Monthly Archives: February 2012

It’s Madness. Marshmallow Madness.

You’ll never see this kiddie confection the same way again.

BUY IT! - Masrhmallow Madness
When you’re a kid there is stuff that never crosses you mind. Some things are just off your radar. Sure, a five or six year old might ask “why is the sky blue or why can’t I eat my dinner out of a bowl like Sparky”. But, what about a seemingly unanswerable question like, “where do marshmallows come from?”. Now that’s a mystery worth unraveling.

I wonder if caterer/blogger/author, Shauna Sever has ever asked? One thing I can tell you for sure is that that she definitely has the answer. Her new cookbook, Marshmallow Madness, pulls back the veil of secrecy that surrounds the creation of these popular sweet treats and opens up a world of puffy possibilities.

Shauna’s book is jam packed with marshmallow recipes that will have you looking at these childhood delights in a whole new way. Of course, there is the basic, standard, classic vanilla marshmallow recipe. It’s right up front where it should be. But, do a little page turning and be prepared to raise an eye brow (or two). Did I just hear someone say, Mango-Chile-Lime Marshmallows? I thought so.

Both kids and adults are sure to love the super creative and imaginative recipes in the book. To get you in the marshmallow mood, the cover even has a squeezable feel to it. There is no doubt you would be the talk of your next bonfire if you showed up with some Salted Peanut or Maple-Bacon Marshmallows to sandwich into your S’mores. Tongues would certainly be wagging.

Once you make a homemade batch, it may be tough to go back to the bag of Stay Pufts. The good news is with so many new recipes to try, you won’t have to.

NOTE: Over at Serious Eats they are holding a “Marsh Madness” marshmallow competition. Sixteen bloggers will be dueling it out in a no holds barred marshmallow cooking challenge. You can check in each week to see who’s creations are outshining the rest of the pack. You can also keep tabs on all the marshmallow madness on Twitter by using #marshmadness.

BUY IT! - Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious RecipesAuthor: Shauna Sever
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (February 28, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1594745722

BUY IT! - Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes

Money or Memories. You Choose.


A top five list can leave more questions unanswered than answered.


Money 2 by borman818Tangible value versus sentimental value. What is more valuable money or memories?

Obviously, this is one of those “if a tree falls..” questions. There’s no right or wrong answer. Your perspective dictates the response and we’ll mark all answers as correct. What’s up with the Intro to Philosophical Thought course? Glad you asked.

There’s a post on the Phoenix New Times website that lists the top five most valuable cookbooks (you’ll probably never own). Contained on it are a few you would expect. The recently released Modernist Cuisine, along with the not so recently released first editions of the Joy of Cooking and A Guide to Modern Cookery.

When you use a monetary guide, it’s easy to make a list. But, remove the money factor and try it. Look around your own cookbook collection and attempt to pick out your top five. The top five most valuable cookbooks to you personally.

There are loads of possible candidates. How about that cookbook your Grandmother cooked from religiously every Sunday. Or, how about the one your son or daughter gave you as a special birthday gift? Add to the mix your favorite go to book for memorable occasions. See how complicated it gets.

Each one holds a special and valuable place on the list. It’s almost harder to construct a top five when you can’t use dollars as a yardstick. The intangibles make it hard to determine the worth. It’s always apples and oranges (or insert your favorite idiom here).

Looking at things with an eye toward ”how much is it worth” makes it easy. But, I think what you’re really asking here is “how much does it cost”? In my view, cost and worth are two very different concepts. Kind of like bananas and sausage.

We’ve got lots of great links this week. A couple of other cookbook lists from The Kitchn are included for your reading pleasure. Click away…

Book Review - Cake decorating fundamentals from a pro Cookbook review: 'Heartland: The Cookbook' by Judith Fertig Food Network in the Kitchen: A delicious app
From Hollywood to your kitchen Sarah Copeland: The Newlywed Cookbook Emma's 5 Essential Cookbooks
Bourdain's Book Line Announces 2013 Lineup The red carpet of the food world TOP CHEF JUDGE HUGH ACHESON’S TAKE ON SOUTHERN CUISINE
Anjali's 5 Essential Cookbooks Five of the Most Expensive Cookbooks You'll Probably Never Own Cookbook goes hog-wild and -styled

If you have news that we can use, send it on. We’re happy to get it.

