Tag Archives: recipes

How to show you are a fan of a cookbook? Well if you are a fan of “Nothing Fancy”, you do this


You create an entire web site about it! This is a pretty amazing project. The author cooked his way through over 100 recipes, took a picture, and rated them (with emoji no less!)  It took him over a half a year, but I am impressed by it all.

I find if I cook 20 recipes from a cookbook, I am happy with the results. To cook over 100 recipes like this is impressive imho.

To see what I am talking about, checkout “A little fancy”.

On recipes


After the controversy regarding Alison Roman written about here and elsewhere, I started thinking about recipes, where they come from, how I use them, and how I think about them.

A recipe is usually instructions for how to do something. Typically we associated it with food preparation. Recipes list ingredients and steps to prepare the ingredients. They tell you how many people the recipe typically feeds. Sometimes they tell you other things, like nutritional information.

Some recipes are like open source software. You can take a recipe and modify it to make it your own, just like open source software. Other recipes are not open and kept secret, like the formula for certain soft drinks, or the recipe for a certain fried chicken. Some are even patentable (although good luck with that).

Some recipes are associated with regions or cultures. If you think of bouillabaisse,  you think of France. Risotto: Italy. Sushi: Japan. Some recipes and dishes transcend regions and become universal. Dumplings are like that. Noodles too. The same goes for ingredients: you can find basil and oregano in many recipes all over the world, and garlic is about as universal ingredient as any.

Some are associated with certain people, such as Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce. You can claim making tomato sauce with butter and onion and tomatoes is a recipe of yours, but by now it is associated with Marcella Hazan. Likewise with Martha Stewart’s One-Pot Pasta. It’s not like no one has ever made such a dish before, but now we associate them with one particular person.

Alison Roman is a person who has had success with  recipes that became associated with her, namely her chocolate chunk shortbread cookies (” the cookies”) and her chickpea stew (“the Stew”). The Stew in particular got me thinking about recipes and ingredients and how people go about making recipes. For example, if a recipe is based on another recipe, should the author mention that? It likely depends on the publication and other factors. For example, with someone like Deb Perleman, you get a lot of detail about the recipe before she goes into it. Or with Hugh Acheson where he talks about the origin of his catfish stew recipe before proceeding to list the steps and ingredients.

Some people (like me)  prefer recipes with those details; other people just want the recipe. Anyone creating and publishing recipes needs to decide how much detail to include, depending on their audience. In publications like Bon Appetit, there is often space allocated only for the recipe itself. I don’t know what the text was wrapped around this recipe for a  Zingy Red Sauce when it was published, but I assuming it matched the minimum detail found on the web site. Now is this recipe a derivation of a Romesco Sauce (also in Bon Appetit)? Possibly. Likewise this Seafood Stew for Two Recipe  in Bon Appetit.  This stew shares a lot of ingredients with this classic Cioppino Recipe also in  Bon Appetit, but it is also varied enough to consider it to be it’s own recipe.

I think Roman does variations of recipes not infrequently, which aligns with her belief that she won’t ask you to do any more than you have to, while still making it a good dish. So this recipe for Summer Greens with Mustardy Potatoes and Six-Minute Egg Recipe in Bon Appetit is not unlike a stripped down Nicoise salad, but it is not a Nicoise salad despite some commonality. That I think explains the success of her recipes: she takes ingredients and recipes and strips them down somewhat while still making them look good, taste good, and accessible for home cooks to make.

She has not been called out for making recipes with strong European origins. But where she ran into trouble with The Stew is that she seemed to take some ingredients that resembled a curry and had it identified with her. If The Stew associated with her was the seafood stew above or this Fish Stew with Fennel and Baby Potatoes, then she still would have had a problem for the insulting things she said, but it is less likely she would have been criticized with terms like “Columbus Cuisine” and accused of ripping off other cultures and enriching herself at their expense. I don’t believe she does that, but that has been a lively topic of debate with smarter food writers than me.

I don’t think her approach to writing recipes is wrong. I can’t say that recipes  going viral is bad. What I will say is ultimately  it is better if we read from  a diverse range of food writers who can bring not just interesting recipes to publication, but the interesting stories that go with them. I also think it is good when people from different backgrounds can explore the recipes and ingredients of other cultures and make something new with them while acknowledging what the inspiration is. This is much better than remixing an older recipe without attribution. I’d add that acknowledging the origins of an ingredient can’t hurt either. After awhile some of those ingredients may seem universal. Perhaps kimchi will become as common as dill pickles in North American kitchens, and turmeric becomes as frequently used as cumin.

