Friday, March 11, 2011

Cookbook giveaway: Cooking From Above: Classics

Do you like pretty pictures? Are you a visual learner? The "Cooking From Above" series may be the cookbooks for you.

The books, published in England by Hamlyn in 2009, were originally $24.99 retail. "Cooking From Above: Classics," the book I'm offering this week, is written by Keda Black, described as "a French home cook and food writer. She was born in Zambia and is of a thoroughly mixed Scottish, Bourguignon, Spanish and Italian descent. Her cooking tends to go beyond the boundaries of traditional French cuisine but is never complicated or labored."

The biggest drawbacks to them is that they are paperbacks, they don't fold flat, and the pages aren't spill-proof. One reviewed also noted that some recipes have ingredients left out, and I noticed that some techniques are not fully explained, especially in the more involved recipes. It would not be a good book for a beginning cook.

If you lean more toward Italian food, I will be offering "Cooking From Above: Italian" at a later date. But this book does have a considerable number of Italian recipes.

Because you are a loyal reader of this blog, I'm offering this book to you, not for sale, but just for shipping and handling, $11.95.

If you want this week's book, "Cooking From Above: Classics," 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 recipes in "Cooking From Above: Classics," here's a sample recipe.

BĂ©arnaise Sauce
Serves 2 * Preparation: 5 minutes * Cooking: 10 minutes

2 small shallots
3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar or white wine
4 peppercorns
3 tarragon stalks
2 egg yolks
5 ounces soft butter, cut into cubes

In advance
Peel and finely chop the shallots

Put the shallots in a small pan with the vinegar or wine, peppercorns and tarragon.
Bring to a boil, let it reduce, then remove the peppercorns and herbs.
Put the yolks in a small bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.
Add the reduced vinegar and whisk to combine.
Whisk in the butter, one cube at a time. Turn off the heat once half the butter has been added.
Continue to add the butter off the heat. The sauce should become rich and thick. Season with salt.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fuego portable grill: Good design, but...

The portable grill is a definite convenience, and I've had many over the years. The best lock well and have room to carry the fuel within them.

Fuego, best know for its outdoor kitchens, has come up with a winning design, and something more: a shoulder strap. Fun!

I can't help but wonder, given every other grill I've ever owned, how one will keep the grease from splattering all over it. And once the grease does get on the outside, will the over-the-shoulder feature ever be used? Just asking...

Speaking of grills, I still love the idea of a personal food cart, but I don't think I'm strong enough to pull this off:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bacon and egg salad

The girls are now regularly laying 2-3 eggs a day, so it's time to haul out the egg recipes. Today for lunch, rather than a traditional egg salad, I gave it a little twist.

Lori K's Avocado, Bacon and Egg Salad

Serves 2 (as sandwiches or scooped on a bed of lettuce)

1/2 avocado, mashed
1 tablespoon cooked bacon, crumbled
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
Pepper to taste

Mash avocado until smooth in bowl. Add bacon and capers. Peel hard-boiled eggs, slice in half, remove yolks and crumble in the bowl, then dice the remaining whites and add to bowl. Stir until blended and serve, as a spread for sandwiches or scooped on a bed of lettuce.

Note: If you don't have or don't like capers, add instead a little lime juice or vinegar and salt.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Food safety knifed

A small but important editorial in the New York Times today:

The House has voted to cut $106 million from the president’s request for $1.036 billion for meat inspections by the Department of Agriculture. That money would help pay for the inspectors who oversee the 6,300 plants that process the nation’s meat and poultry supply.
To ensure the safety of these products, inspectors must be on site at all times. If they’re not, the plant must stop work. House Democrats say the budget cuts would require 37 to 40 furlough days for many of the 8,600 inspectors. Even a conservative estimate would put the loss of meat and poultry production at about $11 billion over the next seven months — a very large dent in the $177 billion annual business. It could also make a large dent in Americans’ household budgets, as reduced supplies drive up costs.
After recent problems with tainted peanut butter, spinach, nuts and eggs, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration new authority and responsibility to monitor food safety. The House’s $129 million cut would seriously impede its ability to do that job, putting the health of American consumers at risk. We are all for savings, but these proposed cuts make no sense at all.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Banana nut bread - but what nuts?

