Spice support: kaffir lime leaves

Kaffir lime leaves

Due to the positive responses from last week's post on sumac, we have decided to offer a weekly post that explains an herb, spice, or spice blend. If there is a particular spice, herb, or blend that you are interested in learning more about, send an email to Darcie and she will try to include it in the series. This week we are exploring kaffir lime leaves. 

If you have tried any recipes that originate in Southeast Asia, you may have come across kaffir lime leaves in the ingredients list. As you might expect by its name, the kaffir lime is a citrus fruit, but unlike Persian limes, Key limes, or lemons, usually only the zest and leaves are used in cooking, not the fruit and pulp. In On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee says the kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix), has a rough green peel and "a lime-like aroma with general citrus and pine notes (from limonene, pinene), and is used to flavor various prepared dishes, as are its intensely lemon-scented leaves." 

You'll find kaffir lime leaves in the ingredients list for many Indian, Thai, and Southeast Asian dishes, including curries and soups. The leaves are most frequently used like bay leaves in European recipes, added whole to a dish and removed at the end of cooking. The leaves are rarely eaten; the only exception is when they are shredded extremely finely in dishes like Tod Mun (fish cakes).   

The flavor of kaffir lime leaves is intense; a few leaves go a long way. I simmered about five previously frozen leaves (half of what the recipe suggested) in 500 ml of cream when making a kaffir lime posset and the flavor was almost overpowering. The leaves freeze very well, and you will often find them in the freezer section of Asian markets. Avoid dried leaves; the unique and volatile flavor compounds do not fully survive the drying process. 

According to The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs, kaffir is a derogatory term in South Africa and other locations, where the plant "is called wild lime or Indonesian lime instead. Makrut is the Thai name, and the leaves are sometimes identified that way." You'll find these fruits called wild limes in books like Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford. 

Explore the uses for kaffir lime leaves with recipes from the EYB Library, including these Member favorites:

Celebration yellow rice (Nasi kuning) from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland
Chilli duck salad with green mango and mint from The Blue Ducks by Mark LaBrooy and Darren Robertson
Very easy Thai chicken and coconut curry from The Hairy Dieters by Dave Myers and Si King and Hairy Bikers
Vietnamese-style pork belly from Cuisine Magazine by Ginny Grant
Hot and sour seafood soup (Tom yum) from Sydney Seafood School by Roberta Muir
Massaman roast chicken from Delicious Magazine (Aus) by Valli Little 

Photo of kaffir lime leaves from Jules on Flickr

Notes on a Banana - Author Interview with David Leite

Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression is the brilliant and long-awaited memoir from the beloved founder of the James Beard Award-winning website, Leite's Culinaria. David's website is indexed for our members - one click and 1,118 recipes will be added to your bookshelf.

Notes on a Banana is funny, touching and stay-up-all read - a story of the tumultous journey of a life well-lived. As the mother of a child with Aspergers and bi-polar, David's words resonated with me.

The author has a number of events scheduled to promote his memoir - check to see if he is in your area.

David was kind enough to answer a few questions for Eat Your Books members. Be sure to head over to our contest page to enter our giveaway for three copies of this must-read book of 2017. 

Q:  First of all, bravo on such a wonderful piece of work. Tell us about the title - how did you come up with that?

A: Every morning, since I was a kid, my mother has written notes on a banana and placed it at my spot at the breakfast table. Back then, I thought it was just one of the wacky and creative things she did. I appreciated those notes: "We love you!" "God bless!" "Do well in school today!" "You're a champ!" (My mother is overly fond of exclamation points.) And it's something she still does today. On Mother's Day 2014, I posted on social media a picture of a banana she had written on that morning. It went viral. I thought, "Wait a minute, don't all your mothers write on bananas for you?" That's when I realized I had my title. It has so many different meanings for me: My mother's nickname for is "Banana," so it refers to notes or stories about me. Plus, a banana is food and there's a lot a food writing in there. 
 
Q: This truly has been an emotional journey for you putting into words the self-portrait of your life - what was the most rewarding experience and what was the most difficult experience during this writing process.
 
A: By far the most rewarding experience has been getting a perspective on my life I never would have had had I not written the book. Writing down all the good and tough things that have happened to me has allowed me to look at myself almost like a three-dimensional object. I see my life in a different way because I had to contextualize it for the reader. I couldn't rely upon the cognitive shorthand that we all use when we think about our pasts.
 
Undoubtedly, the hardest part of writing the book was reliving the pain. I had thought I had handily dispatched that stuff in therapy-and I had to a degree. But to sit for weeks in the discomfort of, say, writing about a panic attack, which takes all of a minute to experience in real life, was wearing and stressful. I didn't expect to be so thrown by the material of my own life. 
 
