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Cookbook of the day – The Habanero Cookbook

The Habanero Cookbook

by Dave Dewitt & Nancy Gerlach

Publisher: Ten Speed Press; illustrated edition (March 1, 1995)

ISBN 10: 0898156386

ISBN 13: 978-0898156386

This book, written by famed “hot food” writers, Dave Dewitt and Nancy Gerlach, is actually outdated, even though it was written in 1995. It declares the habanero as “the hottest pepper in the world”. Those who follow this blog know that there is actually a hotter pepper, the India-based Naga Jokolia, a pepper which is twice as hot as the habanero. Also called “ghost pepper”, this little bomb of a pepper is allegedly used to make pepper spray by the Indian police.

However, this doesn’t reduce the utility of this well-written book.

The first part of the book is a comprehensive source of the history of Capsicum chinese and taxonomical information about variations within the species. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this discussion is the origins of Red Savina, considered the hottest of all of the members of the habanero family. The authors list at least 25 names for the habanero given by different locales, locales mostly found in the Caribbean but also as far-flung as Fiji.

The habanero distinguishes itself from many other chiles through the very distinct citrus and fruit notes that it displays. This gives it a depth of flavor that isn’t obscured by its intense heat.

The discussion turns at times to cultivation, crossbreeding and hot sauces as well.

And the recipes!

The recipes are well-chosen and diverse, offering a glimpse into Caribbean cooking, but it doesn’t end there. The habanero is incorporated into more generic dishes as well.

If you’re a chilehead, this book is right in your wheelhouse. It’s not an expensive volume and will expand your repertoire of “fiery foods”.

Habaneros from the Agricultural Research Service, a branch of the United States Agricultural Department

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Cookbook of the day – Cooking Fearlessly

Cooking Fearlessly: Recipes and Other Adventures from Hudson’s on the Bend

by Jeff Blank, Jay Moore with Deborah Harter

  • Publisher: Fearless Press (September 1, 1999) 
  • ISBN 10: 0967232309
  • ISBN 13: 978-0967232300
  • Hudson’s on the Bend is a creative restaurant slightly north of Austin. It’s owned by two creative chefs named Jeff Blank and Jay Moore. By all reports (I’ve never dined there), it’s a stylish, forward-thinking restaurant known for its willingness to exotic ingredients like rattlesnake, emu, et.al.

    This book is a colorful and delightful paeon to the restaurant. The cover gives you a good idea as to the humorous and eye-popping nature of the book.  With lots of original and a bold visual graphic style that first seems garish but ultimately adds to readability, the great thing about this book is the humorous approach the authors take to prod the reader to take some chances. You don’t see this often in cookbooks and it’s refreshing.

    They tell the stories behind the creation of the dishes, dishes that sometimes are birthed through mistakes, happy accidents or thinking “out-of-the-box”.

    The flavor profiles are layered, consonant and bright; the plating is striking.  And the authors give plenty of leeway for the reader to modify the recipes to make them their own and they give some flexibility with suggestions should you not be able to get rattlesnake, armadillo or antelope.

    A quote from a Buddhist monk opens the book appropriately.

    In this food

    I see clearly

    the presence of the entire universe

    supporting my existence

    One of the most enjoyable cookbooks that I’ve obtained in a while.

    Cookbook of the day – Small Batch Baking

    medium_small-batch-baking

    Small-Batch Baking

    by Debby Maugans Nakos

    Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (November 15, 2004) 

    ISBN 10: 0761130357

    ISBN 13: 978-0761130352

    How many times have you wanted a homemade cake but didn’t want to throw half of it away after a couple of days because you didn’t want to eat the same cake for days on end? Those who have large families usually don’t have to worry about this sort of thing, but for those who don’t have a voracious group of gobblers, this book is a welcome addition to the household.

    Baking is an exact science, unlike other types of cooking where you can add a little bit of this or subtract a little bit of that. Baking relies on specific chemical reactions between certain ratios of ingredients and temperatures. Too much or too little of an ingredient can cause a catastrophic failure.

