Chefs share which underused ingredients you should try at home

If you're like me, you have a pantry brimming with boxes and bags of unusual ingredients that you picked up on a whim at a farmers' market or specialty shop. Despite having so many unique items to use, I frequently wind up skipping over those because I am not familiar with how to use them. It would be nice to have some guidance, which is why an article from The Guardian caught my eye. In this piece, chefs not only tell you about their favorite underused ingredients, they also explain how to use them

celeriac and watercress soup

The ingredients run the gamut from vegetables to herbs to offal to beer. Chef Ryan Simpson-Trotman thinks verjus should be in everyone's repertoire. He says it's a "great non-alcoholic substitute for wine in cooking. It is under-ripened grape juice, so very tart; less acidic than vinegar and more savoury than lemon. It is especially good with fish."

If you aren't looking for an alcohol substitute but want to break away from throwing wine in everything, turn to another beverage - beer. "Cooking with beer adds fantastic depth of flavour to both savoury dishes - a dark beer in, say, a steak pie - and sweet desserts alike. Making cocktails with beer also adds something a little different," says Edinburg chef Tom Kitchin.

Steffan Richards of Wright's Food Emporium in Llanarthney, wants everyone to add celeriac to their shopping carts. He describes it as "massive" in flavor and inexpensive to buy. "It's extremely versatile - you can roast it, puree it or serve it raw. We roast it with cinnamon and nutmeg for a winter salad, but that's just because we like those spices - it's so flavoursome, you could not add anything at all," he says. 

Photo of  Fennel, celeriac and watercress soup from Belleau Kitchen

Leftover Halloween candy recipes

Over 500 kids trick-or-treated through my neighborhood this evening, so my stash of leftover Halloween candy is mightly slim this year. If you have any remaining from tonight's festivities, or if your kid has too much to eat by him- or herself, you might be wondering what you're going to do with it all. Midnight snacking aside, there are ways to use those leftovers in baking and other recipes. The Washington Post serves up six different recipes for using leftover Halloween candy

candy bar cookie bars

One of the easiest uses is as mix-ins for cookie recipes such as monster cookies. M&Ms work great here, but you can chop up almost any chocolate-y or nutty bar to add to cookie, brownie, or slice recipes. For gummy or chewy candies, you can make your own (very trendy) unicorn bark. The article also contains a recipe for a Milky Way malt, for those who like their excess in excess. 

The EYB Library contains another dozen or so ideas to make the most out of the extra candy. Halloween candy bark is a popular theme, and s'mores made with a variety of different types of candy bars is another great idea. The Sweet chocolate Halloween Chex mix is one that is really calling my name right now - I love the combination of salty and sweet. 

Photo of Candy bar cookie bars from indexed blog Joy the Baker by Joy Wilson

October 2018 Eat Your Books Cookbook Review

We have an incredible community here at Eat Your Books that has flowed into our Eat Your Books Cookbook Club and Sweet Eat Your Books Cookbook Club, places where we share our successes and fails in cooking and baking from specific cookbook titles. Here on the site our recipe notes feature - completed by members and our indexers provide issues and tips. Checking the notes section on a recipe for any errata that may have been reported by the publisher or discovered by a member is always a wise idea.

This month we have been working through:

And, desserts are still being churned out in our second group that is working through Ottolenghi's Sweet.

Our members have voted and our future month selections are re-shared at the end of this post. All club posts are tagged #EYBCookbookClub if you are looking for a particular month's summary.

The photos below are just a few of the beautiful shots our members have been sharing; visit each group for more inspiration. Do not forget to also upload your photos and add your notes to your bookshelf at Eat Your Books. Instructions on uploading your photos and links to other helpful articles can be found here.

On that note, Eat Your Books has been sharing your photos on our Instagram feed. If you would like to be tagged in your lovely photos, update your bio here at EYB to include your social media handles. You can edit your bio on your Profile page, accessed from the menu under your username at top right. When we choose photos, we can then check your bio for your Instagram handle.

Other members have expressed an interest in following the members that make such beautiful food! Also, if you would like your EYB username shown when we post your photos in this monthly roundup, please add your username to your Facebook posts.

A few announcements before we share some highlights from this month's options:

Please make sure you have entered all our giveaways. We have a few up right now that combine a cookware, products and more. More promotions are planned that will offer a Mauviel roaster, Leuke products for pastry and chocolate work, Emile Henry stoneware, a bread machine, Swiss Diamond cookware, as well as a set of Shun knives!

