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New ways to use tea

 Chai ice cream

Much like wine, tea is much more than just a drink, and its culinary uses often go overlooked. Indexed blog Serious Eats praises tea's versatility in the kitchen, noting that its distinctive flavors-- "woodsy and vegetal or ripe and sweet, pleasantly astringent or perfumed" can "add layers to sweet and savory dishes that no other ingredient can touch." The site shows us seven ways we can use tea in our cooking.

One use for tea is in smoothies. Freeze the cubes and add green tea to vegetal smoothies and black tea to more fruit-forward concoctions. The tea's "subtle sweetness and natural astringency add a complex bite to smoothies while keeping the focus solidly on the fruit." A second use includes adding tea to cookies and other baked goods. The EYB Library is chock full of recipes for delectable treats that use tea, like Earl Grey cookies, cakes & icings, other baked goods, and desserts (including the Chai ice cream from Serious Eats pictured above). 

Tea doesn't have to be relegated to the sweet side of the kitchen, however; it works equally well in savory foods. The classic tea-smoked duck technique can be applied to a variety of meats. You can also use tea in a brine like in this Creole-spiced fried chicken from Food & Wine, or in a sauce like these cold noodles in peanut sauce from David Lebovitz.

Cocktails also benefit from tea's herbal and fruity notes. Gin pairs especially well with tea, rounding out the piney notes of the spirit. Give it a whirl in The Leland Palmer Bon Appétit Magazine or in Gunpowder gin punch from Serious Eats.  If you aren't a fan of gin, try the highly rated Rosé, bourbon, and blue from The Grilling Book or the Chivalry from Donna Hay Magazine.

Alice Waters to receive national award

Alice WatersThe White House announced today that visionary chef and and author Alice Waters will be one of ten recipients of the 2014 National Humanities Medal. President Barack Obama will confer the medal in a ceremony to be held September 10 at the White House. 

The award "honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens' engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans' access to cultural resources." Past recipients of the award include authors Joan Didion and Joyce Carol Oates.

Waters is receiving the award based on her commitment to food activism, and for "celebrating the bond between the ethical and the edible. As a chef, author, and advocate, Ms. Waters champions a holistic approach to eating and health and celebrates integrating gardening, cooking, and education, sparking inspirtation in a new generation."

Owner of the legendary Berkeley, California restaurant Chez Panisse, Waters has written several highly-regarded cookbooks, including The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution and Chez Panisse Café Cookbook.

Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

Do you find other people's comments on recipes helpful? Have you written your own recipe Notes? It's a great way to remind yourself how a dish turned out and share your experience with the EYB community. On each Recipe Details page you'll find a Notes tab.

Adding online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf is a really great way to expand your personal recipe collection. You can now do this even if you have a free membership!

We're featuring online recipes from these books, magazines and blogs - check them out.

Happy cooking & baking everyone!
From AUS/NZ books:

40 recipes from Indulgent Cakes: Luscious Cakes to Delight Your Every Whim
by The Australian Women's Weekly, indexed by an EYB member

From Canadian books:

29 recipes from The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet & Greta Podleski

From US books:
102 recipes from The Yellow Table: A Celebration of Everyday Gatherings 
by Anna Watson Carl

17 recipes from Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream 
by Laura O'Neill, Ben Van Leeuwen, Peter Van Leeuwen, & Olga Massov

34 recipes from The Summer Table: Recipes and Menus for Casual Outdoor Entertaining
by Lisa Lemke, indexed by an EYB member

9 recipes from  Flavorize: Great Marinades, Injections, Brines, Rubs, and Glazes 
by Ray Lampe, indexed by an EYB member

41 recipes from Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven by Molly Gilbert

16 recipes from The HappyCow Cookbook: Recipes from Top-Rated Vegan Restaurants Around the World by Eric Brent & Glen Merzer, indexed by an EYB member

14 recipes from Kitchen Seasons: Easy Recipes for Seasonal Organic Food
by Ross Dobson, indexed by an EYB member


