Book Review, Main Dishes

Tyler Kord’s Texas-Wisconson Border Sandwich

Also known as: The Mildly Annoying Way I Messed with a Tyler Kord Sandwich Recipe, but Still Posted it on This Blog. (He May or May Not Understand.)

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Why would I mess with a Tyler Kord recipe, you ask? The man’s work was voted 2012’s #2 best sandwich in America by the Huffington post, you say?! I’ll tell you. And I’ll do it in the form of a list, because people love lists.

1. I was home for the weekend and was with my parents at the grocery store when shopping for this sandwich. The recipe calls for homemade pork and shrimp sausage, but my parents wanted chicken sausage. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about chicken, and mostly express these opinions via shouting about how it is the most boring meat to anyone who will listen, or happens to be in the room at the time. But I didn’t say these things to my parents, because they were buying the groceries.

2. I used vegan mayo in the sauce. Do with that what you will.

3. The grocery store didn’t have the pretty shiny rolls the recipe called for*—you know, the hard ones that only rip off in massive pieces per bite that refuse to break down no matter how long you chew, and choke you a little while swallowing, but only a little so you work it out—but a lot of squishy Italian rolls, which tasted fine. Also my mom wanted whole wheat rolls, which I may have contested if shopping with other people, but see #1.

4. The tomatoes pictured (and eaten) are heirloom; the recipe called for beefsteak. Heaven forgive me.

5. My dad insisted on cooking the sausage on his charcoal grill, but started grilling before I could tell him to slice the sausage open, so we did that after they were cooked. The sausages were less charred, and charred sausage is the best way to eat sausage, which was mildly disappointing. It still tasted okay, though.

*The store also did not have kaiser rolls, which is the substitute listed in the recipe (related: The apocalypse is clearly on its way.)
‡Or you can be an asshole like me and use ~chicken chorizo~ from Kings.

Regardless of which recipe-liberties I took, A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches is a brilliant cookbook. I’ve mentioned I don’t usually like to cook from cookbooks (I prefer to read them and then accidentally-on-purpose create recipe amalgams, like the Ottolenghi-Solomonov Hummus with Other Stuff of Two Weeks Ago) but Kord’s book is one I will cook from again. And then probably again after that. If you don’t like to cook or read cookbooks, get this book for the William Wegman art. You know, the dog guy! PS. Read the full recipes, Kord’s commentary throughout is perfect.

Texas-Wisconson Border Sandwich [from A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches, by Tyler Kord; makes 4 sandwiches]

Vegetable oil, as needed
1 pound Pork & Shrimp sausage, sliced open‡
4 Sheboygan hard rolls, split in half (If you’re not in Sheboygan, a kaiser roll will work. If you are in Sheboygan, you probably aren’t reading this, and if you are, this sandwich probably sounds like a waste of a Sheboygan hard roll)
1 cup Roasted Onions (see below)
1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 8 think slices
1/2 cup Michelada Mayo (see below)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat a grill, grill pan, or a large sauté pan over high heat until smoking. Lightly oil the grates of the grill or pan. Sear the already-cooked sausage until hot and charred on both sides.

Divide the sausage between the 4 rolls.

Top the sausage with roasted onions, tomatoes, mayo, and cilantro. Close the sandwiches and demolish.

Michelada Mayo
1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 cup beer (something with a lot of color and flavor, but not a lot of hops; Nega Modelo would work well here), reduced to 1 tablespoon if you must

Mix thoroughly. Refrigerate in a small container with a tight-fitting lid and this will last three or four days and make you feel so proud every time you eat a sandwich.

Roasted Onions (Makes 3 cups)
2 large onions, yellow or red, peeled into 1/2-inch rings
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, toss the onions, oil, and salt together until thoroughly mixed. Don’t worry about trying to separate all the rings. Some will separate and some won’t when you mix them, and I like the variety of having some cook more than others.

