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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

Plum crazy

Grilled kale salad with ricotta and plums

Fresh plums are starting to appear in many farmers' markets. Even though they are delicate than other stone fruit like peaches and nectarines, plums are still well suited for many different recipes from salads to dessert. Russ Parsons of the L.A. Times offers insight on how to choose and use plums, and provides a dozen recipes to get you started.

A short video on choosing plums precedes a history lesson about a particular variety of plum called the Santa Rosa, developed in the early 1900s by plant breeder extraordinaire Luther Burbank (if that name sounds familiar, it's because he developed the Russet Burbank potato). You'll be hard-pressed to find a Santa Rosa plum outside of a California farmers' market, but there are many other heirloom types available across the country.

When deciding on which plums to buy, Parson's advice is simple: "Plums should be slightly soft and fragrant. If there are white spots on the skin, don't worry. Those are just naturally occurring yeasts that have collected there. Actually, it's a good indicator that the fruit hasn't been overhandled."

If the dozen plum recipes that accompany the article don't inspire you, try one of these from the EYB Library:


Cocktails add sparkle to brunch

Kentucky 95 cocktail

Topping off brunch with a mimosa is wonderful, but there are many other cocktails that are even better, says Food & Wine. They provide a list of five sparkling brunch cocktails for you to try. If you're planning to give Dad a treat tomorrow for Father's Day, you can surprise him with one of those cocktails or find inspiration in the EYB Library.

One cocktail that seems perfectly suited for Father's Day is the Kentucky 95 by Bobby Flay, pictured above. It's got a kick from the bourbon that's tempered with orange juice and a champagne float. The Rhubarb mimosa recipe from Food Network Magazine also looks delicious and perfect for those who prefer their cocktails on the tart side.

For rum fans, Observer Food Monthly offers the Mojito royale, featuring anejo rum and fresh mint. If punch is more your style, try a bowl of Crimson Bulleit punch from Food52. And if you would rather skip the alcohol, you can still find plenty of great drinks that will perk up your brunch. You can try the Steve McQueen from Food & Wine, which combines oranges, apple cider and ginger for a drink with a spicy kick. The Cucumber-lemonade mocktail, also from Food & Wine, is perfect for a warm summer morning. All of these and more can be easily found in the EYB Library.

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 magazines:

7 slice recipes from the May issue of indexed Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine

From UK books:

22 recipes from Honestly Healthy: Eat with Your Body in Mind, the Alkaline Way 
by Natasha Corrett & Vicki Edgson

From AUS/NZ books:

15 recipes from Beautiful Food: Healthy Recipes to Nourish You Inside and Out 
by Jody Vassallo, indexed by an EYB member

From US books:

19 recipes from New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited
by Jeremy & Jessica Nolen

39 recipes from More Mexican Everyday: Simple, Seasonal, Celebratory 
by Rick Bayless & Deann Groen Bayless

6 recipes from French Comfort Food by Hillary Davis

5 recipes from Cuisine Niçoise: Sun-Kissed Cooking from the French Riviera 
by Hillary Davis, indexed by an EYB member

17 recipes from Crème Brûlée by Lou Seibert Pappas, indexed by an EYB member

3 recipes from Ladurée: Sucré: The Recipes by Philippe Andrieu


Peruvian cuisine features multi-cultural influences

Peru: The Cookbook

Acclaimed chef Gastón Acurio was born in Lima, Peru. He has created an international empire, exporting Peruvian cuisine around the world. Acurio owns more than 44 international restaurants, one of which was recently ranked as one of the world's 50 best restaurants. He is now sharing his life's passion through a new book, Peru: The Cookbook. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy. In addition to the giveaway, Phaidon is offering 40% off the book as part of its special offer to EYB Members - but hurry, the promotion ends June 30.) As an added bonus, you can watch two different videos about the book: a flipbook that lets you peek inside the pages (available on Acurio's author page), and a short discussion of the book by the chef himself. Acurio graciously offered an excerpt from the introduction of Peru to share with EYB Members:

My childhood dream was always to be a cook. At the age of nine, I would get on my bicycle and ride to the supermarket  to buy ingredients to prepare at home. After all, no one liked to cook in my family. My father was a very important politician  at the time and was always very busy with his noble pursuits. My mother had enough to worry about raising my sisters and me, so cooking was never one of her passions, and my four older sisters were also not enamored of cooking. Perhaps this is why, in my house, cooking and eating were never among our favorite pastimes...