Q: There has been an outpouring of support from your fan base - what has surprised you the most during this time - has there been any negative feedback. (We sometimes get as food writers - stick to food - have you experienced any of that?)
 
A: What has surprised me is how open readers have been. Many have written and told me they could see themselves or a loved one in the prose, and that the book has given them the courage to face mental illness, or to come out as LGBTQ, or to stand up to bullies. Whatever. They felt inspired by it. So far there hasn't been any negative feedback. 
 
Q: What are your plans with regards to writing - any Leite's Culinaria cookbooks in the works? 
 
A: No plans for a Leite's Culinaria cookbook at the moment. To be honest, I'm unsure of the value of cookbooks based upon websites or blogs nowadays. I watch people all the time walk right by books in their library and jump on the Internet for recipes. If we did a cookbook, it would have to be something different, something that acts as an adjunct to rather than as an extension of the site. 
 
In regards to other writing, I'm playing around with a few ideas, but these days I have barely a minute to focus!
 
Q: As cookbook lovers of course we want to know some of your favorite titles - can you share a few with us?
 
There are so many. Here are a few I'm cooking from right now:
 
Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan
 
Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way by Oretta Zanini De Vita and Maureen B. Fant

My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Jenny's note: Thank you, David, for your time and perspective on the writing of your memoir. I strongly disagree with you on one point, I know hundreds of thousands of cookbook fans that would never pass up a cookbook. Food52 cookbooks are hugely popular even though most of the recipes are on the internet. There needs to be a Leite's cookbook, I'd buy it. 

 

Book Giveaway - Notes on a Banana

Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression by David Leite is the brilliant and long-awaited memoir from the beloved founder of the James Beard Award-winning website Leite's Culinaria. David's website is indexed for our members - one click and 1,118 recipes will be added to your bookshelf.  

Notes on a Banana is funny, touching and stay-up-all night read. David has a number of events scheduled to promote this title.

Be sure to head over to our author interview post for more information on David's memoir.

We are pleased to offer three copies of this title to our EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:
 
Check out the author inteview post and of books that David mentioned as those he is cooking from now - which one sounds like a book you would like to cook from.

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on May 26th, 2017

Explore Chinese cuisine with excellent teaching cookbooks

Chinese cookbooks 

Browsing the EYB Library, it is easy to become overwhelmed. If you are looking for a cookbook to use as a springboard for learning a particular cuisine, you probably have hundreds from which to choose. Finding one that strikes the correct balance between history, instruction, and authenticity can be a challenge. For someone learning Chinese cuisines, a recent article cuts through the confusion and provides details on seven books perfectly suited for learning Chinese cooking

The tomes are from trusted names like Carolyn Phillips, whose All Under Heaven is touted as "an excellent roadmap to the cooking of each of China's regions." Fuchsia Dunlop likewise gets a shoutout for her recent release, Land of Fish and Rice.  This book isn't as comprehensive as Phillips' work, but it dives deep into the cuisine of one area, China's southern Jiangnan region, which includes Shanghai.

Not all of the recommended books are recent publications. The Breath of a Wok from Grace Young and Alan Richardson, published over a decade ago, also receives accolades. It is "the place to start if you like to approach cooking as a poet might, understanding the soul of a cuisine, or if you really want to geek out." Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's 2006 work, My Grandmother's Chinese Kitchen, is described as being a good choice for someone who is a 'nervous beginner', because it is a sweet and personal book and not at all intimidating. The article recommends three additional books as good instruction manuals for learning about Chinese cuisine. 

Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

Finding the best recipes amongst the millions online is not easy - but you don't have to! The team here at Eat Your Books, searches for excerpts from indexed books and magazines and every week we bring you our latest finds. Every day recipes are added from the best blogs and websites.

As a member, you can also add your own favorite online recipes  using the Bookmarklet. With EYB, you can have a searchable index of all your recipes in one place!

Happy cooking and baking everyone!

 


From websites:

Roasted Eggplant and Brown Rice Bowl with Turmeric Tahini from indexed  The Kitchn

 

 


From AUS/NZ books:

3 recipes from The Best of Gretta Anna by Gretta Anna & Martin Teplitzky, indexed by an EYB member

 

 

From UK books:

5 recipes from Healthy Baking: Nourishing Breads, Wholesome Cakes, Ancient Grains and Bubbling Ferments by Jordan Bourke

Enter our Healthy Baking giveaway -- open WORLDWIDE!