Gumbo Fit For A Mardi Gras King


“People who come back from heaven all say the same thing… Try the gumbo”.


Gumbo. Just say the word and watch me start to drool. Everybody has his or her favorite. And, I’m sure there are as many variations as you would care to count. But, there’s only one that could get me to make a forty minute car ride into the city for absolutely no other reason.

In the Chicago loop, next to the “el” tracks on Wabash, tucked away on the seventh floor of an otherwise ordinary looking downtown professional building, is my personal gumbo mecca. The place is appropriately named, Heaven on Seven.

It’s housed in an old school Chicago building. A small convenience counter selling newspapers, gum and assorted sundries greets you when you make your way through the revolving doors. An attendant still directs you to the correct elevator. Even though the only place to go is up.

When the elevator doors push back you can only hope that the line of other salivating diners doesn’t stretch the full length of the hall. Usually it does. It’s a small space, compared to the mega eateries opening today. The line does move.

There’s usually a way to avoid the wait. It’s not a big insider secret. The counter. Yes, a full on coffee shop counter. And, most times there’s one vacant seat. You can settle in to a cramped stool, order a cup of gumbo and a jalapeño corn bread muffin and watch the frenetic pace of a Chicago dining landmark.

Since moving, I sometimes get an uncontrollable urge for their thick, super rich, Andouille laden stew. Especially around this time of year. But, at Heaven on Seven “It’s Mardi Gras All the Time”.

Mardi Gras Beads

I have been mostly disappointed with all other surrogate gumbos I currently have access to (although some have come close). I figured this year I should try my hand at creating the real thing.

Back in 2000, chef/owner Jimmy Bannos put out a cookbook containing some of the restaurants signature dishes. During the planning and editing process, someone made the very unselfish decision to include the world’s best gumbo. Thank you.

The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It's Mardi Gras All the Time!

Lucky for me I had a signed copy my wife gave me years ago sitting on a shelf in the kitchen for just this very occasion.

As I read through the recipe it became immediately clear that making great gumbo doesn’t happen by accident. This isn’t for beginners. The recipe itself includes no less than four ingredients that have their own individual recipes (something like, see page 134). No one said this would be a stroll through Jackson Square.

I’ve got a great cast iron Dutch oven that was meant for this. I figured it would be best to approach the process in two parts. I made all of the side recipes and prepped on the first day. On day two, I put it all together.


Usually I would post the recipe here, but, it’s pretty widely available in print and on the web. You can find it without too much trouble. So instead, here’s the recipe for the Roasted-Garlic Puree that you’ll need for the finished product.

Roasted-Garlic Puree

1 cup, garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 300. Place all of the garlic in a small ovenproof dish. Cover completely with the olive oil. Cover dish with foil and place in oven. Roast 1 hour or until garlic is soft and golden brown.

When finished strain the garlic from the oil. Place the garlic in a blender or small food processor. Puree until smooth. Add a small amount of the infused oil to get a nice pasty consistency. Store the finished puree in a small container and top with a thin layer of the oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for a few days. You can store the infused oil separately. The oil would be an amazing base for a great Caesar salad dressing.

There a lot of ingredients in the gumbo recipe. So, be careful to follow the directions carefully. Double check.

My gumbo in all of it’s deliciousness.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

I have to say it was right on! It turned out great. I was shocked at how close it was to the restaurant version. Amazing!

Oh, you can’t have Jimmy’s gumbo without a corn bread muffin or two.

Corn Bread Muffins

The Bottom Line: I’m not sure I’m going to make this on a weekly or even monthly basis. But, now that I’ve got this in my back pocket, I have a cure for the gumbo shakes should they arise. It would be WAY easier if Jimmy would just ship down a quart or two every year. Order up!

