Together: Memorable Meals Made Easy by Jamie Oliver

Noted chef Jamie Oliver has introduced a cookbook full of recipes for making memorable meals easily.

Minimizing your time in the kitchen and maximizing your time with friends and family is what Jamie Oliver’s newest cookbook, Together, is all about. There are recipes for entire meals such as his Taco Party–Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Black Beans and Cheese, Homemade Tortillas, Roasted Pineapple and Hot Red Pepper Sauce, Green Salsa, Chocolate Semifreddo, and Tequila Michelada or you can select one or more of the 130 recipes in this fascinating book with its lush photos. Oliver, being British, offers some unique recipes such as Wimbledon Summer Pudding, Bloody Mary Crumpets, and My Maple Old Fashioned.

My Sumptuous Beef Bourguignon

Burgundy, Bacon, Button Mushrooms & Shallots

Serves 10

  • 3 pounds beef cheeks, trimmed
  • 4 large carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 small pinch of ground cloves
  • 3 cups Burgundy or Pinot Noir
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 slices of smoked bacon
  • 7 ounces shallots
  • 14 ounces button mushrooms
  • ½ a bunch of Italian parsley (½ ounce)

GET AHEAD Chop the beef cheeks into 2-inch chunks. Wash, trim and chop the carrots and celery into 11/4-inch chunks. Peel the garlic and onion, then roughly chop. Place it all in a large bowl with the mustard, bay, cloves, a generous pinch of black pepper and the wine. Mix well, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

ON THE DAY Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Pour the contents of the beef bowl into a colander set over another bowl. Pick out just the beef and pat dry with paper towel, then toss with the flour. Put a large casserole pan on a medium heat and melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. In batches, brown the floured beef all over, turning with tongs and removing to a plate with any crispy bits once browned. Tip the veg into the pan, and cook for 10 minutes, or until starting to caramelize, stirring occasionally and scraping up any sticky bits. Return the beef to the pan, pour over the reserved wine and 3 cups of boiling water, then bring to a simmer. Cover with a scrunched-up sheet of damp parchment paper and transfer to the oven for around 4 hours, or until the beef is beautifully tender, topping up with splashes of water, if needed.

TO SERVE When the beef is perfect, turn the oven off. Slice the bacon, then place in a large non-stick pan on a medium-high heat. Peel, chop and add the shallots, tossing regularly, then trim and halve or quarter the mushrooms, adding to the pan as you go. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring regularly. Finely chop and toss through the parsley leaves, then pour the contents of the pan over the bourguignon and season to perfection, tasting and tweaking.

CHICKEN, SAUSAGE & BACON PUFF PIE with ENGLISH MUSTARD, LEEKS & WATERCRESS SAUCE

SERVES 4

  • 2 slices of smoked bacon
  • 2 chicken thighs (3 ½ oz each), skin off, bone out
  • 2 pork sausages
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 small potatoes (3 ½ oz each)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons English mustard
  • 2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk
  • 3 ¼ oz watercress
  • 11 oz pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 large egg

GET AHEAD You can do this on the day, if you prefer. Slice the bacon and place in a large shallow casserole pan on a medium heat. Chop the chicken and sausages into 11/4-inch chunks, and add to the pan. Cook until lightly golden, stirring regularly, while you trim and wash the leeks, peel the potatoes, chop it all into 11/4-inch chunks, then stir in with a good splash of water. Cook for  10 minutes, or until the leeks have softened, stirring occasionally, scraping up any sticky bits, and adding an extra splash of water, if needed. Stir in the mustard and flour, followed by the broth, then the milk. Bring to a boil, simmer for  15 minutes on a low heat, stirring regularly, then season to perfection, tasting and tweaking. Carefully pour everything through a colander to separate the filling from the sauce. Pour the sauce into a blender, add the watercress and blitz until smooth. Spoon the filling into an 8-inch pie dish with 7 tablespoons of sauce. Let everything cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

TO SERVE Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Brush the rim of the pie dish with olive oil. Cut the pastry into 3/4-inch strips, using a crinkly pasta cutter if you’ve got one, then arrange over the dish – I like a messy lattice. Eggwash all the pastry, then bake the pie for 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is piping hot. Gently heat up the watercress sauce to serve on the side.

