Monthly Archives: August 2011

Farmers Market Fresh

By mid January you will really appreciate the end of August.

Fresh Berries

If you live in the Midwest or the northeastern part of the U.S. this is peak season. Farmers markets are just bursting with some of the most amazing, fresh and delicious produce you can possibly imagine.

In fact, there is so much great stuff, I couldn’t help sharing a little with you.

Fresh Wax Beans.

Fresh Wax Beans

You can’t have a summer farmers market without sweet corn. This is so sweet, it’s hard to not eat three ears at one sitting. One sack wouldn’t last a week in our house!

Sweet Corn

Summer tomatoes. Juicy, ripe and super fresh.

Fresh Tomatoes

And last (for this market tour), carrots that are too amazing to resist.

Fresh Carrots

A full two thirds of the stuff we buy at our local farmers market never even makes it into a recipe. At this time of year we’re eating it straight off the counter.

Cookbook Daily: Smokin’ with Myron Mixon

Cookbook Daily

BUY IT - Smokin' with Myron Mixon: Recipes Made Simple, from the Winningest Man in Barbecue

If there was ever a guy whose looks alone personified barbeque, it’s Myron Mixson. I mean, come on. Just look at the cover of that book. If that doesn’t make you want to grab a giant hunk of meat and fire up the smoker I don’t know what will.

Myron Mixon is a true legend in the barbeque game. He has won more awards, money and accolades than anybody on the competitive barbeque circuit. I mean anybody.

Now some of his knowhow can be your secret weapon at the next neighborhood cook off. Imagine having some of the best techniques and recipes sitting there in your back pocket ready to impress your friends and family. Now you can!

But seriously, here’s a chance for you to benefit from Myron’s many years of smoking experience. This book is packed with more than seventy five of his proven award winning recipes. If you like showing off your smoking prowess as much as I do, then this is one book you absolutely can’t be without.

Author: Myron Mixon
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 10, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0345528530

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The Book, Like It’s Author, Big, Bold, Brash

Art imitating life. At least that’s how it looks.

BUY IT - Guy Fieri Food: Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It

Like the man himself, his book stands out from the crowd. It’s big (416 pages), it’s wildly colorful and it’s filled with food and stories that scream GUY! What would you expect from a chef who’s TV persona is larger than life. No matter what you may think about his culinary chops, it always looks like he’s living life to the fullest. I like that.

Reading though his latest cookbook, Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It, you get the sense that he loves his trade. I’m sure there are those that take one look down their nose at the cover and sniff. But, they should take the time to crack the spine. There is some serious business in there.

I don’t really have a set routine when it comes to evaluating a new cookbook. One thing I do know, I’m going to cook something from it. No preconceived idea of what that something might be, but, something. Whatever might catch my eye from a stunning food image (oh, I can make that) to a super engaging recipe title is fair game.

One thing that struck me as I was paging through this meaty tome, was the complexity of the recipes. This was not home kitchen fluff. These were complex, multi component recipes with some ingredients that most people don’t have stocked in their pantries. This isn’t a complaint, this is a pleasant surprise.

I consider myself to be a fairly competent home chef. One a scale of one to ten, I would give myself a seven (OK, maybe six and a half). I can perform most basic skills and have a pretty good idea of what should go with what. I also have a great array to toys (I mean tools).

My search for the perfect “Guy” dish ended when I turned to page 220 and saw the Watermelon Pork Tacos.

Watermelon Pork Tacos

This recipe has a bunch of great, but at the same time dissimilar ingredients. After I read through it a couple of times I thought, “OK, I can do this one”. In reality, it was harder than I thought.

The thing that makes this spin on the usual taco so unique, is the Asian influence paired with the decidedly not so Asian watermelon.

Watermelon

Fresh summer watermelon makes this a great seasonal dish.

Here’s a look at the pork. All trimmed up, sliced, marinated and ready for the grill.

Marinated Pork

Making the marinade is easy enough. Lots of ingredients. There was one thing that did get my attention when I was putting it all together. The possible heat potential of that marinade. A chopped Serrano pepper and red chili flakes are both in there. As you can see from the above image, there is chopped ginger and garlic too.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Looks great after coming off the grill. The cooking time was right on too. Three minutes per side, then three minutes resting. Want to see how it all turned out? Sure you do.

