Holly Holly Best Food Writing 2016 and The Hungover Cookbook, Book Distancing Number 4, Win 2 Books at Once

Holly holly, Best Food Writing 2016 and The Hungover Cookbook, make the cut for Book Distancing Number 4.

Each Giveaway is a Twofer, book cleaning before Spring.

First, all words, no illustrations, Best Food Writing 2016 (Da Capo Press) edited by Holly Hughes and featuring pieces by Todd Kliman, Dianne Jacobs and Oliver Sacks to name a few...

Best food writing 2016

Second, The Hungover Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2010) by Milton Crawford, title says it all

Hungover cookbook

Answer this question, and you win, first come first serve 

-Question: Name writer who called a hangover 'The Sewing Machine'

First come first serve.

E-mail your answers to: s.ls [at] mediterraneanworkandplay [dot] com

Book Distancing Number 4, Friday Giveaway, 

Get a Grande 'Polissonne' for 20 Euros at Maison des Vins du Minervois, Round and Carnal

When in France and whenever possible, I like to visit the local 'Maison des Vins' to taste and select a dozen or so bottles from the local producers always at 'wine lover' friendly prices.

My favorite so far have been the Gaillac and Angers outlets.

Next on my list I hope, when I don't know, should be Maison des Vins du Minervois ,  35 quai des tonneliers in Homps (Aude), near Canal du Midi.

Vin du minervois

I noted their selection of Magnums, including 'La Polissonne', a Grenache Gris-Roussanne white blend (2019) from Domaine JP Charpentier, round and carnal in the mouth according to tasting notes from La Maison.

(* Photo from Maison des Vins du Minervois Facebook Page)

Working Man Street Food, Harissa Couscous with Pine Nuts and Fried Eggs from Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous by Ghillie Basan

Working man street food in Morocco, Harissa Couscous with Pine Nuts and Fried Eggs recipe from Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous, 65 Delicious Recipes for Authentic Moroccan Food (Ryland Peters & Small) by Ghillie Basan.

Harissa Couscous with Pine Nuts and Fried Eggs

This is a tasty street dish, which is also popular in working men’s cafés in the markets and ports. It is great served for brunch or for a quick spicy snack late at night. If you want to create a meal around it, replace the eggs with one of the egg tagines, or serve it with pickled chillies and a yogurt-based salad.

Harissa couscous vegetable tagines


350 g/2 cups couscous

1 teaspoon sea salt

400 ml/1 2⁄3 cups warm water

1–2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons ghee, or 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 tablespoon butter

2 generous teaspoons Harissa *

a small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

4 eggs

sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper


12 dried red chillies (Horn or New Mexico), deseeded

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon sea salt

3–4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

a small bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

a small sterilized jar

Makes a Small Jar


Put the chillies in a bowl and pour over enough warm water to cover them. Leave them to soak for 2–3 hours, then drain and squeeze out any excess water.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the cumin and coriander seeds to a coarse paste with the salt. Add the garlic and pound until creamy, then add the chillies and pound to a thick paste. Stir in the fresh coriander/cilantro and bind with most of the olive oil.

Transfer the paste to a small sterilized jar and pour in the remaining oil so that there is a thin layer floating on top. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.



Put the couscous into a large bowl. Stir the salt into the warm water and pour it over the couscous. Stir once to make sure all the grains are submerged in the water, cover the bowl with a clean tea/dish towel and leave the couscous to absorb the water for 10 minutes. Rake the couscous with a fork to break up the grains.

Dry roast the pine nuts in a heavy-based saucepan, or the base of a tagine, until they begin to turn golden brown. Stir in half of the ghee until it melts, then add the Harissa. Tip the couscous into the pan and toss it in the ghee and Harissa, until it is thoroughly mixed.

Season the couscous, toss in half of the parsley, cover the pan and keep warm.

Heat the remaining ghee in a frying pan and crack the eggs into it. Cover the pan and fry the eggs until the whites are just firm.

Tip the couscous onto a serving dish, place the eggs on top of it, and garnish with the rest of the parsley, to serve.

Veg Tagines Cover

(* Recipe from 'Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous, 65 Delicious Recipes for Authentic Moroccan Food'  by Ghillie Basan, © Ryland Peters & Small, Photography by Steve Painter)

Paris in 'Living' Color plus Grilled Cheese Please, Book Distancing Number 3, Friday Twofer

Book Distancing Number 3, Friday Giveaway, 

Each Giveaway is a Twofer, book cleaning before Spring.

