Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Cooking Guide That Stays Put


Some things you shouldn’t leave to chance.


We’ve all been there. You have this perfect cut of meat. It has been lovingly prepped and ready to be fired. The last thing you want to do is screw it up. It’s already dead, killing it again would be a crime.

The experience can be nerve wracking to say the least. Especially if there are guests involved. Once you cook it, un-cooking it would be a considerable challenge.

Fear not. The good folks at can help take some of the anxiety out of the moment. There is no reason to plow through a giant cookbook looking for the meat temperature guide. All you have to do is give a quick glance in the direction of your fridge.

Meet the award winning Meat Magnet!

The Meat Magnet. Click for more info

Pretty cool, right? This handy little cooking guide should help steer you down the path to a perfectly cooked roast, turkey or pork shoulder. I’m not suggesting that you can just pitch your hard cover volumes of roasting and barbecuing techniques. That would be short sighted. But, this clever kitchen accessory can provide some quick information just when it’s needed most.

Hey, is that supposed to be 130⁰ or 145⁰… ?

Want your very own? You can order you here.

Monday Books: C’est Cheese

There’s never a bad time for a great cheese.

Camembert & Stilchester

It comes in many forms. Too many to name. It can be mild or stinky, soft, semi soft or hard, aged or new. But, one thing they all have in common is they are hard to resist. I’m of course taking about a wedge of great cheese.

The only thing that I need on a restaurant dessert menu is a descent cheese plate. You can keep your chocolate lava cake and crème brulee.

This weeks Monday Books installment will give you some ideas on what you can do with that perfect piece of fromage.


The Great Big Cheese Cookbook The Cheese Lover's Cookbook and Guide: Over 150 Recipes with Instructions on How to Buy, Store, and Serve All Your Favorite Cheeses Grilled Cheese, Please!: 50 Scrumptiously Cheesy Recipes Circle of Friends Cookbook - 25 Mac & Cheese Recipes

Cheese Making

Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses American Farmstead Cheese: The Complete Guide To Making and Selling Artisan Cheeses Making Artisan Cheese: Fifty Fine Cheeses That You Can Make in Your Own Kitchen Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses

Cheese Guides

Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager The World Cheese Book The Cheese Companion: A Connoisseurs Guide (Connoisseur's Guides) The Cheese Plate

Now off you go to your favorite cheesemonger. Pick up a nice wheel for me. Do you have a favorite cheese book? Let us and everyone else know.

Raising The Bar On Healthy Eating

Just because you can make something quick, doesn’t mean it’s not healthy.

BUY IT! - Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day

Healthy is a trend that’s not going away anytime soon. And, that’s a good thing. We could all use a few healthy alternatives in our lives. Let’s face it, pork belly is awesome, but, a steady diet will probably lead to some not so pleasant results.

Because healthy is so popular there are virtually a truckload of cookbooks that have been written in this culinary space. How to sort out the great from the so-so? That’s where I come in.

If you’ve been a semi regular reader of this site, you know that I’ve touched on a few vegetarian and vegan titles over the past several months. They’re all great cookbooks and contain some very healthy alternatives. But, I have to admit, I like healthy provided it tastes like it’s not.

When it comes to healthy eating it can be tough to strike the correct balance. One part of us whispers, “Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho”. While the other part screams, “Patty Melt”. Weldon Owen is out with a book that can take care of the former, while pacifying our craving for the latter.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Healthy in a Hurry strives for delicious, healthy and accessible food that won’t take you four hours to make. We’re all busy. And, we all like to eat great meals. So, this is a perfect combination.

It’s arranged by meal type and could not be easier to cook from. It carries the Williams-Sonoma nameplate, so, you know that these recipes have been tested time and time again. They’re known for putting great dishes into print. That’s a big plus when buying a cookbook today. You can feel confident that if you take the time to make these recipes they will work. Even in your kitchen.

Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira have teamed up on the recipes, while Maren Caruso contributes some beautiful and mouthwatering photographs. If you already maintain a watchful eye on your diet, this book will give some new options. It’s also a superb starting point for any busy family looking to upgrade their less than healthy menu.

AFTERWARD: I’m pretty certain that you won’t be fooled into thinking that the Pork Medallions with Romesco Sauce is a braised pork shoulder. But, your bathroom scale and your Cardiologist aren’t that easily fooled either.

Author: Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Weldon Owen
ISBN-10: 1616282134

BUY IT! - Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day

Monday Books: The Pizza


It can be simple or complicated. But, it’s always delicious

Mozzerella, Canadian Bacon and Thyme Pizza

Most everybody loves pizza. It can be loaded with meat or vegetarian. You can have it gluten free or gluten full. Thin or thick. The possibilities are endless. It’s basically a blank canvas. Go ahead and create what you want.

