Kate Cooks the Books http://katecooksthebooks.com Practical Cookbook Reviews from the kitchen of Kate Sheehan Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:30:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 http://katecooksthebooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/cropped-Favicon-32x32.png Kate Cooks the Books http://katecooksthebooks.com 32 32 Basic Challah and Za’atar Monkey Bread with Garlic and Onion Labneh http://katecooksthebooks.com/basic-challah-zaatar-monkey-bread-garlic-onion-labneh/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/basic-challah-zaatar-monkey-bread-garlic-onion-labneh/#respond Sun, 05 Mar 2017 21:20:32 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=6124

Just like pictures of myself, I’m only going to post the most flattering one of my challah.  You know, thinner, younger and generally more attractive than it actually is: But I admit that it was a little wonky looking.  Turns out braiding thick, heavy, sticky dough is different than braiding hair.  I wish Molly had […]

The post Basic Challah and Za’atar Monkey Bread with Garlic and Onion Labneh appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

Just like pictures of myself, I’m only going to post the most flattering one of my challah.  You know, thinner, younger and generally more attractive than it actually is:

But I admit that it was a little wonky looking.  Turns out braiding thick, heavy, sticky dough is different than braiding hair.  I wish Molly had offered a little more guidance at this point in the recipe but she doesn’t so I will: after patting your dough into a 3″ x 12″ rectangle and cutting into three long pieces and rolling those into ropes, try to keep them at their original 12″ length.  If that doesn’t work you will still have an amazing challah and once you slice it who’s gonna know?

Molly’s Basic Challah makes enough for two loaves which is thoughtful because t will allow you to make one of her variations, including Pimiento Cheese Babka, Seeduction Challah and Scallion Pancake Challah.  And Za’atar Monkey Bread.

Traditional Monkey Bread is a sweet dough, portioned off into little balls, dipped in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar, caramel, or some other form of yumminess, then all thrown into one pan and baked.  It ends up tasting like donuts without the mess and effort of deep-frying.  In this savory interpretation the dough balls are dipped in butter and then za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend comprised of some or all of the following: oregano, thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and cumin.  Not only can you make monkey bread with it but you can dip pita into olive oil then za’atar, sprinkle it on your yogurt, and probably a million other things.  If you can’t find it at the grocery store you can easily make it yourself.  And Molly allows, nay encourages you, to use store-bought bread dough in this recipe if you are short on time or lacking confidence.

With both recipes I found the cooking time to be a bit long so start checking your internal temps a couple of minutes before she recommends.

The dip that accompanies this recipe is also a delight.  Greek yogurt mixed with onion, garlic, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  As Molly says it “might just take you back to the oniony chip dip of your youth.”

 

The post Basic Challah and Za’atar Monkey Bread with Garlic and Onion Labneh appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/basic-challah-zaatar-monkey-bread-garlic-onion-labneh/feed/ 0
Hummus and Pita http://katecooksthebooks.com/hummus-and-pita/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/hummus-and-pita/#respond Sat, 25 Feb 2017 21:06:11 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=6115

It’s not difficult to understand the crazy popularity of hummus.  Easy to make (with ingredients found almost anywhere), vaguely healthy, cheap, and versatile.   But like many popular things, it has strayed very far from authenticity.  People have added all kinds of things to make it their own and its inherent simplicity makes it a […]

The post Hummus and Pita appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

It’s not difficult to understand the crazy popularity of hummus.  Easy to make (with ingredients found almost anywhere), vaguely healthy, cheap, and versatile.   But like many popular things, it has strayed very far from authenticity.  People have added all kinds of things to make it their own and its inherent simplicity makes it a easy option for featuring the ingredient-of-the-moment (beets, sriracha, sweet potatoes, edamame).  But you owe it to yourself to taste the original, and that’s Molly’s goal.  Meaning, basically, make it yourself and don’t bastardize it with nonsense like…well, anything.  She will allow few toppings like onion, tahini sauce, parsley or zhoug, but please, no pesto!

Truly transformative hummus (that will ruin you for eating the “acidic grocery-store” variety ever again) begins with dried chickpeas which then get a very long soak followed by a long boil.  Knowing that Cook’s Illustrated recently dispensed possibly the greatest cooking hack of all time in its discovery that canned beans are actually better than dried, I decided to test that claim with this recipe.

