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"Project Smoke" aims to elevate your barbecue


Are you just getting into barbecue or do you consider yourself a seasoned pitmaster? Either way, grilling guru Steven Raichlen's new PBS series called "Project Smoke," which debuted last weekend, aims to boost your barbecue IQ. Thirteen 30-minute episodes feature "recipes, ingredients, tools, tricks and techniques that aim to lead the audience on a smoke-filled journey to new flavors."

"I call smoke the umami of BBQ," Raichlen told Yahoo! Food. "It enhances the intrinsic flavor of beef, pork, fish and vegetables the way umami does. Smoke has the ability to give food such a depth of flavor without denaturizing the original product." The show is aimed at both novices and experts. "If you're a beginner, you'll learn how to smoke on every smoker and how to use every ingredient. If you're more advanced, you'll learn some tricks and dishes that aren't part of your repertoire," he said.

In addition to behind-the-scenes footage of how food programs are put together, Raichlen will emphasize ethical eating by encouraging cooks to use grass-fed beef, heritage pork, organic poultry, and wild seafood, as well as locally sourced produce. The show will cover many different techniques, such as cold smoking (salmon), smoke roasting, rotisserie smoking,  and hay smoking. He'll also offer advice on the best smokers to buy - and for the dedicated, instructions on how to build your own.

Photo of Coffee-rubbed Texas-style brisket  from  Cooking Light Magazine by Steven Raichlen


Power couples

Grilled asparagus salad with fried egg 

Some food combinations just seem to go together: peanut butter and jelly, tomato soup and grilled cheese, milk and cookies. Sometimes food combinations do more than just taste good together; they can also promote nutrition, reports NPR's The Salt.

The NPR team took a look at a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which "concludes that adding eggs to salads makes it easier to absorb the carotenoids in the raw vegetables." Carotenoids are the yellow and red pigments that supply color to fruits and vegetable ; the most famous are beta carotene (think carrots) and lycopene (found in tomatoes). These phytonutrients play important roles in our health.

What researchers found was that adding eggs to salads increased the absorption of carotenoids 3.8 times when compared to salads with no eggs. It's the fat in the eggs that does it, and you can achieve similar results by using an oil-based salad dressing. (The research was conducted by Purdue University at the behest of the American Egg Board, which is why eggs were the focus of this study.)

Other food "power couples" also help boost nutrition. Eating foods "high in vitamin C, like a red pepper, helps convert the nonheme iron in plant foods and iron-fortified foods into a chemical form that promotes absorption." So Tex-Mex dishes that feature beans and peppers are winning combinations.

One intriguing beneficial food pairing is that of turmeric and black pepper. According to Drew Ramsey, a Columbia University psychiatrist-turned- kale evangelist, "this combination makes curcumin, the pigment in turmeric that has anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, easier for the body to access. One study showed that the alkaloid in the pepper boosted the availability of curcumin in turmeric by 2,000 percent." So throw plenty of black pepper in your next curry.

There's always a down side to these arrangements, however. Sometimes power couples fight with each other. One kind of acid - phytates - found in things like coffee may decrease the absorption of iron and zinc. Pairing bacon with your morning coffee may be habit, but it's not the most nutritious path to breakfast.

Photo of Grilled asparagus salad with fried eggs  from indexed blog What's Gaby Cooking



What does the world's oldest person eat?

birthday cake slice

Last week the world got a new oldest person when the previous record holder, Jeralean Talley, passed away at the age of 116. Susannah Mushatt Jones, age 113, then became the world's oldest living person. You might think that to reach these advanced ages the women ate a spartan, ultra-healthy diet, but you would be wrong.

Talley lived to 116 on a diet of  "potato salad, honey buns, McDonald's chicken nuggets, and Wendy's chili. She would also eat lots of fish, vegetables, and fruit (blueberries, cantaloupe, and strawberries, to name a few)." Jones, when she learned that she was now the world's oldest living person, had just eaten a meal of steamed chicken, baked potato, collard greens, and raspberry Jell-O. Her breakfast most mornings consists of four strips of bacon with eggs and grits.

The diet of the current oldest person is often parsed by those seeking clues to longevity. Previous holders of the title attributed living to a ripe old age by cooking most of their meals from scratch or by eating only foods they truly enjoyed. Sounds like good advice to follow, even if you don't make it to age 116.