Watermelon Pork Tacos

WOW, is right! As Guy would say “Off the hook!”. They actually tasted even better than they looked. My worry about the heat level of the finished product was totally unfounded. It did not have a huge pepper burst to it at all. I think some of the Asian elements (sesame oil, oyster sauce and rice vinegar) may have tamed some of that. Just a theory.

Here’s How To Do It

Ingredients – Pork
1 whole pork tenderloin, silverskin removed & cut into 1inch thick slices
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
1 Tbsp. Serrano chile, seeded & minced
2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil

Ingredients – Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sesame oil

Ingredients – Salsa
1 cup watermelon, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup English cucumber, seeded & cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 Haas avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

1 head romaine lettuce

Method
To make the pork, combine all of the pork ingredients except the pork slices in a small bowl. Mix well. In a gallon Ziploc bag, add the pork slices and the marinade. Seal and marinate for 30 minutes.

While the pork is marinating mix all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette together in a small bowl. In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the salsa ingredients. Pour the vinaigrette into the salsa and mix gently. Be careful not to crush the watermelon or guacamole-ize the avocado.

Trim off the dark green ends of the romaine and cut off the root end. Separate, wash and dry the leaves. These will be the “shells” for the tacos. Place in fridge until ready to use.

Heat your grill to medium. Remove the pork slices from the marinade. Grill 3 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and rest 3 minutes. Take pork to a cutting board and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Fill lettuce shells with pork, top with salsa and enjoy.

Serves 6

Watermelon Pork Tacos

Recipe Adapted From Watermelon Pork Tacos, Guy Fieri, Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It.

Notes: This thing looks and reads through easy enough, but, it’s deceptive. Lots of ingredients and a fair amount of prep. I think once you’ve made it one time, the next attempt would be a lot smoother. It was a nice light, summertime meal. I’ll be a repeat customer for sure.

BONUS: Since we only had two people eating a recipe sized for six, we had a fair amount of pork leftover. I’m not one to just pitch some great seasoned meat. So, day two, a more traditional taco, with the fantastic untraditional pork filling. This was great too!

Leftover Tacos

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you like Guy’s style both in the kitchen and on the tube, you’ll love his book. It’s him to a T. You won’t be disappointed.

Be ready for some challenging recipes. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of culinary security by the sometimes brief instructions. These dishes are worth the effort in the end. But, getting there can be a little challenging.

BUY IT - Guy Fieri Food: Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It

BUY THIS BOOK

Author: Guy Fieri
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks (May 3, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0061894559

Cougar Gold: Taste Trumps Perception

Taking the “Looks can be deceiving” adage to the max.

Cougar Gold

It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings. The stuff that really doesn’t mean much, but, influences none the less. The perception versus the reality. What’s expected compared to the result. Admittedly, we’ve all been duped at one point or another. Learn and move on.

I’m not a cheese snob. I know what I like and I don’t really care much if others don’t share my taste. Frankly, sometimes I would rather they didn’t. I like cheese. And, when it comes to evaluating it I give some pretty large sway.

Some examples, I’m not a huge fan of Velveeta right out of the cardboard carton and foil wrap. But, it makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich or macaroni and cheese casserole. Cheez Whiz, not, really my thing. But, I couldn’t imagine a Pat’s Philly Cheesesteak without a big smear as the crowning touch to the sandwich.

So, when someone breaks out a nearly two pound CAN of cheese what’s the expectation? It probably falls somewhere in between Jamaican Tastee Cheese and that afore mentioned loaf of refrigeration not necessary Velveeta. Your hopes are probably not soaring. The realty is, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Enter the World Famous Cougar Gold. A product of the Washington State University Creamery. This award winning cheese has a history as fascinating as the cheese is delicious. Back in the 1930’s WSU was looking for a new way to store the cheeses that their creamery had been producing.

Plastic hadn’t been invented yet and the wax wrappings were prone to cracking thereby contaminating the product. They were in search of a better storage method. The research team eventually agreed that the can would make a perfect vessel. They claim that their can is so good, it will store the cheese indefinitely (under refrigeration).

During that same period the researchers also perfected a delicious sharp white cheddar cheese. They dubbed it Cougar Gold, named partly after one of the researchers, Dr. N.S. Golding. The cheese has been in continuous production ever since.

Cougar Gold

During our tasting almost the entire gathering thought Cougar Gold was a hit. There always has to be a naysayer or two in any crowd. It’s what inevitably happens when you let past experiences color your judgement of current events. Sometimes there’s a disconnect.

