Cooking and Gadgets

The Business of Eggs

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by Susie Middleton

eggmanFour years ago, Roy and I (newly besotted), rented a little plot of land on a Vineyard farm. We grew vegetables and sold them at the farm’s roadside stand. Living in a tiny apartment over a general store, we shuttled back and forth to tend our plot.

That fall, our friend Joannie tracked us down one day, took us by the hand, and led us to a little farm house on two acres of land. Right on the spot, she introduced us to the owners and insisted that they rent the farm house to us. I’m not sure if the owners knew what hit them, but in about an hour, we had all shaken hands and Roy and I were packing up the apartment. Our new landlords said, “Sure, grow whatever you want here.”

We moved into the little (uninsulated) 1895 farm house a few weeks later, and by spring we were turning over the soil and putting up the fences for our first vegetable plot. Roy built a little farm stand, and we stuck a sign out by the road. One summer, then two summers went by.

We got 8 laying hens, and then 50 more. The garden doubled in size, and we built a hoop house. We made a tiny bit of money off our tiny farmette, keeping the farm stand open almost every day while writing books and building houses (our real jobs), too.

Beer Butt Chicken

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by Nancy Ellison

chickenbeerWhat? Where?

My personal trainer, Antony, likes two things in life: Picking up girls and cooking.

Re: picking up girls… his technique of choice is to borrow a baby from one of the female trainers and take it to the park. “Babies are chick magnets,” he declares. I suggested using puppies. He said with a sigh, “People are quite willing to give you their babies for the day, but they will not part with their puppies!”

Re: cooking … Antony is, guess what, Italian and Mama’s youngest, so he gets the good stuff. But, being a bachelor he personally confines most of his own cooking to what’s easy – and BEER BUTT CHICKEN is easy. Apparently it is also rather wonderful, and I am going to try it!

Since I got his recipe while doing 3 miles on a stationary bike I went to the net to see what’s what, and clearly the world loves BEER BUTT CHICKEN and not just because people feel like naughty 12 yr olds when they say it, nor because it sounds like an answer to a Newlywed Game question, but because it is friggin’ brilliant!

Throwing a BIG book party: What to serve?

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by Hallie Ephron

death-in-four-coursesotherwomanWhen two of my dearest friends were launching new novels -- Hank Phillippi Ryan ("The Other Woman") and Lucy Burdette ("Death in Four Courses") -- I wanted to throw the best bash ever to celebrate.

Before I knew it I had a crowd of about 80 people coming to wish the authors well and pick up signed copies of the books.

The challenge -- after figuring out where to put everyone -- was to offer up delicious finger food and drinks without breaking the bank, and doing it in a way that I could manage myself with the help of a few stalwart friends at the party.

I kept telling myself: Keep it simple, affordable, and delicious!

The solution: An antipasto table

  • Platters of meats and cheeses cut into bite sized pieces
  • Platters of grilled marinated vegetables.
  • A big basket of sliced french bread
  • Two kinds of crostini -- thin slices of barbecued steak on horseradish cream with arugula; and basil-flavored goat cheese with roasted red peppers -- assembled in advance.
  • Lots of cookies, baked that day.
  • Prosecco and sparkling water, augmented with whatever guests are generous enough to bring.

Using Twitter for Recipe Inspiration

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by Susan Russo

bananachiptlebreadWhere do you get recipe ideas? Cooking shows? Food magazines? The Wednesday food section of your newspaper? Blogs? (Um, I hope you nodded "yes" to that last one.) How about Twitter and Facebook?

Last time I had some overripe bananas to use up I could have made my favorite banana, coconut, and Medjool quick bread, but I wanted something savory. Nothing was coming to mind, so I did what any connected food blogger would do: I asked my tweeps.

I tweeted, "Does anybody have any good savory recipes for ripe bananas?" Within minutes I had several responses, but it was Jill of @eatitdrinkit's response that intrigued me. She suggested I make chipotle banana bread. Chipotle chilis in banana bread? Really? Yes, really.

When I asked her for the recipe, she said she didn't have one. The flavor combo just came to her, and before she realized it, she was making a batch of Banana-Chipotle Bread. When she posted it on her blog, she triumphantly exclaimed, "It worked!"

Cucumber and Pepper Pickles with Whole Spices

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by Lisa McRee

picklesgiftsThis is a recipe “re-do” of a long time favorite that’s now a smart weapon in my war against weight…and it’s not only skinny-fied, it’s simplified: Cucumber and Pepper Pickles with Whole Spices.

The original recipe that I made for years had all the ingredients here, but also called for a cup of white sugar..and after making it both ways, I promise, that extra sugar is not missed!

And, since this version isn’t meant for shelving, but for storing and curing in the fridge, the step of cooking on the stove, sterilizing jars and sealing is avoided entirely…saving time, effort  and clean-up!

But, I have to warn you, plan ahead! Though the pickles take just 15 minutes to make, you need to wait at least a day or two before you eat them..they just get better and better.

As a stand alone snack, on a veggie, turkey or bison burger, on top of fish, on a skinny crostini, or on a grilled shrimp or chicken taco, these little jewels are a great way to add flavor and texture to loads of dishes without adding any extra calories!

Grilled Pizzas with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella

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by Joseph Erdos

grilledpizzaI love making pizza, not just because it's fun, but also because I think mine can rival any pizza parlor's. I have the entire set-up, including a pizza stone and peel. But this time I put all that aside to try something new. Instead of the typical way of baking pizza, have you ever tried grilling it? For years I've been told that grilled pizza is the best, but I haven't actually done it myself until now. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the outcome.

