Friday Flashback - The New Midwestern Table - Cookbook Stackup

I am a Midwestern girl in my heart. I grew up in a small steel town in Southern Illinois near St. Louis, Missouri.  Even though I long to return to New York, having lived there for fifteen years, the grounding stability of the Midwest is in my blood. The MIdwest has a reputation for meat, potatoes and bread - yet we are so much more than that and we have Amy Thielen to thank for bringing Midwestern cuisine to everyone's table.

As I mentioned in my promotion of Amy's memoir Give a Girl a Knife (a must read), I was thrilled to discover her back in 2013 and loved the focus on modern Midwestern cooking. Her book The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes is incredible - not a bad recipe in the collection and I've made at least half of them. Favorites include her Best-ever beer cheese soup, Classic beef pot roast with pistachio salt (that pistachio salt makes the world go round), and Rosemary-infused brown butter chicken breasts (some of my photos are uploaded at these links). Her famous Maple bread with soft cheese is something I turn to on Sunday mornings and a reason I am never without sourdough bread, maple syrup and butter (you don't need the cheese - it gilds the lily). I had to start a group to cook through her book way back when.

I reached out to Amy about featuring her here on our Cookbook Stackup posts and she was gracious enough to answer some questions in the thoughtful way she approaches everything in life. Thank you Amy and I am over the moon excited about another cookbook from you! 

Q: Can you tell me what cookbook was your very first?

As a kid I remember reading and rereading my mom's orange Betty Crocker cookbook. . But she didn't really own a lot of cookbooks. She had a recipe box full of index card-recipes and magazine clippings, and a collection of ring-bound community and church cookbooks. But it really wasn't until college, at Macalester in St. Paul, that I discovered the cookbook world. In addition to my English lit classes I was taking a lot of sustainable agriculture and women's studies and sociology, and somehow my research on farm women's diaries and early-American cookbooks led me to 1950s housewife cookbooks and then to contemporary American cookbooks. It was the beginning of my hippie-homesteader phase. Within a year of graduation, I'd move to a nonelectric cabin in the woods and garden and cook my brains out, but the cookbooks that gave me that inclination to do that were Alice Waters' Chez Panisse and Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. Blending the two together, I made so many whole-wheat pizzas topped with greens and roasted garlic. And so much roasted squash soup. Soon after that I found Marcella Hazan and Madeleine Kamman, who had a more European-edged authoritative writing style that really spoke to me. They wrote the way my mom and grandma talked; their witty bossiness earned my trust. I think it's fair to say that my obsession with Madeleine Kamman's The Making of a Cook began in 1997 and continues to this day. The woman was an absolute genius, and had a cooking knowlege that spanned from her French family roots to the world of haute cuisine. She knew everything, from classic French food like duck confit, to cream-based country French dressings, to the (then-new) California-style restaurant food. She had a restaurant in Boston, a cooking show on PBS, and wrote so many wonderful books. When French Women Cook is my favorite. It's a memoir, basically, stories of the French women who influenced her, with 200 recipes, and my copy is all flagged up. Someday I will make her walnut bread, a recipe from the Savoie that calls for a full cup of butter "lees," the brown bits you skim off when making clarified butter. She's totally my hero.

Q: How many are in your collection right now - and can you provide a photograph to share?

I have about 350 cookbooks at last count, although it's difficult to count them. They're spilling out of the shelves right now, lining the staircase to my office, and forming precarious mountains at my bedside. It's really getting out of control. I went through them this summer to cull out the ones I might be able to give away, and came up with a pile that numbers exactly eight. And they're still sitting there, because it's really hard for me to give up my cookbooks. When I die, I want to donate my collection to a library, but they'll have to take them knowing that the margins are written in and the back jackets are covered with sketches for menus and grocery lists and to-do lists. I have a bad habit of writing in my books, but I think it's just a testament to how much they are a part of me. I own them, but really, if you look at my house you'll see that they own me.

Q: Who are your favorite authors right now?

Just yesterday I received Cheers to the Publican in the mail, and I think it's a fabulous book-well-written and as full of amazing vegetable dishes as it is sausage. I adore pretty much anything Nigel Slater does. although Tender is one of my favorites. He ties his food to mood so beautifully, and cooks the way I do on a regular weekday night: with love, and common sense, and from the ingredients that lounge around my kitchen. And his sentences are like poems. In recent years I've also loved Alex Raij's The Basque Book; it's such a deep dive into a cuisine I don't know that well. And Nancy Hachisu's Japanese Farm Food. And Vivian Howard's Deep Run Roots. And the Matt Lee and Ted Lee's The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. And The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. I also recently reread Judy Rodger's The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, which is a masterpiece. Full of wisdom and good sense and a million brilliant recipes for using up stale bread, which everyone needs.

Q: Are there plans for more books?

I'm working on a cookbook right now, and I'm really excited about it. I feel like I've been a hoarder with my recipes for the past six years, holding all my best recipes close to my chest like a good poker hand, and I'm so thrilled to be writing them down and eventually publishing them. I can't give any more detailed info about that, but will keep people updated on my social media channels, Facebook and Instagram mainly.