Top chef balances work and life

Eric RipertMany celebrity chefs--Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, and Emeril Lagasse, among others--expand their presence by hosting a television show (or two) or by creating a restaurant dynasty with outposts in many countries (or both). Their schedules are frenetic as they attempt to manage their far-flung empires. But not Eric Ripert, the amiable chef of Le Bernardin in New York City. He runs one of the top restaurants in the world and has a sizeable media presence but doesn't work himself to death, as Bloomberg Business reports

The in-depth interview takes us behind the scenes at Ripert's Le Bernardin in New York City, where the chef goes nearly every day, tasting sauces and ensuring that the quality of the restaurant remains at the highest level (it has never lost its 4-star rating from The NY Times, and it has 3 Michelin stars). A few years ago Ripert made a conscious decision not to expand his restaurant empire. "I decided my journey would be in three parts. It would be one-third for myself, one-third for my family, and one-third for my business," he explained. "I've reached my level of contentment career-wise," he continues. "I'm very happy not to expand to other restaurants."

Ripert has an impressive, 1,000+ volume cookbook collection, which he keeps in his Le Bernardin offices. He requires all of his sous chefs to look at every one of those volumes. He doesn't buy cookbooks from the internet, stating that he needs to "feel the book", choosing instead to shop at Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York. He has splurged on cookbooks, spending $1,000 USD for a first edition of Gastronomie Pratique by Ali-Bab. Ripert explains, "It's an emotional connection. It's hard to put a price on emotion."

Although he values his cookbooks, he doesn't treat them with kid gloves, saying "if my book gets stained, that's OK. It's part of the deal." Ripert also has some choice words for cookbooks written by people who he feels are more entertainers than chefs. Read more about that, and how he balances his work and life while keeping the respect of nearly everyone he encounters.

Creating food memories

 Mom's spaghetti sauce

Many of us cherish our early food memories, whether it's standing on a chair by the stove watching our grandparent cook or the first time we experienced a certain family food tradition. But what do you do when you don't have a food tradition memory but want your children to experience their family's culinary heritage? Keith Pandolfi addresses this question in a touching article on Epicurious

Pandolfi laments that he didn't experience his family's food traditions because his father eschewed his Italian-American family recipes in favor of cooking new things from Gourmet magazine (which doesn't sound like a bad food memory in itself). Nevertheless, Pandolfi would like his young daughter to understand her family's culinary roots, an admirable goal.

He notes that like many modern children, "Sylvia will grow up untethered to ritual or heritage. She will never know the pleasures of having regular Sunday dinners with a big Italian brood. She won't know the pastrami sandwiches Amy's father once ordered from a favorite neighborhood deli in his hometown of Cleveland, or the elegant dinner parties-candlelit, with Mozart on the hi-fi-my late Uncle Gary once hosted with his partner Arthur in their Boston apartment. What she will know are all the dishes Amy and I bring to the table, the ones that are deeply entrenched in our own life experiences." Read the full story at Epicurious.

Photo of Mom's spaghetti sauce from RecipeGirl by Lori Lange

Clever uses for food scraps

food waste

It always seems a shame to throw out food, even if it is scraps and peelings from dinner preparation. But did you know that you can make wonderful flavorings and broths from food scraps? We found several websites with ingenious uses for peelings, scraps, and leftovers.

You may already be familiar with making broth from vegetable peels and scraps, as explained here by indexed blog The Kitchn. In addition to the usual onions, celery, and carrots, you can "save roots, stalks, leaves, ends, and peelings from vegetables such as leeks, scallions, garlic, fennel, chard, lettuce, potatoes, parsnips, green beans, squash, bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, and asparagus. Corn cobs, winter squash skins, beet greens, and herbs like parsley and cilantro are also good additions." You'll need about 4 cups of scraps to make 2 quarts of broth. 

Indexed blog Serious Eats has a different take, using tomato peels and scallion greens to make flavorful powders. The drying process is made easy by utilizing the microwave and paper towels, and a spice grinder or mortar and pestle is used to grind the peels.  These vibrant powders add a dash of flavor to potato chips or popcorn. You can also "sprinkle some on your caprese salad, or use them to coat the rim of your next Bloody Mary-the world is your tomato and scallion-dusted oyster."

