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Culinary cult items

La Cornue stove

People who are serious about cooking spend serious money on their cooking gadgets. Many folks believe that a $300 USD blender or a $600 USD mixer are worth the price for the performance they deliver. But how much are you willing to spend on kitchen tools? The Wall Street Journal shows us some really expensive kitchen toys that only the wealthy could afford.

In addition to a $30,000 gas grill, the article discusses $30,000 knives, $50,000 stoves, and $1,100 bottles of whiskey, among other things. But are these items really worth the price? Some people think so; others are less convinced. Mario Batali owns one of the expensive knives in question, and he feels that his knife will be an heirloom that will handed down through the generations. The grills are supposed to be dowry-worthy as well, but the whiskey probably won't survive that long. 

If you won the lottery, would you buy a La Cornue stove, Pappy van Winkle whiskey, or a custom Kramer knife? What would be your cooking splurge? 

Don't get squashed by summer's bounty

Courgette & ricotta tart 

Courgettes (known as zucchini in the U.S.) are well into season now in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, these prolific producers often far outpace our ideas on what to do with them. Mary-Ellen McTague, chef and owner of Aumbry, gives us several ideas for using the bounty of these summer squash. She offers recipes for a courgette, tomato and cheshire cheese bake, courgette fries, stuffed courgette flowers, and several intriguing uses for courgette puree. 

Naturally the EYB Library is chock full of courgette recipes, too. We've got plenty of variations on zucchini bread, zucchini pickles, and zucchini pancakes. Or try one of these highly-rated recipes:

Baked penne with corn, zucchini and basil from Williams-Sonoma
Zucchini quesadillas from Martha Stewart
Shaved zucchini salad with almonds and Asiago
from Kitchen Garden Cookbook: Celebrating the Homegrown & Homemade
Zucchini "meatballs"
from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking
Courgette & ricotta tart
from BBC Good Food Magazine Home Cooking Series: Vegetarian Summer (pictured above)
Ratatouille (Eggplant casserole)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

What's your favorite zucchini/courgette recipe?

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 magazines & websites:


Roasted Ratatouille & Goat's Cheese Tart from the  August issue of indexed 
BBC Good Food Magazine


Chocolate Stout Pudding by Ruby Tandoh from The Guardian, added with the Bookmarklet


Chocolate, Rose & Walnut Ice-Cream by Yotam Ottolenghi from The Guardian,
added with the Bookmarklet


3 lobster recipes from the summer issue of indexed Sweet Paul Magazine

 
From AUS/NZ books:


3 recipes from Fill the Tins: Easy Baking for Home by Sophie Gray

 

Celebrate International Bacon Day

Today is International Bacon Day, a relatively recent food "holiday" created by college students in 2000 in Boston or 2004 in Colorado, depending on which story you believe. 

Market research firm the NPD Group reported that Americans ate 1.1 billion servings of bacon from April 2013 to April 2014 -- a six percent increase over the previous year. Baconmania may have reached "peak sizzle" in the last several years, with dedicated fairs and festivals, bacon paired with non-breakfast foods from chocolate to cocktails, and even bacon-inspired apparel, but the bacon craze is still going strong. EYB is here to help you celebrate with these great recipes from the EYB Library:

Alsatian bacon and onion tart

 

Alsatian bacon and onion tart (Tarte flambée) from Saveur Magazine

 

 

 

Roasted radicchio and shrimp

 

Roasted radicchio and shrimp with warm bacon vinaigrette from Food52

 

Orecchiette carbonara

 

Orecchiette carbonara with charred Brussels sprouts from Bon Appétit Magazine

 

Potato cake with cheese and bacon

 

Potato cake with cheese and bacon (La truffade) from The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan

 

Bacon ice cream

 

Bacon ice cream from David Lebovitz

Not finding inspiration? Try one of the over 6,000 other bacon recipes, all available online through EYB!

Lard gets a makeover

LardOnce a staple fat in the home cook's repetoire, lard fell out of favor at the turn of the 20th century. Part of lard's demise can be attributed to shelf-stable substitutes like shortening, which was created by companies looking for a use for the fat from which they used to make candles prior to electricity. Another portion of the blame falls on repeated warnings to consumers about the health risks of saturated animal fats. But in recent years lard has made a comeback, thanks to better understanding of the role played by fats in the diet and by farm-to-table trends. Many bakers swear by lard in their pie crusts, and Modern Farmer magazine reports on the rise of artisanal lard.

