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TIP OF THE DAY: Start A Soup Club

In 2011, four friendly neighbors who, among them, have four spouses, 10 kids and jobs, realized that they could benefit from each others’ home cooking.

They simply had to make and share a bigger batch of something.

They decided on tasty, nutritious, filling, relatively inexpensive, and easy to make and transport soup. And the first soup club was born.

In the manner of holiday cookie swaps but once a month, they cooked and shared soup.

The idea was a success, and three years later they produced The Soup Club Cookbook: Feed Your Friends, Feed Your Family, Feed Yourself.

Once a month, each soup club member takes a turns cooking a big pot of soup, making enough to feed all four families. He or she then drops off the soup, along with garnishes and an optional salad or side, at the homes or workplaces of the three other members.
 
A GREAT IDEA

Share once a month and get the large part of a meal once a week? Sounds good to us! Several of us at THE NIBBLE enjoy soup for lunch, and a small container of quality takeout soup can cost $7.

The Soup Club Cookbook includes 150 recipes for soups and sides, and storing tips for stretching those meals across the week. It’s also a guidebook for starting your own soup club: the logistics, the essential tools and stories to caution and inspire.

Whether for family dinner or workplace lunch, give it a try. You can start by getting the book, available in paperback or Kindle.

Cconsider it as a gift for someone you’d like in your club (or who could benefit by starting a club).
 
A SOUP CLUB IS FOR EVERYONE!

Co-workers, gym buddies, book club members, school friends, neighbors—everyone from students to seniors—can participate.

All you need are four people who want more home-cooked food, and who like the same types of ingredients (vegetarians vs. omnivores, for example).

The idea isn’t to eat together, although that could be a pleasant by-product sometimes.
 
NO BOOK?

If you prefer to wing it, start here:

  • Find three other co-workers, friends or neighbors who are like-minded.
  • Have a starter meeting and pick a day of the week when soup will be delivered (the “soup day”).
  • Decide on a soup philosophy. Do you want hearty soups that can be light meals? Low calorie? A different theme every month (vegetable, international, etc.)?
  • Establish preferences. Spicy? No garlic? No gluten?
  • Do you want to include some kind of salad as well?
  • Need a whole meal? Consider adding a casserole, wings, etc.
  •  

    Soup Club Cookbook

    Miso Soup

    Salad In Container

    [1] Start your own soup club (photo courtesy Clarkson Potter). [2] Miso vegetable soup, an interesting recipe from TheMuffinMyth.com. [3] Your club can choose to add a salad—green, bean, grain, pasta, etc.—or other side (photo courtesy EcoProductsStore.com).

  • Discuss the containers you’ll deliver the food in. If everyone has the same type, you don’t need to return the empties.
  • Be prepared to test and refine your process, so that it works for everyone.
  •  
    One day a week, when thinking about lunch or dinner, you’ll be able to say: Soup’s on!

      

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    BOOK: The Gefilte Manifesto, New Cooking For The New Year

    The Gefilte Manifesto

    Gefilte Fish Terrine

    [1] Modernize Jewish cooking with The Gefilte Manifesto. Cover photo: parchment-wrapped trout roasted with sliced onions. [2] The new gefilte fish: a two-fish terrine (photos courtesy Flatiron Books).

     

    Those who don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, can still participate in one of the sweetest treats: sliced apples with honey for dipping. It symbolizes a sweet start to the new wear.

    This year, Rosh Hashanah spans Sunday, October 2 through Tuesday, October 4*.

    If you’re guesting for Rosh Hashanah and need a host/hostess gift, we like the new cookbook from Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, owners of The Gefilteria, a culinary venture that reimagines Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.

    THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO: ADAPTING CENTURIES-OLD RECIPES FOR THE PRESENT

    THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods, combines respect for culinary tradition with modern culinary preferences.

    The authors—Brooklynites Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz—took more than 100 recipes “pulled deep from the kitchens of Eastern Europe and the diaspora of North America.”

    They re-thought the recipes, taking into consideration modern palates, seasonality and consumers’ desire for easy-to-follow recipes.

    The authors’ variations on time-honored favorites add modern spins to both everyday and holiday dishes. Consider:

  • Fried Sour Pickles With Garlic Aïoli
  • Kasha Varnishkes With Brussels Sprouts
  • Kimchi Stuffed Cabbage
  • Savory Blintzes
  • Smoked Whitefish Gefilte Terrine
  • Sour Dill Martinis
  • Spinach & Leek Kreplach
  •  
    You’ll see how easy it is to make home-cured corned beef and pastrami, farmer cheese and honey-sesame chews—just like Great-Great-Great Grandmother did, but with modern conveniences like electricity, food processors and refrigerators.

