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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Books

HOLIDAY: National Deviled Egg Day

Curried deviled eggs. Here’s the recipe. Photo
courtesy McCormick.com.

 

It’s National Deviled Egg Day.

Even people who rarely, if ever, eat a hard-cooked egg can’t help plucking a stuffed egg off the tray.

You can celebrate plan or fancy. For the plainest, mash the yolk from a hard-cooked egg with some mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and salt, and garnish with sprinkle with paprika. Our Mom liked to mix in pickle relish (although this recipe is actually a stuffed egg—see the difference below).

For fancy, take a look at these recipes:

  • Crabmeat, Sturgeon & Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs With Caviar Caps
  • Deviled eggs With Bacon & Cheddar

  • Deviled Eggs With Smoked Okra
  • Gourmet Deviled Eggs
  • Mix & Match Deviled Egg Stuffings
  •  
    Plus:

  • How To Make Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs
  •  
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEVILED EGGS & STUFFED EGGS

    Stuffed eggs were a popular dish as far back as the Roman Empire. There are many different recipes for stuffed eggs through the centuries, but the term “deviled eggs” originated in 18th-century England.

    “Deviled” refers to the use of hot spices or condiments in a recipe—paprika, mustard, hot sauce, horseradish, chiles, etc.

    So all deviled eggs are stuffed eggs, but only stuffed eggs with hot spice are deviled eggs.

     

    BOOK: D’LISH DEVILED EGGS

    For 50 new and creative deviled egg recipes, take a look at D’Lish Deviled Eggs: A Collection of Recipes from Creative to Classic. Here’s a recipe from the book, which fuses ingredients from the California Roll:

    RECIPE: CALIFORNIA ROLL DEVILED EGGS

  • 1 dozen hard-cooked eggs
  •  
    Filling

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi paste (or 1 tablespoon wasabi powder mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Garnish

  • 2 ounces crabmeat (1/3 to 1/2 cup)
  • 24 small cucumber fans
  •  

    How about 50 new deviled egg recipes? Photo courtesy Andrews McNeel Publishing.

  • Sesame seed-seaweed sprinkle (nori komi furikake*)
  • 2 tablespoons fish roe (tobiko)
  •  
    *This mixture of crumbled nori sheets and toasted sesame seeds has many other uses. It is delicious on rice and potatoes, with eggs, even in plain Greek yogurt.

     
    Preparation

    1. HALVE the eggs lengthwise and transfer the yolks to a small bowl. Set the egg white halves on a platter, cover and refrigerate.

    2. MASH the avocado well in a mixing bowl with a fork. Add the yolks and mash to a smooth consistency. Add the mayonnaise, wasabi paste and salt and mix until smooth. Taste and season accordingly.

    3. SPOON mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain or large star tip, then pipe the mixture evenly into the egg white halves. Or fill the eggs with a spoon, dividing evenly.

    4. TOP each egg half with a little crabmeat, a cucumber fan, a sprinkle of furikake and about 1/4 teaspoon of fish roe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Become A Master Soda Maker

    Here’s a fun Father’s Day gift that will open your eyes to how great it is to make soda at home—and how much more popular you’ll be once you start doing it!

    Anton Nocito, proprietor of P&H Soda Co. in Brooklyn, New York, has assembled his techniques and ideas into a new book, Make your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, Floats, Cocktails, and More.

    All you need is a bottle of seltzer or a Sodastream and you’re on your way to becoming a great soda maker—and to enjoying real soda, without ubiquitous artificial colors, flavors and questionable sweeteners. You’ll:

  • Whip up your own syrups with fresh fruits and spices
  • Serve up egg creams and egg shakes
  • Make truly superior ice cream sodas
  • Deliver gourmet hot drinks
  •  

    Cherry Lime Rickey. Photo courtesy Make Your Own Soda | Clarkson Potter.

     

    Grapefruit soda with homemade grapefruit
    syrup. Photo courtesy Make Your Own Soda |
    Clarkson Potter.

     

    Then, relax with your creations. Natural sodas are vibrantly flavored: the zing of just-squeezed citrus juice, the intensity of ripe berries, the subtle perfume of fresh herbs.

    And the ability to customize a drink that’s as sweet (or not) as you like, with conventional or low glycemic sweeteners (we successfully substituted agave nectar for the sugar).

