Tag Archives: cooking

Quote

On the Silver Palate Cookbook

I started thinking about the Silver Palate cookbook again after reading this piece in Bon Appetit:How the Silver Palate Cookbook Changed Our Cooking

It’s funny to read the staff of Bon Appetit talk about this as their parent’s cookbook. To me the tone is nostalgic. Perhaps they believe it is dated. Like any decades old cookbook, it is dated in a way. There’s lots of things in there that was novel and daring at the time but now are passe, and ingredients which are now commonplace were once hard to find.

But there is much about the book that is still great. The layout and design, for one thing. And some recipes stand the test of time and became classics. It’s so much more than a collection of recipes.

In some ways, publications like Bon Appetit are the same. Many of the things I’ve said about that cookbook will apply to Bon Appetit over time.  And like the Silver Palate cookbook, I believe people will look back on Bon Appetit in this era the way the folks at BA look back at this kitchen classic.

If you haven’t read the Silver Palate cookbook in some time (or ever), you can read (at least some of) it online.

Quote

In praise of long recipes


Two pieces recently make the case for long recipes. This one, directly: The Case for Very Long Recipes | TASTE. 

And this one, indirectly:  Jerk Chicken So Good I’ve Been Making It Every Summer for 25 Years – The New York Times

The first one makes the direct case that long detail makes for a better recipe, and I agree with that. If you just need a list of ingredients and short steps, go to allrecipes.com and you can find it. If you want to know why things are done a certain way and why certain ingredients are used and how they should be cooked, then a long recipe is preferable.

The second one, by Gabrielle Hamilton, makes the case indirectly. The recipe comes at the end of a long essay that explains the origin of it. You could just read the recipe, but you’d be missing out on so much if you just did that.

I get why people hate long recipes. Not everyone who writes a long preamble before a recipe can writes as well as Hamilton. But it would be a shame if cooks stopped trying.

One site that does this really well is BudgetBytes.com. She has a button at the top that let’s you jump to the recipe, which is in the middle of the piece. At the top of the piece is her thoughts on the recipe. Then the recipe. Then detailed instructions on how to prepare the dish. Smittenkitchen.com also does long recipes, and they are also really worth reading through.

Image from here.

The rise and fall of French cuisine?

So says this article: The rise and fall of French cuisine | Food | The Guardian.

I tend to disagree with the pessimistic assessment, but regardless, I recommend the piece because it really does cover what has happened to food and cooking in the last 50 or so years. For people who love food, it’s a worthwhile read.

I think the decline of French food is relative. So many more cuisines have been discovered and appreciated, from Italian to Vietnamese, that French cuisine has competition for people’s attention. That comes across in this piece: Bon appétit! How I rediscovered the joys of French cuisine | Food | The Guardian.  

It’s a good thing we have so many people writing and thinking and preparing food in new ways. French cuisine may no longer be dominant, but it is still great. And if you are going to Paris,  then check out this list of David Lebovitz for what he recommends in his city.  Or this list, somewhat dated, may still have value:
Top 10 budget restaurants and bistros in Paris | Travel | The Guardian

Quote

Six links for minimalists


There’s a little bit of everything here for those who aspire to a minimalist lifestyle, from fitness to decor to cooking. Enjoy.

  1. The Minimalist’s Strength Workout – Outside – Pocket
  2. Y Home Minimalist Apartment by Office ZHU – Design Milk
  3. Colorful Minimalistic Photography By Collin Pollard – Fubiz Media
  4. Budget-Friendly Amazon Minimalist Home Decor | Apartment Therapy
  5. minimalist barbecue sauce – smitten kitchen
  6. Cacio e Pepe Recipe | Bon Appetit
Quote

A great list of interchangeable ingredients to turn to when you are cooking, from Mark Bittman

Is this list.

Print it off, leave it in the kitchen, add your own items.

I often use sriracha for dried chilies, or even any hot sauce, for when you just need some heat. Likewise, if you don’t have jalapenos, you could also replace them with some of other heat source. (If it is a lot of jalapenos, you might use regular peppers with some chilies or other hot things to add the appropriate level of hotness.)

