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What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

Smashing Plates sounds like a terrific book for someone who will be entertaining and socializing regularly with friends who like to share food adventures. It's the opposite of the kind of cooking I'm doing and like to do, but I can see the fun in it.

Re the Piglet round with SP and A Change of Appetite:

I sympathize with the reviewer's point about the the disorienting way that A Change of Appetite jumps from cuisine to cuisine from one recipe to the next. An editor might have noticed that and easily resolved it by having Diana Henry offer a few suggested menus or combinations. Since that didn't happen, there's an interesting job for the engaged reader/cook.

That makes it not a very serious defect in the book -- unless someone who's tried doing that finds that very few of the recipes fit together. As Change of App is the most attractive to me of this year's Piglet contestants, it's probably worth studying its recipe listing at Eat Your Books with pairings/groupings in mind.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

My Bombay Kitchen is also something to look forward to.

I've already taken it out twice from the local library: the first time around, reading and learning, the second cooking along and copying out a few other most-appealing recipes.

Feb 23, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

:: chapter by chapter table of recipes, a feature I love ::

Same here! They make it much easier to get a sense of the scope of a cookbook, and to focus in on particular recipes. Maybe it's because I'm a big-picture person, but I think it's true for many cooks: The larger the book, the more difficult the absence of decent chapter ToCs makes it to pick a starting point to engage with the recipes.

Just recently, in time for Tet, I added Vietnamese-language recipe titles to the Eat Your Books listings for Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (ingredient-indexed in EYB's early days). Her chapter ToCs are exemplary.

First, they're on pages edged in red, so that it's easy to spot a chapter opening while riffling through. Then, they're often subdivided into kindred groups -- e.g., the soup chapter is grouped into 'Everyday quick soups' (canh), 'Creamy rice soups' (cháo), and 'Special-occasion soups' (súp). After the close look at each chapter table of contents required to add the Vietnamese titles, I had a much better appreciation for the range of recipes in the book.

But even without the help of these conceptual groupings, a table of contents for each chapter with large, readable page numbers greatly speeds the transition from "book full of recipes" to "Mmmm! That sounds tasty, and I already have xxx..."

Feb 22, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What sizes of stockpots do I need?

I'd hold off getting anything larger than the 6 quart until you actually experience the situation of not having a pot big enough to do what you want.

A 10 qt pressure cooker, like the Fagor Chef, can be used as a regular pot, a pressure cooker, and even a pressure canner (10 qt being minimum recommended size). That would be a lot more versatile for family cooking than a slightly larger stockpot.

Feb 15, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Goat cheese haters?

Not quite. Very few foods contain uric acid, which is created in your body as food is digested. Most cheese, not just goat cheese, is high in purines, the compounds that break down into uric acid.

You're welcome to your opinion on the taste, of course, but it's not based on goat cheese containing uric acid.

Best use of two new, copper pots/pans

I'm a fan of the soft, satiny glow of much-used (Kaleo would say "scratched-up") copper; much prefer it to mirror-finish pots, which in my kitchen are left to darken. (Lovely copper rivets, too!)

Feb 15, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Good quality wooden spoons?

Have never regretted getting a Mario Batali spoon/spatula with an almost sharp flat edge that's more than two inches across. It's olive wood, but the size and shape is what makes it so useful -- perfect for moving across the bottom of the pan to circulate thickening sauce, incorporate fond into pan juices, or move a volume of veg while sauteing or sweating.

I got a matching spoon at the same time, but it sees a lot less use.

Feb 14, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

Yesterday I made a pretty thorough inspection of the Kindle cookbook offerings, adding K. versions of the titles on my Eat Your Books wishlist to an Amz wishlist, along with a few additional under-$10. titles. The idea is that it will be easier to check on prices and spot short-term specials.

When I reviewed the list, several things became clear. For one, my cookbook fever is abating -- I wasn't seized with the impulse to get anything on the list right this minute. [This year's Piglet competition at Food52 isn't generating as much cookbook lust as in previous years, either.] Good news, as I'm putting spending money into plant orders -- revived interest in the garden seems to be something of a zero-sum game with exploratory cooking.

Another thing I noticed was that the biggest books were the ones most tempting to acquire in e-versions at the $10 level. A newer example is Saveur New Classics (1000 recipes), but even a couple of very thick books I already own generated flickers of interest -- New Basics by the Silver Palate duo, which is nearly three inches thick and falling apart, and a Steven Rachlen grilling book that has always irritated me because sheer repetition of the same material in every recipe accounts for half its (considerable) bulk. The s.o. scotched the idea of replacing the Raichlen, though, by reminding me that the book was his. D'oh!

On the other hand, titles I'd primarily enjoy as bedtime reading are more attractive in physical book form, the appeal strengthened by very low prices on the used market.

The last impression is: what a lot of crap cookbooks there are out there! Endless variations on paleo, slow cooker, cleansing/detox, smoothies, and special diets of one kind or another swamp the true cooking / food-for-its-own-pleasure titles.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

Italian Grill is $12.62 right now on Kindle, I regret to say.

Feb 12, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking - Wolfert cookbook

My favorite Wolfert is my first -- Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. I've cooked many recipes from it and love to re-read.

Slow Mediterranean Food is also wonderful reading, but I've made far fewer things from it, and one of those was not a success.

I've enjoyed Mediterranean Greens and Grains on loan from a friend.

The one I'm most interested to read next is Paula Wolfert's World of Food, her collection of personal favorites.

Feb 10, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Move Over Kale: The Next Super Food is Okra!!

This area, western Virginia, has a six-month frost-free season and plenty of summer heat. I believe the red variety would do fine anywhere regular okra can be grown. Haven't looked in seed catalogs, but I bet it's easily found. Gardening friends grow it just for the looks; it has showy hibiscus-hollyhock-mallow-esque flowers, followed by the colorful fruit, and even the stems of the plant are reddish. Harvesting the pods while small keeps the flowers and fruit coming, and makes for the best pickles and most cooking applications.

The red color dims a bit in the pickle itself as it cures, but moves into the pickling liquid, which makes for a lovely jar (nice host gift). I haven't cooked with the red ones, but now you've got me wondering if they might stay red with the quick saute-and-braise of the Madhur Jaffrey recipe -- adding to the dish's appeal.

Feb 10, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Move Over Kale: The Next Super Food is Okra!!

I'm glad to know it's so nutritious, because I grew up eating plenty of it. My father's garden was the focus of our summer meals, and when there was okra, there was a lot. We mainly had it fried (corn meal coating), and as a component of jambalaya and gumbos that could be frozen to have for winter meals, after the garden avalanche was over.

For me, the seasonal aspect of okra is part of the charm, and this past summer I added a Madhur Jaffrey ginger-garlic curry prep to the repertoire. Local growers produce beautiful red ones that are perfect for pickling, so I've also enjoyed those, in both vinegar and fermented versions.

Feb 09, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking - Wolfert cookbook

I'm a big Paula Wolfert fan but have avoided the clay pot cookbook because it I know would tempt me to acquire a clay pot (or several)! <g>

If the recipes in it appeal to you, they'll be delicious cooked in any suitable vessel, like a Dutch oven. Maybe you'll end up wanting to get *one* other clay pot -- something fairly different from a tagine, like an olla for beans (that's the one that keeps calling to me).

Feb 09, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Home Cooks - How do you minimize food waste?

1. Meal planning (3-4 days ahead, sometimes a week ahead).

2. Shopping with a list, and sticking to the list.

3. Tools/habits:
Obsessive labeling and dating of fridge and freezer items (and many pantry items).
Whiteboard inventory (and shopping list) on side of fridge.
Freezer inventory with dates.