     
    Get your copy here.

    Plan B: Bring a really fine honey like Savannah Bee, and a bowl of apples.
    ________________
    *In the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, the dates of Jewish holidays vary yearly. They are based on the Hebrew calendar, which is not in sync with the Gregorian-Wester-Christian calendar.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Ice Cream & Berries Shortcake

    Ice Cream Shortcake is an easy dessert, simply combining berry ice cream, fresh berries on refrigerator biscuits. It’s easier to put together than an ice cream cake, and even easier than conventional shortcake since you don’t have to whip the cream.

    We adapted this recipe from the Chefs Collaborative Cookbook.

  • If you prefer, you can use only one biscuit half per person; or spread the usually plain top biscuit half with jam.
  • Use whichever berries you prefer, or a mixture of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or strawberries.
  •  
    Because today is National Raspberries & Cream Day, we’re making our shortcake with raspberries.
     
    RECIPE: EASY BERRY SHORTCAKE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • Refrigerator buttermilk biscuits
  • Ice cream of choice (suggested: strawberry, other berry or vanilla)
  • Fresh berries
  • Optional: berry jam or preserves
  • Optional garnish: mint sprig, rosemary sprig, or other decorative herb you have on hand
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BAKE the biscuits and let cool.

    2. SPLIT the biscuits and spread the bottom half with the optional jam. If using the top biscuit half, spread with jam as desired.

    3. TOP with a scoop of ice cream and sprinkle with berries. Place the top biscuit half on the plate (jam side up if using, otherwise top side up) and serve.

    CHEFS COLLABORATIVE COOKBOOK

     

    rhubarb-ice-cream-shortcake-TheChefsCollaborativeCookbook-230

    The-Chefs-Collaborative-Cookbook-230

    How easy is this? Refrigerator biscuits + ice cream + berries = an impressive dessert. Photos courtesy The Chef’s Collaborative.

     
    More than 20 years ago, some of the most revered chefs in the world—including John Ash, Rick Bayless, Susan Feniger, Nobu Matsuhita, Nora Pouillon, Michael Romano and Alice Waters—looked at the way Americans were eating and decided that they had to help change it.

  • They had watched while processed foods replaced fresh food in our supermarkets.
  • They saw family farms disappear and huge agribusiness corporations take over.
  • They worried about obesity in children and adults, and the associated illnesses.
  • And they realized that Americans were losing the joy of cooking and eating fresh food.
  •  
    In 1993, these visionary chefs founded Chefs Collaborative and vowed to use their influence to educate us, the public, about a better way to nourish ourselves that is also better for the planet.

    Their stated goal: Support small farms, healthy food and sustainable agriculture for everyone. They’ve been a significant force in the food revolution that’s improved the way Americans eat.

    Chefs Collaborative members contributed more than 115 recipes to creating a cookbook: recipes that can be made by the home cook.

    Each section (fruits, meats, vegetables, etc.) also provides information about the principles of sustainability around the ingredient, with information provided farmers, artisan producers, breeders, environmentalists, and activists.

    Get your copy of The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook: Local, Sustainable, Delicious Recipes from America’s Great Chefs.

    It’s also a great gift for anyone interested in these issues.

      

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    GIFTS: Food Books

    For hard-to-buy-for people, a book in an area of their interest is something we fall back upon. Sometimes it’s a combination gift: a book about Champagne, for example, along with a bottle of it, a book on Cognac with a set of snifters, and so on.

    Here we highlight books that would be welcome to people with specific food passions.

    CHEESE

    A Year In Cheese, A Seasonal Cheese Cookbook applies the seasonal eating approach to cheese. It was written by Alex and Léo Guarneri, the team behind the renowned Parisian artisan cheese shop and cheese restaurant, Androuet (established in Paris in 1909 and now in the Old Spitalfields Market in London).

    What’s seasonal depends on the grazing cycle of the animal and what they graze on at which time of year. The recipes from chef Alessandro Grano are tantalizing.

     
    CHOCOLATE

    Tracy Zabar celebrates the chocolate chip cookie in Chocolate Chip Sweets: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes. Chefs such as Dominique Ansel, Lidia Bastianich, Florian Bellanger, Daniel Boulud, Maida Heatter, Thomas Keller, Pichet Ong, Jacques Torres, Sherry Yard and other top chefs share their favorite recipes. Brownies, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream sandwiches, marshmallows, pies, puddings, waffles and more get the chocolate chip treatment.

