Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Romantic Prairie Cookbook | Fifi O’Neill


Home spun recipes with a very personal touch.

Romantic Prairie Style Cookbook

TITLE: The Romantic Prairie Cookbook
AUTHOR: Fifi O’Neill
CUISINE: American

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Apples
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the roseApple By dhaun family (Rosaceae). It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apples grow on small, deciduous trees. The tree originated in Western Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, is still found today. Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have been present in the mythology and religions of many cultures, including Norse, Greek and Christian traditions. In 2010, the fruit’s genome was decoded, leading to new understandings of disease control and selective breeding in apple production. [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
If you like food photography then you will immediately fall in love with The Romantic Prairie Cookbook. Photographer Mark Lohman does an amazing job bringing Fifi O’Neill’s creative dishes to life. Recipes are generally contained to one page. This makes for easy reference. I think we can all agree that if you’re cooking something for the first time, page flipping can be a giant pain. The ingredients used are for the most part easy to come by. Nothing is too exotic or unusual. I would categorize the dishes as home cooking/Americana/country. There isn’t a nice fitting category for these. Not necessarily classic comfort food. But, dishes you can easily cozy up to.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Starters and Snacks
Main Courses
Side Dishes
Desserts and Baking
Drinks and Preserving

• • • • •

Nothing makes your house or kitchen smell better than a fresh baked apple pie. OK, maybe bacon frying. So, this seems like the perfect time to roll out a how-to-make-an-apple-pie video. Seems easy enough…

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Prosciutto with Fresh Figs Summer Tomato Tart
Fish in Salt Crust Venison Stroganoff
Sautéed Potatoes Popovers
Rosemary Corn Muffins Strawberry-Almond Tart
Bread Pudding Old-Fashioned Chive Butter
Country Dill Pickles Pumpkin Soup with Cilantro Oil


Of course there are some standouts. There were two in particular that are impossible to pass up. The Country Roast Pork (p. 48) and the Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks (p. 54) really typify some of the heartier dishes in the book. These meals are warming, delicious and loaded with flavor. One of the more unique recipes was the Mussels in Pine Needles (p. 70). We’ve all consumed a boatload of mussels in our time (I know I have). But, not prepared this way. This method yields a roasted flavor that is truly unique. On the beverage side, I can’t think of a better summertime thirst quencher than the Honey Grape Lemonade (p. 144). It’s a perfect cool down for kids. And as a bonus, if you have adults in the crowd, a little vodka or rum would make for much appreciated grownup treat.

• • • • •

Special Features
Romantic Prairie Style CookbookThis book is not tricked out with all kinds of tutorials, listings and lessons. There is one section that is special, Celebrations. It’s almost like a cookbook within a cookbook. It’s a great little bonus. These dishes are an outstanding collection of recipes with a very personal twist. They have all been shared by Fifi’s friends. As it happens, one of my Sarasota friends, Chef Judi Gallagher, is a contributor to the Celebrations section. Be sure and check out her Hoecakes with Chipotle Sour Cream (p. 185).

• • • • •

Fifi O’Neill has put together a very intimate collection of recipes. The Romantic Prairie Cookbook offers you a peek into someone else’s culinary memories. The beauty of it is the manner in which it’s constructed. It is not a recitation of her passed down standards (like so many of these cookbooks are). It’s more an acknowledgement of the impact that the foods and dishes of her friends have made on her. Delicious memories from a lifetime of personal food interactions.

Culinary Expertise Required: 5
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Romantic Prairie Style Cookbook

Resources, Links and Press
Savvy City Farmer
My Petit Maison
Fifi on Twitter
CiCo Books Online

A Girl and Her Pig | April Bloomfield


Swine never looked (and tasted) so good!

