Baked Eggplant with Italian Seasoning

It’s summer and the vegetables are thriving! Well, at least that’s the way it looks like at the local farmers markets! The selection of various vegetables, greens and herbs has been excellent this season. One of the most versatile vegetables is eggplant. There are hundreds of various recipes using eggplant and most are fairly easy to do!

My personal favorite is a simple and easy recipe that you can make in less than 30 minutes! A classic eggplant recipe with Italian seasoning is a great starter or even perfect for an entire meal.

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 large eggplant (Usually serves 2-3 people)
  • 1 Stick unsalted butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning bread crumbs
  • Paprika
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Chopped Parsley

Here’s how to do it:

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Take 1 stick of unsalted butter and melt it in the microwave. Slice your eggplant into slices about .25″ thick. (I leave the skin on but most people peel the skin before slicing).

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In a separate bowl add 1/2 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumb mix. Add 1/4 cup of fresh parmesan cheese. Add a dash of paprika and a healthy dash of chopped dried parsley.

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Spread your sliced pieces of eggplant out and sprinkle salt on them. (Eggplant holds a lot of water so the salt will help draw some of the moisture out of the eggplant). Let sit for roughly 10 minutes allowing the salt to do its magic.

After 10 minutes is up you can begin prepping the eggplant. Take each slice of eggplant and dip in your melted butter then in your seasoning mix, covering liberally. Shake off any excess bread crumb seasoning. You do not want clumps or excess bread crumbs on your eggplant, just a coating.  An excess of breadcrumbs will become a mushy mess after you bake it. You’re going for just a nice coating.

Place your seasoned eggplant slices on a baking sheet with some parchment paper or tin foil.

Bake at 400 F for roughly 15 minutes. You want a golden brown color to the eggplant.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a baking rack. Sprinkle a drizzle of EVOO over top the eggplant. I like to then sprinkle some fresh chopped basil over top to finish.

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Salt & Starch Cookbook

I have been putting off posting this for a while but I think the time has come where I can comfortably see the finish line on this project. For the past few years I have done a fair amount of cooking & learning in the kitchen. I’ve attempted to document much of my cooking adventures along the way, highlighting some on this food blog from time to time. A while back I began sifting thru some of the saved images and articles I jotted down during the process. I had to smile because many of these memories were made with family while learning about traditions and recipes that go back many years. The notion of compiling an actual cookbook never really occurred to me until just a couple years ago.

Fast forward to today and it’s been a very slow process. In particular because I didn’t want to publish just another cookbook or book of recipes. I wanted the book to be more personal. It needed to act as sort of self-preservation, recording the memories and lessons I’ve learned from my family and the joy that cooking has brought into my life.

The very first draft of this labor of love project is almost completed. The book highlights easy-to-follow recipes I have learned, notes and memories from my life as well as (I hope) some really inspiring food photography throughout.

Stay tuned for updates and the official release date!

grazie a tutti

Torta di farina di cocco – {Coconut Flour Cake}

Recently I was thumbing thru one of my many cookbooks that span the variety of cuisines across Italy. A recipe in Acquacotta from Emiko Davies cookbook caught my eye.

The recipe is a simple bunt cake make from chestnut flour, apparently used within the Tuscany region for this recipe. After realizing I could not find chestnut flour anywhere I decided to improvise and see how things turned out.

I made the cake using coconut flour. The result was a beautiful dense cake that surprisingly was simple to make and even simpler to eat!

Here’s what you’ll need:

5.5 oz of room temperature butter (unsalted)

7 oz of sugar

Zest of 1 orange

6 eggs (the recipe called for 4 but I found adding two more worked better)

1 – 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 – 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 cup milk (the recipe called for 1/2 cup but I found 1 full cup worked better)

2 tablespoons of rum

Start by taking your butter,coconut flour, all-purpose flour & baking powder, mixing them in a mixer until well incorporated. It’s important that your butter is room temperature – having it cold or just out of the fridge will cause you problems.

Add in 1 egg at a time to your mix, allowing your stand mixer to get the mix to a nice, smooth and almost pastel color. Slowly add in your milk until well incorporated.

Zest 1 full orange and add in the mix along with your choice of rum.

Allow your stand mixer to run on slow for about 1 – 2 minutes until you have a thick & dense batter. The batter should not be runny like a cake batter, it should stand on its own and be thick.