This weeks, Monday Books are on the subject of… PIZZA!. Who would have thought. OK. we’ve got some great titles for you this week. Go ahead and sharpen your pizza cutter.

Recent or Coming Soon

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook: '70 recipes for incredible stone-baked pizzas and breads, roasts, cakes and desserts, all specially devised for the outdoor oven and illustrated in over 400 photographs Pizza on the Grill: 100 Feisty Fire-Roasted Recipes for Pizza & More


The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook Pizza (Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library) The Pizza Book: Everything There is to Know About the World's Greatest Pie Pizza

Not Your Usual “Cookbook”…

Calculus and Pizza: A Cookbook for the Hungry Mind Pizza: A Slice of Heaven: The Ultimate Pizza Guide and Companion Curious George and the Pizza Wood Fired Pizza Oven Building

There you have it. Our Monday Books. If you happen to check any of these out, please leave us a comment and tell us how you liked them.

Cucina Povera Creates Kitchen Magic


Classic Tuscan dishes transported straight to you kitchen. What could be better?

BUY IT! - Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking

Just pick up a copy of Pamela Sheldon Johns cookbook, Cucina Povera, and something special will happen. You don’t have to cook one dish from this treasure trove of comfort food to feel like you’ve been transported. All you have to do is leaf through the rag edge pages. Once you hold it in your hand, you’ll get the idea. No explanation necessary.

The book, which features more than sixty dishes from Tuscany, is a joy. It’s a throwback to a time when cooking was part of your family and community lifestyle. Dishes were simple, yet bursting with flavor. Ingredients didn’t come from cans, they came from the earth. There was no need to “check-in” to let your friends and acquaintances in on your every dining experience. Chances were they might even be enjoying with you.

Are you getting the sense that this isn’t your typical Italian cookbook? Your instincts are correct.

A fascinating section on the history of the region, the food and the people precedes the recipes. It’s worth taking the time to read. From there it is broken down into the traditional cookbook components. Soups, appetizers, pastas, meats, breads and desserts are all covered. Photos that are just as mouthwatering as the dishes they represent accompany many of these elegant recipes.

This is a cookbook that you’ll return to over and over again. Not because it contains a thousand dishes or that’s it’s an irreplaceable kitchen resource. It’s because it’s nearly impossible to resist the magic of the food.

AFTERWARD: I’m dying to find four days to attempt the Ribollita recipe. It looks amazing! Would you like to cook one of Pamela’s delicious dishes? Of course you would. Here’s her recipe for Pollo Arrosto al Vin Santo — Roasted Chicken with Vin Santo Sauce. Buon Appetito!

Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant CookingAuthor: Pamela Sheldon Johns
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN-10: 1449402380

BUY IT! - Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking


The Cookbookman Recommends:

If you like Cucina Povera here are a few other titles for your consideration.

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen My Tuscan Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from the Castello di Vicarello The Book of Tuscan Cuisine: Traditional Family Recipes, Collected around Tuscany Alvaro's Mamma Toscana: The Authentic Tuscan Cookbook

A Sunday Roast is a Thing of Beauty

Trying to resist the scent is senseless.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

We have five senses. Some people say six. But, for the sake of this post, let’s just agree on five. When it comes to food they’re all pretty important. Obviously, taste is a BIG number one. After that smell, sight, sound and touch fall into line. I’ll let you argue the order of the remaining four.

Let’s try an experiment.

Close your eyes. Smell that smell. Something is roasting away in your oven. The particular scent can change from moment to moment. But, the familiar, comforting aroma still wafts through the house. As they say, “It smells so good you can almost taste it”.

You can vote for whatever sense you want. I’m logging smell in at an easy number two.

The smell of a Sunday roast is like no other smell. If you’ve been outside all day, you walk in the door and the rich aroma greats you like an old friend. It says, “come on in”. The scent breeds anticipation. It makes you sit up and take notice. Something delicious is about to happen.

We’ve all had the obvious Sunday roasts. Standing rib, pot roast and a perfectly roasted turkey all qualify. But, what if you want to mix it up a little. What are the options? Lucky for us there’s a more than able guide.

Betty Rosbottom’s aptly titled, Sunday Roasts, A Years’ worth of Mouthwatering Roasts will give you enough ideas for, yes, a year. After looking and cooking, you may want to set some time aside for drooling on these recipes. There are so many tempting dishes in this book, choosing one to make is a first class challenge.