So per Molly’s instructions I soaked 1 cup of dried chickpeas overnight, boiled them for 2 hours with a bit of baking soda, and then ground them up in the food processor before adding lemon juice, garlic, tahini, salt and water.  For the second version I cut about 14 hours off the prep time by using two cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, then proceeded per the book.

And guess what?

To the degree I could detect any difference at all, I slightly preferred the canned bean version.

The only  obvious difference was the consistency; Molly’s version is as smooth and creamy as Jiff peanut butter while the canned version has a little more texture and chunkiness (if you care you could probably give it a few more minutes in the food processor to get closer to the smooth consistency).

And why not make your own pita?  Ok, I know why but think about it at least, please?  Your house will smell like what I imagine heaven smells like.

Here is the easy, canned chickpea version of Molly’s recipe.

 

Hummus, adapted from Molly on the Range, by Molly Yeh

Ingredients

  • 2 14-oz. cans chickpeas
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water (or more for desired consistency)
  • Olive oil, for drizzling and storage

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas. With machine running, drop peeled garlic cloves into food processor and mince. Add chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini and salt and process. With machine running, add water and continue processing until desired consistency. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with pita. Store with a layer of olive oil to prevent drying.

 

The post Hummus and Pita appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/hummus-and-pita/feed/ 0
Funfetti Cake http://katecooksthebooks.com/funfetti-cake/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/funfetti-cake/#respond Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:07:52 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=6097

Unlike Molly, and maybe many of you, this was not an "iconic cake of my childhood" mainly because I was a child in the 1960s and cake innovation technology just wasn't there yet. But even without the strong pull of nostalgia, how can you not be drawn to this cake? It's got "fun" right in the title for crying out loud!

The post Funfetti Cake appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

Unlike Molly, and maybe many of you, this was not an “iconic cake of my childhood” mainly because I was a child in the 1960s and cake innovation technology just wasn’t there yet.  But even without the strong pull of nostalgia, how can you not be drawn to this cake? It’s got “fun” right in the title for crying out loud!

And funfetti as it indeed was, I had mixed results with this recipe.  The flavor was really good, thanks to almond extract (in both the cake and the frosting) and I made a mental note to use it more in the future.  The frosting was divine.  And sprinkles just bring it.  But when I pulled the three layers out of the oven none of them seemed to have risen enough (despite the egg whites) and one layer was downright lumpy and uneven and at first I wasn’t sure why.

It was only when I searched for the recipe online in order to share with you, hungry readers, that I found a clue.  A slightly different version of the recipe appears here, and in this iteration she calls for cake flour, while the book uses regular flour plus cornstarch (which, as Molly correctly points out, is essentially cake flour).  However, the link she provides for making your own cake flour (which no longer works but here it is) has a different ratio than what is in the recipe in the book.  That’s all I can come up with as to why mine was a qualified failure. But what are you going to do at this point? You assemble the layers, pairing the convex with the concave, smother it with frosting and soldier on.  That’s what you do.

The cake was in honor of a workplace milestone and fortunately my co-workers know that when I say “what do you think?” I want candor.  The consensus: great flavor, great frosting, but the cake itself was simultaneously dense and a little dry (you can see this a little in my picture). If I were to make it again (and I’m sorely tempted to), in addition to the cake flour fix, I would mix the batter a little longer and at a higher speed to incorporate more air and give the egg whites a chance to develop structure.

One other fix: as written the frosting will just barely cover the cake; if you want the perfect covering shown in Molly’s pics you will need more.  And if you’re looking for a really smooth finish here’s a tip: hold a bench scraper perpendicular to the side of your cake and run evenly around the whole 360 degrees.  If that doesn’t work, cover the sides with toasted sliced almonds.

But.  Is a Funfetti Cake really about perfection?  Who are you trying to impress, 8-year-olds?  (Because if you are you have way over-estimated the effort required; you could have given them each a tub of sprinkles and a spoon and called it a day.)  No, it’s about fun.  It’s about slicing into an ordinary looking cake and finding a party inside.

