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What are you baking these days? September 2014, part 2!

Very cute!

Voting Thread: Cookbook of the Month October 2014

I concur on Yes, Chef. An interesting and entertaining read.

The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious

"Agribusiness spent BIG bucks developing a tomato that reddened fast but ripened slow that would maximize their shipping window"

It's actually worse than that. Those pink softballs that are in supermarkets year-round, as well as in restaurants, fast food and otherwise, are picked hard and green for exceptional storage and shipping integrity, and then gassed with ethylene to change their color. They never seem remotely ripe because they don't ripen, and they were developed that way at the behest of big food companies (both grocery and franchise food service).

If you want an in depth look at the ruination of the tomato in the US and all its costs, culinary and human, as well as a fascinating look at all things tomato, I highly recommend Barry Estabrook's book Tomatoland.

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/28/1373719...

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

Stopped in TJ's today, as I was in the neighborhood for another reason. No pea shoots. At some point when I have time, I'll ask if they ever get them locally.

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

That's a very good question! I've never frozen goat cheese, either, so I couldn't say, but I'm curious.

ETA, it occurs to me that because this spread is blended smooth that it could probably be rebeaten upon thawing, so freezing might work out even if it were to separate or the texture otherwise alter?

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry Month: A Change of Appetite

(Raspberry) and Red Wine Gelatins, p. 233

Now, this is jello for grownups. And so very good. College-kid jello shots are to this as vodka and fruit punch is to, well, a nice bottle of wine. Red wine (Pinot Noir, in my case), sugar (not a lot), water (not a lot), gelatin, and berries (the recipe calls for blackberries, but I ran into a sale on organic raspberries). That's it. The wine is only gently heated - just enough to dissolve the sugar and gelatin - so the finished dessert retains its essence, as well as its alcohol. In the eating, most of the sweetness comes from the berries, with the jelled wine a complex counterpoint. Would be a lovely finish for a warm-weather dinner party - sophisticated, light, and summery.

I had to do a bit of improvising when it came to the gelatin. Henry calls for sheet gelatin, which I gather is more readily available in the UK than in the US, where it's a specialty item. But I know sheet gelatin comes in different strengths and sizes, as well as varying by country, so how to convert "5 large or 10 small sheets" without knowing what's standard in the UK was a bit of a head-scratcher. I finally decided to scrap converting and just determine how much powdered gelatin would be needed to set the liquid in the recipe. Going from the info on David Lebovitz's site (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/04/...), which says one packet (around 2 1/2 tsp) will softly set 3 cups of liquid, coupled with Henry's head note saying that you need more to set alcohol, I used 4 1/2 tsp for the 2 cups wine plus 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar, softening it in 1/2 cup of the cold water and stirring this into the rest after heating to dissolve the sugar. It worked out fine, but I'd use 4 tsp gelatin next time for a slightly softer set. I'm not sure why, but though the softened gelatin dissolved readily, when I added it the mixture got a bit cloudy. Oh, well; if the result isn't quite as nice to look at as if it were clear, it certainly doesn't detract from the flavor.

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

Garlic-Herbed Goat Cheese, p. 182

This is as simple as can be to put together. Eight ounces of fresh goat cheese, 1/4 cup whole milk (low-fat is what was in my fridge, and I used 3 T), 2 T olive oil, 2 T fresh thyme, 1 T each fresh rosemary and oregano (I had none of the latter, so I doubled up on rosemary), 1 T cracked black peppercorns, 1 tsp finely minced garlic, and salt to taste are beaten "until well blended and fluffy." I chucked it all in the mini bowl of my food processor so it took but a few seconds to get to that state.

The herbs and garlic combined with tangy fresh chevre yield a predictably delicious result, though I'd recommend halving the amount of cracked peppercorn, as with the full tablespoon, the black pepper overwhelms the other flavors a bit, and also somehow makse the mixture taste a bit saltier than it ought (I added a scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt, so not a whole lot). ER would have you spread this on toasted baguette slices; I had some on a toasted piece of a dense raisin rye bread, which paired very well, and at room temp, it's soft enough for dipping crudites, as well. I also think it'll be swell dolloped into scrambled eggs.

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry Month: A Change of Appetite

Beet and Poppy Seed Loaf Cake, p. 80

I made this right at the end of August, and completely neglected to report. I made some adjustments (and some tweaks) from the recipe in the US edition, to good effect. Really, what's missing from the recipe title is Hazelnut, because th cake definitely tastes of hazelnut, between the hazelnut oil and the nuts themselves.

It's a pretty straightforward recipe: eggs, brown sugar, hazelnut and olive oils, vanilla, orange zest, whole-grain flour, leavening, poppy seeds, chopped hazelnuts, grated beets. With thanks to greedygirl, I used the weights she noted for the flour; I didn't have spelt flour, so used 200 g of whole wheat pastry flour. I cut the olive oil by half, using 100 ml each hazelnut and olive oil, and replaced it with 1/2 cup buttermilk. I also increased the hazelnuts from the measly 2 T called for to 1/3 cup or so. I skipped the glaze, and you can bet I skipped the candied beet slices.