Place the onions on a baking sheet or roasting pan and cook until somewhat tender and a little burnt, about 20 minutes. We’re not really going for that melty onion goo, which I definitely love, but we want the onions to still have a little bite so they are a component of the sandwich, not a condiment. Picture the onions on a shish kebab, charred on the outside and still little raw in the center. At some point someone decided that we could only have onions that are raw or cooked to mush. But I like the in-bewtween onions the best! This should not look super beautiful; some will be super dark, and the rings that stayed together will be less cooked. Variety is the spice in this dish. Transfer to a container and let cool before serving.

Will keep for five days in the refrigerator.

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NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Book Review, Main Dishes, Sides

Hemsley + Hemsley Green Goddess Noodle Salad

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If you’ve ever made a zucchini noodle, gnawed on refined sugar-free chocolate fudge, or dug a fork into a mason jar salad, give a nod to all the health bloggers and wellness sites out there, but mostly thank the Hemsley sisters. Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley—known more commonly as Hemsley + Hemsley—launched their brand in 2010, focusing on flavor and relying less on gluten, grains and refined sugar. Lovers of cooking and eating, the Hemsleys began as healthy cooks and caterers for private clients and events, but soon proved to be working towards a larger goal.

To improve their clients’ relationships with food, the Hemsleys emphasize the importance of digestive health, and are generally on a mission to make eating well a joyful experience. Their first book, The Art of Eating Wellsolidified the Hemsley + Hemsley name as a go-to for all foodstuffs related to making healthier choices, without perpetuating a culture of deprivation. The ladies’ sophomore book is Good + Simple, which dives deeper into their aim to “coach people away from fad diets and unhealthy eating towards an appreciation of the power of real food, properly sourced and correctly prepared.”

The ingenuity behind the Hemsley + Hemsley philosophy is that these women understand that in order to maintain any sort of lifestyle, (“healthy” or otherwise) the methodology must be simple enough to participate in not just often, but every day. Jasmine and Melissa do not suggest that their audience throw out all evidence of bread in their kitchens and become spiral-slicing, grain- and refined sugar-free droids. But they do want to advocate that their practice is attainable enough to introduce into anyone’s routine. Yes, there is a green juice recipe in this book, and zucchini noodles aplenty; but flip a few pages and you’ll find pulled pork and plum clafoutis.

Further, there’s a notion to emphasize a deeper thought process behind eating and cooking: The food we put into our mouths shouldn’t just taste good and look good, it should be thoughtfully sourced. Their holistic approach to food is broken down to three simple words—delicious, nutritious, sustainable. H + H uses a 15-principle guide, which I find to be refreshingly contrary to the plethora of touters of Health-with-a-capital-H that are so easily lumped together:

  1. Gut instinct
  2. Boil your bones
  3. Forget calories, think nutrients
  4. Meat and two veg
  5. Going against the grain
  6. Fat is your friend
  7. Sweet enough
  8. Drink to think
  9. The real deal
  10. Know your onions
  11. Prepare, chew and combine
  12. Be mindful
  13. Stress less
  14. Tune in
  15. The “better than” rule

I won’t go into what each point means, but I hope you read through them if you find yourself a copy of the book. (In fact, read through all the text that doesn’t precede a recipe. They have something to say; something I can’t paraphrase in a short review.)  The very fact that there are so many “principles” affirms that the Hemsleys understand there’s more to eating than one defining term for everything one puts in their body. Relying on food guidelines rather than restrictions is not only more attainable, but makes for happier eaters.

In addition to the recipes, Good + Simple includes advice for stocking a kitchen, two weekly menu plans (and shopping lists!), and suggestions for lifestyle habits like having a nighttime routine, drinking water, and making time for gentle exercise.

Good + Simple is a cookbook you can actually cook from, which can be a rarity these days. The following recipe is the first I cooked from this book, and I strongly recommend it—for dinner tonight, lunch next week, or for any upcoming potlucks. While I was slightly turned off by the title, (“green goddess” dressing is a thick, mint-colored substance I truly despise) the photos led me to believe I was not going to be puréeing anything creamy. It’s a fresh and immensely flavor-packed dish that was as satisfying to put in my mouth as it was to look at. After three servings for dinner, I went right back to the (plentiful) leftovers for the next two days. The recipe is a keeper, as is the book.