 

The post Funfetti Cake appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/funfetti-cake/feed/ 0
Squash and Ricotta Pizza with Sage and Arugula http://katecooksthebooks.com/squash-ricotta-pizza-sage-arugula/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/squash-ricotta-pizza-sage-arugula/#respond Mon, 06 Feb 2017 18:35:44 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=6069

Since I am limited in how many recipes I can reproduce on my site (go figure, it’s like Molly wants to make money off her hard work and ingenuity or something) I’m going to just give you some guidelines on how to make this stupendous pizza.  The dough is from Jim Lahey of “no-knead bread” […]

The post Squash and Ricotta Pizza with Sage and Arugula appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

Since I am limited in how many recipes I can reproduce on my site (go figure, it’s like Molly wants to make money off her hard work and ingenuity or something) I’m going to just give you some guidelines on how to make this stupendous pizza.  The dough is from Jim Lahey of “no-knead bread” fame and, fortunately, is readily available.

The rest is simple.  It makes two pizzas so once you divide it, roll out to 10″ in diameter, spread with whole-milk ricotta, then a little shaved Parmesan, salt and pepper, caramelized onion, and some shaved butternut squash* brushed with olive oil (and I LOVE that you don’t have to break down an ornery squash for this recipe, truly one of the most dangerous and harrowing kitchen tasks).  Preheat the oven and baking stone to 500-degrees.  While the pizza cooks (about 12-15 minutes for me), toss some arugula with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Top the cooked pizza with the arugula, some crushed red pepper flakes, and additional Parmesan, if desired.

If you’re familiar with Jim Lahey’s bread you will know how very working-person-friendly it is: throw all four ingredients into a bowl one night and your dough will be ready when you get home from work the next day.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you this is easier and quicker (and cheaper) than ordering.  Of course you can put whatever you like on your pizza and once you come under the spell of this easy and delicious dough I wager you’ll be making your own pizza all the time.

Because I made this just for me, I froze half the dough so I will report back on how that turned out.

*because you will only use a little bit of a butternut squash for this pizza, I recommend you use the rest to make Molly’s Tomato and Squash Soup.

 

The post Squash and Ricotta Pizza with Sage and Arugula appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/squash-ricotta-pizza-sage-arugula/feed/ 0
Schnitzel Bao with Sriracha Mayo and Sesame Pickles http://katecooksthebooks.com/schnitzel-bao-sriracha-mayo-sesame-pickles/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/schnitzel-bao-sriracha-mayo-sesame-pickles/#respond Wed, 01 Feb 2017 19:08:08 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=6051

Mercy. Not a weeknight meal, to be sure.  But if you have a rainy afternoon and a desire to impress the hell out of even yourself with your cooking, make these. Molly says you can use “store bought bao” but you will likely not find them in a regular grocery store.  I’m sure I could […]

The post Schnitzel Bao with Sriracha Mayo and Sesame Pickles appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

Mercy.

Not a weeknight meal, to be sure.  But if you have a rainy afternoon and a desire to impress the hell out of even yourself with your cooking, make these.

Molly says you can use “store bought bao” but you will likely not find them in a regular grocery store.  I’m sure I could have found them, and without going too far out of my way, here in Chicago but I thought “well, why not make them.”  And it wasn’t difficult, in fact, it’s one of the easier and more cooperative doughs I’ve worked with.  When it comes time to roll them out into adorable little 6″ x 3″ ovals (or taco buns) they are 100% compliant, unlike some pizza doughs you may have worked with that strenuously resist your efforts to shape them, causing embarrassing kitchen tantrums that you really cannot be blamed for.  Lacking a bamboo steamer, I improvised with a dutch oven and a metal steamer basket.  Worked well but I had to cook the 16 buns in three batches.

The pickles are easy and delightful.  Cucumber, soy, sesame oil, rice vinegar and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  And the chicken is a pretty straightforward fried chicken; dipped in flour, egg wash, and then panko.  The mayo is just good old Helmann’s with sriracha stirred in – a condiment I make regularly and you should too!

You may have picked up on the fact that this recipe is going to require you to 1. make dough, 2. make pickles, and 3. make fried chicken.  I know.  But I promise a payoff.

