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Recipe Road Test: Honey Molasses Candied Almonds

SweetAlchemyI don't watch a lot of T.V. but Top Chef is one of my must-watch shows and when Top Chef: Desserts was on, I was equally obsessed because I have a serious sweet tooth.  Case in point, it's 9 in the morning as I'm writing this and I'm eating cake.  Don't judge.

Yigit Pura not only won the first season of Top Chef: Desserts (and was really fun to watch while he did it) but he also creates the most gorgeous--and delicious, let's not forget that--confections at his Tout Sweet Pâtisserie in San Francisco's Union Square.  You can add another star by Pura's name for his luscious new cookbook, Sweet Alchemy: Dessert Magic, our pick for one of the Best Cookbooks of August.

So many recipes I want to try...Baked Berry Meringue Kisses? The ones I've eaten from his shop are heavenly...Earl Grey Tea-Infused Chocolate Truffles? Lemongrass & Ginger Ice Cream? Every page has something wonderful on it and the way Pura presents the recipes is super straightforward and friendly-- he tells you exactly what to expect in each step and how to get it done. Voila!

When I was flipping through the pages of Sweet Alchemy for the third or fourth time, the Honey Molasses Candied Almonds recipe jumped out at me, even without one of the many brilliant photographs you'll see throughout the book.  Perfect recipe road test material before the holiday weekend. 

The instructions gave me the choice of microwave or stove top for melting the molasses and honey together (um, microwave, please), told me how to incorporate the nuts for even coverage, and how to roast them to golden perfection.   I didn't have the Maldon sea salt the recipe calls for, so I used Himalayan pink sea salt instead, but I'll get the Maldon next time (cook and learn...) for more salty contrast. Below is a picture of my new favorite cocktail snack, and since they can be stored for up to 2 weeks I'm flagging this page in my book for holiday hostess gifts. 

A word to the wise on making your own Honey Molasses Candied Almonds (bonus - you can use other nuts if you'd like): scarf some down right away because once other people get a taste of these nuts they'll be gone in a flash!  

   HoneyMolassesAlmonds

Honey molasses candied almonds

The sweet coating and a perfect pinch of sea salt combine with toasted almond flavor to create an addictive treat. I like to have a stash of these to set out for guests on a cheese board. Play around with your favorite nuts in this recipe. YIELD: 3 CUPS (500 G)

500 g/2 cups plus 2 tbsp water

500 g/2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

455 g/1 lb blanched whole almonds

20 g/1 tbsp honey

5 g/1/2 tsp unsulfured molasses

1 large pinch Maldon sea salt

Line a 9-by-13-in (23-by-33-cm)baking pan with a Silpat or parchment paper. Set an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

In a medium stainless-steel or enamel-coated saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Place the saucepan over high heat, and when the mixture comes to a rolling boil, immediately turn the heat to medium. When the sugar is fully dissolved, about 30 seconds, turn the heat to medium-low.

Add the almonds to the saucepan and poach for 30 to 45 seconds to blanch them. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Pour the almonds into a large mixing bowl and let cool. When they are still warm to the touch but not hot, about 5 minutes, the almonds are ready to work with again.

While the almonds are cooling, combine the honey and molasses in a separate, small bowl. Microwave the mixture for 15 to 30 seconds, until it is viscous and easy to mix. Stir gently to combine. Alternatively, place the honey and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through and easy to stir.

Pour the honey mixture over the almonds and toss gently until the almonds are evenly coated. Sprinkle the sea salt over the nuts and toss to coat. Spread the almonds evenly in the prepared baking pan. Toast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Every 4 to 6 minutes, gently shake the pan so that the almonds roll around and cook evenly. When the almonds are golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Once cool, the almonds are ready to serve, or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for 1 to 2 weeks.

Sweet Note: This recipe can be used with most nuts, including hazelnuts or pistachios or even pumpkin seeds. The molasses lends a complex flavor to these sweet little nuggets.

MacGyver Your Food

FoodHacksMy family jokes that I can make always make somethin' out of nothin' in the kitchen, but what I usually  come up with is pretty pedestrian. Peggy Wang's Amazing Food Hacks is going to make me look like a kitchen magician instead of just a fridge scavenger. 