VEGGIE LOVE

Peel 1 lb of root veg of your choice, chop into ¾ –1 ¼ -inch chunks and cook for 20 minutes with the leeks, potatoes, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the leaves from ½ a bunch of thyme (1/3 oz). Use veg broth with the milk, top up with ½ cup of sauce on assembly, then finish in the same way.

TANGERINE DREAM CAKE

A pleasure to make, this cake is joyous served with a cup of tea – make sure you pack your flask. Any leftovers crumbled over ice cream will also be a treat. I like to make the whole thing on the day, but you can absolutely make the sponge ahead and simply store it in an airtight container overnight.

SERVES 16

  • 1 cup soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 8 oz liquid honey
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 ¾ cups ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 tangerines
  • ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Optional: plain yogurt, to serve

ON THE DAY Preheat the oven to 350ºF and generously grease an 8-cup non-stick bundt pan with butter. Place the remaining butter in a food processor with the honey, flour, almonds and vanilla paste. Crack in the eggs, finely grate in the tangerine zest (reserving some for garnish) and blitz until smooth. Pour the mixture into the bundt pan, scraping it out of the processor with a spatula, then jiggle the pan to level it out. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a bowl, then squeeze and stir in enough tangerine juice to make a thick drizzle. Pour or spoon over the cool cake, easing some drips down the sides in an arty way, then sprinkle over the reserved zest. Peel the remaining tangerines and slice into rounds, to serve on the side. A spoonful of yogurt also pairs with it very nicely, if you like.

CLASSIC CAKE: Don’t worry if you don’t have a bundt pan, a 10-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper will work just as well.

The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life.

“The Wellness Lifestyle is an all-in-one life-long wellness plan,” says Daniel Orr. “Dr. K and I wanted to create something that was a one size fits all in both understanding health and enjoying life. A lot of that is food. “

         It’s a place many of us have been in–counting calories, obsessing about what we ate and shouldn’t have and still seeing the scale tip higher and higher. There’s a different way according to Chef Daniel Orr, owner of FARMbloomington, an award winning restaurant in downtown Bloomington, Indiana and Kelley Jo Baute, owner of A Splendid Earth Wellness, a company she runs offering wellness coaching to individuals and businesses and workplace ergonomics consulting in Seymour, Indiana. The two, who are friends, melded their skills in creating MyTendWell Lifestyle Plan, a program focusing on eight different wellness factors — social, occupational, intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, and nutritional. That in turn led to writing The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life.

Daniel Orr and Kelley Jo Baute

         “We’re really unique because there are no books where there’s really an exercise scientist working with an international chef,” says Baute.

         When she says international, she means it. Orr, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, a culinary school in Providence, Rhode Island, has worked in France at such restaurants as Auberge des Templiers, Restaurant Daguin and three-star L’Esperance, and Belgium’s three-star Restaurant Bruneau. After that he worked as an executive chef at several high end New York restaurants and becoming executive chef of the Cuisinart Resort & Spa in Anguilla, BVI in the Caribbean.

         For her part, Baute was working on her PhD at Indiana University Bloomington when she was diagnosed, at age 41, with Stage 2 breast cancer and embarked upon a rigorous regime of chemotherapy and a year of Herceptin treatments. Doctors also removed a tumor and surrounding lymph nodes and she underwent a bilateral mastectomy. Though ongoing tests showed her to be cancer free, for the next five years she had further biopsies, a hysterectomy, and other surgeries. Despite this, she managed to complete her PhD in kinesiology and start her own business. In other words, she says, she wasn’t going to let cancer define her.

         Pulling on their diverse backgrounds, Baute and Orr created an easy-to-follow book designed for those who want to enjoy food and also have a healthy and fulfilling life.

