Monthly Archives: April 2012

Monday Books: Burgers!

There are only as many variations as your imagination will allow.

The Burger!

Grilled, griddled, broiled. Beef, turkey, veggie… I could go on, but, I don’t want to bore you. There are an infinite number of ways to define one our favorite foods, the burger.

It’s formally know as a hamburger. The traditional version doesn’t contain a speck of ham. The name, as the story goes, relates to the place in Germany that this sandwich has it’s roots, Hamburg. That’s enough history for today. No need to get to serious. After all, we are talking about burgers here.

It used to be, back in the good old days, that when someone said hamburger the thought was immediately ground beef, round patty, soft white bread bun. Fast forward to today and watch an array of burger choices unfold before your very eyes.

These days, people can and will make a burger out of anything that will hold still long enough to be formed into a circle. Oh, that’s right, the shape isn’t even a requirement anymore. Add an egg on top, no problem. How about Kobe graced with foie gras? Not that unusual. Did someone say chickpea and feta? Pick your preparation.

Our Monday Books entry for this week attempts to shed a little light on the fine art of burger making. We’ve hand selected these little beauties just for you. Behold the possibilities…


Traditional

The Good Stuff Cookbook: Burgers, fries, shakes, wedges, and more Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries, and Shakes The Book of Burger Burger Bar: Build Your Own Ultimate Burgers


Meatless

The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet: 101 Globally Inspired Vegan Creations Packed with Fresh Flavors and Exciting New Tastes Meatless Burgers: Over 50 Quick & Easy Recipes for America's Favorite Food Vegetarian Burgers Morningstar Farms The Veggie Burger Cookbook


The Kitchen Sink

The $100 Hamburger Recipe of the Week: Burgers: 52 Easy Recipes for Year-round Cooking The Little Black Book of Burgers Deer Burger Cookbook: Recipes for Ground Venison--Soups, Stews, Chilies, Casseroles, Jerkies, and Sausages


That should keep you busy for a while. If we missed your favorite guide to burger making, please let us (and everyone else) know.

Monday Books: Salmon

 

Finally, something that tastes great that’s also good for you!

Salmon

I’ll reluctantly admit it here. In the past I’ve probably overdone it a touch on the salmon. But, I love it. My wife, not so much. She’ll tolerate it a couple of times a month. If she has to eat it twice a week there’s going to be a menu planning meeting.

In my opinion, what’s not to like? It tastes great. And, as a BIG side benefit, it’s a superfood. Meaning, it’s REALLY good for you.  When I cook salmon I usually grill it. I make an extra piece to eat cold the next day for lunch. It’s one fish that is just as good out of the fridge as it is off the grill.

Maybe, my wife just needs a little recipe variety in her salmon intake. To that end, and in an attempt to avoid that “not salmon again” look. Here’s are some great ideas for your next salmon supper (or lunch).


Cookbooks

Salmon: The Cookbook Simply Salmon Salmon, Desserts & Friends James McNair's Salmon Cookbook


Smoking & Curing

Smokin': Recipes for Smoking Ribs, Salmon, Chicken, Mozzarella, and More with Your Stovetop Smoker Smoking Food for Pleasure or Profit: How to smoke fish, oysters, mussels, cheese, ham, bacon, sausage and salmon, complete with recipes and diagrams Smoked Salmon Smoking Salmon and Trout: Plus Canning, Freezing, Pickling and More


Odds & Ends

The Beginners Guide To Canning Fish - Home Ideas for Preserving Salmon, Trout and Other Fish Cooking With Salmon: The King of Fish Salmon Cookbook 1915 Reprint: How To Eat Canned Salmon Canning Salmon... In the Way We Were Taught


Those should give you some new and exciting ideas for your next salmon feast!

Sunny Side Up


Can something be both a wonder and wonderful? Consider the egg.

Fresh Egg

Here’s a question for you. How many eggs do you think this country produces each year? Think big. No, bigger. Bigger still…

You’re not even close. So, I’ll tell you.

75 billion, yes billion! That translates to 241 eggs per year for every man, woman and child in the country. That’s just the amount of eggs that are produced in the U.S. alone. China is the worlds largest egg producer and their hens lay about four times more eggs than ours. That’s a ton of eggs. Actually, 62.1 billion metric tons worldwide! I think it’s fair to say everyone LOVES eggs.

Fried Egg

What in the world is going on here? Why the egg obsession? For one thing, I don’t think there is anything the egg can’t do, it’s versatile. Think about it. It’s equally as comfortable as an ingredient as it is being the star of a dish. You can cook it in more ways than we have space to list. And, most importantly, they taste delicious.