Her book has 75 tricks between the chunky covers: "Banilla Wafer Sandwiches" (peanut butter, banana, and sprinkles)--um, yes please.  "Better Than Crack" Crackers that are little more than oyster crackers, a packet of ranch dressing mix and a trip to the oven?  Bye-bye Chex mix.  Wang makes it easy and she's got a great sense of humor as you can see for yourself in the guest post below, along with a couple of examples from the book.


One of the challenges that comes up constantly for me as an editor at BuzzFeed is figuring out what even qualifies as a life hack. As I started pulling together recipes that would eventually constitute basically the longest, most glorified BuzzFeed list of my life which is this book, I began to doubt my ability to discern an actual food hack from just a weird and interesting recipe. I began to have existential debates over the addition of avocado to egg salad, which is a completely legit way to transform a pedestrian sandwich filling to something I would gladly shove into my mouth with a spatula. I vacillated between whether simply adding avocado to a dish makes a life hack (in the end, it did, as per my editor, and it is quite transcendent if I may say so myself).

AvocadoTips

Ultimately, I felt like the test was taking something you didn’t think would work — and having it turn out even better than you could have ever expected.

My favorite stories from testers went something like, “This recipe sounded sorta weird and gross and then I made it and was pleasantly surprised and ended up eating the whole thing to the point of making myself completely sick, which is half this recipe’s fault but also half my own fault for having no self-control whatsoever.”

These stories served as a nice counterpoint to my incredibly utilitarian way of thinking about food hacks: I just wanted something incredibly easy that my exhausted self could make after a really long day out of the sad remnants of my refrigerator.

So basically, this book weaves between those unexpectedly yummy but weird recipes, as well as just the ones that have personally made my life easier as a terminally lazy person. I like to think of these hacks as spanning from the practical to the practically insane, which will hopefully cover just about all of your culinary needs.-- Peggy Wang

DippableGrilledCheeseRolls

Recipe Road Test: "His 'n' Hers" Deviled Eggs

I'm a latecomer to deviled eggs.  Never liked 'em as a kid and shunned them for many years as an adult.  Until my mother gave me a recipe for Blue Devils--a blue cheese deviled egg.  I will eat pretty much anything with blue cheese, so I gave them a try, and of course they were fabulous.  I gave the ole deviled egg another chance, and have since eaten my share of twists on the picnic classic. 

I recently happened across country music star Trisha Yearwood's cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen and the "His-n-Hers Deviled Eggs" recipe caught my eye.  These are unassuming eggs, no truffle oil or goat cheese here.  His--meaning Yearwood's husband Garth Brooks-- egg is the basic formula plus butter. Yes, butter.  And "Hers" has relish.  Sweet relish.  I was intrigued. DeviledEggs

I made a half batch with my daughter, who loves deviled eggs, and we tried them out. 

The version with butter was pretty familiar, but because of that butter had a little something extra in the creamy department.  I would reduce the amount of mustard next time, but that's a personal preference. 

The one with relish was surprising and wonderful.  To be totally honest I was a little unsure of this combo--even my daughter looked skeptical.  But it was good. 

At right is a photo of our road tested eggs and below is the recipe from Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen if you want to give them a try yourself.


GeorgiaCooking

His ’n’ Hers Deviled Eggs
Makes 24
 
You won’t go to a southern picnic or covered-dish supper and not see deviled eggs. Garth and I grew up  eating different versions of this dish, so both varieties are included here. Honestly, I never met  a deviled egg I didn’t like,  so these are both yummy to me!

12   large eggs

His Filling
1⁄4  cup  mayonnaise
2   teaspoons yellow mustard
1   tablespoon butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste

Her Filling
1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
1 1⁄2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika for garnish

Place the eggs in a medium saucepan with water to cover and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let stand for 20 minutes. Pour off the hot water and refill the saucepan with cold water. Crack the eggsshells all over and let them sit in the cold water for 5 minutes. Peel the eggs, cover, and chill for at least 1 hour.


Halve the eggs lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and transfer them to a small bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork, then  stir in the filling ingredients of your choice. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop a spoonful of the mixture into each egg white half. Sprinkle the tops with paprika.