I can describe the finished product no better than Molly does herself: “…a dangerous combination of salty, squishy, sweet, sour, crunchy, spicy and mayo-y.”  It is a festival of flavors and textures; unexpected and yet very welcome.  I particularly love how the pillowy buns (like Wonder Bread in its best possible incarnation) play against the crisp panko coating on the chicken.

(Molly’s pusher, Rodale, has asked that I reproduce no more than three recipes from the book on my site, so I am going to pace myself and not post this one. Aw snap!)

 

The post Schnitzel Bao with Sriracha Mayo and Sesame Pickles appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/schnitzel-bao-sriracha-mayo-sesame-pickles/feed/ 0
Slow Cooker Goulash with Scallion Knodeln http://katecooksthebooks.com/slow-cooker-goulash-scallion-knodeln/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/slow-cooker-goulash-scallion-knodeln/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 02:25:30 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=5992

One reason I love having a blog is that when I make something fabulous I have an outlet for my enthusiasm.  Last night I made goulash, a dish I don’t think I’ve ever made before so I have no point of comparison, for what it’s worth.  But taken solely at face value, Molly’s version is […]

The post Slow Cooker Goulash with Scallion Knodeln appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

One reason I love having a blog is that when I make something fabulous I have an outlet for my enthusiasm.  Last night I made goulash, a dish I don’t think I’ve ever made before so I have no point of comparison, for what it’s worth.  But taken solely at face value, Molly’s version is extraordinary.  So perfect for a January night in Chicago, so warm and nurturing, so nuanced and complex.  And the knodeln — Oh Em Dog — let me introduce you to these delightful little things if you don’t already know them.  You’re gonna love each other.

But first, the goulash.  Every culture has a stew because people have always needed a clever way of making something hearty and filling out of inexpensive cuts of meat and otherwise uninteresting supporting ingredients, or produce that’s in its final days.  At first glance, this might look like a recipe you’ve seen many times before and you might wonder whether it’s worth making.  But have faith: magic happens thanks to paprika.

There are 2 tablespoons of sweet (vs. hot) paprika in this dish so if you heed only one piece of advice from me let it be this: splurge on a new jar.  Dried spices can lose their potency and flavor either quickly or over less time than you might think.  If the last time you used the paprika on your shelf was to dust some deviled eggs two Easters ago, don’t risk it.  And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy from a specialty store, McCormick’s worked just fine.

Second, the recipe calls for a fair amount — 4 cups — of vegetable or beef broth, so think carefully about what you use.  Cook’s Illustrated has done taste tests on store-bought beef broths and concluded that most of them are not even remotely palatable (a complete lack of beef is the unsurprising reason why).   They recommend Better Than Bullion as a compromise and that’s what I use and used in this recipe.  I know Thomas Keller and Anthony Bourdain are sputtering as they read this and poised to write some strongly-worded comments about how you absolutely must make your own stock.  Point conceded guys, I know.  But if you are one of the people reading this who is not paid to cook and can therefore devote one day a week, or even a month, to make stock, then the Better Than Bullion will result in a much more successful dish than the brown sodium-juice posing as beef broth in the soup aisle. If you can’t find Better Than Bullion, use your favorite chicken broth (I like Swanson’s Organic).

I’d never heard of or eaten knodeln (rhymes with Snowden according to Google translate) but apparently it’s a kind of apres-ski matzo ball.  And sort of fun to make.  I did not have stale bread handy so I did what I do to make stuffing: cut white bread into the 1/2″ cubes and throw in a 200-degree oven for an hour or so.  The bread is then mixed with milk and eggs and swiss cheese and then a little flour and nutmeg, formed into balls, and boiled.  I was sure I’d made a mistake when I mixed it all together.  I was expecting a dough and it looked more like a salad for someone like me who basically eats salads for the croutons.  But I’ll be damned if it didn’t form nice little stuffing balls when squeezed and boiled up beautifully.  Molly says cook for 15-20 minutes but check them at 10; mine looked like they might start falling apart at about 13.  I also got 16 knodeln instead of Molly’s 8 but who’s gonna argue with more dumplings?  They are the absolute perfect accompaniment to the goulash.