Finally, I’ve seen people suggest replacing creme fraiche with full fat greek yogurt.

Quote

10 Spectacular Roast Recipes That Aren’t Turkey

Many people

  1. want to make a roast turkey for Christmas
  2. do not want roast turkey

If that’s you, Chatelaine has your back with this:  10 Spectacular Roast Recipes That Aren’t Turkey | Chatelaine.

They truly are spectacular recipes, perfect not just for Christmas but any time of the year (ahem, winter) when a good roast is just what you need.

Quote

Cook90: a goal for the new year

Can you cook 90 meals in a month? For many it sounds daunting. I like to cook and even I am not sure that I could do it.

If you like a challenge and the idea of it, there is a book you should consider: Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier by David Tamarkin from Epicurious, at Amazon. (Also available in Canada at Indigo).

I heard of it from Mark Bittman and his newsletter (which I recommend also).  One good quote from the newsletter was this:

“Entire industries want us to believe that cooking is so much harder and more time consuming than it really is.”

It’s true that you can make complex meals, but a simple green salad, a fried egg with toast, or those two things combined can make up a home prepared meal.

 

Quote

Everything you need to know for sheet-pan cooking can be found here

Everything you need to know for sheet-pan cooking can be found here at this page: How to Make a Sheet-Pan Dinner – NYT Cooking

It’s a comprehensive review on how make any meal using a sheet-pan. If you are a fan of cooking that is easy like slow cookers then you want to check this out.

How to guides are great for people who like to come up with their own recipes. It’s also great if you are trying to use up various ingredients in your fridge.

The weather is getting cooler. It’s time to start using your oven again. This guide will help with this.

Quote

Cooking at home sucks. It’s also great.

I like this piece: Opinion | Never Cook at Home – The New York Times

The title is deceptive: it is not entirely anti-cooking, and it does talk about the benefits of home cooking, but it does throw a bucket of very cold water on all those excited ideas about how great it is to cook at home.

There are many benefits to cooking at home, just like there are benefits to working out. But there are significant efforts associated with achieving those benefits. Those efforts are likely the thing that can cause you to stop getting out your pans and turning on the oven and head to the local diner.

The other drawback about cooking at home is social media. Now so many people (including me) post photos of the food they make. You might look at your own cooking outcome and get discouraged. When you combine the effort and the outcome, plus the indifference you get from those you cook for, you may never want to cook again.

Like exercise, the trick is to find the right level of cooking that works for you, and not get down on yourself when you aren’t cooking at some level you think you should be cooking, whatever that is. Some days you just need to eat, and a piece of fruit and a frozen meal is all you need to no longer be hungry. Other days you may be enjoying making pasta from scratch. If you find you are in a rut, start a simple log of what you are eating over a week and then look for ways to improve slightly: replace boxed cereal with a cooked egg, make a simple pasta rather than get take out pizza. (Bonus: if you make pasta, you could have lunch made too.)

Good luck. There are rewards to cooking at home, if you find the right level of cooking that works for you. Enjoy the fruits of your labour, however great or humble.

Are you in the market for an Instant Pot? You should read this before you buy one.


In case you don’t know, the Instant Pot is

a one-size-fits-all kitchen gadget promising to do everything from slow cooking to sautéing, steaming, stewing and yogurt-making (and more).

Sounds amazing. Despite that, you may want to hold off getting one. At least until you read this piece: Instant Pot review: Is the kitchen tool worth the hype? We test it to find out.

To summarize the review: if you had few appliances or wanted fewer appliances, then an Instant Pot may be the way to go. If you already had a slow cooker or pressure cooker or if you prefer to cook in a traditional way, then you may want to spend your kitchen budget on other things.

But read the article and decide yourself. They do a great job analyzing the device and assessing its strengths and weaknesses.

