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Friday, November 28, 2014

Mediterranean Cookbook Reviews

I’m just going to say it. I hate it when actresses or country music stars write cookbooks. First of all, I don’t believe they write them, I believe they hire ghost writers and use their celebrity to sell them. But now, I’m going to give you the one exception to this rule and why.  Extra Virgin  is written by the glamorous actress Debi Mazar and her Tuscan husband Gabriele Corcos. Together they cook up a storm on their  quirky food TV shows . Corcos is the real deal. I lived in Tuscany and he cooks just they way I remember. It’s the recipes but also the style of cooking that he captures so well even in the few non-Italian recipes.  This is food I fell in love with when I lived in Italy and am happy to make in my own kitchen. I promise you too will love the ridiculously easy recipes for Pappardelle with Duck Ragu, Shrimp and Zucchini Risotto (made with Carnaroli rice!) Sausage and Beans, Beef Stew with Polenta and the Cod Florentine Style. These are comfort food dishes I ate in Fl...
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rick Bayless on Mexican Beer

Rick Bayless is a chef, restaurateur, host of Mexico: One Plate at a Time and a beer enthusiast. He knows a lot about the history of Mexico, Mexican food and drinks. Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a blogger event hosted by Negra Modelo and I had the opportunity to talk with him about  Mexican beer and food pairing and his plans for a microbrewery as well as a bit about the history of beer in Mexico. What styles of beer complement Mexican food?  Rick Bayless: All types of beer complement Mexican food because Mexican food is so varied! On a hot day  Pacifico  with  ceviche  is great.  Negra Modelo  goes well with  barbacoa  which I make with short ribs, slow cooked with red chile sauce.  The reason I like Negra Modelo is because it has a little fruitiness from the hops, the natural sweetness from the barley malt even helps it to pair with richer dishes like  queso fundido . Is it true you're opening a microbrewery? RB: I am opening a microbrewery in C...
Monday, November 24, 2014

Broccoli Crunch Recipe

They say there are no original ideas and sometimes even when I think I've come up with something new, I find a quick search on the internet proves otherwise. While I try to invent my own creative combinations, sometimes I do find my inspiration online, in cookbooks or in restaurants. Recently I was in Las Vegas where I had a couple of very inspiring meals at  Carson Kitchen. The restaurant serves rich small plates including impossibly crunchy chicken skins and meatballs in a luscious creamy foie gras sherry sauce. One of the dishes I knew I would want to try and recreate at home was their “broccoli crunch.” It turns out there are lots of versions of this dish online, although their version was certainly unique. The menu description included sunflower and pumpkin seeds as well as green goddess dressing. The salad also has dried cranberries and a handful of halved grape tomatoes. I decided to substitute tangerines in place of the tomatoes, which aren’t really in season this time...
Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cooking Turkey for Small Gatherings

I've cooked whole turkeys when developing recipes for clients, but a Thanksgiving feast? I’m most thankful that I can spend the holiday at my parents house and let them take care of cooking the bird. Some years I return home with leftover turkey, other years I buy a turkey at the store and ask the butcher to cut it into either halves or quarters so I am not overwhelmed with too much turkey for my household of two.  Here are some more great ways to enjoy turkey without buying a whole bird: William Wilkinson Dark meat Legs and thighs are great for lovers of dark meat. They can be roasted or braised.  How to roast turkey thighs  How to roast turkey legs  My recipe for braising turkey legs in cranberry sauce  RosieTulips Light meat  Turkey breast is a good option for roasting, if you like light meat only.   If you are only cooking the breast, it will be much easier to cook since the breast meat tends to cook faster and become dry more q...
Friday, November 21, 2014

Pomsgiving Cocktail: Drinks on Friday

The last few years I've created a cocktail for Thanksgiving. It's a fun way to start the long Thanksgiving day feast. It perks the appetite and gives everyone something to talk about.  I recently attended a POM Wonderful lunch and was inspired by all the wonderful cocktails. So instead of using the more common cranberry juice, I thought it would be interesting to try using pomegranate juice. This cocktail uses truly some of my most favorite things--limoncello, Plymouth gin and La Marca prosecco . I discovered La Marca prosecco when I was looking for the perfect prosecco to make the Ruby Sparkler last year. It's from the Veneto, tart and fresh with plenty of bubbles. It's about $10 at Costco and makes a terrific mixer. Plymouth gin is my go to gin, I find it the easiest for mixing because the botanicals are so well balanced. Use whichever limoncello you like.  I am not a bartender and I find it tricky to come up with cocktails. Working out the proportions too...
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Stoneline Cookware Review