I do not own a slow cooker but thankfully Molly offers an alternative: simmer on the stove top (I used my dutch oven).

Bonus: this goulash will give your house an appetizing and embracing aroma.

Slow Cooker Goulash with Scallion Knodeln from Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • For the Goulash
  • 2 lbs. chuck, cut into 1" pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Flavorless oil, for cooking the beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable or beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can or carton (28 oz.) chopped tomatoes
    For the Knodeln
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 12 oz. stale bread, cut or torn into 1/2" cubes
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 6 oz. Swiss or Gruyere cheese, shredded

Instructions

    For the Goulash:
  1. Season the beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few turns of pepper. In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil (a few tablespoons) over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides, adding more oil to the pan if it dries out. Transfer the beef to a large slow cooker (or set aside if not using slow cooker).
  2. Drain off some of the fat from the skillet if needed (you want there to be just a light coating) and add the onion, carrots, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, tomato paste, and caraway seeds and cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker along with the Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, broth, wine, and tomatoes and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10, until beef is tender. (If not using slow cooker, combine all ingredients in a dutch oven and simmer, covered, for about 2-1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender).
  3. About 30 minutes before serving the goulash, make the Knodeln.
    For the Knodeln
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, salt, and a few turns of pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Add the bread cubes, scallions, and cheese and stir to combine. Mix in the flour mixture and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Using a 1/3 cup ice cream scoop, form firmly packed balls of the mixture and boil them until firm, 15-20 minutes (check after about 10 minutes).
  3. To serve, ladle the goulash into bowls and add Knodeln. Top with chopped scallions or fresh parsley, if desired.

 

 

 

The post Slow Cooker Goulash with Scallion Knodeln appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/slow-cooker-goulash-scallion-knodeln/feed/ 0
Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions http://katecooksthebooks.com/gruyere-mac-cheese-caramelized-onions/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/gruyere-mac-cheese-caramelized-onions/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 01:26:42 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=5967

Does it seem like everyone is trying to do something different, or quirky, or artisanal, or “maker” with mac and cheese? It’s on menus from dive bars to foam boutiques, paired with PBRs and boldly-priced malbecs.  Like pizza,  it’s basic enough to accommodate experimentation but familiar and unintimidating to most of the public.  So the usual […]

The post Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

Does it seem like everyone is trying to do something different, or quirky, or artisanal, or “maker” with mac and cheese? It’s on menus from dive bars to foam boutiques, paired with PBRs and boldly-priced malbecs.  Like pizza,  it’s basic enough to accommodate experimentation but familiar and unintimidating to most of the public.  So the usual trend-marking add-ins start showing up: sriracha, lobster, truffles, sweet potatoes, as well some new ones including — and I provide this link to show I am absolutely not making this up — white chocolate.  I’m sure someone has made it with cold brew coffee or kambucha, I just don’t have the time to google it right now.  And then there are people who have the chutzpah to tell you to make the boxed version but add your own “Italian flavored” breadcrumbs and shamelessly proffer it as a “recipe.”

Molly’s has melty, bubbly gruyere, onions cooked within an inch of their lives,and  toasted panko — It’s like French onion soup, without the pesky soup.  It’s deeply delicious and intensely satisfying.  It’s the kind of dish that makes people jump up to help clear plates because they know that will give them license and opportunity to sneak a few more bites in the relative privacy of the kitchen, because God knows they can’t actually eat a third serving in plain sight.  Sometimes that person is me.  And it’s pretty sad behavior when I’m eating by myself.

 

Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions, from Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt
  • 8 oz. medium shells
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 6 oz. gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. swiss cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8"x 8" baking dish.
  2. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized, about 40 minutes.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions reducing the cooking time by 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a large pot, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour, whisking until combined, then cook for 1 minute. Add half the milk, whisking continuously until thickened, about 5 minutes [mine thickened almost instantly], and then repeat with the other half of the milk. Add the gruyere and swiss and all but 2 tablespoons of the parmesan and stir until the cheeses melt. Stir in the paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, mustard, and black pepper and salt to taste. Stir in the pasta and onions.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and top with the panko, a pinch of salt, a few turns of pepper, and the reserved parmesan and bake until the top is browned, about 25 minutes. Cool
  6. for 5 minutes and enjoy.
  7. NOTE: In a pinch, you can skip the baking step. Simply cook the pasta fully before stirring it into the cheese sauce, then serve immediately topped with panko and parmesan.