         “It’s about taking care of yourself and taking care of each other, reaching a handout to help others,” Baute says.

         “The Wellness Lifestyle is an all-in-one life-long wellness plan,” says Orr.  “Dr. K and I wanted to create something that was a one size fits all in both understanding health and enjoying life. A lot of that is food. The fresher your food is the more nutritious it is. Many of the antioxidants are most available in the whole raw ingredient of fresh fruit and vegetables. Growing and cooking your own food is the number one thing you can do to live a healthier lifestyle.”

         If you can’t grow your own, you can still cook fresh foods found at supermarkets and farm stands.

         It’s important to plan a schedule of exercise, wellness and eating healthy and stick to it says Baute.

         “Wellness is a lifestyle, so get started and stay committed,” she continues. “Encourage others to join you. Just keep moving.”

         “And just keep eating healthy,” adds Orr.

Matchday Menu: Adam Richman’s New Show

“That it is approachable, nonthreatening, and there is something in Straight Up Tasty for everyone, regardless of their level of experience in the kitchen,” says Adam Richman. “I aim to introduce people to flavors, ingredients, and maybe even techniques that they have not used in their kitchens before. “

               Adam Richman,TV personality, culinary traveler, cook and author, travels so much for his shows such as “Secret Eats with Adam Richman,” that I wondered if he ever woke up in the morning and wasn’t sure where he was.

               “Yes I do,” Richman tells me. “In fact, one time, it was the strangest/saddest/weirdest sensation I’ve ever had. I woke up at home and didn’t know where I was. My first thought was, ‘This must be one of those old boutique hotels that they renovated an apartment to make.’ I honestly did not even recognize my own home. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, but I wouldn’t change up the opportunities I have and have been given for anything.”

               Expect him, though, to know what he is demonstrating when he’s in front of a crowd because Richman is totally into making cooking accessible to everyone.  

A while back I caught up with Richman at the KitchenAid Fairway Club where he was doing a cooking demo when Harbor Shores, a Signature Jack Nicklaus golf course on Lake Michigan in Benton Harbor, Michigan was the venue for the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

               “The recipes are simple but deeply delicious, and each dish can be used for multiple purposes: the salmon can be by itself, or served a top a salad,” Richman says about what has become almost his mantra and why his cookbooks and shows such as “Secret Eats with Adam Richman” and “Man vs. Food.” He now is starring in Matchday Menus, a brand new series on Facebook where he uses football stadium food to explore some of the coolest places in the world. It started three weeks ago and already has almost 3.5 million followers.

               As for the golfing aspect of the tournament, I asked Richman if he played.

               “I was actually on my high school team,” he says “I have not played in ages, and I cannot imagine how my game has suffered as a result of that. I still enjoy the driving range quite a bit, but most of all, my favorite thing about opportunities like this is to meet the people that watch my shows and enjoy the things I do. Because this way, I can give people more of what they want, and find out what else they are interested in that I have yet to explore.”

From real, authentic poutine and Montreal bagels in Quebec, to unbelievable home cooked Latin meals in El Paso,  Matchday Food is the show for you.

               Exploring—whether it’s the backroads and city streets in the United States or internationally—is what Richman’s shows are all about.  How did he decide where to go for shows such as “Secret Eats with Adam Richman?” 

               “The locations for the international season were decided by the network–at least in terms of the cities,” he explains. “Because my shows have had a significant and very fortunate degree of international success, they wanted to film in cities where my shows already had a foothold. In terms of the establishments with in those cities, I am blessed to work alongside an amazing team of storied producers, and I have a great director and show runner. We all do research for a couple of months and then meet with the places we have for each city. It’s actually quite a bit of fun. Everybody is trying to out-secret each other. Everybody tries to find the coolest place, the coolest hidden dish and so on. Ultimately, we look over everything that everyone has brought in, and then try to figure out what makes the best four location episode that really represents the city.”

               Richman says he’s flattered people call him a chef but says he thinks there’s something academic and studious to the word chef.