Green Goddess Noodle Salad [from Hemsley Hemsley Good + Simple, by Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley, serves 4 as main]

SALAD
10 ounces buckwheat (soba) noodles
1 tablespoon extra-version olive oil
10 ounces broccoli florets or purple-sprouting broccoli, asparagus, or green beans
1 medium green cabbage or bok choy, leaves shredded
1 meduim fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out, and flesh chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 large avocado, sliced
2 handfuls fresh greens (watercress, baby spinach, lettuce, leftover cooked kale)
1 small handful of nuts (cashews, peanuts, or almonds) or seeds (sesame, sunflower, or poppy)
4 handfuls fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, or basil), roughly chopped

DRESSING
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1½ -inch piece of fresh root ginger (unpeeled if organic), finely grated
2 teaspoons tamari
A pinch of cayenne pepper or chili flakes (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper

Cook the buckwheat noodles in a large pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions (about 7 minutes). Use two forks to tease the noodles apart during the first minute of cooking.

When they are tender, drain and rinse under cold water for 15 seconds. Drain again and then toss in the EVOO in a large serving bowl to stop the noodles sticking together. Set aside.

Using the same pan, after a quick rinse, steam the broccoli (or other vegetable), covered with a lid, in 4 tablespoons of boiling water for 4 minutes until tender.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or shake in a jam jar with the lid on. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then drain.

Add the raw vegetables, spring onions and avocado to the noodles with the greens and steamed broccoli. Pour over the dressing and mix everything together. Top with the nuts or seeds, toasted in a dry pan for a minute if you like, and the fresh herbs.

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NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Book Review, Desserts

Coconut Orange Cookies

The Whole Coconut Cookbook is a collection of fresh gluten- and dairy-free recipes starring that famous fibrous drupe, the coconut. Nathalie Fraise‘s collection of recipes explores every meal (plus snacks and dessert) injecting each recipe with every iteration of coconut. Some recipes are now-classics you can’t seem to open a brunch menu without, (chia pudding, grain-free granola, nut butters galore) the recipes for which taste good, but weren’t especially stimulating. Others, upon my recitation of their titles aloud, elicited reactions along the lines of “wait, what?” (banana cauliflower Farina.) However, the majority of Fraise’s recipes are new ideas I can’t wait to make and eat (green onion patties with spicy peanut sauce, coconut sesame noodles with bok choy and tamarind dressing. cheesy paprika popcorn, vanilla rosemary crème brûlée helllllo.)

According to the introduction, Fraise grew up in Madagascar. Her regular experience with coconuts involved trucks toting the fruit into the town where she lived, and others (when traveling near the coast,) involved buying them directly from children who’d plucked them from their own trees. It’s safe to assume Fraise knows what she’s talking about. And if you doubt her, just check out the back of the book where she lists pages of resources, recommended brands, and texts she consulted in order to make this collection of recipes so successful. I found all necessary ingredients at Whole Foods.

Before you get cooking from this book, here’s a list of coconut-based items you’re going to need:
– coconut oil
– coconut butter (which is different from coconut oil; it’s simply coconut meat that’s processed into a thick butter)
– a few cans of coconut milk
– coconut flour
– coconut palm sugar
– coconut nectar (thick syrup, technically the raw liquid sap of the coconut blossom)
*Pick up a copy of the book for more useful ingredients and descriptions*

I chose to make Fraise’s coconut orange cookies, which were essentially an almond flour-riff on macaroons. Chewy, moist, and just salty enough for a dessert, plus topped with toasty sesame seeds, these little cookies were a wildly pleasant surprise. They also go very well with white wine, just saying. I think the next time I make them, I may bump up the sesame factor by adding a good dollop of tahini to the batter. If you’re looking for a way to jazz up your dessert table this Passover, I’d highly recommend taking these cookies for a test drive. They’re thickened with arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch, and the combination of coconut and almond flours + alternative coconut-based sugars make for a pretty complex flavor. Check out these articles if you’re nervous about Passover recipes that include baking powder.