Photo of Ultimate birthday cake from 'Baked Occasions' (Bake the Book) from Serious Eats by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

The "someday" list

ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms

People who love to cook are always on the hunt for new recipes. We pore through cookbooks, read dozens of websites, follow chefs on Twitter, and make bookmarks everywhere for dishes that we'd like to try. Some of us keep these lists online, in notebooks, or in a folder filled with pages torn from various magazines. (Of course we index all of them here on EYB.)

But not all of these wonderful inspirations end up on our plates. Maybe it's a missing ingredient that we never remember to buy, the fact that we can't find the time for a multi-step recipe, we aren't sure our family will like it, we're hesitant to stray from a tried-and-true recipe, or perhaps something more tempting comes along. Yet we don't get rid of those inspirational recipes (at least I don't) - they linger in our folders or lists,

I have several of these "I'm going to make that someday" recipes: a fried ricotta-filled zucchini blossom recipe bookmarked online (and pictured at top), a Jacques Pépin raspberry and kirsch jelly roll recipe torn from a magazine and beginning to turn yellow around the edges, a cornstarch ice cream recipe that all of my friends rave about, and an Argentine empanada recipe given to me by a friend. All of them ended up on the list for a reason, and I still aspire to make each and every one. Maybe I'll try that ice cream recipe tomorrow...but I wouldn't bet on it.

Which recipes linger in your "someday" list?

Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

At Eat Your Books we want to bring you the best recipes - our dedicated team searches out and finds online recipes excerpted from newly indexed cookbooks and magazines. New recipes from the best blogs are indexed daily and members index their favorite online recipes using the Bookmarklet all the time.

Below you'll find this week's recommendations from the EYB team.

Remember you can add any of these online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf - it's a great way to expand your personal recipe collection.

Happy cooking and baking everyone!

From magazines:

Salted Chocolate and Caramel Brownie Tart by Alice Arndell from
the July/August issue of indexed Cuisine Magazine

From AUS/NZ books:

2 recipes from A La Grecque: Our Greek Table by Pam Talimanidis

From Canadian books:

6 recipes from Buffalo Girl Cooks Bison by Jennifer Bain

From US books:

Making the most of your marinade

buttermilk ranch marinade

Marinades promise many things: added moisture, tenderness, and deep flavors to foods like chicken, pork, and even tofu. Sometimes, however, they fail to deliver. Indexed magazine Bon Appétit offers several tips on how to avoid making marinade mistakes.

The first piece of advice is to resist the temptation add everything but the kitchen sink to your marinade. "A proper marinade should have focus and clean flavor-this is not the time to combine Sriracha, mustard, soy sauce, hot sauce, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, onion jam, and whatever other random jars are lurking in the shelf of your fridge. Choose a simple theme or defining ingredient, and don't stray too far from the course." After all, you want to be able to taste the underlying food.

Another tip is to add some fat to the marinade. Carla Lalli Music, BA's food director, notes that "Fat carries flavor and will help distribute all the ingredients in the marinade into all the nooks and crannies of your steak, etc." Don't waste a high-quality delicate oil on this task - its flavor won't be strong enough to be noticed. Opt for a cheaper, neutral oil instead.

The article advises you to go big or go home on flavors like garlic and onion, since it takes a lot to penetrate into your meat. Also, the best way "to build flavor in your marinade is to kick start the aromatics. That means bruising herbs, toasting spices, smashing garlic cloves, and chopping alliums." 

Read more tips at Bon Appétit, and browse the EYB Library to find the perfect marinade.

Photo of Buttermilk ranch marinade from Marinades: The Quick-Fix Way to Turn Everyday Food into Exceptional Fare, with 400 Recipes by Lucy Vaserfirer (photo credit: Mims Copeland/The Oregonian)

Rash of restaurant rants

Restaurant review

When it rains, it pours, and when The Washington Post rants about restaurants, it creates a flood. Yesterday's online edition of the newspaper's food section contained six separate rants about restaurants. Most of the complaints revolved around service- or ambience-related issues; only one was about food.

First up is Roberto A. Ferdman's complaint about what he calls "the most annoying restaurant trend today" - waiters who take your plates before you are finished eating. He notes that going against decades of tradition where plates remain until everyone at the table is finished eating, servers now "hover over diners, fingers twitching, until the very instant someone puts down a fork. Like vultures, they then promptly snatch up the silverware -- along with everything else in front of the customer. If you're lucky, they might ask permission before stealing your plate."

