Saturday, December 29, 2012

52 Books and 52 Recipes

I have 52 cookbooks.
Most of them are baking and dessert related. But as I have told you before, I love them, all kinds...

So this year, as a little project, I'd like to make one recipe out of each book I have, each week for a year. Yes, Ive seen the movie and I'm very aware of the similarities. But, these are MY books. I selected each one (well some were given as gifts) for very specific reasons. The most recent one was 'Laudree Sucree' and it showed up in a little box, which truth be told is kind of a bitch to get the book out of, but I selected it for the celebrity, for the beautiful color green it is and for the really incredible recipes in it.
I thought, "Well, I have so many of these books, and I want to cook from each of them!". But I couldn't decide which one first, so I asked my fiancee who told me she'd gladly pick the dishes she wanted me to make from each book. Tough job, isn't it?
She picked 'Power Foods' first. Its from the editors of Whole Living Magazine which I picked because I was judging it by its cover. Its a picure of ripe, delicious tomatoes on toasted whole grain bread with tofu spread sprinked with basil, chives and cilantro and coarse salt. Oh deliciocity! I read through it and it had really great "recipes" which are more like vegetable pairing suggestions because all of the ingredients seem to be just oilve oil, salt and pepper and herbs. And berries. So here I go, cooking, baking and writing.
The first recipe is, drumroll...ok

What is your favorite cookbook?

Papaya Berry Yogurt Parfaits
Ingredients: 1 piece of fresh ginger, 5 tablespoons of honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 large papaya, 1 cup fresh blackberries, 1 cup fresh raspberries, 2 cups plain yogurt, 1/4 cup finely chopped mint plus sprigs for garnish, 1/2 cup granola, either homemade or store bought.

1. Grate ginger into a bowl with the, lemon juice, mint and 2 1/2 tablespoons honey. Add papaya and berries, toss gently to coat.
2. Stir the remaining honey and zest into the yogurt.
3. Spoon half the fruit into 6 glasses, then half of the yogurt, then half of the granola. Repeat and top with granola and mint sprigs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Salted Butter Brownies. Hella.

San Jose, CA

I had forgotten how much I love my city. I feel like because I have been here all my life that it had shown me everything that I needed to see. Bill’s in Willow Glen for brunch, perpetual traffic on Tully Road, Silicon Valley wives at the gym on Tuesday afternoons and the constant shadow of San Francisco looming over us like the ultra-cool teenage sister to San Jose’s geeky fourth grader. But over the last few years it seems as though the internet burnouts have turned SJ into somewhat of an indie melting pot. Smaller businesses have popped up with a really eclectic community built from it.

My deepest apologies, San Jose-I had completely disregarded you. Like salted butter in the pastry kitchen, you too are often overlooked as a real force. Today I will laud salted butter, exalt salted butter, because there are certain applications in baking where using it will highlight flavors. Cocoa in your brownies and brown sugar in your chocolate chip cookies will taste so much better if you eliminate the salt in your recipe and use salted butter.
A chocolate cake for example will definitely need unsalted though because cakes are lighter and too much saltiness will over power the flavor and texture. Using it in a pineapple upside down cake however will make your sweet, sweet pineapple taste gorgeous with that slight savory flavor of the salted butter. Anything that is very sweet, or with a high ratio of sugar will fit the profile to use this forgotten fat. Then you get to call it something cool and exclusive because you are in the know, like:

Salted Butter Brownies -Makes: Hella
(Adapted from Good Housekeeping-Baking)

1 ½ sticks Salted Butter

8 oz Dark Chocolate (65%-72%)

2 cups Sugar

1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

5 ea. Large Eggs, beaten

1 ¼ cups All Purpose Flour

Preheat oven to 350°
1. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan or spray with cooking spray.
2. In a 4qt saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar then the eggs. Mix until well blended.
4. Stir in flour just until combined and there are no lumps.
5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge of the pan comes out clean.
6. Cool completely and cut into 24 pieces.