Even though lard's fortunes are on the upswing, it can be difficult for most people to find fresh lard. While supermarkets may carry several brands of lard, almost all of it is hydrogenated and contains added preservatives. Consumers must find a friendly hog farmer or the rare butcher who still slaughters onsite to find the good stuff. Part of the problem is that many small farmers don't know that people want lard.

June Russell, manager of development and inspections for an organization that operates NYC farmers' markets, notes that farmers often throw away the fat that makes this precious resource. "A lot of times, our farmers don't know what they have. They'll say, 'Are you kidding me? This is something that we're throwing away.' I let them know this product has value, and that they should put it out there and see how it does," says Russell. "People are not afraid of it. If they get the value of meat that's been raised sustainably, they get the fact that lard is part of that."

Elizabeth Swenson notes in her book The Artisan Lard Cookbook of Old World Breads and Spreads that when she was growing up in rural Minnesota, rendering lard "was a common practice...In this lifestyle, we ate close to the source, and the value of the practice was instilled in me." She was inspired to write the cookbook after purchasing a quart of home-rendered lard at a Saturday swap meet.

Read more, including the role of CSAs in lard's resurgence, on the Modern Farmer website. Do you use lard in your cooking or baking? What's your favorite use for it?

Photo of Lard from indexed blog The Homesick Texan

Me and my cookbooks - William Sitwell

Many EYB members have told us they enjoy meeting members and special guests through the "Me and my cookbooks" feature. We'd love to introduce more people, so if you'd like to be featured, just email us at info@eatyourbooks.com . This month's edition features William Sitwell, one of Britain's foremost food writers. Sitwell has edited Waitrose Kitchen and its predecessor Waitrose Food Illustrated for many years, and is the author of A History of Food in 100 Recipes. Sitwell shared his love of cookbooks with The Happy Foodie, and we hope you enjoy this excerpt from that discussion.

Sitwell's bookshelf

There are three areas at my home in Northamptonshire where I keep my cook and food books. There are the shelves in the library - a dark red room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling designed by the illustrator and painter Glynn Boyd Hart as a homage to the breakfast parlour of the Soane museum in London. Along two walls are books by my literary ancestors - Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell - along with Edith's own collection of books, as well as a travel section, biographies, art and music. The cookbooks are some of my favourites, spanning Stephane Reynaud's Pork and Sons, Marcella Hazan's The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and Caroline Conran's Poor Cook (a present from her son Tom). The books tend to stay on the shelves, although whenever I pass by I make a shallow pledge to myself to move one to the kitchen.

For that is where the second lot live. In a cabinet over four shelves live the books we actually use, regularly. There's Nigella's awesome How to Eat, Simon Hopkinson's charming Roast Chicken and other Stories (voted - with a little help from me - The Most Useful Cookbook of All Time, in the magazine I edit some years ago) and Jane Hornby's brilliant What to Cook and How to Cook It. And there is the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book always reliable for sauces, classic cakes, virtually everything - and equally good is the Ballymaloe Cookery Course.

Read more at The Happy Foodie site, including a discussion of Sitwell's "favourite stash" of cookbooks in a room accessed through a secret door.

Photo of William Sitwell's book collection by Vanessa Kimbell courtesy of The Happy Foodie

World Calendar of Cookbook Events

 Events collage

There are many cookbook-related events going on around the world - author book signings, talks, cooking classes, and more.  But we often never hear about them - or even more frustratingly, we hear about them too late.  Eat Your Books to the rescue!  We have created a calendar of every cookbook event we have heard about.  We will be updating it daily, so keep checking back.

Take a look now and see if your favorite author is coming to a bookstore or event near you.  Or check out the specialist cookbook stores for events they have scheduled.  And even if if there are no events near you, we have added some special promotions that publishers are running - eBooks for free or $2.99, contests, etc.

If you know of any events we haven't included, please do let us know at info@eatyourbooks.com and we will add them.