The years passed and I was finally able to turn my dream into a reality. I became a cook. It wasn't easy. After all, in those days, a politician like my father did not necessarily understand why his son wanted to devote himself to cooking. But times were different then and cooks were not cast in the wonderful roles they play today. We never imagined then that a cook would become a messenger of peace and solidarity among people, a spokesperson for educational, nutritional, and environmental issues, and, above all, a bridge to happiness  for many people in the country, at sea, and in cities.

In those days we wanted to be cooks because we loved to cook or because we fell into the profession by accident, and our greatest dream was to own a beautiful restaurant some day. For example, we never imagined that we would be able to share, through a book, a gastronomic culture as wonderful as that of Peru with all who - anywhere in this connected world - are eager and curious to discover new flavors, new recipes, and new feelings.

We, the chefs of Peru, are precisely that today: messengers. With honor and humility we are the ambassadors of our cuisine in the world, which is why we feel privileged and grateful to be able to share the treasures of Peruvian cuisine with our sister nations. We are convinced that our cuisine is the fruit of a long, tolerant relationship among people and a treasure trove of ingredients that is the result of centuries  of dialogue between our ancestors and nature.

And Peruvian cuisine is just that; it is the outcome of centuries of arduous work by our farmers in harmony with nature. Peru has more than eighty different climates, which have enabled us to domesticate an enormous variety of products that today are enjoyed by the entire world: potatoes, chile peppers, beans, cacao, peanuts, pumpkins, avocados, tomatoes, quinoa, and much more.

It is also the cuisine of a country to which different peoples, immigrants from Japan, China, Africa, Spain, Italy, and the Arab world, migrated over the last 500 years, making their own contributions. All brought with them their nostalgia, customs, and products, which were beautifully assimilated into an example of unique tolerance. The result is a Peruvian cuisine that infuses a little of each of those peoples into each bite, transforming it into something new, something Peruvian. The result of this fusion was the appearance of new words, recipes, and flavors unique to Peru, which is how ceviches (marinated seafood dishes) and tiraditos (thinly sliced raw fish dishes) gave life to the world of the raw and refreshing that is found in the sea and the Andes of Peru. This is also how our regional cuisines developed; that of the north with products from ancient cultures, that of the south with flavors influenced by European and Andean customs, and the cuisine of the Amazon region, a treasure trove of exoticism still waiting  to be discovered.

This is also how the meeting of two peoples gave birth to new cuisines. Nikkei cuisine is the melding of Japan and Peru, while chifa cuisine links Peru with China, and Creole cuisine brings Africa and Europe to Peru. Then you have Italian- Peruvian cuisine, with its taverns scattered across Lima, where you find dishes that look Italian but taste Peruvian.

This is Peruvian cuisine, which we invite you to discover in this book. We hope that through its pages, you will draw some of the feelings and flavors of Peru into your heart.

Cookbook giveaway - Peru: the Cookbook

Peru: The CookbookPeru's most famous and popular chef, Gastón Acurio, is sharing his love for Peruvian cuisine with an expansive new book, Peru: The Cookbook, which features nearly 500 traditional recipes,

One of the world's most innovative and flavorful cuisines, Peruvian food has been consistently heralded by chefs and media around the world as the "next big thing." Learn more about the cuisine by reading an excerpt from the cookbook. And don't forget that Phaidon is offering EYB members 40% off all their cookbooks until the end of June.

Acurio guides cooks through the full range of Peru's vibrant cuisine from popular classics like quinoa and ceviche, and lomo saltado to lesser known dishes like amaranth and aji amarillo.

We're delighted to offer 5 copies of the cookbook to EYB Members. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:

Which Peruvian subculture of food (nikkei, chifa, Creole, Peruvian-Italian) or traditional Peruvian dish most interests you?

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 July 17, 2015.

Guide to substitutions

Don't you hate it when you start a baking project or recipe only to find you are missing one of the ingredients? You can sometimes make substitutions that will allow you to continue, but you have to spend time searching for what you can use. Skip the search and hang up the following substitution chart on the inside of your cabinet to use as a handy reference.

Most of the substitutions are old hat, although it's nice to have the ratios easily available. Others are more questionable, especially the egg substitutes. They will probably work in some recipes, but if you're making something like genoise you won't be able to substitute mashed potatoes.

Do you have any great substitutes that you would add to the chart?

Source: eReplacementParts.com

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