Is now up for pre-order!  Squee!

gfwl cover from amazon

Gluten-Free Wish List: Sweet and Savory Treats You’ve Missed the Most
-due out October 20, 2015 from Chronicle Books
-pre-order it:

Amazon US
(I receive a tiny percentage of sales from books ordered through the above link)
Powell’s Books
Barnes and Noble
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Amazon Germany
Amazon Italy
Amazon Japan

Advanced praise for Gluten-Free Wish List:

“Jeanne Sauvage has long been a wizard at transforming familiar recipes into delicious gluten-free versions—usually without anyone realizing it! Here she smartly applies her magic to the dishes that people crave and miss the most when they can no longer eat wheat.

Recipes capture the flavors, textures, and aromas of memory: yeasty English muffins with toasty nooks and crannies, fried onion rings, pasta and pretzels, even ramen, sourdough bread, and so much more.  From the simplest muffins and cookies to challenging projects like real Danish and flakey puff pastry, you could not be in better hands.  Jeanne is superb and articulate teacher. Recipes are both encouraging and meticulous. This is a must-have for the gluten-free and allergic household.  Congratulations Jeanne!”

Alice Medrich, author of the James Beard Foundation Award Winning Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole and Ancient Grains, Nuts, and Non Non-Wheat Flours
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“If you want maximum flavour and the best texture in your gluten-free home baking then all the secrets you need are right here.

Jeanne Sauvage has tackled and solved the trickiest gluten-free challenges you’ll face, and bought back to the table those favourite recipes with easy to follow methods and gluten-free ingredients. There’s science here too that you can trust, explained in a way that will enlighten you without fear.

The writing is clear and straightforward, the book’s design is beautiful and tempting: just what you need in a cookbook.”

Dan Lepard, author of Short & Sweet and baking expert
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“Jeanne Sauvage, our favorite fairy-godmother, grants your wish for gluten-free versions of the treats you miss the most.  She waves her magic wand over your kitchen as  you prepare her mouth-watering, tantalizing recipes for hard-to-find sweet and savory treats such as Puff Pastry, Doughnuts, Grissini, Croissants—plus breads, cakes, pastries, pasta, and crackers. Try them all since Jeanne is an expert baker and everything looks like it came from a professional bakery. She will inspire you with her creativity and passion, making this a must-have cookbook.  Buy one for yourself and give many as gifts—everyone will think YOU are the fairy-godmother.”

Carol Fenster, author of Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking
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“Sauvage’s new cookbook, “Gluten-Free Wish List” is gorgeous, exciting, and very aptly named. In it, Jeanne (or should we call her “Genie?”) has provided clear, easy-to-follow recipes for all those foods that aren’t widely available in a gluten-free version. And she’s doing it deliciously! From Sourdough baguettes, to English Muffins, Old Fashioned Doughnuts to French Crullers, Croissants, Eclairs, and Wontons, this book fulfills all your wishes to make tasty gluten-free favorites!”

-Kyra Bussanich, author Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for the Gluten-Free Lifestyle and the Food Network’s 3-time Cupcake Wars champion

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“Jeanne Sauvage’s Wish List reads like a love letter to bakers. From flaky croissants to kid-approved graham crackers, Jeanne captures the fun and satisfying art of gluten-free baking as only a baking fairy godmother could. All the recipes I’ve made work and are absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to bake my way through the rest of the book!”

Elizabeth Barbone, author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking and How to Cook Gluten-Free
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“I love the concept, the recipes, the photography, and Jeanne’s baking wisdom and calming presence throughout. Her new book is a winner.”

Nancy Baggett, author of Simply Sensational Cookies
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“Jeanne and I are undoubtedly kindred baking souls. She expects nothing short of perfection from her baked goods—and exceeds expectations in every single recipe. I would absolutely trust her to make my baking wishes—gluten-free or not—come true.”