His_n_Hers_Deviled_Eggs

What to Eat This Week: Haute Dogs

HauteDogs500HStill recovering from the excitement of the World Cup finale?  Hotter that hot outside (and inside for those of us without air conditioning...) and don't feel like spending a ton of time on dinner?  My solution: hot dogs.  But not just any dogs--these shall be Haute Dogs, straight from the pages of this very fun and beautifully photographed cookbook.  Here are two of the recipes, both of which seem appropriate as hot dog homage to the streets of Brazil where soccer fans recently wept and to our own book editors World Cup obsession here in Seattle. 

São Paolo Potato Dog - (from page 89 in Haute Dogs)
Place of Origin: São Paolo, Brazil
Other Names: Cachorro Quente Completo

 SaoPauloDog

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for the craziest hot dog in the world, you’ll likely find it in Brazil. Brazilians take their toppings seriously, and though favorite add-ons  vary from city to city and region to region, you’ll almost always find potato on the hot dogs here. The cachorro quente (pronounced ka-SHO-ho KEN-tche, which translates simply as “hot dog”) is one you’ll find at street carts across São Paolo. Try it completo, with everything, but be warned: it won’t be easy to get your hands (or mouth) around!

 

 

 

Ingredients:
Mashed potatoes
Vinaigrette (store-bought or from scratch, page 160)
Canned or frozen yellow corn
Canned or frozen peas
Classic bun
Beef and pork hot dog
Ketchup
Yellow mustard
Mayonnaise
Chopped tomatoes
Potato chips
Grated cheddar cheese

Kitchen Note: See page 127 for recipes for classic buns, beef and pork hot dogs, condiments, and vinaigrette.

Prep: Make mashed potatoes and set aside, keeping warm if necessary. Whisk together the vinaigrette, if using homemade.Heat the corn and peas until hot according to the instructions on the package.

Assembly: Get out a classic bun. Grill a beef and pork hot dog as instructed on page 16. Coat the inside of the bun with mashed potatoes and place the hot dog on top. Top the dog with a line each of ketchup, yellow mustard, and mayonnaise. Add a handful each of corn, peas, tomatoes, potato chips, and cheddar cheese and finish with a spoonful or two of vinaigrette.

Rio de Janeiro Dog: Eighty-six the mashed potatoes and add a hardboiled quail egg.

Paraíba Dog: Eighty-six the mashed potatoes, potato chips, and peas. Top with potato sticks or crispy shoestring fries.

Minas Gerais Dog: Eighty-six the mashed potatoes and peas. Top with a mixture of cooked ground beef, carrots, red peppers, green peppers, and onions. (Minas Gerais is a Brazilian state known for its distinctive take on the Cachorro Quente.)

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Seattle-Style Hot Dog  (from page 83 in Haute Dogs--and these can indeed be found at a popular food cart in downtown Seattle, just look for the long line of people...)
Place of Origin: Seattle,WA
Other Names: Cream Cheese Dog

SeattleStyleHauteDog

 

This strange Seattle creation likely came to be in the 1980s or ’90s when modern variations and the idea of haute dogs began influencing recipes. Not only are these dogs almost impossible to find outside Seattle, they can be tricky to find within Seattle as well. That hasn’t stopped this deliciously spicy and creamy dog from collecting a cult following. Loaded with veggies, jalapeños, sriracha, and cream cheese, these dogs are all about thinking outside the bun.

 Ingredients:
Oil, for sautéing
Finely chopped white onions
Sliced jalapeños
Chopped cabbage
Classic bun
Polish sausage or hot dog
Cream cheese, room temperature
sriracha

 

Prep: Warm a splash of oil in a skillet over medium heat. add onions, jalapeños, and cabbage and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften and brown, about 10 minutes.

Assembly: Get out a classic bun. Slice a Polish sausage or hot dog in half and grill it (as in the Flattop Method for split Dogs on page 17). Spread enough cream cheese on the inside of the bun to coat and place the sausage on top. Top with a handful of onions, jalapeños, and cabbage. Add a few drops of sriracha on top.

Let cream cheese come to room temperature before spreading so that it glides smoothly onto the bun.

Kitchen Notes: Anything goes! Use Polish sausage (kielbasa) or a hot dog of your choice. Originally from Vietnam, sriracha is a bright red hot sauce that’s skyrocketed to fame in recent years. It’s available at most grocery stores and other sources (page 162).         

