Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Cranberry-Pomegranate Mousse Pie For the Holidays

The perfect ending to Thanksgiving.
The perfect ending to Thanksgiving.

Dessert Person.

That’s the name of the new cookbook by Claire Saffitz, a New York-based pastry chef and former Bon Appetit test kitchen on-air personality.

It’s also how I would very much define myself.

Yes, I am one of those people, the kind who wholeheartedly doesn’t think a meal is complete without dessert — even if 20 savory courses preceded it. So, even after a mega feast like on Thanksgiving, I always look forward most to the sweet finale.

“Cranberry-Pomegranate Mousse Pie” is worth that wait, too.

As Saffitz acknowledges in her “Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, after a groaning holiday meal, you don’t necessarily want something especially heavy at the end. Nope, now that is not the time for bread pudding or cheesecake. What you want is something a little lighter, a little brighter, yet still pleasingly indulgent.

This pie is all that.

This recipe includes the best tip for making a graham cracker crust, too.
This recipe includes the best tip for making a graham cracker crust, too.

It’s one of the more than 100 exceptionally detailed recipes in the cookbook, which are imminently doable, and beyond tempting.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Miso Butter Onions

Onions meet butter meets miso -- with incredible results.
Onions meet butter meets miso — with incredible results.

Have you ever been tempted to devour a huge heap of onions for dinner?

Nope, me, neither.

Not until I discovered “Miso Butter Onions.”

Imagine onions saturated in butter and savory miso, until they become one, with a texture that is downright melty.

It’s a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, “Ottolenghi Flavor” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

In this latest cookbook, the London chef and co-writer Tara Wigley put the spotlight on plant-based dishes.

Through more than 100 recipes, Ottolengthi teaches how to amplify the natural flavors of vegetables by adding acidity, fat, sweetness or heat; or by using specific techniques such as charring.

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Hugh Acheson’s Roasted Eggplant with Tahini, Pomegranate, Parsley, and Pecans

A perfect technique for eggplant, courtesy of Hugh Acheson.
A perfect technique for eggplant, courtesy of Hugh Acheson.

You know that perfect eggplant consistency, where it’s so supple, it’s almost like custard?

It’s not always easy to achieve that texture.

But thanks to James Beard Award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, there’s a fool-proof method that will not only render it with that exquisite consistency but give it an edge of smokiness, too. And all without a grill.

Just put the whole eggplant in a 425-degree oven and let it do its thing for 45 minutes or so. It will emerge sublime.

That’s one of the techniques showcased in the new cookbook, “How to Cook: Building Blocks and 100 Simple Recipes for a Lifetime of Meals” (Clarkson Potter) by Acheson of “Top Chef” fame, who owns three restaurants in Georgia.

Acheson made sure his two daughters knew how to cook before they went off to college. In this book, of which I received a review copy, he showcases the foundational building blocks that every home-cook ought to master, such as knowing the proper way to cook rice, beans, poach an egg, make vinaigrette, pan-fried fish and roast chicken.

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Jacques Pepin’s Chicken in Vinegar with Garlic and Tomato Sauce

Jacques Pepin employs an interesting technique to cook this bistro classic.
Jacques Pepin employs an interesting technique to cook this bistro classic.

Whether it’s watching him on PBS or thumbing through one of his cookbooks, I never cease to learn something from Jacques Pepin.

A master technician who makes everything look effortless, and a cheerleader who gives the confidence to try any of his recipes handily in your own kitchen, Pepin continues to inspire in his latest cookbook, “Jacques P├ępin Quick & Simple” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy.

As the title implies, the book’s 250 recipes are fast and easy, with brief ingredients list. Pepin is not above using frozen pizza dough, canned beans or ready-made sponge cake in some of them, either.

As he states in the introduction, “This book is intended to make your life easier.”

It will, too, with recipes such as “Cream of Pumpkin Soup” that uses canned pumpkin, light cream and curry powder; “Cheese Tart,” made with a frozen pie shell filled with a mixture of eggs, ricotta and Gouda; “Mustard-Broiled Shrimp” that’s coated with honey mustard, dark soy sauce and Sriracha; and “Orange Bavarian Cream” what mimics fancy custard cream but is instead made with instant pudding mix, half-and-half, and melted vanilla ice cream.

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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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