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Recently I discovered (and shared on Twitter) that there were 243 cookbooks in my apartment. The number has since risen to 245. I was both proud and horrified by the number. It is a lot of books. It is especially a lot of books for a small, one-bedroom apartment. Poor Bryan . At least a hundred of them are in piles around the house, so my new years resolution is to find a storage solution for all of these books. Wish me luck. One of the two recent additions to the collection was Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple by David Muniz, David Lesniak and Rachel Allen (published in the UK as Baked in America- which is a much better title). It is a book from the two guys who own Outsider Tart bakery in London. The bakery sells American baked goods (whoopie pies, cupcakes, layer cakes, etc) to Brits, and apparently is popular. I didn’t know much about the bakery, and somehow missed the US release of the book back in the Autumn. I honestly have no idea why I bought this cookbook. Why do we buy most things? Boredom? I read a thing? I was hungry? Anyway, I added another general baking book to the dozens that I own and depleted even more of my expendable income. Bad idea, right? Wrong! I am here to say, it is a great cookbook. I read so many of these things that I have become skilled at recognizing the real deal. It is the real deal, the recipes are great. I have baked two cakes, both of which we loved, and now these cookies. These insane rainbow-sprinkled cookies that I was afraid I would be disappointed by. Not liking chocolate, I have eaten a lot of sugar cookies in my day. They are almost always bad—too chewy, too sweet, too eggy, too vanilla-y. I expected these to fall into one of those categories, but I was feeling self-destrucive and baked them anyway. They defied all of the categories of failure (and my expectations!) and are probably the best sugar cookie I have ever eaten. Seriously. They have a crisp edge and a soft center—soft, not chewy. Chewy would be bad. Soft, almost like a cake. Anyway, I am crazy about this recipe. And also, obviously, sprinkles! Sprinkles are just cool. I don’t care what Alice Waters says. Also, I actually believe I like the flavor of rainbow sprinkles. I don’t know if it is the Red 40 or food wax or what, but I think they taste really good. Sorry. So anyway, this book, which I expected to be disappointed by, is on its way to becoming one of favorite baking books. Oh, life! You’ll see from the pictures that I also made a classy (I hate that word!) version with white sprinkles. Forget it. Use rainbow. They taste better. The recipe suggests making GIANT cookies. I respectfully disagree. I like smaller cookies, because the crisp edge is my favorite part. I used a 2 oz ice cream scoop. You should do what you like! Also, the recipe can easily be halved. And if you don’t want to roll in rainbow sprinkles, you can top with sugar or glaze….but I can’t vouch for either of those options. Sugar Saucers (from Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple by David Muniz, David Lesniak and Rachel Allen) 4 cups (600g) all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 1/2 cups (340g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/2 cup (120ml) canola oil 1 cup (225g) granulated sugar 1 cup (200g) confectioners’ sugar 2 large eggs 4 teaspoons vanilla extract rainbow sprinkles, for decorating In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about a minute. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the oil, and then add the two sugars, the eggs, and the vanilla. Make sure to stir well after each of the additions. Slowly add the flour mixture, about a quarter at a time. Mix just until the flour disappears. The dough will be soft. Refrigerate for at least an hour before proceeding (up to 3 days). Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or up to a 5 oz scoop), divide the dough into balls. Roll each ball in rainbow sprinkles until thoroughly coated. Place them on baking sheets with enough room for them to spread (if you are making giant cookies you will probably only get 4 per sheet). Use your fingers to flatten each ball slightly. Bake for 12-20 minutes, depending on the size. Bake until the edges start to turn golden. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Permalink to Sugar Saucers | 59 comments so farSource: lottieanddoof.com
Alan Richardson and Karen Tack, authors of New York Times bestselling cupcake cookbook Hello, Cupcake! and the upcoming What's New, Cupcake? sent us these instructions and photo on how to make adorable football cupcakes. As soon as I posted this saying I couldn't get the photo to upload, it uploaded. What do you know? I really don't care about the Super Bowl, personally, but I do love Malomars, so I'm all about this! Visit the Hello, Cupcake! blog for more fun cupcake decorating tips. Super Superbowl Cupcakes We love the Saints, but wait, we also love the Colts. We are so torn between the two that we are pretty sure we will be binging on cupcakes to soothe our nerves during halftime on Super Bowl Sunday. So what better way to tame our "who do we love more" anxiety than with a big supply of Football Cupcakes for the halftime break. To make our football cupcakes: We made the footballs from Malomars and marshmallows. A perfect pairing because both are tasty marshmallow treats. Malomars are only available in the cooler months so they are a rare seasonal treat and we want to make the most of them while we can (eat your heart out Alice Waters). The football is made by placing a Malomar on each cupcake (attached with frosting). We cut a marshmallow in half on the diagonal and placed the triangle-shaped half marshmallow at each end of the Malomar and filled in the gaps to shape the football. We chilled the footballs in the freezer while we melted chocolate frosting in the microwave. In 20 to 30 seconds, with occasional stirring, the frosting was the texture of slightly whipped cream. We removed the footballs from the freezer, dipped each in the melted frosting, letting the excess drip off, then inverted and set aside. Once the frosting was firm we added details with vanilla frosting to make the laces and stripes. The last step was to pipe green-tinted frosting under each football for Astroturf. We served them on a square of real Astroturf with sprinkles and Jelly Belly Licorice Pastels for the markings. We wish both teams the best and all we can say is— Game Is On, Cupcake.Source: cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite... Despite a forecast of bad weather, we're heading to the coast for the holiday. Bob and I both love the sea and, strange as it might seem, we love it most when it's raging and buried in drifts of fog. This has the makings of our kind of weekend. Pounding waves and screeching gulls will be music to our ears. While we'll do some eating out, provisions for Easter dinner will come with us. The traveling larder will include gravlaxs, double-cut lamb chops and the fixing for soy glazed potatoes and this lovely vegetable ragout. Dessert will probably be a simple lemon pudding with apricot sauce. The ragout comes from Alice Waters, who does simple better than the legions who try to imitate her. I absolutely love this recipe and the bright shot of green it puts on any table. Three basic ingredients are quickly cooked in what becomes a light butter sauce. If not overcooked the ragout would be fit for Lucullus. The downside of this is the amount of chopping required to bring the dish to the table. That is the only downside. The beautiful ragout, especially if made with the very freshest of vegetables, will bring Spring to your table. Here's the recipe. Spring Vegetable Ragout ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy Of Alice Waters Ingredients: 3/4 pounds fresh green peas (See Cook's Note) 3/4 pound asparagus 3 spring onions (about 3/4 cup sliced) 3 tablespoons butter, divided use 1/2 cup water 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or chervil Salt and pepper to taste Directions: 1) Shell fresh peas or thaw 1 cup frozen petite peas under cold running water. Set aside. Snap tough ends from asparagus. Discard. Slice stalks into diagonal slices 1/4-inch thick. Cut tips into 1-1/2-inch pieces. Set aside. Trim and thinly slice spring onions. 2) Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy bottomed skillet. Add onions and cook over medium heat until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add asparagus and peas; stir to combine. Add water and cook until vegetables are just tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add reserved 1 tablespoon butter and parsley or chervil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. Yield: 4 servings. Cook's Note: If fresh peas are not available, substitute 1 cup best quality thawed frozen peas. You might also enjoy these recipes: Moroccan Carrots - One Perfect Bite Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame - One Perfect Bite Green Beans with Sesame Miso Sauce - One Perfect BiteSource: oneperfectbite.blogspot.com