 

The post Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/gruyere-mac-cheese-caramelized-onions/feed/ 0
Next book: Molly on the Range http://katecooksthebooks.com/next-book-molly-range/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/next-book-molly-range/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:21:20 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=5965

  Rather than trying to explain the appeal of Molly Yeh and her toothsome recipes I will send you over to her wildly popular blog to see for yourself.  She’s won every award they give to people who I guess need to be validated that way (poor things) plus she’s a Chicago girl so she […]

The post Next book: Molly on the Range appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

 

Rather than trying to explain the appeal of Molly Yeh and her toothsome recipes I will send you over to her wildly popular blog to see for yourself.  She’s won every award they give to people who I guess need to be validated that way (poor things) plus she’s a Chicago girl so she has the solid grounding in food that only comes from being raised on Lou Malnati’s.  (In a collision of worlds, Molly enjoyed childhood summers here, where I also spent two weeks in the 1970s trying to explain what a girl named Kathleen Sheehan was doing at Jewish sleep-away camp).  She also studied classical percussion at Juilliard so I imagine she can probably pound a resistant piece of dough into artistic and rhythmic submission like nobody’s business.

Let’s see what Molly’s cooking.  Follow me…

 

The post Next book: Molly on the Range appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/next-book-molly-range/feed/ 0
Appetites http://katecooksthebooks.com/appetites/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/appetites/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2017 18:21:00 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=5920

I’ve been a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s since Kitchen Confidential and I’ve always felt a little bad for him in that he’s gotten one of those super-sticky labels that famous people acquire (sometimes unfairly), in his case: “bad boy,” or “the bad boy of cooking.”  It must be maddeningly difficult to get people to see beyond […]

The post Appetites appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

I’ve been a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s since Kitchen Confidential and I’ve always felt a little bad for him in that he’s gotten one of those super-sticky labels that famous people acquire (sometimes unfairly), in his case: “bad boy,” or “the bad boy of cooking.”  It must be maddeningly difficult to get people to see beyond that and I’d probably be driven to homicide by the inane and repetitive questions he must get asked because of it.

(Of course, this doesn’t help either.)

Yes, he swears and he smokes and he is irreverent about many things, including restaurants, celebrity chefs, club sandwiches, trendy ingredients, brunch, etc. But he’s also a very good writer and has a bracingly unsentimental point of view on all things edible. Like this: “Do not put ‘house-made chutney’ on my hamburger.  Please.  Let ketchup do its job.  And don’t make ‘house-made ketchup’ either.  Why would you do that?  If it’s not broken, as they say, why the fuck would you fix it?”  Indeed.

The book is a celebration of AB’s precious time with his family (wife and 8-year-old daughter) and is meant to chronicle the food he cooks for them and with them (as well as daughter’s best friend Jax and, apparently, Eric Ripert who seems to be under-employed and hanging out at Chez Bourdain a fair amount).  It’s an appealing and idiosyncratic collection of the food they like, either because of tradition or Proustian triggers or comfort, but also with many nods to local street food (Bodega Sandwich, Sausage and Pepper Hero),  New York classics (Chopped Liver on Rye) and global influences (Macau-Style Pork Chop Sandwich, Do Chua Salad with Herbs, Scallions, Sprouts, and Egg).

As you may have guessed, this is also another volume in a now well-established cookbook genre: professional chef strikes the I’m-a-busy-working-parent-just-like-you pose.  And in my experience, they are always at least a little deluded in that regard.  It must be their time in the restaurant world, with the walk-in fridges, easy access to obscure and high-quality ingredients, other people doing the dishes, and years of high-volume cooking that make cranking out several quarts of octopus stock a casual endeavor.  Or maybe it’s because they live in whatever the opposite of a food desert is, awash in exotic ingredients, twee farmer’s markets and specialty shops, all buoyed by a reliable current of disposable cash.  They think they are like us, but what I think is that a guy like AB is able to source bottarga (see below) with a tiny bit more ease than I am.

