Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Going With The Grain Part II: Smoked Barley with Blistered Tomatoes & Burrata

Milky sweet burrata is the crowning touch on this smoked barley-charred tomato salad.

Milky sweet burrata is the crowning touch on this smoked barley-charred tomato salad.

 

If you’re a pyromaniac when it comes to cooking, this new cookbook is surely going to stoke your desire to light things up.

“Thank You for Smoking: Fun and Fearless Recipes Cooked with a Whiff of Wood Fire on Your Grill or Smoker” (Ten Speed Press) is not only a cleverly titled cookbook, but a very creative one, too.

The book, of which I received a review copy, is by Austin-based Paula Disbrowe, a grilling expert and veteran cookbook writer.

There are 100 recipes included. What’s really fun is that most go way beyond the norm of just throwing a steak or piece of chicken on a grill or in a smoker. Instead, Disbrowe really opens your eyes to possibilities you may never have even considered.

Just get a load of recipes such as “Smoked Arbol Honey,” “Dirty Martini with Smoked Castelvetrano Olives,” “Smoked Onion and Cheddar Tart,” Beef Tenderloin with Smoked Garlic Aioli,” and “Burnt Marshmallow Krispies.”

Thank You For Smoking

With its luxurious cream center that spills out of a ball of mozzarella, burrata is one of my favorite cheeses. So I just had to take a go at “Smoked Barley with Blistered Tomatoes & Burrata.”

Is it really worth it to set up a smoker and spend about 35 minutes to smoke barley grains?

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All Rise For Cheesecake Souffle

Presenting the souffle cheesecake with a Wine Country garnish.

Presenting the souffle cheesecake with a Wine Country garnish.

 

Japanese pancakes and cheesecake are having a lofty moment.

Their poofy, airy stature, as if they’ve just been inflated with a pump of helium, can’t help but be attention grabbers.

I’ve fallen under their spell, too. So how could I resist trying my hand at the recipe for “Cheesecake Souffle with Roasted Grape & Vanilla Gastrique”?

It’s from the lush, coffee-table-sized cookbook by Jackson Family Wines: “Season: Wine Country Food, Farming, & Friends” (Cameron & Company, 2018), of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook, which recently won a “Cookbook of the Year” award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, was written by Justin Wranger, executive chef of Jackson Family Wines; and Tracey Shepos Cenami, chef de cuisine of the wine company; with Tucker Taylor, director of culinary gardens at Jackson Family Wines (whom if you follow on Facebook or Instagram know posts some of the most beautifully vivid photos of fruits, vegetables and herbs that you’ll ever see).

Season Jackson Family Cookbook

Jackson Family Wines is one of the largest wine producers in the world, with a portfolio of 40 brands in California, Oregon and across the world.

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Modern Cauliflower Gratin — Lighter and More Flavorful

A gratin that won't weigh you down.

A gratin that won’t weigh you down.

 

Usually smothered in heavy cream and copious amounts of melty, gooey cheese, gratins are both comfort food and festive special occasion fare.

They’re also rich, heavy, and total gut-busters.

But what if they could be lightened — without sacrificing the luscious quality we love about them?

Leave it to the geniuses behind America’s Test Kitchen to do just that — at least with cauliflower gratin.

Meet “Modern Cauliflower Gratin,” an inventive take on the classic. It’s one of more than 700 innovative recipes in the new cookbook, “Vegetables Illustrated: An Inspiring Guide with 700+ Kitchen-Tested Recipes” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

Cooks Illustrated Vegetables

If you’re familiar with Cook’s Illustrated magazine, then you know all too well how meticulous these recipes have been tested until perfected. Although the book is called “Vegetables” illustrated, it doesn’t mean this is a vegetarian cookbook. While vegetables are dominant, many recipes feature meat or seafood, or make use of chicken broth.

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It’s Not Easy Being Green (Cake)

Blink twice -- because this cake is indeed green.

Blink twice — because this cake is indeed green.

 

The first thing my husband said when he spied this cake cooling on the kitchen counter was: “WTH!?!”

Yes, this is cake.

With mint.

And parsley. Loads of it.

All of which gets minced until it resembles churned up grass clippings. Then, it’s folded into a batter that ends up looking quite a lot like pesto.

Meet “Parsley Cake” from Katy Peetz, former pastry chef of Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

It’s from the cookbook, “Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake (Food52 Works)” (Ten Speed Press, 2018) by Kristen Miglore, creative director at Food52.

The batter goes into a rimmed baking sheet so it bakes quickly.

The batter goes into a rimmed baking sheet so it bakes quickly.

When I first spied this recipe, I knew I had to make it in time for St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, a cake the vivid color of moss clinging to an ancient castle couldn’t be more perfect for that holiday, could it?

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Andrea Nguyen’s Herby Oven-Steamed Eggs

This herby oven-steamed egg custard is one smooth operator.

This herby oven-steamed egg custard is one smooth operator.

 

One of the dishes I most fondly remember my Mom making when I was a kid was a Chinese savory custard, redolent of seasoned ground pork and with a surprise duck egg yolk the color of a Hawaiian sunset hidden at its very center.

I also remember her expression when it did not turn out perfectly smooth.

She’d wait till it was done steaming to lift the lid to reveal the outcome. If it had a bubbly interior, she would frown and fret — even if the taste was still delicious. But if it was as smooth as creme brulee, she would take it as a personal triumph.

I thought of my late-Mom when I spied “Herby Oven-Steamed Eggs” in the new “Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s the latest and greatest by my friend and colleague, award-winning Bay Area food writer Andrea Nguyen.

Vietnamese Food Any Day

As the name implies, this cookbook aims to streamline Vietnamese dishes so you can enjoy the vibrant flavors of the cuisine any day of the week without special trips to Asian markets.

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