1/4 cup olive oil 1 onion , peeled and diced 1 carrot , peeled and diced 1 teaspoon coriander seed , crushed 1 teaspoon cumin seed , crushed 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 1/4 teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes salt fresh ground black pepper 6 fresh cilantro stems , coarsely chopped 1 head cauliflower , trimmed of green leaves and coarsely chopped or 6 cups cauliflower 3 cups chicken broth 3 cups water 1 1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chile powder, turmeric, chile flakes, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, over medium heat. 2 2. When very soft but not browned, add the cilantro sprigs, cauliflower, chicken broth, and water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes. 3 3. Stir vigorously with a spoon or whisk to coarsely purée the soup. You may need to add more broth or water to thin the soup if it is too thick. 4 4. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve hot. Garnish each serving with yogurt, cilantro or mint, and a squeeze of lime juice. 5 VARIATIONS. 6 For a richer soup, use all chicken broth. 7 For a lighter, vegetarian soup, use all water.Source: food.com
1/4 cup olive oil 1 onion , peeled and diced 1 carrot , peeled and diced 1 teaspoon coriander seed, crushed 1 teaspoon cumin seed , crushed 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 1/4 teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes salt fresh ground black pepper 6 fresh cilantro stems , coarsely chopped 1 head cauliflower , trimmed of green leaves and coarsely chopped or 6 cups cauliflower 3 cups chicken broth 3 cups water 1 1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chile powder, turmeric, chile flakes, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, over medium heat. 2 2. When very soft but not browned, add the cilantro sprigs, cauliflower, chicken broth, and water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes. 3 3. Stir vigorously with a spoon or whisk to coarsely purée the soup. You may need to add more broth or water to thin the soup if it is too thick. 4 4. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve hot. Garnish each serving with yogurt, cilantro or mint, and a squeeze of lime juice. 5 VARIATIONS. 6 For a richer soup, use all chicken broth. 7 For a lighter, vegetarian soup, use all water.Source: food.com
1 lb Asparagus 2 x Spring bulb onions , (about 1/2 lb.) 1 tsp Extra virgin olive oil 3 Tbsp. Unsalted butter Salt and pepper 1 lb Buckwheat linguine 3 x Cloves garlic 1 c. Vegetable stock 1 Tbsp. Minced chervil , plus 20 sprg chervil , for garnish 1/2 x Lemon 1/2 lb Ricotta salata cheese Snap off the ends of the asparagus and peel if the stalks are thick. Slice diagonally 1/4 inch thick, leaving the tips whole. Trim and peel the spring onions and slice them very thin. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. In a pan big sufficient for the vegetables to be sauteed, not steamed, heat the extra virgin olive oil and 1 Tbsp. of the butter. Add in the asparagus and the spring onions, season with salt and pepper, and saute/fry over high heat for a few min, till the vegetables are slightly browned and caramelized. Cook the linguine. When the vegetables are nearly done, add in the garlic and cook 1 minute more. When the vegetables are ready, pour in the vegetable stock to deglaze the pan; add in the rest of the butter off the heat, swirling the pan to thicken the sauce. Add in the minced chervil and a squeeze of lemon. Taste for salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and adjust if necessary. Drain the linguine, add in to the vegetables, and toss. Serve immediately on hot plates, garnished with crumbled ricotta salata and the chervil sprigs. Serves 4 to 6. contents from Alice Waters' newest cookbook, Chez Panisse Vegetables, (HarperCollins Press). We found these unique recipes to be fairly simple and healthy. What follows are samples of the kinds of recipes you would find in this cookbook. A great addition to any home kitchen library.Source: cookeatshare.com
A couple of weekends ago we had some friends over for lunch. We live on the top floor of a 100-year old building and during the summer it is hot. Turning on the oven is not an option when we are entertaining, so we tend to serve things that can be prepared in advance. In fact, I am developing quite a repertoire of recipes that can be prepared in advance and served cold or room temperature. This farmers market tabbouleh is being added to that ever-growing list. I was inspired by something I’d seen in the Morito cookbook, an assortment of tabbouleh that adapt to the seasons.
This is one of the few times you could find me at the farmers market actually being inspired (spontaneously!) by the season. I usually have a plan— lists, even! But there I was like a genuine Alice Waters-zombie creating this dish in my mind’s eye. Throwing vegetables in my bag like a real farm-to-table free spirit who woke up like this. You should do the same, because with this sort of recipe not much could go wrong. I used a bunch of early summer vegetables (asparagus, fava beans, sugar snap peas) and piles of fresh dill and parsley. You can use any vegetables you like, and I mean that. I normally hate when recipes tell me that I can do whatever I like (but I want you to tell me what I like) but in this case it is true. Cook each vegetable in a way that leaves it with some crunch. For instance, I very briefly blanched the favas and the peas the day before and kept them in the fridge overnight (I’d do the same with all peas/beans). I charred the asparagus in a cast iron skillet (I would probably char peppers and zucchini too). Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and you are good to do. I prepared all of the vegetables the night before and kept them in the refrigerator so they were ready to go for lunch.
We served this with some marinated mozzarella and tomatoes and an eggplant puree. It was the perfect summer lunch.
Early Summer Tabbouleh (inspired by Morito) 1 cup of uncooked bulgur 1 garlic clove pinch of cinnamon 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning vegetables of your choice, I used: asparagus, fava beans, sugar snap peas, and scallions (see photo above for the amount of each) cooked, if needed, and chopped into bite-size pieces a large bunch parsley, chopped a large bunch dill, chopped a small bunch of mint, chopped
Prepare the bulgur: This usually involves pouring boiling water over the grain and letting it sit until the mixture is absorbed. Then, run a fork through the bulgur to fluff it, like you would couscous. (I use this bulgur from Bob’s Red Mill and you pour 1 cup of boiling water over the 1 cup of bulgur.)
Make the dressing: Put the garlic, cinnamon, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small jar and shake to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
In a large bowl, combine the bulgur, vegetables, and chopped herbs and toss to combine them. Pour 3/4 of the prepared dressing over the salad, toss again, and taste for seasoning. You may need to add more dressing or salt. Serve at room temperature, or chilled. Serves 4-6.
