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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices by Lior Lev Sercarz

March 19th, 2017 No comments

The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices by Lior Lev Sercarz

There comes a time in every cook’s life when you start to move beyond simply following recipes and begin to experiment more and more within those recipes. After that, more advanced cooks will reach for the next level — the graduate level, if you will. It is books like The Spice Companion that become part of your graduate food studies. Instead of dealing in the generalities of a specific cuisine or specific dishes, you go into the details of specific ingredients in your food. You dive deeper into more and more detailed levels of knowledge, so that, at the end, you emerge with a deeper understanding of how those ingredients come together in a recipe. With this deep knowledge, you can begin to create our own unique recipes.

The Spice Companion begins with some extensive and excellent information on the author’s personal spice philosophy, the history and origin of various spices, and how to source, blend and store spices. At its heart, though, The Spice Companion is an amazing reference book for spices of all types. A few random flips through the largest part of the book turned up spices I knew — like cinnamon and cloves — spices I had heard of but never used — like za’atar and wasabi — and spices entirely unknown to me — like Urda chiles and Sansho.

The detailed spice section are amazing in their depth and include a photo and/or drawing of each spice, a description of its flavor and aroma, it’s geographic origin, its harvest season, which parts of the plant are used — like leaves, stems, seed pods, etc –, and an extensive About section that provides even more information about typical uses and dishes that can be made with the spice.

The author then uses a graphical icon-based system to show which dishes might use this spice, other spices that can be paired with it, recipes for spice blends with this ingredient and finally, a recipe that uses this spice blend. Wow! It is almost overwhelming.

There is so much information to be found within the pages of The Spice Companion. I can foresee reading in a random fashion, jumping from one spice to another, but also then revisiting it later for a full cover-to-cover read to deeply enhance my spice, blends and overall food knowledge. This is a book that should find a place alongside your regular collection of cookbooks to offer more specific information on spices while also giving your great ideas on how recipes might be “dressed up” or enhanced by the use of alternative spices

This is a book that should find a place alongside your regular collection of cookbooks to offer more specific information on spices while also giving your great ideas on how recipes might be “dressed up” or enhanced by the use of alternative spices. It is the equivalent of a writer having a great dictionary or encyclopedia at hand when they work. There are times when you simply NEED to look something up and The Spice Companion would be a great place to turn.

Categories: Books, Cooking, Food, In the kitchen Tags:

Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home-Cooking Triumphs by Julia Turshen [Book]

March 13th, 2017 No comments

Small Victories
Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home-Cooking Triumphs
Julia Turshen

When reading a cookbook I don’t tend to make grand proclamations that this book is good and that book is bad. Cookbooks are all about what you take away from the book and one person’s favorite is another’s failure. For me, my like or dislike of a cookbook directly relates to how well it works for me. Does its message resonate? Are the recipes actually something I would consider making? Can I put my new found knowledge to immediate use? With those criteria in mind, Small Victories certainly worked for me on a variety of levels.

First, even though I am a bit of a fussy eater, I found many recipes I want to try out as soon as possible. Each recipe is well described and also includes several variations you might want to try. Turshen includes old standards like her take on biscuits (Everything Biscuits), roast chicken (Roast Chicken with Fennel, Rosemary + Lemon) and desserts (Berry + Buttermilk Cobbler) while also exploring further afield with Roasted Salmon with Maple + Soy, Jennie’s Chicken Pelau, and Crisply Hominy + Cheddar Fritters.

In Small Victories, you’ll find sections dedicated to Breakfast, Soups + Salads, Vegetables, (maybe even a few that I would eat) (LAUGH), Grains, Beans + Pasta, Meat + Poultry, Shellfish + Fish, Desserts, A Few Drinks + Some Things To Keep On Hand and Seven Lists — which gives some great ideas on small bites to serve with drinks, 7 Things To Do With Pizza Dough, Leftover Roast Chicken and more.

