Tag Archives: cookbooks

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie Recipe

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie RecipeNicole Gulotta is a writer, editor, and tea enthusiast. She’s the author of Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry (Roost Books, 2017), and pens a blog by the same name. I first discovered Nicole’s website years ago, when looking for travel guides that encompassed both bookstores and great food. What gems Eat This Poem’s literary city guides are – written by those in the know, so it’s a local’s guide to goodness, when you travel. Nicole’s website is fill of musings on cooking – and life, and is one that I turn to again and again.

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie RecipeImagine my elation when I saw Nicole’s new book being created, published, and released (next week!). I caught up with Nicole in sunny California, while snowbound in Michigan, and asked her about writing a combination of food and poetry. She noted that while she had been writing the blog for several years, and had felt rooted in the combination of food and poetry, she was approached by an editor about starting the book – and it felt like the right project at the right time. And while the gestation process for Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry was long, she had been writing of these topics for years, had found her footing with it, and was excited to do something more substantial with it – for which I am grateful.

When I delved into her history, I learned that while poetry arrived early in her life, food came much later – and so it wasn’t a natural fit to pair the two. But Nicole noted that when you can step away from your life experiences and look at them, it enables those insightful moments to happen.

The Eat This Poem cookbook features more than 75 new recipes paired alongside verse from 25 of America’s most beloved poets. Forage mushrooms with Mary Oliver, then wander into your kitchen to stir creamy truffle risotto. Study the skin of a pear with Billy Collins while you bake a warm vanilla-pear crumble. And honor the devoted work of farmers with Wendell Berry while snacking on popcorn dusted with rosemary and drizzled with brown butter.

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie Recipe

You know me – when I asked what she hoped readers take away from the book, Nicole said, “The idea of being still in a kitchen, and having food and poetry be an opportunity to do something that takes care of yourself and the people around you as well. Our lives are so rushed and busy and we have all these things to do…and I want people to feel like they can indulge in poetry and food and ENJOY that, even if only for a brief moment.”

And, when I asked about poetry, Nicole (a life-long poetry lover) remarked, “Poetry is so great because it really keeps you rooted in the moment/present, and if you read a poem it might take a short time (or longer), but it is a special, be-present time. You can do this and inspire your day!”

Indeed – food and poetry are the perfect combination for stillness, thoughtfulness, and a good life.

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie Recipe

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook?
Something Italian, like bolognese that simmers for hours

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Homemade almond milk, Dijon mustard, a wedge of Parmesan, and eggs from the farmers’ market

What do you cook at home?
I keep things simple, especially Monday through Friday, like quick bean tacos, lentil curry, and pasta with whatever fresh vegetables are in season.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A good appetite

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Chewing with your mouth open

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
Nigel Slater’s writing is so welcoming and poetic

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie RecipeYour favorite kitchen tool?
My Japanese chef’s knife

Your favorite ingredient?
Garlic. It’s the beginning of everything.

Your least favorite ingredient?
Dried fennel

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Empty the dishwasher

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian, Indian, and Mexican. But these days, anything I can get on the table in under 30 minutes.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef, medium rare, with a touch of flaky salt on top

Favorite vegetable?
I know they’re technically a fruit, but tomatoes have my heart every summer. I also love roasted cauliflower.

Chef you most admire?
Suzanne Goin

Food you like the most to eat?
Always pasta, preferably spaghetti with a slice of garlic bread alongside

Food you dislike the most?
A poorly dressed salad

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Spend time with my son

Who do you most admire in food?
Anyone who helps support local farmers, treats animals and the environment with respect, and values seasonal cooking

Where is your favorite place to eat?
My kitchen table, or Bestia, in downtown Los Angeles

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Zero.

Recipe: Energizing Orange Smoothie

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie Recipe

In a high speed blender, add 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 chopped carrot, 1 banana, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 small piece of peeled ginger (1-inch), ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, and 1 cup ice.

Process until smooth, and garnish with chia seeds, if desired.

 

Find Nicole on social media:

Twitter: twitter.com/nicolegulotta
Instagram: instagram.com/nicolegulotta
Facebook: facebook.com/eatthispoem
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ngulotta/

 

  – The End. Go Eat. – 

i8tonite with New Irish Table’s Leslie Conron Carola & Cod and Octopus Recipe

When we visited Ireland, I fell in love with the food. Not only that famous brown bread, and the smooth, creamy butter, but the seafood chowder that we ordered at almost every meal, and the hearty breakfasts, and the Guinness stew, and the seafood, and…well, you get the picture. But most of all, what I admired and happily ate was the creativity and local ingredients that went into each meal.

Imagine my joy at finding a cookbook, The New Irish Table: Recipes from Ireland’s Top Chefs , that celebrates new Irish food, by chefs that are leading the charge for creativity in Ireland’s artisanal food movement. They come from all four of Ireland’s provinces (including Northern Ireland), and each shares a menu of recipes.

i8tonite with New Irish Table's Leslie Conron Carola & Cod and Octopus RecipeI learned more about Ireland, and its food, than I imagined gleaning from a book – and am inspired to not only cook these delicious recipes, but to head to Ireland and visit their restaurants.

Luckily for us, I was able to chat with editor Leslie Conron Carola, who is the owner and director of Arena Books Associates, LLC, has produced many illustrated books, including Ireland: A Luminous Beauty; Spectacular Ireland, and Ireland’s Treasure’s with Peter Harbison. The New Irish Table: Recipes from Ireland’s Top Chefs is published by Charlesbridge.

Food People Questions (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Hmm-that depends on the season for particulars, but it’s always fresh, fresh, fresh and as-local-as-possible. Lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and again as-local-as-possible meat and fish (with exceptions, of course. I love Chilean sea bass, and salmon, and shrimp!).

Quickly sautéed and/or roasted fish or chicken with lightly steamed or grilled fresh vegetables, and/or a lightly-dressed salad. Fresh herbs and lemon and a bit of butter doesn’t hurt!

Carpaccio of Scallops with Chilli, Lemon, and Wood Sorrel Recipe by Chef Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shannagary, Co. Cork. From The New Irish Table: Recipes from Ireland's Top Chefs
Carpaccio of Scallops with Chilli, Lemon, and Wood Sorrel
Recipe by Chef Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shannagary, Co. Cork.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Chicken broth–homemade when possible; fresh vegetables and cheese, yogurt. A piece of chocolate.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Conversation- sharing ideas and the pleasure of eating a well-prepared meal, a meal engaging our senses. It doesn’t have to be a complex meal.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
No conversation and very quick eating without much enjoyment.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
Alice Waters

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Vitamix and sharp knives

Orange, Spinach, and Salmon Salad Recipe by Chef Catherine Fulvio of Ballyknocken House and Cookery School in Glenealy, Ashford, Co. Wicklow. From The New Irish Table: Recipes from Ireland's Top Chefs
Orange, Spinach, and Salmon Salad
Recipe by Chef Catherine Fulvio of Ballyknocken House and Cookery School in Glenealy, Ashford, Co. Wicklow.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Natural, seasonal, fresh. And Italian and French, and, of course, what the Irish chefs are preparing!

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken and pork.

Favorite vegetable?
Oof, this is difficult, I love many: spinach, broccoli, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, fresh tomatoes and salad vegetables.

Chef you most admire?
Alice Waters. And all these Irish chefs: Darina Allen, Derry Clarke, Kevin Dundon, Martin Bealin, Ian Orr, Ultan Cooke, Noel McMeel, etc.

Food you like the most to eat?
Again, that depends on the season, but hearty soups, stews, and wonderful Italian food are lovely complements to wintry days. And lighter weather suggests lightly prepared fresh vegetables and meat or fish. With fresh berries or other fruit to top it off.

Food you dislike the most?
Heavy meat organs.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Concerts, operas, museums and galleries, and reading

Potato, Prawn, and Lime Soup Recipe by Chef Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House in Arthurstown, Co. Wexford. From The New Irish Table: Recipes from Ireland's Top Chefs
Potato, Prawn, and Lime Soup
Recipe by Chef Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House in Arthurstown, Co. Wexford.

