Posts from October 2012

Sesame Absinthe Cigars, Perpect for Dunking Cookie Recipe from Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

I have heard so much praise heaped on Blue Bottle Coffee including on their 'Gibraltar' by Daniel Patterson in his 10 do's and don'ts of San Francisco that I was delighted when a copy of The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, Growing, Roasting and Drinking with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, October 2012) by James and Caitleen Freeman with Tara Duggan landed in my mailbox.

I hope to have a chance to discuss the exact science that makes a great coffee with James Freeman soon.

In the meantime, here's one of the 'perfect for dunking' recipes from Caitlin Freeman that appear in the book.

Sesame-Absinthe Cigars

Makes 24 cookies 

Hands-on time: 40 minutes

From start to finish: 1 hour

Substitutions: You can substitute Chartreuse, Sambuca, or any anise-flavored liqueur for the absinthe. To omit the liqueur altogether, use water for brushing; add 1 teaspoon anise seeds, crushed in a mortar, to the flour mixture; and add 1 tablespoon of whole anise seeds to the sesame seeds for rolling. 

13/4 cups (8.6 oz / 245 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

1/2 cup (3.5 oz / 100 g) sugar

11/4 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup (80 ml / 71 g) extra-virgin olive oil

2 eggs (3.5 oz / 100 g), at room temperature

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup absinthe

1 cup (5 oz / 142 g) sesame seeds

Sesame-Absinthe Cigars

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.

Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the flour mixture, then pinch and rub the mixture between your hands until it has the texture of fluffy cornmeal; this should take about 5 minutes.

Make a well in the center of the mixture. Crack the eggs into the well. Add the 1 tablespoon of absinthe and, with a fork, immediately begin whisking the eggs vigorously to incorporate the absinthe before it curdles the eggs. Begin mixing the flour mixture into the eggs, working it in gradually until fully incorporated.

Generously flour a work surface, then turn the dough out on the floured area. Knead until the color lightens significantly, the oil is fully incorporated, and the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes, adding flour only as needed to prevent sticking. If the dough looks greasy or pockmarked, keep kneading.

Put the 1/4 cup of absinthe in a small bowl. Put the sesame seeds in a separate small, shallow bowl.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Still working on a floured surface, roll each piece into a long snakelike rope, about 18 inches (46 cm) long. Cut into 6 equal pieces, each about 3 inches (8 cm) long. Dip each piece in the absinthe, then gently roll in the sesame seeds until evenly covered.

Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) apart.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until the sesame seeds are a very light golden brown but the cookies are still pale, rotating the pan midway through the baking time.

Let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing.

Serve either warm or at room temperature. Cooled completely and stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies will keep for up to 2 days.

(* Recipe reprinted with permission from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes, by James Freeman, Caitlin Freeman, and Tara Duggan, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: Clay McLachlan © 2012)

Zombier Cerveza For Halloween, Zombreaker Imperial India Pale Ale, A Spanish Brew

To celebrate its first anniverary, Zombier, a Spanish beer distributor in collaboration with Nabarpier adds Zombreaker, an Imperial India Pale Ale to its line-up of Indie brews.


'Zombreaker' was introduced on September 15 yet it could add a little hop to any Halloween party


(* Images from Zombier site, in Spanish language only)

Sandy Stress Therapy, Pineapple-Thai Basil Champagne Cocktail by Ming Tsai

With Simply Ming in Your Kitchen, 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn and Cook (Kyle Books, October 2012) Ming Tsai  in collaboration with Arthur Boehm takes the interactive route. Each recipe includes access to an online video and free shopping list via a matching QR code.

A day after hurricane Sandy landed, sitting down with a fresh cocktail sounds like good stress therapy.

Pineapple–Thai Basil Champagne Cocktail

I can’t think of a better preface to a meal than a kir royale. So, being me, I wanted to create my own version. This is it – a wonderful combination of Champagne, pineapple and basil. Though Champagne is first choice, you can use a good bottle of any sparkling wine and you’ll still have a great drink. 