Permalink to Tabbouleh | 25 comments so far
Broccolini, Blue Cheese and Bacon Frittata People see the outdoor markets in Paris and think that everyone does their shopping there. But if you work a 9-to-5 jobs, or whatever hours normal people work (ie: not me), it’s hard to take a few hours off to go leisurely pick out your fruits and vegetables – not including the time waiting in line behind madame, selecting theΒ two figs she is buying as if they were royal bijoux, trying to muster a chuckle at the same joke you’ve heard a gazillion times, when you ask to buyΒ “Five lemons,” and they respond – “5 kilos, monsieur?” – which was mildly amusing – perhaps once, but I’m pretty sure no one buys 11 pounds of lemons at the market. And catching up and chatting with my favoriteΒ vendors, as I like I do. Especially the sausage dude. #schwingIn spite of the time it takes to do your shopping, going to the outdoor market in Paris is something that’s very pleasurable for me. I take a good stroll around first, looking at everything before I make my decision. But I do have certain stallholdersΒ that I favor for certain things (including sausages), and I often tell visitors: ShopΒ at the same vendors and placesΒ over and over again, because once they recognize you, you’ll be treated better. Ditto for going to restaurants and cafΓ©s.One thing isn’t well-represented in Parisian markets are leafy cooking greens. Spinach and giant leaves of Swiss chard tend to be the predominate choices. When I was recentlyΒ in the states, even in nondescript supermarkets, I saw bunchesΒ of kale, mustard, turnip and beet greens, collards, chard, and spinach piled up high in the produce department.And in Brooklyn, due to the large Italian-American population, there’sΒ broccolini, too,Β a broccoli hybridΒ with less bulky stems, and lots more texture and flavor. I love it and even the dumpiestΒ pizza joint in Brooklyn wouldΒ often have a pizza with wilted broccolini on it. It was tempting to order, instead of my usual pepperoni slice. But I managed to find ways to get broccolini into my diet without sacrificing a single wedge of pie with those crisp disks of spicy sausage baked on top.Frittata is one of my favorite fall-back dishes. As long as you have bits and pieces of things in your refrigerator, and a carton of eggs, you can make a frittata. I had extra broccolini lurking in the produce drawer, a fewΒ chunksΒ of blue cheese, and someΒ of bacon which were the makings of this one. The hardest part of making a frittataΒ is working up the nerve the flip it out onto a plate or flat pan lid, like I did, and turning it back over to finish it off. (If using a cast iron skillet, you can run the partially cooked frittataΒ under the broiler, to firm up the top, and skip the flip.)Speaking of differences between Europe and the states, you want to cook the broccolini to what one might call βEuropean style.β Meaning that you really cook it until itβs soft and tender, for a frittata. Americans tend to cook vegetables to the point where they retain their crunch, whereas in places like Italy and France, vegetables often get cooked until they’re very soft. My friend Judy in Tuscany explains in her cooking classesΒ that Italians cook vegetables twice; once to cook them, and the second to flavor them. For a frittata, you want the vegetables to be about the same texture as the cooked eggs.You can use this recipe as more of a guideline if you want to swap out other ingredients, butΒ the basic technique is the same: Cook your ingredients, pour in some beaten eggs, then cook until the bottom is set. Once it’s three-quarters of the way there, flip it over to cook the other side.If you have a cast-iron skillet, instead of flipping the frittata, as mentioned, you can run it under the broiler to cook it. Once everything is chopped, the whole process should take more than ten to fifteen minutes, meaning you’ll have dinner on the table in no time. Or if you’ve got friends coming for drinks, you can clean out the refrigerator, and serve a frittata forth, like I did – and no one will be the wiser that it was put together with leftovers.Β (Well, until they read about it on your blog!) Broccolini, Bacon and Blue Cheese Frittata Print Recipe Six meal-sized servings, twelve appetizer-size servings Feel free to replace ingredients in the recipe, swapping out some cooked spinach or kale for the broccolini. Since broccolini may not be easy to find, you can use regular broccoli, cauliflower, or another lovely green, such as kale, dandelions, arugula or mustard greens. Broccolini goes by the name of tenderstem broccoli in the UK, Iβm told. Broccoli raab is a close relative and could be used, as could rapini. (Check the links after the recipe if you want to learn more about them.) If youβre fortunate to live near a good farmersβ market, snoop around as you might be fortunate to find some green vegetables that lend themselves to being made into a frittata; the people who work the stands are usually very knowledgable about what they grow and how to prepare them.Generally, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cooked ingredients works for this size frittata. You can add pitted olives, sauteed mushrooms, or another herb, such as dill, oregano, marjoram, or basil. Vegetarians can skip the bacon, or for others, cooked and crumbled/sliced sausage can be used in its place. I didnβt add garlic, but a few chopped cloves added to the broccolini added while itβs cooking is an option, if you wish. Want to go with seafood? Cooked shrimp or smoked salmon would be nice, and feta could stand in for the blue cheese. Whew! I think I covered everythingβ¦Frittata is perfect picnic food because itβs just as good served cold or room temperature as it is warm. In Spain, they serve tortillas, as these are called (with potatoes) along with glasses of wine or sherry in tapas bars, as it makes a nice appetizer. I served these in wedges during meal-time, but sliced into bite-sized squares and toothpicks, they make great cocktail party fare. 3 strips (100g) bacon, preferably thick-cut, diced8 scallions trimmed and sliced, or 1/2 red onion, peeled and diced1/2 to 3/4 pound (225-340g) broccolini, diced, or broccoli or cauliflower1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme salt and freshly ground black pepper olive oil7 to 8 large eggs3/4 to 1 cup (100-130g) crumbled blue cheese1. Steam the diced broccolini in a steamer basket in a covered pot over barely boiling water, until tender all the way through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.2. Put the bacon cubes in a 9- or 10-inch (23-25cm) nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Heat the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp. Set the bacon pieces of a paper towel and drain and pour most of the bacon fat from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind.3. Add the scallions (or onions) to the pan and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Add the steamed broccolini and thyme. Season very lightly with salt and pepper (other ingredients are salty, so go easy on the salt). Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cookβ stirring occasionally β until the broccolini is very soft, about 10 to 12 minutes.4. Mix the eggs in a small bowl, seasoned with a little salt and pepper.5. Remove the lid from the pan with the broccolini in it and stir in the bacon. Use a spatula or spoon to make sure the ingredients are in a relatively even layer then strew the crumbled cheese over the top. Pour the eggs over the ingredients, then use a utensil to encourage the eggs to get in and around all the ingredients in the pan.6. Let the frittata cook over medium heat, undisturbed, until the bottom is browned and set. You can use a spatula to lift it up once the bottom is set to check on its progress. (Make sure itβs not burning!) It will take about 7 minutes, but might take a more or less.7. Run a spatula around the edge of the frittata to loosen it from the pan and slide it onto a dinner plate or overturned flat pan lid, so the cooked side is on the bottom. Overturn the skillet over the frittata and quickly flip the frittata back in the pan, so the cooked side is now on top. Cook the frittata another minute or two, until the bottom is cooked. (If using a cast iron skillet, instead of flipping the frittata, you can run it under the broiler a minute or two to cook the top.)8. Slide the frittata onto a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature.Related Links and RecipesBroccolini vs Broccoli raab vs RapiniΒ (Good Stuff NW)Broccoli Raab, Rapini, Broccolini: What’s the Difference? (The Savory)Alice Waters’ Long-Cooked Broccoli (Serious Eats)Go soft on broccoli and cauliflower (Russ Parsons/LA Times)Green Nonstick CookwareKimchi OmeletKale Frittata You might also like Moroccan Preserved Lemons Mirabelle Jam Cherry Poppy Seed Cake Categories: Recipes Savory DishesTags: bacon blue cheese broccoli broccoli raab broccolini eggs greens kale omelet rapini recipe red onion salt scallions supermarket tenderstemSource: davidlebovitz.com
Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & WineAs I stumble through figuring out how to use the new features after theΒ site upgrade, I’ve got a backlog of posts and pictures that I’ve been anxious to share. It also has taken me a week to recover from my weekend in Cork, Ireland, as a guest at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest, where I was a speaker in this year’s line-up. I’d only been to Ireland once before and was immediatelyΒ taken with the country; the terrainΒ is beautiful, the drizzly weather means large expanses of green grass and you’ll find cows grazing just off the side of winding roads. I learned how to make a real Irish Coffee, and best of all, I ate remarkably well with mostΒ foods coming from local farms and producers who had just pulled their vegetables from their gardens, which appeared on their dinner tables just a few hours later. When you mention you like a “brand” of something in the area, such as Gubbeen sausage, people will invariably respond – “Oh, yes – FingalΒ (Ferguson)…he does make a fine sausage, doesn’t he?”Ballymaloe is the famed cookery school started by Darina Allen in 1983, who wanted to showcase the bounty of Ireland to the world. And what a bounty it is! I arrived a day before the festival started to get settled in, and even before I sat down for the first meal, food started showing upΒ everywhere, including platters of foods yanked from their gardens for visitors to nibble on. I think during the weekend I ate at least three dozen radishes. Come to think of it, make that about three dozen per day.I couldn’t help but take a gazillion photos and as I mentioned before, it’s impossibleΒ to take a badΒ picture in Cork. The fruits and vegetablesΒ are stellar, the people are super generous about letting you come in and show you around (and to let you take photos!), and they’re happy to lop off a piece of cheese for you to taste just because they’re proud of what they make and want to share.When I’d arrived on the short flight from Paris, Eamon, a volunteer from the community, met me at the airport and offered to take me anywhere I wanted to go for the entire weekend, alongΒ with a small team of other locals who’d volunteered their time for the weekend to make sure we were well taken care of. One thing I forgot about Ireland is how friendly everybody is. Hmm, I could get used to this!The festival is a community effort and I went thinking there would be a few hundred people coming. When they told me they expected up to 8000 people, I then envisioned myself hiding for most of the weekend in my room, as I’m not fond of large crowds. (Especially when there is food offered as that canΒ bring out something in people who I’m not happy to be a part of.)But that wasn’t the case at the festival and this cheesemaker calmly fashioned a makeshift table out of a cutting board, and his chest, thenΒ sliced cheese for people who patiently waited for a taste while banteringΒ with them. A far cry from the sample stations at Costco.Although I didn’t catch the names of his cheeses, I brought back some Kerrygold cheddar that had been made with a bit o’ Irish whiskey in it, thinking it’d be a fun novelty to take back to Paris for some French friends to try. (You can sometimes find good English cheddar and Stilton in cheese shops in Paris, but I’ve not seen Irish cheese.) I am not really a fan of cheese with “things” in it. I like gouda with cumin, and once had a cheese with nettles in it that I liked a lot, but I tend to avoid novelty cheeses. YetΒ the whiskey blended in was just enough to provide a smooth, barely perceptible smoky background flavor, and it got eaten faster than the NeufchΓ’telΒ from Normandy that I’d served alongside. TouchΓ©!The first time I visited Ireland, on Day #1 I was handed me a pair of Wellies (tall green rubber boots) for walking through the fields, which at first I didn’t quite get. Then I learned rather quickly while walking through farms and fieldsΒ that you needΒ to step carefully to avoid piles of cow patties. I’veΒ gottenΒ pretty good at that living inΒ Paris (along they’re much smaller), but those boots are essential as no matter how experienced of a pile-jumper you are. (I may start wearing them in Paris.) The reward for all that doody-dodging is the stellar milk the Jersey cows produce and at Ballymaloe, there are raw milk dispensers set up in a couple ofΒ places. The one above was in the kitchen of the cookery school, filled with ice-cold raw milk, ready for cooking and drinking.I was put up in a room at Ballymaloe House, the hotel that is a short Eamon-rideΒ from the actual school, which is a mile or so away. They have bikes to use, but Irish roads are really narrow and the idea of dodging cars driving on the reverse side of the road made me nervous. So I took the safe route. Ballymaloe House isΒ old stone building transformed into guest rooms with a restaurant and a shop next to it and I was happy to call it home for a few days.Most of the ingredients served in their dining room are either grown there, fishedΒ from the waters nearby, or culled fromΒ localΒ farms and producers. The food is basic, yetΒ wholesome and good. Well-prepared without a lot of fuss. If you’re looking for scribbles of balsamic vinegar or plates whose edges are dusted with powder of some sort, you won’t find it there.I am famous, or infamous, for being grumpy in the morning. I’m a people-person…but only after I’ve had my morning coffee, preferably alone. (Romain knows the drill, although I’ve learned to accept someone talking to me in the morning even though it’s not my preferred way to start the day.) HoweverΒ Irish breakfasts are legendary and even the crankiest morning person/meΒ would bloom into a happy lad when faced with freshly baked soda bread, Irish scones, just-churned butter with big chunks of sea salt in it, fruit jams made from berries picked from the gardens, and free-range eggs laid in their hen-houses, which are also sold in their shop. They costΒ β¬2,75 for a half-dozen and when I posted a picture of them on social media, someone was shocked and remarked atΒ how expensive they were. True, 45Β’ per egg might seem pricey to some people. But when you taste how good they are, and you know the chickens are well-treated, I don’t think 90Β’ for a couple ofΒ great eggs that change a crabby fellow into a happy lad is such a bad price. Last time I was near the hen-house at the cookery school, the tiny chicks were running all over the place, including through the offices of the school and Darina said to us, “I know, I know, they shouldn’t be here. But I can’t help it. They’re so cute!” Cute always comes at a cost, and if you want me cute, not cranky at 8am, feed me a couple of good farm eggs – and Irish bacon.Β Anyone who has known her knows that Darina is a hard person to argue with. In fact, I don’t think she knows the word “no” and every time I’ve seen her, she was always doing something. When she jumped into the kitchen to help serve lunch to festival participants and I snapped that shot, I jokingly said after I took it, “Wow. A rare picture of Darina serving food.” The rest of the staff, not used to my humor (or attempt at humor), were momentarily stunned. Then got the joke after I’d explained it.After fortifying myself with coffee, it was hard not to give my full attention to the food served at the full Irish breakfast at Ballymaloe House, which more than one person hasΒ described as “legendary.” In addition to the breads baked that morning, and the eggs, jam, and butter, there was fresh-squeezed orange juice, an array of fruit compotes, porridge, and everything from blood sausage to Irish bacon, which I made sure to have every morning. My very first morning, I also fell in love with the pottery serving pieces that were on the tables, especially the little half-glazed pots filled with variousΒ jams.No sooner than right after I mentioned how much I loved them, the legendary server, Anne Mack, who’s been serving breakfast at Ballymaloe HouseΒ for decades, said in her Irish voice, “Oh, they’re just down the road there a bit. You can go right after breakfast.” I asked how far was “a bit” was, and others in the dining room joined in andΒ said it was just a few miles. But like everything in Cork, it was pas de problΓ¨me and I was happy to get a lift withΒ a new pal, natural wine expert Alice Feiring, to visitΒ Stephen PearceΒ pottery.Mr. Pearce was walking around the shop that was set in a littleΒ wooded area, and was the kind of person if he heard me call him “Mr.” would tell me to stop. The large, rough workshop was filled with shelves of beautiful Irish pottery, glazed simply, with gentle,Β pleasingΒ forms and useful shapes.I didn’t see my name on a mug, which was probably a good thing, but I saw a lot of other things I wanted and picked up several of the small jam/butter pots that I have no idea what I’m