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Categories: Explore: “Reading & Eating”
Aug 5, 2015 Reading & Eating

Wine and food pairings are all well and good, but there’s no better pairing than two complementary books. Reading + Eating posts feature two titles that will inspire you to cook, read, eat, and enjoy. The gorgeous cookbook images, and handpicked recipes and quotes make for some delicious reading. 

This month, we’ve paired Frances Mayes’ gorgeous memoir about growing up in the South with The Broad Fork, a lush cookbook from beloved chef, Hugh Acheson.

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In Under Magnolia, beloved author Frances Mayes returns with a lyrical and evocative memoir of her childhood in the South. Under Magnolia is a searingly honest, humorous, and moving ode to family and place, and a thoughtful meditation on the ways they define us, or cause us to define ourselves.

“As gothic as anything Faulkner could have dreamed up, populated by characters straight out of a Flannery O’Connor story…a thorny memoir that strips away the polite Southern masks, sweet magnolias be damned. Unforgettable.” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

“With perfect-pitch language, Mayes unblinkingly describes her growing-up years… One can almost taste the mushiness of ‘a pot of once-green beans falling apart in salt pork’; one can almost smell the cloying scent of honeysuckle, gardenias and overripe peaches that infuse the always-too-humid air.”– USAToday.com

Read more about Under Magnolia here.

The author of The Broad Fork, Hugh Acheson, is a James Beard Award-winning chef and partner of the restaurants Five & Ten, The National, and Empire South in Georgia. In this beautiful new cookbook, he focuses on seasonal produce, balance, and flavor. See below for two wonderful recipes from the book.

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POACHED SHRIMP OVER RADISHES WITH SALSA VERDE

Serves 4, as an appetizer

Poached shrimp take about three minutes. Salsa verde can be made ahead. Radishes take a minute to cut up, if that. The broth assembles in a minute and is cooked for fifteen before the shrimp go in. I guess what I am saying is that I realize you’re busy but this is so easy, so fast, and so impressive that you need to go and make it.

When buying shrimp, hopefully you find them fresh. But if not, shrimp are one of the few things that freeze well, so find fishmongers whom you trust and buy from them. They’ll know which ones are going to put a smile on your face.

1 pound shrimp (16 to 20 count)
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup dry vermouth
3 cups chicken stock
¼ pound (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 leek, white and light green parts well washed and cut into 1-inch lengths
Kosher salt
12 radishes, quartered
½ cup minced celery with leaves
¼ cup Salsa Verde

1. Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails on and reserving the shells. (Even better if you have the heads, but if you’re buying head-on, buy about 1½ pounds.) Set aside.

2. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shrimp shells (and heads if you have them) and cook for 3 minutes, until bright pink and aromatic. Add the vermouth and deglaze the pan. Add the chicken stock, butter, thyme sprig, leek, and kosher salt to taste. Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture and return the liquid to the pan over medium heat. Discard the strained solids.

3. Season the shrimp with kosher salt, and immerse them in the poaching liquid. Cover and cook for 3 minutes or until the shrimp are just cooked through.

4. Arrange the radishes and the celery in individual bowls for serving. Divide the shrimp among the bowls, and then ladle some of the poaching liquid over them. Finish each bowl with salsa verde, and serve.

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STEAMED ARTICHOKES WITH DRAWN THYME BUTTER

Serves 4, as a side

I was a wee little guy when Pops was doing a sabbatical in Palo Alto, at venerable Stanford University, but I remember eating egg rolls and artichokes with drawn butter. Now that may not have been in the same meal, but that’s how my memory puts them: together. The egg rolls were (amazingly enough) homemade by my mum and the artichokes came from a couple hours south of us. Big, green, thistly orbs. And I fell for them—hook, line, and sinker. Now my kids love the hunt to get to the heart of the artichoke, scraping each leaf with their teeth and getting all they can from their beauty.

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 large globe artichokes, top 2 inches sliced off
1 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt
1 lemon, cut into wedges

1. Place a stockpot over low heat and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in it. Once the butter starts to foam, add the onion, half of the thyme, and the parsley, and begin to sweat the onion. While you prepare the artichokes, the onions will happily hang out over low heat.

2. Tear off the first few outer leaves from the bottom of each artichoke, as well as any attached to the stem. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the stems until you reach the white inner part. Add the artichokes to the pot, stem side up. Then add the white wine and enough water to cover the artichokes. Bring to a boil over high heat, add enough salt to make the liquid pleasantly salty, and then lower to a simmer. To keep them submerged, place a plate that’s just small enough to fit inside the pot over the artichokes. Cover the pot with a lid and cook the artichokes for about 20 minutes, or until you can slide a knife into the stem with no resistance.

3. Remove the plate and then the artichokes from the liquid, and place the artichokes on a cutting board to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, use a chef’s knife to carefully slice each artichoke in half, starting at the tip of the stem. This will expose the heart of the artichoke. Just above the heart you will see a fuzzy part, which is called the “choke.” Using a small spoon, remove the choke. You will be left with the heart and the fleshy leaves.

4. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a small saucepot and add the remaining thyme leaves. Once the butter is fully melted, set it aside.

5. Place the artichokes on a large platter and season with salt, to taste. Garnish with the lemon wedges. Serve with the reserved melted butter for dippin’.

Read more about The Broad Fork here.

Jun 4, 2015 Reading & Eating

For some, baking and cooking is a comforting and calming way to work through issues. Judith Fertig has taken this one step further with her new book, The Cake Therapist.

What can a little cake therapy do for you? When I was writing my debut novel The Cake Therapist (at the same time as my new cookbook Bake Happy), I had an “aha” moment. What if my heroine could help people solve their thorny life issues—with cake?