Building blocks of Mexican cuisine

Hugh Carpenter

Hugh Carpenter is an acclaimed teacher and award-winning cookbook author. He has teamed up again with photographer Teri Sandison for a primer on contemporary Mexican cuisine with Mexican Flavors. (You can enter our contest for your chance to win one of three copies.) The book includes classic recipes as well as gastronomic surprises such as banana salsa, quesadillas with papaya and Brie, and barbecued Caesar salad with chile croutons. 

We asked Hugh to expound on his latest work, and he elected to focus on one chapter in the book called "Flavor Building Blocks." This chapter is an in-depth exploration of chile peppers, a fundamental ingredient in Mexican cuisine. The synopsis below is like getting a free master class from this renowned instructor.

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Chiles are central to Mexican cuisine - The King of all ingredients. Native to the Americas and cultivated for at least one thousand years, the Spanish spread chiles around the globe within a hundred years following the arrival of Cortez and thus transformed the cuisines of far-flung countries. Before the 16th century, there were no chiles found in Szechuan!

Remember, when fresh chiles are dried, their name always changes. For example, fresh poblano become ancho, and jalapeño become chipotle chiles. Generally, the size determines the spice level. Most dried chiles of the same size have about the same level of hotness.

Fresh Chiles: 

Jalapeño and Serrano chiles are the two most commonly used fresh chiles in Mexican cooking. Jalapeño chiles vary in spice, ranging from moderately spicy to as mild as a bell pepper. Serrano chiles are hotter, but these, too, vary in intensity. Here is a simple way to know how hot the chile tastes: cut off the stem and taste the cut surface for hotness (in other words lick the cut stem!). Adjust the quantity to use accordingly. 

Anaheim and Poblano chiles are mildly spicy. Used for Chile Rellenos and for many other dishes, they have about the same spice level and can be used interchangeably. These are never eaten raw, and are always given a preliminary charring. When dried, poblanos are called ancho chiles and Anaheim chiles are called New Mexican chiles ("chile seco del norte") or chiles Colorado. 

To seed or not to seed: I'm always amazed when I see a cook cutting a serrano lengthwise in half and then carefully scraping away the seeds.  It's true that the seeds and ribbing have the most spice - but when using jalapeño and serrano chiles, never extract the seeds and ribbing! Just adjust the hotness of the dish by mincing less of the chile. To mince, use an electric mini-chopper. 

The plastic bag technique:  Habanero and Scotch Bonnet chiles are extremely spicy. When handling these, always protect your hands by placing them inside plastic baggies, or wear plastic food gloves. The chile will burn your skin and eyes if you don't remember to protect your hands. If substituting habanero or scotch bonnet chiles for serrano chiles: 1 habanero or scotch bonnet = 8 Serrano chiles.  

How to char fresh chiles: All Mexican cooks char fresh chiles by placing them on a thin metal pan called a "comal" over the highest heat on a gas stovetop. Any heavy frying pan can be substituted for the comal. No oil is added to the pan. Or, gripping chiles with tongs, hold the chiles directly over a gas burner turned to high. This can prove frustrating since the chiles are inclined to fall into or away from the gas flames, and causes constant repositioning, but can be solved by using a metal screened cooling rack that is dedicated to this function. When chiles char on one side, rotate and continue to char until blackened on all sides. Don't try to char the chiles on a gas grill or under the broiler. The heat won't be sufficient to blacken the chiles.

To wash or not to wash charred chiles: Never wash the chiles to remove the char. Once the chiles are charred on all sides, transfer the chiles to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, or place in a paper bag and then seal the bag.  (Note:  don't use a plastic bag as the plastic bag will melt if there is any contact with the hot tongs used to rotate the chiles).  After five minutes, rub off the char using paper towels.  Don't wash the chiles as this will wash most of the roasted flavor down the drain.

Ancho chiles and their confusing name: In California, ancho chiles are packaged as "pasilla chiles." But in Mexico ancho chiles are dried poblano chiles, and pasilla chiles are a different chile called "chile negro."

Don't obsess about finding the "correct type" of chile: I know that Mexican cooking authorities recommend specific chiles; but chiles of the same size can typically be used interchangeably. Always check the hotness of chiles, both fresh and dried, by taking a little "taste test" and adjusting the amount to use accordingly. Most chiles of the same size have roughly the same amount of "hotness." The following dried chiles can all be used interchangeably:  Ancho (dried poblano), Cascabel, Guajillo, Mulato, and Chile Negro (or Pasilla). 