As it turns out we weren’t the only ones who thought it was fantastic. This cheese in a can has won a bunch of REAL cheese accolades. Check out these bragging rights:

  • Santé Magazine Gold Star Award 2009 and 2010
  • American Cheese Society 2nd Place 2008
  • World Cheese Awards Gold Medal 2006
  • World Cheese Awards Silver Medal (1st in Class) 2000
  • United States Cheese Champion Silver Medal 1995
  • American Cheese Society Blue Ribbon 1993

That’s some serious hardware.

I’ve always believed that presentation and context is everything. Take this 30 ounce wheel of cheddar. Whack it up into 4 ounce portions. Wrap it in fancy cheese paper and slap an arty, yet rustic label on the top. Place it ever so delicately in the cheese section of Whole Foods or any other gourmet market and people would be falling all over themselves to shell out $12.00 for a single wedge (instead of $18 for an entire can!). Guaranteed!

I’m sure at this point you would like to sample your own wheel of canned cheese. No problem. Washington State University makes that as easy as… You can click here to order yours.

The moral of this cheesy story. Never judge a book by it’s cover or a cheese by it’s wrapping. You might just end up missing out on a great hidden treasure.

Looking for that special occasion cheese or wanting to try and make some at home? Maybe one of these books can help.

The World Cheese Book
Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses
The Cheese Bible
Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager

In Search Of The Perfect Chicken

Some people say the pursuit is half the fun. I say, game on!

Did Someone Say Chicken! - Image by Terry Johnston

Ah, the perfect roast chicken. Why does this have to be so hard? I know they say nothing good is ever easy, but, why can’t it be. Cooking the perfect bird is an elusive goal. Especially, since the definition varies from eater to eater.

For instance, I like my roast chicken cooked so the skin is crisp and a little salty. It doesn’t matter what other spices grace the outside of the bird, but, I want a touch of saltiness to it. I want the meat to be moist and juicy. I think most of us can agree on that. And, lastly, my ideal bird has an overall “full” flavor. What I mean by that, is when you’re eating it, you know that it’s chicken and not possibly some other meat that all of the flavor has been bred out of (like most of today’s pork).

That’s not asking to much, is it? I think not.

At this point we’ve all read through enough recipes that lay out a myriad of ways to accomplish these goals. I won’t go through the exercise of reciting them for you. We’ve heard them all before and we would be here all day. Suffice it to say there are as many methods as there are cooks.

My quest is simple. Allow me to break it down in terms anyone can understand. I want to turn this…

Chicken Before The Roast

Into this…

The Perfect Roast Chicken

It doesn’t get any more basic than that. And, I have finally achieved a modicum of success!

It’s summer so my preferred cooking venue is the great outdoors (that means grill). I’m usually either employing the beer can method or trying to jostle a variety of parts around the grate making certain to not over or undercook any. Usually this has very mixed results.

The beer can chickens are consistently consistent. Cooked through nicely, never browned all that uniformly and usually a little roughed up coming off the can. The nice thing about that cooking style, is you could down 20 or so beers (I think that’s why it’s called beer can chicken) and have the same end result. Once the bird in on, well, it’s pretty much autopilot.

As for cooking parts, well, you don’t need an overactive imagination to know how that turns out. You really have to pay attention, that obviously means no running to join the party or playing a game of bags. Some parts end up pretty good and others, well, less than pretty good.

Today I am turning my attention to the most underutilized of all my of BBQ toys. The noble rotisserie. If the beer can is the lazy mans way to cook, the rotisserie runs a very close second. There’s a little more monitoring required, but, you don’t really have to be fully engaged. You just need to know how to operate the burner controls. That I can do.

Here’s How To Do It

Ingredients
1 whole roasting chicken (3-5 lbs.)
2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 + 2 tbsp. cup kosher salt
Fresh rosemary stalks
1 small onion, halved
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
Olive oil
fresh ground pepper

Method
In a large bowl combine the water, sugar and kosher salt. Stir until completely dissolved. Clean out the chicken. Place in a large Ziploc bag. Pour brine into bag and seal. I brined my chicken for about 4 hours.

Prepare your grill for rotisserie cooking.

Remove chicken from bag and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pat dry. Fasten your chicken to the spit. Rub the outside with olive oil. Stuff the rosemary, garlic and onion inside the chicken cavity. Tie back the legs and pin the wings so they’re not flopping around during cooking. You may want to pin the cavity shut loosely so your stuffing doesn’t fall out when it’s rotating. Sprinkle with some fresh ground pepper.

