Inspector Gadget

instant pot control panel 

Next to cookbooks at thrift shops, my biggest weakness is kitchen gadgets. I must inspect every display at any cooking store that I visit to make sure that I'm not overlooking a device that will become an indispensable addition to my cooking regime. Various gadgets have come - and mostly, have later gone - from my kitchen, with only a precious few standing the test of time.

I might have avoided some of the missteps had Rhik Samadder been writing about gadgets for a longer period of time. If you haven't read any of his reviews in The Guardian, you should start right now. His 'Inspect A Gadget!' column investigates, and usually pokes fun at, a variety of novelty items. Sometimes the title says it all: "5-in-1 avocado tool - it works, but so does a spoon" and "Garlic Twister - striking, innovative, doesn't work" suffice as both introduction to and judgment on those particular gadgets. 

Regardless of whether you were interested in the gadget at hand, Samadder's quirky reviews are chuckle-inducing bits that can brighten your day. While the tone of the columns is light-hearted, you can find good advice as well, as in his review of the Anova sous-vide device. The entertaining reviews just might help you resist temptation, should you want to, when you encounter the gadgets in a store. 

A conversation with the Barefoot Contessa

Ina Garten cookbooks

Ina Garten is one of America's most beloved food personalities, and holds the #11 and #14 positions in the EYB Library for most popular cookbooks (for The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics). Her relaxed, approachable personality has allowed her to reach a varied audience, many of whom learned to cook through her shows and books. Her new program, Cook Like a Pro, premiered just over a month ago on the Food Network. Recently, Time Magazine caught up with the always-busy Barefoot Contessa to discuss wide a variety of topics

Even though Ina routinely offers the practical and reassuring advice that "store bought is fine", there is one ingredient that she does not recommend you purchase from the store: grated Parmesan. In addition to eschewing the cheese that comes in a green plastic bottle, the Contessa also avoids cilantro. "I just won't go near it," she says. When asked what she found to be the most challenging recipe she's ever encountered, Ina replied "I've been working on Boston cream pie for about three books, and I haven't gotten the balance and flavors and textures quite right."

She also provided her thoughts on the Amazon takeover of Whole Foods, opining that delivering good, fresh food to people's homes is a difficult endeavor. Ina does think the concept is good, because the more people have access to quality food, the more they will cook. Read the full conversation to learn more, including which people the consummate host would invite to her ultimate fantasy dinner party. 

Influential food editor and author Valli Little has died

 Valli Little cookbooks

Once again we have to report some sad news. One of Australia's foremost food authorities, Valli Little, passed away last week after a very private battle with cancer. Author Rick Stein said "@sasstein and I are very sad to hear that our friend Valli Little has died. A peerless food editor for Australian Delicious & a great chum."

After a formal training at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute in London, Little embarked on a career as a food consultant and caterer. What she will be most remembered for is her work with the ABC magazine delicious. She edited the highly successful publication since its inception in 2001, and authored several cookbooks, both in conjunction with the magazine and on her own. 

Pioneering chef Alain Senderens dies at age 77

Senderens cookbookFrench chef Alain Senderens, who helped create nouvelle cuisine, has died at age 77. In the 1960s and 1970s, Senderens, along with a coterie of French chefs including Paul Bocuse and Michel Guerard, pioneered a lighter, sleeker style of cooking that moved away from sauce-heavy traditional French cuisine.  

Senderens helmed two different three-Michelin-star restaurants (L'Archestrate and Lucas Carton) for 28 years combined. In 2005, he shocked the culinary world by renouncing those hard-earned stars in a reboot of the latter restaurant, which he renamed after himself, in favor of what he deemed as a more affordable, less formal way to dine. 

The chef loved to push against the culinary establishment, introducing novel combinations such as lobster and vanilla, and by proclaiming that white wine should be served with cheese. Senderens also mentored many chefs, including  Alain Passard of Restaurant Arpege, one of the world's top 50 restaurants. 

Milk Street Live - Fall Tour & PBS Debut

Christopher Kimball is taking Milk Street on the road this Fall and tickets are on sale now. Please note pre-sale access ends June 29, 2017 using code MSKLIVE.

Kimball will be signing the first Milk Street Cookbook after the events for all VIP ticket holders. If you can't make one of his appearances, publication date is set for September 12th for this debut Milk Street title which can be preordered by using our Buy Book button.

Plans are for more on-stage audience interaction including tastings, cook-offs and competitions with the entire audience being a part of the live tasting. 

Plans for a behind-the-scenes tour of Milk Street as well as exploring the team's culinary trips from Thailand to finding the best hummus in the Middle East.

Milk Street Live's schedule is available on our World Calendar of Cookbook Events.

Check your local PBS listings this September as Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Television will be airing its first show with lots of new co-hosts, guests, and cooks. American Public Television will distribute the show, and they will be co-presenters along with WGBH Boston.


A lasting legacy

pains de amande cookies

A few days ago we had to share the sad news that baking legend Flo Braker had passed away. The news shocked and saddened bakers worldwide. Today the newspaper that carried her longtime baking column, The San Francisco Chronicle, and its staff looked back at Flo's long and storied career with a baker's dozen of her best recipes. 

The recipe that cemented my admiration for Flo was the Miniature tartlet pastry from her book Sweet Miniatures. It's a simple recipe, but it always turns out perfectly - a rarity in any baking recipe. The dough is forgiving, allowing you to roll out the scraps multiple times without the crust becoming tough. Since I began using this recipe, I haven't been tempted to try another because I cannot imagine anything can top its combination of ease and quality.