Dried Chiles

To toast or not to toast dried chiles: Mexican cooks usually give dried chiles a preliminary toasting in a hot skillet or pan (comal). But if the chiles are toasted a few seconds too long, the chiles acquire a bitter taste and the recipe is ruined. If you skip the preliminary toasting, the chiles will still give the food a fantastic taste. A preliminary toasting of the dried chiles is unnecessary. 

To seed or not to seed before adding to liquid: Mexican cooks soften dried chiles by submerging them whole in boiling water or chicken broth. Then the softened chiles are stemmed and the seeds rinsed out. But some of the soft, pulpy interior of the chile can be lost. A better techniques is to snip off the dry stem end, and shake out the seeds. Now the dried chiles are placed in a saucepan or bowl and covered with boiling water or chicken broth. Submerge the chiles with a small plate or bowl. Soak 30 minutes until softened (Note, the water or broth is not kept at a simmer during the soaking process. It gradually cools during the soaking process). Sometimes dried chiles are too wrinkled to cut them open and shake away the seeds. In that case, just remove the stem and seeds after submerging the chiles. 

Other Mexican Chile Products

Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce: These are smoked jalapeños simmered in a spicy sauce, and sold in 4-ounce cans at every Mexican market, and many American supermarkets. To use: Finely mince the chiles, including the seeds, and use along with the sauce. Warning: these are extremely spicy. To store:  transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate.  Lasts indefinitely.

Chile sauce, your favorite: This is a general term covering many chili sauces such as Cholula. Easily substitute with the Asian chile sauce, Rooster Brand Sriracha hot chile sauce, sold in a clear plastic bottle with a green cap. And remember to always refrigerate after opening. Crushed red pepper also serves as a great substitute to chile sauce and is sold in the spice section of all markets. It's also what appears on the table at all pizza restaurants and is very spicy, so use sparingly.

Chili powder, ancho and chipotle: If you can't locate this in your local market, it is always available in Mexican markets. You can also make your own by cutting the dried chiles into small pieces, and powdering them in an electric spice blender. Package, label, and store with your other spices. One powdered ancho chile equals 2 tablespoons.

Cookbook giveaway - Mexican Flavors

Mexican FlavorsMexican Flavors is the newest cookbook by prolific author and acclaimed cooking school instructor Hugh Carpenter. The book includes classic recipes such as guacamole and tortilla soup, but there are many surprises and twists on the classics as well. Chile rellenos are filled with a pine nut goat cheese herb stuffing and then smoked on the barbecue. Enchiladas have intriguing fillings of duck, shrimp, or shiitake mushrooms and are a master class on fail-safe ways to create perfection.

Hugh provided a synopsis of the chapter on chile peppers to EYB members, and we are delighted to offer five copies of Mexican Flavors in this contest. Enter soon; the contest ends on September 23.

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Over 150,000 online recipes at your fingertips

Fireworks

We are excited to announce that over 150,000 indexed recipes now have online links--that's over 15% of the 1,100,000+ recipes indexed on Eat Your Books! All of these recipes are from trusted, top-notch sources including the best magazines and blogs, plus online recipes from cookbooks so you can "test drive" a cookbook before you buy it! Of that 150,000 online recipes, there are nearly 24,000 links to recipes from cookbooks (equivalent to 120 cookbooks) and to over 48,000 magazine recipes (equivalent to over 850 issues of magazines). We are adding thousands of online recipes each month!

EYB allows you to find your favorite online recipes using one search instead of wading through dozens of cumbersome online recipe boxes or favorites lists or subjecting yourself to questionable recipes from a general internet search. If you've ever struggled to remember where you saw that great chocolate tart recipe (or have trouble navigating to the recipe even if you do remember the website), you probably already appreciate this unique resource.

What's more, you don't have to wait for your favorite online recipe to be indexed, you can add unlimited online recipes using the Bookmarklet. Once a member adds a recipe via the Bookmarklet, the recipe is added to the EYB Library, further expanding the resources for all members (approximately 10% of online recipes are added by members). You can even add your personal recipes to your Bookshelf, so you won't forget about your grandmother's special pot roast recipe. These great benefits are available to all members. Three cheers for our indexing team and members in reaching another milestone!

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!

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