Buy IT! - The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It's Mardi Gras All the Time!Author: Jimmy Bannos & John Demers
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
ISBN-10: 1580081681

Buy IT! - The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It's Mardi Gras All the Time!

Recipe adapted from: Roasted-Garlic Puree, The Heaven on Seven Cookbook, Jimmy Bannos and John DeMers ©2000, Ten Speed Press


The Queen of Creole Cooking Knows Her Stuff


When people call you “the queen of…”, there are expectations.

Lena Richard - New Orleans Cookbook

There are lots of self-proclaimed experts running around today, tooting their own horn. Saying you’re an expert is easy. Proving it, is another matter.

Lena Richard, is a true expert using anyone’s yard stick. From the time she open her cooking school in 1937, up until the time of her death in 1950, Lena reigned as the undisputed Queen of Creole Cooking.

Her simply titled, New Orleans Cookbook, is still an timeless guide to the cuisine, techniques and food culture of one the country most delicious regions. Written back in 1940, this classic is a throw back to a time when molecular gastronomy might have been a condition that would send you to see a doctor rather than a culinary style. This book is the “anti Modernist Cuisine. 139 pages of cooking ease and not a drop of liquid nitrogen in sight.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Lena was not only known for her simple, yet elegant dishes, but, for being a trailblazer too. From 1947 to 1949 she appeared on New Orleans TV in her own cooking show. No big deal today. But, back in the 1940’s, in the south, it was a huge deal. She ran and operated four separate restaurants during her life. In Lena’s places blacks and whites sat side by side. Like I said, a trailblazer.

Chapters in this little gem of a cookbook run the gamut from compotes to pastries to stuffings and everything else a southern cook could want to serve their family or guests. The chapter on, Uses for Leftovers (a full five paragraphs long), perfectly sums up the simplicity of the time.

If you are a lover of New Orleans cuisine or history this is a cookbook that deserves a special place in your collection. Thankfully, it’s still available for all to savor.

BUY IT - New Orleans CookbookAuthor: Lena Richard
Paperback: 158 pages
Publisher: Pelican Publishing
ISBN-10: 1565545885



BUY IT - New Orleans Cookbook

A One Million Dollar Recipe


Can one dish be worth a million bucks? Pillsbury thinks so.

A One Million Dollar Recipe

Pillsbury Bake Off

These days there is a cooking competition around just about every corner. I’m sure a lot are worth entering, if that’s your thing. There’s one though that stands head and shoulders above the rest. That’s the Pillsbury Bake Off. It’s like the Super Bowl of cook-offs.

This is the 45th edition of the legendary, bi-annual event. About the only thing that’s changed in all that time are the recipes themselves. I don’t think the Indonesian Chicken Turnovers with Spicy Peanut Sauce was on the menu back at the start. If they only knew what they were missing.

On March 26th, the one hundred finalists will gather in Orlando Florida to slug it out. I would imagine that could get a little intense. Martha Stewart will host this year’s contest. “The Old Redhead”, Arthur Godfrey, hosted the first bunch.

We’ve included a post on the event in this week’s stories, along with a link to the official bake off site. If you didn’t get your entry in for this year don’t sweat it. You’ve got two years to get your act together and have a crack at the $1,000,000 grand prize.

Joe Beef cookbook picks up the Piglet as Alice Waters comes around This week in food writing (Valentine's edition) Cookbook critic: 'Inside the Jewish Bakery' a history with recipes
Claire's Corner Copia Celebrating 35 Years And A New Cookbook Celebrity Chef, Fabio Viviani Releases I Would Love To Meat You, His Second in a Series of Free Monthly eCookbooks Pillsbury Bake-Off gets hipper this year
Review of 'Dock Kitchen Cookbook' by Stevie Parle 10 Awesome Specialty Food Apps Cookbook Reviews, February 15, 2012
Chef Tory McPhail on Cookbooks as Time Machines The Art of Living According to Joe Beef Is Tops Pillsbury Bake Off

Do you have some interesting cookbook news? If so, send it on. We’ll use it in a future post.