Getting to know Comté

crispy potatoes with Comte

Did you know that Comté shares a history with Swiss Gruyère? Or that the cows that produce the milk for the cheese get to spend the winter inside a comfortable stone house? Will Studd knows these facts and more, and he shares his knowledge with us in an article in Australian Gourmet Traveller

Comté began its journey to becoming the most popular raw-milk cheese in France when Swiss cheesemakers migrated to the mountainous Jura region of eastern France following World War II. They brought with them traditional techniques used in the processing of Gruyère, although they did introduce some changes, the most noticeable being how the cheese is salted. 

Little about the cheesemaking process has changed over the decades. A cooperative of farmers, small dairies, and affineurs strictly regulates the activity, setting standards for which breed of cows can be used, how the animal must be treated, and continuing through to how the cheese is aged. In the early days, Comté was considered inferior to Gruyère.

That began to change in the 1960s, when affineur Marcel Petite started aging select cheeses in the damp basements of Fort Saint-Antoine, located high in the mountains. The lower temperatures there allowed the Comté to age more slowly than its Swiss counterpart, adding depth to the flavors. If you can locate Comté that has been selected and matured by Marcel Petite, you are in for a treat, says Studd. 

Photo of Elena's crispy potatoes with Comté from Food52

A Passion for Pasta - Recipe, review and giveaway

A Passion for Pasta by Carmela Sophia Sereno now holds the coveted spot of my favorite pasta cookbook. It is not only stunning with lovely photographs throughout, but the recipes capture what homemade pasta should be - beautiful, delicious and approachable.

Carmela shares the basics from making various flavours of pasta dough (egg, chocolate, red wine and more) through and including creating elaborate striped and colored pasta - not to mention all the amazing varieties of shaped pastas.

Homemade pasta is a labor of love but not overly labor intensive. Just as the rest of you have multiple irons in the fire - this weekend I managed to work most of the day, see to the needs of my child and my other child, my husband, and still turned out homemade ravioli with a creamy walnut pesto and herby filling (recipe shared below). It blew my family and our guest away with how flavorful, fresh and delicious it was - I made at least 36 raviolis and my husband, son and our guest (a 77 year old woman) ate the remaining pieces (I do believe my friend stuffed a few into her purse to take home for later).

This title makes this Irish girl feel like an Italian. Other dishes that sparked my interest besides the recipe I've already tried include Italian crepes rolled in stock, a simple but elegant Lasagne sheets with melted butter, sugar and poppy seeds dish, detailed Corzetti discs with a veal ragu and hearty Bread dumplings with speck and salami. If I am being honest, all the recipes inspire me. A Passion for Pasta has it all and anyone should be able to create beautiful pasta dishes with Carmela's wonderful instructions. (If you want to buy packaged pasta and make the recipes - I won't tell anyone.) Carmela offers cooking classes in her UK home - more information can be found on her website

A portion of this promotion is devoted to pasta cooking tools. The first tool I would like to highlight is the pasta machine. Of course, you can roll pasta by hand and there are Kitchen aid attachments (even pasta extruders) - but I love using the Marcato's pasta machine - and as Carmela states in her book - it makes for a silkier consistency. For some reason, using the pasta roller and cutter by hand feels a bit more homemade than the motorized versions - although you can buy a motor for the Marcato. Carmela also suggests a broom handle but as my husband teases me - my broom gets enough of a workout from flying me about.

Another tool I am enjoying is Marcato's ravioli tablet it is just gorgeous (see the photo above) and more sturdy than previous models. I still like to hand cut or stamp raviolis occasionally but using the tablet helps you to crank out ten ravioli at a time. I made Carmela's recipe hand cutting the triangles for a few ravioli but the rest I made with the tablet.

A few other tools you might enjoy are the pasta wheel, also a time saver and allows the cutting of pasta and noodles of any length with nine interchangeable wheels. Also, I love Marcato's pasta drying rack because it not only matches the other products but it is sturdy compared to some of the wooden models. Made in Italy, all Marcato products have served me well for years. Laura of Harold Imports shares a post about making ravioli that everyone should check out - turn making homemade pasta into a family affair. 

Harold Imports provided me with a shiny red pasta machine and ravioli tablet to try out and are offering one of our members in the US a set of the same tools. See our giveaway at the bottom of this post for more information.

Terry Mirri of Artisanal Pasta Tools is not only one of the nicest guys you will come across but also brings a true piece of Italian craftsmanship to the world through the tools he offers on his website. Besides my love of cookbooks. French enamel cookware, and Italian copper cooking vessels (I have a problem) - I am totally crazy about hand-made tools - and Artisanal Pasta Tools has it all. I have several Corzetti pasta stamps, two Cavarola boards, and a garganelli-gnocchi board (photo also shows a fusilli shaper) and they are treasures - high quality, perform brilliantly and will last a lifetime. Watch Terry demonstrate using  the garganelli-gnocchi board on this video. Terry's passion for his work is palpable over the phone - he is a force of nature and is generously offering one of our members in the US a garganelli-gnocchi board in our giveaway below.