 

 

Recipe Road Test: Jalapeno Poppers from "Man Made Meals"

Last week my fellow editor, Neal, wrote about Steven Raichlen's recent visit to talk barbecuing and his new cookbook, Man Made Meals.  I also got to meet Raichlen when he was here and after flipping through the book while we talked, decided I would try making the Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Roasted Jalapeno Poppers for my Fourth of July party.  Sound mouth-watering? It should, because they totally are.  Below is my road test of this recipe--what worked, what didn't, and one happy accident to repeat.

Jalapenos400

 

First off, the recipe says large jalapenos, and I took that to heart--the ones I used were around 4 inches long and pretty stout.  This worked well for stuffing them with cheese, though I  quickly realized that cutting the pepper in half versus cutting the cap off (both methods are mentioned), was the way to go because, frankly, I couldn't get the cap back on again.

 

 JalapenosStuffed

 

 

The recipe suggests you use whatever cheese you like--I decided to try three: colby, pepper jack, and cream cheese. I wasn't sure how full to pack in the cheese (I did the math but what does 2oz in matchstick pieces of cheese look like?), so I went with my usual motto regarding cheese, "more is better."  I also skipped the cilantro.  It's a polarizing herb and the people that hate it, really hate it and can taste the tiniest bit.  I'll try adding the cilantro to the cheese next time when I'm making a smaller batch.

 

  JalapenosGrillReady

 

 

Raichlen's recipe calls for artisanal bacon, which, for the sake of not going to another store, I chose to interpret as "thick-sliced." But somehow I ended up with regular ol' thin bacon, so instead of a half slice per pepper, I wrapped a whole slice around each one (like cheese, more bacon is better in my world...) and they looked pretty good.

 

You can cook the poppers in the oven or on the grill, and I went for the latter.  The grill, in my case, having been lid-down and shoved in a corner since last summer.  Much to my chagrin, I had completely forgotten how warped (and, let's face it, kind of nasty) the grates are and how much it resembles a grill you might find on a sidewalk with a free sign taped to it.

GhettoGasGrill

 

 

But no matter!  It was July 4th, the cocktails were flowing and a jacked-up grill is just one of those things you take in stride.

 The peppers charred (though admittedly unevenly), the cheese melted and oozed out the sides a bit (I no doubt overfilled them), and some of the bacon fell off, but those Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Roasted Jalapeno Poppers were delicious!

There was no consensus regarding the best cheese, though I think my personal favorite may have been the colby.  And probably as a result of an uneven grill, the peppers didn't soften as much as they appeared to in the cookbook photo, but having a little crunch left in them turned out to be really nice and I'll definitely try to duplicate that next time.  FinishedPoppers

BBQ King Steven Raichlen on "Ensemble" Cooking

MealsFireworks won’t be the only things flaring in America’s backyards on this Fourth of July.

You’d think after centuries of cooking with fire, man would have it down. But so many backyard chefs still scorch that precious steak or salmon. We overcook, we undercook, we set good food on fire.

For many years and across many books--notably his bestselling Barbecue Bible--BBQ guru Steven Raichlen has been trying to school us. During a recent swing through Seattle, over lunch at Tom Douglas’s Bravehorse Tavern, I asked for a little help: What do men do wrong at the grill?

“They don’t control the fire, they let the fire control them,” Raichlen said, while dunking a fresh-made pretzel into a bacon peanut butter dip.

Too many guys throw a hunk of meat on the grill or cram it full of chicken pieces and hope for the best, instead of practicing Raichlen’s “30-percent rule”--keeping 30 percent of grill food-free, to provide room to maneuver in case of a flare-ups.

20140623_150724

With a World Cup match roaring in in the background, we discussed Raichlen’s new book, Man Made Meals, which moves indoors and aims to teach guys to cook more like women. Raichlen believes women think in terms of meals while guys think in terms of dishes; women cook with a spirit of nurturing while men cook with a spirit of showing off. With his new book he’s hoping to help guys think “ensemble,” from the main dish to side dishes, from deserts to “rockin’ the bar shaker.”

In addition to the crash course in culinary literacy for guys--“What dishes should every self-respecting red blooded American male know how to do?”--there’s an activist message in Man Made Meals. If we’re careful about how and where we buy food, and how we cook, “we can have a positive impact on ourselves and our health, on the health and well-being of our families, and on the well-being of the planet,” Raichlen said.

