Thursday, December 18, 2008

a cookbook review.

Check out this week's issue of Whatzup and read my first cookbook review on page 24.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Calamari Time.

Perhaps this isn't a typical snack food in your home, but come on, party people, live it up every now and then! Always a fan of calamari, it is often an appetizer I'm drawn to when dining out. I've had it on my mind for a while, and I finally gave it my very first try. Here in Fort Wayne, the closet thing we have to a Whole Foods is The Fresh Market, where I purchased my calamari (previously froze, but clean), only $4.99 a pound. I choose a recipe from my big yellow Gourmet cookbook. Often restaurants will serve this creature deep fried in what I assume is all-purpose flour. In fact I would venture to say that these creatures might get a double dip in the fryer too. The Gourmet recipe suggested frying the calamari in rice flour, which I was able to find at a local grocery store. The difference is quite substantial, the rice flour coating (which aside from the rice flour included salt and pepper, but I think I will add some herbs next time) was very light and delicate. I wasn't able to achieve the deep golden brown we are all used to, but I think I was having "hot oil" issues to boot, not to mention that fact that I ran out of canola oil. I think next time I will try peanut oil instead too. I made a warm marinara sauce to go with it (drives me nuts when a marinara sauce is served cold with this dish), blended a can of chopped tomatoes, slowly cooked with a couple of garlic cloves, salt, and red chili pepper flakes. A perfect accompaniment, but not too long ago, I ate calamari served with a basil aioli. It's all a matter of personal preference, I suppose. Be careful not to over-fry them, they lose their chewy edge.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

review of baker street

Check out page 15 of today's published Whatzup magazine for my third restaurant review! I reviewed a new steakhouse in town called Baker Street.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

biased and braised.

Clever, eh? I admit it, I'm totally biased at the moment. I'm in an "Alice Waters" fixated state and the only other genre of cookbook that can pull me out of this are baking books. Are you sick and tired of me rambling on and on and on about how wonderful Alice Waters is, how she's so cool, fabulous and utterly worthy of culinary knighthood? Well, tough noogies. I recently renewed my "borrowing" of The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters from the library, her ninth cookbook in fact. Over the weekend I opted to try her recipe for Braised Chicken Legs with Tomatoes and Garlic. I served it with fragrant rice to soak up all those lovely juices. Known for her devotion to ingredients and attention to simplicity, Alice Waters exemplifies the essence of cooking, whether your in a professional kitchen and for the home. Braising is such a wonderful cooking technique, not employed by many home cooks during the week as it requires time and above all else, patience. The benefits of such work are definitely worth it though and braising chicken is effortless really. One of the added benefits of braising is that you only require the use of one pot so clean up tends to be minimal. Once you've mastered a few braising techniques, you can pretty much create your own recipe. This is usually the braising protocol:
1. Brown meat in olive oil.
2. Remove meat and saute veggies and aromatics (garlic, herbs, seasonings).
3. Deglaze the pan with either wine or stock.
4. Add meat back to the pan and simmer covered (the chicken took about 45 minutse, but toughter cuts of meat will take longer).
5. Remove meat and reduce stock to a sauce.
These are only the essentials. Another great resource is All About Braising by Molly Stevens, a devout braiser, Molly breaks down the techniques and offers delicious recipes to practice this fine art. This isn't calculus for cooks, it's algebra, folks. And here in Indiana, our first snowfall has already doused us and nothing speaks volumes in the winter than a home-cooked hearty meal.