Want to avoid advertising?

Join as Premium member »

Food writer Josh Ozersky dies at 47

Josh OzerskyFood writer and founding editor of Grub Street Josh Ozersky died on May 4 in Chicago. He was in the city for the James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony which took place Monday evening. Ozersky served on the awards committee for the JBF.

Known for his passionate and often snarky diatribes, Ozersky was a food writer for Esquire magazine and frequent contributor to other publications including The Wall Street Journal and Food & Wine. A passionate carnivore, Ozersky authored a book on the history of the hamburger (simply titled The Hamburger.)

In addition writing about food, Ozersky founded Meatopia, a festival celebrating meat and the chefs who cook it that The New York Times once called a "bacchanal of pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, turkey and quail." He frequently got into spats with chefs and other authors, most famously with David Chang.

Ozersky's former Grub Street colleague Adam Platt penned an eloquent tribute to the late writer, in which he noted that Ozersky "had the metabolism of a great internet writer, but also the talent and voice of a great long-form essayist. In this topsy-turvy writing age, you usually get one or the other, but you don't get both. Josh was both. He did a lot of great writing about food, and about his beloved hamburgers, but he wrote beautifully and with great feeling about all sorts of topics."

What's not to love about empanadas?

Sandra A. GuiterrezSandra A. Gutierrez is a prolific food writer, with over 1,000 articles published to date. The former food editor for The Cary News, Sandra featured a weekly column covering various topics such as food history, ingredient-based cooking, ethnic and American cuisines, cookbook reviews, and cooking techniques. Although born in the US, Sandra grew up in Latin America, where she learned about many regional cuisines. As a recognized expert in Latin cuisines, she has taught cooking classes throughout the US and her work has been featured in publications across the globe.

Sandra recently released her third cookbook, Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy). We asked her about the book, and she graciously provided us with the following mini-lesson on empanadas:

Empanadas are small pies that are filled with myriad kinds of succulent fillings. The stuff inside the dough can be sweet, savory, or a combination of both. In my newest cookbook, Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America, I explain the great story of these little pies and how they arrived to Latin America.

Did you know that Latin empanadas are made with different kinds of dough? That's right, we don't use only wheat-based dough, we also have some pretty delicious gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan kinds of dough that will surprise you.  Furthermore, in Latin America, empanadas can be large or small, shaped like half-moons, ravioli, or footballs. They can be fried, baked, or grilled. They also can be enjoyed for breakfast, as a meal alone or alongside salad, as appetizers or as desserts.

There are 21 Latin American countries and each one features their own diverse kinds of empanadas. Fillings can be varied too, from beef, to cheese, and to dulce de leche. If it can be stuffed into a pie, it can be put inside an empanada. In my book, you'll find my favorite versions, from the Nicaraguan fried chicken and olive pies that are rolled in sugar, to the Chilean beef pies that are famous around the world, and to Brazilian banana tarts, bejeweled in a sugar-cinnamon coating. You'll find empanadas all the way from Mexico, through Central America, the Latin Caribbean, and South America.

The idea for this book had been living in my subconscious for a while - I even wrote an entire chapter on the empanadas most likely to be found in the streets of Latin America in my second book, Latin American Street Food. I wrote this book with such enthusiasm because I'm in love with the theme - I mean, what's not to love about empanadas? Furthermore, I was also very happy to learn that this book will have an international release, which means that it will be released simultaneously in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere. This means that the measurements for each recipe are in both metric and imperial formulas, so that anyone around the world can make them and succeed.

Writing cookbooks is a labor of love because it takes a long time (years) to produce each book. First, there is a lot of research to be done (especially for the kinds of books I write which are filled with history, trivia, and authentic recipes). Then, the recipes have to be developed and written down. Then comes the best part of the project: testing, re-testing, and tasting all along! After that, recipes get sent to a professional tester.  Only after a recipe works perfectly, do I send it out to blind testers who recreate the recipes according to my exact written instructions.  It's a lot of work, but this ensures that every cook succeeds each and every time.

It is my hope that you'll enjoy reading and cooking from this book and that as you do so, you'll discover the great array of cuisines that make up Latin American cooking.

