about damn time.  The subtitle claims that the book contains: Recipes From My Three Favorite Food Groups. Yes, this is a cookbook, but it also a look inside the mind of chef who really, really loves food and understands that food needs a lot of people around before it is actually, food.  It reads like a diary or perhaps a love letter to the South with some recipes thrown in.

One immediately knows one is in good hands when an iron skillet sits on the front of a cookbook.  Rest assured, no one in their right mind would ever put pond scum in grandma's iron skillet.  Full disclosure, many of these recipes are quite "chefy" in that there a lot of ingredients and several steps, but don't be discouraged.  For instance, the pickled deviled eggs; clearly, before one can devil them, one must indeed pickle them.  Don't despair.

Perhaps our favorite element of this book is the playlist.  Next to cookbooks, we love our tunes more than anything.  In Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey, not only does one get great recipes and fun-filled stories, but a huge playlist of really great music.  I am told that said playlist is available on Spotify, but I still don't really understand how Spoitfy works, but if you know, do head over there and check out the playlist.  In the meantime, when you find a recipe you want to make, don't forget to crank up the tunes.


One of our favorite tunes is Poncho and Lefty by Emmylou Harris.  It is the featured song for a nifty punch and you know what all the Federales say...

Bourbon Milk Punch

4 ounces whole milk
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon
4 teaspoons confectioners sugar
Freshly ground nutmeg, for garnish

Pour the milk, half-and-half, vanilla and bourbon over cracked ice in a cocktail shaker.  Spoon in the sugar and shake vigorously.  Pour into a large old-fashioned glass, sprinkle nutmeg over the top and serve.


Now get out there and buy this book.  And now, in honor of the Big Bad Chef, I am going to say something I have never, ever said before -- Hotty Toddy.

21 October 2013

Not A Cookbook -- The Ethicurean Videos

As you know, we have been raving about The Ethicurean Cookbook, our very favorite for this year.  Recently, they posted a video about the cookbook on YouTube.  They have a couple of other videos, too, so we thought we might just share them and encourage you (because "DEMAND" is probably too strong) to go out and buy a copy.

Some info about the book.




Another one.




I keep looking for my orchard, walled garden with a big ol' kitchen, but alas, none yet.  But a girl can dream...

18 October 2013

Great Baking Begins With White Lily Flour

About 10 years ago, I was heading back to DC from Alabama and I got stopped for speeding.  This would not be that unusual.  There would, however, be one thing to take into consideration.  I never came back from Alabama without a food-laden car.  It was as if there were no grocery stores in DC.  The policeman, simply didn't understand why I had 10 bags of White Lily Flour in my car.  He assumed the worst.  But after digging through the corn meal and the grits and cases of Tab, he sent me on my way with a mere warning.

A week or so later, a chef friend was in my kitchen surveying the bags of White Lily and asked, nonchalantly, if I might be opening a bakery.  Well, if I was to open a bakery, I would use nothing but White Lily Flour.  Of course, nowadays, White Lily Flour is produced in some Yankee wasteland.  I recently found an authentic bag of White Lily, milled in Knoxville.  It was about 6 years old, so I am not sure its Southern mojo was still intact, but I couldn't bear to toss out that bag.

Over the years, White Lily has put out several cookbooks.  Great Baking Begins With White Lily Flour is my favorite.  white Lily gets its prized baking characteristics from a soft, red wheat.   The flour is milled from only 100% pure winter wheat.  This soft winter wheat has a lower level of protein as well as a lower gluten content.  To accentuate the baking quality, White Lily uses a finer grind than most flours.  White Lily was always east to spot because the bags were a pinch larger due to the fine grind which made the flour weigh lass, so more was needed to make a full five pounds.

For White Lily, great baking requires specific attention to detail.  Here is the White Lily recipe for biscuits, with all the notations one would have learned at Mama's knee, spelled out.

