Cupcakes Capone

Misadventures in Cooking, Dining & Exploration

Friday, June 25, 2010

So many cookbooks!

If you're like me, you have a nice little library of cookbooks. We all have at least one cookbook spot-lighting an ingredient: The Little Book of Chicken, Gone with the Grits, The Ice Cream Book, Betty Crocker's Bisquik Cookbook. These are like the li'l cookbook that could! and proves just how many ways you can cook it.  The other type of  cookbook is the collective. This tends to be a full collection from salads, breads and main dishes all the way down to dessert written and edited by the featured cook: Bobby Flay, Julia Childs, Rachael Ray. It's a grand showcase of talent.

Unfortunately, there are normally only a handful of recipes that I consider "keepers," while the rest tend to be "filler" for the book. This can be pretty disappointing after you've spent about $30 on a cookbook and only walk away with five recipes. So it leaves you a little daunted when standing in Barnes&Nobles looking for your next purchase. 

DISTRESS NO MORE!!! If you are going to buy a cookbook, Food&Wine has published a must-have cookbook: Food & Wine: Best of the Best Cookbook. It features "the BEST RECIPES from the 25 BEST COOKBOOK of the Year" in 2009. It features all of the heavy-hitters, including the loved celebrity-chefs: Mario Batali, Giada De Laurentiis, A16, the Brass Sisters, Sur la Table and Robuchon to name a few. Below are just a few of my personal favorites so far. Bon Appetit!

Heirloom Cooking with the Brass Sisters: Arline's Swedish Meatballs with Sour Cream Sauce
Hello comfort food!!! I am immediately whisked off to a little village in Sweden where a little old lady in clogs and an apron is making hundreds of tasty meatballs by hand while sheep graze the nearby mountains and someone in the distance yodels. Yes, they are that good! It is time consuming, but this will be an addition to my holiday menu from now.

1 1/2 lb ground veal
3/4 lb ground pork
1 c finely chopped onion
3/4 c half-and-half
2 Tbsp flour
3/4 c soda cracker crumbs
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 white wine
1 can chicken stock
2 Tbsp flour
1 pint sour cream
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1. Place the meat in a food processor (I had to work in batches) until smooth. ** If you have a good butcher, ask him to double-grind you're meats before leaving the store to save on time.** Add onion, half-and-half, cracker crumbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Process until smooth like paste. Shape into balls, about 2 Tbsp each. (If they are too sticky, wet you're hands. Also, I put mine in the fridge for about 20 min to firm up before cooking.)
2. Heat butter and oil in 2 large frying pans over medium heat, add meatballs, gently turning until evenly browned about 5-7 min. * It took me and my friend to do this *  Evenly divide white wine and chicken stock to each pan, simmer 5 min.
3. Remove pans from heat and gently move meatballs to a platter. Consolidate all juices to your largest skillet. Whisk 1/4 c of juices with the flour in a small bowl, return to pan and whisk to blend. Set pan over low heat and barely bring to a simmer. Do NOT boil! Whisk in sour cream a little at a time until smooth. * To get an even smoother cream sauce, strain it before adding the sour cream.* 
4. Return meatballs to pan and turn in sauce to coat. Once heated through, transfer to a platter and garnish with parsley. Serve with a side of mixed jelly (equal parts Strawberry jam and Grape jelly)!

A16: Tuna Conserva with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Capers and Bread
The perfect summer salad, for lunch or even a starter. Oil-packed tuna tossed with capers, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, homemade croutons and red wine vinegar. It's tangy, salty, crunchy and absolutely delicious. If you've ever had any reservations about tuna packed in oil. TRY IT! 

1 baguette, cut into 1" cubes
3/4 c EVOO
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 lb vine-ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 Tbsp salt-packed capers, chopped
5 basil leaves, coarsely torn
Kosher salt
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
6 oz oil-packed tuna, drained

1. Preheat the oven at 350. Toss bread with 1/2 c of EVOO, spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 min. 
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl with remaining 1/4 c of EVOO until thoroughly tossed. 
3. Before serving, gently toss in toasted bread.

A16: Roasted Chicken with Radishes and Salsa Verde
This meal makes me think of Argentina. Gather your family and friends around the table for a rustic meal with a great bottle of wine. The juicy, succulent chicken and crisp radishes surrounded in a bath of Salsa Verde that explodes like fireworks in your mouth. Pair it with a spicy Malbec or even a Rioja. 

3 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp aniseeds
1 tsp dried chile flakes
6 (1 lb) young chickens or 1 rotisserie chicken
Kosher salt
1 c fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp salt-packed capers
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 c EVOO
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced

1. With a spice grinder or mortar and pestal, grind the oregano, aniseeds and 1/2 of the chile flakes to a powder. Season the chicken's skin and cavities with about 2 Tbsp salt, followed by the spice rub. For best taste, cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. 
2. Preheat over to 500. Once chicken is brought to room temperature, roast the chicken/s on baking sheets for about 20 min, rotate at 10 min.
3.  Meanwhile, combine parsley, capers, bread crumbs, garlic and remaining chile flakes in a food processor until coarsely blended. With the food processor running, drizzle in the EVOO. Stir in the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. That's you're Salsa Verde! (Also great on steak)
4. For the radish salad, toss them with a few tablespoons of salsa verde and a little salt. 
5. To serve, arrange chicken/s on a platter, surrounded by the radish salad. Pass remaining Salsa Verde at the table. 

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