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Get "yellow fever" for saffron

Pumpking saffron orange soup by Ottolenghi

If you haven't cooked with saffron, the world's most expensive spice, you'll definitely want to after reading about the Ottolenghi saffron recipes featured in The Guardian. The name saffron comes from the Arabic word for thread, and the thin stigmas of the crocus flower do quite resemble thin crimson strands.

Harvesting saffron is a painstaking process that has so far defied mechanization. The flowers must be picked in the morning before they start to open, and the delicate stigmas must be removed individually, by hand. To produce 450g (1 lb) of saffron, you need about 70,000 crocus flowers. To put that number in perspective, 70,000 crocus plants take up the space of a football field. Factor in the hundreds of hours of labour for the harvest and it's no wonder the spice is costy, running about £5.50 ($8.50 USD) per gram.

But to many cooks, the results justify the price. Saffron adds vibrant color and a flavour that is difficult to describe, although the term "grassy" is often used. Thankfully a little saffron goes a long way, but when it comes to infusing the spice's unique flavour into a dish, "more is definitely more: give it as long as you can (ideally, leave the strands to soak overnight)." Some chefs instruct you to soak the strands until they have no color left in them. The longer you allow the colour and flavour to leach out into any soaking liquid, the more vibrant and flavourful the finished dish will be. Saffron is at home in dishes both savoury and sweet, so the sky's the limit when it comes to experimentation.

You can start with one of these saffron recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi from the EYB Library:

Chard and saffron omelettes from Plenty
Couscous and mograbiah with oven-dried tomatoes
from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
Poached pears with cardamom and saffron from Bon Appétit Magazine by Yotam Ottolenghi
Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts, and honey from Epicurious by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Pumpkin, saffron & orange soup with caramelised pumpkin seeds from  Ottolenghi.co.uk (pictured above)

A big name returns with a new cookbook

Anthony BourdainIt's been over a decade since Anthony Bourdain has written a cookbook. His last was 2004's Les Halles Cookbook. But that's about to change as HarperCollins imprint Ecco has signed Bourdain for a new cookbook titled Appetites, currently slated for a release in fall 2016. The book will be coauthored with Laurie Woolever. According to the publisher, the book will distill 40 years of "professional cooking and world traveling to a tight repertoire of personal favorites."

MamushkaOther cookbooks on the horizon include one from blogger professional chef and blogger Theresa Carle-Sanders. Her cookbook, Outlander Kitchen, which is not due out until summer 2016, is based on her blog of the same name. The book will feature historical and character-inspired recipes from Diana Gabaldon's bestselling Outlander series (the cookbook and series are both published by Bantam).

Arriving a bit sooner is Mamushka by Olia Hercules. Hercules formerly worked with Yotam Ottolenghi and was named the Rising Star of Food 2015 by the Observer in the U.K. Mamushka,  a celebration of the food and flavours of the "Wild East" - from the Black Sea to Baku and Armenia to Azerbaijan, arrives in October.

Featured cookbooks & recipes

Did you know adding online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf is a really great way to build your personal recipe collection? You can now do this even if you have a free membership!

Try it out now and see how easy it is. Browse the recipes below, choose one that appeals, click on the link, and add it to your Bookshelf. (Make sure that you are signed in first.)

All the recipes we feature in these weekly round-ups have online links so you can add any of them to your Bookshelf. Happy cooking & baking everyone!


From blogs & magazines:



Cauliflower cake from The Kitchn by Yotam Ottolenghi

 
From UK books:



11 recipes from Gennaro: Slow Cook Italian by Gennaro Contaldo

 
From AUS/NZ books:



10 recipes from A Free Range Life: Winter Goodness by Annabel Langbein
(Don't forget to enter our contest for your chance to win a copy)

 

Avian flu causes worry about egg shortage

eggs

An outbreak of the avian flu in the US Midwest has prompted concerns about an impending egg shortage. Large industrial customers are developing contingency plans. Makers of products like mayonnaise, ice cream, cookies, muffins, and cake m ixes are looking to egg alternatives as a possible solution.

As of this Wednesday, the flu is forcing farmers to kill more than 33 million egg laying hens, most of them in Iowa and Minnesota. While companies ranging from Post, McDonalds, and Panera Bread scramble to find new sources and restaurants remove egg-intensive menu items, egg substitute producers like Hampton Creek are viewing this as an opportunity to find new markets. They hope their product, which is nearly half as cheap as eggs, will find a permanent home in companies that try it during the shortage.