Speaking of health and well-being... here's one of Raichlen's go-to dishes:


Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs, with Cider Rum Barbecue Sauce

Shop: Baby backs are the easiest ribs to cook, thanks to their generous marbling and intrinsic tenderness. To up your game, try an heirloom breed, like Berkshire pork or Tamworth.

Gear: Your basic kitchen and grilling gear including an aluminum foil drip pan, a charcoal grill (sorry guys; you can cook the ribs on a gas grill, but you need charcoal to smoke them), a rib rack (optional), and a spray bottle.

What else: I like to smoke baby backs at a somewhat higher temperature than the low and slow guys on the barbecue circuit. Which is to say, I grill the ribs using the indirect method at 325°F rather than the 225°F of traditional barbecue. I like the way the heat melts the fat and crisps the meat fibers, giving you chewier, meatier ribs than with the lower-heat method. If you prefer your ribs to have a softer texture, cook them at 225°F for 4 to 5 hours.

Time: About 20 minutes preparation time, plus about 1-1/2 hours cooking time 

These ribs sound an apple theme--you smoke them with apple wood chips and serve them with a made-from-scratch cider rum barbecue sauce. Once you master the process, you can infinitely vary the character of the ribs by changing the seasonings. Texas style? Use a rub based on cumin and chile powder and spray the ribs with beer. Jamaican style? Use jerk seasoning and spray the ribs with pineapple juice. You get the idea. 

Makes 2 racks of ribs; serves 4 normal guys as part of a full meal or 2 big guys with corresponding appetites

  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs (4 to 5 pounds total)
  • 6 tablespoons Raichlen’s Rub #1 (recipe follows) or your favorite barbecue rub 
  • 1 cup apple cider in a spray bottle
  • Cider Rum Barbecue Sauce (page 286) or your favorite barbecue sauce
  • You’ll also need: 1 1/2 cups hardwood chips or chunks, preferably apple or hickory, soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes, then drained

1 Set up the grill for indirect grilling, place a large aluminum foil drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate, and preheat the grill to medium (325°F).

2 Place a rack of ribs meat side down on a baking sheet. Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of the rack by inserting a slender implement, such as the tip of an instant-read thermometer, under it; the best place to start is on one of the middle bones. Using a dishcloth, paper towel, or pliers to gain a secure grip, peel off the membrane. Repeat with the remaining rack (or ask your butcher to do it).

3 Season the ribs with barbecue rub (about 1-1/2 tablespoons per side), rubbing the spices onto the meat with your fingertips. 

4 When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. (If your grill has limited space, stand the racks of ribs upright in a rib rack.) Toss the wood chips on the coals. Cover the grill and cook the ribs for about 45 minutes.

5 Spray the ribs with some of the apple cider. This keeps them moist and adds an extra layer of flavor. Cover the grill again and continue cooking the ribs until they are darkly browned, cooked through, and tender enough to pull apart with your fingers, 45 minutes to 1 hour longer, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours in all, spraying the ribs with cider once or twice more. When the ribs are cooked, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by 1/4 to 1/2 inch. If you are using a charcoal grill, replenish the coals after 1 hour or as needed.

6 Just before serving, brush the ribs on both sides with about 1/2 cup of the Cider Rum Barbecue Sauce or the barbecue sauce of your choice. Move the ribs directly over the fire. Grill the ribs until the barbecue sauce is browned and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

7 Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board. Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut the racks in half or into individual ribs. Serve the ribs at once with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.

Raichlen’s Rub #1

Here’s a barbecue rub--sweet with brown sugar, spicy with pepper and paprika--that would feel right at home in Kansas City, Memphis, or North Carolina. Makes 1/2 cup

  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard, preferably Colman’s
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Place the salt, brown sugar, paprika, pepper, dry mustard, onion powder, and celery seeds in a small bowl and mix with your fingers, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar or onion powder. Stored in an airtight jar away from heat and light, the rub will keep for several months.

Cider Rum Barbecue Sauce

A sweet, mellow barbecue sauce invigorated with dark rum and apple cider. Good choices for rum include Myer’s Rum from Jamaica, Gosling’s Black Seal from Bermuda, or the new Ipswich rum from Massachusetts. The recipe makes more than you’ll need. Refrigerate any excess in a sealed jar--it will keep for several weeks. Makes about 2-1/2 cups

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • about 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups ketchup (I like Heinz) 
  • 1/2 packed cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark rum, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or more to taste 
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 Place the cider, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large heavy saucepan and let come to a boil over high heat. Let the cider mixture boil until reduced by about half, 4 to 6 minutes. 