Cookies (from The Whole Coconut Cookbook, makes about 2 dozen cookies)

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut butter
1/3 cup coconut nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 large orange
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, shredded coconut, coconut flour, coconut palm sugar, arrowroot, baking soda, and salt.

Combine coconut oil and coconut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Melt gently, then whisk in the coconut nectar, vanilla, and orange zest. Pour into flour mixture and combine.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough (I used my trusty cookie scoop, rolled the cookies into balls with my hands, then flattened them very slightly). Place on the prepared baking sheets, separated by a couple of inches. Do not overcrowd, as they spread while cooking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (or better yet, roll the whole top of the cookie in seeds). Bake in the middle rack of the oven, until golden brown on top, 7-9 minutes. Make sure the bottoms do not burn.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Book Review, Sides, Snacks

Torta (Dominican Corn Bread)

The genius behind Hot Bread Kitchen is threefold. Founder Jessamyn Rodriguez 1) decided to create a space dedicated to making bread. This is fairly self-explanatory. Bread is perfection. Chewy, salty perfection. And in a world filled with sad, soft, cellophane-wrapped grocery store bread that can barely stand up to butter, let along sandwich fillings, we need all the real bread we can get. 2) For said bread-making space, Rodriguez hires low-income, immigrant and minority people, often women. HBK then provides these employees with proper culinary skill that they can take on to future places of employment within the food industry. 3) The employees of Hot Bread Kitchen share their own bread making secrets from their heritages and homelands (Moroccan m’smen! Indian naan! Persian nan-e quandi!)

These brilliant aspects of Rodriguez’s company and more are apparent from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook. Unlike a traditional cookbook of recipes with a bit of copy, HBK’s book is more like a coffee table book that happens to teach readers to make breads from around the world.

The book is divided into sections: unleavened flatbreads, leavened flatbreads, tortillas and more, lean breads and roll-ups, Challah and beyond, filled doughs from around the world, quick breads and holiday breads, and (my personal favorite) what to do with leftover bread (a problem I rarely find myself experiencing, but the ideas were so creative!) If you’ve found yourself saying, “gee, my grandma/aunt/mother used to make all her bread from scratch and I never do that, I should try!” this is the book for you. Start with soft lavash and make your way to a Chilean empanada.

As if the book didn’t cover an expansive enough topic, it also includes recipes for culturally appropriate dishes to serve alongside your breads –not that there’s anything “wrong” with putting peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla– but why not try your hand at chilaquiles? Or make a Bangladeshi-style vegetable dish packed with fenugreek, nigella, black mustard, and fennel seeds to accompany your homemade chapatis? Also, the Challah French toast grilled cheese with peaches hellllo. And once I master Bahn Mi baguette dough, I plan to make the pork belly Banh Mi with “the works” recipe, contributed by HBK’s former farmers’ market manager Thuy Nguyen.

Which brings me to one of my favorite elements of this book: peppered among the recipes are Baker’s Profiles, which detail short stories of current and former Hot Bread Kitchen employees. Women who have baked for HBK have gone on to work for well- known NYC bakeries like Amy’s Bread, larger companies like Whole Foods, and even started their own shops.

The first recipe I made from this cookbook was a torta, a Dominican corn bread baked in a skillet. A sweet, buttery bread I’d just as soon eat with a slick of chocolate frosting for dessert as I would crumbled into chili. This recipe was contributed by Rodriquez’s mother-in-law, and is incredible. I don’t own an 8-in cast iron skillet, so I made my torta in ceramic dish, though I imagine a regular cake pan will work just fine too (it’s just not as fun to plunk that down on the dinner table as it is with a more *rustic* skillet)

Torta (from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, makes 1 8-inch loaf)

1 cup AP Flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons whole milk
9 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Put an 8-inch cast-skillet in the oven to get hot.