going to do with, but I couldn’t resist. I also spent more than a few moments rifling through the seconds room, too, and got some small bowls that had glaze flaws, which I find charming.I’m not on commission, and your wallet might not thank me, but they do sell mail-order, andΒ I was happy to be able to stop in personally and add a few pieces to my pottery collection, which is starting to grow at and alarming rate. I’m not kidding – piled up in my office right where I’m typing are five various stacks of plates, bowls, gratin dishes, and whatever else you can think of, clutteredΒ up on the shelves. I think it’s a sickness and someday I’ll stop.Just not right now.Although my stomach was, oddly, rumbling for more of those Irish scones that I remembered from that morning, when we got back to Ballymaloe it was – yup…almost time for lunch.But since it wasn’t quite time, Alice and IΒ stopped into the cafΓ© where we had cups of the excellent coffee roasted just next door to the cafΓ© at The Golden Bean, and pondered over – yup, a scone with butter and jam, or something else to eat.We tried some of the cookies made from Irish oatmeal……until, finally, it was lunchtime. (There was actually only a 25 minute gap between when we returned and when lunch was served. But that was enough time for a treat, right? And I had to spend a little extra time takingΒ that young fellow’s picture a few times over and over again because his hair was so high, my lens couldn’t get it all in!) Lunch featuredΒ heaps of green salads – just the thing I love to eat, then me and Rebecca, another pal that I made that weekend, hit the kitchen to makeΒ bread with Darina’s husband, Tim. (Which I’m still testing in my home kitchen…I’ll post as soon as I get it right, I promise.) After he mixed up the brown bread, he grabbed a few jars of starter and effortlessly started mixing the dough forΒ a few loaves of sourdough bread for the evening’s dinner.My jaw kind of dropped when we walked through the kitchen because I can’t imagine a better place to cook, overlooking the gardens and the farm, with bundles of fresh herbs, crates of vegetables, and yes – flats of free-range eggs – ready for crackin’.They were making a very green, youngΒ garlic pesto to jar up for the shop that smelled like exactly the kind of thing I’d want to have on hand in my pantry at all times, as well as bottling up sweet red chile sauce. Alas, neither would pass muster at the airport, as I was going carry-on only. (Nope. I wasn’t trusting my pottery to baggage handlers.)But lest you think it was all eating (it was Ireland, so I can let you use your imagination about the drinking – but since I wanted to blend in, so I thought it only polite if I occasionally took part), I was there primarily for the Litfest, which was just about to begin. So I headed back to the room to shower and shave before the guests arrived. All 8000 of them, give or take a few.The good news is that they didn’t all come at once. Since the festival takes place over the weekend and there are lots of activities – talks, discussions, cooking demonstrations, and meals – it never felt crowded, frantic, and I wasn’t traumatized. In fact, it was great.People were happy to stand and chat, drink a beer (or two), and all that gorgeous produce was put to very good use over the weekend. Stands set up by local businesses preparedΒ ribs, falafels, blackcurrant cordials, grain salads, wood-fired pizzas, smoked salmon sandwiches, smeared KerrygoldΒ Irish butter on scones (the one they gave me had a ratio of 2:1 butter to scone – and yes, the “2” was the butter), and crusty loaves of artisan bread.The young people worked hard all weekend, setting up their stands and serving everyone, never getting flustered, even when the power went out in the wholeΒ “Big Shed” that held all the food stands, musicians, and bartenders, who in addition to pouring endless glasses of beer, pouredΒ a mean gin & tonic, too. All the twenty-somethings preparing food told me they were proud to serve local, fresh foods, and even the older folks said they like to get as much as they canΒ from their neighbors, which is a sharp contrast to people who think that fresh, local foods are out-of-reach orΒ upscale. (My copious falafel made to order by Jack ofΒ Rocket Man Food Co, above, cost about the same as a fast-food burger and fries, and was a heckuva lot better.) It can be done. And if you don’t believe me, move to Cork – like I am.There were a number of interestingΒ panels at the festival, from foraging in the nearby sea for edible seaweed, which I missed because I didn’t bring my Wellie’s, a talk broaching the subject “Is wine going out of fashion?”, coffee cupping with Norwegian barista Nick Wendelboe, an amazing slide show about Chinese cuisine by Fuchsia Dunlop (my new dream is to go to China with her), to discussions on more serious topics, such as what’s happening to our soil and how do we feed our most vulnerable.I went to a lively cocktail talk and tasting with Nick Strangeway and Oisin Davis, and one on Irish whiskey that was interesting but went a little over (and to) my head as I don’t have that much background in whiskies (although I do love them, which is what counts), as well as a tasting from master gin distiller Desmond Payne, where we learned about how gin is made. Some have all their flavors added during distillation, and others add them afterward, for example. And the only flavoring that gin has to have to be called “gin” is juniper.I like gin but never really knew all that much how it’s made. But the most important thing about any drink is how it tastes. And taste we did! The gins we tried had everything from tea, elderflowers, hibiscus, and lemon verbena added. I loved discerning all the different nuances and flavors in the gins we tried, although wondered how pronounced they’d be in mixed into drinks since gin is rarely drunk straight Β Clearly more experimentation was needed when I got home. Note to self: Stock up on gin for the summer.MyΒ talk at the literary festival covered a lot of things. It was listed as a “fireside chat” so I chattedΒ aboutΒ how I began doing what I do, to what I’m doing now, with a few people asking about my future which I couldn’t answer. (Hey, if I could predict the future, I’d be buying lottery tickets.) As I usually do, I got teary-eyed twice during my talk – normallyΒ I only cry once, as I tend to get emotional when I speak in public, but I loved answering questions and talking to everyone at not just my talk, but duringΒ the entire event. So many conferences are about “getting” something. This one was different, and was about sharing and participating rather than bringing something tangible home. A suitcase full of pottery, notwithstanding.Part of my discussion was what brought me to where I am today, to Paris, and how I wentΒ from dishwasher, to cooking in restaurants, to being a pastry chef, to writing cookbooks and my blog. I noted howΒ things have changed in the last decade in the world of cookbooks, as well as inΒ blogging – and what the differences are and how I respond to each. I’ve written about it before, but the summation is that cookbooks these days need to be more than recipes since mostΒ of those can be found online. People are responding to books with a story behind it, or booksΒ that feature a single-subject and do a good job covering them.Blogging has changed a lot since a lot of us started, especially inΒ the last few years where things like social media, photography, some tech know-how, and new blogging platforms for publishing have made things better, but take up a lot more time and energy. It’s like telephones: We used to pick up the phone when someone called. We’d talk, then hang up when we were done. It was easy. Then we got message machines so that we wouldn’t miss a call. Then we got smartphones, which let us take our phones with us, customize ringtones, allow us to edit and send photos, send a text, listen to music, check our email, order a car, book a trip, find a place to have dinner, and basically always be connected. So while the telephone has been vastly improved, we’re all spending a lot more time doing things other than having a simple chat with aΒ friend with what was once a simple device. And just getting the device to do all those things correctly can be a part-time job.We’re all constantly shifting and adapting to new ideas and technology, and the challenge is to find a way to balance it all and still have time for that simple chat with a friend. It’s gotten harder to stop and “smell the flowers” – to go for a walk or set up a picnic, read a book, have a nice (and phone-free) meal with others, and not try to “get” anything out of every experience, but just to be present and enjoy it. That’s something I’m working on myselfΒ these days.Speaking of friends and family, finishing up the Litfest wasΒ a panel with Alice Waters, David Tanis, April Bloomfield, and me, about our experiences cooking at Chez Panisse. David was the