    This book is useful in that the ratios have been maintained during the trimming down process.  The author turns regular cakes into cupcakes, frosting into “just enough”, pastry into amounts good enough to make two small pies, etc. And she cleverly uses empty 8 – 16 oz cans for baking small cakes, saved from the trash can after cooking the cream corn that originally came in it. She also advises on choosing things like mixing bowls, because your standard-sized mixing bowl isn’t appropriate for small amounts of dough and batter. 

    One caveat though – there’s a little sloppy editing that allows a crucial mistake in the very first recipe – water is substituted for buttermilk in the ingredients listing even though buttermilk is mentioned in the instructions. This is supposedly fixed in later printings, but mine is the 3rd printing so it hadn’t been corrected up to that point.

    So, every recipe in the book should be closely looked at before trying it and it might be a good idea to do a trial run before baking something for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day or a spouse’s birthday. Fortunately, if something goes wrong, it’s not like you’re going to be throwing out a lot of raw ingredients.

    All in all, a clever MacGyveresque book that might prove useful to most people from time to time. After all, wouldn’t it be cool to just make a half cup of peanut brittle so that you aren’t munching on the crack-like substance for days on end?

    sweetpotatoebread

    This photo of a mini Sweet Potato Tea Bread loaf courtesy of Brooke at:

    http://brooke-cookiejar.blogspot.com/2008/02/small-batch-baking-sweet-potato-tea.html

    Cookbook of the day – Fish Cuisine

    fish cuisine

    Fish Cuisine

    by Anton Mosimann

  • Publisher 10 Speed Press
  • ISBN 0-89815-543-6
  • This stylish volume from the Swiss chef Anton Mosimann was first published by Macmillan Press in 1988. It looks as modern today as it did then. Many cookbooks from the late 80s look dated but this is an exception. The platings are fresh and modern (see the cover for a good example) and the recipes are simultaneously classic and progressive. The copy that I have is a reprint from 10 Speed Press. I have no idea what the original edition looks like, so all comments are based on the reprint.

    There is a very practical guide to purchasing and processing seafood in the beginning of the book. He actually covers 7 different things that you should look for when choosing fish. and you might actually learn some little things that you might not have consciously realized (like fresh trout should have a “healthy slime” that shouldn’t be removed by the fishmonger).

    But Chef Mosimann really shines in his various dishes. His plating displays more of an Asian than a European flair but the recipes themselves have a solid European bearing. From Monkfish with Mustard Sauce to Young Salted Herring in Onion Marinade to Turbot Tartar, you’ll find fresh inspiration from seafood.

    Highly recommended.

    Anton%20Mosimann-744316

    Cookbook of the day – Baking with Julia

    Baking with Julia

    Baking with Julia : Based on the PBS Series Hosted by Julia Child

    by Dorrie Greenspan

  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; 1 edition (November 4, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688146570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688146573
  • This is the baking-specific companion to Master Chefs, the PBS cooking program hosted by Julia Child. The book itself was written by famed author Dorie Greenspan, with an introduction by Ms. Child and the participation of 22 famed bakers and chefs.

    The first part of the book is devoted to definitions and techniques that one needs to be a successful baker. The rest of the book features clear step-by-step instructions and tips on specific baked products, from Middle Eastern flatbreads like matzoh and pita to French artisan breads, Finnish crisps, and various desserts. It even includes instructions on making your own three-tiered wedding cake.

    This book is especially useful in clarifying issues one finds in baking, as well as offering many tips, hints and shortcuts. Each baker brings his or her own expertise along with the recipes that they bring to the table.

    If you are even remotely interested in baking, whether it’s creating the perfect pie crust, or learning how to make homemade croissants, this is a very worthy volume.

    Plus, you can never go wrong with Julia Child.

    julia-child-with-rolling-pins-thumb-330x353-939Dorie

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Cookbook of the day – Le Répertoire de La Cuisine

    Le Repertoire

    Repertoire de La Cuisine, Le: A Guide to Fine Foods

    byLouis Saulnier

  • Publisher Barron’s Educational Series (December 31, 1977)
  • ISBN 10: 0812051084
  • ISBN 13: 978-0812051087
  • I found this handy little volume yesterday in my local used bookstore. I suspect that it’s going to prove handy as a reference in the future.