Whisk together to the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk together the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl.

Warm the milk and 8 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring every now and then, until the butter is melted. While whisking, slowly pour the butter and milk mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. Whisk in the egg mixture.

Take the skillet out of the oven and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. It should melt immediately. Tilt the skillet to spread the butter over its surface. Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Let cool completely before inverting torta from the pan and slicing.

 

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Book Review, Extras

Citrus Salt

Citrus. The word is as zippy as the flavor. I like to say it over and over and over, just as I tend to unwrap clemintine after clemintine this time of year. Citrus is a vibrant collection of recipes compiled by LA-based writer and food stylist Valerie Aikman-Smith. The photography, as bright and sharp as the book’s subject, was produced by Victoria Pearson.

The book covers new uses for common citrus flavors (orange, lemon, lime, etc.), which makes for a nice read. But Valerie didn’t want to make just a nice book. She goes further, encouraging the use of lesser known fruits like Buddha’s hands, kumquats, and yuzu.

What strikes me most about this book is the care that was taken by Valerie to discover which ingredients and flavors highlight certain citrus fruits best. Anyone with some kitchen experience knows that a dusting of zest livens up most dishes, but the beauty of Citrus comes through upon seeing that every dish isn’t pasta with a shaving of lemon peel or cake with orange juice. Valerie has clearly tested each recipe featured profusely, noting that lime and chili powder work well with candied almonds; Meyer lemon juice is well suited in a burnt sugar tart; orange peel best highlights the lovely bitterness of Campari in marmalade. Further, she knows that certain varieties of the same fruit complement some dishes better than others: a tart ruby grapefruit will cut through spicy Szechuan shrimp and noodle salad, while scallops are better suited to be served with a cream made from Oroblanco grapefruit, which is less bitter and gentler to the mild seafood.

I decided to make citrus salt from this book, as I rarely infuse salts and it seemed like fun to break out the mortar and pestle. You can use literally any zest you make have hanging about your fridge (I bet grapefruit would be slammin’.) I used a combination of lemon, lime, and orange because I was feeling festive. And just FYI, this is a perfect gift idea for anyone you know who likes to cook/mix cocktails, as infused salts tend to be v pri¢ey. So why not just make your own in giant vats this holiday season and give it out to friends and coworkers in cute little jars?

Swap this for regular salt in recipes that need a little boost and/or use it to rim cocktail glasses. I wish it were still 95 degrees out so I could make Valerie’s Icy Blood Orange Margaritas and serve them in citrus salt-rimmed glasses. Actually, I might just do it anyway! Who’s with me?

Citrus Salt (from Citrus: Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes; makes ~1/2 cup)

1/2 cup flakey sea or kosher salt
3 tablespoons citrus zest

In a small bowl, combine salt and zest with your fingers (or use a mortar and pestle.) Spread mixture evenly onto a plate and let dry overnight. Transfer to a glass container with a tight-fitting lid and store at room temperature for up to three months.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too! 

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Book Review, Breakfasts

182

Written by Carla Bartolucci in an effort to create a solid collection of recipes for her daughter, who is sensitive to gluten, Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat is a refreshing alternative to fully phasing out wheat for health reasons. Einkorn acts similarly to regular wheat in recipes, but has been proven not to bother the digestive systems of those who are sensitive. Since it is not 100% gluten free, this is not a book for those living with celiac. While all wheat is a descendant of wild einkorn, the einkorn available to consumers today is the same that was available hundreds of years ago, as it’s the only wheat that hasn’t been hybridized. Essentially, hybridization is the crossing of two different species of wheat form a new variety. These new hybridized strains of gluten can be rougher on the stomach, while others do offer comfort to those with gluten aversions. We’ve all heard of spelt at least in passing, right? It’s one of those “miracle” grains for those with gluten sensitivity. Well, spelt emerged as a result of the hybridization of emmer and wild goat grass. Since emmer was already a hybridized wheat, spelt contains six sets of chromosomes. Since einkorn only has two, it’s often been ignored by farmers in favor of higher-yielding varieties. Science aside, einkorn is also a great new ingredient for cooks who are simply interested in making foods using alternative grains (hi.)