    Handmade syrups make all the difference in recipes for all-natural soda pop, floats, cocktails, punches and more: The book has a total of 70 recipes, simple and fun. Beautiful photographs make you want to make every one. This is cookbook that any soda lover will love.

    Anthony Nocito is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and was an executive sous chef in the Union Square Hospitality Group. Artisanal soft drinks are obviously one of his passions. They may become one of yours, too.

     

    CHERRY LIME RICKEY RECIPE

    To show you how easy it is, here’s a sample recipe from the book. If you remember Brigham’s and Bailey’s casual restaurants in the Boston area, you remember the Raspberry Lime Rickey, as seductive a soft drink as ever graced a soda fountain—brightly colored, sweet and tart, a favorite of kids adults alike. Nocito’s version is a cherry lime rickey—very satisfactory. But you can always make a batch of raspberry syrup and relive the memories.

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 tablespoons lime syrup (recipe belowk)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Dash of citric acid solution
  • Seltzer
  • 2 tablespoons sour cherry syrup (recipe below)
  • Wedge of lime, for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a tall glass with ice. Add the lime syrup, lime juice, and citric acid solution.

    2. ADD the seltzer, float the cherry syrup on top and garnish with the lime wedge.

    LIME SYRUP RECIPE

  • 1¼ cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 4 limes
  •  
    1. BOIL water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the zest and remove the pan from the heat. Steep for at least 1 hour. Let cool.

    2. STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.

    CHERRY SYRUP RECIPE

  • 2 quarts fresh sour cherries, pitted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  •  
    1. COMBINE cherries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

    2. STRAIN the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the fruit solids.

    3. STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

      

    Comments

    BOOK: Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes

    If you’re looking for something special for summer hosts, how about hundreds of ideas for ice cream sandwiches?

    Not only are ice cream sandwiches a cool summer dessert, but these dazzling recipes will get even hesitant bakers into the mood—and may inspire you to host a few ice cream sandwich summer socials.

    For sure, Cookies & Cream: Hundreds Of Ways To Make The Perfect Ice Cream Sandwich, by Tessa Arias, has inspired us.

    There are 50 recipes for both sweet and savory sandwiches, using simple ingredients to deliver very creative flavor combinations. The recipes include both the ice cream and the cookie or other sandwich base.

    Instructions are simple to follow and thorough: You can give this book to a young teenager (and we’d encourage that, because one cookbook leads to another, and self-sufficiency in the kitchen).

     

    Spend the summer making dazzling ice cream sandwiches. Photo courtesy Running Press.

     

    You can switch the flavors around to make hundreds of different combinations.

    The recipes are divided by category:

  • Classic, such as Rocky Road and Snickerdoodle
  • Chocolate, including Grasshopper and Peanut Butter Cup
  • Real Dessert, from Cannoli to Carrot Cake
  • Fruity, such as Lemon-Blueberry and Strawberry Balsamic
  • Sinful, including Dulce de Leche and Red Velvet
  • Boozy, such as Margarita and Tiramisu
  • Holiday, like Candy Cane and Gingerbread
  •  
    We want to make every recipe in the book!

    The hardcover book is just $12.72 on Amazon.com. How much better can it get? Order your copies!

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Matzaroni & Cheese, A Passover-Friendly Mac & Cheese Recipe

    The Passover mac and cheese alternative.
    Photo courtesy Passover Made Easy.

      A couple of weeks ago we published a modern Passover recipe, Eggplant Wrapped Chicken, from the new cookbook, Passover Made Easy.

    Passover begins at sunset on Monday, March 25th and continues for seven days. Here’s a kid-friendly recipe that puts a new spin on mac and cheese.

    RECIPE: MATZARONI & CHEESE

    Wheat products can’t be consumed for passover—no bagels, no pizza, no pasta. But for kids whose favorite meal is mac and cheese, the authors have created an substitute. “This is an easy dinner that will get all the troops running to the table when the hot, cheesy, and bubbling dish emerges from the oven.” they say. The recipe makes 6-8 servings.

    Ingredients

  • 5 matzahs, broken into small pieces
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 container (16 ounces) cottage cheese
  • 3 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella or muenster cheese, divided
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. In an 8 x 8-inch baking dish, arrange 1/3 of the broken matzah pieces.