Travel in pictures and Cheesy recipes today

First, Paris In Color (Chronicle Books, 2012) by Nichole Robertson

Paris in color

Second Grilled Cheese Please! 50 scrumptious cheesy recipes (Andrews McMeel, 2011) by Laura Werlin

Grilled cheese please

Answer 2 questions, and you win, first come first serve 

-Question 1: Wh0 can you associate with Chat Noir?

-Question 2:  What would you add to a Camembert and Comté sandwich?

First come first serve.

E-mail your answers to: s.ls [at] mediterraneanworkandplay [dot] com

Are you Crepe Ready, Chandeleur 2021 is Tomorrow February 2, Crepe Batter Recipe to Get you Going

Are you crepe ready?

Chandeleur 2021 is Tomorrow February 2.

Actually La Chandeleur always falls on February 2. 

I will make some for lunch, couples that it. Two crepes with in the middle (for me) a mix of cheese, eggs and ham.

I make my crepe batter an hour ahead of actually making crepes to give the batter time to rest.

Sweet ricotta crepes dolci

Ham is not a pre-requisite so make your own version, vegetarian if you wish. 

To help you get started, check this Starter guide to Crepes batter from Crepes50 Savory and Sweet Recipes (Chronicle Books, April 2012) by Martha Holmberg.

(*Illustration is 'Sweet Ricotta Crepes' also named 'Apostles' Fingers' from Dolci -Stewart, Tabori & Chang- October 2011 by Francine Segan, photography by Ellen Silverman)

Book Distancing Number 2, Friday Twofer Giveaway, Will it Waffle and The Italian Table

Book Distancing Number 2, Friday Giveaway, 

Each Giveaway is a Twofer, book cleaning before Spring.

Will it Waffle? by Daniel Shumski (Workman, 2014)

Will it waffle daniel shumski

The Italian Table by Ron Suhanosky (Kyle Books, 2011)

Italian table ron suhanosky

Answer 2 questions, and you win, first come first serve 

-Question 1: What sauce do you need for a Croque-Madame

-Question 2:  What does Spiedini means?

First come first serve.

E-mail your answers to: s.ls [at] mediterraneanworkandplay [dot] com

Fatty Flaky Hungarian Comfort Food, Cheddar-­Bacon Pogacsa from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe by Michelle Polzine

Fatty Flaky Hungarian Comfort Food, Cheddar-­Bacon Pogácsa from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe 'Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake' (Artisan Books, October 2020) by San Francisco baker extraordinaire Michelle Polzine.

Cheddar-­Bacon Pogácsa (Hungarian Savory Scones)

This delicious yeasted “biscuit” is unique to Hungary, although similar pastries with similar names can be found all over the Balkans and the Carpathian Basin. Every Hungarian I have met has their own recipe for these, and they are usually a source of great family pride. The pastry may look like a cross between a scone and a biscuit, but these delightful morsels are so much more. They are leavened three ways—with yeast, lamination, and baking powder—to achieve a flakiness and prevent a heaviness that could otherwise be a pitfall with so many fatty ingredients wedged into one dough.

Cheddar Bacon Pogacsa 20th CENTURY CAFE

The addition of baking powder is not traditional, but it gives the dough a little extra lift. A trick I recently learned for laminating, or putting turns in the dough (as for croissant and puff pastry), is to actually cut the dough and stack it to create the turns, rather than folding it, which is the way I was taught, and what I had practiced for more than twenty-­five years. This new technique makes for a much clearer delineation of layers, and you won’t end up with those wonky ones that happen in the folded parts of the dough.

Even though there is a ton of fat in this dough, the liquid from the cream and sour cream can still make it tough if you don’t respect the gluten and give the dough the proper time to rest between turns. If while rolling you feel it resist or spring back in any way, drop your weapon (I mean rolling pin), wrap up the dough, and chill it for 30 minutes before touching it again.

I like to make tiny pogácsa to serve as a snack with wine and larger ones as a morning or afternoon pastry. This is another recipe with interchangeable parts, so feel free to be creative, swapping out different cheeses or herbs for the ones suggested here, keeping your proportions in line with the ones listed, and make your own legendary family recipe!