I think publications can do a better job of not just publishing recipes but educating their readers. Likewise, I think sharing, innovating and educating others on food is a great thing, and I hope recipe writers from all background can borrow and improvise and create new dishes. They won’t be quite as eclectic as these recipes that resulted from a collaboration with IBM’s Watson computer and Bon Appetit, but they will inspire us and help us prepare better meals and make our lives better.

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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.

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What is happening with bread and how certain men mess it up and why it doesn’t have to be that way

I started thinking this when I read this: How Tech Bros Fell in Love With Baking Bread – Eater.

First thought, I think this is something tech bros do to any subject area they stumble into: they are the equivalent of European explorers “discovering” places that have been inhabited for ages. Second thought, there is something patriarchal about men discovering and improving something as basic as bread.

I love bread. I think everyone would get joy out of learning to make it. And while you can really do amazing things in breadmaking, it should not be seen as something only the rarest of bakers can do.

To get you started, here is a bunch of recipes that are simple and varied. Good luck!

 

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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.

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11 Easy Pesto And Salad Dressing Recipes | Chatelaine


If you find yourself in a cooking rut, steaming or sauteing the same basic meals, then here’s a suggestion. Make some of the pestos and dressing here (11 Easy Pesto And Salad Dressing Recipes | Chatelaine) and add them to whatever it is you are about to eat. A bowl of steamed vegetables or a plain pork chop transforms into a better meal. Later, you can mix some with mayo or yogurt and add it to a sandwich of your preference. Even a plain green salad is elevated.

(Image: Eric Putz, from a link to their web site)

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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.

Things you don’t need and the one thing you do

This struck me today: I had these two posts I found interesting, both starting with “You don’t Need”. This is good: I think I will stop pursuing something because I think I need something first. Recipes help. And have free time to make things helps. But don’t use things you think you need stopping you from doing what you want.

Here are the two pieces. The only thing you need is a desire to make things.

  1. You Don’t Need to Quit Your Job to Make
  2. You Don’t Need a Recipe – The New York Times

The joy of midnight pasta

If you are busy, or don’t feel like cooking much, or don’t have much in your fridge, then this pasta recipe is for you. It’s hard to believe something this simple could be so good, but it is. Lots of flavour with very few ingredients, ingredients you can have in your pantry.

Give it a try, especially when you are short of time, money, or food.

The photo is of the dish I whipped up one night.

Some recipes for late summer, early autumn, and more

Chicken Bulgogi
Mostly good recipes, but some pieces lower down on food

  1. Sauces made simple: The Five Mother Sauces Every Cook Should Know, Five Sauces Everyone Should Know How to Make for Endless Meal Options,  and 5 Sauces You Can Use on Everything – Cook Smarts.
  2. Good for fall:
  3. An Authentic, Maritime Fish Chowder | Laura Calder
  4. Lots of summer dishes here: Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less – NYTimes.com, here Caribbean Herb Grilled Fish and here 27 Summer Pasta Recipes
  5. Easy but great: Skillet roast chicken with veggies – The Globe and Mail
  6. A classic pasta recipe:  Sicilian pasta – Chatelaine
  7. These look yummyBaked Vegetable Chips – Hither & Thither
  8. From David Lebovitz, Chicken bulgogi
  9. For vegetarian or those that want to be: 21 Vegetarian Burgers, Wraps, and Sandwiches to Make for Meatless Monday | Kitchn
  10. More cool weather food: Classic French Cassoulet Recipe – Bacon is Magic – The Best Food Around the World
  11. More soups! Sweet Potato Minestrone | A Cup of Jo
  12. These look fantastic: belgian brownie cakelets – smitten kitchen
  13. More D.L.: Tangerine Sorbet Recipe
  14. Easy but looks professional. Also tasty: Stacey Snacks: Healthy & Delicious: Cod Provencal
  15. For fall and winter too: Easy French Hot Chocolate | Chocolate & Zucchini
  16. Eat more greens with better vingaigrettes:  An Easy Template for Citrus Vinaigrette, 5 Ways | Kitchn
  17. More Caribbean food from Chris: Roasted Tomato And Bacon Soup Recipe.
  18. Eat more grains: Apple Cider–Cooked Farro Recipe | Bon Appetit
  19. Make those herbs last: Why Freezing Is the Best Way to Preserve Cilantro | Kitchn

And now for some non-recipe related food links:

  1. What I learned not drinking for two years – Medium
  2. I hate food: For some of us, eating is just about sustenance – The Globe and Mail
  3. How to Start Cooking (Even If You Feel Doomed)

I have been fascinated by the idea of povera cucina. Here’s too links on it.