    2. BEAT eggs in a medium bowl. Add sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, salt, and 1 cup shredded cheese. Pour 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the matzah. Repeat with two additional layers of matzah and cheese.

    3. TOP with remaining 1 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 40 minutes. The cheese on top should be brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Start New Traditions With These Recipes

    Passover begins at sunset on Monday, March 25th and continues for seven days. Observant Jews celebrate the first two nights with seders, featuring recipes that have been in their families for generations.

    But how about some 21st-century Passover recipes—if not for a seder, then for the other five days? There are more than 60 modern, creative Passover recipes in a new cookbook, Passover Made Easy. Some of the recipes that are calling out to us:

  • Brisket Eggrolls
  • Citrus Beet Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Eggplant-Wrapped Chicken
  • Espresso Macarons with Chocolate-Hazelnut Cream
  • French Roast with Fresh Spice Rub
  • Frozen Lemon Wafer Cake
  • Jalapeño Lime and Ginger Salmon
  • Pecan Pie with Cookie Crust
  • Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup
  • Schnitzel Nuggets with Apricot Dipping Sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash Kugel
  • Tortillas with Tomato-Mint Salsa and Guacamole
  • Vegetable Lo Mein
  •  

    There’s plenty of time to pick up a copy and plan for Passover. Photo courtesy Passover Made Easy.

     

    The easy to prepare, sure to please original recipes were developed and tested by best-selling cookbook author Leah Schapira (Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking) and co-founder of CookKosher.com, an online kosher recipe exchange; with Victoria Dwek, managing editor of Whisk, a kosher food magazine.

    Pick up a copy for yourself or as a gift: it’s just $10.87 on Amazon.com. There are fascinating culinary tidbits, useful preparation tips, full-color photos for each dish, step-by-step plating and food styling secrets, and a wine pairings and Seder wine guide.

    As a bonus, all but four of the 60 recipes in the book are gluten-free. And of course, the recipes can be enjoyed all year long. Here’s one recipes from Passover Made Easy to start you off; next week, we’ll publish Matzaroni, the mac-and-cheese alternative:

     

    Eggplant-wrapped chicken, one of the
    modern recipe alternatives. Photo courtesy
    Passover Made Easy.

     

    RECIPE: EGGPLANT WRAPPED CHICKEN

    Ingredients

    Eggplant

  • 1 tall eggplant
  • ½ cup oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch coarse black pepper
  •  
    Meat Mixture

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ pound ground meat of choice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  •  
    Chiken

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch course black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to broil. Grease a baking sheet. Cut eggplant lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick, to get 6 or 7 slices. Reserve remaining eggplant scraps. Place eggplant slices on prepared baking sheet. Brush slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil 5 minutes per side, until second side is beginning to brown. The slices should appear as if they were fried. Remove and set aside.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Peel and finely dice remaining eggplant to obtain ½ cup diced eggplant. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and diced eggplant and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

    3. COMBINE onion mixture with ground meat in a small bowl. Season with salt and garlic powder.

    4. SEASON chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon of the meat mixture into each thigh and roll up to close. Roll an eggplant slice around each stuffed chicken thigh. Place, seam side down and close together, in a baking pan. Cover and bake for 2½ hours.

    Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite Passover-approved grain,* and your favorite green vegetable, steamed or sauteed lightly with garlic.

    *Grains forbidden during passover include barley and all types of wheat. Grains such as quinoa and rice were not known during biblical times so are not forbidden. Extremely religious people will avoid any grain.

      

    Comments

    BOOK: Marmalade, by Elizabeth Field

    Marmalade could become your new signature dish. Photo courtesy Running Press.

     

    When Elizabeth Field was growing up, she didn’t like the bitter orange marmalade that her parents loved to slather on toast. But as an adult, she was introduced to homemade marmalade and became a convert.

    Her new book, Marmalade, Sweet & Savory Spreads For A Sophisticated Taste, may inspire you to begin your own marmalade journey.

    Charmingly designed and photographed, it inspires a get-together: Make a day of marmalade-making with a friend. It’s quality time together that yields jars and jars of provisions and gifts. Friends and colleagues will clamor for it.

