Friday, March 4, 2011

Cookbook giveaway: Tapas

This cookbook went to Lynn Pribus of Charlottesville. Look for a new cookbook next Friday!

Love tapas? Want to make them at home for your next party?

"Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America" by José Andrés with Richard Wolffe may be the cookbook you are looking for. And because you are a loyal reader of this blog, I thought I'm offering this hardback book to you, not for sale, but just for shipping and handling, $11.95.

If you want this week's book, be the first to click the PayPal button (Buy Now) below, follow the directions to deposit a payment to my account, AND leave a comment at the end of this blog item with some way to contact you for your address or in case you were not the first one (I have only one copy of each book). I will send the book by Priority Mail on Monday. Offer good in the United States only at this time. You don't need a PayPal account, but you will need a credit card to pay with the button.

If this isn't the book for you, keep checking back on Fridays. I offer a different cookbook each week. I'll edit the post to indicate when a book is no longer available.

If you live in Charlottesville, you can save the money by coming to pick up the book. Be the first to leave a comment, with a way to contact you.

To give you an idea of the kind of recipes in the book, here's one from "Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America"  (256 pages, Clarkson Potter 2005, $35).


© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
This tapa is based on a fairly modern Basque-country dish, which has become very much a part of the mainstream. Basque people love their crabs, and txangurro has grown into something of a national dish in the region.

For the crabs:
• 2 tablespoons sea salt
• 8 fresh blue crabs (see tips), preferably female (about 2 1/2 [2.5] pounds total, to yield 1/3 [one-third] pound of meat)

For the filling:
• 6 ripe tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
• 1/2 [.5] Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 1/2 [.5] leek, white part only, well washed and finely chopped
• 1 guindilla chili pepper (or your favorite dried chili pepper)
• 2 tablespoons Spanish brandy
• 1/4 [one-fourth] cup Txacoli (a Basque white wine) or other fresh, young white wine
• 6 fresh tarragon leaves
• Salt to taste

Cook the crabs: Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add the sea salt. When the water is boiling, drop in the crabs and cook for 8 minutes. Drain, and allow the crabs to cool. Then remove the claws and legs, taking care to keep the upper shell intact. Working over a bowl to collect the juices, remove the meat from the claws, legs, and body. Reserve the juices and the crabmeat. Carefully clean and set aside 4 of the empty shells.

Prepare the filling: Cut each tomato in half lengthwise. Place a grater over a bowl and grate the open side of the tomatoes into the bowl. Discard the skin. Strain the grated flesh through a sieve to produce 2 cups of tomato puree. Set it aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown a little, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the leeks and the guindilla, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
Add the brandy and the wine, and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the tomato puree and cook until it thickens and begins to darken in color, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the crabmeat. Add the crab juices and the tarragon. Stir to combine, and add salt to taste.

To serve, place an empty crab shell on each plate. Fill the shells with the crabmeat mixture. Serve with a teaspoon on the side.

If your time is limited you can buy crabs already cleaned and boiled. Just make sure that they have not been seasoned and are very fresh. If you can’t find Maryland blue crabs, you can always substitute Dungeness crabs from the West Coast.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A gathering of egos, er, chefs

The Burger Bash was one of the events at the South Beach Wine
and Food Festival held last weekend in Miami Beach
Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images
Time magazine isn't the must-read that it was in my youth, but occasionally they run an article that hits home. Here are excerpts from an article by Josh Ozersky published today that you can read HERE.

Go to the  official site of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBE) held this past weekend, and you'll see the marks of wild success. Nearly every event is sold out. The highbrow events are sold out, the populist events are sold out. The events that boast Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis are sold out, the Alain Ducasse tribute dinner is sold out. 
What started as a fun vacation 10 years ago is now a supercluster of celebrity chefs, Food Network stars, Bal Harbour grandees, trophy wives, cooking demos, pounding techno music, amazing dishes, not-so-amazing dishes and hungry, excited foodies who collectively generated a deafening volume of Twitter static. There are three-star Michelin generalissimos and TV hosts who might not be able to pick one other out of a police lineup. SOBE is the place where the food world most visibly intersects with the country as a whole.
The writer goes on to say that the fringe elements of the American food experience are not represented: not the high-end new chefs or the locavore, all-natural proponents.
What happens in modernist restaurants and New Naturalist bistros is a vision of American food in its most idealized, uncompromised form. It's essentially culinary couture, the restaurant world's equivalent of the high-concept runway shows in Paris and Milan. The ready-to-wear version will show up soon enough in Cincinnati; Spokane, Wash.; and, eventually, South Beach.
If you can eat it in America and there's no trace of it at SOBE, there will be eventually. The truth is that SOBE and festivals that emulate it need the chefs that don't show up every bit as much as it needs the ones that do. The mainstream may be wide, but it can't be stagnant. 
Ozersky is a James Beard Award-winning food writer and the author of "The Hamburger: A History." 
Watch TIME's video "How Top Chefs Get You to Eat Your Vegetables."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicken processing slipping