Heat Up The Kitchen This Valentine’s Day


Image by: sloanpixThe countdown to Valentine’s Day 2012 is almost over. If you haven’t made a dinner reservation by now, your choices are probably narrowed to White Castle, Arby’s or Subway. But, hey, if you’re a romantic you can make one of those work.

If you’re looking to spend a quiet evening at home but are drawing a blank on what should be on the menu, we might be able to help out.

Here’s a selection of cookbooks with recipes that will make your Valentine’s Day a special one. There’s something here for all levels of expertise. I included mostly digital selections in case you don’t have time to run to a bookstore. Just click, download, cook and enjoy!

FEED YOUR LOVE: Romantic Recipes - 2012 Valentine's Day Special Sneak Preview Edition cial Dinners for Two (Easy Recipes from Scratch) Romantic Valentine's Day Soup and Sandwich Recipes Table for Two: French Recipes for Romantic Dining ing Love In The Kitchen - 25 Valentine Day Delightful Recipes To Keep Your Stove Lit! Valentine's Day Cocktails: Special Drinks for Romantic Dinners Cooking for Two: Add Candles for a Romantic Meal Espresso Coffee - The Romantic Coffee Romantic Meals: Romantic Cooking & Valentine's Day Food

Hope one of those will help make your Valentine’s Day one to remember.


A History Of Community Cooking


There is nothing wrong with simple AND delicious.

BUY IT! - Three Rivers Cookbook I

The community cookbook. All of us have somewhere between two and two hundred of those plastic ring bound gems in our cookbook collections. They’re all little different. But, at the same time they’re all a little similar.

The Three Rivers Cookbook I fits the mold perfectly. The Child Health Association of Sewickley Pennsylvania thought 12,500 copies would do it back in 1973. Wrong. By 1990 they had printed an additional 400,000 copies. That’s when the edition I have was printed.

My wife doesn’t cook. At least that’s the story she tells. Actually, she just doesn’t want anyone to know she can do it. I think it takes the pressure off.

At one point in her life, she lived in the Pittsburgh area. So, she was pretty wide eyed when she saw me walk in with this Pennsylvania home cooking treasure. My friend Dennis, who has some PA roots of his own, thought it was a book worth checking out. Before I could even set it down on the counter, she had it on the couch.

Suffice it to say, I have A LOT of cookbooks that come in my front door. She usually just asks me what I’m making her. This was decidedly different. She flipped through those slightly worn pages with genuine interest.

Fifteen minutes past, then thirty, then a proclamation. “These Herbed Rolls look really good”. What? Really? Does she want me to make them or is this something she was going to tackle herself? Before I could sort through the possible answers in my head she filled in the blanks. She was going to make them for us tomorrow night!

I’m sure The Child Health Association of Sewickley Pennsylvania had no idea the magnitude of the breakthrough they had inspired. At least in my home. For the moment, my duties would include only photography. I could get used to this.

Herb Rolls

Here’s How To Do It

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. dill seed
1/4 tsp.onion flakes
1 package buttermilk biscuits, refrigerated

Preheat oven to 425F. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the parsley flakes, dill seed and onion flakes. Stir to mix. Cut the biscuits into quarters. Dip each biscuit quarter in the melted butter mixture. Arrange the pieces in a round Bundt pan, pie pan or square casserole. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand to cool before serving.

Serves 6

Herb Rolls

Recipe adapted, Herb Rolls, Three Rivers Cookbook I, Mrs. Robert A. McKean III, Child Health Association of Sewickley, Inc., 1973

TIP: It may be hard to find dill seed. We used dried dill weed and had a good result.

This dish was a home run. It’s easy to execute and loaded with goodness. This collection is a great representation of the recipes that are contained in most of the community cookbooks that were written in the 60’s and 70’s. Awesome, homemade, generational dishes that stand up over time.

Looks like my wife can now add these Herb Rolls to the now growing list of dishes that she can whip up. A couple more additions and she’ll have to shed her “non-cook” label. Sorry honey.

