Spice support: cinnamon and cassia

Cassia sticks

Cinnamon is one of the most recognized and widely used spices in the world, flavoring everything from drinks to meats to breads and desserts. You might be surprised to learn that much of what you think is cinnamon is in fact a different spice. In the US, nearly all of the spice jars labeled as cinnamon actually contain cassia, which has a similar taste but is less expensive. 

As you can see from cassia's Latin name, Cinnamomum cassia, it is is classified in the cinnamon family but differs from 'true cinnamon', Cinnamomum zeylanicum. (Some experts consider Cinnamomum verum to be 'true cinnamon' as well.) Both cassia and cinnamon come from the bark of tropical evergreen trees related to bay laurel. China is the ancestral home of cassia, and The Book of Spices notes it was cassia that first traveled to the West on what became known as "the cinnamon route". 

The differences between cinnamon and cassia are subtle and are mainly a matter of preference. While cassia is not as fragrant as cinnamon, some people prefer cassia's stronger flavor, which has a slightly bitter undertone. Saigon or Vietnamese cassia contains more oil and is more pungent than that grown in Indonesia, China, or India. Cinnamon's flavor is considered warmer but sweeter than cassia's often sharp taste.

Cassia bark is thicker than cinnamon bark (the photo above is of cassia), and the latter has a flakier appearance. Most true cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka, where, according to The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs, generations of "cinnamon peelers" pass down the skill of peeling the delicate bark and deftly rolling it into quills. 

Color differences also distinguish cassia and cinnamon. Cassia bark is darker than cinnamon bark, and ground cassia has a reddish-brown hue, while ground cinnamon is a pale tan. Cassia is harder than cinnamon and is difficult to grind at home, but cinnamon can be easily ground using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. The quills of both spices are often used whole in poaching liquids.

Some countries have made it illegal to label cassia as "cinnamon", but not the United States. Most of what is sold as cinnamon in the US is actually cassia. Most reputable spice merchants will offer additional information so you can tell which product you are buying. True cinnamon is frequently called 'Ceylon cinnamon'. Another clue is the country of origin - if it comes from Sri Lanka, it is probably true cinnamon. 

A Year of Picnics - Ashley English

While Ashley English's A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors is, in theory, a cookbook and guide that shares the keys to a perfect picnic, the great selection of recipes can be used for any occasion - basket and blanket optional. 

The chapters are organized seasonally with dishes featuring ingredients that are fresh and at their peak. The bonus here is that Ashley gives pointers on what elements in nature to take in while you are enjoying the outdoors. Instructions are given for such activities as making a DIY utensil holder or creating a mushroom spore print.  Spring and Summer offer such delights as Cardamom, Rose Water and Berry Coffee Cake, Zucchini Gratin, and Quinoa and Pecan Casserole as picnic-perfect dishes but also would be lovely for any meal.  Fall & Winter delivers Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Dijon Mustard Pork Chop Sandwich, and Twice- Baked Potatoes.

If themes are your thing, themed picnics such as the Bird Watching Picnic, The Tea Party or The Romantic Picnic are set out for you with ideas and recipes to set the mood. Beautiful photographs of the food and nature are plentiful and the stimulus one needs to get off the couch and try something adventurous (yes, at this point in my life - having a picnic is adventurous). 

Roost Books and the author are sharing the recipe for Trail Mix Blondies - which are amazing. Head over to our giveaway for a chance at one of five copies of this book open to US and Canada members.

 

Trail Mix Blondies

A playful nod to trail mix is my final take on classic hiking edibles. I've nestled granola and chocolate chips into a blondie bar, creating a highly transportable food that can be eaten with your hands, no need for utensils. Do be sure to select a somewhat fatty granola.

SERVES 9 TO 12

You will need:

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup granola

To make:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8 × 8-inch baking pan and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the beaters with a spatula.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. Scrape down the beaters again.