With Carmela's A Passion for Pasta and an assist from these products from HIC Imports/Marcato and Artisanal Pasta Tools, you will be making pasta like a pro, or better yet an Italian nonna.

Special thanks to Little, Brown UK (Robinson), the publisher, for sharing the recipe I made last weekend - it is so incredibly good. The publisher is also offering three copies of Carmela's book to our members in the UK. For members in the US, Eat Your Books is providing one copy of this book, HIC Imports is providing a Marcato pasta roller and cutter and a ravioli tablet, and lastly Artisanal Pasta Tools is providing one garganelli-gnocchi board. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter.

Ligurian wild herb ravioli with a creamy walnut pesto
Pansotti al preboggion con salsa di noci
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Preparation time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes
Serves 4

For the pasta dough

400g fresh egg pasta
70g Parmesan, grated
Polenta, for dusting

For the pansotti filling 

300g (fresh weight) mixed herb leaves
600g ricotta
100g Parmesan grated
1 small garlic clove, peeled and
finely crushed
1 egg
Pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
Salt and pepper to season

For the walnut pesto 

125ml milk
20g bread
130g walnuts, shelled and peeled
30g pine nuts, untoasted
1 garlic clove, peeled
60g Parmesan, grated
Small bunch of parsley, including stems
Salt and pepper to season
Olive oil
Basil and parsley, finely chopped

Carmela's Tips 

Prescinsêua is a traditional curd cheesemade in Liguria and would be used to fill the pansotti instead of ricotta.

Pansotti is another name for ravioli in the Liguria region of Italy and are triangular in shape. These pillows are filled with a mix of wild herbs called preboggion only found in Liguria. I have not had the pleasure of preparing these pansotti with the Ligurian wild herbs, so I use a combination of my own. I adore dandelion leaves and their overwhelming bitterness, combining them with spinach, Swiss chard, watercress, small oregano and marjoram leaves, chervil and basil to leave you with an aromatic taste of afresh summer meadow.

Place your mixed herbs and leaves (apart from the basil and chervil as they are too delicate) in a little water and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge in ice-cold water for 60 seconds. Drain again and then place on a clean tea towel and squeeze out all the excess water.

Add the basil and chervil to the blanched herbs and chop all the herbs finely.

Place the herbs, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to incorporate. Cover and chill until required (this filling can be made a day ahead if preferred).

To make the pesto, pour the milk into a bowl and add the bread. Leave to soften for 5 minutes.

Into a food processor, add the walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan and parsley. Blitz for 10 seconds.

Add the softened bread and blitz for a further 10 seconds. The bread will add a delicious creaminess to the pesto.

Add a little olive oil until you reach a dropping consistency.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is a little thick don't worry as we will also add a little pasta water to loosen it when ready. Leave the pesto out at room temperature whilst you prepare the pansotti.

Make the pansotti (ravioli) following the instructions on page 18. Set aside on a lightly dusted tray with a sprinkle of polenta to prevent sticking.

Place a large pan of water on to boil. Once bubbling, salt well and add the pansotti. Allow the pansotti to cook until al dente. This will take about 4-5 minutes.

Drain, reserving a ladle of the pasta water.

Place the pansotti in a serving dish. Add the pesto along with some of the reserved pasta water and stir.

Spoon into bowls and scatter over a little extra Parmesan and a sprinkle of chopped basil and parsley.

Making a Simple Egg Pasta Dough

Sfogline are ladies who specialise in rolling freshly made pasta dough into una sfoglia, a huge see-through sheet of pasta. Here is a quote I recently heard and wanted to share with you: 'Sfogline are known to say that the pasta dough is ready when you hear it sing.' To sing means you hear and also feel bubbles popping as you knead the dough with the heels of your hands. So many people are afraid of making fresh handmade pasta, but I don't understand why. I agree that ready-made dried pasta is affordable and a great staple store-cupboard ingredient (I have more than twenty dried packets in my larder at any one time). However, a bowl of freshly handmade pasta is simply mouth-watering from the first to the very last bite. In my opinion, fresh pasta is superior to dried pasta not only in taste but also in texture and colour. When making fresh egg pasta, '00' soft wheat flour is used; this type has been milled to a superfine powder and is much finer than other flours. There are many different flours and flour blends that make wonderful pasta. From a nutty farro spelt flour to chestnut flour, rye flour, buck wheatflour, kamut flour and many more, as well as the much-loved '0' flour and semolina flour. They each work well individually but also when blended with a '00' soft wheat flour.

There are a couple of general guidelines that are useful when making fresh egg pasta dough

  • 100g '00' flour plus 1 large egg equals one portion of pasta dough. This can vary and be adjusted with different flour blends.
  • For a richer dough you can use just egg yolks and omit the whites (save the whites to make a meringue or egg white omelette). 400g '00' flour plus 12 egg yolks makes a rich pasta dough that is perfect for ravioli etc.