Cookbook giveaway - Empanadas

EmpanadasThe latest cookbook from Latin American food expert Sandra A. Guiterrez features the world's most widely eaten hand-held pies: empanadas. Filled with a marvelous array of ingredients, empanads make a perfect snack, everyday meal, decadent dessert, or great party fare. (Read more about these delicious pies in our author interview with Sandra). Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America offers a collection of delicious recipes and tips on creating the perfect mini pie for any occasion, from Argentinian cheesy spinach empanadas to flaky Brazilian shrimp and tomato empanadas to Costa Rican empanaditas stuffed with gooey pineapple jam.

In addition to the many recipes, the book includes an introduction on the history of empanadas, a lesson on dough types and folding techniques, and stunning color photographs. We're delighted to offer 2 copies to EYB Members in the US and Canada only. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:

What is your favorite empanada filling?

Please note that you must be signed into the Rafflecopter contest before posting the comment or your entry won't be counted. The contest ends June 2, 2015.

How social media can make (or break) a cookbook

Eat. Nourish. Glow. cookbookSocial media plays an increasingly larger role in our everyday lives as it continues to supplement and even replace news formats like newspaper, television, and radio. Not surprisingly, it has become a catalyst for new products, and no example illustrates the power of social media more than the case of the cookbook Eat. Nourish. Glow.

The first book from nutritional therapist and healthy eating expert Amelia Freer enjoyed modest success when it was initially released in the UK. The cookbook became an overnight sensation, however, due to one Instragram post by British crooner Sam Smith. In March, Smith told his 3.6 million followers via Instagram that Freer's cookbook had changed his life.

The book exploded after the Grammy winner's endorsement, rocketing to the number one spot on Amazon overnight, and wiping out the entire stock of the publisher (Harper Thorsons) within 48 hours. With no U.S. edition available, Harper turned to Harper360, a recent program designed to publish English-language titles globally, to meet the surprise demand. The paperback version hit the bestseller list within two weeks of its April 14 US release.

Contrast this story to that of Belle Gibson, the once-popular blogger who also shot to fame via social media. Her inspiring tale about beating cancer by following a healthy diet recently unraveled when the entire story proved to be a lie. Gibson's metoric rise began in 2013 after she announced on social media that her brain cancer had been cured not by conventional medicine, but instead by following a healthy whole-foods diet.

Whole Pantry cookbookShe quickly amassed millions of followers and her Whole Pantry app became a best-seller. Her cookbook was poised to do the same, and Gibson promised to donate a portion of the proceeds from both the app and book to cancer charities. This spring, after several charities complained that they hadn't yet received any of the promised contributions, and after her friends chimed in with their own reservations, Gibson admitted that she had fabricated the entire saga.

Former fans of the blogger vented their disappointment and outrage via the same social media network that had propelled Gibson to fame. The cookbook's publication, along with sales of the app, were quickly halted.

Know your chili pastes

chili garlic paste

Don't know the difference between naam prik pao and gochujang? That's okay, because indexed blog Food52 has constructed a primer to help you learn about the many varieties of chili paste. 

They begin by dividing chili pastes into five broad categories: hot, fishy, spiced, fermented, and sweet(ish). Examples from various cuisines are provided to illustrate each category. The examples include pastes you probably already know, like harissa, as well as lesser known styles such as shatta (a thick, creamy Egyptian chili paste featuring tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, black pepper, parsley, and garlic) and ajika (a Georgian paste made with walnuts, hot peppers, and various spices including fenugreek).

The lists are not comprehensive, but the primer should help you decide into which category that chili paste recipe you've bookmarked falls. As always, the EYB Library is stocked with loads of recipes for (and recipes that use) many of these chili pastes and more. Here are a few to get you started:

Basic chili paste to replace chili powder from Serious Eats
Roasted red chili paste (Nam prik pao) from Everyday Thai Cooking by Katie Chin
Gluten free Korean chili paste (Gochujang) from Critical MAS
How to make harissa paste from The Kitchn
Sambal oelek from  Serious Eats
Sriracha sauce
from Fine Cooking Magazine by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim

Photo of chili garlic paste from The Minimalist at The New York Times by Mark Bittman

Adventures in Turkish cooking

Somer SivriogluIstanbul-born chef Somer Sivrioglu moved to Sydney when he was twenty-five. He now runs the extremely popular Efendy restaurant, where he draws on a multitude of cultural influences to recreate the food traditions of his homeland. He's sharing those traditions in his cookbook Anatolia, which reimagines Turkish cooking with recipes ranging from the great banquets of the Ottoman Empire to the spicy snacks of Istanbul's street stalls. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy of the cookbook.) With every recipe, Anatolia tells a tale about the rituals, myths, jokes and folk wisdom of both ancient and modem Turkey. Chef Sivrioglu graciously provided us with an excerpt from Anatolia to share with our Members:

I grew up knowing the difference in sound between a gunshot in the next street and a bomb in the next suburb. Even in the midst of civil war, mybabaanne(grandma) retained her sense of hospitality. 'Do not close the door, Somer-our neighbours might think we want to keep them away', she would tell me every time I shut the door to the family apartment in Istanbul.