I was looking for something a little different than the standard leg of lamb for my Sunday effort. After stopping at nearly every page to say, “WOW that looks great”, I settled on the Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears. I think I made an excellent choice. You can decide for yourself.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

Here’s how to do it.

2 ½lb. center cut boneless pork loin
2 Tbsp. rosemary, dried and crushed
2 Tbsp. thyme leaves, dried and crushed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1½ cups fresh bread crumbs (I used Panko instead)
1 cup blue cheese (I used Maytag)
3 Tbsp. + 1 cup chicken broth, reduced sodium
4 or 5 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Bartlett or Bosc pears, slightly under ripe
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Fresh rosemary and thyme springs for garnish

Take a long narrow knife and insert it through the center of the roast lengthwise. Push the knife all the way through the roast. Turn it to cut out a 1 inch pocket in the center all the way through.

Mix together the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Place about half of this mixture into a bowl with the bread crumbs and the cheese. Reserve the rest of the seasonings. Combine gently using your fingers. Stir in just enough chicken broth to moisten the bread crumb mixture.

Blue Cheese Stuffing

Using your thumb, push the stuffing into the pocket. Fill to within ½ inch of each end. Keep pushing that stuffing in. It will take a lot. When finished, pat the roast dry and rub the whole roast with the remaining spice mixture.

Rubbed Pork Roast

Preheat your oven to 400⁰. Arrange rack to center position.

In a medium size bowl whisk together 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Add pears and toss to coat. In a large flameproof roasting pan add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and heat over 1 or 2 stovetop burners on medium high heat. Brown rubbed pork on all sides. About 6 to 8 minutes. Place pan in oven and roast for 10 minutes. Scatter pears around roast, skin side up around meat. Roast another 10 minutes. Turn meat and pears. Continue roasting until an internal temperature of 150⁰F is reached. About 20 to 25 minutes. Remove meat and pears from pan. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove any loose stuffing from pan. Skim off any fat that has accumulated.

Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Add remaining 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 tbsp of vinegar. Reduce by one third while scraping bits from bottom. Swirl butter into the sauce. Salt if needed.

To serve, slice ¾ inch thick. Drizzle the meat (and pears) with some of the sauce. Serve!

Serves 6

Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears
Recipe adapted from Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears. Betty Rosbottom, Sunday Roasts, Chronicle Books © 2011.

TIPS: OK, I know all of that looks complicated. Let me tell you it’s not. It actually pretty easy especially when you see how elegant the finished product is. Any fine dining establishment would be happy to have this on their dinner menu.

The bottom line: Betty’s book is loaded (and I mean it) with delicious comforting roasts. From beef to chicken and lamb to seafood there is something for everyone’s taste and diets. There are some easy to make sides too. Be sure to check out the Best-Ever Mashed Potatoes. I could have that as my main course. Sunday Roasts is intended for those lazy Sundays that are the prelude to another busy workweek. But, any of these dishes would be a welcome mid-week indulgence.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of LambAuthor: Betty Rosbottom
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN-10: 0811879682



The Cookbookman Recommends

If you like Sunday Roasts here are a few other cookbooks for your consideration.

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art Williams-Sonoma: Roasting All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking Roasting: Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Sauces, and More

Take A Walk Down Main Street America

Have a look at what some of this countries small towns are cooking up.

BUY IT! - Taste of Main Street America

Take a stroll down the sidewalk of just about any small town in this country and you’ll see lots of similarities. Not that all small communities are the same, not by a long shot. But, they do have some of the same common elements, especially when it comes to their downtowns.

You’re almost sure to find a drugstore, hardware store, small department store and of course a coffee shop or diner. These family owned eateries dot the landscape of the country. And, honestly, they sport some of the nation’s best eats.

All you have to do is flip on the Food Network and check out an episode or two of Diners, Drive In’s and Dives and you’ll get the idea in a hurry. In case you’ve been living under a real heavy rock or in a cave, I’m sure you’ve seen Guy Fieri ferreting out some of the best home-style food from coast to coast.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a collection of some of these great small town, regional recipes at your fingertips? Now you can. Publisher JE Cornwell has made it all possible. With the help of Editor Pam Eddings, they have assembled a great collection of these homespun dishes. Taste of Main Street America makes it possible for you to cook your way through the USA.

These aren’t the same places that Guy features on his show. But, they certainly are a representative sample of just how diverse the country can be, food wise that is. From appetizers through desserts, you’ll get a little bit of everything on your plate.