-Silvana Nardone, author of Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed

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Blueberry Snack Cake, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on April 4, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy Easter weekend!  We don’t really have any big plans other than to do what we usually do–hang out as a family and relax.  I snuck out and got chocolate bunnies and eggs for D’Ahub and Girlfriend (and me) from our favorite (and local) chocolate store, Fran’s.  We usually have a roast chicken for Easter dinner, so that’s simple to prepare.  Now that Girlfriend is a teenager, we no longer have Easter egg hunts for her (sniff).  But we do have a leisurely breakfast and sit around and chat.  And Girlfriend invited a pal over to hang out this afternoon, so I was thinking about something to bake that would be good for both a snack and as a breakfast option.

As I was perusing my cookbooks, I came across the Blueberry Boy-Bait cake The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook by Christopher Kimball (of Cook’s Illustrated fame).  The cake’s name comes from its original incarnation as the second-prize winner in the 1954 Pillsbury Recipe and Baking Contest.  It was submitted by a woman named Renny Powell, who found the cake to be not only delicious, but helpful in attracting suitors.  After making the cake, I can see why.  It is quite buttery and moist, and the light crumb sprinkled over the blueberries on the top give it a nice crunch and a bit of sweetness to the tart berries.

If I were to re-name this cake for who it attracts in my house, I would name it Anyone With Tastebuds Bait Cake.  I made it this morning and offered some to Girlfriend and her pal–who promptly devoured their pieces and asked for seconds.  D’Ahub wandered in and helped himself to two pieces.  And, of course, I’ve been nibbling on it.  There is now a half of  the (9 x 13 in) cake left.  I’m going to have to hide the second half in order for there to be enough to eat tomorrow morning for breakfast!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy first day of spring. For Seattle, this day brings rain. Which is somewhat unusual these days.  Our winter, as opposed to that on the East Coast, has been mostly sunny. And warmer than normal. It’s been very odd—and quite lovely.  I’d forgotten what it was like to see sun more than once or twice during the winter months. But it has everyone in Seattle asking: what will the weather be like this summer?   We live for our summers, so we are a bit nervous that we will be getting the grey and rain we didn’t get this winter.

I’ve been working on last-minute edits of my next book, Gluten-Free Wish List: Sweet and Savory Treats You’ve Missed the Most.

The design folks at my publisher finalized the cover last week–I can’t wait to show it to you! And the book is actually up on Amazon for preorder (link above). If you already know that you’re going to buy the book (if so, thank you from the bottom of my heart!), you can do so now. FYI: preorders are so helpful to authors. They help the book get ranked well by Amazon (which in turn, means more people see it as a suggestion, which means even more people buy it, which means my publisher is very happy with me).   The current publication date is September 29, 2015—squeee!

In other news, we are still trying to get used to Girlfriend being in high school. It’s so odd to know that the next step is her going to college and being out of the house. I can’t quite wrap my brain around it. I’ve started to get annoyingly nostalgic about her toddler and little girl years. It drives her crazy, but I can’t help myself.

As I finish up the last-minute stuff that goes into writing a book, I wanted to share a recipe that we’ve been enjoying this winter. It’s for turkey meatloaf. This is a riff on a recipe I found in Bon Appetit magazine several ago. What I like about it is that it is not tomato sauce/ketchup based, but rather veggie and herb-based. It’s quite tasty and the whole family loves it. It has a lot of flavor and stands alone quite well—no need for a topping or a sauce. It’s also really nice for leftovers. We eat about half of it for dinner and then spend the next few days using it for lunch and snacks.

It’s made in a small 1 lb loaf tin—which I’ve been using a lot lately ( and is used in my new book).  I haven’t use a larger 2 lb loaf tin (the conventional 9 x 5 in tin) for this recipe, so I can’t advise you on using that. But, if that’s the only one you have and you want to experiment–go ahead and experiment and tell me how it went!

One thing I’ve done with this recipe is make sure all of the veggies included are cooked before they go into the meatloaf. I have discussed before on the blog that I have Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) and therefore I am allergic to most fruits, veggies, and nuts if they are raw. But I am fine with them as long as they are adequately cooked.  Since they don’t cook very much within the meatloaf, I cook them before I put them in.

Even though this recipe has several steps, it’s easy to do the preparation one night (or earlier in the day), stick all of the ingredients in the fridge for up to 24 hours, and then compile and bake them later or the next night. That way I can just mix everything and pop it into the oven on a night when I need a quick dinner.