Every week new and books are being added. Find out more here. For more information on EYBDigital see our updated post for more information.

Every Sunday, I compile a post of Kindle cookbook deals so be sure to check those for bargains!

Now to this month's highlights:

Our Darcie made the Spinach, ricotta, and mint pie from A Table in Venice and states "Simple spin on a classic, but the mint is a nice touch. I think a citrusy olive oil works best here."

Diane J made the Riviera Salad from Craig Claiborne's "Cooking with Herbs and Spices," and states "or in this case mixing them: fresh thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, & parsley with tuna, anchovies, celery, garlic, Kalamata olives, tomatoes. I've been cooking (& dicing & mixing) recipes in this book for many years."




Jessica J made the Lime soup with chicken and hearty greens from Just Cook It! and stated "We enjoyed this. It's an easy weeknight dinner and there are some leftovers for lunch. The cilantro and avocado were nice additions. Next time I might add a little more tomato."

 

Kimberly K made the Secretly vegan chocolate chip cookies from Genius Desserts and states "If I didn't tell you they're vegan, you wouldn't know. Yum."

 

Kathleen L made the Crisp homemade granola from Serious Eats online and states "I started making this granola some time ago for my husband, who was trying to cut down on sugar. I believe one cup total here. I created a monster - have to make it every month now!  Buttermilk tenderizes the oats, wheat germ, flax, and chia. My bake time is a bit less than called for- otherwise I follow recipe. Buttermilk soak time, sugar dissolve time and 100 mins. bake time make it a project, but it certainly is good."

 

There are many other wonderful photos in the group.

 

Eat Your Books Sweet Cookbook Club
Sweet - Ottolenghi (see the group for even more photographs).

Ching Y made the Apple and olive oil cake with maple cream cheese frosting and states "I was initially concerned that the apples seemed a little too chunky as instructed in the recipe and seemed to overwhelm the other ingredients, but it baked out well. This way, there's plenty of apple in every bite. I used Mutsu/Crispin apples since I just went apple picking over the weekend."

 

Our future selections: 

November

 

December

 

January

February

 

March

Indian cooks embrace the Instant Pot

While Instant Pots and their clones have become a phenomenon in the US, Canada, and beyond, most people who have purchased one were not already owners of a stovetop pressure cooker. Or perhaps they had one, but rarely used it because it was intimidating (I will include myself in the latter category). Stovetop pressure cooker recipes were just not that common in most people's homes. 

Instant Pot

However, there is at least one country where a stovetop pressure cooker is an everyday item: India. Many Indian households use one to make dishes like biryanis, dals, curries and kormas, which are particularly well suited to this cooking method. The Indian diaspora was among the first to embrace the Instant Pot - there are a half-dozen Indian Instant Pot Facebook groups, with a combined membership of nearly 200,000 active users. 

Hand in hand with this trend, cookbook publishers are releasing electric pressure cooker cookbooks focused on Indian cuisine - more for this genre than for any other. They've become so popular that even Knopf Doubleday (which releases precious few appliance cookbooks) is publishing one by renowned author Madhur Jaffrey, titled Madhur Jaffrey's Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook. Unfortunately, we have to wait until May 2019 for this book.

Jaffrey translated the recipes for traditional stovetop cookers into ones suited for an Instant Pot. It took some trial and error to find the best setting for each type of dish. "This is an Instant Pot," she wrote in an email to the NYT. "It is not a Magic Pot. It will make food for you but, rather like a computer, you have to create the programming that gives you the perfect dish."

This wave of Indian pressure cooker books follows on the heels of the higly successful Indian Instant Pot Cookbook: Traditional Indian Dishes Made Easy & Fast by Urvashi Pitre (2017), which has sold over 100,000 copies and enjoys a 5-star rating in the EYB Library.

You can preview recipes from the EYBDigital book Instant Indian: Classic Foods from Every Region of India Made Easy in the Instant Pot by Rinku Battacharya, out this month (stay tuned for a contest for this book as well as promotions for Ivy Manning's IP titles with an Instant Pot as a grand prize). Another recent volume to consider is Chandra Ram's The Complete Indian Instant Pot Cookbook: 130 Traditional and Modern Recipes (we will have a promotion on Chandra's title as well.  

Currently, Amazon has the DU0 7-in-1 model on sale so now is the time to pick up one!