    It assumes that you know how to do certain things like poaching, reducing, masking, etc.  Quantities aren’t listed and the reader is on his or her own in determining how much of something to add to the “recipes” or determining cooking times or order of cooking, which are along the lines of Escoffier. As Jacques Pépin points out in the preface, “The professional chef will use the Répertoire mostly as an aide mémoire (reminder) to find out the necessary ingredients for a garnish, as well as to get the correct spellings for different proper names and names of dishes”. he goes on to point out that amateurs can also use the “pamphlet” to “clarify confusion” and simplify the organization of a menu.

    Whether you need the definition of ancienne (“small braised onions without colouring”) or come across a reference to “Turtles Baltimore” (“cooked pieces of turtle, tossed in nut brown cooked butter, dressed in cocotte, with the thickened gravy, and a glass of Xérès wine”), this book covers the gamut of esoteric and obscure French cooking terms. If you’d like to do filets mignons marly, you’ll quickly discover that it’s filets cooked in butter, coated with madeira half-glaze and garnished with artichoke bottoms filled with carrot balls. You’ll find it quickly because each main ingredient is followed with a multitude of preparations.

    This is a small format book (hence the use of the word “pamphlet” in the preface) and is a handy helpful adjunct to Escoffier.

    If you can find this hardback and jacketed book for $2.00, as I did, you’d be a fool to pass it up. and if you have to buy it from Amazon for $12, it’s worth it if you wish to have a complete culinary reference library.

    Cookbook of the day – All Around The World Cookbook

    All Around the World Cookbook

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Sheila Lukins all around the world cookbook

    by Shelia Lukins 

  • Publisher Workman Publishing Company; illustrated edition edition (January 5, 1994)
  • ISBN 10: 1563052377
  • ISBN 13: 978-1563052378
  • It’s weird. I’ve had this book laying out for while because I had planned to eventually review it. I’ve seen it subliminally as part of the furniture for about a month now.

    It’s been a little while since I posted a review and so yesterday, when I had an unusually early day off in the week, I decided to catch up a little. I actually looked at the book and considered doing it, but decided to do another book. It was the first time that I had actually looked at the book and actively considered picking it up and reviewing it since I pulled it out over a month ago.

    It wasn’t a couple of hours later that I got the word that Lukins had died.

    Weird.

    So, to the book itself.

    It’s a nice roundup of food from around the world, gathered during a year year world journey by Ms. Lukins. There’s nothing earthshaking in terms of uncovering secret local cuisines – I mean, harissa isn’t exactly a secret, right? But it’s a handy volume to grab if you’re stuck for a menu item or a theme for a dinner.

    It’s a large and breezy volume that avoids a lot of pedantry (like the kind you find on this very blog!). It’s the result of a publisher sending a food writer around the world to build a specific book, and, as such, it’s a pretty personal view of what a middle-aged upper-middle class lady might experience from a cuisine standpoint. She ain’t no Zimmer or Bourdain, but that doesn’t make this nice bit of compendium any less useful, with some caveats of course.

    There’s concise information on beers, wines and alcohols of the world in the book and background information on the different cultures. And there are some unusual recipes, such as a Chilean Quinoa Tabouleh, a grain salad usually more associated with the Mediterranean and the Middle East, not south America. And the substitution of quinoa (please pronounce this KEEN-wah) for bulgar wheat is a nutritional upgrade. The salad even adds avocado and sweet corn. This is Lukin’s own fusion of two disparate continents;  it’s not an indigenous dish. You’ll find quite a few recipes like this, so, when you read this book, realize that it’s not just a collection of local recipes. there a lot of recipes “inspired” by locales. and there’s very little “authentic” about most of the recipes. They are tailored to American tastes. kitchens and  markets.

    This is a handy, if not particularly indispensable, book to have available when you need a little inspiration. Just don’t mistake it for a “reference work”. 

    PS, yes the title is exactly as reproduced at the top of the page.  No possessive apostrophe and all lower case letters (at least according to The Library of Congress listing).