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Americans place second at Bocuse d'Or


On Tuesday, the United States culinary team at the Bocuse d'Or did something no other U.S. team has done: receive a medal. They placed second out of 24 teams in the biennial international culinary competition in Lyon, France. Previously, their best showing was a sixth place finish. Norway, which has taken home the top honor five times previously, was the winner this year, with neighboring Sweden coming in third.

Often called the "culinary Olympics," the Bocuse d'Or is a worldwide contest founded by the French chef Paul Bocuse in 1987. Most countries sponsor a national team, but the United States team does not receive any governmental support. In 2008, culinary luminaries like Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud created a foundation to raise money for the U.S. participants.

Representing the country this year were Phil Tessier and Skylar Stover of the French Laundry, who trained together for over a year. For the contest, they were required to use guinea hen and trout and prepare both a meat platter and a fish platter in under six hours. Their meat platter featured barrel-oak-roasted guinea hen with sausage of guinea hen confit and white corn mousse and black winter truffles. The platter also contained a boudin sausage of smoked guinea hen liver, pistachio cake with wild fennel buds, black truffle consommé with a ragout of gizzard and heart, a white corn nest with buttered corn pudding, and preserved chanterelles with salad.

At the same time as the Bocuse d'Or was taking place, a world pastry cup competition was also taking place. Italy won that competition, with Japan the runner-up and the American team winning the bronze medal.

Forget wings, you can 'Buffalo' anything

Buffalo oven fried goat cheese

This Sunday, millions of buffalo wings will be consumed at tailgate parties, bars, restaurants, and homes in conjunction with the largest sporting event in the United States, the Super Bowl. The popularity of this game-day snack might make it difficult to find wings in the supermarket, but that's okay because you can get the same great flavor in a variety of other dishes, sans chicken.

The folks at Yahoo! Food get us started with their five 'Buffalo' recipes that aren't wings, including nachos, deviled eggs, and meatballs. We dug around in the EYB Library to find plenty of other options as well. One item that pops up in various blogs and books is buffalo cauliflower. There are both fried and roasted versions of this, which even resemble the drummettes portion of wings.

Other choices include crispy buffalo fries, blue cheese buffalo bites that feature Hawaiian sweet bread, and buffalo patatas bravas, which combine potatoes and blue cheese. Keeping on the cheese theme, how about Buffalo oven "fried" goat cheese (pictured above)? Going in a completely different direction we find buffalo popcorn, which sounds like excellent game-watching fare.

What snacks do you like to 'Buffalo'?

Top selling cookbooks of 2014 around the world

Last month our friends at cookbook stores around the world gave us their picks for their favorite books of 2014.  Now we asked them for their top sellers.  We thought it would be interesting to compare the lists from specialist stores in the USA to that for all US sales from the publishing industry data company, Nielsen.  They are very different lists (with only 2 books - Thug Kitchen and Make It Ahead - appearing on both).


Bestselling USA Cookbooks as supplied by Nielsen BookScan - Source:  Publishers WeeklyMake It Ahead

1. Make It Ahead by Ina Garten
2. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond
3. Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
4. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond
5. The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka
6. Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
7. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond
8. Against All Grain by Danielle Walker
9. The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen
10. Miss Kay's Duck Commander Kitchen by Kay Robertson


Omnivore Books - owner Celia SackPlenty More

1. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. My Paris Kitchen by David Lebowitz
3. Heritage by Sean Brock
4. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
5. Yummy Supper by Erin Scott
6. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi 
7. Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
8. The Art of Simple Food II by Alice Waters
9. The How Can it Be Gluten-Free Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen
10. Bar Tartine by Nicolaus Balla, et al


Kitchen Arts & Letters - owners Nach Waxman &  Matt Sartwell Sugar Rush

1. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. Sugar Rush by Johnny Iuzzini
3. The Chef Says edited by Nach Waxman and Matt Sartwell
4. Heritage by Sean Brock
5. My Best by Eric Ripert
6. The Wizard's Cookbook by Ronny Emborg
7. The Secret Recipes by Dominique Ansel
8. Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
9. America: Farm to Table by Mario Batali
10. How To Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman


The Book Larder - owner Lara Hamilton

A Boat, A Whale, and A Walrus

1. A Boat, A Whale, and A Walrus by Renee Erickson
2. America: Farm to Table by Mario Batali
3. My Paris Kitchen by David Lebowitz
4. Marcus Off Duty by Marcus Samuelsson
5. Delicious! A Novel by Ruth Reichl
6. Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong
7. Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef by Massimo Bottura
8. Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
9. Joy The Baker Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson
10. (tie) Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan and Delancey by Molly Wizenberg


Powell's City of Books - cookbook buyer Tracey T.

