Saturday, January 20, 2018

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish #AbramsDinnerParty

When I got the latest cookbook for the Abrams Dinner Party (where I get a bunch of free cookbooks from the publisher) I was curious about the concept.

The book is called One Knife, One Pot, One Dish, and the subtitle is Simple French feasts at home.

Well, hmmm. When I think of French food, simple is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Wandering through the book, the titles didn't sound simple. Like Pork with Green Peppercorns and Shiitakes, Rabbit with Lemon Thyme and Almonds, Cauliflower with Lemon Mascarpone, or Salmon with Beets and Chocolate Mint.

There were others that sounded simple, like Chili, One-Pot Carbonnade, and Hot Dogs with Cheese.

But ... titles can be deceiving. All of the recipes are designed to be simple to prepare, no matter how "fancy" the ingredients are. First, you peel or slice or chop. Then it goes into a pot. Then you plate it. Boom! All done!

I decided to try the concept with a dessert - Apples with Salted Butter. Mostly because I had plenty of leftovers for the next few dinners, and I didn't want to pile on yet another dinner-like food.

This was a super-simple recipe that required a whopping three ingredients. Just apples, butter, and sugar. First, the apples are peeled, cored and thinly sliced on a mandoline. Then some butter and sugar go onto the bottom of the pot and the apple slices are layered into the pot with sprinkles of sugar and dots of butter between layers. Then it's baked for a while with the lid on the pot, and later the lid is removed so the sugar has a chance to caramelize.

It all went well except that when I got to the store, I had forgotten which apples were recommended, so I played apple roulette (seriously, how many apple varieties are in season now?) And I grabbed a few of each.

When I took the lid off the pot, the apples were swimming in juice. My goodness, I had juicy apples! It took much longer than recommended to get the apples to caramelize to a point that was even close to what was in the photo. Then, when I tried to unmold it, it kind of flopped out of the pan so it was useless for a photo.

Oh, but the flavor! Warm or room temperature or chilled, this was a-freaking-mazing. The amount of sugar (just about one tablespoon per apple) was enough to add some sweetness, but overall they were more tart than sweet. The butter added richness. I get grabbing and nibbling more and more. So good.

I'm going to be making this again, for sure. Possibly with different apples.

As far as the book, the techniques are pretty easy. Some of the ingredients would be a little difficult for me to find. Like the rabbit. I can't recall the last time I saw that at the grocery store. But you know what tastes like rabbit? Yup, chicken.

As far as other ingredients that might be less common (chocolate mint is available at the garden center; less so at the grocery store) they'd be pretty easy to substitute. Regular mint for chocolate mint. One mushroom for another. One fish for another. One cheese for another. The results might not be exactly the same, but they'd be darned close. And pretty easy, too.

I got One Knife, One Pot, One Dish by Stephanie Reynaud from the publisher at no cost to me.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pantry and Palate

So ... I've heard the word "Acadian" before, but until I got this book, I didn't really know what it meant. Acadians are Canadians (say that five times fast).

Or rather, Acadians came from France and were the earliest Europeans to settle in Canada. Some Acadians left Canada and settled in Louisiana, where they developed Cajun cuisine.

At least that's what Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibualt says. If you believe otherwise, take it up with the author.

Anyway, Pantry and Palate is about Acadian food culture. And of course, recipes.

So, what do Acadians eat? A recipe for pickled beets is one of the first in the book. Mmmm. Beets.

There are bread recipes. I'm always up for a good bread recipe. Then there's instructions on how to render lard, and what to do with a pig head. Hmmm. I'm not sure where I'd find a pig's head, but at least I have recipes should I ever find one.

Then we find Fricot, which is a soup, and then meat pies, and other comfort foods. Count me in.

For dessert, there's seaweed pie, fruit puddings, apple cake, and more. Seaweed pie, by the way, doesn't include seaweed. It does include Irish moss, though. I don't think I'll be making that one, but the apple pie looks pretty good.

I have to say that this was an interesting book. There are a handful of recipes I'm sure I'll never make, simply because I doubt I'll ever have fresh Irish moss or a whole pig head in my kitchen. But those were still fun to read about. The rest of the recipes, though, are doable. The soup is most definitely on the list, and since I've been watching Master Chef Canada, I think I really need to make a tortiere one of these days.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Paladares #AbramsDinnerParty

The Abrams Dinner Party is keeping me well stocked with new cookbooks - they're sending me their complete library of new cookbooks for this season. This time, it's Paladares by Anya von Bremzen.

This is a book inspired by private restaurants in Cuba, and it's one that I was looking forward to since I saw the list of books we'd be getting. I love Cuban food and there are a few recipes that I've made a number of time. I figured this book would give me a wider repertoire.

I sure as heck wasn't disappointed.

The really good news was that although these are inspired by restaurants, the ingredients are very accessible. Plantains are easy to find at my local supermarket and yuca is available at the local Mexican market.

Of all of the recipes in this book, I think the least available ingredient is rabbit, but I'd just substitute chicken to make Chicken with Sour Orange and Rosemary Sauce.

One of the things I love about Cuban food is the use of rice. I'm a rice fiend. So I was fascinated that there was a recipe for Black Beans and Rice followed by a recipe for Red Beans and Rice. The recipes are similar (I mean, we're talking beans and rice), but they're not identical.

But my love for rice is just about equal to my love for polenta, so I was particularly interested in the Cuban Polenta (Tamal en Cazuela), which looks like the perfect comfort food. Like a tamale in a bowl.

Stuffed Chicken with Apricots and Poached Pears would be great for company. But if I'm making chicken, I think I'd go for the Adobo Chicken. There are a whole lot of recipes here that I've bookmarked to make later. Perhaps starting with the rice pudding. Oh yeah!

I received this book at no cost to me.