  1. POVERA CUCINA
  2. La Cucina Povera or the Kitchen of the Poor

(Image linked to is of chicken bulgogi from David Lebovitz.)

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.)

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

Autumn is here. You need new dishes to make. Here’s coffee-braised lamb shanks from David Lebovitz

If you enjoy lamb, this recipe for lamb shanks braised in coffee with ancho chile and other great flavouring sound great. Not too hard to make, either. See this link, Coffee-Braised Lamb Shanks – David Lebovitz, for the recipe. (Check out the other recipes on the site, too. Lots of great things there.)

You like food! I like food! Here’s some food links to chew on. :)

The web and food are made for each other. There are countless links to recipes, essays, reviews and photos of food. Out of all that, here is a small handful I found interesting over the last few months of surfing around. I hope you find one or two or even all of them interesting. Enjoy!

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

It’s blood orange season….


…according to Chatelaine. You can enjoy them right from the produce section, or you can make some amazing dishes with them. If you lack recipes, here’s Martha with over a dozen great recipes. Enjoy!

4 p.m. recipes: two updates on some classic pasta dishes

I got into a habit of making pasta on Mondays: there is so much happening on Mondays for me, and pasta dishes were a way to allow me to multi-task and make dinner, help with homework, clean-up, &c.

If you feel overwhelmed on Monday, or simply if you love pasta, then I recommend you try pasta Mondays. Worst case, just keep it simple and use pre-made sauces. If you would prefer to make  things from scratch, then here are two updates on  some classic pasta dishes:

Pasta Carbonara With Spicy Sausage Recipe from Real Simple

The Best Macaroni & Cheese You’ll Ever Have from a Cup of Jo blog

Enjoy!

If you have time this weekend, here’s some project ideas: art, food, ukelele, storage

Looking to do something different this weekend? Consider these projects:

Making Pop Art – Apartment Therapy.
In the zone: Organized home storage solutions

The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)

Basic Ukulele Lessons

 

4 p.m. recipe(s): some good meals to make this autumn and winter (soups, salads, and rice)

I was going through my list of recipes I have been collecting, and rather than trickle them out, here are four worth trying this autumn and winter (all via Chatelaine.com):

P.S. I am a fan of recipes from Chatelaine: they are well tested, nutritious and healthy. The recipes aren’t boring, but they are easy to make and it is easy to find ingredients, even if you don’t live in a big city.

Thoughts on bread making, technical (tips for new bakers from a new baker)

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I’ve been planning on making bread for…well, years. I made it decades ago, but for various reasons, I never got back into the habit of making it. The last time I tried was after I picked up the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” and hoped to jump on the no knead bandwagon. But the boule I made wasn’t very good and the book and my bread making went back on the shelf.

Two things happened to me recently to give it another go. First, I found a new copy of “The All New Purity Cook Book”. This book is the one I grew up with, and it is heavily oriented towards bread making. An old cook book, but a great one. Second, I wandered into a store and found a Black and Decker refurbished bread maker for a $29. I decided it was time to try making some bread again. You can see my results above. (And yes, the shapes are off, but hey, I am learning, just like you will be!)