I've made several other excellent recipes from that book, but was surprised to see another of my favorites under Flo's name in the Library. For over a decade I have been making Lavender-lemon bundt cake, a recipe written on the packaging of a Nordicware Bundt pan that I purchased. I copied the recipe into my personal database (of course, this was pre-EYB) and if I noted an author's attribution at the time it did not register. But it stands to reason that a recipe that good was developed by one of the best bakers around. The cake has remained a staple of my baking repertoire ever since.

The SF Chronicle staff and I are not the only ones to reminisce about our favorite Flo Braker recipe. When he learned of Flo's death, David Lebovitz shared her recipe for Pain d'amande cookies pictured above, which he noted became a permanent fixture of the Chez Panisse menu. Flo inspired countless home cooks and professionals alike on their baking journeys, and her legacy will live on in the recipes that will undoubtedly be passed down to the next generation. What is your favorite Flo Braker recipe? 

Famed baker Flo Braker dies at 78

 Flo Braker

We just learned the sad news that baking legend Flo Braker has died at the age of 78. The San Francisco Gate reported that Braker died of complications following a fall. 

Braker wrote several popular cookbooks, including her 1984 debut, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, as well as the award-winning Sweet Miniatures  and The Baker's Dozen Cookbook. She also wrote a baking column for The San Francisco Chronicle for over twenty years, retiring in 2012. In 1997, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. She was a charter member of the IACP and served as the organization's president. 

The talented baker inspired home cooks and aspiring professionals alike. "She was so exacting in the way that she wrote her books and the way she explained baking," said Celia Sack, owner of Omnivore Books in San Francisco. "Whether in person or in writing, if felt like she was there holding your hand."

Bittman's back

Mark Bittman

Prolific cookbook author, respected food columnist, and EYB Member favorite Mark Bittman made waves when he left The New York Times back in 2015. He bounced around a bit following his departure, with a brief stint at the vegan meal-kit company Purple Carrot and a major move to the West Coast. Even though he still thinks leaving the NYT was the right move, he's been itching to return to the world of regular food writing. That itch has been scratched, as Grub Street announced today that Bittman would begin writing for both its website and New York Magazine

The author briefly discussed the reasons he left his longstanding gig at the paper, noting that while he loved writing The Minimalist food column, he didn't feel the same way about the opinion column he penned. He was circumspect about other conditions that led to his departure, saying only that he left for many reasons, "some of which I've written and talked about, and some of which are going to have to wait a bit longer."

Bittman recently moved back to the East Coast, landing at Glynwood, which he hails as "a wonderful, inspiring, and smart sustainable food-and-farming nonprofit near Cold Spring." While he may have given up weekly food writing when he left New York, Bittman didn't give up cookbook writing. His How to Bake Everything came out last fall, and he's working on a revision of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian that's due this fall.

He's already written his first column for Grub Street, and is ecstatic about his new role. Bittman has never been shy about his beliefs and will definitely sprinkle politics into his posts about food. "I want to write about cooking again, daily cooking, the kind of thing I think I do best, and I want a place to rant about food, justice, and the future of humans," he says. 

The best home cooks of all time

culinary iconsIt can be easy to forget that culinary icons like Julia Child and James Beard were once just home cooks like the rest of us. Epicurious hasn't forgotten, and celebrates these giants along with 98 other great home cooks. Their listing of the 100 best home cooks of all time includes chefs, cookbook writers, and other food-obsessed individuals who shaped the way we cook at home. 

Short profiles of little-known food enthusiasts like Helen Nearing, who promoted vegetarianism before it was cool, are interspersed with longer essays about people who have profoundly influenced home cooking, like Ina Garten and Martin Yan. The list is skewed toward those whose main work was in the United States, but many of these gifted individuals - Paula Wolfert for example - inspired people across the globe. 

While most avid food lovers will recognize the majority of names on the list, there are several you might be introduced to for the first time. Malitta Jensen and Mildred Day, for instance, aren't household names. Yet these two employees of Kellogg's created a treat that everyone knows and loves. The pair invented Rice Krispie treats as part of a company promotional stunt in 1939, and the rest is sweet history. 

Block off some time before you head over to the Epicurious site to view the list because it's a rabbit hole that requires some time to consume. My only gripe about it is that I'd love to read even more about many people on the list who only got a paragraph mention. 

Bourdain predicts the next food trend

pork adobo

It's safe to say that Anthony Bourdain has tasted most of the flavors the world has to offer. After eating his way around the globe, one cuisine stands out to the renowned traveler. Bourdain predicts that Filipino food will become the next big culinary trend in the US.  

He believes that the food of the Philippines is underated and on the rise, calling the cuisine "ascendant" but tempering that enthusiam with the caveat that it is a "work in progress." Filipino food features many sour and bitter flavors, which were unfamiliar to American palates just few years ago. However, Bourdain thinks that "American palates have changed drastically," and that Filipino food faces a bright future in the US. 

The dish that he thinks will win people over is called sisig, which is made from the snout, jowl, ear and tongue of a pig. However, Americans will have to overcome their disposition to avoid unfamiliar cuts of meat before trying sisig. A dish that might provide a less intimidating introduction to Filipino food is pork adobo, which has started to pop up with increasing frequency on cooking blogs. Bourdain thinks that Filipino food will mimic the path that Korean food has followed in the last several years, becoming more popular from coast to coast. 

Photo of Pork adobo from Around the World in 120 Recipes by Allegra McEvedy

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