“I think of myself—excuse the expression—as a badass cook,” he says.  “I may not be a chef, but I’ve worn clogs a few times and baggy checkered pants.”

            The latter clothing list is a nod to Mario Batali, the embattled restauranteur/TV food star/cookbook author who was known for his orange Crocs, hair pulled back into a ponytail and oversized shorts and patterned pants.

            “It used to be if you had a sheath of tattoos up and down your arm, you were a biker,” he continues. “Now it means you can cook a great pork belly.”

            His cooking demonstrations include a lot of digressions as well as action while he’s talking. Slicing a lemon with a mandolin, he tell us about how to avoid taking a slice out of your hand, sharing the story of an incident where he did just that and then lamenting it was too bad, he wasn’t making marinara sauce in order to cover up the accident.  There’s advice against cooking with wine we wouldn’t drink and adding oil to an unheated pan.

             It’s a science thing about the latter, he says, adding it’s important to heat the pan first. That’s because the longer fats cook, the quicker they’ll break down and start to burn impacting both the taste and even releasing harmful toxins.

            How do you know when the pan is hot enough to add oil? Richman shows how but holding his pan close to the surface—really closed.  

            “My mother hates when I do that,” he says, noting that less perilously, splashing a drop or two of water in the pan and seeing if it sizzles also works.

               There are so many cookbooks on the market, what do you tell me people about why they should buy yours.? I ask.

               “That it is approachable, nonthreatening, and there is something in Straight Up Tasty for everyone, regardless of their level of experience in the kitchen,” he says. “I aim to introduce people to flavors, ingredients, and maybe even techniques that they have not used in their kitchens before. I want people to use my recipes as a point of departure for them to then tweak and customize to make them their own. Above all, I want people to have fun. It’s not just recipes – there are poems, essays, even lists of great restaurants to check out that I have discovered in my travels.”

Miso-roasted veggies

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup miso paste (yellow or mild works well with the vegetables here)

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 beets, peeled and cubed

2 12-ounce bags of broccoli florets

2 Spanish onions, cubed

1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

¼ cup garlic powder (not granulated garlic) or more to taste

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F

2. In a large bowl, combine the oil and the miso. Add the sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, onions, and garlic cloves and toss to coat.

3. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and add about ¼ inch of water. Add the vegetables to the pan. Dust everything with the garlic powder. Cover the whole dish with aluminum foil.

4. Roast the vegetables for 50 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the veggies, and cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and beets are fully covered. Serve hot or warm.

Smoked paprika onion rings

Ingredients

3 Vidalia onions (or other sweet onion), peeled

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, beaten

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

3 TBS sweet smoked paprika

Vegetable or peanut oil, for deep frying

Kosher salt to taste

1. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the onions into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Separate the rounds into rings.

2. Place the flour, beaten eggs, and panko in three separate shallow bowls. Mix a tablespoon of paprika in each bowl.

3. Dredge the onion rings first in the flour, then in the eggs, and finally in the panko. Place the dredged rings on a baking sheet and allow the coating to set for 10 minutes.

4. In a large pot set over medium-high heat, bring about 4 inches of oil to 365 degrees (use a deep-frying or candy thermometer to check the temperature).

5. Line a separate baking sheet with paper towels. Working in batches, fry the onion rings until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. When done, the rings should float to the surface of the oil. Transfer each batch of fried rings to the prepared baking sheet and season with salt.

6. Keep the finished onion rings warm under layers of paper towels as you cook the remaining batches. Serve hot.

Win-the-bake-sale chocolate cake

Topping ingredients

1 box of Betty Crocker SuperMoist Butter Recipe Chocolate Cake Mix

3 large eggs

½ cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise

1 can of store-bought chocolate frosting

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.  

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, eggs, 1 cup of cold water, and the mayonnaise.

3. Pour the mixture into the greased cake pans and spread with a spatula to smooth. Bake according to package instructions. When done, remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool completely.  