    If they tax your generosity, you can simply buy them a copy of the book:

     

    Give a man a jar and he has marmalade for a week. Teach a man to make marmalade and you give him marmalade for a lifetime. And hopefully, there will be gift jars in it for you.

    Get your copy here.

    Don’t worry that fresh fruit season is waning. There are 11 citrus marmalade recipes as well as fall-winter flavors such as Double Ginger Pear and Quince Raspberry Marmalades.

    And you must make lots and lots of the savory Red Onion Marmalade. It goes with sandwiches, burgers and just about every type of grilled or roasted fish, meat and poultry. There isn’t enough onion marmalade in America. It will be an unforgettable holiday gift.

    The author also provides recipes for buttermilk biscuits, brown soda bread and popovers to enjoy with your marmalade; and shows you had to use the spread in main dishes such as Marmalade Roast Duck and Glazed Country Ham.

    THE HISTORY OF MARMALADE

    Marmalade originated some 2,000 years ago as a solid cooked quince and honey paste, the precursor of Spain’s famed membrillo, served with Manchego cheese as a popular dessert. It was on the tables of ancient Greeks and Romans.

    Some time around the 10th century, the Portuguese replaced the honey with sugar. They called it marmelada after the word for quince, marmelo.

    Marmelada was a luxury product and a popular gift among noble families. Sugar, produced in the subtropics, was a very expensive import until the 1800s. For example, it wasn’t until 1874 that the British government abolished the sugar tax and made “white gold” affordable to the average citizen.

    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MARMALADE, JAM & PRESERVES?

    They’re related, but different, styles of spreads. Check out our Jam Glossary which explains the differences among these terms and others (chutney, confiture, conserve, curd, fruit butter, gelée, fruit curd and fruit spread).

    Find our favorite brands of store-bought spreads.

      

    Comments

    BOOK REVIEW: Life, On The Line

    Life, On The Line, has a double meaning. Photo courtesy Gotham Books.

     

    Uber-foodies know the name Grant Achatz (pronounced AK-its), the wunderkind chef whose brilliant career, laden with the top honors and awards,* almost came to a tragic end.

    In 2007, the year after his Chicago restaurant, Alinea, was named the best in the country by Gourmet magazine, Achatz was diagnosed with Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma cancer of the tongue (there is no Stage V). The protocol to save his life was to remove his tongue and part of his jaw, which would have ended his ability to taste and to speak. He was 33 years old, one of the world’s great young chefs.

    Fortunately for Achatz and his many friends and fans, his business partner, Nick Kokonas, found a clinical trial at the University of Chicago, which used chemotherapy and radiation instead of surgery. Treatment was gruesome but successful; the chef’s sense of taste, obliterated by the treatment, ultimately returned. The food-loving universe sends a million thanks to Kokonas and the doctors involved.

    In October 2008, Achatz and Kokonas published Alinea, a hardcover coffee table book featuring more than 100 of the restaurant’s recipes (exquisite, but not for the beginner!).

     

    In March 2011, the team’s second book, Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, was published. It is now available in paperback and Kindle editions.

    Life, On The Line

    We received a review copy earlier this year, but it got fused into a pile of books waiting to be read (the pile is 44 inches high). Finally, with a rare day of free time (Independence Day, like most national holidays, is one of our book catch up days), we cracked it. We started reading in the morning, headed to a friend’s house, plopped onto a chaise longue and breezed through all 390 pages before we went to sleep—taking an hour or so to watch the fireworks and interact with other house guests.

    Beautifully written (the voices of Achatz and Kokonas are virtually identical, leading us to guess that a professional writer iced the cake, as it were), we eagerly devoured chapter after chapter.

    *Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs,” 2002; James Beard Foundation”s “Rising Star Chef Of The Year,” 2003; Gourmet magazine’s “Best Restaurant in America,” 2006; James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Chef,” 2007; Restaurant magazine’s “#1 Restaurant in North America” and “#7 Restaurant In The Word,” 2010.

     

    Life, On The Line has a double meaning, detailing Achatz’s life as a chef on the kitchen line and his almost miraculous survival, when the cancer put his life on the line. Like many top chefs, he has a passion, energy and work ethic that seem almost unbelievable. There are many people who work ridiculously long hours, but few of those jobs require the combination of constant creativity, staff supervision and training, and pressure to produce perfection for five or six hours at the end of a long day—not to mention standing on your feet in a hot kitchen.