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Silvanan's GF DF bookcover

Today I have a review of one of my new favorite cookbooks on the market: my pal Silvana Nardone’s  new cookbook, Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since I got my hands on her first book, Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals which she wrote when her son was diagnosed as gluten-sensitive and was told to also eat dairy free to help his body heal from the damage gluten had been causing.

I’ve known Silvana since around the time she came out with her first book and then when she launched her online gluten-free magazine, Easy Eats (which is sadly defunct). I had the good fortune to get to know her and be able to write for the magazine.

With Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen, Silvana has brought us another excellent cookbook. I often get questions about what “general” gluten-free cookbooks (i.e., not just baking) I recommend–and this is now one of them. Importantly for me, as a former pastry chef and bakery owner, Silvana knows her baking stuff. And as a mom, she knows how high of a bar kids have for food–especially gluten-free and dairy-free food.  With this book, she has perfected family-friendly recipes that are wonderful for meals throughout the day. Because Silvana’s son is dairy-free, she has to avoid or find substitutes for dairy (like many other gluten-free people) in addition to gluten. This is not easy–but Silvana has done her homework and has developed recipes that will pass the taste test for anyone.  One of my favorite lines from the book is: “Reclaim the rights to your favorite foods now”—to which I say a resounding “Yes!!” We gluten-free (and dairy-free) folks not only want, we deserve our favorite foods.

I think I’ve told you that I tend to mark recipes I want to try or have tried/loved with Post-It notes along the edges of the cookbook. As per usual with my favorite cookbooks, my copy of this book is a forest of Post-It notes. In fact, I’m not really sure if they are all that helpful anymore—because I think I’ve marked just about every recipe!

Her book covers meals and snacks throughout the day.  It starts off with a Pantry Essentials section that I find to be quite helpful. This section includes a list of flours, gluten-free “dough enhancers,” dairy free “enhancers,” and miscellaneous off-the-beaten-track gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients that make meal preparing that much easier. She also includes a list of her favorite store-bought gluten-free and dairy-free products like breads, non-dairy cheeses,  milks, creamers, and yogurts, and non-dairy spreads and oils.

The rest of the book is divided by meal or meal components. It’s got:

“The Breakfast Club” (breakfast and brunch), including recipes for Classic Fluffy Pancakes, Waffles, Buttermilk Biscuits, and Blueberry Muffins, as well as Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes (kind of like a cinnamon bun in pancake form—yum!), Cinnamon Crunch French Toast Sticks (hello easy and yummy breakfast!) and savory options like Scrambled Egg Potato and Spinach Breakfast Tacos.

“Plenty of Dough” (breads) contains recipes for things like Pull Apart Rolls “Rye” Sunflower Seed Bread, English Muffins, Bagels, Bready Corn Tortillas and Salt Soft Pretzel Poppers.

“Let’s Get this Meal Started” (appetizers and salads) includes recipes for Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Béchamel (which I am planning to make for the Super bowl party I’ve been invited to—yay!), and Crispy Shrimp and Pork Pot stickers with Chili-Soy Dipping Sauce (I’m making this one on the weekend especially for my Chinese take-out loving husband), Corn Dog Nuggets, and Crispy Chicken Taquitos (something our family loves as a snack!).

In “You’ll Be Bowled Over” (soups, pasta, and rice) she gives us some classic and some welcome surprises—I was especially taken with the Chicken Cup of Noodles recipe. She also includes Nachos Mac and Cheese and One Pot Chicken-Parm Rice. Her “Meal Makeovers (Fake-Out Takeout; TV Dinners, and Restaurant Classics)” contains re-imaginings of classic takeout and quick meals like Mushroom Veggie Burgers, Moo-Shu Vegetables with Sesame Pancakes, Crispy Fish Sticks with Sweet-Relish Tartar Sauce.

“Sweet Success (Dessert Classics)” includes cookies like Slice and Bake Gingersnaps, and Black and White Cookies (I so remember those from when I lived in NYC!), to things like Brownie Bark (recipe below); Pumpkin Pie Cannoli and Cherry Pie Popovers. Finally, her “Back to Basics (Reinvented Baking Mixes and Dairy-Free Favorites)” chapter includes foundation recipes such as that for her gluten-free flour mix, her sandwich, bread, and pizza mix, homemade cashew milk, dairy-free condensed milk, and dairy-free sour cream.