Who do you most admire in food?
In the U.S.: Alice Waters and the late MFK Fisher. In Ireland: Darina Allen, Derry Clarke, Kevin Dundon, Ian Orr, and all the Irish chefs in The New Irish Table.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
A comfortable home dining room or terrace, or a quiet restaurant.

What is your favorite restaurant?
U.S.: Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA; Gramercy Tavern, Le Bernardin, Balthazar (for needed steak frites), and Eataly is a lot of fun in NYC. Lots of choices.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Not a one!

Recipe: Cod, Octopus, Purple Broccoli, Broccoli Puree, and Horseradish Mayonnaise

Recipe by Chef Derry Clarke of l’Ecrivain, Co. Dublin

FOR THE OCTOPUS
2 qts/2 L court bouillon
1 octopus (2 lb/1 kg)

FOR THE BROCCOLI PUREE
2 medium size heads of broccoli, shaved and cleaned

FOR THE HORSERADISH MAYONNAISE
1 egg yolk
1 tsp mustard
1 lemon
2/3 cup/150 ml vegetable oil plus more to sauté the cod
2 tbsp/40 g horseradish, grated

FOR THE COD
4 cod fillets

FOR THE PURPLE BROCCOLI
¼ lb/100 g purple sprouting broccoli

In a deep pot, add the court bouillon and the octopus and simmer for 1 ½ hours until tender. Remove and chill. Portion octopus into 1 ½ in /4 cm pieces.

Place the egg yolk into a small bowl and add the mustard and a squeeze of lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the vegetable oil until thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the grated horseradish.

Bring a pot of water to boil and add a little salt. Cut and blanch the 2 heads of broccoli in the salted water for 2 minutes. Remove and squeeze out the excess water with a kitchen cloth or towel. Discard the water. Place the broccoli in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season and chill to keep a bright green color.

Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper.

Heat a pan with a little oil on a high heat, and place the cod skin side down and turn heat to low. Cook for about 4 minutes until the skin is crispy and golden. Turn the fish over, add butter and lemon juice, and cook for 1 minute.

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the purple broccoli for 1 ½ minutes until tender. Season.

Heat broccoli puree in a pot until warm.

Heat a little butter in a pan and toss the octopus pieces in the butter until warm. Season with salt and pepper, and add a teaspoon of chopped parsley or dill.

To serve, place a few spoons of broccoli puree and some purple broccoli on a plate and arrange a cod fillet on top. Garnish with the octopus and horseradish mayonnaise.

Serves 4
– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Food Person Fred Plotkin: Opera Expert and Author of Six Cookbooks

i8tonite with Food Person Fred Plotkin: Opera Expert and Author of Six Cookbooks
credit Sanna-Mari Jäntt

Few people are experts, but then there are folks, like cookbook author and opera professional Fred Plotkin, who are knowledgeable on many topics. A native New Yorker, Plotkin became a student of opera while in college, working with various classical musicians and mentors, such as late mezzo soprano and director of the Lyric Opera House, Ardis Krainik, and well-known Broadway lighting designer Gilbert Helmsley. Always found in the back or front of the house, Plotkin has never graced the stage but has written compelling articles on the singing subject in books and articles. His bestselling and definitive tome Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, leads the pack for appreciation on the vocal art form. His literary essays have been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and Daily Telegraph, to name but a few.

Apart from being a fount of operatic history and knowledge, Plotkin, who has traveled to Italy since the early 1970s, has become a resource for all edible things in Italy. In the nineties, he wrote arguably the greatest book on eating throughout the peninsula, called Italy for the Gourmet Traveler (Kyle Books), making him a famous food person on this side of the Atlantic.

He recalls, “Italy, being the birthplace of opera, was a must (life experience) for me. Of course, eating and learning about the regional food became another obsession.”

i8tonite with Food Person Fred Plotkin: Opera Expert and Author of Six Cookbooks
credit Lana Bortolot

The book is currently in its fifth edition and, rightly, has become a must for all gourmands traveling to the boot country. Although still known as an expert on classical singing, Plotkin has become a foremost authority on Italian cuisine as well, penning another five bestselling and award-winning books including Recipes from Paradise: Life and Food on the Italian Riviera, The Authentic Pasta Book, and La Terra Fortunata: The Splendid Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. After writing about opera for many papers and magazines, Plotkin now finds himself interviewed about on all things epicurean, appearing in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast, and other leading food publications.

Plotkin can be found discussing his first love — all things opera — on Manhattan’s WQXR. And, in his New York City home, he resides in the kitchen with his mistress – Italian cuisine — making some of the best regional food from the country.

Food People Questions (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Everything Italian

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Parmigiano-Reggiano; Organic eggs; Sweet butter; Greek yogurt; Austrian apricot preserves; Organic Italian cherry nectar; Whole organic milk; Prepared mustard; Still water; Oranges; Lemons; Limes

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
The actual savoring of the food or drink being consumed.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Trendy, faddish foodiness, with no real awareness of what a food or ingredient means.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
Carol Field

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Spade for cutting Parmigiano-Reggiano

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian; everything made with fruit.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Fish and seafood!

Favorite vegetable?
Spinach

Chef you most admire?
Michael Romano

Food you like the most to eat?
Pasta

Food you dislike the most?
Sardines

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Opera

Whom do you most admire in food?
Organic farmers; Seed-savers; anyone who provides sustenance to those who need it.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
A tie: Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Liguria, two of Italy’s finest food regions.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Ristorante San Giorgio in Cervo (Liguria), Italy

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None. If I did, it would be of a bunch of cherries

Scrambled Eggs Recipe

i8tonite with Food Person Fred Plotkin: Opera Expert and Author of Six Cookbooks

One of the most difficult things to prepare, and among the most gratifying when done correctly, are scrambled eggs. Doing it right required LOTS of practice. Here is what I do:

Break two large or extra large eggs into a chilled glass bowl, taking care to not get any shell into the eggs. Beat the eggs only until yolks and whites combine. Do not overbeat. Fold in any added ingredient, such as small dollops of scallion cream cheese or a grated cheese, such as cheddar or gruyere. Do not beat the egg mixture if you are adding ingredients. Instead, give the mixture a quick stir.

Melt 1 tbsp. sweet butter in a non-stick pan over the lowest heat possible. This should be a pan you only use for eggs and nothing else. Add the egg mixture, let it set for about 15 seconds. Then, using a non stick (and non metal) spatula, gently move the eggs about, occasionally stopping for a few seconds to let them set. Keep nudging them and sliding them in the pan. No violence…no intense heat, no flipping, no active stirring. Gradually the eggs will come to the degree of doneness you desire and then slide them out of the pan and onto the plate. By cooking slowly, you allow the flavor of the added ingredients to permeate the eggs and also achieve the same temperature as the eggs.
– The End. Go Eat. –

 

 

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash​ Recipe

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash RecipeFor over 25 years, Annie Mahle has honed her craft with both knife and pen. Annie and her husband, Captain Jon Finger, run the Maine windjammer, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin. Not only is Annie a maritime captain, she also is the captain and chef of her galley, where she has been cooking meals on her cast iron wood stove, Lucy. In the winter, she continues to create new recipes and shares them on her recipe and lifestyle blog, At Home & At Sea. Her third cookbook, Sugar & Salt: A Year At Home and At Sea – Book Two is the second in a series of cookbooks featuring a collection of recipes, crafts, thoughts, and stories from Chef Annie’s adventurous life on the coast of Maine.

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash Recipe
Lucy

Chef Mahle notes, “In Sugar & Salt, I share more memories, stories, and recipes that are inspired by my life on the coast of Maine. Whether it’s through my cooking, crafts, or gardening, I’m always creating, and I hope that this book will be a inspiration for the reader.”

 

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash Recipe

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
My first cooking memory is of canning tomatoes with my grandma in her kitchen. Several years later, I had a love affair with chocolate chip cookies. I started cooking professionally after I graduated from college and haven’t looked back!

What is your favorite food to cook?
Anything from the garden but kohlrabi.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Half and half, kale, leftovers.