The book opens with a comprehensive history of grain (did you think I just knew stuff about wheat hybridization?) There’s a charting of the levels of protein the grain contains as opposed to its contemporaries, like quinoa, oats, spelt, and so on. An extremely intriguing passage was the discussion of why einkorn’s gluten is different. The grain is not lower in gluten; in fact it has comparable or even higher levels than modern wheat. However, einkorn’s gluten is lacking in the –to use Carla’s excellent phrase– “extreme stickiness” of normal wheats used in baking, particularly of bread. Basically, the gluten-forming proteins in einkorn don’t act in the same manner as they do in standard wheat, and as a result, those with gluten sensitivity can often handle the levels of gluten in einkorn. There are other sections that explain the basics of bread-baking, the correct way to begin sourdough starter, and how to properly sprout and flake wheat berries.

The recipe chapters of Carla’s book are full of a great variety of sweet and savory recipes that essentially swap standard wheat for einkorn. But this is not a book of simply altered standards. The recipes are original and innovative (olive oil & wine cookies, spiced wheat berry custard tart, tomato rosemary focaccia) with a few classics thrown in for good measure (sticky buns, pizza.) I’m particularly fond of the “Street Food” sections, which boasts wheat berry arancini, Korean dumplings, and crêpes. A few of the recipes involve sprouting/soaking einkorn wheat berries for several hours, so make sure you read the recipe closely (basically, don’t be me and get extremely pumped for einkorn veggie burgers TODAY and then realize the recipe takes well over 24 hours to come to life. Sadness. I am v impatient sometimes.)

Even though there is a shop section of Carla’s website where one can purchase einkorn products, I will say that the book could have benefitted from a sourcing section. I couldn’t find einkorn products at my local Whole Foods, A&P, or Kings. I didn’t try Shop Rite, Trader Joes, or the larger Whole Foods in a neighboring town (but I bet the latter would have it,) so I ended up purchasing the wheat berries on Amazon. It didn’t really change my life, other than the fact that I had to wait for the two-day shipping.

For the first recipe I made from Carla’s book, I went for a basic breakfast porridge, because I love bowl food and I love breakfast. The porridge is very mild, a cross between cream of wheat and very soft oatmeal. While I realize the rest of the world doesn’t care for baby food-textured things as much as I do, I really think the rest of the world ought to reconsider. Ease into the mushy food. Don’t think too hard about it. Focus on the flavor. Maybe add some toasted almonds and maple syrup. I think you’ll change your mind.

Einkorn Porridge (from Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat; serves many by the bowlful)

1 1/2 cups einkorn wheat berries
1/2 teaspoon salt
desired fixins: milk, syrup, jam. nutella, honey, shredded coconut, chia seeds, toasted nuts, dried fruit, sliced avocado + olive oil (sounds weird, but was definitely my favorite)

Soak the wheat berries in 3 cups water overnight. In the morning, drain the wheat berries in a fine mesh seive and rinse thoroughly under cold water for 5 minutes. Place the rinsed berries in a food processor. Pulse until the wheat has cracked (resembling steel cut oats) and then add 1 cup water. Process until the mixture is coarse and creamy, about 30 seconds.

In a medium-large saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add salt and ground wheat berries/ return to a boil, stirring constantly, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm with desired fixins. This recipe makes a lot, so luckily it keeps in the fridge for up to three days and is easily reheated with a bit of water or milk. If you’re planning on being the only one eating this, I’d recommend halving the recipe. If you’re feeding a group of 3+ you’ll be good to go.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Book Review, Drinks

177

Mint Julep [from The Art of American Whiskey] (V)

There’s something about summer that makes cocktail hour come sooner and last longer. You step out of work, walk into a pub, and order a beer at 5:03 and no one thinks anything of it; in fact, you’re not the first one to arrive– not by a long shot. You walk into a bar on a Tuesday night and you have to squeeze in between the hipsters to get a seat. No one looks at you funny for ordering a second watermelon tequila smash. Or a third. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’ve been getting very into making festive post-work cocktails lately, so just stay tuned.