While Silvana has recipes for her flour mixes in the book, she also has them for sale pre-packaged  if you just want to buy them instead of making them yourself.

One recipe that caught my eye over and over again as I flipped through the book is the Brownie Bark recipe.  It’s a reimagining of something called “brownie brittle” that is kind of a cross between a brownie and a crisp cookie. So, I made it–and it is fabulous! The recipe makes two fairly large (8 by 14 inch or larger) pieces of bark that are then broken up into smaller pieces.  The key is to spread the batter as thinly as possible on the pans (and you really do need to use 2 large pans).  It’s a good thing it makes a lot–because boy oh boy, is this stuff is addictive. The first pan of bark was gone by the end of the afternoon I made it. The second pan disappeared soon after—all three of us loved it! This recipe is definitely going into regular rotation here at our house.

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As you can see, this book is a hit with me and with my family! I highly recommend it! As Silvana says, use it to “Spoil yourself and your family while making new food traditions.”

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DSC_0990Happy Boxing Day!  I hope your holiday season has been merry and bright so far. We’ve had a lovely time here at Four Chickens with just the right mixture of busy and relaxed. We’ve had a nice mix of parties and time with pals, as well as time as a family. Girlfriend and I have been taking care of the cats (and turtle) of a knitting pal of mine. There are 4 cats and they all have different food and activity needs. Although it’s a lot of work, the menagerie is quite cute. It’s been so rewarding to win over the more shy ones—there is one cat who hides under the bed and has a hard time coming out even when he knows you have food for him. I’ve been trying to play with him with his favorite toy and I think he’s beginning to trust me. This is more of Girlfriend’s job (she is the one getting paid) so I’m mainly the transport to the cat house and the cat player-wither. The turtle floats around in his tank all day. I go over and say hi to him and chat with him for a while. Oddly, I think he listens to me.

We also did something different for my birthday this year. As you may remember, I usually agonize over how to have a birthday party without stressing out my pals or myself. This year we decided to have a Tuesday open house a couple of days before Christmas (which was a week after my actual birthday). This turned out to be perfect.   It was on a non-traditional day for a party, so folks weren’t booked. It was a couple of days before Christmas, so everyone seemed fairly laid back about work (at least as far as I could tell). To make it easy on ourselves, we ordered a few catered platters from Whole Foods (they are so good with food allergy issues and we have tons of them!), I made birthday cake.

It was just perfect. We had a nice stream of folks and everything was much more relaxed than normal, which meant that I got to hang out and chat with everyone.   The food was wonderful. We also decided  to let people help themselves to cake whenever they wanted (we didn’t do a big “Happy Birthday singing with candles thing), which further relaxed everyone. I loved it.

Christmas was very low-key. Our usual Christmas guests all had out-of-town visitors and couldn’t come for dinner, so we just had a hang-out-and-watch-movies-and-knit day. And I made a new dish for dinner: Chicken and Mushroom Casserole with Cider from one of my favorite cookbooks, River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall, from the fabled River Cottage cooking school and dining space in Dorset, England.  The dish was really, really good! One of our very favorite dinner recipes that comes from the book is the Baked Chicken Curry, which was also one of Girlfriend’s first meals that she made on her own.

Today Girlfriend took a pal of hers to see Big Hero 6 as a Christmas present.  We saw it a few weeks ago and Girlfriend loved it so much that she wanted to see it again with her best friend. While they were at the movie, I baked. And, it being Friday, I baked a coffee cake. This one is a Brown-Sugar Chocolate Chip-Pecan Bundt Cake. And it is spectacular. I adapted it from a recipe I cut out of a magazine (I think it was in an ad). The pecans are mixed with butter and a little sugar and sprinkled in your bundt pan before you scrape the batter in. This means that the pecans caramelize on top. The cake itself is not-too-sweet, moist with a tender, dense crumb that is dotted with chocolate chips. Also: I made it in a pan that was a Christmas present!