2 Add the ketchup, brown sugar, rum, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, liquid smoke, onion powder, pepper, and cinnamon and whisk to mix. Reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer until thick and flavorful, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning, adding more rum and/or mustard as necessary. Transfer the sauce to a bowl or clean jars and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the sauce until serving. It will keep covered in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Reheat it over low heat before using.

Brooklyn Brewery's Steve Hindy on the Rise of Craft Beer

Craft-BeerIn the tumultuous early ‘80s, Steve Hindy was an AP correspondent in the Middle East--in the heart of the action when the Iraqi army when they invaded Iran, abducted in Lebanon (and lucky to escape with his life, while the people with him were tortured and killed), and sitting behind Egyptian president Anwar Sadat when he and 11 others were assassinated at a parade. During his time in Cairo, Hindy met American diplomats who had learned to brew beer while they were posted in Saudi Arabia. When his wife insisted they move back to Brooklyn, he talked their downstairs neighbor, Tom Potter, into leaving his banking career and starting the Brooklyn Brewery.

After 50 years of post-Prohibition industrialization of American beer, a few microbreweries had started popping up again the ‘70s, but it wasn’t until the ‘80s that it really got underway. Even then, Americans used to swilling Budweiser, Miller, and Coors had yet to develop a taste for craft beer--Hindy remembers early customers spitting out their Brooklyn Lager, saying it was too bitter. Since then, the craft brewery industry has exploded, with more than 2,700 capturing 10 percent of the dollar share of the U.S. market.

At Seattle’s Brave Horse Tavern, I talked with Hindy and George Hancock (cofounder and owner of the Phoenix Ale Brewery) about the story Hindy tells in The Craft Beer Revolution—the pioneers and mavericks who brewed the new craft beer movement, their David-and-Goliath fights against industrial brewers, and pleasures of putting your heart into beer. 

 

Deborah Madison Imagines the Future of Food--and Her Masterpiece, Circa 2030

Veg-CookingI met Deborah Madison for lunch in Seattle the day after her third James Beard Award win--this time for Vegetable Literacy, an elegant compendium of edible plant families. But her current tour was devoted to the sequel to her first Beard winner, The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

The book's original incarnation (published in 1998) was a tour de force, with over 400,000 copies in print--including one stained, margin-scribbled copy that guided me through the first years in my own kitchen. But in recent years, we've seen such a dramatic expansion of vegetarian food choices, while tastes have become more adventurous and the appetite for simple, delicious vegetarian recipes has become so voracious that Madison decided it was time to give her classic a thoroughly modern revamp.

The result? A meatless masterpiece with 200 more recipes--over 1,600 in all.

Gone are soy milk and unhealthy oils like canola. New and old recipes incorporate newly available ingredients like non-dairy beverages, ghee, coconut oil, and ancient grains like spelt and a wider variety of quinoa. A slimmed down stir-fry section makes room for more simple sautes. And she calls out the healthier options you can find at now-ubiquitous farmers' markets. (See more about these changes in Madison's interview with The Washington Post.)

Madison and I are both ardent gardeners, so over lunch we inevitably talked about how changes in weather patterns will impact what and how we eat (and grow) in the near future.

I came away wondering what kinds of changes Madison would imagine making to a third edition of the book, if she revised it again in 2030, so I asked. Her answer is equal parts sobering and hopeful.  -- Mari

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Drought, climate change, genetic engineering, nanoparticles in our food—these are things that worry me. I lose sleep over them. 

I think it will get increasingly difficult to truly nourish ourselves, even if we don't eat corporate food. That won't be enough, because what won’t be sullied? I also fear that the USDA Organic label, already disappointing, will mean even less--although I hope that's not the case, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure it's not. In short, I don’t feel hugely optimistic about the world of food 15 years hence.

But there will be some things to welcome, like the return of common sense, the sharing of meals, and probably smaller portions, as there might not be such a crazy abundance. I suspect grain will have changed to some extent, with more farmers growing pre-modern wheat varieties. That's starting to happen now, and that's good. But this better wheat, like all foods, will cost more and be less reliably available.