Liberally grease a bunt pan. Pour your batter into the pan and go over with a spatula so the batter sits evenly on the bottom.

Set your over to 350 degrees and allow to bake for roughly 20 minutes, or until you can stick a knife thru and have it come out cleanly.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool.

In a small sauce pan put 1 cup of sugar, a teaspoon or two of confectioners sugar and 2 teaspoons of water. Put on the stove on low until you notice the sugar is caramelizing. Carefully pour over top your now cooled cake. Add a slice of orange and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary & some powdered sugar to finish the cake off nicely.

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Sarde a Beccafico – {Sicilian Stuffed Sardines}

A while back I came across one of the many food & travel docs-series on Netflix. It just so happened to be Ainsley Eats the Streets. I had never known of him before or seen his shows in Britain. After devouring the entire series he quickly became one of my most favorite television chefs. He exudes joy and it shows both in his television programs and in his cooking.

One of the episodes in the series was his visit to Sicily. During the show he prepared a fairly easy recipe of sardines stuffed with a variety of ingredients. I did a little research on the recipe and it’s fairly straightforward and easy to compose. I am not entirely positive there is a single traditional recipe for these sardines so I took the basic elements of what I could find online and on the show.

Here’s how I did it:

Before you do anything you need to find fresh local sardines. Obviously you probably won’t find them as fresh as in Sicily but local farmers markets should suffice. Fresh ingredients is the key here!

For an appetizer suitable for 2-4 people:

1.5lbs – 2 lbs of fresh sardines (Ask you fish monger or farmers market to scale them – It will save you a lot of extra work at home.)

Start off by cleaning your sardines, removing the head and innards along with the small back bone that runs thru the entire length of the small fish. An easy way to do this is make a small cut underneath the tip of the backbone and use your fingers to pull it out.

You will notice sardines have a lot of small little bones that run alongside the backbone as well. It’s up to you if you want to spend the time to remove each one but most are small enough that they will dissolve in the cooking process by itself.

Once your sardines are cleaned, half them with a sharp knife and set aside. I like to run them under cold water again after I cut them in half.

In a non-stick pan you want to lightly toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts along with a 1.5 cup of bread crumbs (preferably seasoned). Add in 1/2 cup of raisins along with another 1/2 cup of finely chopped parsley. Mix together until warm.

In a large bowl add 1.5 cups of EVOO and the juice of 1 lemon. Slowly add your dry ingredients, mixing slowly to incorporate well.

Take roughly 1 spoonful of the mixture and stuff each sardine. Carefully roll each one up securing it with a toothpick placing it carefully in an oiled glass dish. I’ve found small square glass dishes work the best. Once your dish is full drizzle some EVOO on top and add in a few springs of fresh rosemary and bay leaves. (No salt – remember the sardines have enough saltiness to them already naturally.)

Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove and let cool for 10 minutes. (Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks!)

You can add a dash of balsamic vinegar for that extra little kick to this lovely little delight from the sea.

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Fish Sauce Spare Ribs

This is a go-to dish for me. I absolutely love Fish Sauce Spare Ribs. I’ll make a wild guess and say you might have never tried fish sauce spare ribs? Am I right? If so, read on!

Put down the BBQ sauce and give this incredibly easy recipe a try for a super flavorful take on spare ribs you won’t forget.

*Some of the recipes I share on Salt & Starch outline exact measurements for cooking certain things. I share what works for me and what doesnt. For this entry I am mostly leaving it up to you to figure out. There are many variations I have found when preparing this dish so what better way to figure out what works for you! When I first cooked FSSR’s I used the now defunct Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipe cookbook.

After a few attempts I of course changed up the recipe slightly to suit what I felt made a better result. But that’s the beauty of cooking – experimentation with flavors, spices, amounts, and preparation until you get it just right for your tastebuds. So that said, below is a general outline of what you need. Feel free to add, take away and tweak the recipe to make it yours.

*Note: If you are not familiar with Fish Sauce I suggest you read this quick little article first.

It’s packs a sweet, powerful and funky flavor to dishes and it can easily be overused on your first few attempts cooking with it – I mention that based on experience!

So, my general rule of thumb with Fish Sauce is ‘less is more’. The powerful flavors of the sauce will still come thru in the dish you prepare and as mentioned above – you can always tweak your amounts to your flavor profiles as you get accustomed to using Fish Sauce as a main ingredient.