Serves 1 

Pineapple-Thai Basil Syrup

1 cup turbinado sugar

2 cups fresh pineapple, diced

4 large Thai basil sprigs, plus 1 for garnish

For Each Drink

6 ounces chilled dry Champagne

1 tablespoon Pineapple-Thai Basil syrup

Pineapple Kir Royale

1 Overnight or up to 24 hours in advance, make the syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, pineapple and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the pineapple is soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.

2 Very gently crush the basil leaves, but not the stems, in your hands. Add to the syrup, remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Use the syrup immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

3 To make the cocktail, spoon 1 tablespoon of the syrup with a handful of pieces of pineapple into a Champagne flute. Slowly pour the Champagne into the flute, garnish with a fresh basil sprig and serve.

Ming’s tips:

The syrup recipe yields about 3 cups, enough for 24 drinks. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. The leftover syrup can be combined with sparkling water or club soda for a non-alcoholic drink, or use the syrup as a garnish for grilled chicken breasts with a squeeze of lime.

Feel free to use a less expensive sparkling wine in this recipe as well.

Video tip:

Watch the video to learn my simple technique for prepping pineapple.

(* Recipe from 'Simply Ming in Your Kitchen, 80 recipes to watch, learn, cook and enjoy' by Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm - Kyle Books, October 2012- photography by Bill Bettencourt, reproduced with permission of the publisher)

Lusty Fall Flavors, Mushroom and Truffle Festival, CinCin Restaurant, Vancouver, Nov 1-30

With wind howling outside my windows and zero chance I will go out to eat as Sandy is about to hit the Jersey Shore, I find comfort in small things like the annoncement by CinCin Restaurant in Vancouver of its 8th annual Mushroom and Truffle Festival.

It kicks off on November 1, 2012 and runs all month.

Chef Andrew Richardson counts "spicy and aromatic matsutakes, golden and bluefoot chanterelles, as well as lobster, trumpet, oyster and cauliflower mushrooms" on his fungi palette.

Bone Collection as Interior Decorating Element, Halloween Flavor, Life of a Bowerbird

Each and every book that lands on my desk is not all about cooking. 

Such an exception is The Life of a Bowerbird 'creating beautiful interiors with the things you collect' (Harper design, October 2012) by Sibella Court.

Before writing more in detail about the book which invites us to take our collections out of cabinets and closets and display them and with Halloween a few days away i introduce you to 'The Life of a Bowerbird' with this image of a 'bone collection'.


(* From 'The Life of a Bowerbird' by Sibella Court- Harper Design, Fall 2012 - photo by Chris Court, reproduced with permission of the publisher)

Motepata, Andean Hominy and Pumpkin Seed Soup from Gran Cocina Latina

Before I have the chance and pleasure to meet Maricel Presilla to talk about her all around take on Latin American cuisine, Gran Cocina Latina (WW Norton, October 2012) here's a recipe excerpted from book.

Andean Hominy and Pumpkin Seed Soup 


During most of the year, Cuenca is a quiet Andean town, the temple of Ecuadorian belles lettres, a bastion of civility. But during the three days of carnival before Shrove Tuesday, it turns into a madhouse, where revelers are given carte blanche to soak anyone who crosses their path. Bakers come out of their shops armed with big kneading tubs full of water. Little ladies who otherwise would not dare to offend anyone reach out from their balconies and gleefully hurl buckets of water onto any passersby.

Those who prefer to stay dry plan ahead and stock up to avoid last-minute trips to the market. They stay at home, eating home-baked bread and motepata, a succulent soup of mote (hominy) thickened with pumpkin seeds that is never missing during carnival. In Spanish, the name sounds as if cow’s hooves, patas, were involved, but this is just a coincidence. The word is actually derived from the Quechua word for a kindred dish called motepatashca,

in which mote is cooked down almost to a mush. Motepata is creamy because of the addition of milk and ground pumpkin seeds.

Cook’s Note: Normally the mote for Andean hominy is soaked overnight before cooking. But if you don’t have time to do this, you can streamline the process in a pressure cooker. Place 1 pound Andean corn for mote and 2½ quarts water in the pressure cooker, lock the lid, and heat over high heat. When the valve begins to whistle, lower the heat to medium and cook for 1½ hours. Drain.

