A Good Read :: Food Rules
Just in time for the aftermath of Thanksgiving feasting and the onslaught of holiday parties about to occur, Michael Pollan's revised version of Food Rules: An Eater's Manual has hit bookshelves and is ready for reading. The second edition includes adorable illustrations from Maira Kalman, along with a refreshed introduction and new "rules" including--If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're probably not hungry; When you eat real food, you don't need rules.
This is a quick and dirty read (literally 45 minutes or less) that provides humor, wit and streamlined, simple tips of how to eat well (read: delicious food) AND stay on track through the holiday season...and every day after.
Among my favorite rules from the new book:
1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food
2. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third grader cannot pronounce
5. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't
6. Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food
7. Sweeten and salt your food yourself
8. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
9. Have a glass of wine with dinner
10. Serve the vegetables first
11. Break the rules once in a while
Here's to kicking off a fabulous holiday season!
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In the Kitchen :: Giving Thanks
The countdown to Thanksgiving is on...48 hours and going quickly. If you're still stuck on what to pair with the turkey and stuffing, here's a few ideas to get you going.
This starter has become a go-to staple in my family...and with a few friends families as well. It's one of my all-time favorites for fall. Butternut Squash Bruschetta with Pine Nuts & Sour Cherries. I'm thinking of changing things up a little this year and doing a riff off my mom's infamous chicken liver pate (chopped liver's basically a must at any holiday in my family). Just a little indulgence to kickoff the holiday. Chicken liver crostini with pickled shallots and sliced apples.
A bright and seasonal salad and a flavorful vegetable side or two brings wholesome balance to the table...color's never a bad thing on your plate. Pear & Pomegranate Fall Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette. Simple Pear & Pecorino Salad. Balsamic Roasted Pumpkin with Crispy Shallots & Goat Cheese. I'll likely be whipping up some sort of Brussels sprout dish like this one (my newest obsession featured on Levo League) or my faii-proof roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic reduction and toasted pecans.
And seeing that Thanksgiving is the holiday that hinges around a day of grandiose eating, even with my healthful angle, dessert is absolutely on the menu. Autumn Apple Tart with Spiced Caramel Sauce. Pear-Caramel Tart with Almond Crust.
Whatever you end up making, here's to a warm and relaxed holiday filled with family, friends and delicious fresh food.
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A Few Good Reads :: Filling My Bookshelves
There's few things I like more than devoting a couple of hours on a lazy weekend to sifting through a stack of cookbooks, allowing myself to get sucked into a world of culinary inspiration from great chefs, cooks and writers. So finally, this past weekend, I was able to tackle a bunch of recently published books. And they definitely did not disappoint. Here's a few to feast on just in time for cold-weather and the holiday season. I'll be back with my wishlist of books for the winter and my next round of reading.
Super Natural Everyday (by Heidi Swanson). I highlighted this book last spring, but it's well-worth doing twice. Heidi Swanson knows a thing or two in the kitchen. One might even her call the queen of natural foods cooking. She also happens to be an incredible photographer, always a bonus when featuring gorgeous, gorgeous dishes. Her latest book is filled with recipes to nourish the soul and inspire you to experiment with new/different flavors and wholesome, natural ingredients - definitely healthy staples to add to your repertoire. Recipe sampling: Lemon-Zested Bulgur Wheat with Coconut Milk, Toasted Almonds and Poppy Seeds; Yellow Split Peas and Greens with Serrano Chili and Lemon Juice; Pazanella with Grilled Tofu, Sunflower Sprouts, Peanut Butter and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes; Little Quinoa Patties with Goat Cheese, Garlic and Herbs; Macaroon Tart with White Whole Wheat Flour, Blackberries, Coconut and Pistachios. *You'll find more of Heidi's recipes and photography on her addictive blog 101 Cookbooks.
Feeding the Dragon: A Culinary Travelogue through China with Recipes (by Mary Kate and Nate Tate). I am bit taken with this book. It mixes culture, history and food and reads like an amazing culinary travel journal that's categorized by brother and sister duo Nate and Mary Kate's itinerary. Recipes span from across China--Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet, Xingiang and more. Recipe sampling: Char Su Pork Buns, Black Bean Spareribs, Cool Cucumber Pear Salad, Macanese Crab Curry.
Cook this Now (by Melissa Clark). I admit, I have a major crush on Melissa Clark. From what her cookbooks and NY Times articles tell me, she and I cook in very similar styles, focusing on local, seasonal ingredients and super fresh dishes. Her newest book is geniusly organized, making streamlined family-style cooking that much easier and realistic for just about anyone. The book's split by season...and then by month. Recipe sampling for November: Farro Pasta with Spicy Salami Tomato Sauce and Fresh Mint, Gralicky Broccoli Rabe, Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Caraway, Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise.
Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean (by Silvena Rowe). Take me back to Turkey asap please! I am head over heels fascinated with Mediterranean cooking and I adore how Rowe weaves in not only the rich flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean (Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon), but stories from her childhood and old-world Ottoman-Turkish culture. Recipe sampling: Jerusalem Artichoke Hummus Topped with Lamb and Sumac, Eggplant, Aleppo Pepper and Pomegranate Spread, Mahluta - Lentil, Rice and Lamb Soup, Artichoke, Goat Cheese and Dried Cherry Salad; Lavender and Honey Glazed Chicken with Pine Nut, Chervil and Honey Sauce; Cod in PIstachio and Za'atar Crumbs. Pistachio, Rose Water and Honey Ma'amoul Cookies.
Essential Pepin (by Jacques Pepin). From the famed French chef himself, this book is filled with over 700 classic recipes, Pepin's "short list" of favorites. I love how he provides intermittent tips -- your random kitchen queries answered, like how to choose a good fish or refashion leftovers. Saving shrimp shells and freezing them for later use in a soup or stock, so smart. (He goes on to note his wife's Thai soup with shrimp shell stock with lime juice and lemongrass). Recipe sampling: Warm Oyster with Spinach, Garlic and Ginger. Wild Mushroom Toasts, Stuffed Butternut Squash, Banana Bread Pudding, Chicken Liver Mousse, Pork Tenderloin Medallions in Port.
The Family Meal (by Ferran Adria). This book comes from legendary talent, Ferran Adria, whose restaurant, El Bulli, was recognized as best in the world five times over. Adria might be known for his ingenius molecular gastronomy techniques and 40-some dish dinners at El Bulli, but this book showcases the simpler family meals that the staff might eat before the start of an evening's service. The book is broken into family meal "menus" with tips and tricks woven in as well as a sneak peek into the world of the El Bulli system and day to day routine. Recipe sampling: Meal 16 -- Noodles with Shiitake and Ginger, Duck with Chimichurri Sauce, Pistachio Custard. Meal 7 -- Saffron Risotto with Mushrooms, Catalan-Style Turkey, Yogurt Foam with Strawberries. *El Bulli closed this past July and will reopen as the El Bulli Foundation in 2014, a new creativity center and think tank for creative cuisine and gastronomy.
Ferran’s Family Meal | Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise from Cook This Now | Roasted Lemon Chutney on toast from Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks