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Thursday
Dec282017

Kristen Kish cooking

Kristen Kish has an interesting background.   

Orphaned in Korea and adopted by a U.S. couple, she talks of the joy that she has as an adoptee with a loving happy family.  I think her happiness shines through in her recipes and, yes, her tenacity to become the best chef possible.  Read her introduction….it resonated with me and hopefully, it will with you also.

I sat up late (too late) on the night that I received her book and devoured the entire book.  Her recipes are approachable for the home cook and, yet, offer the excitement that is often missing from Tuesday night dinner.  The books chapters include snacks, beginnings, from the sea, pasta and grains, meat, and sweet.  A snapshot of my flagged recipes include:  braised baby potatoes with pancetta, comte, and sage; Kataifi-wrapped (shredded phyllo dough) burrata with date syrup and radish salad; rigatoni with walnuts, béchamel, sage, and fried shallots; onion and gruyere tortelloni with chicken brodo; slow-roasted pork loin with Korean melon, chorizo, and Asian pear; and peach pate de fruit with rosemary sugar.  To be honest….I have many a flag in the sweet section.

Kristen also sets up her book with a techniques and terms section; she is setting us up for success right from the start.  And throughout the book are helpful photos that will guide you through pasta making.  A little suggestion:  grab a comfy seat on the sofa, wrap yourself in a blanket, and peruse this book with some little colorful flags and mark the recipes that you look forward to making

Sunday
Oct222017

The Cottage Kitchen

Marte Marie Forsberg’s The Cottage Kitchen is a mesmerizing wonderment of a vast array of recipes attached to stories from her life.  I first found Marie on Instagram, of all places, and became immediately fascinated with her work.  Her photos, both on Instragram and within The Cottage Kitchen,makes one long for the small thatched cottage in the English countryside.  The photos emphasize how Marie views her life; a way in which, I believe, many of us strive for.  The good life….one of happiness, simplicity, and time for enjoyment.

Cooking alongside The Cottage Kitchen will bring a little slice of Marie’s life into your home (and your belly).  The book is divided amongst the season, along with a chapter for afternoon tea.  While it is fall here in North Carolina, I can’t help but look ahead to winter.  I’m looking forward to a fire burning and Christmas carols wrapping the house in warmth as I make Marie’s Fig and Pecan No-Knead Bread, Chorizo Macaroni and Cheese, and Olga’s Caramel Pudding (oh, how I love caramel).  Since it is fall, I may ‘fall’ into the Leek and Cheese Gratin, Baked Skillet Apples, and Mulled Cider.  For a sneak peak into spring and summer for those of you on the other side of the world from me, Marie tantalizes with Arancini with Camemert, Zucchini Pasta with Pancetta and Wild Garlic, Rhubarb Soup, Tomato Tarte Tatin with Burrata, Summer Panzanella, and Limoncello Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit.

Monday
Oct092017

Peppers of the Americas

Only up until several years ago, I really didn’t like the flavor of peppers.  I’ve recently heard that our taste buds change every seven years.  Perhaps I have experienced this change…this phenomenon…this life event.  Because over the past several years and just today, I have to face my cravings for the heat of a pepper woven into the fabrics of my food.  I love the punch of vinegary heat when I bite into a pepperoncini pepper, especially along-side an arugula salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and a couple slices of charcuterie.   Spicy Udon noodles….yes, please. 

In my little raised bed garden, I planted several pepper plants this year.  Nothing out of the ordinary; Lowe’s and Home Depot aren’t known for that.  But on summer evenings, I pick a cucumber or two, a nice tomato that is still warm from the sun, and a jalapeno pepper; I carry them all wrapped up in my t-shirt back into the house and chop them all up together and add a glug of red-wine vinegar and olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of salt.  I crave this salad!  But I want more. I want more of peppers and I want more of the heaty taste in the back of my throat and the burn of my lips.  I know I need to venture beyond what my local store offers in its garden center.