My grandad had bought the apartment building in the Kadıköy neighbourhood after selling his hotel andhamam(Turkish bath) in the rural town of Eskişehir. He'd moved the whole family to the multicultural suburb on the Anatolian side of the city, giving one flat to each of his children so the whole family could live near each other. The block felt like a village, with the hallways full of cooking smells floating from open doorways.

I was lucky to be a kid during that time in Turkish history. People still shared food with their neighbours; every store in your suburb knew your name; the butcher would keep all the high-protein offal for families with growing children; and kids from different ethnic backgrounds not only played together but also ate together in whatever house they happened to find themselves around supper time.

We had neighbours with Greek, Armenian and Sephardic Jewish backgrounds, and I was blessed to taste their everyday meals. In an era of curfews, suppression and terror, I felt strangely safe in the company of family, friends and neighbours.

In 1980, Turkey, moving towards a freemarket economy, suffered another military coup. My parents separated and I was living in another suburb in another kind of apartment, with double locks on the door. I had more toys and fewer friends, and a lot less diversity in my diet. My friends and I queued for two hours in front of the first McDonald's when it opened in Turkey, so that we could have burgers and Coke.

My priorities began to change after I landed in Australia in 1995. I'd graduated in hospitality from a college in Turkey, and now I was doing my MBA in Sydney, discussing Organisational Behaviour during the day and washing dishes at night (and being told my pan-scrubbing skills were not up to scratch). Living close to Sydney's Chinatown, and eating every cuisine but my own, I re-learned the value of a multicultural society and its contribution to national happiness.

Fast forward to 2007 and I am married to my beautiful wife Aslı. Just after we have our second baby, we open our first restaurant, serving what I imagined to be 'modern Turkish cuisine'. My first menu included okra in truffle oil, crabmantı and Turkish-coffee crème brûlée.

Looking back, I think I was silly. I was trying to impress by using the trendy ingredients of the time. I wasn't being true to myself or my culture. My excuse for playing around with the recipes was that I thought I didn't have access to the kind of produce I could have found in Turkey, so it would be impossible to cook at the same quality.

My mind was opened by a visit from my culinary hero, Musa Dağdeviren, from the world-famous Çiya restaurant in Kadıköy. When I picked him up at the airport, I apologised that Australian ingredients would be limiting. He asked if there was a Chinatown in Sydney and soon he was showing me all the wild weeds, fruits, vegetables and greens he could use. I'd worked just next door to those markets and I'd never noticed. During that visit, Musa made the best 'Sumac salad' I'd ever eaten using a native Australian fruit called Davidson plum instead of sumac.

He showed me that Turkish cooking is less about particular ingredients and more about philosophy. It's about sitting at a table in a Black Sea village, sharing a plate of Armeniantopik, Kurdishkebap, Jewishboyozand Greektarama, and washing down the meal with a glass ofrakıorayran. It's about the ways different cultures have taken advantage of the abundance of produce in the area now called Anatolia.

In Australia, I'm regarded as a Turkish chef with a modern presentation. In Turkey, I'm regarded as an Australian chef experimenting with some sort of Turkish 'fusion'. I think I'm simply doing what the peoples of Anatolia have done for millennia-getting the best out of local produce with techniques tested and proved by my ancestors.

My family and friends are a diverse bunch. We support different football teams, different religions, different politicians, and different sexual orientations. We come from different ethnicities. So we are just like Turkey. We argue a lot-as the peoples of Anatolia have done for thousands of years. But when we sit together around a table, we are united by one idea-we want to enjoy our food.

Cookbook giveaway - Anatolia

AnatoliaAnatolia by Somer Sivrioglu is a richly illustrated, entertaining and informative exploration of the regional cooking culture of Turkey. Turkish-born chef Sivrioglu and co-author David Dale re-imagine the traditions of Turkish cooking, presenting recipes ranging from the grand banquets of the Ottoman empire to the spicy snacks of Istanbul's street stalls. In doing so they explain their take on the classics and reveal the surrounding rituals, myths, jokes and folk wisdom of both the old and new Turkey.