Don’t tell anyone, but I think I like developing cocktail recipes more than food ones. Flavor combinations are more delicate. There is the finest line between a good cocktail and a great cocktail. Sure, I can throw a shot of this and two fingers of that and some muddled fruit in a highball glass and it’ll be pretty darn good. Add a squeeze of lime and maybe it’ll be really good. But a great cocktail needs no embellishment, save for a few herbs or citrus peel. Which brings me to my next point: the mint julep.

No, no, I did not invent the mint julep (duh,) but I am using it as a benchmark for my cocktail developing from now on. It’s so simple, but tastes truly amazing. It seriously makes me want to forget the time in my life when I thought a good cocktail was cheap rum mixed with cream soda. Oooof. Anyway, I’ve been digging bourbon lately. Like, having-a-nightly-glass kind of digging it. And when Noah Rothbaum‘s new book, The Art of American Whiskey arrived at my doorstep a few weeks ago, I knew I was about to dive into a full-on love affair. Whiskey is rad. We all know it. Even if you don’t like the taste of it, you know it’s pretty cool. I’ve met many people who claim to be whiskey aficionados –the amount of times I’ve had to listen to mansplaining about which scotch is superior makes my head hurt– but Noah actually knows his stuff. He travels his way through history chapter by chapter, starting with “The Late 1800s and Early 1900s,” “Prohibition,” and “Life After Temperance;” all the way up to “The Swinging Sixties,” “The Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties, aka the Dark Ages,” and “The New Golden Age” (right now.) He details political and economic implications behind whiskey (and liquor in general) during the various decades, as well as how the drinks fit into the social climate of the times. Each chapter features cocktail recipes from various contributors that were originally developed during the corresponding time period. Along the way, he includes images of label art of the top 100 iconic whiskey bottles– easily my favorite part of the book. The recipes take a bit of a backseat to the historical notes, but that didn’t bother me as much as I thought it was going to after the first chapter. It’s definitely much more of a coffee table book than a standard cookbook, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from picking up a copy. Grab the book, make a cocktail, then enjoy it while you read and work your way towards becoming a whiskey buff.

The mint julep hails from the 1800s, and was originally made with the grape-based brandy cognac. But when cognac stock was depleted from pests attacking European grape crops, bartenders were forced to switch to whiskey and gin. I made a julep with cognac after the real thing and it just doesn’t hold up. Try it yourself and see what you think!

Mint Julep (from The Art of American Whiskey, contributed by Allen Katz; makes 1 cocktail)

8 fresh mint leaves + sprig for garnish
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 1/2 ounces bourbon

Muddle mint, sugar, and a small amount of crushed ice in a julep cup (I don’t have one, but this one is now on my wish list. If you don’t have one either, a highball glass or mason jar work just fine.) Add more crushed ice to fill half the cup, then add the bourbon. Stir until the cup becomes frosty, then add more ice to fill the cup all the way to the top. Garnish with mint and drink with a straw (that crushed ice gets everrrrrrywhere.)

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Book Review, Desserts

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Greek Yogurt Sorbet [from Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner] (GF)

Upon my arrival home from college, I was greeted by a pile of mail. Amid the mountain of credit card offers and magazine subscription renewal queries I found a copy of Janet Fletcher’s Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. !!! Now, this certainly is not a graduation card with a check, nor is it a new pair of shoes, but mannnn was I psyched! Okay, yes, I get just as giddy opening up a new cookbook as I most others do opening up a box a already-made culinary treats, but this book was especially exciting. The only people who truly get how passionately I feel about yogurt are probably my roommates and/or anyone who saw me walking into the theatre building for the past four months. I reallly dig yogurt. Not sure why. It’s kind of a weird substance. But no joke, it made up at least 65% of my diet this last semester of college. Because when one has to get from class on one side of campus at 11:55 to a production meeting on the other side at noon there isn’t really time to sit down and eat -let alone chew- one’s midday meal. It was not at all uncommon for most of the department to see me carrying my standard three tote bags and giant coat and mug of coffee and to-go cup of yogurt on a regular basis. It was a way to live. Not so sure if I can say I miss that…. But I’m getting off topic. You can imagine my joy upon opening Janet’s book for the first time; I’m only bummed I didn’t have it sooner.