What do you cook at home?
All of the comfort food.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
I love someone who is willing to try something new. Like oysters. And really savor that first bite.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Boorish or selfish sorts who are unaware of how much airtime and space they take up.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Ball jar.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine. Red. Although I do love creating new cocktails.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Lori Colwin, Laura Brody, Dorie Greenspan. I wish I liked James Beard more.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My santoku. One day I wasn’t thinking and used the tip to pry something open. Rookie move. The tip broke. But then Jon, my husband, ground the tip down to look like a blunt sailor’s knife and I love it.

Your favorite ingredient?
Flour. Or eggs. They can become so many creations.

Your least favorite ingredient?
Kohlrabi. Hate it.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Clean.

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash RecipeFavorite types of cuisine to cook?
The type you eat with family and friends.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork. Flavor, flavor, flavor.

Favorite vegetable?
A ripe tomato picked just off the vine on a warm summer day.

Chef you most admire?
Is it a cliché if I say Julia Child? Well, it’s true.

Food you like the most to eat?
I’m loving poached eggs, kale, and avocado for breakfast right now.

Food you dislike the most?
Food that is too clever for its own good. The sort that looks like the height of art on the plate, but leaves you still feeling hungry and wishing for a burger.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I’ve never gotten a tattoo, but my crew has poked at me for years to get one. I think a tattoo would bore me after a time. If I did get one, it would be a ring of a knife, fork, and spoon around my wrist or bicep.

Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash with Poached Eggs and Asparagus Recipe

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash Recipe

Hash is usually made with leftover meat or fish from a previous meal. Feel free to substitute beef, pollock, or other flavorful fish in place of the pork.
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1⁄2 cups diced parsnips, peeled; about 2 parsnips
5 cups diced red potatoes; about 11⁄2 pounds or 6 potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion; about 1 medium onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic; about 1 clove garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
1 pound cooked pork shoulder or other tender pork meat, pulled apart with a fork into bite sized pieces
1 pound asparagus, ends cut or snapped off; about 1 bunch
Poached Eggs
Herbed Salt (recipe below)

Directions:
Place the parsnips and potatoes in a wide saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. Remove from water with a basket strainer or slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the water hot for the asparagus. In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and onion. Sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the parsnips, potatoes, salt, and pepper and cook until the potatoes begin to brown. Add the pork and sauté until the pork is warm. Remove from heat and cover.

Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute or until the asparagus is tender. Timing will vary with the thickness of the stalks. Remove from water with tongs, transfer to a platter and cover. To the same pot of water, add the vinegar (from Poached Egg recipe) and poach the eggs. Plate the hash, asparagus, and poached eggs and sprinkle the eggs with a pinch of Herbed Salt.

Herbed Salt
Makes about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1⁄2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Store in a glass jar indefinitely.

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküI’ve recently fallen in love with the cuisine of Azerbaijan – thanks to the efforts of Feride Buyuran. With her new cookbook, Pomegranates and Saffron – the first comprehensive cookbook on Azerbaijani cuisine published in the U.S. – and her impressive and inspiring cooking website, http://azcookbook.com/, she’s singlehandedly promoting Azerbaijani cuisine to an audience unfamiliar with it. There are few Azerbaijani restaurants in the US – you can count them on one hand – and while the cuisine is somewhat familiar, because of its Persian, Russian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish influences, much is new and exciting.

Imagine a country where East and West are beautifully intertwined in the cuisine and culture and where its treasured cooking secrets are waiting to be discovered. Welcome to Azerbaijan. In Pomegranates and Saffron, Feride Buyuran takes you on a delightful culinary journey through this beautiful land in the Caucasus.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküIn the cookbook, there are over 200 tempting recipes for appetizers and salads, soups and stews, pasta, meat, vegetable and egg dishes, breads, saffron rice pilafs, aromatic drinks, and desserts, all adapted for preparation in a Western kitchen. Interspersed throughout the text are fascinating glimpses of local culture and traditional proverbs related to food that will make your adventure even more memorable.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

Pomegranates & Saffron has won 4 major awards, including Gourmand Best in the World Award, U.S. Winner of Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Eastern European Cookbook, Living Now Book Award with a Silver Medal in the Ethnic Cookbooks Category, and a National Indie Excellence Award in the International Cookbooks Category.

 

I chatted with Feride via Skype, and as we talked, I grew more and more impressed with her worldview – and cooking. Originally from Azerbaijan, Feride moved to the US about 15 years ago. While she visits home as often as possible, she wanted to cook the foods she grew up with, to satisfy her cravings for food from home. Feride had started a recipe notebook when she was 13, curating those recipes as stories. To supplement that small notebook once she was in the US, she started calling her mom, grandma, sister, and other family members (all excellent home cooks) to ask for recipes from home. She conceived of her cookbook when she was 8 months pregnant (talk about pregnancy food cravings!), and has worked for 7 years on her book and accompanying website. She talked about not giving up on her dream, and gaining an education in the publishing industry – that “it’s a hard road, but so worth it.”

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

It shows. The book is beautiful, informative, and chock full of cultural goodness. The website shares recipes, links to interesting food articles, and travel and cooking inspiration. When I asked Feride what she’d want to say to readers about Azerbaijani cuisine, she noted, “Don’t be scared of the name Azerbaijan. The food is a beautiful melange of cultures, and is unique. The ingredients are widely available in the US and not scary. See for yourself how delicious it is!”

She is the perfect bridge to representing two countries in cooking, an ambassador from Azerbaijan who shares the best way to learn about a place – through its food, recipes, and culture.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

One thing I loved learning about the culture and cuisine of Azerbaijan is the traditional hospitality toward guests. For meals, the table is filled with as many dishes as possible, putting the best you have out for your guests. If there’s a celebration (birthday, wedding) meal, there’s a person at the head of the table to make toasts. Meals are to be lingered over, while enjoying the time spent together.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü
Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Stuffed grape leaves – dolma. Very laborious, but the entire family is crazy about it.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Plain yogurt (homemade) and milk (because I always need a batch to make yogurt again), and fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, etc).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Enjoying the food set in front of him or her and being appreciative.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
An extremely picky eater is the recipe for an unpleasing meal.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküBeer, wine, or cocktail?
Generally speaking, none, as I am not much of a drink lover. But I do enjoy a few sips of wine or cocktail with friends at get-togethers.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I have a few in mind – Faye Levy, Claudia Roden, Darra Goldstein, Anna vom Bremzen, Najmieh Batmanglij, and others. Their books are enlightening and their recipes appeal to my taste.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Cliche, but a good knife and a sturdy cutting board. Also a good blender for those impromptu smoothies.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküFavorite types of cuisine to cook?
Turkish, Azerbaijani, Middle Eastern, Eastern European.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef and chicken. I don’t cook with pork, and tofu is ok once in a while.

Favorite vegetable?
Eggplant all the way, although it is actually a fruit.

Chef you most admire?
No favorite. I don’t want to pick a celebrity chef because there are many chefs out there who are equally talented yet don’t have media exposure. So, to me, any chef who is hard working, creative, yet humble is admirable.

Food you like the most to eat?
I love food of all sorts and anything delicious is good for me. I love anything with eggplant. Also, lamb kabab. And, if it’s pomegranate season, I love the fruit. I also like dried fruits. b. See? My list can continue.

Food you dislike the most?
It’s more of an ingredient – wasabi. Every time I try to like it, my palate says no.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Dancing flamenco (my hobby), reading when my brain is not cluttered, and chatting with friends around tea table.

What do you most admire about food?
Its innate power to bring people together. Everywhere.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At home, in any home. I love homemade foods. They come with stories and if it’s a good company, with a good dose of laughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I really like ethnic restaurants serving traditional or fusion foods. There are a few on my mind but no absolute favorite yet.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. But I am beginning to wonder if a pomegranate tatoo would look good on me.

Recipe: Fresh Herb Kükü

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

In Azerbaijan, kükü (read: kyukyu) is the general name given to dishes in which main ingredients—vegetables, herbs, meat or fish—are bound with eggs, then browned on both sides on a stovetop. It is not to be confused with omelet, as the featured ingredients in kükü are used in far greater amounts than eggs. By its appearance and texture, kükü can be likened to a Persian kookoo, Middle Eastern eggah, Spanish tortilla or Italian frittata.