A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories

TITLE: A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories
AUTHOR: April Bloomfield

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Pork Belly
Pork belly
is a boneless cut of fatty meat derived from the belly of a pig. Pork belly is popularDarren's Belly Pork by John Leach in Asian cuisine, and forms a part of many traditional European dishes such as the Alsatian Choucroute garnie, the Swiss Berner Platte, and the German Schlachtplatte. In the United States, bacon is most often made from pork bellies. A 100-gram serving of pork belly typically has about 520 calories. The calorie breakdown is: 92% fat (53 g), 0% (0 g) carbohydrates, and 8% (9 g) protein [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
The book has a very comfortable and personal feel to it. Making it more like the telling of a passionate food life than a recitation of recipes. It’s obvious from the start that food is a passion for April and not just a vocation. The book is loaded with interesting recipes for pretty much any occasion. The dishes themselves are fully formed and well thought out. In some cases they’re not easy to execute. But, at least the steps are there should you want to make an attempt. Whoever made the stock selection should get a pat on the back. The paper has a silky, easy to handle quality that gives it a “soft” quality. Fantastic illustrations are sprinkled throughout as are images by photographer David Loftus.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
big bowls of soup
well-dressed greens and things
meat without feet
a little lamb
fine swine
the not-so-nasty bits
potato and friends
dressings, sauces and condiments
a couple of stocks

• • • • •

A hog butchering video would be ideal here. But, I don’t want to scare the kids. Everybody loves Claymation, right? Let’s get those toes out and start counting!

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Pancakes with Bacon and Chili Lamb Chops with Chimichurri
Chopped Chicken Liver on Toast Liver and Onions
Smoked Haddock Chowder Crispy Fried Vegetables
Duck-Fat Potatoes Ginger Cake
Green Goddess Frozen Moscow Mule

As usual I’ve got some of my favorites for you. There are a few interesting two page stories that relate directly to a recipe or chapter. Nice touch. Grilled Sea Bass (p. 114) and Tongue Sandwiches (p. 140) are examples. I have a Sarasota Florida connection. So, the Marcella Hazan story was a home run for me. April’s re-creation of Marcella’s Roasted Veal Shanks with White Wine and Shallots (p. 150) was too much to resist. You’ve got to give it a spin. The Cassoulet (p. 178) would make an amazing cold weather dinner. You can almost feel it warming you from the inside out. Wait until mid-January then break that one out.

• • • • •

Special Features
The introduction contains a little of April’s history. Also a very A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Storiesdescriptive ingredient listing is included. Towards the back there is a page dedicated to online resources for various ingredients used throughout the book. I love the inclusion of these outlets. There is nothing worse than reading through a mouthwatering recipe, deciding to make it for yourself or your family and then come crashing back to earth with the realization that your local Kroger doesn’t carry Fennel Pollen or Fenugreek Seeds, bummer. In my mind, it’s almost mandatory that if your dish is going to include what most people would call exotic ingredients that you are obligated to provide an outlet. Thanks!

• • • • •

For a cookbook that at first blush seems to be “swine-centric”, it is very broad in scope. There is much more to it than pork, pork and more pork. Don’t get me wrong you will get your fill of the other white meat. But, the main ingredient is used in ways that could make you forget the dramatic cover image (which I LOVE by the way). A Girl and Her Pig hits on all cylinders and is one of the best cookbooks to grace the market this year. It’s a standout in a crowded field.

Culinary Expertise Required: 7
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories

Links, Resources and Press
April’s Restaurant: The Spotted Pig
April Bloomfield’s Last Meal: The Village Voice
Harper Collins Book Information
NPR Feature Story on April

Grilling and Butter. A Perfect Combination.


Some things are just made to go together.

Steven Raichlen and Aux Delices des Bois Grilling Butters

I’m going to come right out and say it. Right at the beginning of this post. Just so there can be no confusion. I am not a fan of butter on my grilled food. So much so, that I shun the Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain because I can’t come to grips with the butter they top their steaks with. No, it’s not a phobia. It’s just a preference.

I’ve always believed that if something is seasoned properly and cooked just right, there would be no reason to throw an extra glob of fat onto it just to make it palatable. But, something happened this summer grilling season. I am here to tell you right now. With the world as my witness, I WAS WRONG! Wrong, wrong, wrong.

All those wasted years, What a tragedy. Hopefully, I some have time left to make it right.

How does such an amazing reversal of taste come about? That’s a damn good question. And after my pronouncement in the first paragraph, I think you deserve a damn good answer.