Everything you need to know about molasses

Nothing can replicate the rich, complex flavor of molasses. It's essential to gingerbread and, as a component of brown sugar, adds its subtle bitter and roasted caramel notes to many baked goods. There are several types of molasses available so it can be confusing to know which one is right for which recipe, but Southern Living Magazine sets us straight with its primer on molasses.

ginger cookies

First, the magazine explains just what molasses is - a viscous product resulting from refining sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. After the cane or beet juice is cooked down to form crystals, the remaining liquid is molasses. The boiling process is repeated several times, and each step yields a different type of molasses. As a side note, if you have ever driven past a sugar beet processing plant, you will know that these boiling steps are incredibly aromatic - but not in a good way. Try to keep upwind, or at least keep your car windows rolled up, if you ever pass by one of these facilities. 

As you might expect, the intensity of flavor increases with each progressive boiling step. The liquid from the first go-round is lighter and less flavorful. Usually known as light molasses, it can be used in any application, whether cooking or baking. The darkest form of molasses is commonly known as blackstrap, named after its extremely dark color and assertive flavor. Use this type sparingly in savory applications such as black beans or as part of a glaze. Since the flavor is so pronounced, you probably don't want to use blackstrap in baked goods. 

Most commercial brown sugars are nothing more than white sugar with some of the molasses added back in, so you can always have brown sugar in an instant if you keep molasses and regular granulated sugar on hand. The bonus for doing this is that you will never have hard, lumpy brown sugar. In addition, you can vary the intensity of flavor to suit your mood or a particular recipe's requirements. 

Photo of Giant ginger cookies from Everyday Food magazine

Perfect your butter-basting technique

Have you ever watched professional chefs on a cooking show cooking a piece of meat in a skillet, scooping liquid from the pan in deft strokes and pouring it over the steak or chop? This technique, called butter basting, is beloved by many chefs. Although it requires a bit more finesse than some other techniques, Daniel Gritzer shows us how it can add an unparalleled depth of flavor

butter basted steaks

Gritzer walks us through the "ups and downs of butter-basting", explaining how it can be applied to a variety of meats including steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts, and even fish fillets.  The method for each is similar, although there are a few  small details that differ for fish. There are several benefits to the process, including amazing flavor, quicker cooking, and a great sear. Says Gritzer, "When done properly, the method gives the outside of the meat, or the skin of fish, a crackling, potato chip-like crispness."

Once you learn this technique, you can practice on recipes from the EYB Library. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Classics are classics for a reason

While I find it exciting to challenge myself by trying new recipes, sometimes I just want the old 'tried and true' dishes. Whether it's because I am tired at the end of the day, I don't feel well, or because something reminds me of a favorite treat, I will defer to a classic recipe over a novel one. 

Classics have become such for a reason. Dominique Ansel's cronut may have been all the rage a year or two ago, but twenty years from now, will people still be eating them? Or making them at home? My guess is probably not, but we'll still be enjoying chocolate mousse, lemon tarts, and apple pies. 

That is why I was delighted to see a listing of classic dessert recipes on Australian Gourmet Traveller. It allowed me to revisit dishes that I hadn't thought about for some time, as well as reinforce my own ideas of what deserves to be called a classic. There are 55 desserts on the list, and I have made some version of almost all of them (except banoffee pie, which has remained on my to-do list for a couple of years). 

lemon tart

Who can argue with items like crème brûlée, Eton mess, or chocolate soufflés? We've enjoyed them for decades (if not centuries), and while they may go in and out of fashion at restaurants, home bakers will be probably be making them for decades to come. I might add a couple of items to the list for my personal preference, but they have most of the bases covered. My favorite of the fifty-five items is lemon tart - which one is yours? 

Photo of Lemon tart from Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine

You might just flip for these pancakes

Pancakes have been a breakfast staple for centuries. Over the years regional specialties emerged, but restaurants have tended to go for the standard buttermilk pancake topped with syrup or fruit. As Bon Appétit reports, today restaurants are venturing into new territory by making pancakes with diverse ingredients such as alternative grains, coffee flour, and sourdough

pancakes

Chef Jason Wilson, of The Lakehouse in Bellevue, Washington, sings the praises of a unique ingredient:  "We make our pancakes with  coffee flour, which is made by milling the usually discarded coffee fruit into a powder," he says. It doesn't taste like coffee, but rather has fruity, floral notes. It also adds vitamins, protein, and fiber. 

Some places use vegetables to give their pancakes a boost. Guy Turland, Chef-Owner of Bondi Harvest in Santa Monica, California puts  "puréed vegetables like butternut squash and pumpkin into our batter in the fall and zucchini in the summer," adding that any vegetable  with natural sweetness will do the trick. 