Simplicity in itself, fresh herb kükü is by far the most popular and the most frequently made kükü of all in the versatile kükü repertoir. In this light summer dish, fresh herbs are mixed with eggs, then the mixture is leveled in a frying pan and cooked in butter on both sides to yield a tender, flavorful interior laced with a golden surface

If you wish, add some fresh mint to the kükü, and if in season, fresh green garlic (green parts only) as well, decreasing the amount of other herbs accordingly. Sometimes, spinach is added too. Herb-laden tender kükü wedges can be served cold or at room temperature as an appetizer or immediately as a light standalone dish with bread or as a side dish to rice pilaf. You can also make it a part of your breakfast and brunch menu. Don’t forget to drizzle the kükü with thick, creamy garlicky yogurt sauce, for that extra touch of authenticity.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 packed cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 packed cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup fresh green onions
5 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup unsalted butter or clarified butter (can substitute olive oil)
Garlicky yogurt sauce (mix 1 cup plain yogurt with crushed garlic to taste) or plain yogurt, to serve

Instructions
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped fresh herbs and eggs. Season with salt and pepper, then stir with a spoon to mix well.
Melt the butter or oil over medium heat in a 10-inch non-stick frying pan. Pour the herb-egg mixture into the pan to fill it completely, leveling it with the back of a spoon. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes.
Using a knife, carefully cut the Kükü into 4 wedges (or 8 if you wish). Gently turn the wedges over to brown the other side. If you need to, add more butter or oil to the pan.
Remove the cooked Kükü from the heat and transfer it onto a serving platter. Serve with bread or as accompaniment to rice pilaf.
Separately serve a bowl with garlicky yogurt sauce or plain yogurt, to spoon onto Kükü to taste.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Author and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

i8tonite with Hawaiian Author and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahiSonia R. Martinez was born in the island of Cuba, and has always been drawn to tropical climes and cuisines. For the last 22 years she has lived on the Island of Hawai’i in a beautiful rain forest where she loves to play in the garden, grow herbs, collect cookbooks, test recipes, visiting farms; learning and reporting about new sustainable growing techniques, read voraciously, and work on crossword puzzles.

Her passion for food and cooking led her to own kitchen/gourmet shops and cooking schools first in Orangeburg, South Carolina and later in the Miami, Florida area. After moving to Hawai’i, she and her son owned Akaka Falls Inn, a B&B, cooking school and gourmet shop in Honomu for several years.

She has been a food writer and columnist since early 1999, writing a monthly column for The Hamakua Times newspaper of Honoka’a. Sonia is also a regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine as well as many other local publications. I first met Sonia in the early days of Gather, a website that featured great writing and an even greater community. Her recipes, photos of life in Hawai’i, and generous, smiling personality attracted many followers, including myself. Her care and attention is genuine and I consider her decade+ friendship one of the best things coming from the islands to Michigan! She has been a beacon for visitors to visit Hawai’i, promoting the delicious local foods there, as well as encouraging healthy and fresh eating. Her recipes, food photos, and sharing of local farmer’s markets, island food, and the beautiful place she lives in has inspired countless readers.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahiHer cookbook Tropical Taste, published in 2001, is a compilation of three years’ worth of monthly columns published in The Hamakua Times and is now in its second printing after being picked as one of the “Best of the Best” cookbooks in Hawai’i by Quail Ridge Press. Her second cookbook, From Soup to Nuts, was published a year ago .

Sonia has maintained a blog for several years, sharing her adventures in food and gardening and her ongoing love affair with Hawai’i at www.soniatasteshawaii.com

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

 

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Mainly simple and fresh…but I grew up with the ‘waste not’ concept and love to find creative ways to recycle leftovers so they don’t look or taste like leftovers.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Eggs, butter, cheese…I can live on cheese.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Appreciation and enjoyment of the food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Inattention to the food or the other extreme, showing off their ‘gourmandise’

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Definitely wine…unless I’m eating a paella or Arroz con Pollo…then I do enjoy a very cold beer. I am not fond of cocktails.

Your favorite cookbook author?
This is a hard one. At one time I owned a collection of well over 3000 cookbooks. Lost them in a fire, but in no time at all, my ‘new’ collection grew by leaps and bounds with gifts from friends who were trying to replace the lost ones, plus the many I added through the years. A couple of years ago, I started going through them and culling them to a manageable 4 shelf units in my office and hallway instead of all over the house. It was a time of hard decisions, but now know exactly what I have and where to find it…No mean feat, since I still own about 500, give or take.

I have an extensive collection of Cuban and Hawaiian cookbooks; a few Spanish & Portuguese, some Italian ones and Tropical Fruit ones, plus several on herbs & spices, a few single topic ones (sushi, dim sum, chocolate) and several of the classics that don’t fit into any of the categories mentioned…and of course, my own two titles, Tropical Taste and From Soup to Nuts.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My Santoku knife…I seem to reach for that one above all other ones.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Tropical, Cuban, Italian.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
I’ll eat anything but am most creative with chicken. I am not fond of tofu.

Favorite vegetable?
Asparagus, any way it can be prepared.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

Chef you most admire?
Although I have met a few of the well-known chefs in the culinary world, and admire several of them, I will have to say that there are three ‘local’ chefs I admire the most on this island. Sam Choy of Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai in Kailua-Kona, James Babian of Pueo’s Osteria in Waikoloa, and Diana Soler of Aloha Bayfront Café in Hilo, for their commitment to using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and their honest approach to food. Simple, fresh, beautifully prepared and presented without ostentation.

Food you like the most to eat?
Any shellfish but love scallops

Food you dislike the most?
Anything that is an imitation of the real thing

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Play in the garden…I love planting edibles among our ornamental landscaping (I even joy weeding!), and am a voracious reader.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi
View from Sonia’s back yard

Who do you most admire in food?
My mentor and inspiration from way back has always been Shirley O. Corriher, who came to my first cooking school as a guest cooking teacher fairly often in the early 80s. She demystified so many of my preconceived notions in cooking and her enthusiasm and love of all things food served as great encouragement.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
A good sushi or seafood restaurant.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Takenoko’s Sushi in Hilo, is in my opinion the best sushi restaurant anywhere. We’re lucky if we can get reservations since the waiting list is so long, but it is well worth the waiting. I also enjoy dropping by Aloha Bayfront Café in Hilo for lunch. The food is always fresh, delicious, and beautifully presented, the staff is friendly, and you’re never rushed to vacate the table.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. My mother would have killed me!

Recipe: Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

One of my favorite simple and healthy meals to prepare at home when I can buy fresh ‘ahi (tuna) is my version of a Salade Niçoise.

Season to taste fresh ‘ahi (tuna), sear in avocado oil, serve on a bed of fresh spinach or Manoa lettuce, boiled potato wedges, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, sliced onions, a handful of lightly steamed haricot vert, and asparagus, dressed simply with Honey Wine Vinegar to which I had added a vanilla bean.

 

The End. Go Eat. 

All photos courtesy and copyright Sonia R. Martinez

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill RecipeNiya Sisk is an editorial illustrator, designer, and author. She is happiest in the with either a wooden spoon or pencil in hand. Niya was raised in Northern California, where she built tree forts to host pretend dinner parties for the kids in the neighborhood. Luckily, she now has a real kitchen for real dinner parties.  She recently created a gluten free cake cookbook, Cakes of Color—a purse size portable gallery of cake art with modern organic cake recipes. Cakes of Color: Gluten free recipes, illustrated and catalogued by color, was inspired by the Food and Wine section of The Art of Daily Cultivation. They Draw and Cook features  her Green Tea Cake recipe in their wonderful world of food illustration.