Another use for leftover peels comes from indexed magazine Bon Appétit. They explain how to use ginger peels to make a highly flavorful broth. The ginger broth can be used in cocktails, as a liquid to steam vegetables, as a broth for a carrot soup, or diluted with water to make a soothing ginger tea. Finally, in an article exploring ways to save money on groceries, The Huffington Post shows us how to use apple peels and cores to make jelly, potato peels to make potato chips/crisps, and stale cookies to make pie crusts. 

The best cookbooks according to the experts

two cookbooksMaking a list of the best cookbooks might be a recipe for starting an argument, but in a recent article from The Guardian, a few intrepid chefs and food writers responded to the challenge. The listing of essential cookbooks was a response to the Prue Leith cookbook controversy - one of several such responses. Leith's dismissal of modern cookbooks led many top chefs and authors to champion the cause. In the article, a handful of authors talk about the cookbooks most important to each of them.

Raymond Blanc chose French writer and scientist Édouard de Pomiane's Cooking in Ten Minutes, which was considered avant garde when it was published in 1930. For Blanc, this "is the most beautiful book of cuisine ever, cooking with speed and purity. He was a visionary, definitely ahead of his time; he saw that life was speeding up."

Claudia Roden has inspired countless people to try alternative cuisines. So who did she turn to for inspiration? Her inspirations were two of the most influential cookbook authors of all time, Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson. Roden feels that David "was writing so beautifully, adding such value to the recipes - it made it feel as though it all really mattered." Grigson was an even bigger influence on Roden, as Grigson "put what she called 'background' to a recipe." Others who weighed in for the article include Jack Monroe and Rachel Roddy.

Out with the new and in with the old?

old cookbooks

Modern recipes usually include a detailed list of ingredients accompanied by explicit instructions, both painstakingly assembled to ensure that your finished dish is the best it can be. These recipes are often written in a very direct manner, with the ingredient list at the beginning, followed by straightforward, workman-like instructions. In the past, recipes used to be written in more narrative way, and that method has a lot going for it, says Tamar Adler of The New York Times Magazine.

Adler laments the shift from narrative prose to the taut verbiage in today's recipes. She believes there is a lot to learn from the old method. As an example she provides a 1774 pudding recipe, which she describes as "more specific and harder to forget than any contemporary pudding recipe I can think of: 'Scald your quinces very tender, pare them very thin; scrape off the soft; mix it with sugar very sweet, put in a little ginger and a little cinnamon. To a pint of cream you must put three or four yolks of eggs, and stir it into your quinces till they are of a good thickness. It must be pretty thick. So you may do apricots or white pear-plums. Butter your dish, pour it in and bake it.'"

What we lose, says Adler, by removing all of the "binding" in recipes like noting the season or providing descriptions like "a good thickness",  is a broader connection to the world around us. She believes we would develop our senses more--and thereby become better cooks--if we relied less on the precision of modern recipes. 

Do you agree with her assessment? Or do you believe that modern recipes provide us with much better meals than the older recipes which, although quaint to read, don't produce great results?

Author interview with Amelia Saltsman

Amelia SaltsmanSince the publication of her first book, The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, Amelia Saltsman's fans have turned to her for fresh, intuitive, seasonal cooking. She is regularly sought out for her expertise by such national publications as Vegetarian Times, Bon Appetit, The Jewish Journal, and Cooking Light magazine. She has just released her second cookbook, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy of the book - US only, and check out our Cookbook Calendar of Events for book tour dates.) Saltsman sat down with EYB to answer questions about her latest book:

Jewish cooking varies a lot depending on the regional origins in the Jewish diaspora e.g. Ashkenazi is very different to Sephardi.  Can you explain the main cuisines within Jewish cooking for our members who are not familiar with it? 

Ashkenazi food of Europe and Eastern Europe evolved in a Christian milieu, where pork, beef, and butter were important foods, along with cold-weather grains and cereals like buckwheat. The term, Sephardic, is used describe all other Jews, even though it more specifically refers to people of the Iberian peninsula. Sephardic cooking evolved in primarily Arab regions where olive oil and hot-weather crops were abundant. This is a huge generalization, of course, because each country or micro-region developed its own food traditions within the practice of Judaism. What I wanted to do is open up the diversity of culinary experience, so you'll find flavors and dishes that are Italian, French, Iberian, North African, and more in  The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen

Your book focuses on seasonal cooking.  How much is traditional Jewish cooking already linked to the seasonal availability of produce?