Famous White Lily Biscuits

2 cups White Lily Self-Rising Flour
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 to 3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place Flour in mixing bowl; ad shortening.  With a pastry blender or blending fork, cut shortening into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Mixing by hand tends to soften the shortening making a sticky, difficult-to-handle dough.  Blending the fat completely with the flour or using a liquid shortening produces a mealy biscuit rather than a flaky, tender one.  Gently push the flour mixture to the edges of the bowl, making a well int he center.  Blend in the milk with a fork till dough leaves sides of bowl.  Too much milk makes the dough too sticky to handle: not enough milk makes the biscuits dry.  Do not overmix.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently 10 to 12 strokes.  A short period of kneading develops biscuit structure and evenly distributes the moisture to make the biscuits more flaky.  On lightly floured surface pat or roll dough to slightly more than 1/2-inch thickness.  Cut with a 2- or 2 1/2 biscuit cutter, dipping cutter into flour between cuts.  Press the cutter straight down to get straight sided evenly shaped biscuits.  Be especially careful not to twist the cutter of flatten the cut edges.  Transfer cut biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet.  For crusty-sided biscuits place about 1 inch apart.  For soft-sided biscuits place biscuits with sides just touching.  Reroll scraps of dough and cut into biscuit shapes.  Bake in 500 oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden.  (If sides touch, bake biscuits for 8 minutes; bake 6 to 7 minutes if sides f don't touch.)

That is how you bake biscuits.  Now go forth and get those biscuits in the oven.


15 October 2013

Play With Your Pumpkins

It is fall, even thought it might be 75 degrees out there!  But we feel we should be getting that "Fall" feeling rolling so her is a playful reminder.  Do you remember when carving a pumpkin was a simple task?  Now, one needs a dose of Michelangelo to pull off a decent pumpkin.



The pumpkin needs to be funny.



The pumpkin needs to be imaginative.



The pumpkin needs to be scary.



The pumpkin needs to be better than your neighbor's pumpkin.

Play With Your Pumpkins seems to be the start of this whole pumpkin carving craze.  It was first published in 1998 and frankly, now these pumpkins wouldn't even get you the top ten of pumpkin carving.  This year's pumpkin carving judge would take a look and say, "How quaint."  But there is hope. Instead of carving the pumpkins, just cook them up. 

Play With Your Pumpkins offers up a few nifty pumpkin dishes that will make you forget about carving them into anything but a pie.  Lousy at making crusts? Try this Middle Eastern dessert.

Bal Kabagi Tatlisi

2 lbs. pumpkin
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs. water
2 cloves
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Cut the pumpkin into 1-inch cubes and place in a a shallow pan.  Sprinkle with sugar, add the water and cloves, and cover.  Cook over very low heat for about 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan.  Place in a serving dish and garnish with the walnuts.


Now that is playing with your pumpkin.




09 October 2013

Mange Tout


 Yeah, yeah, yeah, another French bistro cookbook; a squab here some asparagus there, been there done that.  Yes, Virginia, we are the repository of dozens of said cookbooks, but Mange Tout, is not one of them.  It is bistro cooking and there is really a twist.  The first twist is Bruno Loubet, himself.  Born in Bordeaux, Loubet moved to England and just a few years was awarded Young Chef of the Year by Good Food Guides.   He joined Raymond Blanc before opening a series of restaurants including L'Odeon in 1995.  In 2001 he uprooted his family and went down under for eight years.  In 2009, Loubet returned to London and opened Bistro Bruno Loubet.  The ever-entertaining critic, Giles Coren, wrote of the event:

"...chef Bruno Loubet’s return to Britain is the most exciting comeback since Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus just hours after the Crucifixion and said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” (Or am I thinking of Rocky VI there?)... This, I immediately decided, is what a bistro is supposed to be. This is what happens when a
major, major chef decides to do bacon and eggs, to roll up his sleeves and get his boots dirty. One immediately knows this fellow can perform at the absolutely top level but today is going to relax on his technique and enjoy himself. It’s Philip Roth on Twitter."
The cookbook is indeed filled with twists.  There is a traditional duck breast, but bathed and crisped in maple syrup with a walnut pesto.  There is pheasant, not hung for days, but thrown into a pan with potatoes and carrots like a common pot roast.  There are aubergines, but roasted with lime pickles and yogurt.

Think back a few posts and remember our love of Put An Egg On It, well Loubet does just that with these tasty little pancakes.