Serves 6 to 8

For the Hominy 

Andean Hominy (page 251; see Cook’s Note above for streamlined pressure-cooker method)

For the Meat

1 pound pork shoulder or boneless butt, cut into 2-inch pieces, or meaty boneless pork chops

2 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

For the Cooking Sauce

3 tablespoons achiote-infused corn oil (page 89)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ small white onion, finely chopped

½ small red onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

For the Thickener

1½ cups whole milk

1⁄3 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (about 1½ ounces), roasted

1 teaspoon dried oregano 


Preparing the Hominy ▶__Prepare the mote by either the traditional or the pressure-cooker method. Set aside.

Cooking the Meats ▶__Place the pork, water, salt, and pepper in a medium pot and cook, covered,

over medium heat until fork-tender, about 1¼ hours if using pork shoulder or butt, 45 minutes if using

pork chops.

Preparing the Cooking Sauce ▶__Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until rippling. Add

the garlic and sauté until golden, about 20 seconds.

Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat.

When the meat is tender, stir the sauce into the pot and add the hominy. Bring to a gentle simmer.

Meanwhile, place the milk and pumpkin seeds in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Finishing the Soup ▶__Stir the pumpkin seed mixture into the pot, bring to a simmer, and cook,

covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the soup thickens lightly. Sprinkle with the oregano just before

serving. Serve in soup bowls, with Cuenca’s White Sandwich Rolls (page 589).

(* Recipe from 'Gran Cocina Latina' by Maricel Presilla- WW Norton, October 2012- reproduced with permission of the publisher)

Hungarian Red Cherry To Pulla, A World of Peppers at Jardin des Plantes, Toulouse

Following a 2 hour tour of the Museum (Museum of Natural History) in Toulouse, we walked into the Jardin Botanique which is right outside the museum's wall.

Food was on the menu with a row of peppers from around the world.

From Hungarian Red Cherry (from Hungary, below) described as firm and crisp and best eaten raw

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To Pulla, an ancient variety from Mexico that turns from green to red with a thin shiny skin....

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Of course, local hero Piment d' Espelette was part of the line-up.

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All peppers are rated for their 'fire' using Scoville scale.

While Hungarian Red Cherry was a 4 to 5, Pulla ran all the way up to 9.


Greek Mezze, Roasted Red Pepper Saganaki from Country Cooking of Greece

After previous recipe from Lebanon, I stay within Mediterranean region with first bite from The Country Cooking of Greece (Chronicle Books, September 2012) by Diane Kochilas.

Roasted Red Pepper Saganaki, Saganaki me Piperies Florinis

Serves 4 as a meze

Roasted red peppers are a natural match for all sorts of cheeses, but especially the sour, briny kind like feta, and the naturally fermented cheeses such as galotyri and katiki. This recipe calls for accessible and tasty Kasseri. The sweetness of the roasted peppers pairs beautifully with the tartness of these and so many other Greek cheeses. This dish comes from northern Greece, where Florina peppers are a regional signature. Long and horn-shaped, they are in season at the very end of summer and into early fall. Florina peppers are usually consumed roasted. You can find them commercially in brine or olive oil.

2 red bell peppers, roasted, with their juice; or 3 roasted red Florina peppers in brine or olive oil, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup/60 ml extra-virgin Greek olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and sliced 1/8 in/3 mm thick
1 tbsp Greek sweet vinegar (glykadi) or balsamic vinegar
4 oz/115 g kasseri cheese, cut into small cubes

Roasted Red Pepper Saganaki

Set aside the bell pepper juices that have collected during roasting. Peel and seed the bell peppers and cut into ½-in/12-mm strips.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick frying pan. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, or until the onion begins to caramelize lightly. Add the roasted peppers and their juices, heat through, and stir in the vinegar. Continue cooking until the pan juices are reduced by half and almost syrupy.

Scatter the cheese over the onion–roasted pepper mixture, reduce the heat to low, cover the frying pan, and let the cheese and onion– roasted pepper mixture cook together for about 1 minute, or until the cheese is melted. Season with pepper and serve immediately.