If we get to the heart of the matter, very linked. Most holidays have agricultural, therefore seasonal, beginnings, which are reflected in our traditional foods. Rosh Hashanah comes with a cornucopia of seasonal foods to symbolize wishes and blessings for a good, sweet year. Pomegranates, apples, quince, dates, early root vegetables, and winter squashes are all showing up in markets and all figure prominently in traditional holiday foods. The new year custom of eating a "first fruit" to mark the holiday comes at a perfect time of year--the beginning of the autumn harvest season. This is really about noticing what's been hiding in plain sight--seasonality + tradition.

Traditional Jewish cooking is quite rich and starchy. What traditional recipes did you lighten up in your book?

I would disagree with that statement! Although sadly, this is how many people think about Jewish food. I'm here to change the basic premise! Good cooks have always made delicious food, certainly true when I think of my grandmothers' elegant touch in their kitchens. That said, how we want to eat has certainly changed over the generations for most cooking, Jewish or not. There are many recipes in the book that are true to the spirit of a traditional dish, but reflect how we eat today. My Roasted carrot and sweet potato tzimmes is a perfect example. Carrots, sweet potatoes, dried fruit, citrus zest, and fresh orange juice--tossed in a large pan and shoved in the oven. No flour, meat, sugar, or long stewing to mask the great ingredients. And easier to make, and lighter to eat. 

There are many traditional dishes served on the high holidays such as latkes, tzimmes, etc.  Have you included modernized versions of these dishes? 

In some cases, as with the tzimmes, yes. With others, like Pure and simple brisket or My mother's chicken soup, I've given readers what I consider excellent classics that match our modern sensibilities. My Best potato latkes are crisp, not greasy, and my other latke recipes are rediscovered dishes--like the ones made from summer squash--or innovative, like those with parsnips, or butternut squash and sweet potato.

Does your book follow kosher rules of not mixing meat and dairy? 

Yes. I simply left those combinations out of the mix. I leave it to readers to mix and match recipes to build a meal according to their philosophy. I also chose not to include pork or shellfish, but I don't think anyone will miss their absence, and certainly there are many dishes that can be adapted to include them if desired. 

What is your own family's culinary history?

Very diverse! I'm the daughter of an Iraqi father and Romanian mother who were raised in Israel and met in the Israeli army. They emigrated to California where I was born and raised. To say my food history is eclectic would be putting it mildly!

There has been a growing interest in Israeli cooking with the huge success of Ottolenghi's books, especially Jerusalem. Which of your recipes reflect Isreali spices and ingredients?

I'm grateful to Yotam Ottolenghi for bringing attention to some of my favorite flavors. Israeli food is very diverse, since it is a true melting pot of cultures, Jewish and not. So, too many recipes to mention here! But I will say this, that if you've cooked from my first book, the Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, or enjoyed any I've written for magazines or my blog, you've already cooked Israeli food! It's much more than hummus and falafel, you know. 

If you were putting together a dinner party from the book, what would be your dishes you would cook?

That would depend on the season!

Cookbook giveaway - The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen

The Seasonal Jewish KitchenIn The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, Amelia Saltsman takes us far beyond deli meats and chicken soup to explore a universally appealing world of flavors ideal for modern meals. She traces the delicious roots of Jewish cooking from ancient times and also showcases the global nature of Jewish cuisine, which evolved as migrants and immigrants encountered the local ingredients in their new homes. Read our author Q & A with Saltsman, plus check out the World Calendar of Cookbook Events for tour dates.

We're delighted to give away 3 copies of the book to EYB Members in the US only. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments to this blog post:

What is your favorite traditional Jewish dish?

Please note that you must be signed into the Rafflecopter contest before posting the comment or your entry won't be counted. Entries from non-Members or from Members outside the US will be discarded. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends September 25, 2015.

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