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Cookbook giveaway - The Messy Baker

The Messy Baker cookbookBlogger Charmian Christie has just published her first cookbook, named after her blog. The Messy Baker is is an ode to  real world baking where brownies aren't perfectly square nor scones perfectly even. From the basic equipment a baker ought to have in his or her kitchen to helpful tips including an emergency substitution table for everything from butter to pumpkin seeds, The Messy Baker aims to demystify baking. You can read about Charmian's challenges in writing for an international audience in our author interview

We're excited to offer three copies of The Messy Baker to EYB members. Enter soon - the contest ends on September 21, 2014.





Brilliant product redesigns

ButterUp Knife

An Australian company aims to make the frustration of spreading cold butter on bread disappear forever with its "Stupendous Splendiforous ButterUp" - a butter knife with cleverly placed holes that aerate and soften cold butter. This and nine other reimagined products are featured in an entertaining Washington Post article.

In addition to the ButterUp knife, which has wildly surpassed its Kickstarter goal (you can still preorder if you hurry!), these new products include a planter that claims to prevent plants from becoming root bound, scissors that makes it easy to cut straight lines, and a cup with legs that keep it from tipping over. The AirPot is a planter that features conical-shaped outlets so the "roots are able to grow out toward empty space before being eventually halted or "air-pruned" by the effects of dehydration." The company says this allows the roots to grow in a pattern that promotes better nutrient absorption.

The scissors are specially shaped so they can use a table edge as a guide to keep the cuts straight. This product is still in the concept stage. The tri-legged cup is a retool of the Kangaroo cup, which was introduced in 2012. It's now made with BPA-free plastic for more durability. Other products include a one-handed zipper and an improved toothpaste tube. Now if only they could make a dripless coffee carafe...

Oseland leaves Saveur

James OselandThis week brings another shakeup in food journalism as longtime Saveur editor-in-chief James Oseland announced he is leaving the magazine to start a new publication with publisher Rodale. There Oseland "will start a new magazine brand, transforming the 62-year-old Organic Gardening magazine into Organic Life. The new magazine is expected to include coverage of "food, garden, home and well-being," a Rodale spokeswoman said." The revamped magazine will debut next spring.

It will be a challenge to replace Oseland, 51. Under his direction, Saveur has garnered numerous accolades and over 25 awards, including several from the James Beard Foundation. Oseland is quite a multi-tasker: during his tenure at Saveur he has also served as a judge on Top Chef Masters, authored several Saveur cookbooks, and recently published his own book, A Fork in the Road

Oseland is the latest high-ranking executive to leave Saveur in the past six months. Previously senior editor Tejal Rao, copy chief Greg Robertson, and executive digital editor Helen Rosner have exited the company. 

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 blogs & websites:

Lemon Lemonies from Averie Cooks, added with the Bookmarklet

Beetroot, Goat's Cheese, and Hazelnut Tart by Diana Henry featured on
the Red Magazine website, added with the Bookmarklet

From UK books:

6 recipes from Gail's Artisan Bakery Cookbook by Roy Levy & Gail Meija



Chefs' treasured cookbooks

Best cookbooks

If we asked you to identify your favorite cookbook, would you be able to choose just one? Indexed magazine Food & Wine put that question to several great cooks as part of its series Best Cookbooks of All Time. In the most recent installment, F&W asked chef Tom Valenti to name his favorite, and he responded with The Escoffier Cookbook. Says Valenti, "It's such a window into the past, and some of the recipes are off the hook, like: 'Take a three-pound chicken, stuff one pound of sliced truffles beneath the skin, then stuff the cavity with an entire lobe of foie gras, truss it and roast along with some beautifully turned potatoes.' All right, all you millionaires out there, let's have some chicken for supper!"

The series provides interesting insight on what motivated many chefs. Daniel Boulud treasures his Les Recettes Originales, a series of about a dozen cookbooks created by the publisher Robert Laffont, by French chefs who redefined French cuisine in the 1970s like Frédy Girardet, Roger Verger, and Michel Guérard. While Boulud may have expanded his cookbook collection since his early days as a chef, he says that these volumes "bring me back to my heroes: Jacques Maximin, Georges Blanc, they keep me grounded in French cuisine. I've been carrying them around with me for 40 years now."