    Young Grant, who grew up in the small town of St. Clair, Michigan, began his culinary career peeling vegetables and cracking eggs in his grandmother’s café—a family affair that included his mother and aunts. He notes, “I never got an Easy Bake oven or a play kitchen. I played every day at the Achatz Café….”

    His parents then started their own successful restaurant, and by high school he had assumed weekly shifts at Achatz Depot—alongside his parents, uncles and cousins.

     

    Grant Achatz receiving a 2009 James Beard Award, one of several different Beard Awards, for his Alinea cookbook. Photo courtesy James Beard Foundation.

     

    From Student To Star

    After high school, Achatz headed to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. He began a restaurant externship at Grand Rapids’ finest restaurant, starting at the lowest level: peeling vegetables and prepping ingredients for the meals, making soups and salad dressings. In a mere month, he was moved to the roast/grill station on the hot line—a fast-track promotion for the 19-year-old culinary student.

    To fast-forward: Achatz then began as a commis, or prep cook (from the French word for assistant), at the celebrated French Laundry in Napa Valley. (Do you know the different positions in a professional kitchen?
    Here they are, from top (chef de cuisine or executive chef) to bottom (kitchen assistant).

    French Laundry was then regarded as the best restaurant in America (and remains a contender for top honors, depending on who’s creating the list). Achatz rose to sous-chef under mentor Thomas Keller before taking over the kitchen at Trio, outside of Chicago. One of his best customers was Nick Kokonas, who three years later bankrolled his next move: chef/co-owner of Alinea. Far more than serving as financier, Kokonas became the all-around business partner most entrepreneurs can only hope for.

    The heart and soul of the book is Achatz’s journey from culinary school to top of the world at a very young age. No prima donna, he is Everychef. His path was similar to that of many gifted chefs, most of whom work fourteen hour, backbreaking days to create beautiful cuisine. Not every chef wins the accolades Achatz has and/or ends up owning a renowned restaurant, but most of them merit an A for effort. If you enjoy a great restaurant meal, Life, On The Line will give you a far greater appreciation of it.

    Once Achatz and Kokonas begin to discuss a partnership, Achatz’s chapters alternate with those penned by Kokonas, who provides a perspective on restaurant development and management (not easy—another reason to more deeply appreciate that delicious meal).

    The book comprises behind-the-scenes insights—general management and front of the house views from Kokonas, back of the house perspectives from Achatz. It’s a serious book, with one amusing section early on (amusing to us, frustrating to Chef Achatz):

    The young culinary school graduate decides to leave his unhappy job at Charlie Trotter’s after eight weeks (read the Chapter 5 and you’ll see that writing well is the best revenge). Using his savings (“There aren’t a whole lot of ways to spend money in St. Clair or Grand Rapids….”), he embarks on what he believes will be an inspirational three-star restaurant tour of Europe, booking dinners at Les Crayères (average meal, condescending service), Georges Blanc (grey, overcooked squab and indifferent/insulting response from the chef and maitre ‘d) and Enoteca Pincchiori in Florence (good but not celestial). His best meal was at an unnamed family restaurant with superb home cooking, that happened to be on a bike route he took.

    He returned to the U.S. and found his inspiration in California, with Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. To get the tryout, he wrote a letter a day for fourteen days, telling Chef Keller why he wanted the job. The rest is culinary history.

    If you’ve never had Achatz’s food, by the middle of the book you’ll feel as if you had. It’s a delicious gastronomic experience.

    Alinea: A New Train Of Thought

    Alinea is an editor’s mark denoting the beginning of a new train of thought, exemplified by a new paragraph. It is more commonly known as the paragraph mark, less commonly as the pilcrow. The literal translation from Latin, a linea, means “off the line.”

    There’s a double meaning: Alinea represents a new train of thought about food, and as a restaurant, the food comes “off the line.” The line is the section of the kitchen where the food is cooked.

    You have to know, or know of, Achatz’s food to be in love with this book. Then, you can see, smell and taste every dish he describes.

    We were fortunate enough to dine twice at Trio during his tenure, and then at Alinea. We love the total experience he creates: innovative, intellectual, breathtaking and exquisitely delicious food, presented in new ways, down to the custom-made serving pieces designed to showcase a particular dish. Why serve a slice of seared foie gras with rhubarb purée, when you can purée the foie gras, mold it into a thin, hollow cylinder and fill it with rhubarb foam?