4. Invert one of the cake layers onto a plate. Using a rubber spatula, spread a thick layer of frosting over the top. Carefully invert the other cake layer on top and spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting. 

Recipes courtesy of Adam Richman.

The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook

Still worried about that extra Halloween candy you gobbled down?  Imagine how many miles you’d have to spend on the treadmill after attending the 1450 banquet, held in England celebrating the enthronement of an archbishop where guests munched on 104 oxen, six ‘wylde bulles,’ 1,000 sheep, 400 swans and such game birds such as bustards (larger than a turkey), cranes, bitterns, curlews and herons?

“Our ancestors had gastronomic guts,” Anne Willan tells me as we chat on the phone, she in Santa Monica, California where there’s sunshine and me in the cold Great Lakes region.  I find it fascinating to read old menus and descriptions of banquets and feasts and for that Willan, founder of famed French cooking school École de Cuisine la Varenne, recipient of the IACP Lifetime Achievement Award and author of 30 cookbooks, is the go to person.

Even better, after collecting cookbooks for some 50 years and amassing a collection of over 5000 tomes, last year Willan and her husband, Mark Cherniavsky immersed themselves in their antiquarian cookbook library and came out with The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook (University of California Press $50).Anne Willan

“Seals were eaten on fast days along with whale, dolphin, porpoise and thousands of other fish,” says Willan. Hmmm…that’s different than the macaroni and cheese and fish sticks I used to eat at the homes of my Catholic friends on Fridays.

Here we peruse four centuries of gastronomy including the heavily spiced sauces of medieval times (sometimes employed because of the rankness of the meat), the massive roasts and ragoûts of Sun King Louis XIV’s court and the elegant eighteenth-century chilled desserts. One for the interesting detail, Willan also tells the story of cookbook writing and composition from the 1500s to the early 19th century. She highlights how each of the cookbooks reflects its time, ingredients and place, the  recipes adapted among the cuisines of Germany, England, France, Italy and Spain as well as tracing the history of the recipe.

Historic cookbooks can be so much different than ours, ingredients unfamiliar and instructions rather vague. For example, Willan points out the phrase “cook until” was used due to the difficulty of judging the level of heat when cooking a dish over the burning embers in an open hearth. It wasn’t until the cast-iron closed stoves of the 19th century that recipes writers begin were finally able to give firm estimates for timing.

For food historians and even those just appreciative of a good meal, the book is fascinating. For me as a food writer, I wonder about covering a dinner where birds flew out of towering pastries, seals were served and eels baked into pies and it was often wise to have a taster nearby in case someone was trying to poison you.

Anne Willan 1

The following recipe is from The Cookbook Library.

Rich Seed Cake with Caraway and Cinnamon

This recipe is based on a cake in The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, published in London in the 1700s.  Willan, ever the purist, suggests mixing the batter by hand as it was done 300 plus year ago.

“The direct contact with the batter as it develops from a soft cream to a smooth, fluffy batter is an experience not to be missed,” she says. “If you use an electric mixer, the batter is fluffier but the cake emerges from the oven less moist and with a darker crust.”

At times, Willan needs to substitute ingredients. The original recipe listed ambergris as an option for flavoring the cake. “Ambergris,” writes Willan, “a waxy secretion from a sperm whale, was once used to perfume foods. As it is now a rare ingredient, I’ve opted for Mrs. Smith’s second suggestion, of cinnamon, which marries unexpectedly well with caraway.”

1 pound or 31⁄2 cups) flour

1 2⁄3 cups sugar

6  tablespoons caraway seeds

5 eggs

4 egg yolks

1 pound or 2 cups butter, more for the pan

11⁄2 tablespoon rose water or orange-flower water

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 325ºF. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Sift together the flour and sugar into a medium bowl, and stir in the caraway seeds. Separate the whole eggs, putting all the yolks together and straining the whites into a small bowl to remove the threads.