    Who could resist this book?

    For people who appreciate fine chocolate, cookbooks from chocolatiers are always very interesting. No one knows chocolate more intimately, or can envision new ways to use it. This year’s chocolatier-authored cookbook is Theo Chocolate Recipes and Sweet Secrets From Seattle’s Favorite Chocolate Maker.

    The authors, Debra Music and Joe Whinney, principals of Theo, worked with leading chefs to develop the more than 75 recipes in this book. They encompass chocolate for breakfast, cookies, cakes, confections, drinking chocolate, frozen desserts and dessert sauces, savory dishes, pies, puddings and tarts. Where to begin? We started with the Chocolate Bread Pudding.

     
    SPECIAL INGREDIENTS

    The next book is for cooks who seek out different ingredients. For anyone who’s bought a bottle of fish sauce for a particular Asian recipe, the challenge is what else to do with it. Open condiments decline over time, so you don’t want to tuck it out of sight. There are also plenty of home cooks who have decided not to buy a bottle for the same reasons.

       

    A Year In Cheese Book

    Chocolate Chip Sweets Book

    Fish Sauce Cookbook

     
    In The Fish Sauce Cookbook, 50 Umami-Packed Recipes From Around The Globe, Veronica Meewes has consulted with prominent chefs on using fish sauce as a key seasoning with popular American ingredients. This is the first cookbook to focus on fish sauce, and you can package it with a other fish sauces: naam plaa from Thailand, nuoc mam from Vietnam and numerous others.

    Among those others is colatura di alici, a modern representation of garum, the fish sauce favored by the ancient Romans. Worcestershire sauce is is made with anchovy, a recipe brought back to England by a ship’s captain Captain and first sold commercially in 1837.

    GENERAL COOKING

    For the aspirational home cook, Mastering Sauces: The Home Cook’s Guide to New Techniques for Fresh Flavors will be a welcome addition to the cookbook shelf.

    Taking a different approach from classic French and other sauce cookbooks, Susan Volland demonstrates how great cooks all over the world make sauces with impromptu drizzling and splashing. She provides the fundamental principles of great sauces: maximize flavor, manipulate texture and season confidently. Thus armed, you can add your own flair to any sauce.

    There are more than 150 recipes that focus on seasonal produce, international ingredients and alternative dietary choices. She goes over the how’s and why’s of making great sauces. And at the end of it all, she provides a list of remedies for those attempts that don’t come out to your expectations.

    Then there’s The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. Kenji Lopez-Alt focuses on the science behind popular American dishes, providing easy-to-understand explanations of the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. He shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using simple new techniques.

    But it’s also a cookbook, with hundreds of easy-to-make recipes and 1,000 full-color images. you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.

     

    Mastering Sauces Cookbook

    The United States Of Pizza

    Complete Guide To Sushi & Sashimi

       
    FRIES

    For people who love really good French Fries, Anne de la Forest’s handsome if slender volume, Frites, spans traditional, trendy, creative and yes, sweet fries recipes. The more than 30 recipes are half potato recipes, and half “other.” The other includes fries made from asparagus, beet, black radish, butternut squash, carrot, celeriac, Comté cheese, eggplant, feta, kohlrabi, panisse (chickpea paste), parsnip, polenta, pumpkin, salsify, sweet potato, turnip, and zucchini.

    The sweet fries include apple, banana, pain perdu (French toast), pear and sweet potato. Savory or sweet, there are recommendations for dipping sauces and recipes for them, too. For those with reaching palates, this book is an inspiration.
     
    PIZZA

    Award-winning Executive Chef & Pizza Connoisseur, Craig Priebe, brings us The United States of Pizza: America’s Favorite Pizzas, from Thin Crust to Deep Dish, Sourdough to Gluten-Free. Chef Craig Priebe has scoured the country to present recipes forthe tastiest pies, from classics to semi-modern (smoked ham and cheddar) to of-the-moment (roasted cauliflower and salsa verde).

    With beautiful photography, it gives the pizza lover a perspective on what’s happening nationwide, and the recipes to make those pies!

    For people who love pizza and have a barbecue grill, there’s Grilled Pizza The Right Way: The Best Technique for Cooking Incredible Tasting Pizza & Flatbread on Your Barbecue Perfectly Chewy & Crispy Every Time. It was written by John Delpha, a 10-time award winner of the Jack Daniel’s BBQ Championship Grilling and BBQing Awards. He’s been grilling pizzas for 20 years.