Next, Bonnie Berwick takes on a smaller annoyance: napkins that don't work. Berwick laments that restaurants are dishing spun polyester napkins for those made from less expensive filament polyester. The difference, she explains, is that filament polyester doesn't properly absorb liquids, leading to napkins that in a recent dining experience "slid to the floor and transported salsa drips to my clothes, remaining stain-free vehicles themselves."

Another rant takes on restaurant websites. Becky Krystal complains that in an effort to be on the cutting edge of design, many restaurant websites neglect to include basic information like location, hours, a phone number, or even a menu. Other complaints noted on the site include lighting levels so low you can't read the menu, shrinking restaurant tabletop sizes, and a lack of adventurous dining in a popular DC neighborhood. 

Many people likely agree with some (or maybe all) of these rants, but beware: The Washington Post has a limit on the number of free articles per month, so if you want to read all of the rants you might run into the paywall, possibly creating a rant of your own.

June 2015 cookbook roundup

Every month Jane and Fiona wade through hundreds of cookbooks, selecting and reviewing all the best new releases of U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand cookbooks. The only thing left for you to do is to add them to your Bookshelf.


cookbook collageIn a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis: In recent years, Francophiles have enjoyed several cookbooks from English-speaking expats. Loomis is not a Jane-come-lately, however, as she wrote her now-classic expat memoir, On Rue Tatin, over a decade ago. With In a French Kitchen, she demystifies in lively prose the seemingly effortless je ne sais quoi behind a simple French meal. Find information on Loomis' US book tour in the World Calendar of Cookbook Events.

Vegetable Garden Cookbook: 60 Recipes to Enjoy Your Homegrown Produce by Tobias Rauschenberger: Wondering what to do with the excess zucchini or beans from your garden? Check out this book dedicated to the produce most commonly grown in home vegetable patches. Although the focus is on the fresh vegetables, there's a little something for everyone; some recipes are vegan, some are vegetarian, and some include meat.

New England Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase: Chase, who co-authored the bestselling The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook and also wrote a few solo cookbooks, was retired from cookbook writing - or so she thought. However, after moving to Nantucket she was inspired by the regional foods she has enjoyed. In this book, Chase draws from her memories of growing up in Connecticut and Maine; her experience living and cooking on Cape Cod; and her extensive travels meeting farmers, fishermen, and chefs.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream by Laura O'Neill and Ben & Peter Van Leeuwen: From the creators of the popular Brooklyn ice cream emporium comes The Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Book. It includes ice cream recipes for every palate and season, from beloved favorites like vanilla to adventurous treats inspired by a host of international culinary influences, such as masala chai with black peppercorns. Stories are sprinkled throughout the book along with a dash of science.

cookbook collageEat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer: The UK bestseller is now available in an updated American edition. Eat.Nourish.Glow. stems from the personal diet revelations of by Amelia Freer, once the personal assistant to the Prince of Wales. Improving her health inspired her to transform her life: She quit her job, went back to school, and became a nutritionist. 

The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook by Tracey Medeiros and Christy Colasurdo: Another New England farm book features recipes from the Nutmeg State's celebrated chefs and their culinary partners: dedicated farmers, fishers, ranchers, foragers, and cheese makers. You don't have to be a native to enjoy the book as it uses ingredients that are readily available no matter where you shop. Medeiros is touring to promote the book; find details in the World Cookbook Calendar of Events.

The Lemon Cookbook by Ellen Jackson: Jackson, who has written or co-authored several well regarded cookbooks, highlights a kitchen workhorse fruit in her most recent effort. Lemons have a way of making all the other ingredients in a dish shine, as this cookbook illustrates with 50 recipes for both sweet and savoury dishes. 

The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook: A Year of Cooking on Martha's Vineyard by Chris Fischer: The third(!) book this month focusing on New England celebrates the seasonal farm- and ocean-to-table fare that has won accolades for chef Chris Fischer. After working in New York and London, Fischer returned to his family farm on Martha's Vineyard to grow produce, raise livestock, fish, and gather friends for unforgettable meals. Thebook  contains items that readers will either find charming or pretentious: anecdotes about the chef's family and hand-printed letterpress menus.

cookbook collageThis Book Cooks: - Farm-Fresh Traditional Recipes for Healthy Contemporary Cooking by Kerry Dunningtong. An EYB member (kerrydunnington), Kerry brings us recipes that do not focus on a particular region but rather recall her own childhood memories of food. The book emphasizes the importance of implementing family food traditions while recognizing that our choices have an impact on the environment.

Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother's Kitchen by Luca Dotti: Enter Audrey Hepburn's private world in this unique biography compiled by her son that combines recollections, anecdotes, excerpts from her personal correspondence, drawings, and recipes for her favorite dishes written in her own hand, and more than 250 previously unpublished personal family photographs. 

Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble: Kimble shares her year-long journey of eating only whole, unprocessed foods--intertwined with a journalistic exploration of what "unprocessed" really means, why it matters, and how to afford it. As she attempted to balance her project with a normal social life--which included dating--Kimble discovered that the question of what made a food processed was inextricably tied to gender and economy, politics and money, work and play.


cookbook collageThe Seahorse: The Restaurant and its Recipes by Mitch Tonks and Matt Prowse: Cherished by critics, foodies and locals, The Seahorse restaurant  was named 'Best Seafood Restaurant in the UK 2013' by the Good Food Guide and 'Best UK Restaurant 2012' by Observer Food Monthly. The cookbook features recipes from the establishment that reflect the restaurant's changing menu in tune with the harvest from the waves.

French Brasserie Cookbook by Daniel Galmiche: In French Brasserie Cookbook, top chef Daniel Galmiche brings us classic brasserie recipes with a modern Mediterranean twist. Traditional recipes are updated with modern flavors and techniques, like Grilled Fillet of Sea Bass with Caramelised Lemon & Basil Oil and Tarte Tatin with Rosemary & Toasted Almonds.

The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook: Over 100 Favourite Recipes from a Chinese Family Kitchen by Amy and Julie Zhang: These sisters have been entertaining and educating thousands of followers on YouTube with their recipes for deliciously easy homemade Chinese food. In their cookbook, they not only give us their best recipes but also provide insight into Chinese culture and eating etiquette (for perfecting those chopstick skills), including sharing menu planners and a guide to shopping at Chinese supermarkets.

How to Eat Outside: Fabulous Al Fresco Food for BBQs, Bonfires, Camping and More by Genevieve Taylor: This cookbook started with a hunch, that if you think about the the most memorable meals of your life, many of them would be outside, either at a picnic, BBQ, or other outdoor event. Following up on this idea, Taylor created a cookbook packed with recipes, inspiration and practical advice for pain-free delicious cooking, eating and having fun in the big outdoors.

cookbook collageChriskitch: Big Flavours from a Small Kitchen by Chris Honor and Laura Washburn Hutton: Australian-born chef Chris Honor teams up with American food writer Laura Washburn Hutton to share his most memorable, highly original yet simple recipes. Honor says the book "is as much guidebook as cookery book because I don't necessarily think in terms of recipes, I think in terms of combinations."

Benares by Atul Kochhar: Chef Kochhar's unique, world-class cuisine is showcased in this beautiful book of recipes from his Michelin-starred kitchen, combining the best of British produce with modern Indian style. An aspirational tome, it aims to help you "conjure the masterly Michelin spirit in your home."

Chinese Unchopped by Jeremy Pang: Love Chinese food but have absolutely NO idea how to cook it? Fear not. In Chinese Unchopped, acclaimed teacher and School of Wok founder Jeremy Pang demystifies the secret traditions of Chinese cookery.  Opening with the Chinese Kitchen Essentials, Jeremy outlines everything you need to know to set up a workable Chinese kitchen. Once you have the equipment, Chinese Unchopped moves through six chapters outlining the fundamental techniques in Chinese cooking.

Scottish Berries Bible by Sue Lawrence: The latest in Birlinn's bestselling Food Bible series features the succulent soft fruits for which Scotland is so renowned - raspberries, tayberries, redcurrants, blackberries - and shows how to get the best out of them. Sue is a real cook's cook, providing recipes that are easy to cook but reliably produce delicious results.

Homemade MemoriesHomemade Memories: Childhood Treats with a Twist by Kate Doran: In her debut cookbook, blogger Kate Doran brings to life the recipes and stories that have made her blog thelittleloaf.com so popular. From Peanut Butter Jammie Dodgers and Peach Melba Baked Alaska to Peppermint Marshmallows, Triple Chocolate Caterpillar Cake and Pear and Pecan Treacle Tart, the recipes feature classic childhood treats reinvented with an irresistible homemade twist. Food for Your Brood

Food for Your Brood by Sam Gates: For cook Sam Gates, (an EYB Member) the best meals are those shared with the people we love, when the humblest ingredients, casually gathered, seem to magically turn into fine feasts. Written with refreshing honesty and humour, Food for your Brood throws out formality in favour of relaxed and vibrant meals to share with the special people in your life. This is the UK publication of a South African book.