Jennifer Trainer Thompson has penned an homage to the humble edible orb. The Fresh Egg Cookbook, takes you from “chicken to kitchen”. Contained in the pages is a treasure trove of information on all things egg related. Jennifer raises her own hens. Not all of us can do that. The information on what to look for and how to buy the best eggs is super helpful. You’ll really appreciate it the next time you find yourself at the local farmers market.

BUY IT! - The Fresh Egg Cookbook: From Chicken to Kitchen, Recipes for Using Eggs from Farmers' Markets, Local Farms, and Your Own Backyard

The recipes? Yes, there are recipes, lots of them. One hundred and one to be exact. These pages are loaded with great food and great photos.

I figured at this point you might be ready for a dish. Here’s one you may not have come across before, Pickled Eggs.

Here’s How To Do It.

Pickled Eggs

Ingredients
12 hard boiled eggs
3 cups malt vinegar
1 cup water
1 small dried chile, split open
20 black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks, 4 inch
2 bay leaves

Method
Peel the hard boiled eggs and pack them into a sterilized jar with an airtight lid. Leave an inch at the top for the liquid. Heat the vinegar, water, chile, peppercorns, cinnamon and bay leaves in a saucepan until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool at room temperature.

Strain the liquid and pour it over the eggs in the jar. Cover them completely by one inch. Seal the jar and store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before eating.

Makes 12 eggs
Recipe excerpted from The Fresh Egg Cookbook (c) by Jennifer Trainer Thompson, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

The Bottom Line: Everybody loves eggs. And, Jennifer has put together a great collection of eggcellent (sorry) facts, tips and dishes. These recipes can be easily executed by home cooks of all experience levels. It’s hard not to love Jennifer’s genuine enthusiasm for a topic which she knows so well.

It’s a great excuse to break a few shells. Come on, let’s get scrambling!

BUY IT! - The Fresh Egg Cookbook: From Chicken to Kitchen, Recipes for Using Eggs from Farmers' Markets, Local Farms, and Your Own BackyardAuthor: Jennifer Trainer Thompson
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing
ISBN-10: 1603429786

BUY IT! - The Fresh Egg Cookbook: From Chicken to Kitchen, Recipes for Using Eggs from Farmers' Markets, Local Farms, and Your Own Backyard

 


If you’re looking for some more egg recipes we can certainly help. Check out some of these titles.

Eggs: Fresh, Simple Recipes for Frittatas, Omelets, Scrambles & More The Good Egg: More than 200 Fresh Approaches from Breakfast to Dessert The Farmstead Egg Cookbook 101 Things to Do with Eggs


Monday Books: Cake!

 

For all occasions, nothing beats a great cake.

Black Forest Cake

I don’t know if there is one individual food that has more sayings/quotes associated with it. “Let them eat cake”, “the icing on the cake” and “piece of cake” are few of the more obvious. The question is why cake? The answer: because it’s so damn good!

I’m not partial to desserts. But, I will admit, that sometimes a nice hunk of fresh cake and a cold glass of milk is an unbeatable combo.

Looking for some great ideas for your next great cake baking adventure? This installment of Monday Books has a few suggestions for you. Bake on!


Cookbooks

Baking with the Cake Boss: 100 of Buddy's Best Recipes and Decorating Secrets Piece of Cake!: One-Bowl, No-Fuss, From-Scratch Cakes Extraordinary Cakes: Recipes for Bold and Sophisticated Desserts The Cake Book


Cake Decorating

Contemporary Cake Decorator's Bible: Over 150 Techniques and 80 Stunning Projects 1,000 Ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes (1000 Series) The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating Professional Cake Decorating


Cake Pops!

Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats 175 Best Babycakes Cake Pop Maker Recipes Bake Me I'm Yours...Cake Pops: Over 30 designs for fun sweet treats Cake Pops


OK, now go dig around in the crawlspace and find that old Easy Bake oven and fire it up! You may need to hunt for a light bulb that will actually cook something.Those five year light bulbs are great. But, you can’t bake a cake with one. Technology advancement? Hardly.

A Brisket By Any Other Name

Poitrine, bringa, bryststykke. No matter how you say it, it’s still a brisket.

BUY IT - The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes

WARNING: This book is not suitable for vegetarians, vegans or herbivores of any stripe. However, if you love slow cooked, tender and delicious meat, grab a plate and get your fork!


It’s a cut of meat that slices across ethnic and cultural lines. A specific cut of meat. Not just a burger or a steak, it’s more than that. At first blush you would think, “How many ways could you possible cook that?”. You would be surprised.