Egg pasta dough
Pasta fresca fatto a mano
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400g '00' flour
4 large eggs
Pinch of salt (optional)

Ideally, work on a wooden or marble board but a wooden table top would work well too. I prefer to use a wooden surface as this gives a little added texture to the dough and helps in the kneading process. Tip the flour onto the board and form a well in the centre with your fingers (I call this a volcano).

Crack the eggs into the well (volcano) and add a pinch of salt. The salt is optional and if I'm honest, I generally eliminate the salt from my fresh pasta as I tend to salt the pasta water well instead.

With your fingertips or a fork gently introduce the flour to the egg mixture, being careful to not break the walls of the volcano and lose any of the egg mixture.

Form the mixture into a pliable dough. If there is any excess flour that will not incorporate into the dough, scrape it away.

Knead the dough using the heels of both hands until the dough has become smooth and silky with a light spring back when pushed with your fingertip. Kneading by hand will take around 7-10 minutes.

If the dough is a little dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water or milk; if it is too wet add a little more flour. Just remember that adding too much flour can lead to a dry and slightly denser dough.

Wrap the dough with cling film and allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes at room temperature.

Once the dough has rested, you can either work or roll the dough by hand using a very thin rolling pin (I use a wooden broom handle), or alternatively a pasta machine. Using a pasta machine allows the dough to become silky and guarantees a smooth finish.

However much dough you make, you must always work with it in portions when using a pasta machine. Cut the dough in half. Take the first half and wrap the remaining half in cling film to ensure the dough does not dry out and form an outer skin.

Set the pasta machine to the widest setting. Each machine will differ so please follow your manufacturer's instructions as required.

Flatten and lightly flour the dough then feed it through the pasta machine. Fold the dough back over itself (like an envelope) and feedthrough the widest setting again at least six times. This will ensure smoothness and elasticity.

Increase a notch at a time on the machine and feed the dough through on each setting twice. There is no need to envelope the dough at this stage; you are just trying to lengthen it.

Continue rolling the dough, narrowing the rollers at every stage.

I tend to stop at the second to last thinnest section on the pasta machine. This is the appropriate thickness required for perfect pasta; you should be able to read a newspaper through the pasta sheet.

As an alternative option I also press herbs into my pasta at this stage, so if you are feeling creative have a go. Take the pasta sheet and cover half of the sheet with parsley leaves, tiny basil leaves or baby thyme or oregano leaves. Small edible flowers could also be used. Please note the leaves must be soft and stem-free otherwise the dough will rip.

Fold the plain pasta half over the herb-covered dough and push down gently using the palm of your hand, to secure. Press through the pasta machine one last time. You should be left with a sheet of beautifully decorated pasta.

The pasta sheet once rolled should be approximately 3mm in thickness.

Now choose your shape - from spaghetti, linguine, lasagne sheets, tagliatelle or a perfect base for a filled ravioli, mezzaluna, tortellini oranolini.

Instructions for making the ravioli 

Cut the prepared pasta dough in half, wrap one half in cling film or a clean tea towel and roll out the remaining dough with either a pasta machine, rolling pin or broom handle to the thickness of 3mm. I prefer to use my pasta machine as I gain a silky pasta finish. Press the pasta into two large lasagna sheets approximately 15 cm wide.

Take one sheet and place individual teaspoonsful of filling across the length of one piece of dough, leaving an approximate gap of 4 cm between each mound.

Dip your finger in a little water and lightly dampen around the filling.

Place the top layer of pasta directly over the base sheet.

Gently use your hands to cup the filling between the pasta layers, removing and pushing out any excess air.

Seal the pasta by pinching around each and use a knife, pastry cutter, or shaped cutter if you prefer, to cut the ravioli into shapes.

Lay the ravioli on a tray that has been lightly dusted with polenta and use the remaining pasta in the same way to make more.

One other little idea, I would like to share with you for a possible storing solution for your pasta tools.

I found this large sewing basket at the thrift store for five dollars and turned it into a pasta basket. Some of my stamps and other things are packed away for a move so I will have more to add but I love having it all organized in one spot. I never have enough drawers or cabinet space and thought this might be nice to just tuck away in the pantry and pretty enough to leave out if necessary. 

Now it is time for our giveaway. There are additional options to earn more entries: visiting Harold Imports site, Facebook page and more. Good luck! 

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the UK. For members in the US, Eat Your Books is providing one copy of this book, HIC Imports is providing a Marcato pasta roller and cutter and a ravioli tablet, and lastly Artisanal Pasta Tools is providing one garganelli-gnocchi board. 

One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. Please be sure to check your spam filters to make sure you receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on October 23rd, 2017. 

 

Photos by Jenny Hartin (except for book cover). All links to Amazon are affiliate links and help us in our indexing efforts. 

 

What's the difference between parchment paper and wax paper?

 halibut en papillote

Enthusiastic bakers know (and love) baking parchment and wax paper, but novice bakers might not understand the difference between the two. While you can use them both for some applications, they aren't always interchangeable says Julie Thomson, Taste Senior Editor at HuffPost. 