    The presentation comprises small tastes of many different courses (maybe 18, maybe 40), that push the envelope and create a memorable evening.

    Molecular Gastronomy

    We are cautioned by Kokonas not to refer to the cuisine as molecular gastronomy, which is perceived of by some of its finest practitioners as having overtones of gimickry and mad-scientist cooking. The U.K.’s Heston Blumenthal dislikes the term, believing it makes the cuisine sound “complicated” (it is!) and “elitist” (it is!).

    Ferran Adrià, the Catalan chef, has referred to his cooking as deconstructivist (not exactly tasty-sounding!). Deconstruction is a method in which the elements of a classic dish appear in a different shape or form.† Hervé This, the “father of molecular gastronomy,” reintroduced the concept in 2004 as “culinary constructivism.”

    According to Blumenthal, whose restaurant, The Fat Duck, has been named the best restaurant in the world more than once (for the past three years, the honor has gone to Noma in Copenhagen, helmed by chef/co-owner, René Redzepi, an El Bulli alumnus):

    “The fashionable term ‘molecular gastronomy’ was introduced relatively recently, in 1992, to name a particular academic workshop for scientists and chefs on the basic food chemistry of traditional dishes. That workshop did not influence our approach, and the term ‘molecular gastronomy’ does not describe our cooking, or indeed any style of cooking….

    “We may use modern thickeners, sugar substitutes, enzymes, liquid nitrogen, sous-vide, dehydration, and other nontraditional means, but these do not define our cooking. They are a few of the many tools that we are fortunate to have available as we strive to make delicious and stimulating dishes” (see the entire statement).

    Some chefs prefer the term “culinary physics” and “experimental cuisine.” Anything is fine with us: Just tell us what it is!

    Otherwise, we nominate “innovation cuisine,” given that this decade’s innovation can become the next decade’s mainstream. To decide for yourself, check out some of the techniques here. There are emulification, fragrant foams, vapors, gelification, spherification, reverse spherification, other reshaped liquids, fatty liquids transformed into powders and other concepts from food science.

    Here’s a history of molecular gastronomy. You can also pick up a copy of Hervé This’s book, Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor.

    As Kokonas wrote in an online article: “A trip to El Bulli restaurant in Roses, Spain under the direction of chef Ferran Adrià let Grant know that you could take classical technique, apply equal measures of whimsy, intelligence, creativity and technology, and transform the dining experience.”

    Some of Achatz’s dishes (from Trio and Alinea):

  • Essence of Pizza, ultra-thin potato starch paper imbued with flavors of garlic powder, tomato powder, paprika and fennel pollen, along with congealed mozzarella fat, the size of a stamp.
  • Cumin Candied Corn, a losenge of savory corn panna cotta wrapped in cumin-flavored sugar film.
  • Wild Turbot With Hyacinth Vapor, the fish in a small bowl set in a larger one filled with fresh hyacinth flowers, over which boiling water is poured to create an aromatic environment (other dishes had environments created from burning cinnamon sticks or oak leaves).
  • Stock set up to resemble a sponge, imbued with flavors of the sea.
  • A micro-sandwich of passionfruit sponge between layers of dehydrated prosciutto.
  • If you’re inspired by this menu, book a trip to Alinea. It’s not an easy reservation to get, but the book tells us that January is the slow month.

    January is not Chicago’s kindest month, but the experience will be worth it. Try to rea the book first.

    †In a simple example, think of Eggplant Parmesan, deconstructed. Instead of the fried eggplant slices baked with mozzarella and tomato sauce, the eggplant is sautéed in olive oil and topped with ricotta and sauce. Instead of breaded slices, bread crumbs are used as a garnish.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY & BOOK: The Art Of Beef Cutting

    If you love beef, you can save money (and
    perhaps discover a new hobby) by butchering primal cuts. Photo courtesy Wiley.