General Ingredients suggested:

  • 2 Racks of Spare Ribs (St.Louis cut if possible)
  • 3/4 Cup of Fish Sauce (Found at most Asian supermarkets)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • Lime Juice
  • Fresh Ginger, minced
  • Kosher Salt

How To:

Mix together in a large bowl 1/4 cup of your fish sauce and 1/4 cup of sugar. Rub each rack of ribs liberally with the mixture. Arrange each rack separately on its own baking sheet, wrapping each rack in foil – crimping the foil at the top.

Now the recipe I followed originally indicated to bake at 350 Degrees until tender but not falling apart, around 90 minutes. For my kitchen and stove I found this to be too long and the ribs were falling apart by then. I cook mine for roughly 70 minutes at 350 degrees, checking them every so often to make sure they are not overcooking.

Remove from the oven and let the ribs rest in their foil pouches for at least 20 minutes.

While your ribs are cooling, finish preparing the remaining ingredients using the general outline below:

Combine the remaining sugar, water and salt into a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add some of the lime juice and stir. I like to add just a little bit extra lime juice because I like the ‘tartiness’ it brings forth in the mix. Continue stirring for roughly 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add your ginger. Gently swirl the pan to incorporate the ginger. (You can also add garlic as an extra kick as well)

Add a bit more lime juice and another 1/2 cup of the fish sauce. Lucky Peach’s recipe calls for adding sambal at this stage if you are so inclined to. Add a dash of pepper and allow to bubble over low heat, stirring gently to incorporate.  You are making a ‘Fish Sauce Caramel’.

Repackage your rack of ribs into new foil wraps, arranging them meat side up on the baking sheet. Take a brush and liberally brush some of the fish sauce onto the ribs. Roast for 5-10 minutes, remove and baste with more of your sauce. Continue this process until you have exhausted all your sauce giving your ribs a shiny glaze with a nice char.

Let cool for 15 minutes, cut into slices and enjoy!

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Continue reading “Fish Sauce Spare Ribs”

Spanish Rice with Shrimp

There comes a time in your cooking life when you realize that you’re attempting to prepare something significantly important. Something besides just the next recipe or adventure in the kitchen. Something that goes beyond just the food, the next blog post, or one self.

For me that realization came when I attempted to make Spanish Rice for the first time.

I’ll preface this right now: I still know entirely too little about traditional Spanish food. But I am learning. I am studying. I am in awe of the food history and flavors of these foods I am reading about. My journey continues of course, hopefully with a trip to Spain one day to experience these heavenly dishes I have dancing around in my mind.

Here I recount my 3rd time attempting to make Spanish Rice. When I began researching traditional Spanish Rice my mind was spinning. Every recipe I read was different. Some with garlic, some without. Some with water, some with chicken broth. Some with only red peppers, some with yellow and green. The confusion continued …

I continued reading and watching some recipes on YouTube about how some chefs were preparing Spanish Rice. While I cannot speak with any level of truth about what exactly is the correct way of preparing Spanish Rice – I concluded that there were many ways to prepare this dish. This is something that still doesn’t sit right with me totally – mostly because I want to get it right. I wanted to prepare the dish the correct way, not a modernized or modified way. Alas, my questions still remain and I hope to eventually learn (without any doubt) the correct way of preparing traditional Spanish rice.

For now, my recipe below is my best attempt at studying the dish, the different variations of ingredients and preparation – all in hopes I present the dish with the utmost respect is surely deserves. For those that may be reading that have experience with this dish – please feel free to comment if I’ve made any glaring and horrible mistakes!

Spanish Rice (My best attempt)

Ingredients:

2 cups long grain white rice

1 lb Fresh Jumbo Shrimp (Head on)

4 cups chicken brothe

Salt/Pepper

2 cans tomato sauce (no seasoning)

1 Green Pepper / 1 Red Pepper

Fresh Parsley

4 Cloves Garlic

White Pepper

1/2 Spanish Onion

Cumin

Adobo seasoning

Oregano

EVOO & Veg Oil

Preparation:

Heat a large sauce pan with 1/3 cup of EVOO.  Roughly chop 1/2 a green pepper and 1/2 red pepper. Roughly chop 1/2 your Spanish Onion. Finely chop your cloves of garlic.

Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Carefully place your shrimp (head on) in the water.

While your shrimp boils add your fresh ingredients in the large sauce pan, allowing your peppers and onion to sweat down. Add a pinch of salt/pepper.