So recipes like Malloreddus with Wild Boar Sugo, that calls for two pounds of boneless wild boar with no substitute suggested, might be overly ambitious for most home cooks.  Even an empty-nesting woman like me, for whom cooking is my golf in that I’m happy to spend most of a day or a weekend doing it, is going to think twice before embarking on a wild boar hunt (the close up, two-page spread of a dead boar’s head somehow did not whet my appetite).  And if you want to go stark raving mad, try his Thanksgiving protocol which, I kid you not, proposes that you cook two turkeys: a “business turkey” and a “stunt turkey.”  Cute, but I don’t know anyone who is actually going to do this and I know a lot of people who will do insane things in the name of cooking.  Is Eric Ripert going to help me clean up after TWO Thanksgiving dinners? (because if he is I will totally do this).

Even the Pasta chapter, usually a reliable source for quick meals as well as projects, leans too heavily on the latter; in addition to the Wild Boar fantasy, there is Spaghetti alla Bottarga (which I had to look up because AB assumes we are familiar with it.  I will save you a google: it’s a salted, cured fish roe, and you may need to smuggle it into the US, so…plan ahead), Ravioli of Salt Cod with Lobster Sauce (and yes, you’re going to make the ravioli from scratch).  In all fairness, there is also an easy looking Spaghetti with Garlic, Anchovies, and Parsley, a Lasagna Bolognese (long but not extraordinarily so for a lasagna), Sunday Gravy (we’ll allow it) and a Macaroni and Cheese that seems straightforward.

I like a cooking challenge very much but there was too much of this going on in this book to tempt me to make very many of the recipes.  Roast Beef Po’ Boy was appealing until I saw that it requires you first spend 4 hours roasting a 5 lb. hunk of meat and which then needs an 8- to 12-hour rest in the fridge, and that seems backwards.  Don’t you make a roast to make a roast and then use the leftovers for sandwiches?  Am I hopelessly inside the box or is this ok with people?  The fact that it “serves 4, with plenty of leftover meat” also suggests that maybe the tail is wagging the boar.

But I did make a couple of recipes and with this very limited experience I concluded that what is not demanding in time, technique, or ingredients, is just not interesting (take him at his word when he says “There is nothing remotely innovative about the recipes in this book”).  The Sausage Gravy with Biscuits was fine but there was no gravy.  It’s just sautéed loose breakfast sausage finished with cream.  This does not make gravy, even if you add a lot more cream, as I did.  The biscuits were delicious but not better than ones I’ve been making for years.

 

Do you see any gravy here? Me neither.

 

The Chicken Salad also makes good on the “no innovation” promise, although the faux sous-vide technique for cooking the chicken might be new to many and is worth knowing. I didn’t make The Grill Bitch’s Bar Nuts because it’s the same recipe found virtually anywhere online: nuts coated with egg whites and tossed with sugar, cinnamon and cayenne.  Putting the word “bitch” in the title somehow fails to make it interesting.

 

 

About the book design.  The cover art, by Ralph Steadman, mystifies me as to its relevance but hey, it’s Anthony’s book and he must like the guy so who cares, in the end.  And I guess the sprinkling of Ransom Font is meant to be…bad ass?  But the photos.  I get that they are probably intended to be provocative or disruptive or something, and that’s also fine, but often they are at the expense of being instructive or helpful or even appetizing.

 

Exhibit A:

Image result for photos from Appetites anthony bourdain

Why you gotta wreck Ripert?

 

And

 

Image result for photos from Appetites anthony bourdain

This makes me never want to eat again. Or stay in a hotel.

 

And this helps not at all

 

 

I am sorry that I did not feel inspired to make more and I know that that makes this an inadequate, and possibly unfair, review (in my defense, as Nicholas Cage says in “Moonstruck”: “I ain’t no freakin’ monument to justice!”)  I also believe that it’s the cookbook’s job to excite me and make me want to roll up my sleeves and dive in.  Appetites did not.