The cake was extremely moist and very tender, just the right amount of sweet (I don't like things super sweet), and I loved the hazelnut flavor. The grated beets baked into moist, dark, sweet bits that were not readily identifiable as beets in either color or flavor. In fact, no one who tasted the cake guessed it had beets. A couple of people thought maybe it had dried cranberries or cherries, but couldn't really place the flavor. Made me think that I should make a cake I put together a couple of years ago again, a bundt cake with grated beets, carrot, and zucchini, with ground hazelnuts and browned butter. The beets didn't disappear so much in that one.

Sep 15, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? September 2014 edition!

I have one outstanding order, my preorder of RLB's Baking Bible, nabbed during an everything's $13 sale a few months back, which they say (not in my account info, because that would be too useful, but where the book is listed) ships starting 11/04. After that, I'm probably out. I have loaded my cookbook shelves over the past dozen years thanks to TGC, except that I've only bought a few things the past few, because they just don't have enough I'm interested in. I haven't even used my points, for that reason, and I don't really care. The immediate benefit will be not having to delete the multiple weekly emails.

Sep 13, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

Great sleuthing, Joan. And interesting information. I'd bet it's not that unusual for production companies to essentially function as book packagers when it comes to cookbooks associated with TV series, and I'm sure that has to much to do with their variable quality.

Sep 11, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? September 2014 edition!

Ten Speed has done squeezy covers for Plenty and Jerusalem (maybe Ottolenghi, too; haven't seen it in person). I wonder what made Ebury quit the nifty squeezy covers (which are also, handily, very wipe-downable).

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

You're right, I didn't peel the carrots. I generally don't, unless they're really filthy; I just scrub well with a brush. There are a couple of venders at the local farmers' market whose carrots we avoid because they're so dirty.

Sep 10, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

That's a great tip about Trader Joe's. Never noticed pea shoots there, but I don't often buy produce at TJ's, so I haven't looked that closely. I will have to see if they're available here next time I'm there.

Sep 10, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

Roasted Carrots with Baby Pea Shoots (Arugula) and Curry Vinaigrette, p. 55

Baby carrots are what's called for, but mine were grownups that I cut crosswise and quartered or halved lengthwise, depending on their size, to approximate baby carrots' width. They're tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted until tender.

The vinaigrette starts with making a curry oil (which is meant to sit at least 10 minutes, but can be made up to a week in advance) by stirring Madras curry powder, toasted ground cumin and coriander, and red pepper flakes into canola (sunflower) oil. This is combined with minced shallot, grated ginger, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. On reading the recipe, I realized that even if one were extremely liberal with the dressing, well less than half would be used, so I cut it by half and that was still more than enough. He calls for 1/2 cup oil and 3 T vinegar; I used 1/4 cup oil and 2 T vinegar and found it well balanced.

Instead of the elusive baby pea shoots, I used very delicate and small baby wild arugula. And instead of individually plating the dressed carrots, topping with the greens, and drizzling extra dressing around the plate, I gently tossed it all together and put it in a serving dish. And I only used half the half-recipe's worth of vinaigrette.

This is a really nice dish. The roasted carrots are sweet and earthy, and the spices in the vinaigrette complement them very well, but also add a subtle savoriness and a bit of spice that's a good contrast with their sweetness. The vinaigrette is fairly lightly spiced, and the effect was delicious, with the flavors not so strong that you couldn't easily serve this with a wide variety of other dishes. I'm thinking the leftover dressing would work well on green beans.

CSA Reviews

This week's Full Belly Tuesday pickup:

3 lb 6 oz pumpkin
2 lb 2 oz tomatoes
1 lb 9 oz onions
15 oz yellow peppers
12 oz grapes
11 oz green beans
8 oz eggplant
3 tiny heads of garlic

For price comparison purposes, Full Belly has one size box, which costs $16.50/week if you subscribe quarterly (12 weeks), $16/week if you subscribe yearly (48 weeks, must be consecutive with none skipped), $18/week if you subscribe monthly.

What are you baking these days? September edition, part 1! (2014) [old]

I would thaw them, so you can drain them (or pat them) of extra liquid. I'd be worried that throwing them in frozen would cause them to throw off a bunch of water as they heated, making the cake soggy.

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

I've looked at this one, too, and never felt inspired by it - somehow it couldn't imagine being super flavorful, but glad to hear I was wrong! But I think I'd go with low-fat yogurt to counteract some of that richness.

Sep 09, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? September 2014 edition!

I think it is that Ten Speed Press decided that a cover with a food photo would sell in the US, because the UK covers are all graphic. Also, it seems that after Plenty (the first with a US edition), they wanted to keep the design consistent.

Compare UK and US covers:

Jerusalem UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jerusalem-Yot...
US: http://www.amazon.com/Jerusalem-Cookb...