Remove your shrimp from the boiling water. Once your shrimp turn a bright orange color they should be finished. Remove the shrimp from the water and set aside.

In your large sauce pan, add your tomato sauce and chicken brothe. Bring to a rolling boil then add your rice. (General rule is for every 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of water or liquid). For this recipe I used chicken broth instead of water.

Note: It is incredibly easy to burn the bottom of your pan with the rice. This creates a sticky messy disaster and your dish will taste of burnt rice. Not good. To avoid this keep close watch on the temperature and add 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil to your pan. This helps prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Gradually add in the remaining seasonings. Add a pinch of white pepper, cumin, oregano and Adobo seasoning. Add your roughly chopped parsley.

Cover your pan half way, reduce the heat and keep careful watch. The rice should be absorbing the liquid visibly more and more as it continues to cook.

The rice should be fully cooked within 10-15 minutes typically. Once your rice is nice and has taken a somewhat thick consistency – add in your shrimp after you’ve removed their shells.

Continue to cook on low heat for another 5 minutes.

Taste your dish at this point – adjusting seasoning as you like. Add Salt/Pepper if necessary.

Finally, remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to continue to evolve.  I’ve noticed the longer the dish sits the flavors become bolder and incorporate more overall.

And there you have it – my best take on Spanish Rice.

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Thai Hot Pepper Wings

Do you like hot or spicy food? Do you long for that seemingly never ending dull ache that lasts hours after you’ve finished your last bite of a spice infused meal? If so, we probably should be friends.

Spicy foods and flavors in my opinion should have its own food group. Its own section at the farmers market. It should be an exclusive club only set aside for those that have proven their prowess amongst the culinary gods – those that have survived a spicy dish so savory and painful the juxtaposition of flavors is both confusing and dizzying.

Well, maybe I’ve gone too far. But alas, the heat is going to keep you coming back for more. Today’s recipe is no less than a plethora of combined flavors that leave your mouth tingling long after your last bite. Let the madness begin:

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs fresh chicken wings – never frozen

Thai Hot peppers

Green chili peppers

Ginger

Garlic

Salt/Pepper

Adobo seasoning (optional)

Cayenne Pepper

Recipe:

Start off cleaning your chicken wings. It goes without saying that when working with raw chicken one should be highly attentive to avoiding cross-contamination. I cook a lot of chicken and I always am super careful of cleaning up properly afterwards from all surfaces, knives, etc – again in order to eliminate cross contamination with raw chicken.

For this recipe I boil the chicken wings for 15-20 minutes in a large pot of rolling/boiling water.

While your chicken wings are boiling begin prepping your other ingredients.

Thinly slice a generous handful of your Thai Hot Peppers. These are usually available at any decent farmers market.

Thinly slice a few green chili’s.

Finely chop 4-5 cloves of garlic along with 1/4 or so of a stalk of fresh ginger. Bring these two ingredients together to a fine mince.

Add your ingredients to a large sauce pan with 1/3 cup vegetable oil.

Set your sauce pan on high on the stove, brining all the ingredients to a boiling simmer.

By now your boiled wings should be finished. Remove from the water and carefully incorporate them into your saucepan, liberally spreading the ingredients allowing to coat the wings. Add a pinch of salt, black pepper and if you would like some Adobo seasoning for extra flavor. You can also add a touch of sugar to cut the heat if you want. Continue to stir until your wings have a nice coating and brown to them.

Plate with fresh parsley and enjoy.

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Linguine with Baby Octopus

Spring is finally here, officially anyways. I think it is? It’s been raining for the past four days straight here on the east coast so you wouldn’t know it to look outside. Nonetheless it hasn’t stopped me from making some favorite dishes that come back into season once the winter departs.

One of my favorite dishes is Linguine with Baby Octopus. Personally I think octopus gets a bad wrap. It can be heard in various dark culinary corners that it’s “too rubbery” or “it has no taste”. For those I direct people to the mastermind of Jiro and how his disciples carefully massage an octopus for hours to bring out the flavor and soften the tentacled beast.

Ok, so I don’t got that far. But I do believe octopus can be an awesome ingredient, especially to a pasta dish. Linguine with Baby octopus is an incredibly easy recipe to make and variations of it can be found in almost any pasta cookbook old and new.

I’ve taken my favorite aspects of preparing this dish from a few different recipes, combining the ingredients I feel work well and discarding others that don’t quite make the grade.

