Posts Tagged ‘The Joy of Cooking’

Making A Case For Vegetables

How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

I’ve long been a fan of Mark Bittman’s gregariously engaging style and presentation.

Anyone who has watched more than a few minutes of his vast library of podcasts knows that the man is a serious ham (oh the irony!).

At times I’ve found myself transfixed, watching entire episodes on preparations of foods that I don’t even like, just because he’s so darned entertaining and fun.

I’ve owned How To Cook Everything for years, and though I don’t often cook whole recipes from it (in general because I don’t like the limitations that a recipe puts on my creative intentions) it sits right there on the easy-to-reach shelf alongside The Joy (Of Cooking) and various other handy encyclopedic references, like my 27 volume Time Life Cooking set from the 70′s.  I own a few other Bittman tomes too, like Food Matters, Quick And Easy Recipes From The NY Times, and I’m sure there’s another one or two in there somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I could tell you which ones, which I suppose points out how often I use them.

And after what seemed like a ridiculously long time, I finally managed to get a copy of How To Cook Everything Vegetarian recently.  Ever since I read Food Matters, I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy, but every time I went to one of my local book shops, it’s always the one book in his massive repertoire that’s consistently absent.  For a bit I began to wonder whether that was because it was so incredibly popular that nobody could keep it in stock, or because it was so unpopular nobody wanted it.

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Meatycake, Meatycake, Butcher Man

Stockcakes

Day by day, it’s getting colder and colder, and becoming more and more apparent that summer is long gone.  With that shift in seasons, we spend a little less time cooking outside on the grill, and a little more time indoors baking, braising and stewing, etc.

One of the indicators that typically signals the arrival of fall for me is my willingness to spend time making homemade stock.  Such a steamy, sweaty endeavour would be out of the question during the dog days of summer, but in the fall when days are brisker and nights hold a chill, warming the air with rich, meaty scents sounds like a wonderful, reflective idea.  It also happens to appeal to my waste-not-want-not mentality.  Each time I make stock, I continually marvel at the amount of flavour you can extract from little more than kitchen scraps.  And with such a small amount of effort, you can improve just about every dish you add it to.  Bored of rice?  Simmer it in stock.  Making mashed potatoes?  Boil those in stock first, too.  Deglazing pan juices?  Stock can do that.  In just about any cooking application where you would use water or wine, stock makes a flavourful stand-in.

But, before we get to the meat of the matter, a few “suggestions” about making stock that will make life a little easier.

1) Be organic – I try to buy as much organic food as possible, mostly because I think it tastes better, but also because it’s better for me and the environment.  I usually try not to preach to others about why they should too, because I understand that some things about food are very personal matters.  In this case I’m breaking my rule, though.  If at all possible, try to use organic food to make your stock.  With something as simple and elemental as boiled bones and veg, imperfections easily come through, so starting with the best product possible will automatically put you ahead.

2) Save, save, save – If you roasted a chicken, save that cleaned carcass in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  Once you’ve amassed a few, you’ll be well on your way to a flavourful stock.  And don’t hesitate to add vegetable trimmings to the bag either, as long as they’re cleaned first.  Carrot peels, onion skins and celery leaves all make great additions to a stock base.

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The Foodie 13 – Cookbooks

As promised earlier this week, we’re unveiling a new feature at Foodie and the Everyman today; book reviews and recommendations!

This also dovetails nicely with another addition to Foodie and the Everyman that I’ve started called The Foodie 13The Foodie 13 will be an ongoing series of lists about 13 really neat things in specific categories, that I intend to publish several times a month.  For our first Foodie 13, I thought I’d pick a subject that is near and dear to my heart; cookbooks!

So, without further adieu, and in no particular order, here are the 13 cookbooks I can’t live without:

1- Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn – There’s much that can be said about this great book, but primarily it’s the one I credit with sparking my carnivorous love affair.  After less than 10 minutes of paging through the book I was already plotting exactly where in my shoebox apartment I could fit a Bradley smoker.   Each new recipe I try from the book spurs me on to try even more.  A real winner.

2- Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz - A fantastic book laced with great recipes for enjoying the simple pleasure of homemade frozen desserts.  Since purchasing this book I’ve sampled approximately 20 of the recipes, and not one of them was bad.  The pear sorbet is definitely a recipe of note, as are the spicy, crinkled speculaas cookies, that are meant to be folded in to recipes but are amazing in their own right.

3- Local Breads by Daniel Leader - This is the most recent purchase on my list, so I can’t vouch for a very large percentage of the recipes yet.  From what I’ve already sampled and pored over pictures of though, it’s clear to me that this is a book worth having, as it conjures up an intense hunger every time I read it.  The pictures peppered throughout the book are colorful, rustic, and absolutely delicious.  And the Parisian daily bread is to die for, and as I’ve said before is worth the cost of the book alone.

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