Recipes are complemented by specially commissioned photographs shot on location in Turkey. Feature spreads on local Turkish chefs and producers and their specialities add a fascinating layer of interest and flavour. You can learn more about the books in our author interview. We're delighted to offer four copies of Anatolia, two to EYB Members in the UK and two to Members in Australia or New Zealand.

One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:

What's your favorite Turkish food?

Please note that you must enter the comment after signing into Rafflecopter or your entry won't be counted. The contest ends May 30, 2015.

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 & blogs:

Peanut butter brownie carmelitas

Peanut butter brownie carmelitas from I am Baker, indexed by an EYB Member
From UK books:

A Bird in the Hand
16 recipes from A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry
Enter our giveaway (ends May 21)

the salad bowl

1 recipe from The Salad Bowl: Vibrant & Healthy Recipes for Light Meals, Lunches, Simple Sides & Dressingsby Nicola Graimes (indexed by an EYB Member)

From AUS/NZ books:

Cook with Me

7 recipes from Cook with Me: Recipes for Enjoying Every Day by Aaron Burnet

From Canadian books:

Toronto Star cookbook
8 recipes from the Toronto Star Cookbook

From US books:

Rose Water & Orange Blossoms
10 recipes from Rose Water & Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood

My New Roots
4 recipes from My New Roots by Sarah Britton

A Girl and Her Greens
13 recipes from A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden by April Bloomfield

Tips and tricks that fail to impress

Cooks are always on the lookout for tips and tricks that make working in the kitchen easier. We've reported on tricks that have impressed us, like spanking pomegranates to release the arils and helpful tips on working with bacon. But sometimes "mind-blowing" kitchen hacks don't live up to their hype. Indexed blog The Kitchn reports on 12 tips that didn't live up to their expectations.

One trick that failed to impress was making hardboiled eggs in the oven. The Kitchn reported off tastes and marginal results at best. They advise sticking with the tried-and-true stovetop method instead. Another dud was using lemon juice to revive wilted lettuce. The juice worked no better than soaking the leaves in cold water. Lemons factored into another failed tip about juicing. It turns out that slicing the fruit lengthwise doesn't result in significantly more juice when the lemons are squeezed.

The novel idea of opening a bottle of wine using a shoe was also put to the test. The Kitchn was never able to successfully accomplish this task, although some of their readers did. Another tip you can forget about trying is separating all of your bananas so they ripen more slowly. Separate or together, bananas ripen at the same rate.

What "mind-blowing" kitchen tips have bombed for you?

Here's a tip that works: How to boil eggs perfectly every time from The Kitchn

hardboiled eggs

Jazz up your julep

Hawksworth's mint julep

Few celebrations or holidays have a cocktail that is as strongly associated with the day as the Kentucky Derby does with its mint julep. Saturday marks the 141th anniversary of the prestigious thoroughbred race, and there is no telling how many mint juleps have been consumed since the inaugural event in 1875.

Southerners love their traditions, so until recently the classic cocktail saw little modification. Juleps were made with various spirits such as brandy and genever gin throughout the 19th century, but the mint version that became intertwined with the Derby accepts no substitutes for Kentucky bourbon. (Well, almost no substitutes, since the "official drink" of the Derby from 1999-2014 used Early Times whiskey. This year the Derby has switched back to bourbon with Old Forester as the official brand.)

Similarly, a particular variety of spearmint known as Kentucky Colonel is the preferred herb. Silver julep cups are de rigeuer for purists, although pewter is also acceptable. For perfect form, one should hold the cups only by the top or bottom edges, allowing frost to form along the sides of the cup.

Those who aren't hidebound to tradition have made changes and additions to the mint julep, and today you can try any number of different juleps, including 59 recipes from the EYB Library. Sip one of these tasty recipes, whether or not you watch the race wearing a special hat:

Ginger-mint juleps with fresh pineapple from The Kitchn
Mint & raspberry julep from Jamie Magazine
Blackberry-bourbon julep from Bobby Flay's Bar Americain Cookbook
Strawberry mint julep from Baking Bites
Sparkling mint & lemon juleps from BBC Good Food Magazine
Maple julep from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails
White peach julep from Cookbooks 365

Photo of Hawksworth's mint julep from indexed blog Serious Eats

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