Cakes of Color is a gorgeous cookbook, full of inspiration, joy, and, of course, color. Cakes of Color was approved to retail in 5 Whole Foods stores in the Bay Area in 2015. She’s currently illustrating a coloring book featuring food & wine and a portable gift book featuring her favorite recipes for clients and friends. Find more colorful inspiration at Niya’s Instagram.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I have a few of those.
Native American Crab & Corn Cakes with Abodo Sauce comes to mind immediately. I learned of this dish while in Sedona at the Enchantment Resort Mii Amo Cafe. The cookbook is simply exquisite. I brought it home with me, along with a beautiful wool cape. The cape has nothing to do with how good the food turned out. Well, who knows, maybe it did. Food and ritual are so closely tied. The Crab and Corn Cakes are very authentic and so delicious with the Abodo Sauce. I love to serve them with Champagne and arugula salad.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill RecipeAnother favorite is a simple comfort food recipe my mother taught me growing up – rosemary chicken. It’s such a flexible recipe. The staples are rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. But I will add ingredients like a bit lemon or olives and roast some red potatoes.
And I haven’t even begun to talk about Salmon. That’s nearly a staple in my home.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Carrots with parsley for my pet rabbit.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Slow eating, passion for the art of conversation, and a love for red wine. Okay that was 3 characteristics. But they all go together in a person who loves life.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
That’s easy. Mobile phone at the table. Looking at a person while enjoying amazing food is such a luxury these days. I’m a redhead. A statistic when it comes to all that means. Fiery and quirky, often unpredictable. If a mobile phone is on the table, I simply can’t take responsibility for my actions after that. ; D

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill RecipeBeer, wine, or cocktail?
A full bodied Spanish wine. Smooth, complex and opens up in rhythm with the conversation in play.

Your favorite cookbook author?
This is the hardest question yet. Alice Medrich is right up there. She has a gift for bringing history alive with her use of flours in baking. Baking is my main passion. I’ve learned so much from her. She’s such a master at gluten-free she’s removed the word from her taster’s vocabulary.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My bright lime green spatula. I swear it’s my new power tool.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Salads, Cakes (desserts), Seafood.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken.

Favorite vegetable?
Jicama. But my rabbit is convincing me (with his abundant enthusiasm) that kale is best thing on earth.

Chef you most admire?
Maggie, the chef at Omnivores Cookbook, is amazing. She has recently captivated my imagination with how authentic, fresh and accessible her Chinese cooking recipes are. And her photographs are stunning. I’ve always been afraid of cooking Chinese but she makes it so captivating and easy. So delicious.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe
coffee on the beach (SF)

Food you like the most to eat?
Unfortunately, I’m crazy about CAKE. Luckily I also mountain bike and swim. ; D

Food you dislike the most?
No matter how amazing and awesomely cooked a beet is, I still can’t like it. People have tried. Oh, have they!

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Paint on a large canvas to loud and gorgeous music. Or illustrate whatever book I have in process. Coloring books, art books, cookbooks have been the theme the past 4 years.

Who do you most admire in food?
Deborah Madison, Greens Cookbook San Francisco. I have admired her for 20 years. I’ve worked through most of the recipes in Greens Cookbook. I have to say, I think she is a genius. Her meals, like Eggplant Gratin with Saffron Custard, could save the planet. So good.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
France. So creative and delicious. So much history. I never worry, I’m always up for all food adventures in France. Especially Paris and a few tiny village towns in the South of France.

What is your favorite restaurant?
That changes every month. I’m always food adventuring wherever I am. Right now, it’s Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon. I was blissed out for days after just one meal there.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
All my tattoos are on paper. I love to sketch, watercolor, monoprint the many colors and shapes of food. Food illustration is big passion.

Salmon and dinner party prep. Salmon recipe included. Illustrated for the Food & Wine section of The Art of Daily Cultivation by Niya C Sisk.

Recipe: Salmon with Lemon and Dill
Recipe adapted from Shauna Prince, Portland, Oregon

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe
Illustrated for the Food & Wine section of The Art of Daily Cultivation by Niya C Sisk.

Ingredients – serves 8

Two whole fillets of salmon (skin on/or skin off, ideally wild, around 2 ½ pounds each fillet)
Four medium lemons – two sliced in rounds (with skin on), one juiced, one sliced in wedges for garnish
1½ oz butter
Half a medium white or brown onion, cut in thin slices or wedges
3 tablespoons of white wine (optional)
1½ teaspoons of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of fresh dill – chopped. Plus sprigs for garnish
Salt (approx. ¼ tsp Kosher salt)
Freshly ground pepper (approx. ¼ tsp)
1½  tablespoons of olive oil

Method

Lightly sweat onion in butter until soft, but not browned. Add white wine, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Stir together and cool.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill RecipeFor each fillet, cut a piece of aluminum foil and a piece of parchment each slightly more than twice as long as your piece of fish. Be sure it’s large enough to fold over and seal your fish lengthwise. Lay the foil on the counter, then add the parchment paper on top of the foil. Place the fillet on top of the parchment – near one of the ends, skin side down. Repeat with the second fillet.

i8tonite: Illustrator and author Niya Sisk & Salmon with Lemon and Dill Recipe
For the love of Olive Oil

Brush the top and bottom of each fillet lightly to coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour half the butter/wine/mustard/lemon juice mixture evenly over each fillet. Lay round slices of lemon, and chopped dill on top of the fish. Close up the foil packets to seal.

Heat up barbecue to 350F or medium-high heat (or your oven to 350F). Place fish packets on grill. Cook until the fish flakes lightly (be careful not to overcook it). Timing will depend on how thick your fish is – likely 10+ minutes for 1½ inch thick.

Serve with additional lemon wedges and dill sprigs. You can also make an easy accompanying sauce with good mayonnaise mixed with a small amount of lemon juice and salt. Add chopped capers and dill to the sauce if you like.

* Leftover salmon makes amazing fish cakes. Flake the fish, add 1- 2 lightly beaten raw eggs, any herbs that you want (e.g. dill, tarragon, sorrel), and enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together (panko works well). Add additional salt/pepper to your taste. Form into balls, and cook in a lightly oiled or buttered frying pan until brown. Turn and brown on the other side, and serve with lemon aioli.

 

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: with America’s First Culinary Couple, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

NOTE:  This is an original post we wrote in October 2015.  We like to pull a Saturday Night Live, and occasionally have rebroadcasts. Heh.

Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough are America’s first culinary couple sort of like Julia Child and Jacques Pepin except, they are married, like Lucy and Desi. As a business partnership, they have written 26 cookbooks and ghost-written six more for star vanity projects. Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter (2010) and Vegetarian Dinner Parties (2014) were nominated for the coveted James Beard Award for “Best Cookbook”. As a couple, they have been together for 19 years – meeting in an AOL chatroom while living in New York City. Even then, they were ahead of their time.

There isn’t a comparative food coupling in the culinary world like Bruce and Mark.  Certainly, not cooking in a restaurant, on a Food Network or Cooking Channel show. Or for that matter on PBS or Logo. Instead of going through today’s star-making channels – YouTube and reality television – the pair did it the old-fashioned way. Hard work.

You might say, “What about so-and-so?” They started on reality television running around the world.

“What about the Food Network’s blah?” They stick to one food type.

“What about…?” Nay. She was a well-known actress before she met her husband.

Bruce and Mark are a team, having written and eaten their way to a successful career and a country Connecticut home. They finish each other’s sentences in the adoring, long-time love affair way and they laugh at each other’s jokes.  If Woody Allen were casting for a movie during his Annie Hall days, Bruce and Mark would embody the  perfect museum-going Manhattan pair. Smart. Literate. Witty.

The type-A personality couple spends almost 24 hours together but maintain separate endeavors to keep the relationship strong. Weinstein, the cook of the couple, knits runway-ready sweaters (of course, he does) and has written a book about it (of course, he has). Scarbrough, the writer and academic, teaches Chaucer (of course, he does) and has just created an iTunes podcast for the couple (of course, he has). Supposedly, they do play a mean game of bridge as partners in their off-time from the stove and computer.

Somewhere – amongst over two dozen cookbooks written –the prolific twosome has time to appear on QVC hawking mass cookbooks about pressure cookers to mid-Western cooking hobbyists. There’s also the column contribution to Weight Watcher’s online  and they can be viewed on Craftsy.com espousing on – what else? – cooking.

Pressure Cooker
Photo by Eric Medsker

Like fellow comedic pairings before them, such as Gracie Allen and George Burns,  making the audience laugh is much a part of who they are as what they do when whipping up garlicky mash potatoes. It’s a blend of entertainment and cooking.

To the outsider looking in,  their relationship seems to embody a lot of laughter….and eating. And drinking…. with lots of laughing. For Bruce and Mark, it all appears to be about having fun and enjoying life. After all is said and done, the inspiring pair is enjoying it all except they would like to have a little bubbly with all that love.