4. Add the flour and salt, beating until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and granola.

5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread out evenly using a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

 

From A Year of Picnics by Ashley English © 2017 by Ashley English. Photographs © 2017 by Jen Altman. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. 

 

 

Cookbook Giveaway - A Year of Picnics

While Ashley English's A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors is, in theory, a cookbook and guide that shares the keys to a perfect picnic, the great selection of recipes can be used for any occasion - basket and blanket optional.

For more information on this cookbook, please see our review post, which shares a recipe for Trail Mix Blondies.

We are pleased to offer five 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.

Which 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 June 21st, 2017

Cookie dough craze sweeps the nation

 Cookie dough

A recent tweet about a new food truck in my city made me do a double-take. Dozens of food trucks line up along several city blocks in the downtown area, but this one is serving something that none of the others have attempted: cookie dough. This is just the latest in a craze that has swept across the US in the last several months. Early this year Thrillist posted about a new cookie dough dessert shop, appropriately named DŌ, that opened in New York City

As most trends do, this one has worked its way into the Midwest from the coast. The concept is simple: make safe-to-eat cookie dough and serve it like ice cream in cones, cups, or sandwiches. This is one trend that is extremely easy to duplicate at home. Buy pasteurized eggs (or make your own), heat-treat your flour by baking it in a low oven for an hour or at higher heat for a shorter time, and use these ingredients in your favorite cookie recipe.

If you are in need of inspiration to find a good cookie recipe on which to try this technique, the EYB Library has everything you need. Start with several online recipes from The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook, like the Inside-out cookie dough pictured above, or browse the many cookie recipes available online. Here are a few favorites to get you started: 

My best chocolate chip cookies from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Compost cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi
Chewy malted milk chocolate cookies from Serious Eats
Confetti cookies from Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman and King Arthur Flour
Peanut butter cookies from A Free Range Life by Annabel Langbein

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!

 


Member Photo of the Week:

Green Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Haloumi from Marie Claire: Crisp by Michele Cranston

Photo submitted by member MarietNL. Have you uploaded any of your own photos yet? Learn more!

 

 

From websites:

Feta-and-Herb Phyllo Tart from Ottolenghi at The New York Times

 

 

From AUS/NZ books:

7 recipes from The Vegan Kitchen: 130+ Wholefood Recipes for a Plant-based Diet by The Australian Women's Weekly

 

 

From UK books:

6 recipes from Mountain Berries and Desert Spice: Sweet Inspiration from the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea by Sumayya Usmani

Enter our Mountain Berries & Desert Spice GIVEAWAY! (US/UK only)

 

 

From US books:

1 recipe from Bread Toast Crumbs: Recipes for No-Knead Loaves & Meals to Savor Every Slice by Alexandra Stafford

Enter our Bread Toast Crumbs GIVEAWAY! (US only)

 

10 recipes from King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World by Joan Nathan

Enter our King Solomon's Table GIVEAWAY! (US only)

 

6 recipes from Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent
by Jennifer Hill Booker

5 recipes from  Dinner Déjà Vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow
by Jennifer Hill Booker

Enter our Jennifer Hill Booker cookbook set GIVEAWAY! (US only)

Cookbook Giveaway - Quick and Easy Thai

Quick and Easy Thai Recipes by Jean-Pierre Gabriel contains recipes that have been selected and adapted from his original book, Thailand: The Cookbook

For more information on this cookbook, please see our review post  which shares a recipe for Crab Fried Rice.

We are pleased to offer three copies of this title to our EYB Members in the US, Canada, UK 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 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 June 20th, 2017

What do chefs plant in their gardens?

garden

It's always informative to learn what chefs keep in their home kitchens. Sometimes the quality and breadth of those ingredients can invoke a twinge of inferiority for one's home pantry. The same can happen when you learn about what chefs grow in their garden. Or maybe it's just me. After reading Australian Gourmet Traveller's article on what chefs grow in their gardens, my vegetables and herbs seemed mundane.