Australia & New Zealand

cookbook collageThe Huxtaburger Book: The Art and Science of the Perfect Burger by Daniel Wilson: Co-owner and chef behind the popular Huxtaburger outlets, Daniel shows you how to recreate the ultimate burger at home including - fried chicken burger with slaw; a tonkatsu (breaded, deep-fried pork) burger with fennel & apple slaw; a BBQ pulled pork bun with pickles. Also includes recipes for sides, condiments and milkshakes.

Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton: Gabrielle's first cookbook released in 2014, Prune, took the number 2 spot on the EYB Best of the Best - now available in Australia. This is a cookbook like no other before - a restaurant kitchen manual with scribbled notes, stains and scribbles and no index (EYB to the rescue).

Everyday Mediterranean Cooking by Mary Valle: As the author of 2 other cookbooks on the Mediterranean diet, Mary takes an in depth look at olive oil - how it's manufactured and the different types. The recipes for everyday eating each include heart healthy and beneficial oils, including - breakfast, breads, soups, main courses, salads, and sweet treats.

Slow Cooker Central by Paulene Christie: More than 250 recipes from the popular Slow Cooker Central website and Slow Cooker Recipes 4 Families Facebook page. The collection of recipes has been created by Paulene and this passionate network of slow cooker devotees. Not just casseroles - includes soups, desserts, cakes, sweets and preserves.

IzakayaIzakaya by Hideo Dekura: An Izakaya is a traditional Japanese drinking establishment, in which food is served, like Spanish tapas. Hideo shows you how to make the most popular dishes served in an Izakaya, from grilled chicken skewers, to edamame, deep-fried tofu and sashimi.

And the latest by Australian Women's Weekly Weekly: Casseroles and Curries

Martha Stewart Living has a new owner

Martha StewartMartha Stewart, who pioneered lifestyle branding in the late 1990s, has sold her empire to Sequential Brands, Inc. in a deal announced yesterday. When Stewart took her company public in 1999, it was valued at $1.8 billion USD. The recent sale indicates how much more crowded the fields of cooking and decorating have become, as the Sequential Brands deal is valued at only $353 million, a fraction of the brand's former worth.

Once the most dominant name in cooking and decorating, in recent years Stewart has faced stiff competition from new "domestic divas like Rachael Ray and everyday bloggers who write about home decorating, cake baking and the like." The internet has contributed to this shift, as people have embraced getting advice, recipes, and ideas from multiple sources instead of one dominant brand.

Whether this transaction will revive the flagging company is unclear. Despite making major changes, Martha Stewart Living has reported annual losses every year since 2003 with only one exception (2007). But Sequential Brands thinks the brand still has life in it. Yehuda Shmidman, CEO of Sequential, points to "research that shows the Martha Stewart name has 96 percent awareness among women in the U.S." He also notes that 70% of women say that Stewart has or continues to influence them. The company also has a wide base, reaching about 100 million people. 

Do you think this sale can revive the brand or is it destined to continue its decline? Is Martha Stewart Living still a go-to source for you?

A rare glimpse into the making of Le Creuset

Ribollita in a Le Creuset 

If you peek into the cabinets of EYB Members, you will probably find plenty of enameled cast iron, and much of that bearing the Le Creuset brand. The fabled casseroles, dutch ovens, and other pans are a touchstone for many cooks. The durable cookware is often passed from one generation to the next, becoming a prized family heirloom. Now chef and author David Lebovitz gives us a rare glimpse into the making of the iconic enameled cast iron by writing about his tour of the Le Creuset factory, which is normally off limits to visitors.

The original Le Creuset foundry, started in 1925 in northern France, is still making cookware today in a process essentially unchanged for nearly a hundred years. The experience of watching the entire production - from molten iron being poured into sandcast molds to the spraying of the enamel coating - moved Lebovitz. He writes "It's incredible to see people physically laboring over something, born of raw materials, then holding a beautiful piece of cookware that is the end result of their work."

Le Creuset was started by two Belgians: one an enameling expert, the other a metal caster. The signature flame orange color "was modeled after the intense orange glow that comes out of the cauldron that they use to melt the iron." Whether you have one workhorse pot or a collection of pieces, you'll enjoy the photos and descriptions of what goes into making an heirloom pan.

Photo of Ribollita from Le Creuset, indexed by an EYB Member

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