Food People Questionnaire:

What is your favorite food to cook at home?

Ham_ An Obesession with The Hindquarter
Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarters. Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Bruce: Oxtails, beef tongue, or veal cheeks—tough choice.

Mark: As you can see, there’s no need for me to cook at home. I write the books. I get fed. It’s a great trade-off.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?

Bruce: See the above answer.

Mark: Skim milk—because I think it actually makes the best foam for my morning four-shot latte.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Bruce: A nice shirt—I’m going to be looking at it all night.

Mark: Well, maybe not, Bruce! I really like good conversation skills. Give-and-take. Back-and-forth. First time someone says, “Another thing about me is . . .” I’m out of there.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Bruce: Slurping solid food.

Mark: Texting. Please. Stop.

Beer, wine or cocktail?

Bruce: Cocktail to start, wine with, beer after.

Mark: Wine. I hear they’re making it in other colors besides red these days. Wouldn’t know.

Your favorite cookbook author?

Bruce: Fuchsia Dunlop. My Sichuan master.

Mark: Abby Dodge. It’s right every time.

Your favorite kitchen tool?

Hands by Martinak15Bruce: My hands.

Mark: His cleaned and dried hands.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?

Bruce: Anything east of India. Crazy about Sichuan these days. Want to come over for a ten-course tasting dinner?

Mark: Worcestershire sauce. Seriously. I make the best.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu?

Bruce: If only tofu had bones.

Mark: Well, lately, salmon fillets. Cilantro, mint, sliced fresh jalapeños, olive oil, crunchy salt. Trust me.

Favorite vegetable?

ArtichokesBruce: Artichokes, preferably trimmed and cleaned by someone else

Mark: Winter squashes as so much. I had a roasted Blue Hubbard the other night that was orgasmic.

Chef you most admire?

Bruce: Tony Wu. Ever see this guy hand-pull noodles? Check out his youtube videos.

Mark: Right now, Daniel Eddy at Rebelle in New York City. Kick. Ass. Food.

Food you like the most to eat?

Bruce: Grilled burger any day of the week.

ƒEpoisses
Photo by Edsel Little.

Mark: I have a healthy appetite. Enough said. But my choice indulgence is Époisses de Bourgogne.

Food you dislike the most?

Bruce: Root beer. I have to wipe it off my tongue with a rag.

Mark: Jell-O. Period. Also, panna cotta, its evil twin.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?

Bruce: Play Chopin preludes.

Mark: Read lyric poetry. I have a podcast on it. Check it out: Lyric Life on iTunes.

Who do you most admire in food?

Bruce: Bill Niman. He changed the way we think about food in this country.

Mark: My agent. Twenty-seven cookbooks sold for us ain’t too bad.

Where is your favorite place to eat?

Bruce: Siena. No questions.

Mark: Joucas, France. (There’s only one restaurant. See below.)

What is your favorite restaurant?

Beach Point Coast, Prince Edward Island
Beach Point Coast, Prince Edward Island

Bruce: Richard’s Fresh Seafood on Covehead Wharf in the national park on Prince Edward Island, Canada

Mark: The restaurant at Le Mas des Herbes Blanches in Joucas, France. Go in the summer when the lavender fields are in bloom against the red cliffs of Roussillon down in the valley.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?

Bruce: Some things you have to leave to the imagination.

Mark: No. And I still have things you can imagine.

Ricotta/Spinach Dumplings, Parmesan Cream Sauce (6 servings)

Vegetable Dinner Parties
Photo by Eric Medsker

From Bruce and Mark:  Winter weekends are made for dinner parties. As the sun sets early and the darkness creeps over our yard, we banish the cold by lighting the candles and serving hearty, warming fare like this casserole. The tender, spiced, even lemony dumplings are baked in a simple cream sauce that emphasizes their luxurious texture while softening some of their sweetness. It’s best minutes out of the oven, so plan your timing carefully.

  • One 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 8 ounces regular or part-skim ricotta
  • 4 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup semolina flour, plus additional for rolling the dumplings
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced dill fronds
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole or 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine, such as a California Chardonnay
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
  1. Squeeze the thawed spinach by the handful over the sink to remove excess moisture, then crumble it into a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the ricotta, pecorino, egg yolks, semolina, chives, dill, zest, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the salt, and nutmeg to form a wet but coherent dough. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Spread more semolina flour on a large plate. Use damp, clean hands to form the dough into 24 balls, each about the size of a golf ball, rolling them one by one in the semolina to coat thoroughly before setting them on a large lipped baking sheet.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, add 5 or 6 dumplings and boil for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them out, drain them, and transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
  5. Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
  6. Make the sauce by melting the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until a creamy paste. Slowly whisk in the milk in a steady, fine stream until the paste has dissolved. Whisk in the wine and continue whisking over the heat until thickened and bubbling, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, then pour this sauce over the dumplings in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper over the casserole.
  7. Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Ahead: Complete the recipe through step 6 up to 2 hours in advance; store, lightly covered, at room temperature.

Garnish: Although we’re not a fan of side dishes at dinner parties, this casserole could use a little contrast. Spoon the baked dumplings and sauce onto plates, accompanied by grilled asparagus spears, drizzled with a flavorful but light vinaigrette.

Note: Make sure the lemon zest is in fine bits. If you don’t use a small-bored microplane to grate the zest, mince it on a cutting board to make sure no one ends up with a big thread in a single dumpling.

The End. Go Eat. 

(Correction: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s monthly column was incorrectly attributed to Fine Cooking Magazine. It is Weight Watcher’s Online.)

 

I8tonite with Food Person: San Francisco’s FoodGal, Carolyn Jung

Carolyn Jung and Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai
Carolyn Jung and Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai

For more than fifty years San Francisco’s Bay Area is  considered to be North America’s epicurean kingdom – long before the term Silicon Valley entered into our lexicon and made it a technology-based realm.  With American Wine Country, Napa and Sonoma, sitting at the back door along with Thomas Keller’s famed French Laundry, Charles Phan’s Slanted Door, Cindy Pawlcyn’s Mustard Grill and Fog City Diner leading the culinary pack, it’s also created and ushered some of the country’s best wordsmiths and journalists in the world of food and wine.  Michael Bauer, John Birdsall, Amy Sherman, Marcia Gagliardi, Harvey Steinman all stand at M.F.K Fisher’s door including winning awards from the famed epicurean organization James Beard. However, for almost two decades, James Beard award-winner Carolyn Jung, the former food editor at San Jose Mercury News, and sole proprietor of FoodGal.com, have put on a different face to the Northern Californian dining scene.  Residing outside the kingdom’s walls in the San Jose area, although  born and raised in the City by The Bay –  Jung’s writing’s on the area’s food scene is full of knowledge and has made her one of the pre-eminent voices in the national culinary circle . FoodGal is  read far outside Northern California with readers international in scope. She is also one of the area’s non- Caucasian food media which we discussed at length after she posted an article from First We Feast about the lack of diversity in food writing.

A true San Franciscan, Jung was born at Clay and Polk to Chinese parents. She was then raised in Diamond Heights, near Twin Peaks where the roads are all named after gemstones. Jung has been at the forefront of San Francisco’s cookery explosion reporting first-hand on its continued national influence including visiting my client, at the time, The Restaurant at Meadowood when it received its second star Michelin star under Chef Christopher Kostow.

Jung with Chef Alex Ong, formerly of Michelin Bib Gourmand Betelnut
Jung with Chef Alex Ong, formerly of Michelin Bib Gourmand Betelnut

Before becoming the food editor at San Jose Mercury News, which she refers to as “the Merc”, her beat was on race and demographics. She says about the transition to food writer, “In a great way, my previous beat allowed me to transition seamlessly into the food one. There were so many times on my former beat where I’d start to report on a story, and community leaders would always say, ‘Let’s go eat first.’ Food has always been important around the discussion of community. It may be a cliche, but breaking bread with someone really is the ultimate icebreaker.”