Grilling lends pizza a smoky, charry flavor and makes the crust crispier than baking. This is pizza grilled directly on the grates, not on a stone. With this method you grill the dough on one side, then flip it over and top the just-grilled side with toppings. My recipe takes on the flavors of Caprese salad with slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato. Instead of tomato sauce, the base is pesto—it's a much more fresh flavor especially if you make the pesto yourself, which I do.

Recently Fleischmann's sent me packets of their new yeast, Pizza Crust Yeast. I was intrigued to say the least. Thinking it might just be a gimmick, I gave it a go anyway. Usually when you make pizza, the process of waiting for the dough to rise takes up a lot of time—it's almost as involved as making bread! But with this new yeast, all you have to do is mix together the ingredients, knead it a little, and you are ready to make pizza. Try it!

Garlic, Garlic

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by Sue Doeden

garlic1I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have fresh garlic in my kitchen ready to smash, mince, chop or slice to use for culinary enjoyment. I’ve got cookbooks devoted to garlic and file folders bulging with recipes that include several bold, pungent cloves of the stinking rose.

When I started buying garlic from local growers at the farmers market several years ago, I realized how much better it tasted than the bulbs I had been bringing home from the grocery store. Four or five years ago I attended the Minnesota Garlic Festival for the first time. That’s when I got the bug to try growing some of my own. It took me a few years to finally take the first step — getting some garlic to plant.

Early last Fall, just in time for garlic planting in northern Minnesota, a box of beautiful heads of garlic arrived at my door. Travel, busy work days and wet weather prevented the small garden plot (really a bed of weeds) that I had selected for my garlic crop from getting tilled and enriched with new soil.

DIY Canning & Preserving 101

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by Amy Sherman

canningWhen I was growing up my mom grew her own vegetables and fruit, raised chickens, canned tomatoes and made everything from bread to soap. I have not quite followed in her footsteps, but now and again I take on a project or two. I've made orange marmalade and lately I've been making batches of tamales. I've dabbled in window box herb gardening and last year I bought a kit to make cheese.

I'm not alone. Activities like preserving, canning, DIY, gardening and even raising chickens are all surging in popularity. Whether it's a desire to get back to nature, or to just feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with making something to your own taste, these experiences can be deeply satisfying. If you're not sure where to start, or if you are looking to take the next step, there are plenty of good resources out there to get you going. Here are some of my current favorites:

Williams Sonoma recently launched Agrarian, which is designed to get you up to speed in various foodie DIY activities, preserving, gardening and more. The carefully curated line of products includes everything from guides and kits to make cheese, kombucha and sprouts to garden tools, planters and even deluxe chicken coops and beekeeping supplies. As you'd expect, Williams Sonoma has sought out the best quality and often most stylish products.

Herban Cookin’…and Grillin

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by James Farmer III

lemonchickenOne of this Farmer’s favorite meals is a basic meat, veggie, and salad trio dolled up and flavored for the season. With summer in full swing, fresh herbs are abounding in the garden and flavoring my favorite basic meal with seasonal flair.

Basil...what a delicious flavor, smell, and plant in general. There are as many types of basil as you could ever imagine. ‘African Blue’ is one of my favorites for its small leaves, intense flavor, beautiful flower, and fabulous fragrance. With basil bolting, blooming, and bursting in the garden now, I’m using it now as my herb de jour.

Pairing well with lemon, garlic, and chives, I concocted a vinaigrette of the aforementioned herbs and fruit for a salad. This dressing fares well as a fresh condiment for the grilled chicken. I like to weave my flavors throughout my meal thus carrying a theme from course to course. With herbed vinaigrette on tap, an herb infused marinade for the chicken was in store.

Perfecting the Burger

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by Susan Salzman

bestburgerSummer isn’t summer without grilling all of our favorite things; kabobs, thick rib eyes, pizza, fish, corn, all kinds of veggies and of course – burgers.  Burgers are always just okay when made at home.  Yet, after eating at Umami burger, I had to up my game. I loved my burger at Umami burger.  The burger fit perfectly on the bun, the tomatoes were juicy and the other stuff was just right. 

I had to recreate their great taste at home.  After, finally figuring out the right combination of meat and seasonings my kids and their friends agree that my burgers now taste like a restaurant-style burger.  Finally, got the taste that I have been searching for.  Nothing added to the meat, nothing fancy like cheese or butter shoved inside the meat, just meat, a little salt, pepper, + garlic powder.  That’s it.

Eli likes grilled onions, lettuce and ketchup.  Isaac likes lettuce, ketchup + pickles (after all, a burger isn’t a burger without the pickles), and Levi likes cheese and ketchup.  In my opinion, the grilled onions make this burger taste not like your ordinary burger. Don’t leave these out…they truly change the taste of the burger (also delicious on a hot dog!). Use a potato bun and it makes all the difference in the world.  I am even entertaining the idea of making my own buns!  We will see if I am up for the challenge.

 

restaurant news

Zingerman's
Michigan
by Mandy Blake

zings1.jpg I have a vivid memory of my parents entertaining friends on Christmas Eve in 1982.  My mother threw all of her Protestant tradition out the kitchen window and ordered Zingerman’s pastrami on rye...

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Thelonious Monkfish
Boston
by Kitty Kaufman

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Letter from Palm Beach: Renato's
Florida
by Nancy Ellison

el_mirasol.jpgPalm Beach is different from other tidy resort cities that line the Florida Coast. While remarkably tidy, it is also both eccentric and pretty, and I do believe it has its own wacky, elegant soul.

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Northgate Soda Shop
Mid-Atlantic
by Scott R. Kline

northgateinterior.jpgThe Northgate Soda Shop in Greenville, South Carolina proved an elusive target for a burger. But one can never keep a good burger seeker down.

Our trip across South Carolina continued as we...

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