Another reason I found Small Victories so enjoyable are the excellent stories attached to each recipe. Even when I wasn’t particularly interested in a recipe, I still made a point of reading each of these descriptions almost like I would read a regular book. These descriptions also contain the “Small Victories” which are the namesake of the book. These are small tips and hints are a great addition to the cookbook and provide yet another level of value.

As Turshen writes, “Think of small victories as the corners of the puzzle, the pieces that help us become inspired, relax cooks who know how to fill in the rest.

I found my copy of Small Victories at my local library and you might find it there, too. It’s always a great place to start when looking for new books in your life. However you get your hands on Small Victories, I highly recommend you do. I think you’ll find some interesting recipes, tips and maybe even the next step in your cooking adventures.

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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out! 

Noted: No-Knead Maple Challah, made with home-made maple syrup!

March 12th, 2017 No comments
I love bread waaaaay to much…and maple syrup even more, so this recipe seems a perfect fit. I don’t have the wherewithal to make my own maple syrup (or the trees) but I am sure this is just a good with maple syrup from the store. — Douglas

Categories: Bread, Cooking, Food, Recipe, Shared Items Tags: , ,

On YouTube: Classic Rice Pudding – Old Fashion Creamy Rice Pudding Recipe – One-Pot Method

March 10th, 2017 No comments
Categories: Cooking, Food, Video, youtube Tags: , , , , ,

Noted: 4 Tips for Better, More Satisfying Oatmeal

March 8th, 2017 No comments
Categories: Cooking, Food, Recipe, Shared Items Tags: , ,

Noted: Your Cooking Rut Ends With This $9 Lentil-Sausage Stew

March 7th, 2017 No comments

On YouTube: How To Make Bread | Jamie Oliver – AD

March 5th, 2017 Comments off

On YouTube: Beef & Ale Stew with Mustard Dumplings | Gordon Ramsay

February 16th, 2017 Comments off
Categories: Cooking, Food, Recipe, Video Tags: , , , , ,

New Cookbook: The Short Stack Cookbook

February 14th, 2017 Comments off

The Short Stack Cookbook: Ingredients That Speak Volumes

Another new cookbook I came across in my reading. I was able to quickly and easy download the cookbook as an ebook from my local library — and perhaps you can, too. Don’t forget this excellent source for new books of all sorts.

The Short Stack Cookbook is an interesting complication — selecting 18 “essential ingredients” and then finding some of the best food writers available today to select their best and favorite recipes for that ingredient.

I found a few recipes to check out here in my own kitchen and most of the ingredients were something that I would normally cook and eat — being a bit fussy about my food choices. Brussel sprouts and squash aren’t going to show up on my table unless I am making them for family or guests, but there are plenty of other ingredients to choose from including lemon, apples, cheddar, honey, rice, tomatoes and more.

A few of the recipes I found interesting include:

  • Cheddar Obatzda (Beer Cheese)
  • Cheddar-Walnut Shortbread
  • Lemon-Cornmeal Poundcake
  • Lemony Ricotta Pancakes
  • Smoked Mozzarella & Sage in Sourdough Carrozza
  • Pappardelle wth Bacon & Root Vegetable Ragu
  • and many more!


The first cookbook from Short Stack Editions, an artful collection of 150 new and original recipes organized by ingredient from IACP and James Beard Award–winning cookbook authors, chefs, food writers, recipe testers, and editors.

The ethos behind Short Stack Editions is simple: Pair honest, common ingredients with trusted voices in the culinary world for inspired recipes home cooks can actually use. And for their first cookbook, Short Stack founders Nick Fauchald and Kaitlyn Goalen call upon their acclaimed contributors to extend their love letters to favorite ingredients. Exclusively created for this cookbook, these recipes–from all-star chefs, food writers, editors, and stylists–are destined to become favorites.

Categories: Baking, Books, Bread, Cooking, Drinks, Food, Recipe Tags:

Homemade Walnut Pesto on Rotini for dinner

February 10th, 2017 Comments off