Chef Suzanne Goin's choice is A Return to Cooking by Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman. "This book is so personal and beautiful," says Goin. "There's honesty in the stories of the struggle and joy of cooking out of one's element." The photographs touched her so much that she hired the photographers of A Return to Cooking for her own popular cookbooks Sunday Suppers at Lucques and The A.O.C. Cookbook.

Other chefs' choices are more obscure. April Bloomfield liked Patience Gray's Honey from a Weed for its humor, and chef Hugue Dufour stole his copy of an 1894 cookbook called Sandwiches. If you had to choose just one cookbook from your collection to share with others, what would it be? 

Go a little nuts

spiced nuts

Millions of people worldwide suffer from nut allergies. These allergies are frequently severe, and they've become so widespread that schools have been forced to change menus (no more PB&J sandwiches) and many airlines have quit offering nuts as snacks. Scientists at the USDA's Agricultural Research Center hope to change all that by creating a hypoallergenic nut.

Molecular biologist Christopher Mattson leads a team of scientists experimenting with ways to reverse the reaction caused when an allergic person comes in contact with nuts. "Many nut allergies are triggered when the immune system recognizes specific proteins in the food and releases the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) to latch on to the allergen," causing reactions that range from mild to life-threatening. Mattison determined "that the problem isn't the release of IgE per se, but rather the myriad allergic reactions triggered when it binds to the nut proteins. So he decided to modify the shape of cashew proteins so that IgE wouldn't be able to recognize them."

While they remain a long way from the goal of a hypoallergenic nut, the team's limited success with modifying cashew extract proteins by using a combination of heat and sodium sulfite, a common food preservative, is encouraging. Mattison and his team were able to reduce the binding of allergens by 50% in their latest effort, reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The next step for the scientists is to work on whole cashews instead of cashew extract. After that, they will move on to making sure that the modified nuts taste just as good as the unaltered version so there is no aftertaste.

Photo of Maple-bacon spiced nuts from The Washington Post by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan


Here come the blog books!

Maybe it's my imagination, but August and September seem to be a fertile time for new book offerings from food bloggers -  they're popping up like mushrooms after a summer storm.  The blockbusters may come in October and November, with their glossy promotion packets and glitzy launch parties.  But now's the time for scrappy, interesting, web-to-print forays, and three bloggers of my acquaintance our coming out with books so fresh the ink has yet to dry.

First in the lineup is The Messy Baker, from Charmian Christie, who does her best to take anxiety and fear of failure out of the kitchen both in her blog (www.themessybaker.com) and her app (Kitchen Disasters and Fixes).  Her snappy, stylish paperback isn't just sweets, though.  It's got just about everything you might expect from an oven (pizza, muffins, granola bars, pie) as well as a few you don't (gremolata, crepes).

The other two blog titles I've got my eye on have been published in the last few days.  One is Preserving Everything, from foraging expert (and, to me, friend-of-a-friend) Leda Meredith. Can Meredith really make real-life Aunt Ems out of us end-of-summer slackers? We'll see.  And then there's Flourless from Nicole Spiridakis, my colleague from the much-missed NPR Kitchen Window column.  Nicole's Kitchen Windows columns matched vegetarian, vividly shot recipes with an easy humor, and I'm hoping/expecting a gluten-free riff on the same sensibility with this book.

Are there bloggers you follow whose books you're waiting for?  Chances are, they're in the offing...

Keep your cool by going slow

Slow cooker apple butter

Who wants to use the oven during the sweltering dog days of summer? If you are among those saying "not me," then head over to indexed blog The Kitchn, who gives us eleven ways to beat the heat by using a slow cooker. Clocking in at number 11 is the classic method of cooking beans in the slow cooker. But some of the other uses in the list are more creative.

Did you know that you can make cheesecake in a slow cooker? Baked potatoes are also easily made by harnessing the low-and-slow capabilities of this under-utilized appliance. Make the most of the bumper crop of fruits or vegetables by using the slow cooker to make preserves or relishes.