 

 


From Canadian books:

3 recipes from  Chicken in the Mango Tree: Food and Life in a Thai-Khmer Village by Jeffrey Alford

Enter our Chicken in the Mango Tree GIVEAWAY! (US/CAN only)

 

 

From US books: 

1 recipe from Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

Enter our Dinner GIVEAWAY! (US only)

 

10 recipes from Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklynby Chitra Agrawal

Enter our Vibrant India GIVEAWAY! (US only)

 

1 recipe from Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop by Dana Cree

Enter our Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream GIVEAWAY! (US only)


Impractical kitchen gadgets that we love anyway

 vintage gadgets

Every day it seems my inbox is filled with advertisements for shiny new kitchen gadgets that promise to save time or outperform older models. A kitchen scale is so much more accurate than that old set of measuring cups, and by using the tare feature I can get those cookies in the oven faster. That heavy-duty blender will make short work of those smoothies, so why should I struggle with an undersized, ancient model? 

While these items may indeed work better than my current tools, I just cannot give up some old gadgets. Sentiment overrides practicality. I do weigh nearly all of my baking ingredients, I still frequently reach for the dented, dull metal measuring cups that once belonged to my grandmother. For ingredients where precision is not required, I prefer to use these familiar tools. They transport me across the country and back in time to my grandmother's farm kitchen, where I would stand on a vinyl-covered chair, "helping" Grandma make a batch of cookies. 

Sometimes it is the sheer beauty of a tool that keeps me from replacing it. Although it has less capacity and is not nearly as powerful as its modern brethren, my vintage Vitamix gleams in its stainless, mid-century glory. The same can be said for the handsome hand-cranked coffee grinder. In addition to its beauty, the grinder's analog operation is satisfying. There are no buttons to press and no beeps to interpret; the only sound is that of the coffee beans being pummeled by the steel gears. It may take a while to grind enough for a pot of coffee, but the process is a calming respite from the breakneck pace of modern life. 

A handful of tools remain in my cabinets because it seems heartless to replace them; they have become like old friends. I have an old potato masher adorned with an unfortunate design from the late 1970s. The metal has discolored and the plastic handle is nicked and warped. But it functions as well as any new model so it seems a shame to replace it. I haven't given up my friends, nor have they replaced me, even though we are not quite shiny and new either. 

While I still succumb to tempting new kitchen gadgets that replace less versatile models (hello, Instant Pot and goodbye, slow cooker), many items shall remain in my cabinets - and in my heart - for years to come. What items do you hold dear, despite (or because of) their flaws? 

La Vie Rustic - Georgeanne Brennan

La Vie Rustic: Cooking and Living in the French Style by Georgeanne Brennan shares recipes driven by the seasons with beautiful photographs and a touch of the outdoors. This inspiring cookbook weaves together Georgeanne's personal experience, stories, and tips on how to create a sustainable life. Celebrating the relationship between the land and the table, and among food, family, and friends - no matter where you reside is reflected in the dishes and stories the author shares.

The prolific Brennan has written a library of titles. Last Fall her memoir (with recipes) My Culinary Journey: Food & Fêtes of Provence with Recipes hit the shelves and it a beautiful read. Of all her titles, La Vie Rustic may be my favorite book to date. I say to date because one never knows when Georgeanne will spring another stunner of a title on us. 

Frozen Meringues & Fresh Apricots, Winter Beignets with Sauce Verte, Pumpkin Galettes with Fried Sage and Fresh Bay Leaves Skewered with Eggplant & Peppers are a few examples of the dishes waiting for you. The chapters are organized as follows: The Potager: Year-Round Vegetables; The Orchard: Fruits & Nuts; The Barnyard: Cows, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Chickens, Ducks & Rabbits; The Forest & Field: Wild Things; The Water: Fish & Shellfish; and the Appendix covers a Simple Potager with Fruit Trees for a Small Space.  As you can see from the chapter titles - La Vie Rustic is a journey through the seasons and France.

Georgeanne has a number of events planned - check to see if she is in your area. Special thanks to the author and Weldon Owen for sharing the cover recipe with our members. Be sure to head over to our contest page to get in your entry for a chance to win a copy of this beautiful book.

 
TOMATO TART with WHOLE ROASTED GARLIC CLOVES 
 
I was served a version of this tomato tart at a tiny French bistro. A couple ran the off-the-beaten-track spot; she did the cooking while he tended the bar, and both of them pitched in to serve us. This tomato tart was one of the first-course options on the prix-fixe menu that evening, followed by a second course of braised lamb with flageolet beans, and for dessert, a choice of flan, apple tart, or ice cream. I've been back many times and have yet to be disappointed. Although the instructions are for a rectangular tart pan, a 9-inch (23-cm) round fluted tart pan can be substituted. 

SERVES 10 AS AN APPETIZER or 4-5 AS A MAIN COURSE 
 
Extra-virgin oil for drizzling 
½ tsp sea salt 
½ tsp freshly ground pepper 
½ tsp herbes de Provence 
8-10 Roma or San Marzano tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise 
12 large cloves garlic, unpeeled 
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about ½ lb/250 g), thawed 
2 tsp crème fraȋche 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
 
Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  
 
Drizzle just enough oil on a rimmed baking sheet to thinly coat the bottom. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence over the oil. Place the tomatoes, cut side down, on the baking sheet, rubbing them around to absorb the oil and seasoning.  
 