They may look quite similar, but the processes used in creating them are vastly different. Parchment paper undergoes a process that involves passing it through sulphuric acid or zinc chloride. This causes the plant fibers to swell, making the parchment dense and greaseproof. Wax paper, on the other hand, is simply tissue paper with paraffin wax coating applied to it. The wax renders it nonstick, greaseproof, and waterproof.

The big difference between the two is in how much heat each can stand. Parchment paper can withstand temperatures up to approximately 425 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for tasks like lining sheet pans when baking cookies and cooking  en papillote (where the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked). Wax paper's nonstick properties make it well suited for wrapping sticky candies and covering bowls in the microwave. You can use it in the oven as a cake pan liner, as long as the paper isn't exposed to the air (the cake batter and pan act as insulators for the wax paper). 

Another difference is in price: parchment is more expensive. If you have a few friends who also love to bake, you can lower that cost by splitting a large pack of half-sheet sized parchment from a restaurant supply store or online. The per-use cost becomes extremely reasonable.

Photo of Halibut en papillote from Coast by Rachel Allen

Tips for making better stuffed pasta

 ravioli

Making filled pasta from scratch can be intimidating. Pasta dough can be finicky, and the finished pieces have a tendency to explode when cooked, leaving you with a soggy mess. But done right, they are wondrous: tender pasta enveloping a rich, flavorful filling. Saveur's Stacy Adimando talked with pasta guru Evan Funke, of the Venice (California) restaurant Felix Trattoria, about the secrets to making stuffed pasta

Funke is passionate about pasta. He spent over a decade studying pasta from the best traditional pasta makers in Bologna, Italy, as well as experts in America and Japan. "Italy to me was like mother's love, instantly familiar and so comforting," he says. He studied at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese, a cooking school in Bologna, where it took him over a thousand tries to roll out his first perfect pasta sheet (sfoglia). 

While that bit of information may seem discouraging, you can achieve great results - if not outright perfection - by following Funke's hard-earned advice. His first rule? Roll out your pasta dough by hand, not with a pasta maker. "If you lovingly create a ball of light dough and smash it between a pasta machine's metal rollers, you're crushing everything in it and essentially degassing it," he says. Funke uses a long, thin rolling pin called a mattarello, which allows him to roll extremely large sfoglia. If you aren't up for investing in the meter-long tool, a wooden rolling pin will do the trick. 

Other advice from Funke includes making sure the dough and filling are at the proper hydration levels. "Dough for filled pastas should feel supple and on the drier side, able to be pinched and stay sealed without water," he notes. The chef also recommends not using too much salt in the cooking water, because you may want to use some of that water in the sauce. 

Photo of Pear and cheese ravioli (Cacio e pere) from Saveur Magazine

Coming Un Stuck - Review, recipe and giveaway

Coming Un Stuck: Recipes to Get You Back on Track by Sarah Tuck is for those times when cooking and eating well can make its way down on our evergrowing long lists of priorities. No one is immune from the inevitable ups and downs of life, but this book is here to help, with easy, flavour-packed recipes to get you through those times. From wholefoods to comfort food, the focus here is on reliable, delicious, stylish recipes to enjoy alone or share with family and friends.

Sarah states in this article from Stuff, "I had been working for Annabel Langbein doing recipe development and styling, and wanted to have a creative outlet, where I could practice my photography and styling (in my own style), and share my recipes with others." One glance at her website and you will see just how beautiful her dishes and photography are and her new book reflects her style brilliantly.

With crave-worthy recipes for Fat-arse banana, oat & ricotta hotcakes with maple butter, Japanese chicken curry balls, and White chocolate, macadamia & caramel slice - your breakfast to dessert are easily covered.

Sarah is sharing one of her recipes with our members today, the Salmon pizza for one. The author is also generously offering two copies of this book for our members in NZ and AU. Scroll down to our giveaway below to enter.

Salmon pizza for one
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

Some of the best things in life are so bloody simple aren't they? Sunshine, fresh air, a good laugh with friends, a swim in the sea - for me this pizza also makes the list. No pressure to make your own pizza bases for this if you can't be faffed, thin ones from the supermarket are totally fine!

Pizza dough: Makes 4 bases (3 for the freezer)

  • 4 cups 00 or high-grade (bread) flour

  • 1⁄2 tsp salt

  • 1 1⁄2 cups tepid water (+ 2 tbsp extra if needed)
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

  • 8g sachet dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


For the salmon pizza:


  • 1⁄3 cup grated mozzarella

  • 1⁄3 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 100g sliced smoked salmon

  • 60g buffalo mozzarella, drained on a paper towel

  • 1-2 tbsp capers

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill

  • 1 small lemon, quartered (optional)

Mix flour and salt together in the bowl of a big mixer or a big bowl. Put water in a jug, whisk in sugar then gently stir in yeast and leave to sit for 5 minutes until the mixture has a frothy 
top. Stir into our with olive oil, then either mix by hand, or use a mixer with a dough hook to bring the dough together and knead for 5 minutes (longer by hand - tip out of the bowl and give it at least 10 minutes of kneading!) until it is smooth and elastic. Put into a bowl greased with a little extra olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and leave to sit in a warmish spot for 45 minutes.

