Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Roasted Romanesco with Pistachios and Fried Caper Vinaigrette

Par-boiling before roasting results in deeply bronzed and crisp Romanesco halves.
Par-boiling before roasting results in deeply bronzed and crisp Romanesco halves.

It’s easy to be in awe of “Top Chef Canada” host Eden Grinshpan.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in London, she didn’t parlay that into a stint at any fancy restaurant. Instead, she went to volunteer at an orphanage in India, where she reopened a cafe to raise money and awareness about the children there.

Upon returning to New York, she co-created a Cooking Channel show, “Eden Eats,” which explored the global culinary scene. She even partnered for a spell on a fast-casual Middle Eastern cafe, DEZ, in New York.

This year, she debuted her first cookbook, “Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, that was written with Rachel Holtzman.

On top of all that, she also appears to have the most enviable collection of high-waist jeans around. Hey, just saying.

Of Israeli heritage, Grinshpan’s more than 100 recipes are colorful, playful, and accessible just like her personality. Middle Eastern cuisine as seen through her lens comes in such fun forms as “Sunchoke Hummus,” “Sesame Schnitzel Sandwich with Harissa Honey and Tartar Slaw,” “Sumac-Roasted Snapper with Lime Yogurt,” and “Salted Halvah Chocolate Chip Cookies.”

I can never resist crisp, charred veggies, so I zeroed in right away on “Roasted Romanesco with Pistachios and Fried Caper Sauce.”

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Rodney Scott’s Smoked Prime Rib

Have you ever smoked a prime rib low and slow? This recipe will have you itching to try your hand at it.
Have you ever smoked a prime rib low and slow? This recipe will have you itching to try your hand at it.

Rodney Scott has felt the blistering heat at the heart of a raging fire.

Both in front of the barbecue pit and in life.

In his new cookbook-memoir, “Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, this legendary pitmaster lays bare both his rise to success and the subsequent yawning chasm in his relationship with his father.

It’s a book that offers lessons in cooking, of course, but also in fortitude and perseverance.

What’s more, despite the legion of barbecue and grilling books that have flooded the market over the years, it’s also astonishingly billed as the first cookbook written by a black pitmaster.

About time.

James Beard Award winning Scott, chef and co-owner of the legendary barbecue mecca, Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, S.C.; Birmingham, AL; and Atlanta, GA, wrote the book with Lolis Eric Elie, a writer and filmmaker, and one of the founders of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Scott has led a hard-scrabble life, in which his family eked out a living growing soybeans, corn and tobacco on their farm in Hemingway, SC (population 400). It was at the family-owned store that Scott’s father got the idea to sell barbecue. He took charge of the pig while his wife made the sauce.

As his parents’ only child, Scott grew up helping on the farm and at Scott’s Bar-B-Q from a young age. In fact, he cooked his first hog at age 11, stoking the coals every 15 minutes in the wee hours by himself.

When Scott grew older and branched out on his own in Charleston, winning widespread acclaim in the process, he butted heads with his dad. Unfortunately to this day, their relationship remains strained.

You can cherish this book simply for the inspiring story of a man who worked his way up from nothing to the very top of the barbecue pinnacle. Or you can also relish in cooking from it.

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Celebrating A Rare Blue Moon

Adagio's Bella Luna Blue does indeed start out blue, but turns violet when you stir in lemon juice or other acid.
Adagio’s Bella Luna Blue does indeed start out blue, but turns violet when you stir in lemon juice or other acid.

If you’re an astronomy buff — and a tea aficionado — you’ll want to mark Aug. 22 on your calendar.

That’s when a rare Blue Moon will grace the sky.

It’s also the only day that Adagio Teas will be selling its Bella Luna Blue tea blend.

Yes, this special loose leaf tea, which commemorates this cosmic occurrence, is only available when there is a Blue Moon.

It’s a rather magical blend that brews up blue in color. But stir in a little lemon juice to increase the pH, and it will turn vivid violet-purple in a flash. How fun is that?

The herbal tea gets its blue hue from Butterfly Pea flowers. The longer the tea steeps, the deeper the color, too, as you can see from the sample I tried.

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A Unique Rice Cake

A showstopping crusty rice cake that's super rich and creamy within.
A showstopping crusty rice cake that’s super rich and creamy within.

As a kid, I remember feeling a little burst of joy whenever the rice steamed and rested just long enough in the hot rice cooker to build up crispy little bits on the bottom.

My mom would scrape them up and pile them on my plate, knowing how much I couldn’t resist the juxtaposition of soft fluffy grains with cracklingly crunchy ones.

Later as an adult, when I first tasted tahdig, the Persian rice specialty that guarantees a bottom crust of full-on golden crunchiness, I was even more smitten.

Now comes “Rice Cake,” which much like this inverted dish itself, I’ve completely gone topsy-turvy for.

It’s Persian goes Italian.

Or tahdig in the spirit of risotto.

As it’s fortified with a load of butter, Parmesan, and creme fraiche.

This amazing recipe is in the new cookbook, “Bavel: Modern Recipes Inspired by the Middle East” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by husband and wife, Chef Ori Menashe and Pastry Chef Genevieve Gergis, owners of the acclaimed Bavel and Bestia restaurants in Los Angeles. It was written in conjunction with Lesley Suter, the former food editor for Los Angeles magazine.

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The Best Southern Baked Beans

These beans may not look like much, but they are some of the tastiest I have ever made or had.
These beans may not look like much, but they are some of the tastiest I have ever made or had.

This is one of those times when a photo just doesn’t do justice to a dish.

But trust me when I say that these “Southern Baked Beans” are one of the very best bean dishes I’ve ever tasted.

And they are a cinch to make.

This keeper of a recipe is from “Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes” (Ten Speed Press, 2020) by Joe Yonan, the food and dining editor of The Washington Post.

I am not the biggest fan of traditional baked beans. They’re just way too sweet, and frankly, I’d rather save the sugary part of my meal for dessert.

What makes these Southern baked beans so miraculous is that they are not cloying at all, but deeply, profoundly savory with just a whisper of natural fruity sweetness from tomato paste. In fact, it’s rather astonishing the depth and complexity they take on, given how few ingredients are used.

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