The upside of that is that we’ll have to learn to really value, care for, and be grateful for our food. We'll have to be willing to spend more time with it, not rushing home to cook up just the tender, fast-cooking parts of meats and vegetables. This will be hard on working families with low-wage jobs, and those who can provide food for themselves by cooking or gardening will be the privileged ones. I hope that there will be more cooking in the schools and more opportunities for kids to cook, so that they can take charge of their health and their lives and those of their siblings and parents.

If I were updating Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone in 15 years, it would be a different book. It wouldn't be just vegetarian, for one. I think the quality of most plant foods will be so much lower—with the exception of that raised by those relatively few farmers who really know how to grow their soil—that meat will be necessary. But by meat, I don't mean supermarket chops and steaks, but better-raised, more wholesome and nutritious animals. Except for the wealthy, meat will be an occasional food, served in small portions (a good idea that’s already been explored), and it will include eating offal—the nourishing foods we've cast aside for so long. We'll be using bones to make stocks and broths.

Continue reading "Deborah Madison Imagines the Future of Food--and Her Masterpiece, Circa 2030" »

More Summer Eats: 5 Smokin' New Grilling & Barbecue Guides

Here in Seattle, we've just reached that annual tipping point when cooking much of anything inside seems too darn hot, while cooking outside makes us feel giddy with all the possibilities of summer.This year, we will become master of the smoke and the flame, the kicky marinade and complex rub, the tangy sauce, and the cooling, acidic side dish. We'll master them privately, and then we'll invite friends over to feast until their laughing mouths gleam greasily in candlelight. (There will also be cocktails and pie, but we'll talk about them another time.)

Vegetarians, at this point I'm going to suggest you take a look at Karen Adler and Judith Fertig's The Gardener & The Grill, and its 100+ incredible vegetarian recipes.

Then I'm going to tell the rest of you that all this year, meat has been a huge cookbook trend--I've been impressed by a few dozen new books on raising your own heritage animals, manuals on whole beast butchering, using traditional preserving techniques, and cooking it well. Here, I present my picks for the best meaty books on grilling and barbecue.

Grill-BoysroomSmokin' in the Boys' Room by Melissa Cookston: Barbecue can be a bit of an ol' boys' club, but Cookston masters a pit like the best of them, making her a two-time world champion and the winningest woman in barbecue. Her story of working her way to the top of the barbecue contest circuit--even making a name for herself with a new way to smoke a whole hog--is inspiring, and her Memphis-style and Delta recipes for sides and desserts have been honed in contests and in Melissa's Memphis Barbecue Company restaurants.

 

Grill-NolanThe Nolan Ryan Beef & Barbecue Cookbook: Hall of Fame baseball pitcher and cattle rancher Nolan Ryan shares 75 easy, authentic Texas-style beef and BBQ recipes, including Sunday roasts, steaks, burgers, and slow-cooked ribs.Teaming up with chef Cristobal Vazquez, Nolan presents new twists on traditional Tex-Mex dishes he loved as a kid. You’ll also find yummy sides and desserts, including a to-die-for carrot cake. Baseball fans will also appreciate Nolan’s stories about his life on the field and on the ranch.

 

 

Grill-GuyGuy on Fire by Guy Fieri: Anyone who's seen him on the Food Network knows that Guy is a big personality who loves to take eating and entertaining to the extreme. His latest book has 130 recipes for adventurous outdoor cooking and eating, from backyard barbecues to campfire feasts to tailgate parties. He doesn't over-complicate it, but he does go big with some real style: I can't wait to try those Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Spicy Fruit Relish, Fire-Roasted Margherita Pizza and Brandied Green Peppercorn Hanger Steak. And I always appreciate an entertaining book with strategies for enjoying my own party.

 

Grill-LowLow & Slow: The Art & Technique of Braising, BBQ & Slow Roasting by the Culinary Institute of America: If you're looking to learn all "three pillars of low and slow cooking" that transform tough cuts into tender, succulent dishes, you can't find a better source than the CIA. This compact guide outlines how to make the most of any cut, from braised short ribs to barbecued beef brisket to slow oven-roasted lamb--accompanied by the perfect homemade rubs, sauces, and sides.