cafΓ© chef when I arrived, way back around 1983, and is now a popular New York Times columnist. April worked at the restaurant for several months before going on to open her own highly successful restaurants in New York and San Francisco. And Alice, of course, started Chez Panisse back in 1971 with the idea of having a local hangout where friends could gather for a simple meal and a glass of wine, and ended up changing the way America eats. (When I started cooking at the restaurant, few people in the U.S. knew what blood oranges, goat cheese, or arugula was.) You don’t often hear people say what an honor it is to use the ingredients we had access to, or to work in a restaurant kitchen, and it’s hard to sum up the experience in a few lines here. But we all expressed in our own way how working at Chez Panisse changed us, and the most interesting question posed by the moderator was – “What did you take away from working at Chez Panisse?”Mine was that I taste things, which seems simple, but it drives me bonkers when I go out to eat and get presented with a plate of food that no one in the kitchen has tasted or thought about what it would be like to sit down and actually eat it. Sometimes it’s a mish-mash of flavors and ingredients that may have sounded interesting in someone’s head, but on the plate,Β makes no sense. I also learned that only very rarely is something complicated actually better. (Hmmm, like our smartphones – are we actually better off?) It’s of zero interest to me when I get a plate of overwrought, tortured food. That’s not what eating is about.While cooking professionally is, indeed, work. The whole idea is cooking or baking up something that you, or someone else, will like to eat should be of utmost importance. I’m happiest with a plate of sticky ribs, a fried egg on buttered toast with black pepper and salt, vegetables sauteed in butter, a scoopΒ of very good, dark chocolate ice cream (sometimes, with sprinkles…), or just an heaped upΒ bowl of salad greens dressed with a garlic vinaigrette. In fact, I think I got my job at the restaurant when during my jobΒ interview with Alice, she asked what I liked to eat and a little flustered, I answered, “A big green salad.” And she said, “So do I.” A lot more was discussed and laughed about (and yup, I got a little teary during one of my responses here, too), but when I left Chez Panisse, I remember saying to Alice that after thirteen years of working with her, that I was still afraid of her, and she replied – “Good.” So every time I make something, or put out a plate of food, I taste it carefully, remembering how she would come by and taste with us at the restaurant, insisting that we let the ingredients shine and not to overcomplicate things. The focus should be on flavor and taste.Even though I had a few nice pieces of pottery, some streaky bacon, and plenty ofΒ great memories packed up to bring home with me, I made one last stop in the Ballymaloe gift shop as I couldn’t resist picking up a few pieces of FalconΒ bakeware, which cost more than a half-dozen eggs, but less than a falafel. I like the simple lines, the lack of pretension, and the sturdy utilitarianism of them. AΒ lot of the young cooks manning the food stands were using them, as well as bowls of the locally made Stephen Pearce pottery, for mixing and serving food to the guests at the festival, and it was nice to take home a little reminder of what a great weekend it was in Ireland.You might also like Ballymaloe Cookery School Midleton Farmers’ Market, Ireland Irish Shortbread Recipe & Ireland Travel Notes Categories: David's Favorite Posts Dining & Travel EuropeTags: Alice Feiring Alice Waters April Bloomfield Ballymaloe Ballymaloe House blogging Chez Panisse Cork Darina Allen David Tanis Desmond Payne falafel Falcon free-range eggs Fuchsia Dunlop gin Gubbeen high hair Ireland Kerrygold Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest Kerrygold cheddar kitchen garden Neufchatel Nick Strangeway Nick Wendelboe oatmeal Oisin Davis pottery raw milk Rebecca Sullivan scones Stephen Pearse streaky baconSource: davidlebovitz.com
Faux Gras: Vegetarian Foie GrasPeople often think of Paris asΒ a museum stuck in the past. Sure, one of the things we all love about Paris is the old charm that persistsΒ in the architecture, the culture, the cuisine, and in some cases, the way of thinking. (The recent taxi versus Uber battle irked a few French tech entrepreneurs as they felt it presented an image of France as a place unwelcome to new business ideas, or change.) But it’s hard to stop new ideas, especially when they become widely adopted,Β as the next generationΒ comes along with different ideas and expectations.Β Like everywhere, and like it or not, France is being updatedΒ in several ways. One that surprises outsidersΒ is thatΒ no longer are lunches a three-hour affair with multiple bottles of wine. (Unfortunately!) Instead, lunch might be a sandwich on the fly – perhaps a jambon-beurre (baguette sandwich), orΒ a stop at a food truck for a BΓ‘nh mΓ¬ (Vietnamese sandwich), or even a burger and frites. Change doesn’t happen fast in France, or without controversy, but when a new food trend does catchΒ on, it tends to get fiercelyΒ embraced – for better or worse. And vΓ©gΓ©tarianismΒ is becoming more popular, despite someΒ opposition.Dietary habits are evolving in France, as they are in the rest of the world. And a number of people, especiallyΒ twenty and thirty-somethings, are experimenting with things like quinoa, raw foods, chia seeds, and kale.True, the movement is not as widespread as it is elsewhere, and some of it is more for novelty sake rather than for health reasons. (There is a juice bar near me where young people routinely sip their healthy, cold-pressed juice and when done, go out and light up a cigarette.) But we all have to start somewhere, right? And a friend who works for a French government agricultural association insists that food (and smoking) habitsΒ will continue to evolve and change.You’re no longer ostracized in Paris for being vegetarian or even vegan. And many of the hip cafes and sandwich/salad shops that have sprung up in the past few years β notably in the 10th, 11th and 12th β have vegetarian options presented daily on their menus. You won’t find meals like you would at, say,Β Greens in San Francisco, Dirt Candy in New York, or Ottolenghi, in London. But vegetarian options exist a lot more than they used to. (AlthoughΒ some friends from California went to a vegetarian restaurant in Paris and when asked, the next day told me it was okay, but it was odd that there were no vegetables on the menu.) So the field is wide-open for someone wanting to open a restaurant serving a plant-based menu β which, yes, offers vegetables, too.Just like the way we eat in America has been influenced strongly by France, via Julia Child and Alice Waters, foreigners are influencing the food culture in France. Australians are opening coffee houses, British cooks are recastingΒ farm-to-table fare with local French ingredients, and Parisians are lining up for Texas-style barbecue (with a French pit boss, who learned his craft in Texas) while the Parisian bistro is being reinvented at places like Frenchie, Le Bon Georges, and ChameleonΒ where the ownersΒ have reinvigorated French cuisine, focusing on freshness and well-sourced ingredients, which were in danger of being lost.Foie gras has been a part of the French culinary heritageΒ for hundreds of years, a tradition started thousands of years ago in Egypt beforeΒ being adapted by the French. But you don’t have to be vegetarian to know that it’s controversial; even in France there are people who areΒ against eating it. If You are going to eat foie gras, it’s best to know the source. Much is from Eastern Europe, or from large factory-like facilities, and those are certainly best avoided. But some want to avoid it entirely and it’s nice to have an alternative, especially one that’s just as delicious.This plant-based version is from TrΓ¨s Green, TrΓ¨s Clean, TrΓ¨s Chic by Rebecca Leffler, a healthy lifestyle book thatΒ offers an array of salads, soups, smoothies, and other “green” treats inspired by France, with some wellness tips and even some yoga poses to do in between meals. One of my favorite foodstuffsΒ in France areΒ the FrenchΒ green lentils, and I always keep some on hand. These came from my local grocery store and they’re just everyday lentils, not the fancy lentilles de Puy, which are great for salads, but come at a premium price (even more so, outside of France), so are best reserved for lentil salads and more straightforward preparations.Interestingly, regular button mushrooms are called champignons de Paris in France. Most are no longer grown in Paris, or under Paris, but they’re still called that today. And they provide an earthy note to this spreadable pΓ’tΓ©, seasoned with fresh herbs and a splash of Cognac.I brought this spread to a little apΓ©ro hour get-together at a neighbor’s place, a