Remove from the bowl, knock the air out and knead a minute or two further. If the dough feels extra sticky, knead lightly on a floured bench or board until the flour is incorporated and the dough feels smooth and glossy. Divide it into 4 balls and cover with plastic wrap again or put in sealable plastic bags and pop in the freezer for at least 2 hours, which I find helps to 'settle' it. You can now use the dough or freeze it until you are ready to use it. Be aware that it may try and escape from its plastic wrappings in the fridge! Each ball will make one largeish pizza - I always save a few pieces for (ahem) breakfast.

Preheat the oven to 230 ̊C and put an oven tray in
to heat up (or use a pizza oven and/or pizza stone if you have them). Sprinkle a little flour on a piece of baking paper and 
roll the dough out directly onto it, then pop in the freezer for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella and parmesan over the pizza base then top with smoked salmon. Tear the buffalo mozzarella into tablespoon-sized chunks, dot over the pizza then season with salt and pepper. Carefully slide the prepared pizza onto the very hot oven tray and cook 12-15 minutes until golden. Sprinkle with capers and dill, then squeeze over a bit 
of lemon juice if you like.

Serve with a green salad and a glass of your favourite wine.

The author is offering two copies of this book to EYB Members in New Zealand and Australia. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. Please be sure to check your spam filters to make sure you receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on October 21st, 2017. 

 

Introducing the Eat Your Books Cookbook Club

We are happy to announce the Eat Your Books Cookbook Club - an online cooking group where we will cook through one or more cookbooks every month, share our photos and thoughts on the recipes and have fun! Beginning in October, I will do a recap of what folks are cooking up in the group and share it twice monthly here on the Eat Your Books blog. 

There are no set rules - if a book (or the alternate) doesn't appeal to you feel free to skip that month. The only requirement is that you purchase the book and do not share the actual recipes from the titles. If recipes are online, you may, of course, participate in that fashion. Pick one, two or more recipes that appeal to you to cook - of course no one can cook an entire book of recipes in one month. This is a fun exercise not meant to be a chore. If you cook one recipe, great - if you cook a dozen, great - if the book doesn't appeal to you (or the alternate choices) skip that month. If you want to join the group to just see what others are cooking, keep up with EYB news or comment on anothers post only that is fine too.

Previously known as The Cookbook Junkies Cookbook Club, we already have 3,800 members (45,000 members in The Cookbook Junkies group). We have featured some great titles already The Harvest Baker, Dinner Changing the Game, Eat in My Kitchen and a few others. The other benefit of joining the group is that you will never miss a giveaway or kindle deal as I will share those in the group as well. (Also being done in The Cookbook Junkies). 

Tentatively, we have already scheduled out the rest of the year as follows:

In late November, I will set up a poll so that everyone can vote for cookbooks to feature in 2018.  

Come join us - we will have a great time! The cookbook club is a place to try new recipes from our books, inspire each other and share. 

Hello! My Name is Tasty - Review, recipe and giveaway

Hello! My Name Is Tasty: Global Diner Favorites from Portland's Tasty Restaurants by John Gorham and Liz Crain is absolutely brilliant. When I look through this book, the thought bubble above my head shows me frolicking (I haven't frolicked in years) through a field of wild flowers counting the ways I love it. Gorgeous photographs, the best straight up must make and eat food ever, spectacular content including historical tidbits and so much more. These folks rocked this book.

Gorham's first cookbook, Toro Bravo, shared the recipes from his tapas style restaurant of the same name. The recipes from the wildly successful Tasty n Sons (the chef and his partner in the restaurant have no sons - this name was an homage to old Brooklyn where so many family businesses were named & Sons) and Tasty n Adler restaurants in Portland were the impetus for this book. The chef states in the introduction that he was on a ten day road trip from D.C. to Savannah (while writing this book) to gather inspiration for both the book and his menus and also to revisit his past. The recipes in Hello! My Name is Tasty reflect the South, the world and all its cuisine, and the chef's own brillance. Yes, again - I use a derivative of the word brilliant. John, if you need my address for a box of those chicken biscuits - call me. 

The authors start the book with Tasty A to Z's - with tips that stress using the best, high quality ingredients you can procure for instance Valrhona chocolate, pure maple syrup. Housemade Tasty bacon, homemade cottage cheese with pineapple jam, kimchi, mustards - all are included. There is a lovely photographic spread of how to make a proper food board - Southern board, breakfast board, smoked trout, pickle board - along with all the recipes for those type of components.

Korean fried chicken, Burmese red pork stew, a Molten butterscotch cake that I would slap your mama for (mine is no longer with us), Toro Bravo milkshake and every other recipe in this book begs to be made and enjoyed. The recipes are pure comfort, high octane deliciousness and totally approachable.