After she was laid off in 2008 from San Jose’s leading newspaper, she craved an avenue to continue communicating with the readers she carefully cultivated, hence FoodGal.com which has nearly a hundred thousand unique visitors per month. It’s where Jung continues to use her journalistic reporting on the area she loves so much and the epicurean people and foodstuff within.  When asked if she ever considered leaving, she responded, “I had several opportunities before I left the newspaper but I wanted to stay. My parents lived here. I’ve also love working the Bay Area and its diversity. We start the food trends – although New Yorkers might disagree.”

Jung is also a gifted emcee hosting many events throughout the Bay Area including many of the Macy’s cooking demos in Santa Clara as well as in San Francisco.

She just completed for the fourth year Chefs’ Holidays at Yosemite’s luxury Ahwanhee Hotel. Upcoming, Jung will be at Macy’s on February 10th with Pastry Chef, Christy Ikezi.

Her cookbook on her hometown San Francisco Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the City by The Bay is available at leading retailers and online. Her stories have also appeared in San Francisco Chronicle, VIA and Eating Well.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

Book Cover: San Francisco Chef's Table
Book Cover: San Francisco Chef’s Table

What is your favorite food to cook at home? Does baking cookies count? It is my favorite thing to make. In fact, there are times when I get so stressed with deadlines that I think, “I must go bake some cookies right now — or else!” It’s my relaxation; and my vice.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Condiments of all kinds — I love them. Cheese; fresh seasonal fruit; good jam; and a jar of preserved Meyer lemons (I make them every winter with lemons from my dwarf tree).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Good conversationalist, great sense of humor, and a willingness to try most anything at least once.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? Talking about themselves non-stop, taking no interest in the other people they are dining with, and staring at their cell phone constantly.

Comrades in arms: (L to R) Pastry Chef Rodney Cerdan of Prospect Restaurant, yours truly, Chef Will Pacio of Spice Kit, and photographer Craig Lee

Beer, wine or cocktail? I like all three. But I am partial to a creative and balanced cocktail, followed by wine — if someone else is driving me back home.

Your favorite cookbook author? My friend Andrea Nguyen, because she is so meticulous with her recipes, and we share a love for perfect dumplings. Joanne Chang and Emily Luchetti because their baking recipes never disappoint. Bruce Aidells because he is the authority on meat. Jean-Georges Vongerichten because he is as renowned and sophisticated a chef as there is, yet he can actually write recipes that won’t make your head spin, teach you practical techniques you may not have known before, and create distinctive, flavorful dishes that one can actually make at home.

Your favorite kitchen tool? My Le Creuset Dutch oven. In fall, winter and spring, it gets a real workout, as I use it for all manner of soups, stews and braises. Not to mention, it’s a looker in dazzling blue.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Most anything. That’s the fun part about getting so many cookbooks to try — you get to learn about so many different cuisines and cultures. And of course, the baking books are always the ones I look at first.
Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’m going to have to go with pork because it’s such an important part of my Chinese heritage. Plus, pork is so versatile. And let’s face it, so delicious, too.

AbsintheGermanChocolateCake
Absinthe German Chocolate Cake: Photo by Carolyn Jung. 

Favorite vegetable? I would like to say heirloom tomatoes, but that’s a fruit, despite what most people think. So, I’ll go with asparagus. I look forward to its appearance every spring, then go crazy buying it every week at the farmers market, until its season comes to an end all too quickly. I like it especially grilled or roasted, which brings out its natural sweetness.
Chef you most admire? There are so many. I give them so much credit for how hard they work, the endless hours they put in, cooking on the line, on weekends and holidays, and missing so much family time. I admire Thomas Keller for being a class act, and always pursuing perfection; Jamie Oliver for shining a light on childhood obesity; and Jose Andres for working to get solar ovens in third-world countries, where young women are often accosted, beaten or raped while trying to gather firewood for their families.

 

Ginger Apricot Cookies
Ginger Apricot Cookies from Carolyn Jung’s website. Recipe available. Photo by Carolyn Jung.

Food you like the most to eat? Have I mentioned cookies? OK, well, there’s also my obsession with kouign-amanns. Basically, if I could eat pastries morning, noon and night — without any consequences — I would.
Food you dislike the most? I’ll try anything once. But I must say after having natto once, I probably don’t need to have it again.
What is your favorite non-food thing to do? Exercise (heck, I do have to burn all the calories I consume); read a good book for hours on end (a luxury I rarely have time for, unfortunately, except when I’m on a long plane ride); treat myself to a spa day (yeah, that happens about once every five years); catch up on movies with my husband; hang out with friends and family (though, that most often does involve food in some shape or form); and watch “American Ninja Warrior” (yes, I’ll cop to that).
Who do you most admire in food? Farmers, who are so dedicated, don’t make a whole lot of money in return, and have to put up with the uncertainties of Mother Nature year in and year out. Without the work they do, our lives would be a whole lot less delicious, nutritious, and full of wonderment.
Where is your favorite place to eat? It can be a fancy restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall, or even my own home — as long as the company is delightful, the food prepared with care and love, and the vibe comfortable, relaxing, and stimulating.
What is your favorite restaurant? Depends on my mood, craving, and thickness of my wallet on any given day. I could pick The French Laundry because I’ve had several memorable meals there, and my husband actually proposed to me in the parking lot there. I could choose Yank Sing because I adore its dim sum, and I held my wedding banquet there. I could say Nathan Myhrvold’s “Modernist Cuisine” lab, because I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually dine there. Or I could pick the Honolulu bare-bones, plate-lunch spot, Nico’s Pier 38, where chilly and bleary-eyed after getting up at the crack of dawn to tour the Honolulu Fish Auction, I ate a simple ahi omelet made with fresh fish from that auction, while sitting outside as the sun came up on a glorious Hawaii morning.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None. My Mom never would have approved of that.

Carolyn Jung’s Recipe:

Chicken stir-fry over Hong Kong noodles at M.Y. China restaurant in San Francisco, California, on Friday, May 10, 2013. Photo by Craig Lee
Chicken stir-fry over Hong Kong noodles at M.Y. China restaurant in San Francisco, California, on Friday, May 10, 2013. Photo by Craig Lee

I chose this dish because it’s nearly Chinese New Year’s. It’s also a dish that reminds me of the type of comforting, satisfying food my Mom used to cook when I was growing up. I’d pick the crispy noodles out of the pan with my fingers, as she’d shoo me away. When it was finally ready, my brothers and I would line up at the stove to help ourselves to a tangle of noodles, and sit down to a bowl of joy.

Crispy Noodles with X.O. Chicken & Bok Choy
(Serves 4)

For the marinade:
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1∕8 teaspoon ground white pepper
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons chicken broth
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon X.O. sauce (available in jars at Asian markets)
1 teaspoon chili bean sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar

For the rest of the dish:
8 ounces fresh, thin Chinese egg noodles
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 fresh hot red chili, thinly sliced
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, caps only, sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise

To make the marinade: Combine the rice wine, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and stir to coat evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.

To make the sauce: Combine the broth, soy sauce, rice wine, X.O. sauce, chili bean sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

To cook the noodles: In a large pot of boiling water, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water, and drain again.

Place a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Spread the noodles in the pan and press lightly to make a firm cake. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the noodle pancake over, add 1 more tablespoon oil around the edges of the pan, and cook until second side is golden brown, 3–4 minutes. Remove to a serving plate and keep warm.

Place a stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirling to coat sides. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the marinated chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to a small bowl and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan over high heat, swirling to coat the sides. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauce and bring it to a boil. Add the bok choy, cover, and cook for 1 minute.

Return the chicken to pan and stir to heat through. Pour on top of the noodle pancake and serve immediately.

Recipe Courtesy of San Francisco Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the City by the Bay by Carolyn Jung. Photo by Craig Lee.

The end. Go eat.

 

 

i8tonite with Abby Dodge, Pastry Chef and Cookbook author … and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés

What began as a love for baking at a young age, developed into a i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffléspassionate and successful career for Abby Dodge. A widely respected, award-winning expert in baking and cooking for both kids and adults, as well as a popular food writer, instructor and media personality, Abby has a simple mission: To streamline baking and cooking for home cooks of all ages.