 

 

Grill-FireCooking with Fire by Paula Marcoux: Traditional wood-fire cooking has seen a restaurant renaissance lately, but it's still a novelty for home cooks. Francis Mallmann's Seven Fires gets our vote for the best book on cooking over fire, but Marcoux's take is well worth adding to your library. Over 100 recipes, she demonstrates dozens of traditional techniques for "partnering with fire" beyond the grill, from spit and plank roasting to baking in ash to cooking in fireplaces and wood-fired ovens. This is cooking at its most deliciously primal.

 

 

More standout new grilling and barbecue books: Haute Dogs, The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook, and The Big-Flavor Grill.

Cool Summer Cookbook Trend: Ice Creams & Frozen Treats

As a kid, one of my favorite family summertime traditions was homemade ice cream. It was usually relegated to holiday weekends, when folks could rotate at the crank of the a rock-salt "machine." These days, it's so easy to let an ice cream maker do the work for you, but the results are no less sublime, especially once you start playing with ingredients.

This summer's dishing up a larger-than-usual serving of "cookbooks" for ice creams and frozen desserts. These five are our favorite.

Ice-Cream-AmpleAmple Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop by Brian Smith: Sci-fi screenwriter turned ice cream wizard Brian Smith's Ample Hills Creamery is a huge hit in his Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, 'hood. Now he's letting everyone in on his secrets for creating super-rich, custardy creams with premium ingredients. In a customer review, experienced homemade ice cream maker Pepperminta says, "If you are a novice, this is a great resource with a wealth of information. If you are more experienced, there are many new recipes for you to add to your collection with some special techniques. I love their ideas and their fresh approach." Another highlight: their waffle cone recipe, with dark brown sugar and vanilla bean seeds.

 

Ice-Cream-JenniJeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts by Jeni Britton Bauer: Winner of the James Beard Award for Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, Jeni Britton Bauer now presides over a growing ice creamery empire. Her new book expands on creative creams to the desserts they deliciously complement (and often incorporate), from berry cobblers and fritters to hot brown Bettys and cookies. You'll also find a month of sundaes, with sauces like Whiskey Caramel and Honey Spiked with Chilies—plus  crumbly toppings like Salty Graham Gravel. Sophisticated, playful, and amazing.

 

 

Ice-Cream-CoolhausCoolhaus Ice Cream Book by Natasha Case: Starting from an old postal van turned food truck, Coolhaus has drawn nation-wide attention for their innovative ice cream sandwiches inspired by famous architects. Here, they reveal the recipes for many of their most popular flavors, from the BuckMINTster Fuller (Dirty Mint Chip Ice Cream with Chocolate Chip Cookies) to the Frank Behry (Strawberry Gelato with Snickerdoodles). You'll find classics like Cookies and Sweet Cream alongside grown-up treats like Bourbon Manhattan and savory flavors, like Brown Butter Candied Bacon.

 

Ice-Cream-ScoopScoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States by Lindsay Clendaniel: If you're intrigued by the thought of a cross-country ice cream road trip without leaving your kitchen, Scoop Adventures is the map you want to follow, with over 80 recipes from the best creameries across the US. Blogger Lindsay Clendaniel has singled out her favorites and adapted some of their signature recipes in an eclectic range of regional flavors, from Chipotle Raspberry to Prickly Pear Coconut to Lavender Caramel Swirl. America may be a melting pot, but these ice creams definitely won't last long enough to meet that fate.

 

 

Ice-Cream-RubyRuby Violet's Ice Cream Dreams by Julie Fisher: Across the pond in London, photographer turned "bespoke" ice cream maker Julie Fisher started selling Ruby Violet's homemade ice creams out of a van. She eventually opened a lovely parlor--one we can't wait to visit. For the sophisticated sweet tooth, gorgeous photos of show-stopping desserts, incorporating ingredients both local and exotic, set this book apart. But you'll also learn how to make spectacular layered bombes (bombe glacées, ice cream desserts frozen in spheres), sorbet flowers, and other enchanting twists on the ubiquitous dish. You'll find 50 flavors--from childhood favorites like raspberry ripple to adventurous combos like beetroot and horseradish--and accompaniments like mini meringues, crunchy almond nut brittle, and delectable sauces.

 

 

Omnivoracious™ Contributors

September 2014

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