4. Looking at the inventories while making a cooking plan -- so that the meal plan uses freezer, fridge, and pantry items that need using up.

5. Periodic bursts of cooking focused on bringing the fridge, freezer, and pantry stores way down. In that phase right now.

Feb 09, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Best use of two new, copper pots/pans

Try the saute for a braise -- you just need to brown the meat, not sear it, so you can get comfortable with the pan without fearing for the tin lining. The pan can be used for all stages of the dish, whether you braise on the stovetop or in the oven, and a braise will make use of the lid.

I'd avoid using such a fabulous pan for truly high-heat searing; that's what carbon steel or cast iron are good for.

Lucky you to have been given these excellent pieces; many happy years of cooking with them!

Feb 09, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Deborah Madison's "Vegetable Literacy"

Something from this book that's become a summer staple are the sauteed then steamed-braised summer squash tartines, p. 292. Most often the herb is chiffonades of mint or basil rather than rosemary. Have served alone as a side as often as on ricotta-spread garlic toasts. Delicious either way, and very quick.

Feb 09, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Mexican Regional Cooking - Diana Kennedy vintage cookbook. Question.

I'm not Walliser but I have the book.
Pollo enchilado ingredients:
six ancho chiles, 4 ounces of diced bacon, four almonds (unpeeled), five pitted prunes, an inch-long piece of cinnamon bark, four whole cloves, four black peppercorns, 1/8 teaspoon each of oregano, thyme, and marjoram, 2 3/4 cups fresh orange juice (about six oranges' worth), 4 1/2 pounds of chicken parts, and five carrots peeled and cut into quarters lengthwise (about 3/4 pound).

De-seed and de-vein the anchos, and toast them lightly on a hot skillet. Set the chiles aside and fry the bacon gently in the skillet to render out the fat; add the bacon cubes to a blender jar, leaving as much fat as possible in the skillet. Fry the anchos in the fat and add to the blender, again leaving behind as much fat as possible. Then fry the almonds, prunes, spices and herbs in the skillet; again add fried items to the jar leaving behind the fat. Add the o.j., a cup of water, and a teaspoon or two of salt to the blender and buzz until smooth and thick. [Advice from me: start by adding only a small amount of the o.j. in order to have the best shot at pulverizing the whole spices, then add the rest gradually, with water last.]

Set oven to 375F. Saute the chicken pieces in the skillet until golden brown, adding oil if necessary to supplement the bacon fat. Put the browned chicken in an ovenproof dish that's big enough to fit the pieces in one layer but small enough so that they fit snugly. Fit the carrots between the chicken, pour in the sauce to cover it all, cover the dish tightly, and bake for an hour and a half to two, until the chicken's tender.

Serve the chicken pieces and sauce with tortillas.

Kennedy notes that this is a pretty mild dish; if those being served want more heat, you can make pickled jalapeno strips available.

Feb 04, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

How have you used oats in a savory way?

As a binder in meatballs. Particularly handy if serving to gluten-avoiding guests, but also just produces a better result for me than breadcrumbs.

Feb 04, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

Oooh, Drunken Botanist is on my 'to read' list. Sadly, the 1.99 price is not available at Amz; Kindle version is $9-plus.

Feb 04, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

I just read the Jennifer Reese book last week (from the library); it has some hilarious passages and a good bit of kitchen wisdom. Enjoy!

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

I'm afraid you're right... Let's just say I'm happy I already have the hardcover 'New Complete Techniques', acquired at a bargain price. <g>

Feb 02, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy Valentine's Day 2015 edition!

The s.o. got a Kindle Fire for us, primarily to hook up to the big TV for watching videos. It's my first exposure to a Kindle, and I got a small 99-cent Thai cookbook just to see what reading is like on the device. <--[not bad, after adjusting the brightness of the background]

It seems like a great way to take advantage of occasional bargains, particularly on books I'm interested in but unlikely to buy. Having reached the plateau of a hundred physical cookbooks (puny by the standards of some regulars in these threads), I'm being very selective about additional ones -- anything coming in means that something here has to go.