The Portlandia Cookbook

1. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. Portlandia by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein
3. Pok Pok by Andy Ricker
4. Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
5. Preserving by the Pint by Marisa McClellan
6. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi 
7. Toro Bravo by John Gorham and Liz Crain
8. The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler
9. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
10. One-Hour Cheese by Claudia Lucero


The Cookbook Stall - owner Jill Ross

Philadelphia Cooks Italian

1. Philadelphia Cooks Italian
2. Vedge by Rich Landua and Kate Jocoby
3. Philadelphia Chef's Table by April White
4. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
5. Tasting Whiskey by Lew Bryson
6. Heritage by Sean Brock
7. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
8. Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
9. Make it Ahead by Ina Garten
10. Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan



Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks - owner Barbara-Jo McIntosh

Tin Fish Gourmet

1. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. Tin Fish Gourmet by Barbara-Jo McIntosh
3. Desserts From My Kitchen by Lesley Stowe
4. My Paris Kitchen by David Lebowitz
5. The SoBo Cookbook by Lisa Ahier and Andrew Morrison
6. Delicious! A Novel by Ruth Reichl
7. Family Meals by Michael Smith
8. Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan
9. El Bulli - 2005-2011
10. Cooking for Me and Sometimes You by Barbara-Jo McIntosh


Good Egg - owner Mika Bareket


1. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
3. Heritage by Sean Brock
4. Bar Tartine by Nicolaus Balla, et al
5. Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte
6. A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson
7. Bitter by Jennifer McLagan
8. Death & Co by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald & Alex Day
9. A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry
10. Jamie's Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver


Appetite for Books - owner Jonathan Cheung

Made in Quebec

1. Made in Quebec by Julian Armstrong
2. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
3. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
4. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
5. Paris Express by Laura Calder
6. The Smart Palate by Tina Lansman Abbey, Gail Goldfarb Karp & Dr. Joe Schwarcz
7. Ottolenghi the Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
8. Desserts from my Kitchen by Lesley Stowe
9. Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi
=10. Nick Malgieri's Pastry by Nick Malgieri
=10. One Good Dish by David Tanis


The Cookbook Co. Cooks - owner Gail Norton

Calgary Cooks

1. Calgary Cooks by Gail Norton and Karen Ralph
2.Whitewater Cooks with Passion by Shelley Adams
3. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
4. The Skoki Cookbook by Katie Mitzel
5. The Slanted Door by Charles Phan
6. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
7. Gatherings by Jan Scott
8. Caesars by Clint Pattemore
9. Bitter by Jennifer McLagan
10. Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour



Books for Cooks - owner Tim White


1. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
3. Community: Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen by Hetty McKinnon
4. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
5. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
6. The English and Australian Cookery Book by Edward Abbott
7. Chin Chin by Benjamin Cooper
8. Huxtabook by Daniel Wilson
9. Heritage by Sean Brock
10. Mr Hong by Dan Hong


Scrumptious Reads - owner Julie Tjiandra

Quick Fix in the Thermomix

1. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
3. Ottolenghi the Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
4. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
5. Quick Fix in the Thermomix by Alyce Alexandra
6. Keeping it Simple: Recipes for a Thermomix by Tenina Holder
 7. Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte
8. Bar Tartine by Nicolaus Balla, et al
9. Eating With the Chefs by Per-Anders Jorgensen
10. The Kinfolk Table by Nathan Williams



Cook the Books - owner Felicity O'Driscoll

Love Bake Nourish

1. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose
3. The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
4. South American Grill by Rachel Lane
5. Community: Salad Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen by Hetty McKinnon
6. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
7. The Unbakery by Megan May
=8. My Petite Kitchen Cookbook by Eleanor Ozich
=8. My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway
=10. Saison: A Year at The French Cafe by Simon Wright
=10. Depot by Al Brown