    Although a paperback, all the recipient will notice are the beautiful photos of grilled pizza. Each recipe includes the technique required to master it. Every type of pizza is represented: brunch, classic, cross-border, dessert, fish and seafood, flatbreads, meat, veggie and “the masqueraders,” favorite sandwiches converted to pizza.

    We want to eat every one of them.
     
    SUSHI & SASHIMI

    We’ve eaten sushi and sashimi all of our life, at least twice a week. We’ve taken classes, hoping to make our own at home. If only we’d had The Complete Guide To Sushi & Sashimi, a compendium with step-by-step color photographs. It imparts hundreds of tips and techniques, that, in all of our sushi years, is still new information (and now we can finally cut squid properly!!).

     
    This user-friendly book, for both novice and experienced sushi makers, has concealed wiro-bound hardcover binding, 500 photos and a whopping 625 recipes, this book is sure now our go-to guide.

     
    BUT THAT’S NOT THE END

    There are more, of course. So many food books, so little time to try recipes from each!

    We just may get around to writing Food Books, Part 2.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Pizza The Right Way

    When you fire up the grill, make a pizza! Grilled pizza is celestial, with a crispy, chewy and slightly charred crust and the light, smoky flavor picked up by the cheese and toppings.

    Grilling caramelizes the crust the way a wood burning pizza oven does. But you don’t need the wood-burning oven—just the backyard grill you already have.
     
    IT’S EASY TO GET THE RIGHT RESULTS

    Some people have tried grilling pizza at home without success. The new cookbook Grilled Pizza The Right Way provides the fail-safe technique to do it perfectly.

    Award-winning chef and barbecue pitmaster, John Delpha, has been grilling pizza for 20 years. He honed his skills at the famed Al Forno pizzeria in Providence, Rhode Island that is credited with popularizing* grilled pizza.

    Loaded with photos, this book of more than 85 grilled pizza recipes gets you started with the right techniques. Hot off the presses, it’s a must-have for home grillers, and a great gift to bring whenever you’re invited over by a griller.

       

    grilled-pizza-the-right-way-230

    The book that will change your summer grilling. Photo courtesy Page Street Publishing.

     

    Once you know Chef Delpha’s technique, the grilling combinations are endless, including sweet dessert pizzas (oh, the Bananas Foster pizza!).

    The instructions are easy to follow; you can make the dough and toppings ahead of time for a quick weeknight pizza, or use store-bought dough for even quicker eating.
     
    CONVENTIONAL & CREATIVE TOPPINGS

    Channel your inner pizza chef with varieties galore, from pizza parlor standards to gourmet toppings (goat cheese, lamb and many others) to porting over concepts from other favorite foods—Reuben and cheeseburger pizzas for example.

    This weekend we’re making our own combo of ingredients we had in-house—asparagus, bacon, caramelized onions and corn—plus the book’s recipe for pickled jalapeño crema.

    We’re are also experimenting with toppings of pâté, cornichons and Dijon crema thanks to a gift of luscious pâtés we received from the pâté pros at Le Trois Petits Cochons.

     

    grilled_pizza_jimlahey-details.com-230

    Beyond pepperoni, here’s a creative grilled pizza and the recipe. Photo courtesy Details.com.

     

    GET YOUR COPY

    Hungry yet? Click over to Amazon.com to get your copy of “Grilled Pizza the Right Way,” plus more for gifting.

    Then plan to throw grilled pizza parties all summer. Guests will clamor for the next flavor to come off the grill.

    Can’t wait for the book to arrive? Start this weekend with a recipe and tips from Jim Lahey of New York City’s Co Pane restaurant and pizzeria.

    His grilled beauty in the photo at left uses béchamel sauce, grated Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, fresh basil and red-pepper flakes, topped with cherry tomatoes and raw corn.

    Find the full recipe at Details.com.

     
    *A QUICK HISTORY OF PIZZA: Al Forno didn’t invent the grilled pizza, as often attributed, but reinvented it. The precursor of pizza predates written history, but flatbread topped with cheese and cooked in the fire could date as far back as 5500 B.C.E.

    Melted cheese on bread was common fare for millennia around the Mediterranean, but the tomato didn’t arrive from the New World until the 16th century. The fruit was the size of modern cherry tomatoes and thought to be poisonous; the plant was used as house decor!

    During a famine the 18th century, the starving poor of Naples were reduced to eating anything. They tried the tomatoes, found they were not poisonous but delicious, and began to add it to their cheese and flatbread (often with anchovies!). Thus, modern pizza was born. Here’s the history of pizza plus 12 gourmet pizza recipes.

      

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