Last month's acquisitions (used, from non-Amz sources) are all immune to being bumped, though. I'm particularly enjoying Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen.

Slow Cooker substitution?

I think an induction stovetop should be able to hold temperatures lower than 180-200F on at least one "burner". Maybe try it out with just water first to see...

Feb 02, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking

Safe Use of Vintage Aluminum Cookware

Hi Ben. Sorry to be so slow responding; I've been away from chow for a few weeks.

The Cook's Catalogue I have is I believe the first printing, Harper & Row 1975, hardcover ISBN 10: 0060115637. But the contents of the 1977 version should be the same; if there was a revised/updated edition at some point, I don't think it was that soon. That Avon version might be a trade paperback. Same or different, it's a wonderful general cookware and "material culture" reference.

I know nothing about the cookware beyond what I came across in the book. They list the manufacturer of the omelet pan and seafood pot as:
Gourmet Ltd.
376 E. Charles Street
Lombard, IL 60148

[My copy actually has it as 'Tombard, Illinois' (typo).]

Great stuff. How did you come by yours?

Jan 24, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

Le Creuset bare cast iron bottoms

My understanding is that "bare" metal bases on Le Creuset pieces are not bare metal (like Copco/NACCO), but have a layer of transparent enamel applied. That's plausible to me, because neither of the metal-based LCs I have (both second-hand) has shown any sign of rusting.

I think that the "bare" bases have been offered off an on over a long period of LC production, so that it's not a reliable method for pinning down the era.

Jan 07, 2015
ellabee in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy New Year January 2015 edition! [OLD]

I'm puzzled about why there's been no U.S. edition of Moro (the cookbook) after this amount of time.

Jan 04, 2015
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? December 2014 edition! [Old]

The Eat Your Books 'best of the best' list for 2014 that I mentioned above is here: http://www.eatyourbooks.com/community...

It's the compiled results of hundreds of other 'best of lists', with some interesting breakdowns and a complete list of links to the source lists.

Dec 28, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

DEVILED EGGS! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (December 2014)

The idea to use baby food vegetable purees is genius, provided the baby food itself tastes right.

This past spring I made a delicious, highly successful version from Smitten Kitchen that uses puree of asparagus, and *man* was that tedious work to end up with a pretty tiny quantity (using a food mill, anyway). On the other hand, it's hard to imagine that a commercial baby food would have the brightness and intensity of taste of fresh local asparagus, cooked just enough to soften it for mooshing.

But this was very small lunch for a friend who would be gone a few months later, and I was happy to throw myself into it.

Definitely worth experimenting with, though; carrot-cumin deviled eggs?

Dec 28, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? December 2014 edition! [Old]

Yes, I'm interested to compare the two books. I lived in SF during the heyday of China Moon (sadly, never ate there; I was poor as a churchmouse, so not much of a restaurant-goeer), and remember enjoying occasional articles in the paper's food section featuring tips and advice from Barbara Tropp.

Dec 27, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? December 2014 edition! [Old]

We kept it minimalist under the tree (the "big" present was the next-day shipping on the knishes). So I felt fine about giving myself a few things on my wishlist for a while -- a couple of older books and one more recent one.

The Key to Chinese Cooking - Irene Kuo (1977)

The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking - Barbara Tropp (1982)

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors - Andrea Nguyen (2006)

Looking forward to curling up with them as the winter winds howl...

The book from this year that I'm pretty sure I'll get early in the new one is The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. I use The Flavor Bible all the time, so have had my eye on it for a while. It did well in the end-of-year lists (EatYourBooks.com has a handy 'best of the best' roundup). Not really a cookbook, but a very useful and inspirational reference.

Dec 25, 2014
ellabee in Home Cooking
1