 (Image via Instantpot.com)

Low cost meals from Budget Bytes

Mac n cheese
If you are looking for a variety of low cost meals online that are straightforward to make — I am looking at you, college students — then I recommend the site BudgetBytes.com. Each of the recipes has a breakdown of the expected cost, how long it takes to make, as well as the typical information you will find in a recipe. Here’s a few I highlighted recently, in no particular order.

They have a wide range of recipes, and categories (e.g. chicken, vegetarian). The recipes are simple, the ingredients easy to find, and generally they look good. Give it a try.

Save money, eat better.

(Image from here.)

Foodism and the problem with home-cooked meals

I was prepared to argue with this article in Vox from some time ago: The problem with home-cooked meals , because I am a big proponent of such meals.  However, the closer I read it, I think the main issue I have with it is the title. If it was titled “The difficulties in preparing home-cooked meals”, I would have been more receptive. Read the article. If you are a foodist like myself, it might seem hard to understand at first that people have difficulties with home-cooked meals, but like many things, the difficulties arise from lack of time, knowledge, and resources (money but also access to good food, even if you have money).

I believe that there are a number of ways to address those difficulties. First, I think city governments need to treat access to food the same way they treat access to other things such as transportation, water, parks and even sunlight. If housing doesn’t have access to water or electricity or transportation, then developers shouldn’t be allowed to build it and people should not be expected to move there. Access to good food should be part of that set of restrictions.

Second, we need to better educate people on how to prepare food.  Too much of our education system is spent on academic topics. Kids should be taught a wide range of subjects, and one of those should be how to prepare food no matter how much time or a budget you have. (They should also be taught how to manage finances, how to do basic home repairs, and how to deal with personal difficulties, among other topics.) There is a wealth of information available on food preparation, but often to me it seems aimed at foodists and is aspirational. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to make good food. In addition, though, people should learn how to make straightforward nutritious food, with anything from 2 ingredients on up, with or without a recipe, in 2 minutes or over 2 days.

Third, we need to change our emphasis on a form of eating. There is a belief that some North Americans have that home cooked meals should be prepared and eaten a certain way. Often this certain way involves 30 minutes to an hour of food preparation followed by an equal amount of time eating it. Culturally that may have been the way it was done, but there is nothing that says we must continue to eat that way. You should be able to prepare and eat good meals with the resources you have.  If that means a 5 minute preparation and a 5 minute stand up meal, so be it. Better that than 30 minutes spent eating over processed food in a chain restaurant.

Finally, we need a more expansive and less snobby approach to what constitutes good food. If you are a foodist and you want to cook with homemade stock, fresh herbs, wine and hard to source ingredients, and that works for you, that’s great. For most people, if you have limited access to good food, then you can still make good meals with what you have available, and there is no shame in that.  Besides, the social status of ingredients come and go: eat the best you can with what you have, be that a roasted chicken and a salad or a bowl of chunky vegetable soup.

For many people, food is a means to an end: I’m hungry, I eat food, I’m no longer hungry. For others, their life revolves around food. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, having an open mind about how others eat and being open to alternative ways to dealing with food will benefit everyone, including yourself.

(Image is of a ham, painted by Manet.)

P.S. In case you don’t think it is a word, here is the definition of definition of foodism, from the Oxford English Dictionary:  “A keen or exaggerated interest in food, especially in the minute details of the preparation, presentation, and consumption of food.” Therefore people who have foodism are foodists.

 

 

New recipe and food links. Because we all need more of that. :)

I clearly collect too many food links. 🙂 These are some of the better ones I have found and think worth sharing.