Special thanks to the publisher, Sasquatch, and the authors for sharing the recipe for Lemon ricotta pancakes with our members today. The publisher is also offering three copies of this tasty title in our contest below.

Lemon ricotta pancakes with blackberry jam

Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

MAKES 4 ½ CUPS OF BATTER, FOR ABOUT 18 SMALL PANCAKES

  • 1 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1⁄2 cup almond flour

  • 1⁄4 cup plus 8 teaspoons sugar, divided

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup Ricotta (recipe follows) or store-bought
  • 1 1⁄2 cups whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks

  • Zest from 1 ½ lemons

  • 4 egg whites

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups warm Blackberry Jam (recipe follows), for serving

Maple syrup, for serving

Sift the flours, 1⁄4 cup of the sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt one at a time into a large bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Give it a quick whisk to make sure everything is evenly distributed and set aside.

In a medium bowl, fold the ricotta and 4 teaspoons of the sugar together, making sure not to break up the ricotta too much. You want to have some bigger chunks in the pancakes eventually. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the milk, egg yolks, and lemon zest until fully incorporated and set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites with the remaining 4 teaspoons sugar on medium-low speed until they form medium-stiff peaks. Keep an eye on this because you can overmix it.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the milk mixture until combined. Add the ricotta mixture and fold gently (you want some nice big chunks). Finally, fold in the egg whites until just incorporated.

NOTE:  Do not overmix this batter and activate the gluten. The key to a good pancake is not letting the gluten get tight- you want the pancakes fluffy.

Preheat a griddle to 350 degrees F, or place a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter until slightly browned, adding more as needed between batches.

Measure 1⁄4 cup of the batter per pancake and pour onto the griddle to make sand dollar-sized pancakes. As the pancakes begin to bubble and set on the bottom, flip them. If you're not sure whether they're ready to flip, get under them slightly with your spatula and take a little peek: you want them to fluff up and have a nice golden-brown color. Never push down on the pancakes.

Top each pancake with 2 tablespoons warmed blackberry jam and serve with maple syrup at the table.

Ricotta

MAKES 1 CUPS

Cheesecloth, for straining


  • 1 quart whey (if you don't have whey you can substitute skim milk)
  • 3⁄4 cup whole milk
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Line a fine-mesh sieve with the four to six overlapping layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large pot that will catch the eventual ricotta whey as it strains.
In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat, warm up the whey and milk until the mixture is 198 degrees F and then remove it from the heat.

Add the apple cider vinegar to the milk and slowly stir it to incorporate and then let the curds form, unattended and at room temperature for about 5 minutes.
Strain the curds through the cheesecloth-lined sieve over the large pot for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.

Open up the cheesecloth and transfer the curds into a medium bowl. Reserve the whey, and use it for our sugo (see page 35, along with the storage note below) if you want. Add the cream and stir lightly making sure not to break up the ricotta too much. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Blackberry jam

MAKES ABOUT 1 QUART

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 Madagascar vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 2 ½ pounds fresh blackberries
  • 1 ½ cups sugar

  • About ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice of about 1 lemon

In a medium nonreactive pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the vanilla bean pod and seed. The vanilla will lend a little color to the butter, but you don't want the butter to actually brown from the heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the vanilla bean blooms (you'll smell it).

Add the berries and sugar to the pot and stir. Once they begin to bubble, reduce the heat to medium low. Take your time and simmer gently for 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the water content of the berries. Blackberries contain more water than raspberries, strawberries have more than both, and frozen berries have generally double the water content of their fresh counterpart. You never want the jam to get above a simmer because a boil will start caramelizing the sugars, which changes the flavor.

To test for doneness, smear 1 1⁄2 teaspoons of the jam across a room-temperature plate. Tilt the plate: if the jam runs down the plate, continue to simmer and thicken; if it sticks in place, the jam is done and should be removed from the heat. (Once it cools, the jam will thicken even more.)

Taste the jam. Discard the vanilla bean pod or use it in our Tasty Vanilla Extract (page 98). Stir in additional sugar, salt, and lemon juice incrementally to taste. The more sugar you add to this jam, the more sharp the flavor will be. Adding the smallest amount of salt to it will counteract that sharpness and bring back the rounder, warmer, more berry-forward flavor. The lemon juice gives it a brightness that tends to enhance everything. Some berries have a good amount of natural acidity, such as the raspberry; if making this recipe with raspberries, the lemon juice will most likely be unnecessary.

Use the jam liberally for a couple days, warming it to serve, and freeze the remaining jam in airtight containers or ziplock bags. Always keep in mind that frozen foods expand slightly, so leave a little headspace to allow for that.

*(c)2017 by John Gorham and Liz Crain. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Hello! My Name is Tasty by permission of Sasquatch Books.

 

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. Please be sure to check your spam filters to make sure you receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on October 21st, 2017. 