For example, Chef Ben Shrewry of the world-famous Attica restaurant in Melbourne grows a plant that few people even know exists: murnong. Native to Australia and also known as yam daisy, " murnong was an important staple of the Australian Aboriginal people but almost disappeared with the introduction of grazing animals," Shrewry notes. The tubers are allegedly delicious when "lightly roasted or gently simmered to tenderness. The leaves are also excellent to eat and have a slight bitterness," says the chef. I will have to take his word for it. 

Analiese Gregory of Bar Brosé, Sydney, starts out with items like radishes and turnips that do not produce planting envy, but then she adds shiso, sweet cicely, bronze fennel and anise. My reliable mint and chives seem a bit dull in comparison.

Not all of the chefs grow exotic plants, however. Annie Smithers of Du Fermier plants good old-fashioned corn. She prefers an heirloom variety called Golden Bantam. Sean Moran of Sean's in Sydney loves to grow garlic, especially purple garlic. He harvests the scapes a couple of weeks before harvest to invigorate a last-minute growth spurt in the heads. 

Do you plant a garden? If so, what are your favorite edibles? 

Quick and Easy Thai Recipes - Jean-Pierre Gabriel

Quick & Easy Thai Recipes by Jean-Pierre Gabriel contains recipes that have been selected and adapted  to be "quick and easy" from his original more in-depth book, Thailand: The Cookbook

The author spent years traveling Thailand to compile this tome of authentic recipes from home cooks, markets and restaurants to share in his original tome. For Quick and Easy, he chose recipes and adapted them to make them approachable without sacrificing flavor or authenticity. Here there is a useful index organized by cooking time which offers recipes that range from 5 to 30 minutes to prepare. Perfect for weeknight meals or get-togethers, these selections will be sure to please.

As with the original, stunning photography and a wide variety of dishes including soups, stir-fries, curries, and grilled, poached and fried cuisine as well as snacks and drinks are covered. Definitely more user friendly for the novice cook, this book will be a go-to for Thai recipes on the fly.

If you wish to order this title, please remember Eat Your Book members receive 30% off Phaidon titles when using the link provided. Our contest page provides details for our giveaway of 3 copies of Quick and Easy Thai Recipes open to US, UK, Canada and Australian members.

Special thanks to Phaidon and the author for sharing this quick and easy Crab Fried Rice today.

CRAB FRIED RICE
Serves: 2
Cook time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 cup (175 g) Steamed Jasmine Rice (page 204)
• 4 oz/100 g crabmeat
• ½ onion, diced
• 4 tablespoons diced carrot
• ½ tomato, diced
• 2 scallions (spring onions), chopped
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 2 sprigs cilantro (coriander), chopped
• juice of 1 lime
For serving:
• 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
• 2 scallions (spring onions)
• lime wedges
INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the egg and stir until half-cooked. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the rice, crabmeat, onion, carrot, tomato, and chopped scallions and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until cooked. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the cilantro and season with the lime juice. Serve with cucumber, whole scallions, and lime wedges.

 

Cookbook Giveaway - Food52 Ice Cream & Friends and Mighty Salads



The editors at Food52 released two books last month Ice Cream & Friends shares the best of Food52's contributors' recipes such as cinnamon roll ice cream, Saltine-brownie ice cream sandwiches and Burnt Toast Ice Cream. While Mighty Salads, shares the editors' favorite salad picks including Thai Pork Salad with Crisped Rice, Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard-Walnut Vinaigrette, and Fried Eggplant, Tomato & Peach Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette.

For more information on these titles, check out our review and recipe post

We are pleased to offer three sets of these titles 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:

Which book would you cook from 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 June 19th, 2017.

 

Food52: Ice Cream & Friends and Mighty Salads

The editors at Food 52 released two books last month presenting a culinary paradox. In one corner, we have weighing in with 60 recipes for sorbets, sandwiches, no-churn ice cream and more that will make you scream, Ice Cream & Friends. In the next corner, tipping the scales with 60 new ways to turn salad into dinner and lunch, we have the greens your mother always told you to eat, Mighty Salads.

