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Monday, July 30, 2012

Cookbooks for Right Now

It's Summer and easy to follow, straight forward recipes that don't take hours and hours to prepare appeal to me most. The cookbooks I've been enjoying lately definitely reflect that. But these are books you will treasure long beyond this season, they are filled with comfort food, creative recipes and great stories...  What I like about Guliano Hazan's latest book, Hazan Family Favorites is the exact opposite of what I like about many of Marcella Hazan's books. It's loose and easy and very informal. It's about flavors more than about specific techniques. It's not all Italian recipes, though most of them are. The stories of Giuliano's take on beef bourguignon, Lael's meatloaf, and desserts from the nonnas are charming but the proof is in the pudding and I can't resist an easy recipe for Bolognese Meat Sauce, surprising recipes like Cold Minestrone with Rice and of course, the most famous Marcella Hazan recipe--My Mother's Butter, ...

Chopper Chef Knife Giveaway & Favorite Knives

Congratulations to Greg Patent, A Baker's Odyssey cookbook author (a great book by the way) and The Baking Wizard blogger who won the Chopper Chef Knife  in the giveaway.   In looking at the comments I found it interesting that so most people love their chef knives best, especially the 8-inch, though some like larger and some like smaller knives. Santoku knives were popular too.  If you didn't win, just a reminder, New West Knife Works is also holding a contest  and giving away an entire knife block. Head over to their  Facebook page  to enter. Disclaimer: I was given a knife to review by  New West KnifeWorks  and they are also providing the prize in this giveaway ...
Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kitchen Knives & Chopper Chef Knife Giveaway

To cook you need a knife. It's as simple as that. You can "cook" raw food without a stove, possibly even manage a meal without running water, but cooking generally requires trimming, cutting, chopping, paring, slicing and dicing. The knife or knives you choose are up to you. Some prefer smaller knives, others like large knives. I've found that no matter how many knives you own, you likely will gravitate towards one or two.  What knives do you need?  If you had to limit yourself to the bare minimum, I'd say you should have a small paring knife, a large chefs knife and a serrated knife. The paring knife is ideal for trimming, peeling and small jobs in general, the chefs knife for just about everything else except slicing bread and tomatoes, which is why you need a serrated knife. After that it's really up to you. Which knives you choose, the style and size, are a completely personal decision, but I would recommend finding something you are comfortable ...
Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vegetarian Green Chili recipe

Vegetarian green chili was the request for dinner the other night. Chili is very popular at my house. But I rarely make it the same way twice. It might be red or green made with white beans or black beans. I have made it with pork, beef, bison, turkey and chicken, but I like the challenge of creating a truly satisfying vegetarian chili. Somewhere a Texan is not very happy about that. For this version of vegetarian green chili I knew I wanted to use Green Pepper Tabasco sauce which is made with jalapeños. Fresh jalapeños can vary greatly in heat, but the jalapeño version of Tabasco is always consistent. In addition I used many other green ingredients, some traditional like roasted chiles and tomatillos and one very non-traditional ingredient, spinach. I know that might sound strange, but it's really good. The slightly sour edge of spinach and tomatillos cuts through the starchy sweetness of the white beans. This recipe is a keeper and I know I will be making it again. By they w...
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Julia Child's Ratatouille Recipe

Next month will be the celebration of Julia Child's 100th birthday. Her publisher is marking the occasion with Julia Child Restaurant Week , weekly recipe reprints and a charming new book called Bon Appetit: The Delicious Life of Julia Child .  It's sometimes hard to imagine that Julia Child has been gone for almost eight years. Her statuesque frame, her distinctive high pitched voice and sense of humor are impossible to forget. Keeping the memory alive and introducing Julia Child to a whole new audience is  Bon Appetit: The Delicious Life of Julia Child . It's one of those illustrated children's books that adults will adore. It's filled with joyful images, funny anecdotes and a range of recipes from easy and accessible like Mayonnaise to more advanced like a Gallantine and Bouillabaisse. The colorful images and cheery text manage to entertain and educate in equal measure. I've just seen some sample pages, but I was thoroughly charmed. If you have ...
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ball Jar Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Patricia Crowley! You have won a case of Ball jars. Thanks to all who participated. Another giveaway coming soon... Amy...
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Can It Forward Day Giveaway!

Saturday, July 14 is not only Bastille Day , it's also National Can-It-Forward Day . That event, my recent post on DIY, Canning and Preserving and a  Home Canning Discovery Kit  I received from Ball  made me decide it was time to take the plunge and try my hand at canning.  The kit had a book on canning, a special rack and lifter, some pectin and Ball jars, which you can find in just about any hardware store. Instead of making a big batch, the kit enables you to make three pint jars which was pretty easy to manage and good for a beginner like me. I made a batch of canned plums that I spiced up with cinnamon chunks, cardamom and black pepper. I washed the fruit, boiled my jars for 10 minutes, made a sugar syrup according the instructions, filled the jars with plum halves and syrup, sealed the jars and simmered them for 20 minutes. It was pretty darn easy, though you have to be careful because the combination of boiling water and heavy jars can be a bit awkward.  I...
Monday, July 02, 2012

Bay Area BBQ Championship 2012

The Oakland Fire Department BBQ team shares samples and smiles Liam Mayclem puts on his game face The Bay Area BBQ Championship is back! On Saturday July 7th, 2012, there will be baseball, beer, bbq and a really good time for all at the Oakland Coliseum. Last year I was a judge and got to eat a whole lot of BBQ with my pal and fellow judge, Liam Mayclem.  It was the first year and I was happy to help lend a hand, especially because it was also a benefit for Alternative Family Services , a foster care agency in the Bay Area that supports families and kids.  Here's what I learned, BBQ is taken very seriously! There is an official organization, the Kansas City Barbecue Society that sanctions competitions and even judges. I'm not a certified judge, but who knows? Maybe someday I will be. There are thousands of dollars in prize money not to mention bragging rights at stake. This year competitors will choose from chicken, pork rib, pork and brisket categories. Just hea...