The following post is taken off my Facebook page verbatim. If anyone wants Tina May's recipe, I'll ask if I can share it. Who knew how bananas people are about banana bread?

Banana nut bread: Better with pecans or walnuts? Discuss.
Yesterday at 12:45pm ·  ·  · 
    • Lyn Crouch Walnuts. Sharper flavor thus better contrast with bland bananas.
      Yesterday at 12:56pm · 
    • Marjie Lambert I like the sweetness of pecans in tea breads.
      Yesterday at 1:00pm · 
    • Betsey Hawley Monnot I like my banana nut bread toasted. Walnuts taste better toasted than pecans. But maybe that's just me.
      Yesterday at 1:00pm · 
    • Susan Portugall Walnuts! Nice sharp contrast, better texture, and better toasted. I guess I agree with prior comments.
      Yesterday at 1:11pm · 
    • Susan Portugall I plan to make a loaf this weekend...yum!
      Yesterday at 1:12pm · 
    • Mary Wiley Smith Pecans. There is a tartness to bananas that is balanced by the sweetness of the pecans. Plus, I just love pecans.
      Yesterday at 1:25pm · 
    • Peter Haugen Should probably recuse myself, but I vote walnuts.
      Yesterday at 1:36pm · 
    • Lori Korleski Richardson Thank you all for your comments. I went with pecans this time. I couldn't find my mom's recipe, but I remember it had walnuts and was very moist. I made mine with whole wheat and tried to cut back the butter. It was lighter than I thought it would be, but too dry.
      Yesterday at 1:52pm · 
    • Peter Haugen When you cut back on the butter, try adding apple sauce for moisture.
      Yesterday at 1:55pm ·  ·  1 person
    • John H. Ostdick Always the contrarian, I like my banana bread sans nuts
      Yesterday at 1:55pm ·  ·  1 person
    • Lynn Pribus Alternate.
      Yesterday at 1:56pm · 
    • Peter Haugen What?! John, you're nuts! (So do my kids.) ;-)
      Yesterday at 1:57pm · 
    • Darla Morgan My taste says pecans or black walnuts benefit banana bread, but I never turn down nutless banana bread.
      Yesterday at 2:05pm · 
    • Lisa Mondori Pecans, and I would leave out the bananas . . . .
      Yesterday at 2:39pm · 
    • Jonathan Schnyer Walnuts! Pecans are too sweet :)
      Yesterday at 2:45pm · 
    • Ann Bancroft pecans. walnuts too bitter :) (and I'm allergic to 'em, but aside from that, banana pecan is fabulous)
      Yesterday at 2:59pm · 
    • John Griffing Well I'm allergic to nuts and have discovered that banana bread tastes great without nuts!
      Yesterday at 3:04pm ·  ·  1 person
    • Tina May Pecans. Lori, I have a fabulous recipe from Cooking Light from years ago for Jamaican rum/lime/coconut/pecan/banana bread. It has a bit of reduced fat cream cheese in it (says to use whipped, but I use regular) and only two tablespoons of butter (the recipe calls for margarine, but YUCK). The glaze with lime/rum/brown sugar/ coconut and pecans is wonderful. Happy to share it with you, if you would like. It freezes well, too. Great toasted, except the glaze runs off...kinda defeats the purpose.
      23 hours ago · 
    • Lori Korleski Richardson Yes, Tina, please send!
      21 hours ago · 
    • Tina May Sent it to your personal email a little while ago. Lemme know if you got it.
      21 hours ago · 
    • Denni 'Sue' Fike Conner Though I am allergic to them (the ONLY food I am allergic to and got it the last couple of years) is ... black walnuts :-)
      20 hours ago · 
    • Gina Spadafori Walnuts. Pecans are for pie.
      19 hours ago · 
    • June Augusta Gillam Either way sounds mouth watering!
      18 hours ago · 
    • Nancy Jane Dodge pecans unless you can find some butternuts down here...
      17 hours ago ·  ·  1 person
    • Hilary Abramson PECANS!
      15 hours ago · 
    • Conni Musser toast the pecans slightly before baking. Afterward slather with butter
      4 hours ago · 
    • Nancy Jane Dodge ummm...butter....
      2 hours ago · 
    • Cyane Williams PECANS make EVERYTHING better (but I like walnuts too!)
      49 minutes ago ·