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Merry Christmas 2014

by Jeanne on December 25, 2014

D’Ahub, Girlfriend, and I want to wish you and yours a delicious and merry Christmas!

 

OldDesignShop_JollySantaPlumPudding

clip art from: www.olddesignshop.com/2012/11/free-vintage-image-jolly-santa-postcard/

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Shroom coverToday I want to talk about another misunderstood food that my family is crazy about: mushrooms. I have loved them since childhood, as has Girlfriend who, since she was tiny, has called them “toadstools.” Thus, I was thrilled by the release of the new cookbook, Shroom: Mind-bendingly Good Recipes for Cultivated and Wild Mushrooms by Becky Selengut. Once again, Becky has taken a subject (as she did for fish in and local/seasonal cooking in ) and written the heck out of it. Full disclosure: Becky is a pal of mine and I’ve known about this book since it was but a glimmer in her eye. We also shared the same agent. Once again, Becky has taken a subject (as she did for fish in her must-have Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coastand local/seasonal cooking in Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook (American Culinary Kitchen)and written the heck out of it.

This book is a fabulous resource book in addition to cookbook. It explains what mushrooms are (fungus), as well as their nutritional content (full of protein and with the most vitamin D of any non-meat food). It offers information on how to choose mushrooms, how to clean them, how to dry and then rehydrate them, how to freeze the few that can be frozen raw, how to make stock from them, and how to store them.

The book is then divided into chapters, each devoted to a single or collection of mushrooms in a genus, including: Button/Cremini/Portobello (which are all the same mushroom in different stages of development–who knew?); Beech; Oyster; King Trumpet; Shitake; Maitake; Lion’s Mane; Morel; Chanterell; Hedgehog; Porcini; Lobster; Black Trumpet; Truffle; Matsutake. Each chapter contains a fact sheet on the mushrooms, which describes the mushrooms, their alternaive names, how they are cultivated or picked, how to buy, clean, and store them, nerdy factoids (I love these) as well as notes about flavor, texture, and aroma. These fact sheets are invaluable. I find them extraordinarily helpful as I’m planning meals and trying to figure out what taste sensations I’m going for in a dish. Then each chapter contains a variety of recipes using the mushrooms, as well as wine pairing suggestions from Becky’s sommelier wife, April Pogue. If you’re like me and really have no idea how to pair a meal with a wine, you will find this part a delightful added bonus.  On top of all of this, she has made a series of informational videos to go with the book.

Becky is a trained chef and knows her foods. She is brilliant at putting together the flavors for each recipe. In addition, she knows, has experience with, and has compassion about food allergies. She herself is sensitive to the allium family (onions and garlic). Where needed, she gives suggestions on how to substitute for gluten. Another full disclosure, she has recommended this blog in the book as a place to go for information on converting recipes to gluten-free (thanks, Becky!). I haven’t had a chance to try many of the recipes, yet (this is the story of my life, it seems), but the ones I’ve tried have been terrific.  Also, Girlfriend was as excited as I’ve ever seen her when I got this book–mushrooms are one of the things she requests a few times a week for dinner.  This book has helped me provide delicious answers to her requests in a non-boring way (up until now, my go-to mushroom recipes are to sauté them or make stroganoff).

In addition to being a smart food book, it is a pleasure to read. Becky is one of my favorite writers and her writing is smart and super funny. Early in the book she has a section called “What ‘Shroom Are You?” which is an hilarious question answer game that ends up designating the mushroom you are that night (it can change from night to night). And the photos are wonderful—which is a given since they are by Clare Barboza, who did the photos for my first book!

Shroom is a wonderful cookbook and resource and I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook shelf.

Note: if you buy the books via the above link to Amazon, I receive a tiny percentage of each sale :).

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Ms.-Wheelbarrows-Practical_with-frame

preserving by the pint cover amazonToday I want to talk about preserving. As you know, I am an avid canner and am part of a nationwide group dedicated to canning (Canning Across America). This year I am thrilled by the release of two books by two of my favorite preservers, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces by Marisa McClellan of the Food in Jars blog and Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving, by Cathy Barrow of the Mrs. Wheelbarrow blog. Both of these books are gems. Once again, full disclosure: I have been pals with both of these talented women for several years and have talked about their work on my blog. Not only am I friends with them, I am a fan of each. These two women are two of the most talented preservers around and I am elated to have their books in my preserving library.