Books for Cooks (London, UK) - owner Eric Treuille

Cooking for Chaps

1. Cooking for Chaps by Gustav Temple and Clare Gabbett-Mulhallen
2. Hunan by Qin Xie and Mr. Peng
3. The Little Book of Scones by Liam D'Arcy and Grace Hall
4. The Gilbert Scott Book of British Food by Marcus Wareing
5. Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour
6. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
7. Favourite Recipes from Books for Cooks 7, 8 and 9
8. Dog Canine Food
9. River Cottage Veg Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
10. A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones


De Kookboekhandel (Amsterdam, Netherlands) - owner Jonah Freud

Kleine Banketbakker

1. De Kleine Banketbakker by Cees Holtkamp
2. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
3. Over eten en koken (On Food and Cooking) by Harold McGee
4. Worst en paté (Charcuterie & French Pork Cookery) Jane Grigson
5. Koekje by Jonah Frued
 6. Groot Indonesisch kookboek Beb Vuyk
7. Jeruzalem (Jerusalem) by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
 Duizend-en-een-smaken (Arabesque) by Claudia Roden
9. De smaken van Spanje (The Food of Spain) by Claudia Roden
10. Kook Ook by Irene van Blommestein


Cook + Book (Arnhem, Netherlands) - owner Riejanne Schimmel

The Green Kitchen

1. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
3. Powerfood by Rens Kroes
4. The Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl
5) Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
6) Veg! (River Cottage Veg Every Day) by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
7) Jamie's 15 Minuten Meals (Jamie's 15-minute Meals) by Jamie Oliver
8) Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
9) Home Baked by Yvette van Boven (English translation will be available in 2015)
10) Jamie's Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver

January 2015 cookbook roundup

Every month Susie Chang reviews new cookbook releases and notes trends in the United States. And she may also occasionally throw in a review of a "not-quite cookbook." And for our non-U.S. members, Jane and Fiona provide similar reviews for new Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand releases.


cookbook collageRecipes from My Russian Grandmother's Kitchen: Discover the rich and varied character of Russian cuisine in 60 traditional dishes by Elena Makhonko: The latest in Lorenz's popular "Grandmother" series.

Chocolate-Covered Katie: Over 80 Delicious Recipes That Are Secretly Good for You by Katie Higgins: Treats based on alternate ingredients (coconut oil, spelt flour, stevia).  A big hit in the blogosphere.

Weeknight Vegetarian by Ivy Manning: The Portland food writer offers her own contribution to a popular category. You can read our author interview and enter our contest for a chance to win one of three copies of the book.

Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide: Reset Your Health, Detox Your Body, and Feel Your Best by the editors of Martha Stewart Living: The usual beautifully-curated collection of very familiar recipes: smoothies, lean proteins, whole grains.

cookbook collageSheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven by Molly Gilbert: The logical end product of people now knowing all about roasted vegetables.

Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship by Ashley Rodriguez:  Part relationship-therapy book, part cookbook, Date Night In exhorts parents to shut off their screens and find - somewhere - the energy to cook a meal with and for each other at the end of their days.

Fat Witch Bake Sale: 67 Recipes from the Beloved Fat Witch Bakery for Your Next Bake Sale or Party by Patricia Helding: Feed-a-crowd sweet treats from the popular bakery inside New York's Chelsea Market.

Dashing Dish: 100 Simple and Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating by Katie Farrell: Gluten-free, sugar-free, and spiritually approved recipes from Christian lifestyle personality Farrell.

cookbook collageThe Soup Club Cookbook by Courtney Allison: Four women decide that once a week each would whip up an extra-large batch of soup and deliver it to the others as a way to stay connected. Learn more about their story and the cookbook it inspired.

A Good Food Day by Marco Canora: A chef is inspired to make simple, natural recipes fit for a food lover's palate.

Healthy Latin Eating by Angie Martinez and Angelo Sosa: Radio and TV personality Martinez and acclaimed chef Sosa join together to create over 100 recipes that blend the art of Latin cooking with healthy eating.

Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen Editors: More healthy January eating, this time from the familiar ATK-brand of heavily-tested recipe. The Test Kitchen crew brings over 200 new recipes featuring leaner cuts of meat, more fresh vegetables, and hearty whole grains.

cookbook collageGerman Cooking Now by Jeremy Nolen and Jessica Nolen: Turning traditional German cooking on its head to reflect modern palates, this book celebrates fresh vegetables, grains, herbs and spices as obsessively as it does pork, pretzels and beer.

The Cuban Table by Ana Sofia Pelaez: A comprehensive, contemporary overview of Cuban food, recipes and culture. Read more about the author's research on the EYB blog.

The Baker's Four Seasons by Marcy Goldman: Over 175 recipes ranging from casual baking to special occasion treats and holiday show-stoppers, arranged by the season and further delineated into "big baking" and "small baking" sections.

Lomelino's Cakes by Linda Lomelino: A self-called "look book" of 27 stunning cakes. In addition to recipes the book offers advice on how to decorate with frosting, stack multiple layers, create perfect ganache, and make the most of seasonal ingredients.

January trends include gluten-free and paleo, quinoa, smoothies, make it fast, make it ahead.  If there were a book called "5-Minute Gluten-Free Paleo Quinoa Smoothie," it would probably fly off the shelves!

Finally, a few reading titles from the academic presses, for curling up by the fire...

cookbooksThe Poets Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire by Gaylord Brewer: Recipes from an unexpected source - a Tennessee literary critic, playwright, and poet.

1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die by Mimi Sheraton: The Part of the 1,000....before you die series, this one has the "grande dame" of food journalism offering her take on must-eat items.Chopsticks by Edward Wang


Chopsticks: A Cultural and Culinary History by Q. Edward Wang:  Everything you ever needed to know about the second-simplest way to get food from plate to mouth.




cookbook collageDeliciously Ella by Ella Woodward: Popular food blogger Ella's focus is all about the food that tastes good AND makes you feel good - for her that is sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free.  In this her first cookbook she chronicles her own journey to health and provides over 100 recipes.

Bread by Nick Malgieri: A UK edition of the book published in the US in 2012.  The master baker takes you through all the basic techniques, through into more advanced recipes and finally dishes containing bread.

Small Bites by Paul Gayler: Gayler takes small bites beyond the tapas of Spain with quick and easy small plate recipes from around the world including China, Italy, the Middle East.

Spelt: Meals, Cakes, Cookies and Breads from the Good Grain by Roger Saul: As interest in ancient grains grows, more grain-specific books are emerging.  This one focuses on a grain that claims to help reduce heart disease and bowel cancer and is authored by a leading UK producer of artisanal spelt products.

cookbook collageHome Comforts by James Martin: The celebrity chef brings it home with comfort food ranging from meals for one to fancy dinners.  He has recipes for his trademark British hearty food but also lightens it up and travels the world for more adventurous dishes.

Guilt-Free Baking by Gee Charman: It may be January when we are meant to be focused on healthy eating but Gee says that doesn't mean we have to give up the sweet things.  She finds novel ways to keep sweetness and flavor while reducing "bad" fats and calories.

Eat. Nourish. Glow by Amelia Freer: Nutritional therapist and healthy eating expert Amelia Freer doesn't want you to follow fad diets - she wants to help you change the way you eat for ever.  She has 10 principles of healthy eating that she thinks will help you on the path to better health, losing weight and looking great.


Australia & New Zealand

cookbook collageThe Best of Spirit House by Spirit House: Since it opened in 1995 Spirit House has grown into an iconic destination for lovers of Asian food, including myself. There have been several books from Sprit House and this features the best recipes, including the Whole Crispy Fish with Roasted Chilli Paste and Lemongrass and 20 new ones.

The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing by Matthew Evans and Nick Haddow and Ross O'Meara: Television presenter of The Gourmet Farmer TV series, food critic turned farmer and sustainable seafood activist Matthew Evans, along with his two best chef mates, shows us how seafood should be cooked. Simple recipes that demystify everything from abalone to sea urchin, snapper to octopus, as well as inspiration if you want to catch your own dinner rather than head to the fishmongers.