You can still get a copy of this classic. They’re used, but, lovingly used.

BUY IT! - Three Rivers Cookbook I Author: Norma Sproull
Plastic Comb
Publisher: Child Health Assn of Sewickley (June 1973)
ISBN-10: 0960763406



BUY IT! - Three Rivers Cookbook I

Cookbook Preview: Emeril’s Kitchen

A recent classic goes digital.

Cookbook Preview

BUY IT! - Emeril's Kitchens

It’s 2012. If you haven’t heard of Emeril Lagasse, there’s a better than average chance that you’ve been living in some kind of alternate reality or are from another planet. Emeril is everywhere. I think it’s fair to say that he probably doesn’t need me plugging his latest cookbook release to put him over the hump. So why the post?

On February 28th, William Morrow is releasing in digital form, what I consider to be one of his best cookbook efforts. From Emeril’s Kitchens: Favorite Recipes from Emeril’s Restaurants, highlights, as you would expect, some of the best-loved recipes from his namesake places. It’s hard to imagine that the hardcover version is almost ten years old. But it is.

My first experience at an Emeril restaurant was at his place in Orlando. It was a family outing, which is fitting for Orlando. My son was in middle school at the time and was just starting to get into food. He ordered a duck dish stuff with Andouille sausage. It was over the top delicious. He talked about it for weeks afterward. It didn’t end change his career path, if one even has one in the 6th grade. But, his love of great food was ignited and continues to this day.

A digital edition of this book should be great addition to the huge, hulking pile of Emeril offerings. I’m beginning to really warm up to my iPad in the kitchen. Having a digital version of Emeril’s Kitchens right at my fingertips may inspire me to break out my cast iron a little more often. Did I hear someone say gumbo?

BUY IT! - Emeril's KitchensAuthor: Emeril Lagasse
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 5 KB
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

BUY IT! - Emeril's Kitchens

Super Recipes For A Super Bowl Sunday

The big game deserves big eats.


Super Bowl XLVIJust a couple of days to go now.

There’s lots more to the countdown to kick off than just the anticipation of which team will emerge with the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday. There’s the food.

Face it. Super Bowl Sunday has gotten to be so much bigger than the game itself. There are parties, bar specials, restaurant promotions and all whole assortment of other food related events surrounding the event.

You know the menu by heart. Say it with me – nachos, wings, pizza and of course a river of beer to wash it all down. I didn’t even mention all of the burgers, dogs and BBQ that will be consumed. Food and football, you really can’t have one without the other.

So, of course, this week’s links are mostly Super Bowl related. If you’re looking for some new dishes to throw down with the old favs, we can help. There’s lots of great ideas buried in our weekly dozen. There’s absolutely no reason that the food you’re serving shouldn’t be a super as the game. Be sure and make enough. You can eat a whole lot of wings during ten hours of pre-game.

Click away. And. Go Bears! (oh, that’s right, they’ll be just watching too, bummer).

In the stacks: New cookbooks What they don't know isn't always helpful Is the iPad the new cookbook?
Restaurants cooking up better cookbooks Food Bites: Food bloggers, chili sale, chicken dinner Super Bowl recipes: A chicken wing smorgasbord
101 best super bowl recipes on the internet Super Bowl party ideas: Epicurious offers a beer pairing guide for game-day foods Our favorite Super Bowl recipes
Trading Post: Super Bowl recipes include Jalapeno Poppers, White Chicken Chili Score big with these salsas Some favorite recipes from Super Bowl heroes

If you see some great cookbook or food news that you think our visitors would be interested in, please drop us a line.


A Fish Story


What do a two year old and an Alaskan salmon fisherman have in common? Not much.

Salmon, Desserts & Friends

Back when my son was two years old, I thought it would be a good idea to teach him some basic man skills. Fishing. Not that I had actually mastered that particular skill myself, but, a two year old certainly wouldn’t be able to figure out that the instructor was nearly as green as the student.