For the last four months I’ve been using  Stoneline  cookware in place of my regular pots and pans. I’m always interested to try out non-stick cookware because I hate scrubbing pots and pans. I put the cookware through the paces. I don’t just follow the instructions, I do some of the things you're not supposed to and see how it performs. The problem with most non-stick pans is that the surface eventually peels, flakes, chips or stops being non-stick, also some of it like Teflon is made with harmful chemicals such as perfluorooctanoic acids aka PFOAs. In four months of using the Stoneline cookware (which is PFOA free) there has been no degradation of the cooking surface. The surface of the pans is smooth but looks like stone, there is nothing to peel or flake. Unlike ceramic non-stick it’s very durable and even when stacked up the pans don’t scratch or chip. They also don’t stain. Stoneline describes the cookware surface as a “reinforced stone coating” made of microscopic p...
Friday, November 14, 2014

Squash, Tamales & Dumplings: Single Subject Cookbooks

The Everyday Squash Cook There are a surprising number of cookbooks covering a single fruit or vegetable and mostly I'm a bit skeptical about how useful they are. Not in this case. This book covers both Summer and Winter squash and has breakfast and brunch dishes, dips & soups, main courses, salads & sides, breads & desserts! I love how creative the recipes are. Speedy Pumpkin Waffles, Osso Buco with Butternut & Cannellini Mash, Savory Zucchini Popovers, Kabocha Deviled Eggs and Butternut Brownies are just a few of the intriguing recipes. There are 26 zucchini recipes alone. Let’s just say you will never complain about having too much zucchini ever again! If you know someone who grows squash this is a great book. Tamales I am crazy about tamales. If they are on the menu at a Mexican restaurant I will almost always order them. Of course there is a world of difference between good ones and lousy ones. Good ones have almost creamy, rich and flavorful masa a...
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Red Cabbage, Fennel & Cranberries Recipe

Red cabbage frequently ends up in my CSA box this time of year Of course it features prominently in  slaws and soups, and makes a good bed for nestling roasts or sausages, but what else? Lately I'm trying sautés. Red cabbage has a really earthy flavor that can go sweet or sour and cooks up easily in a sauté pan, if shredded.  Red cabbage is healthy, a member of the brassica family, it's cholesterol lowering and perhaps surprisingly the health benefits are greater in cooked cabbage than in raw.  If you've ever wondered what makes red cabbage red, it's anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol which is a pigment and is also responsible for the red in cranberries. The amount of Vitamin C is 6 times greater in red cabbage than green cabbage. It's extremely high in Vitamin K too.  This recipe came about because I had about a half of a head of cabbage, a bit of fennel and some cranberries I wanted to use.  The bright and bitter flavors of the dish with just an edge of sw...
Monday, November 10, 2014

Interview with Margarita Carrillo Arronte, author of Mexico: The Cookbook

What we don’t know about Mexican cuisine could fill the pages of a massive book. And now it does. Margarita Carrillo Arronte, a chef, teacher, restaurateur, TV host and the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture's chef is the first Mexican author to have written a comprehensive book on Mexican food in English. Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting her and learning more about Mexican cuisine and her book,  Mexico: The Cookbook . How long did the book take to write and why did you write it in English?  It took two years, but a lifetime, starting with being raised in Mexico, eating and cooking there. I always wanted to write this book in English, because I saw a need. There are other books on Mexican food in English, but not written by someone from Mexico.  The book is on the cuisines of Mexico, not the cuisine. Because there are eight regions and the weather, the culture and the people are different. The cuisine is completely different from one region to another. The N...
Thursday, November 06, 2014

Global Kitchen & Mad Delicious: Cooking Light Cookbook Reviews

For years I subscribed to  Cooking Light  but these days I have a love hate relationship with it. Some months I treasure the magazine and other months hardly anything in it appeals to me. In addition I find their books to be hit or miss. Right now there are two Cooking Light books on the market, one a keeper, the other a loser. True to its name,  Cooking Light Global Kitchen shares recipes from around the world. There are 150 recipes, 120 of which came from the magazine and another 30 that “fill in the gaps.” They all fit within the magazine’s guidelines for nutrition, ease and speed. The author/editor David Joachim tapped many chefs to help with the recipes and the results are impressive. The recipes may not be the most authentic but they are certainly user friendly. There are recipes from East Asia and India, Southeast Asia and Australia, The Middle East and Africa, Europe and Eurasia, South America, North and Central America.  Many of the recipes take classics in a new d...
Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Grocery Outlet Wine & Food Bargains & Giveaway!

I love a bargain, the thrill of finding something at a great price. Of course, when it comes to picking a wine, it can be tricky. But when the Grocery Outlet wine sale rolls around it’s worth the gamble. All the wines are an additional 20% off their usual discounted price. So why are the wines at Grocery Outlet? It’s because Grocery Outlet buys "opportunistically." What does that mean? It means some of the wines did not fit well with the rest of a wineries portfolio or the company went out of business. Or the label changed. Or they needed to move the wine to make room for something else in the warehouse. Their loss, your gain!  To help you find your own bargains I'm going to give you the inside scoop from Cameron Wilson, the Director of Wine, Beer & Spirits as well as my picks for speciality food... After checking out the deals, do enter to win one of two $25 gift certificates to Grocery Outlet!  Little Rascals Sauvignon Blanc  $3.99 This is my favo...