Eat Drink Paleo by Macri Irena: The creator of the popular blog Eat Drink Paleo, originally self published this book, and it is now more widely available from Penguin in Australia and the UK. All recipes follow the paleo diet and the book includes an introduction to paleo nutrition and philosophy; a handy inventory of foods to focus on and avoid; and user-friendly recipes and measurements. The book takes home-cooks on a real-food journey from breakfast (hazelnut pancakes with blood orange syrup) through to dessert (chilli chocolate mousse).

Blizzard cooking

Snowmageddon hasn't been so terrible in our valley so far. Some wind and a lot of powder in the air. But my 8-year-old, bundled in her snowsuit, has been happily making snow angels and tunnels and castles for an hour.  

Our local weather guru counseled us to make a big pot of chili ahead of the storm, in case we lost power and couldn't cook. (Our stove's gas, though, and we'd only be out an oven.)  I didn't bother, but it got me thinking about storms and food preparedness.

At this time of year you don't worry about food storage without power so much, since the whole world's a fridge.  If you're organized enough to cook in advance, you haul out the big stuff - slow cooker for a crowd-type recipes which will yield enough for a few powerless days. You grind the coffee in advance, you fill up the bathtub, you locate the snow shovels and D batteries and wait.

If you haven't prepared, and you're caught out without power, winter food suddenly turns into something a lot like summer food:  salads, cold cuts, smoothies.  Or camping food: jerky, granola, trail mix. Fun for a day or two, but not what you long for when the winds are gusting the snow sideways and in circles just outside the window. 

No matter what you eat, the candles and firelight can cast a glow over your impromptu meal. But then there's that throbbing hum and a bunch of beeps as the lights come on and the appliances wake up and there you are, delivered straight back to reality, all the modern conveniences, and a pile of dirty dishes as a souvenir.

The many faces of sugar

sugared cranberries

If you have any vintage recipe books, you probably will find only one or two kinds of sugar specified in the ingredients list of recipes. That is no longer the case today, as the types of sugar available to consumers has greatly expanded. Epicurious explains the many types of sugar available today in their ultimate guide to buying and using the sweet stuff.

The simple white granulated sugar we take for granted is a relatively new commodity. While honey was used as a sweetener for eons, highly refined sugar didn't become widely available to the masses until the end of 18th century. The mechanization of the Industrial Age allowed sugar cane to processed on a much larger scale. Once people got a taste of the sweet substance they demanded it, and soon people began to look beyond sugar cane. A German chemist discovered a variety of beet that contained high levels of sucrose, and by 2010 approximately 20% of the world's sugar came from beets.

Although we think of sugar as a simple product, it takes quite a procedure to make it. The process involves the application of heat and chemicals, and in the case of beet sugar, a centrifuge. The bleaching process for cane sugar can involve phosphoric acid and sometimes involves filtering through bone char to further remove impurities.

Most of the sugars listed in the Epicurious article are cane or beet sugar derivatives. While cane and beet sugars are both pure sucrose, some cooks and bakers swear that they perform differently and have a strong preference for one over the other. Light and dark brown sugars are just refined white sugar with molasses added back in. Muscovado sugar (my personal favorite) is made from unrefined sugar that hasn't had the molasses removed. It has a much more pronounced flavor than either light or brown sugar. There there are the in-between products like turbinado and demarara.

More kinds of sugar are made from further processing white sugar: confectioner's sugar (also known as powdered or 10x), and superfine or caster sugar also have their uses. But cane and beet sugars aren't the only game in town; there are even more kinds of sugar to choose from. Date, palm, coconut, and maple sugars are also available and each have their own distinctive flavor profiles and uses.  

Photo of How to make sugared cranberries from Annie's Eats

Ivy Manning goes veg in her latest cookbook

Ivy Manning

Ivy Manning is a Portland, Oregon-based food and travel writer and author of several cookbooks. Her work regularly appears in Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, Sunset, Eating Well, and Everyday with Rachel Ray. We caught up with Ivy as her latest cookbook, Weeknight Vegetarian, hit the shelves. EYB Members in the U.S. and Canada can enter our contest for a chance to win one of three copies of the cookbook.


This is your fifth cookbook but your first that is fully vegetarian (The Adaptable Feast covered meals for vegetarians, vegans and omnivores).  Have you found your own diet has changed over the last few years?