 Pea Pancakes and Poached Eggs with Balsamic Syrup

350g of frozen small peas
2tbs of cornflour
Salt and pepper
1 whole egg
Butter (optional)
100ml Balsamic vinegar
4 eggs
2tbs of chopped chives
3tbs of white wine vinegar
4tbs of extra virgin olive oil
100g of pea shoots


For the pancakes

Cook the peas in boiling salted water for a few minutes, then drain in a colander. Place the peas in a food processor; add the cornflour, eggs and seasoning and process to make a puree.

Using a spoon make little round pancakes (about 8mm thick) with the puree.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan with a film of olive oil and the butter. When the butter is foamy, cook the pancakes on both sides and then place on an oven dish.

For the eggs

Heat a pan with water, salt and white vinegar. Have a tray with a hot damp cloth on the side.

Break your eggs gently in little cups (coffee for example) then slowly pour the eggs in the simmering water, letting them slide onto the side of the pan, (it will only take a minute to cook them). Remove them gently with a draining spoon and place onto the damp cloth.

Loubet's latest restaurant gets a nod in the new Modern Farmer magazine, reviewed at Lucindaville.

03 October 2013

Love and Dishes

 

Sometimes restaurateurs are raconteurs.  A lot of the time.  This is true of Niccolo de Quattrociocchi.  The story goes, Nicky won $16,000 in Monte Carlo.  With that money he set sail for America, buying a stake in a restaurant, El Borracho.

El Borracho, despite its rather unfortunate name was a bastion of fine French cuisine.  With a bit of fine Italian cuisine thrown in. There was also a great bar.  Nicky brought his rakish charm with wild decorations and grand ideas.   There was the infamous "Kiss Room"  upholstered in lipstick print fabric and decorated with actual kisses from patrons.  The room was so popular it spawned a lipstick ad.


Each table at El Borracho held a bright yellow card which bore the following notice:

 "If you have enjoyed the dinner, the service, and the atmosphere of El Borracho, PLEASE DO NOT tell your friends as our seating capacity is limited. -- The Management." 

A natural born story teller, Quattrociocchi wrote of his many adventures and misadventures at El Borracho in Love and Dishes.  And what is a good story without food?  A few chapters of anecdotes is followed by over 200 recipes.  Nicky even offers up a bit of  restaurant etiquette in his Ten Commandments, that drag out to 23 commandments remaining as pertinent today as they were in the 1940's.

Tip quietly, discreetly.   The girl with you will know you don't kiss and tell.

If you feel romantic, don't neck in the restaurant.  There is a time, place, and a quiet room for things of that sort.

Also, don't be a sound effects eater. Chew with your mouth closed.
   While you are eating politely, this might just be the dish to try.

Champagne Hen

1 young hen
12 cup celery
1/2 cup mushrooms chopped
2 shallots chopped
1 cup champagne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon tarragon
1.2 teaspoon gelatin

Stuff he hen with a dressing  made of celery, mushrooms, shallots and tarragon.  Allow the hen to stand for 12 hours, then place in an oven (325) 1 hour and baste with the champagne until tender.  Then place int he refrigerator to cool.  Reduce stock and season with paprika.  Add gelatin.  Pour mixture over hen and cool well before serving.
And lest you think Nicky was only interested in his guests, he also has a soft spot for cats and offered up this tale of his own Don Q.   It would seem that a nonunion cat sitter failed to live up to Don Q.'s  dietary standards.  The cat was so upset, Nicky was forced to take him to psychoanalyst.   Lest you worry about your cat, here is Nicky's cat menu.

Chopped, cooked chicken.
Chicken liver, raw or parboiled.
calf's liver, raw or parboiled.
Boiled shrimp.
Boiled lobster.
Any kind of fish, rainbow trout or fillet of sole preferred.
Sirloin or tenderloin of beef, very rare with a touch of garlic.
A drop or two of mineral oil every now and then.
Always mix a little chopped spinach or grated carrot with meals.
 In keeping with his theme, Niccolo de Quattrociocchi was often quoted as saying,

"A meal without wine is like love with out a kiss."  



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