Pancakes are easy to make at home, and you can easily experiment with different flavors and textures. Although you can't go wrong with good old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes, here are a few alternative ideas you may want to consider:

September 2018 Eat Your Books Cookbook Club Summary & Future Selections

We have an incredible community here at Eat Your Books that has flowed into our Eat Your Books Cookbook Club and Sweet Eat Your Books Cookbook Club, places where we share our successes and fails in cooking and baking from specific cookbook titles. Here on the site our recipe notes feature - completed by members and our indexers - help share issues and tips. Checking the notes section on a recipe for any errata that may have been reported by the publisher or discovered by a member is always a wise idea.

This month we have been working through:

And, desserts are still being churned out in our second group that is working through Ottolenghi's Sweet.

Our members have voted and our future month selections are re-shared at the end of this post. All club posts are tagged #EYBCookbookClub if you are looking for a particular month's summary.

The photos below are just a few of the beautiful shots our members have been sharing; visit each group for more inspiration. Do not forget to also upload your photos and add your notes to your bookshelf at Eat Your Books. Instructions on uploading your photos and links to other helpful articles can be found here.

On that note, Eat Your Books has been sharing your photos on our Instagram feed. If you would like to be tagged in your lovely photos, update your bio here at EYB to include your social media handles. You can edit your bio on your Profile page, accessed from the menu under your username at top right. When we choose photos, we can then check your bio for your Instagram handle.

Other members have expressed an interest in following the members that make such beautiful food! Also, if you would like your EYB username shown when we post your photos in this monthly roundup, please add your username to your Facebook posts.

A few announcements before we share some highlights from this month's options:

Please make sure you have entered all our giveaways. We have a few up right now that combine a piece of cookware or a Boos cutting board. This Fall we'll have promotions that will offer a Mauviel roaster, Leuke products for pastry and chocolate work, Emile Henry stoneware as well as a set of Shun knives and I'm working on even more!

Every week new and books are being added. Find out more here. For more information on EYBDigital see our updated post for more information.

Every Sunday, I compile a post of Kindle cookbook deals so be sure to check those for bargains!

Now to this month's highlights:

Alicia F made the Tomates Provençales aux anchois from How To Eat A Peach.

Lisa S made the Chicken skewers with lime, chili and mint from Diana Henry online.

Sheila S made the Melon and Goat Cheese with Red Wine and Lavender Dressing from How to Eat a Peach

Yvette B made the Chicken Larb with Georgia Peanuts from Secrets of the Southern Table.

Allison C made the Greek crispy lemon-herb potatoes from Secrets of a Southern Kitchen.

 

There are many other wonderful photos in the group.

 

Eat Your Books Sweet Cookbook Club
Sweet - Ottolenghi (see the group for even more photographs).

Lisa made the Lemon and raspberry cupcakes

Rachel B made the gorgeous pavlova with cinnamon and figs

Trent V made the Persian love cakes.

 

October


 

 

November

 

December


 

January


February

 

March

 

 

The best streaming food programs

If you are looking for quality food shows to watch in between episodes of the GBBO, you should look to streaming services, which have quietly collected dozens of entertaining shows. There are now so many options it can be difficult to decide what to watch, which is why The Guardian's guide to the best in streaming food shows is so handy. 

Adriano Zumbo

Let's take a look at a few highlights from the list. One intriguing option is Zumbo's Just Desserts, available on Netflix. Described as a "sort of Australian Bake Off,", the show, hosted by renowned patissier Adriano Zumbo, puts a group of cooks to the test in a series of intricate dessert challenges in each episode. As a bonus, Rachel Khoo is in it. 

Another Netflix offering, David Chang's Ugly Delicious, takes deep dives in exploring various junk foods. Going beyond descriptions of the food itself, the progrm tackles issues "such as the links between fried chicken and racism or the US's bastardisation of fried rice." You won't want to miss the episode where Chang nearly comes to fisticuffs with a chef over a confessed love of pizza from a large commercial chain. 

Amazon has some great shortform programs like Chef Tips. This show hones in on one dish or one technique and enlists a top chef to demonstrate it in just about onea minute. Chef Tips is summarized as "[p]ublic service broadcasting, brought to you by Playboy Studios."

Warning: the title of this next show is definitely NSFW. Fuck, That's Delicious  from Now TV. The key here is the host, Action Bronson, who used to be a chef. The author of the article makes a bold proclamation about him, saying that  if "anyone in the world will replace Anthony Bourdain, it will be Bronson." That alone should make the show worth trying. 

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

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