(* Recipe reproduced with permission of the publisher from 'The Country Cooking of Greece' by Diane Kochilas- Chronicle Books, September 2012- Photos by Vassilis Stenos- all rights reserved)

Spoonfuls of Lamb Tongue and Tomato Stew from The Lebanese Kitchen

October is one of these months when books (mostly cookbooks) keep landing in my mailbox and I am trying without much success to keep up.

2 big heavy tomes are part of this week's wave.

First of these books that make a thud when you drop tham is The Lebanese Kitchen (Phaidon Press, October 2012) by Salma Hage.

With 500 recipes showcasing cooking styles from the all regions of the country and not just cosmopolitan Beirut, The Lebanese Kitchen is natural follow up to 10 Do's and Dont's of Beirut we published recently.

Lamb Tongue and Tomato Stew 

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 hours
Serves 4


1 ¾ lb/800 g lamb tongue
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste (purée)
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon seven spices seasoning
1 teaspoon pepper
Lebanese bread, to serve

Lamb tongue and tomato stew


Put the tongue, bay leaves, and salt into a large pan, pour in boiling water to cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 4 ½ hours or until the tongue is very tender. Remove the pan from the heat, then drain the tongue and let cool. Carefully peel off the skin from the tongue and discard. Cut the meat into chunks. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Add the meat, tomato paste (purée), basil, and all the spices and stir well. Pour in boiling water to cover and bring back a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 20 minutes until the tomato sauce has reduced and thickened. Serve immediately with Lebanese bread.

(* Recipe from 'The Lebanese Kitchen' by Salma Hage- Phaidon Press, October 22, 2012- reproduced with permission of the publisher)

Binder Full of Recipes, Microbrew Braised Rutabagas from Roots by Diane Morgan

With all the fall food titles coming to a bookshelve near us, I am finding myself looking at a binder full of recipes to share with you all.

Besides 225 recipes, Roots (Chronicle Books, September 2012) by Diane Morgan serves us a large helping of the "history and lore of 29 major roots, their nutritional content, how to buy and store them, and much more, from the familiar (beets, carrots, potatoes) to the unfamiliar (jicama, salsify, malanga) to the practically unheard of (cassava, galangal, crosnes)". 

Here's a recipe you can try with one of your Oktoberfest brew picks. 


Who knew? With a little experimentation, I’ve discovered rutabagas and beer are made for each other. Add this side dish to a wintertime menu that features roast pork, grilled sausages, braised brisket, or even roast chicken. A porter-style beer works best, delivering a rich malt flavor without a bitter finish.


2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, about 12 oz/340 g, thinly sliced
2 tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
½ tsp ground Aleppo chile
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 lb/910 g rutabagas, ends trimmed, peeled, and cut into ½-in/12-mm wedges
One 12-oz/360-ml bottle porter-style beer
1½ cups/360 ml Roasted Root Vegetable Stock or canned low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

1 In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, melt the butter with the oil over medium-low heat until the butter is foamy. Add the onion and stir to coat evenly. Cover and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is evenly golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

2 Add the brown sugar, salt, Aleppo pepper, black pepper, and cinnamon and stir constantly until the brown sugar has melted and the spices are aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the rutabagas and stir to coat. Add the beer and stock, pressing down on the vegetables to submerge them. The liquid should just cover the vegetables. If it doesn’t, add more stock or water as needed. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat until the liquid is at a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in the oregano and thyme, re-cover, and continue to cook until the rutabagas are fork-tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rutabagas and onions to a serving bowl, cover, and keep warm.

3 Increase the heat to high and boil the braising liquid, stirring occasionally, until it reduces to about ¼ cup/60 ml and has thickened to a syrup consistency, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, return the rutabagas and onion to the pan, and toss to coat in the sauce. Heat until the vegetables are hot and then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately.


You can meet Diane on her Eat Your Roots Book Tour, details on Diane Morgan Cooks...

(* Recipe from 'Roots, The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes' by Diane Morgan -Chronicle Books, September 2012- reprinted with permission of the publisher)