Image from: Slow Cooker Bread Recipe | Baked by an Introvert

Food! Recipes! Techniques! :)

I read an awful lot about food on my iPad and my iPhone, and as I do, I save the links on Instapaper.com or getPocket.com. You might not believe it, but I don’t blog all of them. The ones I do post, like the ones you see below, are ones I think people who love to cook or love to eat (or both!) would enjoy. So…enjoy! 🙂

  1. Here’s a good review of one of Mark Bittman’s latest books: The new fast food: Why Mark Bittman is revolutionizing the recipe with How To Cook Everything Fast | National Post
  2. If you want to jazz up the presentation of your food, consider this: How To Plate Food Like A 3-Star Michelin Chef | Co.Design | business + design
  3. Of course what is a good plating without some good sauces. Here’s some you can try: Simple Pan Sauces : The Reluctant Gourmet. Here’s more from the same site: How to Make Reduction Sauces : The Reluctant Gourmet. A great sauce can make a dish.
  4. If you think you need to run a fancy restaurant to win a Michelin star, read this and change your mind: Michelin star for Singapore noodle stall where lunch is half the price of a Big Mac | Life and style | The Guardian.
  5.  If you are struggling with dieting, you might find this useful: Hunger is psychological – and dieting only makes it worse | Aeon Essays
  6. Any good cook should know some fundamentals. The site Food 52 is helpful with articles like this: The 10 Dishes to Know By Heart This Year. I think part of the fundamentals of cooking is knowing how to make a good stock. If you don’t know how, check this out: How to make soup stock – Chatelaine
  7. Some simple but good pasta recipes, here: A niçoise pasta that you can make with whatever’s in the pantry | Metro News and here: Orecchiette with turkey and broccoli in less than 30 minutes | Metro News and here: Macaroni Milanaise Recipe – NYT Cooking
  8. If you feel like more of a challenge, try this: Bouillabaisse – Lucky Peach
  9. If you don’t feel like cooking at all and just want to drink wine and eat cheese, this can help: 13 Helpful Diagrams For People Who Only Care About Cheese
  10. This says “Summer Express”, but you can easily use it all year round: Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less – The New York Times
  11.  This is dead simple. And if you have this, you can make pulled pork sandwiches, enchilladas, etc. Slow-Cooker Pulled-Pork Tacos Recipe | Real Simple

Is it worthwhile buying a slow cooker?


Short answer: it depends. According to this, Is it worthwhile buying a slow cooker?, slow cooked food tastes better and looks better, though the food in a slow cooker ends up being more moist. Go with an oven if you can  attend to it. Go with a slow cooker if you want to have a minimal cooking process going all day that doesn’t require you to do much more than to load up the cooker and go. An additional consideration: a slow cooker uses very little power. Go with a slow cooker if you want to minimize energy use.

Read the article and see what you think. And if you like the idea of slow cooker recipes but slow cookers aren’t for you, read it and get some ideas on how to use your oven to slow cook instead.

(Image via Wikimedia)

The best way to BBQ a chicken isn’t the Beer Can method….it’s this….

… spatchcocking. Or specifically, brining in a full flavoured beer, spatchcocking, and then BBQing.

For more on this and how to do it — and it is no more difficult than beer can chicken — read this: Beer Can Chicken Is A Lie « Fiesta Farms.

Praise for “Twelve Recipes” from Michael Ruhlman and me


On his blog,  Michael Ruhlman has kind words for the book “Twelve Recipes”, by Cal Peternell. I strongly support this. I bought the book and read through it quickly, enjoying it the entire way.

I call it a book, rather than a cookbook, though it has 12+ recipes and plenty of good advice on cooking. But it is as much a biography and a series of essays as it is collection of recipes. If you want a beautiful book about food and so much more, than I recommend you pick this up.

Here a link to how to order it from Indigo and here is Amazon

En papillote: six simple seafood dishes (and a bonus dish, too)


Over at Kitchen Daily, they had a feature the use of en papillote (whether that is using parchment, foil, or some other material). Of the recipes there, these are the ones I look forward to trying soon, especially the first one.

  1. Sea Bass En Papillote with Tangerine and Grapefruit – The Culinary Chase.
  2. Simple Elegant Fish with Cauliflower Potato Mash – Savory Nothings
  3. Tilapia en Papillote |Billy Parisi.
  4. Soy and Ginger Shrimp Packets – The Culinary Chase.
  5. Sole in a Bag with Zucchini & Black Olives
  6. Recipe: Asian Salmon en Papillote for Two | Verily.

Bonus: this sweet potato recipe not only sounds good, but I love the source for it.

The Bacon Eating Jewish Vegetarian: Big Sweet Easy (Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sumac).

The image is from the last recipe from Verily. If you are new to this way of cooking, go to that recipe: it outlines the simple technique using parchment.

10 Dishes to Cook Without a Recipe This Winter

Over at Food52, there’s a nice rundown of dishes you should consider making without following recipes. You may want to refer to some memory aid, but if you like these dishes, chances are you can make them pretty much without the need of a cookbook (or a web site).

They have recipes from Vegetarian or Vegan Chili to Quinoa Salad to Marinara Sauce to Risotto and more.
Risotto from Food52

Well worth a look.

Mario Batali teaching cooking on YouTube

If you want to see how to prepare food in a number of ways, I highly recommend the YouTube channel of Mario Batali. He and his chefs have lots of different techniques there for the beginning cook, including this great one: How to Make Meatballs – YouTube. These are fine looking meatballs.

How to: in 1 shopping trip, buying just 10 ingredients, make 5 meals (by Mark Bittman, no less)

I think this article should be printed and referred to by anyone who needs to simplify their lives but still needs to grocery shop and prepare meals for the week. And just what are these ingredients?

Chicken breasts (4 boneless)
Bacon (1/2 pound)
Shrimp (1 pound)
Spinach (1 pound)
Tomatoes (6)
Ginger
Onions
Asparagus (2 pounds)
Button mushrooms (1 pound)
Loaf of good country bread

Sound good? Go to The 10-Ingredient Shopping Trip – NYTimes.com and get the details.

7 Million ways to Make Lentil Soup (in a slow cooker)

The great Mark Bittman has 7 Ways to Make Lentil Soup, and if you want to start out with making any of these, I think you will have a delicious meal when you are done.

An even easier version is this. Take this list of ingredients

  1. 1 cup of green lentils, rinced
  2. 1 can (28 oz) of stewed tomatoes
  3. 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  4. 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  5. 1 onion, chopped
  6. 1 rib of celery, chopped
  7. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 3 bay leaves
  9. 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  10. 3 Tbps curry powder
  11. 1 tsp cumin
  12. 1 tsp coriander
  13. 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

Add them all to a slow cooker (4 quart / 4 litre) size or bigger, stir, then  cook on low (8-10 hours) or high (4-5 hours). Remove bay leaves before serving. That’s it! Easy.

Now I say seven million ways to make lentil soup because you really can substitute greatly for very different soups. For example:

  • this version has 4 cups of stock and 28 oz of tomatoes, compared to Bittman’s with 6 cups of stock. I think you can play around with the types of tomatoes (diced, plum) and the ratio of stock to tomatoes (only have a 14 oz can of tomatoes? Use it and go with 5 cups of stock)
  • You can use most any root vegetable instead of the potatoes or carrots. Try turnips, parsnips, or yams. Replace the celery with celeriac. I don’t think red beets will work, but white beets might.
  • Replace the onion with shallots or pearl onions.
  • I didn’t have spices 10, 11 and 12, but I did have an Indian spice mix, so I used 3 Tbsp of that instead.
  • Add some sriracha to make it spicy. Or dice up some jalapeno with the onion and toss it in. Red pepper flakes or some hot pepper sauce would also work.
  • If you don’t need it vegetarian, try the different meats that Bittman suggests. Leftover or rotisserie chicken would also be good. Or take some out and put it in a pot with fish and poach the fish until it is cooked.
  • Toss in some cooked pasta or cooked beans to make it more of a stew.
  • Towards the end stir in some chopped greens like spinach or kale or other greens that will wilt in a warm liquid.
  • At the end, add some wine vinegar to give it a bit of bite.
  • Garnish with herbs, or a drop of pesto or salsa verde. Or stir in some tomato based salsa. (Again, do it to your own taste.)

The lentils and the stock make up the foundation of the soup. The rest is seasoning and vegetables (and possibly non vegetables). Feel free to experiment and make the soup your own (and use up the left overs in your fridge or pantry).