Other interesting uses explored in the post are baking bread and roasting beets. More traditional soups and meats in the slow cooker are also discussed. Do you make use of your slow cooker during the summer months? What is your favorite summer slow cooker recipe?

In addition to the great ideas from The Kitchn, look to these highly rated recipes from the EYB Library:

Slow cooker Mexican pulled pork from Simply Recipes by Elise Bauer
Slow cooker black beans from Café Johnsonia
Slow cooker blueberry butter
from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan
Carrot cake from Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen Editors
Spiced cauliflower and potatoes (Aloo gobi)
from The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singl

Photo of Slow cooker apple butter from My Baking Addiction by Jamie Lothridge


Make mayo; hold the eggs

Green olive dip 

David Leite of indexed blog Leite's Culinaria  is making mayonnaise, but without one major ingredient: eggs. The mayonnaise is made with milk instead, and although it may sound strange, he assures us it is a delicious base for a variety of dips and sauces. Leite discovered this unusual condiment when he was traveling in Portugal a few years back. The "ghostly white" substance was used as the base for a delicious green olive dip.

Leite was perplexed by the recipe that he obtained from the Portugese chef. How could it be mayonnaise if it didn't have eggs? Indeed, some of his friends suggested that it wasn't even an emulsion but more of a oil-flavored milk sauce. So Leite turned to food scientist Shirley Corriher for help. Corriher assured Leite that this was a bona fide emulsion, noting that in any emulsion, the liquid "has to break down into finer and finer droplets until it gets "juicy," or looser," which allows the oil to find a home between the droplets and thereby thicken it. Milk contains natural emulsifiers, Corriher continued, which makes it easier to form the emulsion. The garlic "helps to make a sturdier base before adding the oil."

Leite notes that equipment plays a big role in creating a successful emulsion, and that an immersion blender or blender is required to achieve the desired consistency. He offers four variations on this unusual mayonnaise: cilantro and ginger, anchovy, curry, and sun-dried tomato. Amanda Hesser of indexed blog Food52 tried the recipe and found the resulting product "reveletory: sauce that had the texture of buttercream and the clear flavor of an infusion. There was fragrance from garlic, tang from lemon juice, and silkiness from the butterfat emulsifying with the oil." Have you tried milk mayonnaise?

Photo of Green olive dip from indexed blog Leite's Culinaria

Use your melon

Three melon salad

In the heat of summer, few things are as refreshing as a ripe, succulent melon. Choosing the right melon at the market, however, can be a difficult task. Do you thump it or sniff it? And what should the fruit look like? Russ Parsons of the L.A. Times offers some tips on how to pick the perfect melon.

Melons can be roughly divided into two groups based on the texture of their outer covering, and melons in both camps can have green or orange flesh. Smooth-skinned melons are in the honeydew family, while rough-skinned melons belong to the cantaloupe family. Which group the melon belongs to determines the selection criteria you should use. (You may be wondering about watermelons - it turns out they aren't even in the same botanical family. Parsons assures us he will give us pointers on those another time.)

Rough-skinned melons offer us more clues to guide us to the right fruit. You are looking for "netting that is raised above the rind; a golden background color; a clean "belly button," where the stem has slipped free; and a profoundly melon-y perfume." Smooth-skinned melons pose a greater challenge for picking as they don't have any odor. For these melons, you should seek out a "slightly velvety, almost waxy texture to the rind; a background color that is more rich cream than ivory; a golden color to the pale spot where the melon rested on the ground; and subtle cracking around the stem end."

While just enjoying the ripe fruit on its own is delicious, the article offers twelve recipes if you want to branch out a bit. And for additional inspiration, take a gander at these top-rated melon recipes from the EYB Library:

Melon, peach and red wine sorbet from indexed blog Tinned Tomatoes
Gazpacho with honeydew and peppadew from indexed blog Food52
Cantaloupe ice pops (Paletas de melón) by Fany Gerson
Mango and melon verrines from Fine Cooking Magazine
Shaved honeydew, fennel, and olive salad from Bon Appétit Magazine

Photo of Three melon salad with mint from indexed blog Serious Eats

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