She studied in Paris at La Varenne and worked under superstars Michel Guerard and Guy Savoy, specializing in pastry. She has held food editorial posts at Parents and Woman’s Day, and has contributed to over seven dozen special-interest publications focusing on baking and family cooking. Abby is currently a contributing editor at Fine Cooking magazine, where she has been on the masthead since its first issue in 1994. She founded the magazine’s test kitchen, has written and contributed to over eighty articles to date, and serves as the magazine’s guru for all things baking.

In addition to her regular blog postings, Abby hosts a Baking Boot Camp video class on the popular site Craftsy.com, where she teaches and encourages an international group of bakers of all skill levels to become better bakers.

The Everyday Baker. Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby DodgeHer tenth book, The Everyday Baker ~ Recipes & Techniques For Foolproof Baking (The Taunton Press, Dec. 2015), has just been released to much critical praise – including my own! I love this book – and have recommended it far and wide. It’s the most comprehensive – and interesting – baking cookbook I’ve ever seen (and I own more than 5,000 cookbooks). I love the detailed instructions (with photos), as well as the creative, intriguing recipes (176 of them!). I’ve reviewed many of Abby’s cookbooks through the years – they are all amazing, and keep getting better. Highly recommended.

Abby’s  Ten Popular and Award-Winning Cookbooks:

  • The Everyday Baker ~ Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking, 2015 (Washington Post Top Ten Cookbooks of 2015; Dorie Greenspan Top Baking Cookbooks of 2015)
  • Mini Treats & Handheld Treats ~ Delicious Desserts to Pick Up & Eat (September, 2012)
  • Desserts 4 Today – Flavorful Desserts with just FOUR INGREDIENTS , 2010 (a viral & critically acclaimed sensation)
  • Williams-Sonoma Mini Pies, 2010
  • Around the World Cookbook, 2008 (Good Morning America Top 10 Cookbooks of 2008; Parents Choice Recommended Award 2008; Cordon d’Or Culinary Academy Award 2008)
  • The Weekend Baker, 2005, reprinted 2008 (Food + Wine Top Ten Cookbooks of 2004; IACP Cookbook Award Finalist)
  • Kids Baking, 2003 (Over 347,000 copies in print, translated into Spanish)
  • Williams-Sonoma Dessert, 2002 (Over 300,000 in print, translated into Spanish)
  • The Kid’s Cookbook, 2000 (Over 368,000 copies in print)
  • Great Fruit Desserts, 1997 (Translated into six languages)

Abby has also contributed or co-authored many cookbooks, including:

  • Baking Out Loud (Hedy Goldsmith, Clarkson Potter 2012)
  • B. Smith’s Southern A to Z (Scribner, 2008)
  • The Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition, 2006
  • Savoring America, 2002 (James Beard Award finalist; Ben Franklin Award winner)
  • Cookies for Christmas, 1999
  • The All New Joy of Cooking, 1997

 

Banana Rum Truffle Tart. i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés
Banana Rum Truffle Tart

 

Food Questions (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Eggs. Easy & options abound.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Unsalted butter.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Keeping it real – no posers at my table.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Open-mouth chewer.

Beer, wine or cocktail?
Yes, please.

Maple Pear Slab Pie. Banana Rum Truffle Tart. i8tonite with Abby Dodge: Pastry Chef and Cookbook author…and her Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés
Maple Pear Slab Pie

Your favorite cookbook author?
I’m promoting a book so.. me.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My Oxo kitchen scale

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French… Italian… Greek… Spanish… don’t make me chose.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Easy: Chicken

Favorite vegetable?
Brussel sprouts but ask me again tomorrow, I happily bounce all over the veggie aisle.

Chef you most admire?
Alfred Portale – insanely gifted, a bear to work for & surprisingly shy.

Food you like the most to eat?
Cake. Make mine chocolate and in big pieces, please.

Food you dislike the most?
I’ll take some heat for this one but… beets. Chalk it up to a bad childhood experience.
Don’t ask.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Watching RHOBH with my darling daughter- a guilty pleasure.

Who do you most admire in food?
Michael Rulhman. A straight talker and brilliant writer worth listening to.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
On a warm day, I’ll be sitting at an outside table, preferably by the water. Please pass the Rose.

What is your favorite restaurant?
See above.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
My Motto: Don’t answer questions that you don’t want your kids to read.

Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby Dodge
Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle

Recipe: Lemon Ginger Mousse Soufflés from The Everyday Baker

Serves 6

These light, billowy individual soufflé-like mousses are a variation on a pie filling in my book, The Weekend Baker. Instead of adding heavy cream to the mousse, I use puréed ricotta (for a smooth texture) to add richness without heaviness. The lemon and fresh ginger make for a refreshing flavor profile, but it’s the ginger cookies hidden inside that are the surprise ingredient. Softened by the mousse, they bring texture and a burst of ginger flavor.

Adding a collar of parchment adds additional height to the ramekins. This way you can mimic the impressive height of a baked soufflé without the need for any last-minute fussing.

Neutral oil (safflower, canola, vegetable, or corn), for the
ramekins

For the mousse
3⁄4 cup (180 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 envelope (1⁄4 oz./7 g) unflavored powdered gelatin
11⁄4 cups (111⁄4 oz./319 g) ricotta (part skim is fine)
3⁄4 cup (51⁄2 oz./156 g) granulated sugar
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
Pinch of table salt
4 whites from large eggs (4 oz./ 113 g), at room temperature
1⁄2 tsp. cream of tartar
1⁄2 cup (2 oz./57 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy

12 gingersnap cookies + more for the crushed cookie topping
(I use Nabisco or homemade molasses cookies)

Blackberry Compote (recipe in the book) or other berry sauces, optional

Have ready six 6-oz. (180 ml) ramekins (31⁄2 inches wide and 12⁄3 inches high/9 cm wide and 4.25 cm high) arranged on a flat plate or quarter sheet pan. Cut parchment into six strips 21⁄2 inches (6 cm) wide and 12 inches (30.5 cm) long. Wrap one strip around each ramekin so that the paper covers the ramekin and stands 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the rim; secure with tape. Lightly grease the inside of the paper rim (I use a paper towel dipped in a bit of neutral oil).

Make the mousse
1. Pour the lemon juice into a small heatproof ramekin (or keep it in the measuring cup) and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Set aside to soften. Once the gelatin has absorbed the liquid and is plump (about 3 minutes), microwave briefly until it is completely melted and crystal clear, 1 to 2 minutes. This can also be done in a small saucepan (instead of the ramekin) over low heat.

2. Put the ricotta, granulated sugar, lemon zest, ginger, and salt in a blender. Scrape the lemon–gelatin mixture into the blender, cover, and process until the ricotta is smooth and the mixture is well blended, about 11⁄2 minutes, scraping down the sides once or twice. Pour into a medium bowl and refrigerate, stirring frequently, until the mixture is cooled and thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. It should be as thick as unbeaten egg whites. For faster cooling, set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice, stirring and scraping the sides frequently until cooled.

3. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a medium bowl and using an electric handheld mixer fitted with wire beaters) and beat on medium speed until the whites are frothy, 30 to 45 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the whites form soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue beating while gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat until the whites form firm and glossy peaks when the beater is lifted.

4. Scoop about one-quarter of the whites into the thickened lemon mixture and, using a silicone spatula, gently stir until blended. Add the remaining whites and gently fold in until just blended.

Assemble the mousses
Arrange one cookie in the bottom of each ramekin. Using a large Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffle. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby Dodgespoon, fill the ramekins halfway with the mousse. Arrange a cookie on top of the mousse and evenly portion the remaining mousse on top of the cookies. Using a small offset spatula, smooth the tops.

Lemon Ginger Mousse Souffles. Recipe by and interview with cookbook author and pastry chef Abby DodgeCover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 day.

 

 

To serve
Using a sharp paring knife, carefully peel away the parchment from the ramekins (up to 3 hours ahead). Just before serving, place each ramekin on a small plate and top with some of the crushed ginger cookie or a little of the blackberry compote, passing the remainder at the table.

MAKE AHEAD
The soufflés can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days before serving.

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

Recipe and author photo courtesy and copyright Abby Dodge. Recipe photos courtesy and copyright Tina Rupp  [finished dishes] and Sloan Howard, Taunton Press [how-to photos]