Cream the butter either by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the yolks two at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the rose water. Whisk the egg whites just until frothy, then beat them, a little at a time, into the egg yolk mixture. Beat in the cinnamon. Finally, beat in the flour mixture, sprinkling it a little at a time over the batter. This should take at least 15 minutes by hand, 5 minutes with a mixer. The batter will lighten and become fluffier. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake until the cake starts to shrink from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean when withdrawn, 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 hours. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack until tepid, then unmold it and leave it to cool completely on the rack. When carefully wrapped, it keeps well at room temperature for several days and the flavor will mellow.

 

 

 

Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New Profession

Author Photo. Andrew Friedman. Photo Credit Evan SungAndrew Friedman calls himself a chef writer because, as much as he loves food, he’s passionate about the stories chefs have to tell.

“My point of view is writing not so much about the food but about the chefs, that’s why I say I’m a chefie not a foodie,” he says. “I think too many well-known chefs are almost portrayed as cartoon characters and in a broad stroke. I wanted to spend time with them and really get to know their stories, who they really are and their impact on how we eat now. Like Wolfgang Puck. He’s a tremendous cook but people call him the first celebrity chef. He’s so much more than that.”

To accomplish this, Friedman interviewed over 200 chefs and food writers and others who were leading the food revolution against processed and packaged foods.

“I’m such a geek I would spend three hours with someone just to get a nugget or two,” he says.

The results? An accumulation of tens of thousands of transcript pages and his latest book,  Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New Profession (Ecco 2018; $27.99), where he recounts how dedicated and imaginative men and women in the 1970s and the 1980s, who were willing to challenge the rules, revolutionized America’s food scene.

Now chefs are like rock stars, often known just by one name, commanding their own empires of cookbooks, TV shows, restaurants, cookware and food products. But Friedman points out that up until 1976, the United States Department of Labor categorized cooks as domestics. It took lobbying by the American Culinary Federation, at the urging of Louis Szarthmary, the late Hungarian American chef who owned The Bakery in Chicago and wrote The Chef’s Secret Cookbook, a New York Times bestseller, to change the classification into a profession.

“I wanted to show how this became a viable profession,” he says. “I was talking to Jody Buvette, owner of Buvette in New York and she remembers sitting her father down and  saying ‘I have two bad things to tell you. I’m gay and I want to be a cook.’ It was like telling your upper middle-class parents that you wanted to be a coal miner.”

Friedman, whose knowledge about restaurants, culinarians and food seems delightfully endless, chose three cities to focus on—San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. What does he think of Chicago’s food scene?

“It’s great,” he says. “I love dining in Chicago and you have some brilliant chefs but I think much of the beginnings started in those three cities.”

Besides, he has those piles of transcripts. There’s surely more than a few Chicago stories in all those pages.  In the meantime, Friedman gives us a wonderfully written read about a defining time—one that in some ways separates frozen TV dinners and what many restaurants are serving today.

Ifyougo:

What:  5 course 80s-era dinner inspired by Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll with wines selected by Sommelier Rachael Lowe and conversation at Spiaggia Restaurant

When: Tues. October 2, 7 pm

Where: Spiaggia Restaurant, 980 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL

Cost: $150 per person

FYI: 312-280-2750; spiaggiarestaurant.com

 

What: Talk with Andrew Friedman about Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll

When: Wed, October 3, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Where: Read It & Eat, 2142 North Halsted St., Chicago, IL

Cost: Purchase a ticket and book combo for $36.45 or 2 tickets and a book combo for $46.45

FYI: 773-661-6158; readitandeatstore.com

 

 

Cooking with the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry and Literary Fare

Chef Myra Kornfeld and poet Stephen Massimilla have put together a luscious cookbook illustrating how poetry, prose and food have been inspirational throughout history.

The 500-page book, “Cooking With the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry and Literary Fare,” is divided by seasons. It pairs 150 recipes with culinary poems, essays and historic anecdotes.W28choctart 2

Massimilla provides a few stanzas from Book IX of Homer’s “The Odyssey” to accompany a recipe for Mediterranean Cauliflower-Kale Roast with Feta. He recounts how the cheese, which dates back to 8th century B.C., was originally aged and brined to keep it from spoiling in Greek’s hot, arid climate. The way it was made, he says, has changed very little since Odysseus entered Polyphemus’ cave.