 

A weighty situation

 kitchen scale

Over the last several years, there has been a subtle but important shift in baking books in the USA. No, it isn't a move to beautiful, moody overhead photography (although that has also been trending), it's about the use of weights in baking books. Cookbook author and food writer Christine Burns Rudalevige explains the reasons for this change.

The story quotes our very own Jenny Hartin, who has noticed the trend toward weight measures. She notes that of 20 recent baking books published iin the USA, 15 included both weight and volume measurements, and only 5 relied on volume measurements alone. The reasons for this shift basically boil down to accuracy. Everyone puts flour, sugar, and other ingredients into measuring cups differently.

Even the same person won't be able to achieve consistent results. Christine tested this by taking a known weight of flour and measured using the same process - fluffing with a fork, spooning into a measuring cup, and leveling with a knife. She was never able to get the same weight of flour. 

Some American authors were early adopters to weight measurements. Rose Levy Beranbaum provided weights (both metric and avoirdupois), along with traditional cup measurements, in her 1988 masterpiece The Cake Bible. Alice Medrich also provided weight measurements in 1990's Cocolat, offering another reason besides accuracy. "Scales save time and steps, and they decrease the number of bowls and measuring cups that need washing," she noted.

Another proponent of weighing was the late Flo Braker, who listed a scale as "indispensable" to making the recipes in Sweet Miniatures. Bread gurus like Peter Reinhart also prefer weight measurements, which allow you to more easily scale the recipe (especially if you use the metric system). 

More recently, pioneering bakers like Stella Parks have championed the cause of weighing ingredients. In BraveTart  (don't forget to enter the contest for this book!) Parks says that a scale "lets you see the matrix." She thinks that using weight measurements instead of volumes allows you to understand the recipe better by providing you with better insight on the relative proportions of ingredients. 

Holiday Cookies - Elisabet der Nederlanden - Review, Recipe and Giveaway

Every cookie lover's favorite time of year is rolling up soon and will be here before we know it. I love to bake any time of year but the crisp days of Fall and the late mornings of winter with snow blanketing our backyard are guaranteed baking days in my kitchen. 

Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season by Elisabet der Nederlanden is a beautifully styled book packed with 75 full-color photos and 50 recipes for holiday classics and twists on traditional treats. Along with recipes for Icebox Pinwheel cookies, Hazelnut sandwich cookies and Red and white meringue kisses, the author takes us around the world with Fig and cardamom rugelach, Hungarian kiffles, and more. Candies and confections are covered along with tips for packing, presenting and storing our baked treats. This is a stunning book that would be a great holiday or hostess gift - along with some freshly baked Saffron pistachio biscotti from the book or a cute holiday cookie cutter.

Special thanks to Ten Speed Press and the author for sharing the Glazed eggnog madeleines recipe with our members today. I'm hosting a holiday cookie lunch in November and asking everyone to buy this book and bake a cookie from it to share. I called dibs on these madeleines and hope to make a few others. I'll follow up in November with a post on the experience. It should be fun! Scroll to the end of this post to enter our contest for three copies of Holiday Cookies open to the US from the publisher and Eat Your Books is offering one copy worldwide.  

 

Glazed eggnog madeleines
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Makes 24 madeleines

 

These tender-crumbed cookie-cakes are a classic French treat and perfect alongside a cup of coffee or tea. The flavors of eggnog put this recipe squarely in the holiday realm, making it a great addition to your seasonal cookie assortment. For the best results, chill the batter and freeze the pan. The madeleines are best when eaten the day they are made.

 

MADELEINES

  • 1 1⁄2 cups cake flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon or Cognac
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3⁄4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Glaze

  • 2⁄3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

12-mold standard-size madeleine pan, 1-tablespoon cookie scoop (optional), wooden skewer or similar tool

To make the madeleines: Sift the flour, baking powder, and cloves into a bowl, then whisk in the salt and nutmeg. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, yolks, and granulated sugar and whisk on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until pale and airy. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand, add the flour mixture, and, using a rubber spatula, fold in gently. Add the bourbon, cream, and 1⁄2 cup of the melted butter and continue to fold gently until the ingredients are incorporated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush the madeleine molds with 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter, then place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the pan from the freezer. Using the scoop or two tablespoons, scoop a rounded tablespoon of batter into each prepared mold. Then, using the wooden skewer, spread the batter gently to evenly

fill the mold. Bake the madeleines for about 12 minutes, until lightly golden brown and a slightly raised bump forms in the center of each one.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a fork, gently loosen each madeleine from its mold, then tip the pan to turn the madeleines onto the rack, scalloped side up, and let cool completely.

Wash and dry the pan, brush the molds with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. Fill the molds with the remaining batter, then bake and cool the same way.

To make the glaze: In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, milk, and nutmeg to the thickness of heavy cream. One by one, dip each madeleine into the glaze at an angle, covering about 1 inch. Place them back on the cooling rack until ready to serve.

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US and we are offering one copy worldwide for a total of four. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. Please be sure to check your spam filters to make sure you receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on October 20th, 2017. 

 

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