Place the garlic cloves on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with some oil, and turn to coat evenly. Seal the foil into a packet and place it in a small baking dish. 
Place the baking sheet with the tomatoes on the upper rack of the oven and the garlic on the lower rack. Roast the tomatoes until their skins slip off easily, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet with the tomatoes from the oven and set aside to cool. Raise the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue to roast the garlic until soft and easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 25 minutes longer. Set aside to cool. 
 
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins, leaving the tomatoes on the baking sheet. When the garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins, leaving the cloves whole. The tomatoes and the garlic can be prepared a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using. 
 
Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C). 
 
On a floured work surface, roll the puff pastry into a rectangle about 10 by 13 inches (25 by 33 cm). Drape it over an 8-by-11½-inch (20-by-29-cm) rectangular fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and gently press the pastry into the pan, letting the edges hang over the sides. Using your fingers, tuck the excess dough under to make a folded rim that rises slightly above the sides of the tart pan.  
 
Line the pastry with aluminum foil and add pie weights or dried beans. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the exposed edges begin to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork and continue to bake until the crust turns a pale bisque, about 3 minutes longer. If it puffs up, prick the puff with a fork to deflate it. Let the crust cool slightly. 
 
Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). 
 
In a bowl, combine the crème fraîche and mustard. Using a spatula, spread the mustard mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. 
 
Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, across the surface of the tart shell. Tuck the garlic cloves among the tomatoes. With a pastry brush, brush the tops of the tomatoes with juices from the baking sheet. Bake until the edges of the crust are puffed and deep gold and the bottom is cooked through, 15-20 minutes. 
Remove from the oven. Let stand for 15 minutes. Slip a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen any clinging bits of pastry. Gently push on the bottom of the pan, nudging the sides loose. Slide the tart onto a serving plate, cut into pieces, and serve warm.
 
The above recipe is excerpted from La Vie Rustic: Cooking & Living in the French Style (Weldon Owen, March 2017) by Georgeanne Brennan.

 

Cookbook Giveaway - La Vie Rustic

La Vie Rustic: Cooking and Living in the French Style by Georgeanne Brennan shares recipes driven by the seasons with beautiful photographs and a touch of the outdoors. This inspiring cookbook weaves together Georgeanne's personal experience, stories, and tips on how to create a sustainable life. Celebrating the relationship between the land and the table, and among food, family, and friends - no matter where you reside is reflected in the dishes and stories the author shares.

For more information on this title, please see our review and recipe post

We are pleased to offer three copies of this title to our EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:

What recipe in the index would you like to try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on May 25th, 2017

 

Is this a golden age of desserts?

 Dominique Ansel cookbook and cronuts

For many years - decades , even - desserts at restaurants were often an afterthought. Only in the finest dining establishments would you find a dedicated pastry chef who would put together a well-considered, challenging, and delicious dessert menu. In the aftermath of the financial crisis in the late 2000s, even those restaurants began to cut their pastry programs. But not only has pastry rebounded, says Eater NY, we may be living in a golden age of desserts.

Eater credits one person with opening the door to better restaurant desserts: Dominique Ansel. The Cronut, which debuted four years ago, "rocked the world of pastry in a way that no one could have predicted," according to author Marguerite Preston. And even though it lead to something akin to an arms race of hybridized, over-the-top desserts, it also led to renewed interest in serious pastry. 

You may not know it, but Ansel is a classically-trained pastry chef who excels at traditional items like viennoiserie and petit fours.  "When we first opened," he told Eater, "people told me that French pastries wouldn't sell in New York - that I would need to do cupcakes or cheesecake." Now the pastry landscape has undergone a seismic shift, he says, with renewed interest in the pastry arts driving innovation and creativity in desserts.  

One thing hasn't rebounded as well as the interest in pastry, however. Salaries for pastry chefs remain stagnant. Another issue that concerns pastry chefs is the push toward having "Instagram-worthy" desserts. They worry that the focus on gorgeous photographs may come at the expense of desserts that are simple or are not that photogenic. 

Cookbook Giveaway - Cin Cin Wood-Fired Cucina

Cin Cin Wood-Fired Cucina by Andrew Richardson celebrates the 25th anniversary of the famous Cin Cin Ristorante + Bar in Vancouver. The restaurant and cookbook both focus on fresh, local ingredients that are allowed to shine in recipes.

For more information on this cookbook, please see our review and recipe post

We are pleased to offer two copies of this title to our 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 recipe in the index  would you like to try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on May 23rd, 2017

 

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