Ice Cream & Friends shares the best of Food52's contributors' recipes such as cinnamon roll ice cream, Saltine-brownie ice cream sandwiches and Burnt Toast Ice Cream. While Mighty Salads, shares the editors' favorite salad picks including Thai Pork Salad with Crisped Rice, Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard-Walnut Vinaigrette, and Fried Eggplant, Tomato & Peach Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette.

We have no clear winner here. The verdict is a draw. Both are worthy opponents full of delicious recipes from the Food52 community. Find a balance - live harmoniously and have your salads but eat your ice cream too. Summer is coming after all - it is the time for cooling off and eating lighter meals. 

Perfect for summer, we have two recipes graciously shared by Ten Speed Press and Food52 - one for a refreshing boozy popsicle and another for a light and delicious potato salad. Be sure to head over to our contest page, where three lucky members will win a copy of each book. May the odds be ever in your flavor. (See what I did there?)

 

Blood Orange-Negroni Pops
Makes 10 pops | From Cristina Sciarra

 
After drinking your first, or fiftieth, Negroni, you know you want more-more citrus, more bitter, more deep-hued allure. And the answer, sometimes, is not to order another but rather to mix it with blood orange juice and freeze it into an ice pop (shown on page iv). Somehow it's more of a Negroni than the liquid version, more sultry in color, vivid in flavor, and still boozy. Rumor has it that eating three pops is the sweet-smiley, silly, not-sloppy-spot.
 
1/3 cup (65g) sugar
2 cups (475ml) blood orange juice (from about 8 oranges)
1/4 cup (60ml) gin
1/4 cup (60ml) sweet vermouth
1/4 cup (60ml) Campari
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
 
1. In a large bowl (preferably with a pour spout), whisk together 3/4 cup (175ml) water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the blood orange juice, gin, vermouth, Campari, and orange zest. 
 
2. Divide the mixture evenly into pop molds. Freeze for at least 5 hours before serving.
 

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard-Walnut Vinaigrette
Roasted roots + garlicky, mustardy vinaigrette + nuts + herbs + egg topper
 
Serves 6 to 8 | From Shannon Hulley
 
This potato salad celebrates its namesake ingredient, the humble and excellent spud, instead of allowing it to drown in a bowlful of gloppy white dressing. Roasted until browned, the potatoes themselves are the stars, and after a light mash, get to bathe in a mustardy vinaigrette. Basil adds a surprising freshness, toasted walnuts play up the potatoes' roasted side, and all of the flavors together will speak to you even at room temperature. So without the soft-boiled egg on top, this salad is good for potlucks, picnics, and backyard parties. Celebrate accordingly. 
 
4 pounds (1.8kg) mixed marble potatoes or other small potatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced 
6 to 8 eggs
1 cup (100g) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Leaves from 1 bunch basil, torn
 
Mustard-Walnut Vinaigrette
 
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1⁄4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons walnut oil
Freshly ground black pepper
 
1. Heat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on two parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, shaking the sheets occasionally, until tender and brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
 
2. To make the vinaigrette, place the garlic on a cutting board, sprinkle with a couple of generous pinches of salt, and finely chop and smash it into a paste with the side of a chef's knife. Whisk together the garlic paste, lemon juice, vinegar, and both mustards until smooth. Gradually whisk in the olive and walnut oils until emulsified. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
 
3. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Toss in the scallions and the vinaigrette. Using the back of a mixing spoon, gently smash some of the potatoes just enough to break the skins. Be careful not to make mashed potatoes. Allow the dressed potatoes to sit at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes. 
 
4. About 15 minutes before serving, bring a pot of water to a boil. Lower the eggs, a few at a time, into the water and boil for 6 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, plunge them into an ice bath until cool enough to handle, and then peel them.
 
5. Just before serving, stir in the walnuts and basil. Arrange the salad on plates. Top each serving with a soft-boiled egg and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
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