 

The post Appetites appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/appetites/feed/ 0
Five-Spice Short Ribs with Carrot and Parsnip Puree http://katecooksthebooks.com/five-spice-short-ribs-carrot-parsnip-puree/ http://katecooksthebooks.com/five-spice-short-ribs-carrot-parsnip-puree/#respond Mon, 31 Oct 2016 01:07:29 +0000 http://katecooksthebooks.com/?p=5875

PHOTO BY GIEVES ANDERSON, FOOD STYLING BY ANNA HAMPTON Every now and then I take a truly terrible picture of my culinary product. Sometimes they’re blurry, sometimes they’re irredeemably over- or under-exposed, and sometimes they just make the food look like an unappetizing joke. Take a look: Who would eat that???  It looks like the daily […]

The post Five-Spice Short Ribs with Carrot and Parsnip Puree appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>

PHOTO BY GIEVES ANDERSON, FOOD STYLING BY ANNA HAMPTON

Every now and then I take a truly terrible picture of my culinary product. Sometimes they’re blurry, sometimes they’re irredeemably over- or under-exposed, and sometimes they just make the food look like an unappetizing joke. Take a look:

five-spice-short-ribs-with-carrot-and-parsnip-puree-2

Who would eat that???  It looks like the daily special at the Carbon City Grill.

In my defense, I served this for a dinner party and my guests were waiting.  It’s one thing to make your significant other, child, mother, best friend, wait to eat while you get a perfect shot; they’re used to paying this quirky price to eat your food and presumably they love you in spite of your idiosyncracies.  But it’s quite another to make company wait – those people are gonna think you’re bonkers, what with all the re-arranging of bits of cilantro and turning the plate this way and that. So I rushed.  And when my pictures fail so definitively all I can do is copy the professional one from the website, with proper credit given ’cause that’s how I roll.

On to the meat of this post, pun intended.

I have lots of tips and tricks for throwing a dinner party without making yourself crazy or spending the entire night in the kitchen and some day I will write all that up for the betterment of mankind.  For now I will tell you that anything you can make ahead should go to the top of your recipe list.  Braised dishes, like this one, taste better the next day and refrigerating the liquid overnight has the added benefit of making the fat easy to remove.

This one was spectacular.  I needed it to serve 6 so I upped the quantity of meat to 5-6 lbs. and increased the carrots and parsnips to 1 lb. each; everything else I left pretty much the same except I added a bit more liquid in order to fully immerse the meat.

About beef broth.   I wish I were the kind of person who makes her own but I’ve been wishing that for decades so let’s just accept the fact that that’s probably not going to happen and get on with our lives.  Cook’s Illustrated taste tests have found that most canned beef broth is execrable and they often uses chicken broth in its place for that reason.  But they do like Better Than Bullion, a kind of concentrated beef stock base in a jar, so that was what I used.  Of course, if you are that person who makes their own broth you should use that and give yourself a hearty pat on the back!

Many people on Epicurious commented on how long it took the sauce to reduce so I was ready for that.  And I wasn’t looking for a super-thick sauce (per the picture — the good one, not my pic).  You should also note that if you cook this properly, that is, to the point where the meat separates from the bone, the meat will be separate from the bone.  I plated each serving with a piece of bone for the sake of presentation and will admit I felt a little dumb doing it.  But it looked good and nobody asked for their money back so I got over it.

I also fell in love with the carrot and parsnip puree.  Such a nice change from mashed potatoes and I got in-season veggies from the farmer’s market so they were exceptionally good.  I may not have cooked mine long enough as they weren’t getting to a consistency I would call “puree” with just the potato masher, so I put them in the food processor.  I also made them ahead and reheated just before serving, adding a bit more liquid and, truth be told, a promiscuous amount of butter and salt.

Of course, you could substitute mashed potatoes, polenta, buttered noodles, risotto, or your own favorite sauce-absorbing starch vehicle.  Oh, and your house will smell so delicious when you make this so don’t be surprised if your neighbors stop by to ask “what are you cooking???” with a look that conveys both naked hunger as well as a complete lack of dinner plans.

 

The post Five-Spice Short Ribs with Carrot and Parsnip Puree appeared first on Kate Cooks the Books.

]]>
http://katecooksthebooks.com/five-spice-short-ribs-carrot-parsnip-puree/feed/ 0