Veteran bread makers won’t learn much from my notes below, but new bread makers might. Things I learned:

  1. Of the three approaches, the bread machine is the easiest. Not surprising. What I also learned is that the no knead and the traditional way are also not so hard. But the bread machine is still simplest. If you are feeling a bit courageous, skip buying the machine and try the other methods.
  2. I had fresh flour and fresh yeast: both are cheap, and if you aren’t sure how fresh yours are, I suggest you get some new stuff. Stale yeast and flour that is old and off will make it hard if not impossible to make good bread.
  3. I used to fret over water temperature and air temperature when I used to make bread, but this time I relaxed and just made sure the water was not hot and not cool, and didn’t worry if the temperature was 110F or some exact measure. It still worked. Likewise, for a warm place, I just stuck the bread in the microwave to rise. It was fine. I didn’t have to worry: the house wasn’t drafty or cool, but the microwave works well if it is drafty or cool in your place (or you have excessive AC, maybe?) Of course, don’t turn on the microwave while the dough is in there.
  4. My bread maker made a lot of noise at first and moved around a fair bit on the counter. Be careful not to have it too near the edge, and if all bread makers are as noisy as my refurb, don’t put it on before you go to bed.
  5. There’s not much to making bread maker bread, but follow the instructions. I made an exception for seasonings they wanted to add to the bread. I skipped those. But when it comes to water, oil, sugar and salt, flour and yeast, stick to the recipe.
  6. It didn’t call for it, but I brushed some butter on the bread after I took it out of the oven. It looks better in my opinion.
  7. As far a the five minute artisan bread, I messed it up the first time I tried it today. I tried it again, though. First, I halved the ingredients in the book for the master recipe. This was fine. Second, the trick to blending the flour into the water is to measure out the flour and slowly add it before you add more. The first time I more or less dumped it in and the dough was very difficult to work with. Also, the water ratio they use seems to be a bit slight. There’s always more flour then I can blend. I ran luke warm water, wet my hands, then mixed the loose flour in. It took me a few goes at this before I managed to incorporate all the loose flower into the dough. Without that extra water from my hands, I couldn’t get all the flour blended.
  8. The other benefit of halving the ingredients is that you have less bread in your fridge. It takes very little to mix up a new batch and my fridge is small and I don’t have room for all the dough they make with their recipe. If you are the same situation, chop the recipe quantities in half.
  9. The authors of the no knead bread recipe stress kosher salt: I used plain old table salt and it worked fine.
  10. Other than the things I mentioned, the no knead approach works great and the bagette I made was delicious: slightly chewy on the outside and nice a tender on the inside. I like the bread maker, but if you wanted easy bread, I highly recommend that book.
  11. Finally, I did the traditional approach and made the challah bread. There’s a few more steps, but it’s still really easy, right up to the part where you braid it. The braiding is not easy but the recipe itself is easy: you just need time.
  12. Rather than type in the recipe I used, I recommend this recipe because of the highly detailed description of how to braid the bread.  My recipe had all the same ingredients and steps. Two exception: 1) in my recipe, after the dough has risen for 1.5 hours, I punched it down to deflate it and then formed six equal sized dough balls. And then I covered them and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then I started to braid. When the braid was formed, I brushed it with vegetable oil. 2)  It also has more sugar than the recipe I made: mine only used 4 teaspoons of sugar for the whole recipe: this one uses more and the result should be a sweeter bread.
  13. This recipe will result in a whiter challah bread than others I have had. I suspect those recipes have more egg yolk added to the bread. It’s still delicious white.

Good luck making the bread. I am sure you will make nicer looking bread for sure.

Bon Appetit teams up with IBM’s Watson for some great summer recipes, like these ribs



The story of IBM and Bon Appetit
is really interesting to me, since I love food and I am proud of the work IBM is doing with Watson. Anyone interested in the topic of innovation in IT or food should find it worth a read.

For people who aren’t interested in the high tech aspect of it, check out the recipes. In particular, these ribs with a range of flavours from bourbon to oyster sauce look fantastic.

Radical Bread Making for people who don’t make bread

The general belief with regards to making bread is that it is hard work, it requires alot of skills, and it demands alot of your time. These two posts here are out to challenge that assumption:

  1. No Knead Bread: so easy a 4-yr old can make it! | Steamy Kitchen Recipes
  2. How To Make Bread in the Slow Cooker Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn | The Kitchn

The first recipe shows you how to prepare the loaf up until the point you need to bake it. The second recipe shows how you can use a slow cooker to do it. I haven’t tried this yet, but I think it would be fascinating to try.

It isn’t it going to be as good as something an experienced baker makes, but it will be much better than most anything that comes from a grocery store (unless you are paying alot of money). And in the summertime you can still make bread without having to turn on the oven, if you follow the slow cooker recipe.

P.S. The Kitchn web site has quite a few posts on breadmaking, including this: Recipe: No-Time Bread | The Kitchn.

 

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.