With Preserving by the Pint, Marisa gives us a much-needed book on small space and small batch preserving. Canning can be overwhelming—and the notion that you have to buy a flat of fruit in order to try preserving can scare off the folks who might normally be interested in doing it. This book addresses that problem—and does so wonderfully. Most of the recipes here make one or two jars of preserved produce. This allows the city-dweller or the canner with not a lot of time on their hands to pick up a bag of fruit or veggies at the farmer’s market (or the grocery store), go home, and can it within a short amount of time. Heck, I’m an avid canner and have been known to spend the whole day canning dozens of jars in a day, but there are times when I just want to get into the kitchen and preserve something without a lot of hoopla.

As with her first book (Food in Jars—another must-have for the canning kitchen), Marisa not only provides recipes, she provides guidance on equipment, how to process your jars, and addresses all of the issues involved with canning: high acid vs. low acid produce, cooking times, testing for set, yields, shelf-life, and adjusting for altitude. The equipment section is brilliant because it shows just how little you need for small-batch canning. She recommends a pot called a “4th Burner” pot that comes with a basket that is perfect for small-batch canning–even though it’s not officially designed for canning (I think it was designed for veggie cooking). It’s a tall, thin pot that fits on a small or crowded stove top, and it works just perfectly for canning one or two jars at a time.  It is such a great tool—and it doesn’t take up much storage space. I invited my pal Jodi, who was interested in getting into canning, to Marisa’s book talk this past summer.  Jodi is someone who wanted to dip her feet into the preserving pond, but who didn’t want to invest in a ton of equipment just to can a few things.  This book, the pot, and Marisa’s recipes have turned her into an avid canner.  She is a knitting pal of mine, and it seems like almost every week during summer and fall she came to knitting group with another canning success from Marisa’s book. And, since she is a career gal living alone, she has no need (or time) for lots and lots of canned goods—one or two at time suits her perfectly!

The recipes are divided by season (including winter) and include both sweet and savory options. Some of my favorites are: Spicy Apple Cider and Mustard Glaze (for chicken or pork—yum!), Dilled Carrot Spears (my family loves these), Pickled Golden Beet Cubes, Blueberry Maple Jam, Salted Brown Sugar Peach Jam (!!), and Marinated Red Peppers. Actually, I will say that everything I’ve tried is my favorite. Marisa is one of my favorite canning recipe developers—everything of hers is meticulously tested and scrumptious. Each year I do a couple of canning demonstrations at farms and festivals in the area and I always use her recipes—they are easy, work every time, and taste so good.  Finally, Marisa sprinkles the book with recipes in which to use your canned items–perfect!

On the other end of the preserving spectrum is Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry.  It is an offshoot of Cathy’s fabulous Mrs. Wheelbarrow blog.  It is a huge and wonderful tome chock full of every type of preserving you can think of, including: both water bath and pressure canning; quick pickling; curing with salt, brine, smoke, and air; and how to make cheese. It’s all here.  No matter what you want to preserve–produce, meat, fish–as well as make your own cheese, this is the book for you. It is designed to answer all of your questions about these arts and to get you started. Cathy has information in each chapter on equipment, safety, troubleshooting problems, and carefully written steps and recipes on how to do each type of preserving.

In addition, she includes “bonus” recipes on how to use what you’ve put up, which are useful as well as being yummy. These recipes are for old favorites (Rugelach), or things that are twists on old favorites–she has a New Fangled Three Bean Salad in which she uses fresh green beans, Dilly Beans (from her recipe) and Canneli Beans (again from her recipe).   In addition, she has sidebars like the “Waste Not, Want Not” in Crushed Tomatoes recipe, where she includes how to use the scooped out gel and seeds to make tomato water—which can be used for a variety of purposes, including as the liquid in rice making or in bread baking, or for reducing to a syrup and using as a glaze for chicken or fish. Truly, this book is amazing in its scope.

