Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Pumpkin, Mustard, Cream — And Fall

A beauty of a red kabocha squash.
A beauty of a red kabocha squash.

As award-winning food writer Nigel Slater so astutely states in his newest cookbook, autumn and winter call for far different types of meals. With brisk weather and darker nights, they fairly demand more substantial and weightier fare to nourish and warm us through and through.

As his new “Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter” (Ten Speed Press) shows, though, that doesn’t necessarily dictate huge slabs of meat. In fact, in this cookbook, of which I received a review copy, he shows with 110 vegetarian recipes that even in the throes of deepest winter, you can feel mighty satiated with plant-based fare.

As always, his joyously descriptive writing is evident throughout, including in the introduction, where he unabashedly states, “There will be carbs. They protect and energize us. They bring balm to our jagged nerves.”

My kind of carbs -- fall-apart tender squash in a mustardy cream sauce.
My kind of carbs — fall-apart tender squash in a mustardy cream sauce.

Ah, a man after my own stomach.

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You Won’t Believe What’s In This Cornbread

Cornbread made with cornmeal, corn kernels, and...
Cornbread made with cornmeal, corn kernels, and…

Yes, this particular cornbread is thoroughly corny. In fact, it has three kinds of corn in it:

Cornmeal.

Fresh corn kernels.

And popcorn.

Yup, you read that right.

“Popcorn Cornbread” is featured in the cookbook, “All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019) by award-winning cookbook writer Molly Stevens.

Yes, popcorn!
Yes, popcorn!

This inventive recipe immediately caught my eye because it includes popcorn that’s pulverized in a food processor until it becomes popcorn flour. Whatever you do, just don’t sneeze or be near a fan when you make this flour because the particles are so light, that it doesn’t take much for them to go flying everywhere.

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Going Goaty, Part II: Angel Biscuits

Baking powder, baking soda, and yes, yeast, are incorporated into these airy biscuits that boast a deep flavor.
Baking powder, baking soda, and yes, yeast, are incorporated into these airy biscuits that boast a deep flavor.

Yeast in bread. Yeast in cinnamon rolls. Yeast in sticky buns.

But yeast in biscuits?

Yes, apparently so.

The unusual “Angel Biscuits” is from “Muffins & Biscuits: 50 Recipes to Start Your Day with a Smile” (Chronicle Books, 2017) by Heidi Gibson, owner of the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco.

These old-fashioned biscuits, Gibson writes in the book, used to be called “Bride’s Biscuits” — OK, yes, in a rather sexist way — because it was thought that not even just-married women new to cooking could screw them up.

That’s because these biscuits have not only baking powder and baking soda in them, but active dry yeast, as well. With three leaveners, it’s nearly guaranteed these puppies will indeed rise.

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Paula Wolfert’s Oven-Steamed Salmon

Cooked in the oven with a pan of water underneath, salmon fillets steam gently for a incredibly supple texture.
Cooked in the oven with a pan of water underneath, salmon fillets steam gently for a incredibly supple texture.

One of the great joys of summer in the Bay Area is the advent of wild king salmon season.

Few things can top the rich, lush, buttery, deep taste of this magnificent fish.

Generally, I’m all about grilling it, oftentimes on a cedar plank.

But when I spied this recipe for “Oven-Steamed Salmon,” I couldn’t help being intrigued.

It’s featured in the treasured cookbook, “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life” (Grand Central Life & Style, 2017). Food writer extraordinaires Emily Kaiser Thelin and Andrea Nguyen teamed with esteemed food photographer Eric Wolfinger to create this cookbook, which celebrates the delicious life work of Paula Wolfert, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013.

Wolfert learned this technique for salmon from the legendary French chef Michel Bras.

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You Want Me To Cook These Things For How Long?!?

Fresh Italian romano beans -- cooked perfectly for a crazy amount of time.
Fresh Italian romano beans — cooked perfectly for a crazy amount of time.

The first time I came across this recipe for romano beans, I did a double-take.

Even then, I couldn’t quite believe it.

That’s because it calls for cooking these meaty Italian broad beans on the stove-top for two hours. Yes, fresh beans, not dried, cooked for two whole hours.

“Long-Cooked Romano Beans” boggled my mind.

But I had faith. After all, the recipe is by the late-great Judy Rogers, and it comes from her seminal classic, “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook A Compendium of Recipes & Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant” (W.W. Norton and Company, 2002).

Surely, the chef who created the most perfect roast chicken of all time and so many other iconic California cuisine staples was worth trusting on this, even if in the back of my mind, I feared winding up with green beans as pallid as those from a can.

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