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Saturday, December 31, 2016

All About Caviar

I’m pretty sure the first time I had caviar was at a wedding. It was years before I ate it again. I was in the lobby of an opera house in Budapest during intermission. There I encountered an incredible spread of elegant hors d'oeuvres, many topped with Russian caviar. I drank a Soviet version of Champagne and felt very posh. It left a more memorable impression than hearing Carmen sung in Hungarian! According to the dictionary, caviar is the processed salted roe of large fish, typically sturgeon. Sturgeon take 10 years to reach reproductive age and are in danger of extinction in the wild. While Russian caviar is most well-known, I’m going to focus on American caviar since it is more sustainable, readily available and less expensive. American caviar was once a huge industry. In the early 19th century caviar was harvested so heavily in the United States that sturgeon almost disappeared completely.  Recently American caviar has made a return. Today sturgeon are farmed by comp...
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Few Last Minute Gift Ideas

Are you still shopping? That's ok! I've got a few recommendations for things I really like. I hope you will too... 1. For the cook who has everything A torch—but not just any torch, a propane high heat Bernzomatic torch . Why? It’s way more powerful than those little dinky butane torches and it is a fun tool. I’ve been experimenting with vegetables, fish, even a crust of sugar on a slice of lemon. It’s just a way cool thing to have. It’s the perfect tool for getting the skin off peppers, cooking the best steak ever or putting the slightest char on raw fish. Maybe this is the year I make Baked Alaska! Under $50 and you can get it online but better to purchase in-store and get the propane at the same time.  2. For families and DIY enthusiasts The Global Grub tamale kit . I’ve written about this before but I’m telling you again because this is such a quality product. You will quite honestly make the best tameles of your life from this kit and you can fill them with a...
Thursday, December 08, 2016

Chinese Cookbook Reviews

I have a confession to make. I don't always test recipes from cookbooks I review or even recommend. Why? Because I don't generally follow recipes. I use cookbooks for inspiration, learning techniques or great flavor combinations. I don't get hung up on instructions because there are so many variables I can't control (stove, oven and cookware for example).  Of course when it comes to baking or cooking a cuisine I am less familiar with, I do follow the directions as closely as I can. Which brings me to three new cookbooks covering Chinese cuisine.  Many Chinese cookbooks in English focus on recipes from Chinese food as it is cooked outside of China. But three new cookbooks take a deeper dive into the regional cuisine of China. Two of the books look at all of China while the third concentrates on the cuisine of the Jiangnan region. Each book provides varying degree of context about the regions. Dong Po Pork, left to right: All Under Heaven, Land of Rice & Fish, ...