The beautifully photographed book is broken down into sections, sweet and savory; including appetizers, meats, soups, veggies, desserts, and drinks– and you thought yogurt was just a breakfast food, huh? Not at all so. There’s even a chapter dedicated completely to DIY yogurt: standard yogurt, Greek yogurt, and yogurt cheese (which is totally a thing- who knew? not I!) Be wary, this does involve buying cultures and creating an incubation situation, but don’t worry, there are extensive instructions and resources detailed in the book. While I have yet to experiment with homemade yogurt myself, since obtaining this book I feel much more comfortable about tackling such a challenge..someday. Maybe. What I’m really looking forward to are the many savory recipes. I didn’t make one for this particular review post, as I was really in the mood for frozen yogurt (and Red Mango is a whole eight minute drive away- the horror!) But I’m really excited about getting into fettuccine with fried onions under a yogurt poppyseed sauce and radish tzatziki with pita chips. Aaaand I’m definitely going to make the warm chickpeas with pine nuts and yogurt sauce as soon as it’s no longer 95 degrees out. In terms of sweets, I’m very intrigued by the Greek yogurt panna cotta- mostly because I’ve never had panna cotta and I am very curious to know if I’d like it. I am, however, certain I’ll love the yogurt pudding with saffron, cardamom, and toasted nuts, so I think that’s going to have to be dessert (or let’s be real, breakfast) very very soon.

In the meantime, let’s have some yogurt sorbet. Which is essentially just frozen yogurt, but has a snazzier name. This was so simple I shouldn’t even include instructions. As long as you have an ice cream maker, you’ll be so set with this. Remember to buy whole-milk plain yogurt, that low-fat/nonfat/1% stuff is fine and good for breakfast if that’s your thang, but for the purposes of this recipe just embrace the added creaminess!

some other things I’m excited about:

Anthony Bourdain did an episode of Parts Unknown in Jersey yessss watch it now. But if you don’t have time/are morally against tv, Eater also put together a comprehensive list of one-liners from the episode, which is almost as good.

Chris Taylor -yes, that Chris Taylor– wrote a cookbook?? and it actually looks really good!

Molly Yeh made cookie salad and that’s all we ever needed, amirite?

It’s over now, but Negroni Week is a really great idea and maybe you should make one yourself and donate your own dollar to a charity of choice!

Amy’s is opening up a DRIVE-THRU.

One of the most original and informative food blog posts I’ve read in a very long while..Josh is making me reevaluate my stance on people who refer to themselves as “bros.”

Who remembers the Rainforest Cafe? Well, the creator of that gem is taking a whack at a Puff the Magic Dragon-themed eatery. I’m just as confused as I am truly jazzed.

Greek Yogurt Sorbet (from Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, serves 6)

4 cups whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, sieved to remove all lumps
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I scraped in a vanilla bean because I like the speckles)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I used vanilla salt, for funzies)

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl. Chill well, then transfer to an ice cream maker (I use this one) and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a lidded storage container (or loaf pan with some plastic wrap) and freeze for at least 1 hour to firm. If it freezes for longer than a few hours and is too hard to scoop, let it sit at room temperature for ten minutes or so and you should be good to go!

Janet recommends serving this with broiled peaches or apricots that have been drizzled in brown sugar and butter, which sounds a m a z i n g, but I went with fresh apricots and mint because it felt a little more summery. I bet it would be out of this world with a berry compote! It also would only help pies, brownies, and other fruit desserts.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!


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