A camping weekend was a good opportunity. We brought our gear. Which amounted to a couple of nearly new rods, some old lures and a few randomly collected fishing odds and ends. We were off to reel in the BIG one.

Our campground had a small lake, which I thought would be the perfect training ground for my son’s life lesson. We unpacked and organized our things for what was certain to be a killer afternoon of fishing.

We carefully baited our nearly rusty hooks with fresh night crawlers from the camp’s general store. Eyed the almost calm water and set about the business of emptying that small lake of its gilled contents.

Thirty minutes past. Which when your fishing with a two year old seems just a little longer. Another thirty gone. And, another. Either these fish were too crafty for us or someone had beaten us to our scaly treasure.

Then it happened! My son started reeling as madly as any two year old with a junior fishing pole could. He looked excited. As he brought his prize to the surface one thing became immediately obvious. Whatever was at the end of that hook certainly was not a fish.

When the reeling was finished, my proud son had landed himself a medium sized, water logged oak leaf. But, did that stop the celebration? Certainly not. His first catch may not have been edible, but, it was exciting as all get out.

After another half hour we decided to pack our gear and call it a day. With nothing but great fish stories in tow, we left the lake and grilled burgers for dinner. An unqualified success.

I recently came across another great fish story, Salmon, Desserts & Friends by fisherman/chef/author LaDonna Gundersen. But, unlike my tale, this story has an ending that involves actually catching fish.

LaDonna and her husband Ole operate a commercial salmon fishing boat in Alaska. This is REAL fishing. Thank goodness they can actually catch fish, because I love salmon. And, I would hate to see my supply dry up.

Canned Alaskan Salmon

This book is stocked with all kinds of great salmon recipes. Fortunately, you don’t have to execute them in an authentic, cramped galley kitchen like she does.

I thought I would try my hand at the Lemon Salmon Burger with Creamy Basil Sauce. I figured, hey, I have more than a 10 X 10 kitchen to work with. LaDonna probably wouldn’t know what to do with all that space.

Lemon Salmon Burger with Creamy Basil Sauce

Here’s how to do it

1 14 oz. can salmon, drained
2 eggs
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. onion, finely chopped
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
½ tsp. dries oregano
? tsp. salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 hamburger buns
4 crisp lettuce leaves
4 large tomato slices

Ingredients – Creamy Basil Sauce
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh basil

In a medium bowl, mix together the salmon, eggs, parsley, onion, bread crumbs, lemon juice, basil, oregano, salt and red pepper. Form into four patties.

Uncooked Salmon Patties

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the patties and cook for about 4 minutes per side or until nicely browned on both sides.

Method - Creamy Basil Sauce
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the basil.

Place one cooked salmon patty on a bun bottom. Top with a spoonful of basil sauce. Top with one lettuce leaf and one tomato slice. Add bun top and enjoy.

Serves 4

Finished - Lemon Salmon Burger with Creamy Basil Sauce
Recipe Adapted from, Lemon Salmon Burger with Creamy Basil Sauce, Salmon, Desserts and Friends, LaDonna Gundersen, Todd Communications 2011

TIP: You may need to add more bread crumbs to get to the desired consistency to form your patties. Since you are using olive oil and not peanut or canola, be careful not to overheat it. It has a lower smoke point (but more flavor) than the other two.

The Bottom Line: LaDonna has put together a fantastic collection of salmon recipes. Not only are they fun and easy to make, but, her and Ole’s story is pretty unique and interesting. I wouldn’t mind spending some time on their boat honing my nearly non-existent fishing skills. Couldn’t everybody use a seasonal inexperienced deckhand?

One last thing. On page 25, there is a recipe for a dish called, Wild About Salmon. A cryptic dedication accompanies the recipe. I would love to know what all that means.

BONUS: I have signed copy of LaDonna’s book to give to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment to this post telling us how much you love salmon and we’ll pick one at random. Yes, it’s just that’s easy!

Author: LaDonna Gundersen
Paperback: 134 pages
Publisher: Todd Communications
ISBN-10: 157833523X


BUY IT! - Salmon, Desserts & Friends