     

    Our tip of the day is to beef lovers: savor the rib-eye cap (more about that below). You’ll learn about it in this new book on butchering beef at home. Of all members of THE NIBBLE team, we weren’t surprised when chef Johnny Gnall raised his hand at the opportunity to interview expert butcher Kari Underly and read her new book. Here is his review, along with his thumbs up for giving the book as a Father’s Day gift to a beef-besotted dad. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    Kari Underly has been cutting meat for over 30 years. Even with a grandmother, a grandfather, and a father who all worked as butchers, this is a significant accomplishment in a mostly male-dominated field.

    But Underly is the proof in the proverbial pudding (blood pudding, perhaps?) that there is no room for sexism around the butcher block. She completed a three-year apprenticeship at age 21 to become a journeyman meat cutter (well, perhaps the title is sexist).

    Since then, Underly has established herself time and again as an authority in all things meat, from marketing and merchandising to education; and now, publishing.

     

    Her new book, The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising, showcases just how extensive her knowledge and expertise are. The book includes, among other things, a step-by-step, photo-illustrated set of instructions for breaking down each primal cut in a side of beef.

    What that means, in layman’s terms, is that you could, theoretically, start with an entire steer, and with patience, care, and “The Art of Beef Cutting,” break it all down and turn every bit of it into dinner.

    In fact, some restaurant chefs do just that, butchering their own lamb, pig and steer. Certain parts of the book explore more advanced butchery, and the appendices are staggeringly thorough. It does, however, begin with the basics, including knife sharpening, tool selection and cutting technique. So it’s appropriate for butchery beginners, or home cooks with a curiosity they’d like to explore.

     

    I had an opportunity to speak with Underly about her book, and about beef in general. There are a number of things she shared that a home cook can do to save time and money when buying and preparing beef; and, of course, when cooking it. But you have to start at the beginning, and that means choosing the right cut.

    THE RIGHT CUTS

    The two cuts that Underly came back to time and again for home cooks were top sirloin and chuck roast, extolling both their comparative value and their versatility.

  • Cuts from the chuck tend to be flavorful and well-marbled, and they’re great for braising, low and slow.
  • Sirloin is leaner, quite easy to cut, and arguably the most versatile cut on the cow; to quote Underly, “Go sirloin!”
  •  

    Underly at work. She’ll inspire you to unleash your inner butcher. Image courtesy Vimeo.

     

    Beyond these two subprimals (short for subprimal cuts), the one other cut that got Underly really excited was the ribeye cap, which she calls the best steak in the whole carcass. You could almost hear her mouth watering as she described grilling rib-eye cap steaks; and if there’s anyone to trust on such a suggestion, it’s Kari Underly.

    Once you’ve chosen your cut of beef, “The Art of Beef Cutting” can assist you in prepping it for dinner and getting it cooked to its highest potential.

  • Trussing: The book explores trussing (tying roasts with butchers twine to achieve even and optimal cooking), which Underly counsels is mastered only by repetition. “Don’t worry about making it pretty,” she advises.
  • Marinating: The book also has a chapter on marinades, and it highlights the often overlooked distinction between different kinds of marinating: for flavor versus for tenderizing.
  • Methods: Undery suggests ideal cooking methods to use for certain cuts of beef, and even drops hints on how to get perfect browning on your beef.

    Essentially, “The Art of Beef Cutting” is a kitchen-ready sidekick for anyone interested in getting a bit more familiar with his or her beef. There is no question in my mind that the more love you give it, the more the food benefits. Extending your knowledge and expertise with butchery will allow you to love your food that much more. Not to mention the fact that buying larger cuts and breaking them down yourself saves you money, and allows you greater versatility with how you cut and serve your beef.

    Underly’s last piece of advice to home cooks looking to up their butchery quotient? “Be adventurous.” This may be the perfect time to pick up your cleaver and get to know your beef a bit better.

    But first, pick up a copy of the the book.

      

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    BOOK: I Love Corn

    If you love corn—and who doesn’t—pick up a copy of the new recipe book, I Love Corn, by Lisa Skye.

    Published just in time for corn season, Father’s Day and thank-you gifts for summer hosts, here are 50 of the most interesting corn recipes you’ll find in one compilation. We rarely get so excited when eyeballing recipes, and the photos are mouth-watering.

    The recipes were contributed from acclaimed chefs nationwide: both local celebrities and national names such as Hugh Acheson, Dan Barber, Michelle Bernstein, Daniel Boulud, Harold Dieterle and Martha Stewart.