Yes, I'm eating less meat. My husband is a fishetarian, so it's not tenable to cook a lot of meaty things at home since it's just the two of us. I find it a challenge enough to get all my servings of fruits and veggies into my meals, so leaving out meat makes more room, and honestly, I don't miss it. Once in awhile I need a burger, so I go out for it.

The book is organized by season.  Do you think it's harder to eat a plant-based diet in the winter?  What are your favorite vegetarian meals for cold, wintery days (for those EYB members in the northern hemisphere)?

Oh heck no, actually the colder months are my favorite time to cook! In Weeknight Vegetarian, I use a lot of beans and legumes for protein, and when it's chilly, they're so warming-dinners like Black Bean-Butternut Chili with Masa Dumplings and Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup over Garlic Toasts are the best!  And some of my very favorite veg happen in winter and fall, so we get to eat things like the roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cheddar Polenta and Spiced Walnuts, Savory Mushroom Strudel, and Potato and Beet Rosti, Massaman Curry with Kabocha Squash and Broccoli. What's not to like?

Weeknight Vegetarian cookbookThere definitely seems to be a trend towards more plant-focused meals.  For your book did you do much research on how a vegetarian diet improves both our own health and that of the planet?

No, I didn't really take that angle. To me, it's not about what we shouldn't eat and much more about how many delicious things you can eat without leaning on the meat-and-three model for dinner. Cooking my vegetarian way never seems like anything but really delicious stuff that happens not to have meat in it. I focus on cuisine from all over the globe, so it never, ever gets boring.

Did you have any surprises in creating fast every-night meals without meat, poultry or fish?

A lot of vegetarian books have these long, multi-step recipes, almost like they are making up for the lack of meat. It doesn't have to be so time-intensive. If you follow what is in season, keep it simple, and use quicker cooking legumes like lentils, convenience items like fresh pizza dough and fresh pasta, and canned beans from time to time, it is possible to eat vegetarian every night without spending all your spare time in the kitchen. I was surprised how fast the collection of recipes ended up being!

Are there any less well-known vegetables that you would like to see become more popular?

Yes! I think bitter veg like radicchio, broccoli rabe and watercress ought to be more popular than they are. When prepared correctly and balanced with rich or high-flavor ingredients like in my Quinoa Spaghetti with Broccoli Rabe, Feta, and Mint recipe, or the tangy watercress salad with Welsh Rarebit, or the Rotini with Radicchio, Fontina, and Hazelnuts, they add a whole new layer of flavor that most Americans eschew, whereas in Italy, they're well loved. They add so much interest to a dish.

Ottolenghi has written two successful vegetarian cookbooks (Plenty and Plenty More) though he is not a vegetarian himself.  For some recipes in the books he suggests meat or fish that could accompany the vegetable dishes - have you done the same?

No. I opted to leave out mention of meat entirely. I really didn't want to approach these recipes as side dishes; in fact, I worked to avoid dishes that seem too much like side dishes-they all have balance and completeness to them. They're satisfying meals, not just accompaniments to something else. The only exception is I do tell folks where they might use fish sauce in Thai recipes if they're not strict vegetarians, but I offer a way around the fish sauce, too. 

There are some people who think a meal is not complete without animal protein.  Which recipes in the book would satisfy them?

Well, I think all of them!  But you know, if you've got a real Fred Flintstone coming to the table and they see the plate as half empty without roast beast on it, go for hearty fork-and-knife dishes like the Mushroom and Chestnut Strudel, Skillet Mushroom Pie-a biscuit topped chicken-less pot pie type thing, Tomatillo Chilaquiles with Egg, or the Two-Layer Tacos with Pinto Beans and Guacamole--a crunchy taco tucked inside a soft flour tortilla smeared with avocado. Things with lots of texture help ease naysayers into meatless meals.

I gather you are currently working on another cookbook.  Are you able to say what it is about?

The ink isn't dry quite yet. It's vegetable-centric, I can tell you that.

Cookbook giveaway - Weeknight Vegetarian

Weeknight Vegetarian

Weeknight Vegetarian gives us the tools to put a delicious, wholesome meatless meal on the table on any schedule. It offers quick, easy, and healthy meatless dinner ideas for any time of the year, with dozens of choices for any occasion. You can learn more about author Ivy Manning's inspiration for the book in our author interview.