I have only been able to skim the surface of treasures in this book, but so far my favorite recipes have been: Maple Bourbon Bacon (!!) with the bonus recipe for Candied Bacon, Sweet Pickle Relish and Dill Pickle Relish, Asian Style Plum Sauce, Spicy Pickled Okra, and Many Berry Pie Filling. One recipe I have yet to try but that I can’t wait for is the Canned Dried Beans recipe. I tend to use dried beans a great deal, and it would be wonderful to have some ones that I canned myself (so as not to worry about additives or chemicals in the cans). Also, I have not yet made cheese, but I am planning to do so this winter. Also, she has a recipe for making your own Pectin, should you not want to go the store-bought route. This, I think, is brilliant.

Truly, Preserving by the Pint and Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry are lovely additions (or starters) to your preserving cookbook shelf.

Note: if you buy the books via the above links to Amazon, I receive a tiny percentage of each sale.

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Brassicas by Laura B. Russell {Book Review}

by Jeanne on December 15, 2014

Brassicas-home-coverToday I want to talk about something a bit different: vegetables. I am lucky to have a family that loves vegetables. Further, we happen to adore the ones that are often the ones that other people haven’t figured out how to love yet,  brassicas.  So today I want to talk about the wonderful cookbook that highlights these veggies: Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables: Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and More, by Laura B. Russell.

Laura and I know each other from the gluten-free world (see my review of her first cookbook, The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen). This time around, Laura turns her recipe creativity towards the often misunderstood brassica family (which, of course, is naturally gluten-free). Brassicas include: kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, cabbage, radish, turnips, and rutabaga.

Luckily, D’Ahub, Girlfriend and I love just about all of these. And they have the added bonus of being extraordinarily healthy for you. Now, I’m not going to lie: I haven’t always loved this family of veggies. I grew up with a mom who cooked all vegetables (especially Brussels sprouts) until they were dead, dead, dead. I couldn’t stand them. My opinion of them until I was an adult was simple: Yuck. As you can imagine, they were on my “never, ever eating those disgusting yucky things ever again” list. Then, at some point, I became an adult and was introduced to Brussel’s sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and other brassicas that were cooked in ways that highlighted their deliciousness and I gradually became an ardent fan.

Much as I like them, I will admit that my repertoire for cooking them has been a bit limited. I usually roast or sautee them. But this gets boring. This is why I was so happy when Laura’s book came out. Finally I had a resource with a variety of recipes for each brassica category. I loved the book the second I got it. I attended a book talk where Laura made and shared some samples from the book. The recipe that sealed the deal for me was her Roasted Cauliflower with Pickled Peppers and Mint. In fact, I loved it so much that I bought the ingredients to make it on the way home.

One thing I really like about Laura’s books is that she has done her homework on her topic. In the beginning of the book, she has an invaluable chart that lists the “flavor profiles” for each brassica, ranging from “Mild” (including bok choy and cauliflower) “Stronger (including broccoli, cabbage, kale), “Peppery (including arugula, radishes); to “Pungent” (horseradish and wasabi). I find this categorization quite helpful when I’m planning meals. In addition, she has a “Taming the Beast” section that talks about how to approach the flavors of these strongly flavored vegetables and how to use them in balance with the other flavors in a meal, how to compliment and accentuate the bold flavors, and how to use heat to tame and mellow the flavors. There’s a “Universal Pairings: Brassicas’ Best Friends” section that lists more than 30 ingredients that mate well with brassicas. Of course, there’s a section on how to select and store them, as well as how to wash and cut them.

Then each chapter contains a wonderful collection of recipes for each brassica (or family of brassicas). Each chapter contains appetizers, salads, soups, sides, and main dishes. Thus, you are given a host of ways to prepare the vegetables. Most of them use fairly simple and straightforward preparation techniques—so you don’t have to run around looking for weird ingredients or trying to figure out advanced cooking techniques.

Truly, I’ve loved everything I’ve made from this book. In addition to the cauliflower and peppers recipe above, a few more of my favorite recipes are: Kale and Sweet Potato Saute—which is quite simple to make and then you can use as a topping for corn tortillas; Kimchi Pancakes, for which she has a recipe for making your own kimchi if you don’t want to use store-bought; Wilted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Tomato; Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette; and the Spicy Noodles with Wilted Watercress.