Cake that comforts, cajoles, gives us cajones. Cake takes us back to a sunny summer day and unlocks the door to the past. That cake.

For some more cake Therapy, and for the recipe for the beautiful Rainbow Cake, check out Judith’s blog.

Another dessert expert, Linda Lomelino, has a beautiful book of cakes: Lomelino’s Cakes. All the cakes within are stunning, impressive, visually beautiful and amazingly delicious desserts. See below for the full recipe for this gorgeous Pavlova.

Happy baking!

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Lomelino’s Cakes, p. 37 From Lomelino’s Cakes

PAVLOVA

This meringue cake with chocolate, cream, raspberries, and pistachios is magnificently sticky and crispy. When the cake is finished, refrigerate it for a few minutes to make it easier to cut the layers. This cake should be made the same day it will be served.

8–10 slices

CHOCOLATE MERINGUE LAYERS

1 ¾ ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

Whites from 6 large eggs

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING AND DECORATIONS

1 ¾ cups whipping cream

1 ¾ ounces shelled pistachio nuts (about 1/2 cup)

8 ¾ ounces raspberries

MAKING THE CHOCOLATE MERINGUE LAYERS

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces, and melt them slowly over a double boiler (see page 10) or in the microwave. Let cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

3. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet. Then, cut out or find a circle template about 6 inches in diameter. Place the circles as far apart as possible on the parchment paper without touching the edges; trace. Turn the parchment paper over, and lay it on the baking sheet. These circles will indicate the placement of your meringue.

4. In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, and continue beating to a thick meringue. You should be able to tip the bowl without the meringue sliding out.

5. Sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch into the meringue. Add the vinegar, and blend until the batter is smooth. Add the melted chocolate, and stir gently.

6. Divide the meringue among the paper circles. The meringues might shift during baking. Put the baking sheet into the oven, and lower the heat to 250°F.

7. Bake the meringue for 60–75 minutes. The baked layers should be hard and crisp around the edges but still sticky in the center. Turn off the oven, leaving the layers in the oven with the door propped open until the oven has cooled.

MAKING THE FROSTING AND DECORATIONS

1. In a dry, clean bowl, whip the cream until it thickens.

2. Chop the pistachios. Rinse and dry the raspberries.

ASSEMBLING THE CAKE

1. Place the first cake layer on a cake plate. Spread one- third of the Whipped Cream Frosting on the top, and sprinkle on a few raspberries. Repeat with the next layer. Place the third layer on top.

2. Top the cake with the remaining Whipped Cream Frosting, and then add the remaining raspberries and all the chopped pistachios.

 

Apr 16, 2015 Reading & Eating

Wine and food pairings are all well and good, but there’s no better pairing than two complementary books. Reading + Eating posts feature two titles that will inspire you to cook, read, eat, and enjoy. The gorgeous cookbook images, and handpicked recipes and quotes make for some delicious reading. 

Gabrielle Hamilton, famed chef and owner of the beloved Prune restaurant on the Lower East Side, tells her life of food and cooking in Blood, Bones & Butter. When it swept into bookstores in 2011, Anthony Bourdain called it, “Magnificent. Simply the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever.”

Listen to Hamilton read from her acclaimed memoir:

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Paired with the memoir is Prune, Hamilton’s cookbook. It shares a name with her universally beloved restaurant and is refreshingly personal, scrappy and accessible.

 “I came to see hunger as being as important a part of a stage as knife skills. Because so much starving on that trip led to such an enormous amount of time fantasizing about food, each craving became fanatically particular. Hunger was not general, ever, for just something, anything, to eat. My hunger grew so specific I could name every corner and fold of it.”
Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Try out Hamilton’s Beef Shortribs recipe from Prune! (Click image to see full size)Pages from Hamilton - Prune - beef shortribs[1]

Dive in, get inspired, and get cooking!

If you’re planning a trip to New York City, we have you covered: Fodor’s New York City 2015. Happy eating!

Apr 3, 2015 Reading & Eating

Wine and food pairings are all well and good, but there’s no better pairing than two complementary books. Reading + Eating posts feature two titles that will inspire you to cook, read, eat, and enjoy. The gorgeous cookbook images, and handpicked recipes and quotes make for some delicious reading. 

Under the Tuscan Sun has become a well-known and beloved memoir since it was published in 1997. A celebration of Italy, of resilience, and of food, it still evokes the particularity and beauty of Tuscany.

“An intense celebration of what [Mayes] calls ‘the voluptuousness of Italian life’ . . . appealing and very vivid . . . [The] book seems like the kind of thing you’d tuck into a picnic basket on an August day . . . or better yet, keep handy on the bedside table in the depths of January.”

New York Times Book Review

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“Sometimes the valley below is like a bowl filled up with fog. I can see hard green figs on two trees and pears on a tree just below me. A fine crop coming in. May summer last a hundred years.”

― Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun 

From Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar, comes Extra Virgin, a lush cookbook filled with rustic, mouth-watering Tuscan recipes. Traditional yet accessible, the cookbook covers appetizers, pastas, meat, vegetables, risotto, drinks, desserts, and everything in between.

Try the recipe for Grilled Tuscan Chicken!

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Try the recipe for Spaghetti Alla Carbonara!

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“Gabriele and I believe that pasta brings a family together at mealtime like no other food. […] Sometimes it feels like that bowl of shells and pesto, or penne and red sauce, is as Italian a way of saying “I love you” as blurting out “Ti amo!”

Debi Mazar, Extra Virgin 

Planning your own escape to Italy? Fodor’s has you covered: Fodor’s Essential Italy

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