Plenty UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plenty-Yotam-...
US: http://www.amazon.com/Plenty-Vibrant-...

UK Ottolenghi: The Cookbook has photos from the shop on the cover:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ottolenghi-Co...
US: http://www.amazon.com/Ottolenghi-Cook...

Sep 08, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

CSA Reviews

The contents vary depending on your pickup day.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? September 2014 edition!

Plenty More is already indexed on EYB, for further appetite-whetting: http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/1...

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 1-3 (Big Flavor, Star Ingredients, Farming the Sea) Reporting Thread

Mussels with Tomato-Saffron Butter, p. 75

A more accurate title would be "Mussels with Tomatoes and Saffron Butter," because the tomatoes are not incorporated into the saffron butter. Regardless, this is a delicious addition to the many iterations of mussels steamed in white wine and garlic, with or without saffron. A fast dish, with little prep and five minutes on the stove, too.

I made a quarter recipe (using a pound of mussels) for my solo dinner. You start by soaking saffron in lemon juice for a few minutes, then mixing in softened butter and salt and pepper to taste. Sliced garlic is sauteed in olive oil until it turns golden (I used just enough oil to barely slick the bottom of the pot), then the mussels, chopped tomato (which I seeded but didn't peel), white wine, and the saffron butter are added, the pot is covered and all cooked for but a few minutes, until the mussels have opened. Into a bowl it goes, and is sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Mussels, garlic, tomatoes, white wine, butter, lemon, saffron - how could that be anything but good eating? Add a glass of dry white wine, plus a spoon and some crusty bread for catching all the broth, and color me a happy camper.

Sodastream seltzer not holding its fizz?

Sep 07, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Cookware

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

Chicken Paillard with Tomatoes, Fennel, and Olives, p. 203

Like Joan, I tagged this recipe upon first flipping through the book, and had already planned to make it this weekend when Goblin posted her enthusiastic review. I took a cue from Joan and used the full amount of the vegetable mixture for my two chicken breasts, with a much-reduced amount of oil (2 T for the topping, plus a very little bit for the pan). I used golden raisins, which I generally prefer to the dark ones, but especially so in savory dishes, and seeded but did not peel the tomatoes. As I was about to slip the pan in the oven, I realized that I had forgotten to add the pine nuts, which sat measured but untoasted, so I just sprinkled them over the top and that worked out fine. My two chicken breasts came in at just under a pound, so I ended up splitting each into two horizontally. The 15-20 minute timing was spot-on for me.

I only very, very rarely these days cook boneless chicken breasts, but these were juicy, and the packed-with-flavor, sweet/salty/savory topping made them a fresh, light, and delicious dish. Leftovers were very good cold, too.

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Glad you finally tried it! It's my most-made Diana Henry recipe, and probably my most-often-repeated fish recipe since I first made it (I don't even look at the book anymore) - I'll likely be doing it again this week. It's easy and always goes over well.

Sep 07, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What do you think of powdered buttermilk?

Not odd; if you've ever left it out of the fridge, you'll know that it clumps up and hardens at room temp, even in dry, non-humid climates.

Sep 06, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

September 2014 COTM 'Avec Eric' Chapters 7-9 (Artisanal, Perfect Pairings, Oil and Wine) Reporting Thread

White Wine-Citrus Spritzers, p. 211

I was seduced by Joan's description of this drink in the nomination (or was it the voting) thread, before even laying eyes on the book. It's a lovely variation on the classic Aperol spritz - refreshing, as she says, and goes down very easy. Would certainly be perfect for any summer party, but is pretty great just to sip while making dinner. I can't actually imagine an occasion during the warmer months when one (or more) of these wouldn't be welcome. The addition of the lemon syrup would, I think, make these work for those who don't appreciate Aperol's bitterness. My only deviation was to leave the lemon peel in the syrup while it cooled, for extra flavor.

Sep 05, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Too much corn on the cob! Help me use it!

This one from Mario Batali's Molto Italiano and Molto Gusto cookbooks is excellent: http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/...

Keeping ravioli fresh before dinner

You really need to cook them right before serving; they're not the kind of thing that holds well once cooked. They'll only take a few minutes to cook.

What are you baking these days? September edition, part 1! (2014) [old]

I use fruit jam or preserves to flavor cooked flour frosting, and it works great. Don't add them during the cooking process, add them at the end. I make up the frosting as normal but without vanilla or other flavoring, and after it's all whipped, I beat in the preserves by the spoonful, tasting as I go, until the flavor is where I want it. For strawberry, you might want to go with jam over preserves for texture, or if you have preserves with real chunks of fruit, just blend it smooth before adding it.

Seeded Watermelons

Since this thread's been updated, I'll mention that recently, I've had some good, smaller seeded red watermelons from River Dog, bought at the Berkeley farmers' market. They're organic, priced at $1/lb with a maximum price of $5 (so larger melons are a better deal; the largest I've had was probably around 10 lbs).