Makes 18 pogácsa

4¾ cups (570 grams) all-­purpose flour

2 tablespoons (35 grams) baking powder

2¼ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon mildly spicy chile flakes, such as Aleppo (optional)

1 cup (237 milliliters) heavy cream

1 tablespoon crumbled fresh (cake) yeast or 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (241 grams) sour cream

1 cup (113 grams) grated cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)

¼ cup (10 grams) finely chopped chives

4 to 6 slices bacon, cooked and finely chopped

½ pound (226 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or nigella seeds or poppy seeds for sprinkling


Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, chile flakes, if using, in a large bowl and set aside. Pour the cream into a medium bowl and add the yeast to the cream. Add the sour cream, whisk to combine, and set aside.

Add the cheese, chives, and bacon to the dry ingredients and stir to combine, coating the ingredients in flour. Add the cubed butter and work it into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingers. Some butter pieces should be the size of peas, but some larger pieces are okay. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Use your hand like a claw to pull the dried ingredients into the creamy center and rake everything around, distributing the wet and dry bits evenly, until no dry or wet spots remain. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into a rectangle that is 1½ inches (4 centimeters) thick. Wrap in the plastic, and chill for 1 hour.

On a floured work surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle that is 13 by 24 inches (33 by 60 centimeters). Use a dry pastry brush to brush off any excess flour. Cut the dough into three 8-by-13-inch (20-by-33-­centimeter) rectangles, meticulously brushing off the excess flour. Stack the rectangles of dough on top of one another, then turn the stack so a short side is in front of your belly. This is the first “turn.” Roll the dough to an 8-by-18 inch (20-by-45-­centimeter) rectangle, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 to 45 minutes, until cold and firm.

Repeat the rolling, cutting, and stacking process two more times for a total of 3 turns, chilling after each turn.

When ready to roll and cut the pogácsa, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line two sheet pans with parchment.

On a lightly floured work surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a thickness of ¾ inch (2 centimeters). Using a sharp paring knife, score the dough diagonally in one direction, then again in the opposite direction to create a diamond pattern, cutting no deeper than ⅛ inch (0.3 centimeter).

Using a 2¾-­inch (7-­centimeter) round cutter, cut out the pogácsa and place on the prepared pans, spacing them about 2 inches (5 centimeters) apart. (The scraps can be gathered together, chilled or frozen, and rerolled once.) (The pogácsa can be made ahead and frozen before baking. Freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan until frozen solid, then transfer to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. They can be baked from frozen; just add a few minutes to the baking time.)

Brush the pogácsa with the beaten egg and sprinkle with flaky salt. Transfer to the oven and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(*Excerpted from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe by Michelle Polzine -Artisan Books-. Copyright © 2020. Photographs by Aya Brackett.)

Book Distancing Number 1, Friday Twofer Giveaway, Treats Truck Baking and Eat It Up No Fridge Waste Cookbook

Book Distancing Number 1, Friday Giveaway, 

Each Giveaway is a Twofer, book cleaning before Spring.

Eat It Up! no fridge waste cookbook (Da Capo Lifelong, 2016) by Sherri Brooks Vinton 

Eat it up

Treats Truck Baking Book ! (William Morrow, 2011) by Kim Ima

Treats truck baking

Answer 2 questions, and you win, first come first serve 

-Question 1: What can you do with carrots greens?

-Question 2: On brownie sheet, do you prefer corner, center or side?

First come first serve.

E-mail your answers to: s.ls [at] mediterraneanworkandplay [dot] com

Book Distancing, 2 Book Giveaway Each Friday, Starting Tomorrow Friday, January 22, Mostly Cookbooks

I will be practicing book distancing with 2 Book Giveaway each Friday until I run out of giveaways.

It will start tomorrow Friday, January 22.


A 2 question quiz will determine each weekly 2 Book winner.

Mary Kondo did not ask me to do it.

Low Tech Brew, Great Coffee Taste, You Can't Rush Taste, My Pick, Chemex Glass Coffee Maker

After my last coffee maker died, I was planning to buy a new, better, fancier one, I had somehow settled on the Brewsly 15 Bar (at just under $200).

Since it would take a week to 10 days for it to be delivered, I hit pause on my buy and decided to give the Chemex (6 Cups) Glass Coffee Maker a chance (around $45).

It was in stock at my local Williams Sonoma so I placed the order and picked it up a couple hours later.

Chemex 6 cups

After my first brew and sip, I was sold and decided to forgo getting a new machine.

It does take a bit more time, call it slow coffee if you wish, as you have to boil the water and pour it a couple ounces at a time.

You can't rush taste.

(* According to Chemex website, due to current high demand, it can take up to 2 weeks to receive your Coffee Maker if you order directly from them)