In Texas, it is held aloft as a piece of BBQ lore and legend. Worthy of a battle for a medal, trophy or plaque. On St. Patrick’s Day, we can’t get enough of it served with a side of cabbage, potatoes and maybe a Guinness (or two). It has starring role on the other side of the world in Vietnamese Pho. And, it’s nearly impossible to imagine any Jewish holiday without a moist and flavorful brisket served on a big platter to a waiting table of family and friends.

Stephanie Pierson affectionately calls her cookbook a “love story with recipes”. When The Brisket Book hit my desk I thought, “OK, here’s another collection of the same re-tread brisket recipes”. Boring… This is a prime example of why you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. It is not possible to have been more wrong. Boring is the last thing this cookbook is.

I thought I knew about brisket. After all, I have cooked a small truckload of them. But, what I didn’t know about this versatile cut of meat could, well, fill a book. And Stephanie filled it up!

I love the list of “50 Things About Brisket That People Can Disagree About”. Example: #5 Electric Knife? You may as well give one person a can of gasoline and the other person a match and see how long it takes them to set each other on fire. People are just that insane about the topic.

Of course, I have to cook one of these versions. I opted for Chef Todd Gray’s, Classic Braised Beef Brisket. Anything classic should be a good test.

Here’s How To Do It

Classic Braised Beef Brisket

Ingredients
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 3lb beef brisket, trimmed
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 quart veal stock
1 cup dry red wine
½ cup balsamic vinegar

Method
Pre-heat oven to 350⁰. (Note: the recipe in the book does not specify an oven temperature. I used 350⁰, it seemed safe)

Mix together the salt, paprika, mustard seed and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the brisket all over with the spice mixture. It will look like this.

Classic Braised Beef Brisket

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot. Brown the brisket evenly on both sides. About 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Classic Braised Beef Brisket

Transfer the browned brisket to a large oven proof baking dish or Dutch oven. Add the rosemary and thyme sprigs. Also, add the garlic, stock, wine and vinegar. Cover the dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake in the oven until fork tender. About 3 to 4 hours.

When the brisket is cooked, transfer to a cutting board and cover with foil. Strain cooking liquids into a pan and reduce over medium heat to about 2½ cups. Slice the brisket against the grain and drizzle with the sauce.

Serves 6

Classic Braised Beef Brisket
Recipe adapted Classic Braised Brisket, Chef Todd Gray. The Brisket Book, Stephanie Pierson, Andrews McMeel Pub.

TIPS: I used beef stock instead of veal stock. It still turned our fantastic. This is a super easy brisket recipe. A home chef of any skill level should have no problem at all impressing their family and friends with their brisket expertise.

The Bottom Line: This book hits all the right notes. Not only is it a great collection of new (and old) brisket preparations, but, it also serves as a great resource. It’s a fun read. The contributions from professional and amateur chefs make it interesting on a lot of different levels. Writing a single subject cookbook can be tricky. Stephanie avoids the common mistakes that make these types of books a little on the dry side. Well done!

BUY IT - The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes

Author: Stephanie Pierson
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN-10: 1449406971

BUY IT - The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes

 


If you like The Brisket Book, here are few books from the Cookbook Man’s list that might interest you.

Backyard BBQ: The Art of Smokology Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook, with More Than 200 Recipes Big Green Egg Cookbook: Celebrating the World's Best Smoker & Grill


Monday Books: Cookies!

If you give a mouse a cookie…

Cookies!

Who doesn’t love a great, soft, chewy cookie and an ice cold glass of milk? It’s a good question, right? Cookies turn all of us that aren’t already kids into one. And fast.

If you’re looking to crank some fantastic homemade creations out of your own kitchen there a a ton of books that can help. Baking cookies is easy, fun and can involve the whole family. Why not fire up the oven and make a batch this afternoon?

Here’s some Monday Books that can help.


Cookbooks

Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share (Martha Stewart Living Magazine) Crazy About Cookies: 300 Scrumptious Recipes for Every Occasion & Craving The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009 Cookies - 200+ Favorite Recipes from Club, Church and Community Cookbooks


For Kids

Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons Mr. Cookie Baker If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Big Book Baker, Baker, Cookie Maker


Cookie Dough

The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook: Cookies, Cakes, Candies, and More Cookie Dough Delights: More Than 150 Foolproof Recipes for Cookies, Bars, and Other Treats Made With Refrigerated Cookie Dough One Dough, Fifty Cookies: Baking Favorite And Festive Cookies In A Snap 1 Dough 100 Cookies: Take 1 Basic Recipe and Make 100 Kinds of Cookies


I’m sure by now you’ve got your oven pre-heating to 350º. If you know of any great cookie books that we might have missed. Add a comment and tell the world.