So, here we go:

First, and most importantly. You need to find fresh baby octopus that is preferably already cleaned and ‘de-beaked!’ (Yes octopus have little beaks inside and you do not want to chomp down on one in the middle of your dinner!).  The below recipe is for an average dinner that should easily feed 3-4 hungry people.

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh baby octopus (cleaned and de-beaked) (Usually can be found in any decent farmers market).

EVOO

6 scallions chopped into 1 inch pieces

About 3/4 cup of fresh mint roughly chopped

Course Black Pepper and Kosher Salt

3 Lemons

1 lb dry Linguine (Or any long pasta you prefer)

1 tablespoon of chili flakes

1 sprig fresh basil

*********

In a large metal bowl put in 1/3 cup EVOO, your scallions, mint, and the juice of 2 lemons (be sure to remove any pits that you might accidentally drop in). Season with salt and pepper. Incorporate well and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Once boiling add a dash of salt to the water and drop your pasta in cooking it until al dente.

While your pasta is cooking heat up a large pan with 1/3 cup EVOO on the stove. Drop in your baby octopus cooking them until they curl up and reduce down in size. Throw in a dash of salt and pepper for seasoning. Once your octopus are almost complete, put in your herbs from the metal bowl. Reduce heat to low, stirring every so often as to prevent anything that might stick to the bottom of the pan.

Your pasta should be finishing up around this point. Drain the pasta from the water, saving roughly a cup of pasta water in case you need to add later. Once drained pour your pasta into your sauce pan with the octopus and herbs. Incorporate thoroughly while adding your chili flakes. Your pasta should be coated nicely with the sauce but not drowning in it. Add more salt and pepper to for a bit more additional seasoning. Dress with a few fresh sprigs of basil for presentation.

The end result should be an array of tastes that combine the hint of lemon juice, mint, and subtle kick of the chili flakes. The octopus should be tender enough to have these ingredients latch on to all the flavors while the greens create a nice balance of texture.

The dish can be served hot or cold. Personally, I like to let the dish sit and incorporate its flavors for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Lemon Lime Shell Pudding

If you’re looking to make a good impression on some dinner guests or simply test your culinary fortitude when it comes to presentation – this dessert might be for you!

A while back I started to play around in the kitchen with different presentations of desserts with the goal of making the aesthetics of the dish fun and new.  After many failed attempts with cakes, pies, cookies and an unfortunate incident with a creme brulee, I managed to come up with this little gem below.

This is a super easy (for the most part) way to impress your friends.

First: Make the lemon pudding. Here comes possibly your must crucial decision in this whole recipe – instant pudding or fresh made.

The answer to that of course is fresh made lemon pudding!  Here’s a quick recipe:

Food Network Lemon Pudding Recipe

After you’ve got the pudding made and it’s chilling in the fridge, start on your creme fraiche. I like this one:

Creme Fraiche Recipe

Next really comes the pain in the ass. When I first attempted to do this it did not turn out well. I wanted to present the lemon pudding in a hollowed out lime. Turns out hollowing out a lime is not the easiest of tasks. Word to the wise – be careful! I basically used a spoon to hollow out a lime, leaving a little bit of the pulp in the bottom.

Place a dollop of your Creme Fraiche on a 8″ circle plate, placing the hollowed out lime in the middle. Carefully spoon the fresh lemon pudding (which should be cold enough to hold its form) into the lime. Adorn with fresh raspberries and perhaps a sprinkle of crushed graham crackers.

And that’s it. A relatively easy and impressive take on lemon pudding.

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Lucky Peach – The End of a great culinary zine

A few months ago LUCKY PEACH announced on its Instagram account they were ending their beloved culinary magazine in print form. The result among the culinary believers has since been a tearful and frustrating farewell.

I discovered Lucky Peach a few years ago after picking up the issue on Chinatown. I consumed it as quickly as I do a bowl of steaming ramen. I quickly went online and purchased every back issue of LP that I could find, including the coveted Issue # 1 which I am not embarrassed to admit paying $125 for at the time.
(Current value steadily increasing since the news).

Since the news of LP’s magazine closure I have read a number of articles online all basically saying similar things. Culinary foodies outpouring their love in comments about the magazine while acclaimed chefs expressing their sadness for the end of what truly is the best culinary magazine available today. The EATER write up was especially good in my opinion and captured a lot of the sadness and gloominess we are all feeling currently.

