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.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Kid Chef Bakes

I love it when fellow bloggers get cookbooks published, and I'm usually willing to do a review of their books, even if the book isn't totally in my wheelhouse.

When it came to Kid Chef Bakes by Lisa Huff, I said YES even though I don't happen to have any small humans living with me. I mean, it was a baking book. I'm perfectly happy to bake some easy recipes. Not everything needs a bazillion hard-to-find ingredients.

At worst, I figured I'd have some recipes I could make when I have an urge to bake at 8pm and I don't want to think too hard about it.

The book is better than I hoped for, with a wide variety of recipes and an easy-to-follow format. While it's marketed for kids, this would be an awesome baking book for anyone who is a little skittish about using their oven for breads and desserts.

One thing I particularly love about this book (and that is handy even in books for adults) is that it lists the required tools and equipment. While most of the tools are pretty simple - bowls, spatulas, and measuring cups, for example - it's still nice to know that I should grab two bowls at once rather than grabbing one, then going back for the second one after I'm partway through the recipe.

While the recipes are written with an eye at making them easy for kids to follow, they're certainly more sophisticated than anything that I was eating when I was a kid. Scones, for example, are something I didn't encounter until I was an adult.

One recipe that's going to be a must-try for me (as soon as it's strawberry season, which is not now) is the old-fashioned strawberry pie. I remember making this as a teenager, after going strawberry picking. I have no idea where I got the recipe, but I suspect it was from a newspaper, since I couldn't find anything like it in any of my mother's cookbooks.

The recipe is fairly simple, with fresh strawberries covered in a cornstarch-thickened strawberry glaze. I can still remember that pie, even though I only made it once.

I'd write more about this book, but honestly, I'm feeling the urge to go make the cinnamon nut coffee cake. Oh, yum!

If you've got kids who are interested in cooking or baking, this is highly recommended. But I'd also recommend it for adults who aren't comfortable with baking. Just ignore the cover, and dig in.