techie who is developing 3D technology for video. And after a few glasses of rosΓ©, and some of this Faux gras, we tried on some special eyeglasses embedded in a box-like headset that he was working on, and went through a spin in outer space. It was pretty wild.If you’re tastingΒ faux grasΒ for the first time, and are familiar with its non-vegetarianΒ counterpart, you might think you’re having an other-worldly experience, too, andΒ everyone that tasted it remarked on how good it was and how much it tasted like foie gras, in spite of the fact that there isn’t a whiff of meat in it.So matter what planet you’re on, what country you’re in, or what your food proclivities are, I think you’ll like this spread. Although I didn’t serve it this time, a bit of sharp-sweet shallot marmaladeΒ would make an excellent accompaniment, as would someΒ icy glasses of rosΓ© or even some kaleΒ juice alongside, however you want to update it. Adapted from TrΓ¨s Green, TrΓ¨s Clean, TrΓ¨s Chic by Rebecca LefflerLentils double in volume when cooked, so 1 cup (160g) of dried lentils will yield close to the correct amount. They usually take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook until soft, but check the directions on the package for specific guidelines. If avoiding gluten, use tamari instead of soy sauce. For a vegan version, replace the butter with the same quantity of olive oil, for a total of 1/4 cup (60ml) of olive oil. The cognac or brandy is optional, but it does give the faux gras a little je ne sais quoi.12 medium-sized (100g, about 1 cup) button mushrooms2 tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons butter salted or unsalted1 small onion peeled and diced2 cloves garlic peeled and minced2 cups (400g) cooked green lentils1 cup (140g) toasted walnuts or pecans2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced2 tablespoons fresh sage or flat leaf parsleyoptional: 2 teaspoons Cognac or brandy1 teaspoon brown sugar1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper salt and freshly ground black pepper1. Wipe the mushrooms clean. Slice off a bit of the stem end (the funky parts) and slice them. Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet or wide saucepan. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until theyβre soft and cooked through, another 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.2. In a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, nuts, lemon juice, soy sauce, rosemary, thyme, sage or parsley, Cognac (if using), brown sugar, and cayenne. Scrape in the cooked mushroom mixture and process until completely smooth. Taste, and add salt, pepper, and additional cognac, soy sauce, or lemon juice, if it needs balancing.3. Scrape the pΓ’tΓ© into a small serving bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm. Serving: Serve the pΓ’tΓ© with crackers, hearty bread, or small toasts. A nice accompaniment is shallot marmalade or just a few pickles alongside. Storage: The spread will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator. It can frozen for up to two months, well-wrapped.You might also like Tapenade Recipe Homemade Corned Beef How to Make French Vinaigrette Categories: Recipes Spreads, Dips & DressingsTags: butter foie gras French lentils green green lentils Herbs mushrooms olive oil Paris Rebecca Leffler recipe spread thyme vegan vegetarianSource: davidlebovitz.com
Shrimp and Chive Potsticker DumplingsThis year seems to be a banner year for cookbooks and there are so many that I’ve leafed through andΒ bookmarked, that even though it’s early in the cookbook season, I feel like I already have the next twelve month’sΒ worth of great recipes to try on my docket.Β Lately I’ve been impressed by books that make cuisines that people might feel daunted about tackling, accessible. And even though the internet has made finding international ingredients easier, I’m drawn to books and recipes thatΒ don’t make you feel like an idiot if you don’t have colatura, or can’t find rascasse at your local fish market for your bouillabaisse. (Or don’t feel like wrestling with a live eel to make it.) Authenticity is nice to aspire to, but I’m also happy cooking something with ingredients that I can find locally.Bouillabaisse was a dish made by fishmongers in MarseillesΒ who used leftoverΒ scraps of fish, what they couldn’t sell, to make the soup. It was never intended to be a luxury dinner made with pricey imported seafood. So the esprit of the dish is to use what’s available in your locale. Ditto with cassoulet, which was a nourishing, peasant meal made with dried beans and bits of leftover and preserved meats. Using beans that cost $30 per pound somewhat negates the concept of cassoulet.Food changes and evolves, especially in America, a land of immigrants, where new combinations are tested when some ingredients aren’t available, and cooks and chefsΒ make changes based on the seasons and regions. In oneΒ excellent new cookbook I’ve been reading, Zahav, chef Michael Solomonov talks about how in the winter, rather than using bland tomatoes for tabbouleh, he uses persimmons. It is moreΒ authentic to make tabbouleh with tasteless, out-of-season tomatoes? Or to use something fresh, delicious, and available, which isΒ the spirit of the original dish? He argues for the latter, which makes sense to me.Most of us in America grew up with some form ofΒ “Americanized” versions of Chinese food. So the esprit of the dishes isn’t a strict adherence to a list of ingredients, but making do with whatever you have. That’s how Thai, Italian, and French food evolved, even in their own countries. And if you don’t believe me, ask our ItalianΒ neighbors in France whereΒ pistouΒ and macarons came from.Perhaps because I’m from America where immigrants brought most of our food from somewhere else, origins areΒ not something that I feel like is worth quibbling over, or rigidlyΒ defending authenticity, because it doesn’t seem to matter to me at this point. I just care that food is good, made with good intentions, and fresh. Michael Solomonov, Daniel Boulud,Β Eddie Huang, David Chang, Alice Waters,Β Dominique Ansel, and Yotam Ottolenghi have shown that foods steeped in long-standing traditions from certain countries cultures can be updated for today’s tastes, successfully usingΒ ingredients that are available in other parts of the world.That said, to be honest, I was a little skeptical when I got Lucky Peach PresentsΒ 101 Easy Asian Favorites, somewhat because of the “pop” design that is intended to look like a 1960’s American Chinese cookbook, the kind that had recipes for rumaki and pu pu platters, accompanied byΒ pictures ofΒ backyard tiki parties. I think all those things are fun, but I worked in an excellent, and – yup –Β authentic Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurant for a few years, and wasn’t sure I needed a book of recipes that are self-described as 100% inauthentic.But as I leafed through the book, I was completely won over by it. I liked how it makes Asian cooking fun andΒ accessible. Every recipe in the book would be easy for anyone to make. Sure, if you want to tackle the great dishes of China, you can find books that will help you do that. (And then spend a few days gathering all the ingredients.) But if you just want to make a batch of dumplings, and feel like a pro with a lot less effort, or roast off a batch of sticky ribs with fish sauce, this book will help you to do that. Cooking is supposed to be fun, and tackling a project like making homemade dumplingsΒ will make you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. I know, because I’ve done it.101 Easy Asian FavoritesΒ is a book thatΒ anyone could make any recipe from. That’s somethingΒ I want inΒ a cookbook. (Although there’s certainly room for all types of cookbooks, from ones that capture authentic foods and their fascinating lineage, to reference books that I use for understanding the technical aspects of cooking and baking.) But I find myself being less-drawn toΒ “aspirational” cookbooks that keep you at a distance from your kitchen, rather than cookbooks that are actually useful, and get you cooking. Or in the case of these dumplings – folding and pinching.Called potstickers in America (and Jiaozi in Chinese), these kinds of dumplings are said to be the result of a happy accident when someone was frying up a batch of dumplings and some water unintentionally got spilled into the pan they were cooking in. The dumplings “stuck” to the pan, giving them a crisp crust on the bottom. I love dumplings and they are one of the foods that I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and, dinner. And then as a midnight snack.These are very easy to make, with a short list of ingredients. It might take you a few tries to get the dumpling folds right, but once fried up and dipped in sauce, you’ll feel confidentΒ sitting down to a plate of steaming hot homemade dumplings, no matter when youΒ want to eat them. Adapted from Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter MeehanThe amount of dumplings youβll get from this depends on how much filling you put in each. I started with a 1-pound (450g) package of dumpling wrappers which had 30 wrappers in it, and used a very generous 1 1/2 teaspoon of filling per dumpling. I ended up going out for more wrappers to use up the rest of the shrimp filling. You may get less but best to err on the side of having a few extra wrappers (which can be frozen for the next batch). You donβt want to overstuff the dumpling wrappers, but put the right amount in so you can close them without the filling oozing out. The first few may be clunky, until you get the right amount of filling for the wrappers that you have. By the second or third dumpling, youβll be more confident.Thereβs a very good tutorial here on folding these kinds of dumplings. If you donβt want to fuss with them, the dumplings can be made by simply folding the round wonton wrappers over the filling, forming semi-circles, making sure to press as much air out of them as possible before sealing. I used garlic chives, which I bought in Chinatown, which lent a lovely emerald color and gave a sharper taste to the filling. Regular chives will work fine as well.If you would prefer to boil or steam the dumplings, you can do either: Steamed dumplings will take about 8 to 10 minutes to cook, boiled dumplings will take 3 to 4 minutes. If frozen, theyβll take at least twice as long, in my experience. In addition to the simple dipping sauce, I usually like to have a little hot sauce on hand, too, and serve a little chile paste or another Asian hot sauce with them.For the dumplings1 pound (450g) uncooked shelled shrimp fresh or frozen (if frozen, thawed)1 cup finely minced garlic chives or 2 bunches regular chives, minced1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger1 large egg, lightly beaten1 tablespoon soy sauce1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sherry1/2 teaspoon sesame oil1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper1/2 teaspoon saltTwo 1-pound (450g) packages of dumpling wrappersDipping Sauce3 tablespoons soy sauce1 teaspoon rice vinegar1 teaspoon sugar2 tablespoons water a few drops of sesame oil1. To make the dumplings, peel and chop the shrimp, either with a chefβs knife or pulsing them in a food processor. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the chopped shrimp with the chives, ginger, egg, soy sauce, Shaoxing, sesame oil, pepper, and salt. Cover and chill the mixture for at least 30 minutes.While the filling is resting, make the dipping sauce by stirring together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, water, and sesame oil until the sugar is dissolved.2. To stuff the dumplings, have a small glass of water with a brush ready. Dust a baking sheet lightly with corn starch. (I line the baking sheet with parchment as well for extra insurance.)3. Brush a circle of water around the outer rim of a dumpling wrapper with water. Place a generous teaspoon or so of filling in the middle, then fold the opposite edges of the dough over the filling, and pinch it together in the center. (As shown in the photo, in the post.) Working with your fingers, pleat the edges of the dough to enclose the filling, making sure to expel as much air as possible from the inside before closing them up, and making sure there are no gaps, so the dumplings are completely sealed shut.4. Place the dumpling flat side down on the corn starch dusted baking sheet, and fill the rest of the dumplings the same way.5. To cook, add enough neutral-flavored cooking oil in a skillet (one which has a cover) until it coats the bottom of the pan. You can use a non-stick skillet, a wok, or a cast iron one. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is hot and sizzling.6. Add enough dumplings to the pan, flat side down, cooking as many as will fit in the pan, but they should not be touching. (You will likely have to fry the dumplings in batches, depending on the size of your pan.) Fry for 1 minute, until the dumplings are browned on the bottom. Add ΒΌ cup (60ml) of water to the pan, then quickly cover. Let the dumplings cook until the dumplings are cooked through, about 3 minutes. To check for doneness, the dough should become translucent in all places.7. Remove the lid and cook until the water is boiled off and the dumplings are browned and crisp on the bottom.Serve the dumplings warm with dipping sauce and hot sauce, such as chili oil, if desired.Storage: The filling and the dumplings can be made one day in advance and refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap or a tea towel. The uncooked dumplings can be frozen on a corn starch dusted baking sheet, then transferred to a zip-top plastic bag and kept for up to two months in the freezer.Related RecipesSui Mai DumplingsTricotin Dim SumΒ in ParisThai Stir-Fried Chicken with Chile JamThai Green CurryVietnamese Rice Noodle Salad You might also like Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Chile Jam Spritz Pickled Strawberry Preserves Categories: Recipes Savory DishesTags: 101 Easy Asian Recipes Alice Waters Asian Chinese chives Daniel Boulud Dominique Ansel dumplings esprit French Cuisine fun in the kitchen garlic chives ginger Italian Lucky Peach macaron Michael Solomonov Peter Meehan potstickers recipe soy sauce vinegar wonton wrapper Yotam Ottolenghi ZahavSource: davidlebovitz.com
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite... Ratatouille and I have a troubled past. I love the stuff, but hate the time and effort required to make classic versions of the dish. Until recently, I used Julia Child's recipe and while it makes a wonderful ratatouille, its assembly calls for separate browning of all the ingredients and that, quite frankly, is a bother. As it happened, I needed a vegan addition to my French-themed Christmas Eve menu. While ratatouille was a seamless fit, I had neither the time nor space for Julia's version, so I decided to give Alice Waters' take on the dish a try. Ratatouille originated in the area around present day Nice. The dish was first made to use the abundance of vegetables that were available at the end of summer. The vegetables were tossed and cooked in the heady olive oil of the region and eventually a formula of sorts codified preparation of the dish. Interestingly, the word ratatouille actually comes from the French term "touiller," which means to toss food. These days, the vegetables are available year round and serving ratatouille is no longer dependent on the season. It makes a great side dish, and when served with rice or polenta it becomes a terrific meatless entree. Alice Waters' version does not require separate browning of the vegetables and it comes together quite easily. If you have not already done so, I hope you will give this lighter, fresher version of the dish a try. The basil gives the dish a uniquely fresh flavor that I know you will enjoy. Here, thanks to Food52, is how her version of the stew is made. Alice Waters' Ratatouille ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Food52 Ingredients: 1 medium or 2 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more to taste 2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice 4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped 1/2 bunch of basil, tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine + 6 basil leaves, chopped Pinch of dried chili flakes 2 sweet peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice 3 medium summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice 3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice Salt to taste Directions: 1) Toss eggplant cubes with a teaspoon or so of salt. Set the cubes in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes. 2) Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Pat eggplant dry, add to pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add a bit more oil if eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to bottom of the pan. Remove the eggplant when done and set aside. 3) In the same pot, pour in 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and cook for about 7 minutes, or until soft and translucent. 4) Add garlic, basil bouquet, dried chili flakes, and a bit more salt. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in peppers. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in summer squash. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in tomatoes. 5) Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft. Remove the bouquet of basil, pressing on it to extract all its flavors, and adjust the seasoning with salt. Stir in the chopped basil leaves and more extra virgin olive oil, to taste. Serve warm or cold. Serves 6 to 8. Older Posts One Year Ago Today: Two Years Ago Today: Irish Coffee Cheesecake Squares Menu for Week of 1-5-2014 Three Years Ago Today: Four Years Ago Today: SNAP Chicken Noodle Casserole Rum-Raisin Tea BiscuitsSource: oneperfectbite.blogspot.com