Organized by season, chapters open with advice about the fresh ingredients and cooking methods best suited to the time of year. Clever tips throughout offer enticing ways to round out meatless meals, customize recipes to personal tastes, menu planning strategies, and helpful ideas for turning leftovers into new suppers later in the week. 

We're delighted to offer three copies of Weeknight Vegetarian. The contest is limited to EYB members in the United States and Canada. One of the entry options is answering the following question in the blog comments:

What's your go-to quick vegetarian meal?

Please note that you must enter the comment after signing into Rafflecopter or your entry won't be counted. The contest ends February 22, 2015.

How important are cookbook directives?

butter, salt, eggs

You see the directives in most modern (and even many older) cookbooks: use only unsalted butter, all eggs should be large, use X-brand kosher salt. Dire consequences are threatened if you do not follow these admonitions. But how much do these instructions really matter? It depends on who you ask, says The Telegraph.

Most of these demands are from authors we trust, maybe even revere. Ottolenghi's Plenty More lists several ingredient requirements: "Unless otherwise specified, all salt is table salt, pepper is freshly cracked, eggs are large, parsley is flat-leaf, olive oil is extra-virgin, peppers are deseeded, lemon and lime pith is to be avoided when the zest is shaved, and onions, garlic and shallots are peeled." The idea behind these directives "is to get us on the same page as the recipe writer before we start to cook. If we use curly-leaf parsley instead of flat and forget to deseed our peppers, we can't go running to Ottolenghi to complain his recipe didn't work."

This is not a recent phenomenon, either. The 1937 tome The Country Life Cookery Book by Ambrose Heath, (recently reissued by Persephone Books), also contains demands. Instead of dictating which butter to use, however, Heath was concerned about the composition of fines herbes. He insisted that fines herbes must include "parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon."

Just how important are these specifications and when do they cross the line between vital and pedantic? Michael Ruhlman addresses these demands in recent coobkook, Egg. He relates that his editor was peppering him with a multitude of questions like "butter (salted or unsalted?)" or "large eggs?" Ruhlman became exasperated by the incessant questions because he thinks that many of them don't really matter.

While not suggesting that there is no difference between unsalted and salted butter, Ruhlman believes that a good cook can make adjustments for different ingredients and in the end "salted and unsalted yield pretty much the same results." For Ruhlman, the crucial requirement (as noted in his EYB author interview) is that cooks pay attention.

Do you religiously follow the directives of cookbook authors or do you believe they are more guidelines than absolutes? Does it make a difference when it's a baking book versus a cookery book?

Salt, fat add flavor to cocktails

The Man Harrison cocktailYou have probably heard the expression "fat equals flavor." This admonition holds true not only in the kitchen, but in the bar as well. The Washington Post reports on the technique known as "fat washing" that is used to add flavor to drinks.

Fat washing is a method of infusing almost any type of flavorful fat, from coconut oil to bacon fat, into spirits. The booze is then frozen and the hardened fat strained out. This technique allows the flavors to come through without any greasy residue. "The last thing you want in the drink is the fat itself. You don't want that fatty mouth feel when you're drinking a cocktail," says Carlo Bruno, general manager at Bar Charley. "It's all the other things you want from the fat. That's why people do fat washes with bacon fat. It's not the fat itself; it's the salt and the smoke."

Which brings us to salt, which has uses in a cocktail beyond the salty rim on your margarita. It's no secret that salt can enhance the flavor of almost any food, and used judiciously, it will do the same to your cocktail. The mechanism by which salt enhances flavor is "through a series of complex chemical processes involving things like G protein-coupled receptors and cations." In layman's terms, salt blocks bitterness which allows more subtle flavors to be noticed.

"Salt is the secret ingredient in almost all my cocktails," writes cocktail guru Dave Arnold in his book, Liquid Intelligence. "Any cocktail that includes fruit, chocolate or coffee benefits from a pinch of salt."

If you remain skeptical, Arnold recommends making your favorite drink twice, once as normal and once with a dash of salt. Compare the two, and "you will never forget the salt again," he says. Don't add too much, though - the drink shouldn't taste salty. Once you see how salt can enhance your drink you may want to experiment with different types of salt, including smoked and infused salts.

Photo of The man Harrison from Ruhlman.com by Michael Ruhlman

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