EATER Article

For me the beautiful thing about LP was it proved if you are not heavily involved in cooking, the food world, or culinary news in general then you probably wouldn’t be someone to purchase the magazine. That solidified the magazines followers as the real deal and we knew that if you read LP then you most likely have a heartfelt love for food, cooking and all that accompanies it.

A casual culinary reader would typically not pay the $12+ an issue just to skim its pages for recipes.

As LP readers each new issue could not have come soon enough. Some of us (meaning me) would even have each issues release date on my calendar at which time I promptly went and bought my issue.  I never subscribed to the magazine as it was always more fun to go to the store and buy the issue.

Ugg … this sucks.

A week later after the announcement many of us mere mortals in the food world are left wondering what’s next? Where and how will we fill this now huge void in our collections of culinary literature? General consensus about the news is somber but hope remains that the creators of the magazine will  continue to make waves in the food world in other avenues. I sure hope so because the lasting effects of this magazine will soon not be forgotten among culinary circles and those of the like. The food scene had a magazine that ‘got it’ finally and wasn’t just about recipe after recipe but put thoughtful and interesting articles behind every new issue.

The release by LP had a witty write up on the end of the print form but indicated the online content will remain. For me I wanted more. I wanted to understand why the magazine was ending. Was it lack of membership or the cost of print media in general? Were the creators moving on to bigger and better things? Are they just going to focus on cook books now?

What?!

After reading the short release from LP I was a bit disappointed about the lack of information provided as to the reasoning behind the closure. Perhaps it is not for us readers and fans to know. And maybe perhaps more explanation will be given down the road from LP or its creators.

Anxious foodies await any updates I am sure.

The magazine in itself became a collectors piece with each new addition and one would suspect back issues now will increase in value as the news spreads. For a split second I thought about seeing what the entire collection would sell for but I wised up and realized I could not part with my issues no matter how bummed I was. Ultimately I would find myself buying them all back online for probably double what I paid for them.

As for me, sadly I always had a notion in my mind that this day might come. Print magazines at higher price points today just seem to have a limited shelf life unfortunately. I believe the magazine could charge double its cover price and still maintain its followers and sell issues. But alas the print gods had other ideas and for the time being we all await the next fresh new idea within the food world.

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Cook Book Review – {Kitchen Must Haves}

It seems each month my cook book collection gets a bit bigger and bigger. I find it difficult to visit the local book store (usually B&N) and not find myself walking out with at least 1 new book. I have a preference for certain style cook books, usually with exceptional photography (no surprise there). There are of course hundreds of new cook books that come out each year but I tend to spend my money on the artisanal style book, usually with heavy matte pages and chock full of really good staged food dishes, etc.

I added a few books to the collection throughout the year that I think are worthy of mentioning here.
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I hope some of these first hand reviews from an average joe like myself may provide some helpful insight for those looking to add to their kitchen collection.