Place rotisserie on the grill and start. I have a three burner (front to back) grill. I turn my front and back burners on medium and leave the center burner in the off position. Let it cook. It should take about an hour and fifteen minutes depending on the size of the bird. You’ll need an instant read to know when it’s really done. Internal white meat temp should be 165, dark 185. Some people like it cooked a little less, that’s up to you. I’m not a fan of bloody poultry, but that’s just me.

Let’s have another look at the finished product shall we.

A Great Roasted Chicken

I’m proud of my bird!

A few quick notes. I usually brine anyway, so not a big deal. But, with the dry heat of the BBQ, it really makes a big difference here. The addition of the herbs and veggies stuffed in the cavity gave it a very hearty, earthy flavor. And, the length of my brining time meant the skin had it’s saltiness without adding any extra. I’m always a little back and forth on salting after brining. If it’s not brined long enough, you almost have to add a little extra. But, it can be a risky proposition.

Now get out there, dig through our BBQ parts storage area and find that rotisserie. Get all of the accumulated crud off of it and put it to use.

As usual, this being a cookbook site. Here’s a few books with some other ideas for cooking a perfect bird.

The Big Book of Chicken: Over 275 Exciting Ways to Cook Chicken
The Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook: Home-Made Meals with Store-Bought Convenience
The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Chicken

Cookbook Daily: Peas and Thank You

cookbookdaily600pxJPG

Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love

Vegan, vegetarian, meatless, call it what you will. The fact of the matter is this type of lifestyle has become mega popular over the past five to seven years. And, with good reason. It’s an incredibly healthy way to live.

If you’re interested in meandering down the meat-free culinary path, there are lots of great guides. Here’s another one, Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love.

The title has two phrases that are sure to make any insanely busy family chef sit up and take note. Simple and Whole Family Will Love. After you say that, does it really matter if you’re cooking bacon or broccoli? I think not.

There are over eighty great recipes here for you and your entire family to enjoy. Why not break out of the traditional meat and potatoes mold and try something a little different. Just the potatoes.

Author: Sarah Matheny
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Harlequin;(July 26, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0373892403

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If you already own this book. Leave a comment and let everyone know what you’ve made from it and how it turned out.

A Reconstructed Caprese Salad

A salad is a salad is a salad, and then…

Fresh Basil

One thing that I can grow is basil. I think most everybody can. If you’ve been reading the exploits of my community garden adventure this summer, you’ll know that I can’t grow much more than that. The basil that I’m raising this summer isn’t growing out on that shared plot. Maybe that’s why it’s flourishing.

I’m at the point now where it’s time to start giving some away, start a pesto making operation out of my shed or risk being overtaken by herbs. Before I open my roadside basil stand or break out the heavy duty food processor another option comes to mind. It’s summer, so, how about a Caprese?

In my humble estimation, Caprese is one of the best all around summer salads (avocado, tomato and feta is also right up there for me). The Caprese is nice because you can experiment without taking people too far out of their salad comfort zone. You’ve seen a thousand different platings of this classic starter. Today I was opting for a reconstructed version.

I use the term reconstructed instead of the “oh, so popular” deconstructed, because I consider a Caprese Salad to be deconstructed to begin with. A slice of ripe tomato, a wedge of fresh mozzarella and a leaf or two of aromatic basil. It’s up too you to put it all together on your fork and then in your mouth. You decide the proportions and makeup of each delicious bite. It doesn’t get more deconstructed than that.

My idea was to take the concept one step further. Plate each individual element so that your salad is uniquely you. In short, three separate parts to the serving plate. Tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Dressed up a little and then served in a casual, family style manner. Everybody gets to reconstruct in anyway they choose.

I think I got it right!

Caprese Salad

My guests did too!

Here’s How To Do It

Ingredients
2 whole ripe tomatoes, cut in chunks
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn in half
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
On a large serving platter make three rows. One row of tomato chunks, the center mozzarella cheese and the last row basil. Divide the olive oil and drizzle 2 tablespoons over the tomatoes and the other 2 tablespoons over the basil. Divide the balsamic and do the same. Salt and pepper to your liking. Use a large serving fork and let your guests take as much or as little of each ingredients as they like.

Note: Adjust the amount of olive oil and vinegar to your particular taste. Some people like more, some less.