Our chickens: Ruby Cheryl, Betty and Veronica
Considering the prevalence of chicken sold by parts in the grocery stores, it must be the rare person who cuts up a whole chicken these days. Yet whole chickens are by far the most economical, especially when they are on sale for 59 cents a pound. You get the parts you like, separate them yourself and freeze them in portions that you know you can use, and put the remainder in the stockpot with some carrots and celery, a bay leaf and onion and garlic if you like. It tastes better than any stock I've bought in a can or box.

I'm no math whiz, but here's a breakdown of costs, all this week's prices at Harris Teeter:
4 chickens @ $0.59 = approximately $12

If you bought the parts:
4 large whole chicken breasts @ $4.99 per pound = approximately $24
16 chicken wings = $1.50 (about a pound)
8 chicken thighs and legs @ $3 per pound = approximately $12
4 quarts chicken broth (using backs, necks etc.)  $2 quart = $8

Total: About $45

Savings: $33 (less what you put your labor at)

Notice I didn't price out the hearts, gizzards and liver. For one thing, three out of the four livers were a sickly yellow-orange, not the brown-burgundy of a healthy liver. And you only get one each of everything, at the most, so the amount is negligible.

And the liver isn't the only thing that wasn't right with this batch of chickens; one didn't have the oil gland removed from the tail. No big deal for me, since I wasn't roasting the chickens, but could have spoiled the dinner if I had popped it in the oven without noticing. Also no big deal was the number of pin feathers and broken shafts, since I like my skinless chicken. But seeing feathers on a piece of roasted chicken really puts me off.

A tale of two tails
The photo at right shows a tail with the oil gland on, right, and how it should appear with it removed, left.

Don't know how to cut up a chicken? A step-by-step guide can be found HERE.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Healthful waffles from scratch

Yesterday, I talked about adding a bit more nutrition to a packaged pancake/waffle mix. Today, here's a recipe I developed for waffles that feature whole grains, a small amount of salt and just  a little sugar. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has.

Lori K's healthful waffles
Serves 4

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned or quick oats (not instant oatmeal)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together in a 4-cup measuring cup. In another cup, mix milk, egg yolks, oil and vanilla well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients slowly, mixing vigorously. Whip egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Bake in waffle iron until crisp. Dry extras in a 170-degree oven while you eat the last batch and freeze.

Options: Add 1/2 cup chopped raisins, Craisins, hazelnuts or pecans.

The video below shows a technique for folding in the egg whites. The recipe he's using is for fluffy Belgium waffles, but my recipe works fine for a traditional waffle iron.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A healthier waffle

Processed foods often aren't worth the time they save, mostly because many use as inexpensive ingredients as they can get away with, devoid of nutrition and overloaded with sugar, fat and/or salt. That said, I usually don't have the wherewithal to follow a recipe when I get up in the morning. My compromise, besides cold cereal and milk or yogurt, is to have a box of Pioneer No-Fat Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix in the cupboard and real maple syrup.

There's not much in it you can't pronounce, which I like, but I think it has too much salt (540 mg per serving) and sugar (9 g) per serving. To make it a little healthier, I decrease the 2 cups of mix to 1.5 cups and add a cup of rolled oats (regular, not instant), and use the same amount of water. It's like getting a serving of oatmeal along with your treat.

After I put about a quarter cup of the batter on each side of the oil-sprayed waffle iron, I sometimes add some chopped pecans or Craisins before I lower the top to cook the waffles. I don't know why, but they always taste better to me cooked in the waffles rather than sprinkled on top. If I don't have maple syrup, I put some jam in a saucepan and warm it up, adding a little water if it's too thick.

Of course, when I have the time to prepare a big breakfast, I have a good recipe for nutritious waffles, which I'll post tomorrow. What I should do is quadruple the recipe, mix up the dry ingredients and bag it for later use, with the instructions on the bag.

What's your favorite trick to getting a good breakfast on a busy morning?