BUY IT! - Taste of Main Street America

In case you’re thinking this is all meatloaf and mashed potatoes, think again. Sure, there’s the obligatory meatloaf recipe, this one’s from Granny’s Frying Pan in Havana, Florida. But, you’ll also be treated to Alaska White King Salmon with Gai Lan and Asparagus Salad from The Mermaid Cafe in Homer, Alaska and Lamb Osso Bucco with Orzo from Sugah’s Cafe located in Gunnison, Colorado.

If you’ve ever wanted to explore over two hundred Main Streets, but couldn’t seem to find the time here’s your chance. There’s a little something for everyone in this nice collection. Just pick a page and take a relaxing stroll.

Interested in your very own copy of Taste of Main Street America? I can help. I have one copy to give to a more than deserving reader. Just click here, send us an email and we’ll pick one from random.

BUY IT! - Taste of Main Street AmericaAuthor: Recipe Publishers
Ring-bound: 280 pages
Publisher: JEC Publishing Company; First edition
ISBN-10: 0982642490

BUY IT! - Taste of Main Street America

Your Seat At The Greek Table

There’s more to great food than just a recipe.

Three Sisters Around the Greek Table: A Cookbook

Where does a recipe come from? At first blush, it seems like a simple question to answer. You have a basic idea of what you would like to make. You add some things to it and take some things away. You experiment with cooking times and techniques and before you know it, Voila! A dish is born.

Do you think that’s how your mother did it? Or, how about your great grandmother? I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably not. I’m not suggesting that there wasn’t some creating back then. But, I think there was a lot of passing too. Passing family recipes from one hand to the next. Hoping to preserve a legacy of great food and important family food traditions.

There’s a lot of history in all ethnic foods. None more so than Greek cuisine. The Greek culture is proud of their dishes. They are woven into the very fabric of their lives. For those of us who don’t share that heritage, it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to have an insider’s view. And, three sisters, originally from Toronto Canada are offering you a great look.

Their cookbook, Three Sisters Around The Greek Table is a tribute to the recipes of their past (and their future). These are classic Greek dishes that have more than stood the test of time. They hold a special meaning for Betty, Eleni and Samantha. For the rest of us the history might not be there, but, the amazing flavors sure are.

These dishes are presented in a simple and straightforward manner. There isn’t anything tricky about any of them. It’s more about a passion for sharing a piece of their culinary roots than anything else. That’s a good thing.

I wanted to make something that would really exemplify the rustic nature of traditional Mediterranean fare. The Grilled Whole Red Snapper would be a perfect choice.

Whole Roasted Ren Snapper

Understand, I fully intended to make this recipe using the above-mentioned red snapper. But, something unexpected happened when I was shopping for my ingredients.

One word, Branzini. I like red snapper, but, I love branzini. Whole branzini right there in my local fish counter. And, to make things even better, the sign below the fish read “Fresh From Greece”. There couldn’t be a better choice. I was living right.


The recipe is super easy. Have your fishmonger scale and gut your fish. Stuff it with some fresh oregano and lemon slices.

Stuffed Branzini

Heat your grill. Rub your fish with olive oil. Salt and pepper generously. Grill 6 to 8 minutes per side. I cut a couple of small slits in the skin on each side of the fish to help distribute the heat while it’s cooking.

Grilled Branzini

It’s just that easy. That skin was really crispy and delicious too.

The recipe calls for a Lemon, Oregano & Olive Oil Dressing to drizzle over the top.

You didn’t think I forgot a side dish did you? No way. The Horiatiki Salata (Tomato & Cucumber Village Salad) made an excellent partner for the fish.

3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
½ sweet onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. salt

In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients together. Mix well. Add a little fresh feta to the top of each salad when serving.

I have a friend of mine who is from Greece. He’s from an older generation than I am (is that OK to say?). When I told him that I was going to make a Horiatiki Salata, his eyes lit up! He was happy to inform me that each small village or town in this native Greece, has their own unique variation on this classic dish. You could just see him effortlessly drift back in time. Amazing what food can do!

Horiatiki Salata
Recipe adapted from Tomato & Cucumber Village Salad, Around The Greek Table, Betty, Eleni and Samantha Bakopoulos, Adelfes © 2009.

Here’s how it all came together. The fish was light and flaky.

Whole Roasted Red Snapper

The Bottom Line: If you’re in the market for a cookbook that really captures the essence of traditional Greek cuisine then look no further. Around The Greek Table will make you feel like you have special access to the Bakopoulos sisters family recipe box.

BUY IT - Three Sisters Around the Greek Table: A CookbookAuthors: Betty Bakopoulos, Eleni Bakopoulos, Samantha Bakopoulos
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Delphi Distribution
ISBN-10: 098134050


BUY IT - Three Sisters Around the Greek Table: A Cookbook