Does this man look familiar? Look closely.

Steve Raichlen

If you answered BBQ legend Steven Raichlen, give yourself a gold star or a pat on the back (whichever you’re most comfortable with). The man who practically invented BBQ cookbooks for the masses is out with a new grilling product. And, it’s not a gadget, book or guide. It’s butter. Grilling butter to be more specific.

Steven Raichlen and Aux Delices des Bois Grilling Butters

You’re probably saying, “Big deal. I’ve used grilling butter before. That’s old news”. That may be true. But, I can tell you, the butters you’ve used are not like this. These butters are packed with flavor. Overflowing with a rich goodness that enhances the food without overwhelming it. It’s not that glob of fat that I avoided for so long. It’s a dollop of pure deliciousness.

Here’s the dish that turned the tide for me and made me a believer.

Cookbook Man Grilled Salmon

1 lb, salmon fillet
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
Steven Raichlen Fine Herbs w/Meyer Lemon Grilling Butter

Pre heat your grill and prepare for direct grilling. Portion your salmon into 3 or 4 equal pieces. I like my fillets about ⅓ of a pound. Drizzle olive oil over fish. Turn to coat completely. Combine salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture over flesh side of fish. Rest at room temperature about 20 minutes. Slice one butter pat for each fillet. About ⅓ of an inch thick.

When grill is hot place fish on grate directly over coals skin side down. You can use a fish grate if you would like. Cover and cook 4 minutes. Carefully flip fish, cover and grill an additional 3-4 minutes depending on your preference. I like mine just done (or just a bit under). When the fish is cooked to your liking, remove from grill and immediately place one butter pat on the flesh side of each fillet. Butter will melt onto fish.

Serve with a nice cold summer salad.

Serve 3-4

Here’s how it will look.

Cookbook Man Grilled Salmon

Amazing, right? Have another look.

Cookbook Man Grilled Salmon

The butter melts leaving the herbs behind along with a silky, delicious flavor. WOW! The flavors are subtle enough not to overpower the actual food. It is a true enhancement to the dish.

OK, I’ll say it one more time just for good measure. I was wrong. At least on the butter thing. I’m not saying I’m making a res at Ruth’s Chris just yet. But, Steven’s grilling butters have broken new ground for me.

These butters are produced by Aux Délices des Bois & Planet Barbecue Grilling Butters. You can get more info on them at Transatlantic Foods. These are great to keep in the freezer and pull out when you need them. If you would like to have some for your very own we can make that happen. Just click.

Aux Délices des Bois & Planet Barbecue Grilling Butters

Oh, Aux Délices des Bois also produces some mean charcuterie. More on that later…


These products were provided for our tasting at no cost to us. We were not compensated in any way to write this review. Thought you should know.

Monday Books | Farmers Market


Fresh from the farm to you. There’s nothing better!


There is nothing quite like that fresh from the farm taste. This is the time of year that your local farmers are out at the markets selling their delicious bounty. Fruits, vegetables, eggs and organically raised chicken and meat can all be had at great prices and even greater quality.

Michigan Peaches

It’s early for peaches in Michigan. But, these look like a good start to the season.

Eaters Guild

Farmers work hard to get the best tasting produce from their farm to your table.

Farmers Market

Now that you have all of that fantastic farm fresh produce in your kitchen what should you do with it? Great question. Lucky for you we’ve got a few suggestions. Here are some cookbooks that will help you get the most from your farmers market buys.

The Farmer's Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Your CSA and Farmers' Market Foods Fresh from the Farmers' Market (Reissue): Year-Round Recipes for the Pick of the Crop Cooking from the Farmers' Market The Farmer's Market Cookbook: Seasonal Dishes Made from Nature's Freshest Ingredients
L.A.'s Original Farmers Market Cookbook: Meet Me at 3rd and Fairfax Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Impeccable Produce Plus 130 Seasonal Recipes Pike Place Market Cookbook: Recipes, Anecdotes, and Personalities from Seattle's Renowned Public Market
Farmers' Market Desserts The Farmer's Market Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes Using the Freshest Ingredients The Farmer's Market Cookbook Southern Farmers Market Cookbook

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