Serves 4

Seeing as this is a cookbook site, here are a few links to some great cookbooks that feature other variations on the classic Caprese. You’ll also find some other recipes that are sure to go great with your salad.

If It Makes You Healthy: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes Inspired by the Seasons
Insalate: Authentic Italian Salads for All Seasons
Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes

Trader Joe’s, A Tiger in the Kitchen and BBQ

Random Reviews

Walter Jetton's LBJ Barbecue Cook Book

Here at the Cookbook Man website we’re all about cookbook reviews. After all, with a name like that you would expect tons of cookbook related material. Right?

We also realize that there are lots of great reviews written by some awesome reviewers each and every week. And, to be completely honest about it, it’s tough to review twenty or thirty cookbooks a week. So, from time to time we’ll bring you some of the other reviews that have been posted around the web.

There’s a couple of standouts in this edition. Check out Walter Jetton’s LBJ Barbecue Cook Book. This book was first published back in 1965. It’s really unique. It’s currently out of print, but, there’s a link to some used copies if you want to add it to your collection.

Also, we’ve posted a link to another review of Matt Armendariz’s recently released book, On A Stick!. This book is loaded with fun recipes for highly portable food.

Here are the links. We hope you enjoy them!

Cookbooks Reviews For The Week Of August 8, 2011

A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family  Buy This Book
Author: Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Voice; Original edition (February 8, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1401341284
Culinate



I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook: 150 Cheap and Easy Gourmet Recipe  Buy This Book
Author: Andrea Lynn
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Ulysses Press (June 7, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1569759359
LA Weekly



Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen  Buy This Book
Author: Sara Foster
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Random House (April 5, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1400068592
Seattle PI & blogcritics.org



Walter Jetton’s LBJ Barbecue Cook Book  Buy This Book
Author: Walter Jetton
Publisher: Pocket Books; 1St Edition edition (1965)
ASIN: B00133GMLO
Full Custom Gospel BBQ



The Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook  Buy This Book
Author: Editors of Cooking Light Magazine
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Oxmoor House; Original edition (August 2, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0848734351
Portland Press Herald



On a Stick!  Buy This Book
Author: Matt Armendariz
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (May 3, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1594744890
The Culinary Enthusiast

If you have reviewed a cookbook recently and would like us to feature your review, just drop us a line and we’ll check it out. You can click here to do that.

Cookbook Daily: How to Cook Everything

Cookbook Daily

How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food

What is there left to say about Mark Bittman’s cookbook classic that hasn’t already be said a million times? So much has been written about this fantastic kitchen companion since its debut WAY back in 1998. Now, comes the 10th anniversary edition.

I can’t even imagine that there is a home kitchen out there that doesn’t already have a copy within easy reach. But, if find yourself in that unenviable position, it’s not too late to right that wrong.

How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food, checks in at over one thousand pages and as you can see from the title, contains two thousand recipes that any home chef can tackle.

If you have an “old” version that’s spine is begging for a rest. Or, if for some unknown reason you don’t own a copy of this cookbook standard, this gives you a great opportunity to right this wrong.

If you haven’t seen our post on the How To Cook Everything iPhone app, you can check that out here.

Author: Mark Bittman
Hardcover: 1056 pages
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN-10: 0764578650

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Did you miss a Cookbook Daily? You can check out past posts right here?

If you already own this book. Leave a comment and let everyone know what you’ve made from it and how it turned out.

Have We Got a Calendar For You!

Who has time to keep up with all of the new cookbook releases? We do!

Cookbook Man's Cookbook Calendar

Let’s face the hard reality. Keeping up life’s schedule can be a tall order. Business meetings, kids activities and your own personal to do list. It’s hard enough to manage all of the important things, let alone the frivolous. We’re here to help you with the latter, so, you can concentrate on the former.

As a service to you, the cookbook fanatic, we are introducing a brand new site resource. A calendar of upcoming cookbook releases. You don’t have to hunt them down yourself, we did all of the hunting for you and put the results in one easy to get to place.

Updated regularly, our calendar is a quick way to see if there is anything new on the horizon that will get your mouth watering. We’ve even included a handy button for you to pre-order a copy of any book on our list. So, on release day, your shiny, new copy will be delivered right to your front door. Isn’t that handy?

How can you check out this great new feature? You can click this link:

The Cookbook Man’s Cookbook Calendar

Or

You can click the Cookbook Calendar link located in the navigation bar of all the pages on the site. It couldn’t possibly be any easier.