Individual consumers across the US are also likely to be affected by the flu outbreak, mostly in the form of higher prices for eggs, chicken, and turkeys. About 10 percent of turkeys in Minnesota, the largest producer of turkeys in the US, have been destroyed due to the flu outbreak. Officials emphasize that there is no health risks for consumers. Despite these reassurances, several countries have banned US poultry, including the EU and most of Central America, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

A sweet seed-saving success

watermelon

The farm-to-table movement has produced renewed interest in heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. It's something that David Shields knows a lot about. Shields, a professor at the University of South Carolina, is author of Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine. His mission is to restore antebellum cultivars and foodways. About 10 years ago, as part of his ongoing research, Shields began investigating 19th century melons. He was particularly interested in one variety called the Bradford watermelon. NPR's The Salt brings us the story of the search for this melon and its happy ending.

The Bradford watermelon is the stuff of legend. The fruit, which boasted sweet flesh and a soft rind that was often made into pickles, was once so sought after that "19th-century growers used poison or electrocuting wires to thwart potential thieves, or simply stood guard with guns in the thick of night" to protect their crops. Because the delectable melon didn't ship well, it all but disappeared by the 1920s as sturdier varieties took over.

The legend of the fruit attracted Shields' attention and he began searching for any remaining examples of the melon. Shields had almost given up hope when in late 2012 he received an email from Nat Bradford, a great-great-great-grandson of the man who created the famed fruit. It turned out that after the last commercial crop had been planted in 1922, the Bradford family had maintained the fruit by "planting it in their backyards and saving seeds - making sure to plant it at least a mile from any other melon, so that it wouldn't cross-pollinate and lose its purity."

Shields convinced Bradford to reintroduce the melon to consumers. Bradford embraced the idea and in 2013 he began a limited distribution of Bradford watermelons to chefs and distillers. James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock used the melons to create molasses and pickles to serve at his restaurant. High Wire Distilling Co. distilled 143 bottles of watermelon brandy which quickly sold out. Bradford was so excited that he saved 25,000 seeds, some of which he sells on his website.

Read more about the interesting development of the Bradford variety, which dates back to the American Revolution and a British prison ship, at the NPR website.

Photo of Tequila-soaked watermelon wedges from MarthaStewart.com by Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Sample two 'classic recipes for modern people'

Corn bread brisket sandwichesMax Sussman is the chef de cuisine at Roberta's in Brooklyn. During his tenure at Roberta's, the restaurant has received 2 stars from the New York Times. Eli Sussman is a line cook at Mile End Deli in Brooklyn, which has been featured on several "best of" lists, including Time Out, GQ, and Village Voice. The brothers have joined forces again to write their fourth cookbook, Classic Recipes for Modern People, which features over 75 recipes that reimagine classic dishes from their childhood and yours, with a little humor baked in along the way. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy.)

We got a peek inside the recently released cookbook with not just one, but two, sample recipes for EYB Members to try. Enjoy!

 


 

Corn Bread & Brisket Patty Melt

Brisket
2 lb (1 kg) beef brisket
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) chicken stock
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Corn bread
Olive oil spray
1 1/4 cups (61/4 oz/195 g) cornmeal
1 cup (5 oz/155 g) all-purpose flour
11/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
3 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
4 green onions, minced
1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz/375 g) whole milk
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into thick rounds
4 slices Gruyère cheese
Unsalted butter for frying

1.  To make the brisket, cut the meat into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces. In a wide pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the brisket and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, and sauté until softened and caramelized, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, brown sugar, and tomato paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the stock and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the meat is falling apart and tender, 2-3 hours. Add water if the pan begins to dry. The meat should be just barely covered with liquid when it is ready. If there is too much liquid at the end, transfer the liquid to a small saucepan and simmer until reduced.

2. To make the corn bread, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 9-inch (23-cm) square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with olive oil.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, chiles, and green onions. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, and olive oil. Add the milk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and fold just until the batter is blended; it will be slightly lumpy. Add the egg and fold until blended.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

5. Meanwhile, in a heavy frying pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and cook, turning once, until deeply caramelized, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1⁄2-inch (12-mm) pieces.

6. Cut the corn bread into 4 equal pieces, then halve each piece horizontally. Place one-fourth of the braised beef on the cut side of a bottom piece of corn bread. Top with 1 tablespoon of the onion, a slice of cheese, and then the top piece of corn bread, cut side down. Repeat to make 3 more sandwiches. In a large nonstick frying pan, melt about 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the sandwiches, turning once and adding butter as needed, until the bread is browned and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve right away.

* Makes 4 enormous sandwiches

Carrot and Pistachio Salad

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup (21/2 oz/75 g) diced fresh figs
Kosher salt
2 lb (1 kg) multicolored small carrots, halved lengthwise
1 head radicchio
1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) pistachios, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

In a large bowl, whisk together half of the olive oil, the shallot, vinegar, figs, 2 tablespoons water, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt to make a vinaigrette.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the remaining olive oil and season with salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and add 1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) water. Roast until the carrots begin to brown and crisp on the edges, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the radicchio, discarding the core. Peel the leaves apart. Place half of the leaves in a large bowl. Set aside.