When I saw Maricel Presilla’s book of Peppers of the Americas, I was so excited.  This book explains the capsicum mystery that has been causing my cravings.  It includes a gallery of fresh and dried peppers, with flavor notes and Pictures. Of. Each. Pepper.  (What a novel idea…to have a reference picture for each pepper!!!)  Maricel also describes how to dry certain peppers which will help me keep the heat during the winter months.  And finally, the last 100 pages is a mélange of recipes, many of which I already have little yellow flags attached.  The flags are my reminders that draw me back and constant view of the recipes will draw me into my kitchen this winter with my dried peppers.

This book is an encyclopedia of peppers – a book of knowledge that everyone with a craving for peppers should have on the shelf.  I am really loving this beautiful book.

Monday
Oct092017

Cherry Bombe......is the bomb

Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) has said that, to her, cilantro tastes of dish soap; to me, beets taste of the dirt they grew in.  Therefore, I was really disappointed that the first recipe of the book was Beet Ricotta Dumplings.  When the first word is beet, I know I am never going to make that recipe!

But the book bounced back (even though there are four beet recipes in this book), with the other 90 plus recipes.  There are several in here that are so simple yet I don’t know why I’ve never seen them before!  Candied grapefruit pops!!  I’m making these little suckers this weekend!  What a wonderful idea…..and so fun!  With citrus season coming on strong, I’m imaging myself making varieties of these pops!!!

This book has a vintage feel to it.  One that I think will last and make the reader excited each time it is picked up.  A novelty of the book is that it begins with main courses and then moves into the soups & salads and sides, with apps, snacks & sips later in the book. This book will delight with recipes of manicotti with cherry tomato sauce (and who doesn’t have an over-abundance of cherry tomatoes right now from the garden????), San Beiji – Taiwanese three cup chicken, Adobong Manok Sa Gata – Filipino vinegar chicken, three-cheese cauliflower gratin, grilled oysters with gremolata & chili butter, and finally so many fun sips that I cannot begin to list them all!

Many well-known women contributed a recipe to this book and provided a little tid-bit of information (I always love those – sometimes they are my favorite part).  Women supporting women – my favorite of all!

Sunday
Jul162017

Food52 Ice Cream & Friends

In the past couple of years I have focused on making the ice cream that my hubby and I eat rather than buying the ‘ice dream’ stuff from the grocery store.  Purchased ice cream is no longer made with cream, sugar, eggs, and fruit.  Even Cold Stone Creamery; which was a huge disappointment to me because I had bought quarts of their ice cream once I decided to no longer go the grocery store route.  I think Cold Stone Creamery vanilla ice cream has around 70 ingredients.  70!!!!!  Why does ice cream need that many ingredients??? Answer:  it doesn’t.

So now, I make my own.  I use a Cuisinart maker that lets me make a quart of ice cream at a time.  My hubby’s favorite is cinnamon and I have to agree with him….it is delicious!  Vanilla is great too – there is nothing like steeping the vanilla pod after having scraped the seed out to make your ice cream even more delish.  When I make vanilla, I usually also make the Barefoot Contessa’s raspberry sauce to pool under the ice cream.  A little raspberry jam, fresh raspberries, and just a touch of raspberry liquer is all you need.  Dreamy is the word that comes to mind. 

I have several ice creams books that I read as novels and take inspiration from.  And now, Food52 Ice Cream & Friends has entered my life and lays on my bedside table for a night reading.  Such an inspiration!  The recipes range from ice cream to sherbet to yogurt to the companions of ice cream – salted maple honeycomb candy anyone????  Oh wait!  I see a recipe for caramel!  I loooooovvvvvveeeeee caramel and cannot wait to make the Salted Caramel ice cream!  Fig ice cream?  Yes, please! Cinnamon bun ice cream?  Why, yes!  I’ll up my cinnamon game!!

Food52 Ice Cream & Friends is such a refreshing read on the hot sultry summer nights.  Great front porch reading….back and forth on the over-sized swing, a glass of lemonade in my hand, ceiling fans whirling on high in the background kicking up scents of mint….wait…..didn’t I just see a recipe for mint basil chip ice cream????