In the recipe for Corn Pudding “Soufflé,” the authors include John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem “Barbara Frietchie” as a preface to the simple recipe.

They end the recipe with a recommendation for cooking fresh corn by Mark Twain, who very much enjoyed his meals.W8medcaulibake

“Corn doesn’t hang on to its sugar long after it has been picked,” Massimilla writes. “The saying goes that you should put up a pot of hot water before you stroll out to the cornfield prepared to run back on the double. Mark Twain upped the challenge when he recommended carrying the boiling water to the garden to catch the corn with all its sweetness the moment it leaves the vine.”

The following recipes are from “Cooking with the Muse.”

Mediterranean Cauliflower-Kale Roast with Feta

Serves 4 to 6.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt

3/4 pound curly kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped and pitted

1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and chopped

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons oregano

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Black pepper

2 ounces feta cheese (preferably from sheep’s milk), crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.

In one bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

In another bowl, toss the kale with 1 tablespoon oil. Massage the oil into the leaves so each leaf is lightly coated. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Roast the cauliflower for 30 minutes, then add the kale to the baking sheet. Return it to the oven and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cauliflower is browned and the kale is crispy. Remove from the oven.

Warm the remaining tablespoon of oil with the butter in a large skillet until the butter melts. Add the garlic, olives and capers and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant. Stir in the cauliflower and kale, the water and the oregano. Combine thoroughly. Stir in the lemon juice and a sprinkling of pepper.

Serve hot, with feta scattered on top.

Chocolate Tart with Salt and Caramelized Pecans

Makes one 9-inch tart.

For the pecans:

1 cup pecans

1/3 cup maple sugar, Sucanat sugar, Rapadura sugar or coconut sugar

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

1 large egg white

For the crust:

Oil and coconut flour, for preparing the pan

2 cups unsweetened coconut, dried and shredded

3 tablespoons granulated natural sugar (such as maple or Sucanat)

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 large egg whites

For the filling:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 tablespoons maple sugar

Pinch of salt

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the garnish:

Fleur de sel (French sea salt) or other large-flake sea salt

Position one rack in the middle of the oven and another in the lower third. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Have ready two parchment paper-covered baking sheets.

To make the pecans, toss the pecans, sugar, salt and cayenne, if using, in a medium bowl. Stir in the egg white to combine. Spread on one of the baking sheets. Bake on the middle rack until the sugar has clumped on the nuts and the mixture looks sandy and dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir every 8 minutes or so during the baking so that pecans caramelize evenly.

Let cool for a few minutes, transfer to a bowl and break up the clumps into small pieces. (The pecans can be stored at room temperature for up to a month.)

While the pecans are baking, make the crust. Oil and flour a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, sugar and orange zest. Work in the coconut oil with your fingers until everything is moistened evenly.

In a small bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy. Stir into the coconut mixture. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan. (Use a piece of plastic wrap between your hand and the dough to make pressing in the crust easier.) Give an extra press at the juncture where the sides meet the bottom, so you don’t have a triangular-shaped thick wedge of crust in the corners.

Place the tart pan on the other baking sheet. Bake the crust on the lower rack until it is a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, checking after 10.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk, sugar and salt to a simmer. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir with a whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cover to keep warm.

Just before the crust is ready, whisk the egg thoroughly into the chocolate. Pour the filling into the hot crust. Return the tart (still on the baking sheet) to the oven. Bake until the filling is set around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. The filling should still jiggle a little in the center when you nudge the pan. Set on a rack to cool.

Unmold the tart and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Before serving, sprinkle a light dusting of flaky salt and the pecan clusters over the tart. Alternatively, serve each piece with a light dusting of coarse salt, then sprinkle the top with the caramelized pecans.

Cook’s note: The tart may be refrigerated for up to three days.

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