When the carrots are almost ready, in a frying pan, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Add the remaining radicchio and cook, stirring, until it wilts and begins to brown in spots, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the cooked radicchio to the bowl holding the uncooked radicchio. Add the carrots and mix gently using tongs. Add the pistachios, drizzle the vinaigrette over the top, and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Serve right away.

*Serves 4-6

 

Cookbook giveaway - Classic Recipes for Modern People

Classic Recipes for Modern PeopleChef brothers Max and Eli Sussman are back with their fourth cookbook, Classic Recipes for Modern People, featuring over 75 recipes that reimagine classic dishes from their childhood and yours, with a little humor baked in along the way. Get a sneak peek into the cookbook with two sample recipes shared on the EYB blog

We're delighted to offer 3 copies of the book to EYB Members in the US and Canada. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:

What classic recipe would you like to see revised?

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 15, 2015.


A berry good harvest

strawberry mouse cake

It appears that 2015's strawberry harvest in England is going to be a bumper crop. According to The Telegraph, strawberry yields are expeced to increase by nearly 20 percent this year. The bump is due to "a perfect combination of weather conditions, new growing techniques and more land given over to the crop."

Despite a sluggish start to the season with several cold nights in April, the berries recovered thanks to the sunniest winter on record, which benefitted greenhouse-grown crops. In addition to an increased yield, you can expect the berries to be sweeter as well.

The news in North America isn't as heartening, as the continued drought in California puts stress on strawberry growers in that state. However, strawberry producers in other states report better luck with above-average May temperatures boosting yields. Berries should be plentiful in markets across the US and Canada.

If you find yourself with an excess of berries, look no further than the EYB Library for great strawberry recipes, including these Member favorites:

Strawberry mousse cake from Delicious Magazine (Aus) (pictured above)
Meringue and berry mess with hazelnut praline from Cuisine Magazine
Panna cotta with balsamic strawberries from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Strawberry Pimm's cup from Saveur Magazine
Frozen strawberry margarita pie from Gourmet Magazine
Easy strawberry ice cream from Tinned Tomatoes

DIY herb stripper

DIY herb stripper

If you're like me, you love to browse through kitchenware catalogs. (In my case it runs a close second to perusing cookbooks.) We may already have cupboards and drawers overflowing with bowls, pans, and kitchen tools, but it's still fun to see the new cookware and gadgets or swoon over the newest color of Le Creuset. Sometimes the browsing even provides inspiration.

That's what happened recently, after I viewed the Chef'n® ZipStrip™ Herb Zipper. I was intrigued by its simple yet effective design. My favorite rosemary  chocolate chip shortbreads were calling me, but I don't like getting my fingers sticky when stripping the rosemary by hand. The herb stripper allows you to quickly strip the leaves without handling them at all. The beauty lies in its simplicity: the stripper is nothing more than holes in plastic through which the stem of a woody herb like rosemary, thyme, or lavender is pulled. The leaves are larger than the holes, so they get efficiently stripped off the stem. But I surely didn't need another tool to clutter my already crammed drawers, so I turned my eye to repurposing a tool that I already owned.

herbs

It turns out that I had three different tools that could be used in a manner similar to the herb stripper: a lemon zester, an herb/tea infuser, and a melon baller. Each of them has holes of varying sizes, and the diameter of the stem determines which tool is best. The infuser often wins because it has the smallest holes. As a bonus, it serves as a handy cup to hold the leaves. Just put the stem into the inside of the cup, hold it upright, and pull the stem out through the bottom.

Do you have any repurposed kitchen tool tips that you'd like to share?

Rhubarb moves from sweet to savory

Rhubarb

Rhubarb season is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere. Usually that means pies, tarts, and crisps, but chefs are taking a look at using rhubarb in savory applications as well. The Washington Post recently devised a contest for three area sous-chefs to come up with a savory spring rhubarb dish, and the results were fabulous.

The challenge was to find a way to tame rhubarb's puckery tart flavor without using copious amounts of sugar. One of the contestants, Krystal Cripe of the Red Hen in Bloomingdale, said "Rhubarb is definitely a difficult ingredient to work with. People are used to seeing it in sweet desserts, with ... something sweet to cut that tartness. It was tough to get that balance in savory."

In addition to the constraints on using rhubarb in a savory application, there were other limits on the contest. "The dish could incorporate just six ingredients (not including salt and pepper). And when the sous-chefs gathered at cooking school CulinAerie, they had just one hour to prepare their dish." The dishes they devised included a chilled rhubarb-strawberry soup with black pepper ricotta, grilled smoked foie gras with burnt rhubarb vinaigrette, and duck breast and foie gras with wild rice pilaf and cherry-rhubarb preserve. The EYB Library contains other interesting savory rhubarb dishes for you to try.

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

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