In a nod to her gluten intolerance, in each recipe Laura offers tips on how to make it gluten and wheat-free if it already isn’t.  Then, in the back of the book, she includes an incredibly handy “Special Diets Table” that lists each recipe and whether or not it is vegetarian, vegan, as well as whether or not it contains meat, fish, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, coconut, or sesame.   This is so useful when you or folks for whom you’re cooking need to avoid any of these ingredients.

This is a terrific cookbook and resource book for an under-appreciated family of veggies–it will change the way you think about them!

Note: if you buy the book via the above link to Amazon, I receive a tiny percentage of the sale.

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FlavorFlours_cvr_flat_06-18_LO-220x284
Hi there! Long time, no see! I hope you are enjoying this festive season!

For the next few posts, I want to talk about this year’s cookbooks I recommend. Every year there are a zillion books that come out—and I want to get all of them. Unfortunately, D’Ahub and Girlfriend need some space for their books, too, so I have to limit myself to certain categories. The categories I’ve chosen for this year are: baking (duh), gluten-free baking (more duh), canning and preserving, vegetables I like, and tea. I think that covers all of my favorite food groups.

Today I want to talk about Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours, by Alice Medrich with Maya Klein. This book is a must-have for the baker—gluten-free or not. Medrich and Klein created a book that is not only full of wonderful (gluten-free) recipes, but a book that explores and takes advantage of the flavors and qualities of each individual flour. This is a game changer.

There are a lot of books out there that use a variety of gluten-free flours for baking, but this one is different because it pays particular attention to the flavor profiles of the flours and the ingredients with which they are paired. Each chapter is based on a flour (Rice, Oat, Chestnut, Teff, Corn, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Nut and Coconut Flours). And, at the beginning of the chapters there is a description of the flour and its historical and geographic provenance. What I find extraordinarily valuable is that this introductory information also includes a “Flavor Affinities” section for each flour.  Here Medrich and Klein have done their homework and have provided the other ingredients that play well with each flour, including things like butter, various nuts, fruits, and spices. This is invaluable information.  They then provide a series of recipes that capitalize on these flavor partnerships.

When I first get a new cookbook, I go through and put a Post-It note on each page with a recipe I want to try. Of course, I followed this procedure here. The problem I had here: There is now a forest of Post-It notes coming off of the pages of Flavor Flours! I want to make all of the recipes—even for things I wouldn’t normally want to bake. For example, I was immediately drawn to the Corn Flour Tea Cake With Currants and Pistachios. I am generally not a major fan of corn, pistachios, or anise seed.  But it turns out that the combination is a knock-out! I had the honor and pleasure of baking for a book event for Medrich when she was in town—and I made this cake. It was a hit. People asked for seconds and thirds. Of course, it has now come into regular rotation at our house.

In addition, the authors include a nice variety of baked items: tea cakes, brownies (of course there is chocolate here! The Teff Brownies are to die for), crepes, waffles, layer cakes, tarts, cobblers, scones, cookies, and meringues. I’m always looking for different baked goods to take to parties or for when friends come over and this book has provided me with a plethora of options for every type of occasion and taste preference.

Full disclosure: over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Alice on a personal basis. When she comes to town, we get together for breakfast or lunch and chat about life and baking. You can imagine what a thrill this is for me: I’ve been a die-hard fan-girl of Alice’s for years and years. I have every one of her books. She is one of my “Baking Goddesses.” I feel beyond lucky that I can now call her a friend and a colleague. Each time we chat, I am struck by how thoughtful she is about the craft of baking. Of course, she tests her recipes like crazy—she is known for this and her excellent books reflect this. And she is always open to learning. For this book, I am enormously grateful that even though she eats wheat, she is respectful of gluten-free folks and asks questions that allow her to create recipes that are delicious and that address needs of the gluten-free world. In addition, her writing and researching partner, Ms. Klein, is gluten-free and is dedicated to getting it right. I am so thankful to them for creating this book—and I highly recommends that you add it to your baking shelf!

(Note: if you buy the book via the above link to Amazon, I receive a tiny percentage of the sale)

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