{Flour + Water by Thomas McNaughton}
Quite simply put, I love this book! Earlier this year I took more of an interest in learning how to make hand made pasta as opposed to simply buying dry pasta from the supermarket. While I am still working at it, this book was a tremendous help and provided an easy to follow guideline on various types of pastas. The backstory is a good one and the book is full of little stories of travel and culinary adventures. Life’s lessons I suppose scattered about beautiful photos of various pasta shapes. I recommend this book if you have any interest in learning how to make pasta and enjoy good food photography! A+
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{Twenty Dinners by Ithai Schori & Chris Taylor}
This may be the best book I purchased this year. Keeping with my preference of ‘Artisanal’ style books, Twenty Dinners is packed with incredible food and lifestyle photography. The recipes are broken out per season so it provides ideas for any time of year. I’ve tried a few different recipes from Twenty Dinners so far and I plan to try many more come start of Spring. As a photographer, I highly appreciate the imagery in this book. The book is clearly made with great care and attention by the authors ideas of food and gatherings. In my opinion, this is a must have for your collection!
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{The Butcher’s Apprentice by Aliza Green}
I received this book as a gift from my father who was a butcher for 35 years. Today it seems like Butchers are increasingly more popular as people start to realize that buying meat from supermarkets isn’t the best choice. (Note: That’s my opinion. I’ll leave it to you to determine where you prefer to buy your meat). With that being said, if you have a local butcher shop you can buy choice cuts of meat from you’re probably better off spending a little more for quality grades. – Again, just my opinion. The Butcher’s Apprentice is an instructional book. Very insightful and full of easy to understand graphics and techniques. This book would be a great addition to your collection in the kitchen if you find yourself cutting your own meats or simply wanting to learn what cut of meat you’re eating. The book includes various recipes and is pretty much all easy to understand. For the low cost I would recommend adding this if your a meat eater.
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{Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food -The Ultimate Weekend Cookbook}
Let me start off by saying I am a fan of Jamie Oliver. I enjoy his style of cooking and especially how he instructs how to cook various recipes – when on television. With that being said I have struggled with this book. The images and layout of the book is top notch. It’s no doubt a high quality large cook book. I would say this is not a beginners book however. The recipes are without question incredible, yet I found some ingredients difficult to find. I looked thru a couple other of Jamie Oliver’s cook books recently at the book store and the ones I looked at appeared to be in the same format, which was cool. I think this book would be great for the more knowledgable cook, someone with a little kitchen experience and access to some of the ingredients not easily found. A lot of the recipes to me seemed to be for some pretty heavy food, but I suppose that was the intent with ‘comfort food’. All things said I enjoy the book as a challenge and will continue to do so.
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{Van Leeuwen – Artisan Ice Cream}
This review will be short. I have yet to attempt to make ice cream. I snagged this book a few months back when the weather was warm and I was in the mood to give ice cream a try. Ironically enough I found myself in NYC shortly thereafter and stopped in their ice cream shop. I tried a scope of the salted caramel option and personally found it to be too salty. But I wouldn’t let that deter you, the book is chock full of tons of flavors and seemingly good direction on how to start making ice cream. The book is artisanal in style and has really good photographs as well. I hope to dig more into this as summer gets here.
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{Ivan Ramen – Love, Obsession and Recipes}
Buy this book. It’s that simple. If you, like me, are obsessed with Ramen and all its quirkiness and traditions – this is the book for you! The backstory of Ivan and how he went to Tokyo and inserted himself into an impossible culinary world only to come out wildly successful and now known world wide, is enough to make this book a great addition to any collection. I love Ramen. Tokyo is on the top of my travel list. This book is fun, insightful and sarcastically funny about how the ramen world works.
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{The Whole Beast – Nose to tail Eating by Fergus Henderson}
I recently posted about this book. Let me say this … If I could only keep a single book in my kitchen collection this would be the book to have. A coveted, easy to understand piece of literary gold on how to eat every little bit of the glorious pig. Any foodie is no foodie without this book, or without at least hearing about this book. Anthony Bourdain pens the introduction and even filmed a travel episode with Fergus Henderson a while back. This is a must have. Ask for this as gift immediately, or scour the internet to find yourself a copy immediately!
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{Lidia’s Mastering the art of Italian Cuisine – by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich}
I am critical of Italian cook books normally. I’ve been to Italy, eaten the cache e pepe, and grew up eating Italian food. I picked this book up recently and have no complaints. I am a fan of Lidia and watch her shows frequently. Her traditional approach of recipes along with getting family involved in the cooking process is a win win in my book. This is a good book to have, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned cook. The recipes are strait forward and easy to understand. I suspect if you wanted to cook anything Italian, you’d be in good shape with this book. I have many Italian cook books but this one is a good addition to your collection any day, it does not disappoint.
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{Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell}
Admittedly I just purchased this book. However after a quick flip thru it I have no doubt this is a good book for anyone looking to learn some basic recipes in an easy format. I appreciate the imagery of the book and the layout is attractive and easy to grasp. Essentially this is another book about a successful chef and his recipes, which is always a good read in my opinion.
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{A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus by Renee Erickson}
My last review is not a review at all. I just bought this book and most likely will be the last cook book I purchase this year. I’ve been in search of an artisanal style book highlighting a chef form the northwest. This appears to be that book! I will get into this book shortly and provide a much better review afterwards. The photography really got me on this one also, great stuff!
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Cheers to adding to your cook book collection!

Saturday Cooking Series – {Frozen Cappuccino Pie, Salmon Sushi, Wild Boar Stew, Food Processor, New Cook Book }

Today was a busy day indeed! Managed to pick up Lidia Bastianich’s new cook book (which is great by the way!), tried the new local Sushi joint for lunch, slow stewed a special boar meat for a few hours, and finally this evening made Frozen Cappuccino Pie. Oh, and picked up a new food processor from Hamilton Beach.

Merry Christmas!