    The recipes will keep you happy at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They cover every part of the meal: appetizers, soups, entrées and desserts. Here are just a few of the dishes that will delight you:

     

    Get a copy for everyone who loves corn. Photo courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing.

     

    Corn “Seviche” In Corn Water, Corn Pudding with Bacon and Leeks, Fresh Corn Gazpacho, Fresh Corn Ice Cream, Jalapeño Corn Muffins, Popcorn Pudding with Salted Caramel Corn and Butterscotch Sauce, Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quiche and Sweet Corn Fritters.

    The book also includes tips for buying, storing, cooking and grilling fresh corn, and instructions for easily cutting kernels off the cob to make these wonderful recipes.

    A large portion of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Dougy Center, a national center that helps grieving children and families.

    Get your copy now.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Guerilla Cooking With ”The Flavor Bible”


    Our chef’s favorite new book, a great gift for sophisticate cooks (or those who want to be). Photo courtesy the authors.

     

    THE NIBBLE’s chef Johnny Gnall is very enthusiastic about a cooking book published in 2008. He refers regularly to The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. His review follows. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    Whenever my profession comes up in conversation, there is one question I get asked more than any other: “What is your favorite cuisine to cook at home?”

    The closest approximation I can offer is that I’m a champion of “guerilla cooking.”

    By this, I mean that I open the refrigerator and figure out my menu on the spot. Scanning the fridge for proteins and produce, thumbing through spices and jars in the pantry, I put together a meal that rarely fits neatly inside the label of any one cuisine.

     

    I suppose I love this kind of cooking so much because of my mom, the earliest and most ubiquitous influence on my identity as a cook. She was a working mother who often found herself at the end of the week with odds and ends in the fridge, limited time on her hands and five people to feed. Each and every time, she made the kind of dinners that had the neighborhood kids lining up for their turn to eat over.

    So it only makes sense that when I cook, I feel perfectly comfortable going in blind. One of the keys to success in such circumstances is knowing which products and flavors complement one another.

    The most effective way to gain such knowledge is experience. However, for those with less experience, The Flavor Bible is an invaluable book to help fill in the blanks. I bought my copy during culinary school on a classmate’s emphatic recommendation, and I will probably use it for the rest of my life.

    The Flavor Bible starts off with 30-plus pages on the nitty-gritty details of what exactly constitutes “flavor.” It begins by defining it in the equation, TASTE + MOUTHFEEL + AROMA + X-FACTOR = FLAVOR.

    The “X-factor” is anything perceived by our senses of sight, smell and taste, as well as emotional or mental reactions to the food. Each component of the equation is discussed in depth, even addressed philosophically at times; and is explored in as many contexts and from as many perspectives as you’re likely to come across.

     

    But all of this—the pontifications on flavor and the scientific breakdown of taste and aroma—is merely the introduction. The most valuable content of the cook lies in its other 350 or so pages: the flavor matchmaking charts.

    These charts contain a virtually all-inclusive list of ingredients, from meat to dairy to seafood to produce, from herbs and spices to oils and vinegars—even liquors and wines. Listed below each ingredient are any and all complementary ingredients, flavors, seasonings, and cooking methods.

    Even with a blinding headache, you can figure out exactly what goes best with whatever you happen to have on hand. You’ll also find recipes from notable chefs peppered throughout the charts, and simple dishes and meal ideas in the margins. Warm Frisée and Bacon Salad with Beet Carpaccio and Toasted Walnuts? Yes, please!

     

    Look in the fridge for ingredients: The Flavor Bible tells you what pairs best with what. Photo courtesy California Asparagus Commission.

     

    For those who want to start off in a general direction but keep things fast and loose, world cuisines are listed with their traditional and most popular ingredients and flavors for easy reference. Throwing a party for a Cuban friend whose family is in town? With The Flavor Bible, you know to fill your house with allspice, avocado, beans, beef, bell peppers, chicken, chocolate, citrus, cumin, garlic, lime, oregano, pineapple, plantains… you get the idea.

    So pick up a copy of The Flavor Bible. Then stride fearlessly to the refrigerator and swing the door open with confidence. No matter what you find starting back at you, rest assured you have the knowledge (and then some) to transform it into something delicious.

    And that’s a bible to swear on!

      

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