Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Can't Cook Book

The third cookbook from our girl Jessica Seinfeld is out, written for a certain crowd - the Can’t Cooks – with over 100 foolproof recipes. Below are a few of our favorites from The Can’t Cook Book: Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified!.
Jessica Seinfeld's book
But first, a few words from Jessica.
"Are you one of those people who screams in terror at the suggestion of cooking? Do you harbor guilt and shame because you know cooking costs less and is better for you, but still see it as a dreadful experience? Or are you just looking for new, simple recipes to get you in and out of the kitchen quickly, yet somewhat healthfully? Are you somewhere in between? I wrote this book for you. All of you."
"Over the years, I've gotten lots of calls from friends asking me to get them through a meal. So often, I’m walking the streets of Manhattan, spouting off recipes and instructions. I realized I should give them recipes written just as I speak them –without tons of cooking jargon, only a few easy steps and without difficult techniques."
"After writing and handing off these recipes, I asked my friends for follow-up notes on where they got tripped up. The seeds of the Can't Cook mindset come from those notes. Also, living with a Can’t Cook means I have a permanent lab rat in my husband in understanding what is difficult for even the most organized, thoughtful, and accomplished person (btw, "lab rat" is his term, not mine)."
"I created this guide for those born without the culinary gene. I meant it to be the first cookbook for the beginner cook or the prequel to the cookbooks collecting dust in the kitchen. It certainly acts as a prequel to my first two books. All of these recipes are designed for your ease, comfort and success. Using just a few ingredients, little in the way of equipment and gear, and minimal steps and as little knife use as possible, I've got 100+ recipes in here just for you."
"I've watched these recipes work time and time again for the most fearful kitchen-phobic novice. It's time to take the shoes and newspapers out of your stove. Let's fire it up, Honey. We're going in."
Jessica Seinfeld
Jessica Seinfeld

Monday, October 28, 2013

Whole Wheat Croissants

Posted: 28 Oct 2013 David Lebovitz

Homemade Croissants

Although there’s some dispute as to where the croissant was invented, it’s become an iconic symbol of Paris. Or at least of Paris bakeries. The most popular story claims that croissants were invented in Austria, during (or after) a period of conflict with Turkey in the 1600s, whose symbol is a crescent. And people were happy to bite into, and chew, a pastry representing their nemesis.

Homemade Croissants

Food everywhere is wrapped up in lots of “who made what”, and there are endless discussions about what belongs to who, who made it first, who makes is better, who is allowed to claim it, and who has permission to use it. (And so far, I haven’t seen any signs of an international organization overseeing all of that.) So depending on who you believe, it may have been the Austrians, the French, or another butter and pastry-loving country. But it’s hard to imagine Paris without croissants.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

La F-bombe

Posted: 25 Oct 2013 - David Lebovitz
grasse de phoque

A wave of Americanism has been sweeping through Paris over the past few years, from le street food (which, finally, is actually being served on the street) to a desire to remake Paris in the image of New York. Or more to the point, Brooklyn.

Brooklyn in Paris

I don’t quite know where this came from, but I do wish it would stop. Granted, in the US, we have our share of “French-style” kitchen gadgets (most of which I’ve never seen in France) and croissan’wiches (which I am now seeing in France), but hopefully we still have enough international goodwill so the French will overlook some of our infractions. Yet a new trend has been sweeping through France and I’m not sure it’s building much goodwill in the other direction, in spite of how benign they might think it to be.
(Speaking of good-will, I should probably let you know that even though I am too bien élevé, or well-raised as they say in France, and don’t have a potty-mouth, there are some pictures that use a 4-letter word in this post. So if that might be offensive to you…and I have to admit, they make me wince as well – although I don’t have a choice because they’re all around me – you might want to not scroll down or click after the jump, and skip this post.)

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Best salad recipes

Gourmet Traveller

Salads are perfect for spring, so we've collected some of our best salad recipes for the sunnier months. Dig in.

Plus, a taste of France in London; our favourite designer backpacks; we catch up with Remi Bancal from Hobart restaurant Remi de Provence; and your chance to win $15,000 worth of Siemens home appliances thanks to Margaret River Gourmet Escape or a trip to Europe thanks to Emirates!

Happy eating,

Anthea Loucas and the team at Gourmet Traveller

Monday, October 21, 2013

Moules Frites...

Posted by David Lebovitz: 21 Oct 2013 

Moules Frites

I once had a bad experience with mussels. I won’t recount it here, but let’s just say that during the course of several days, I became intimately familiar with each and every grout line, and the nuances of each and every tile, on my bathroom floor. After that, I vowed never to eat them again. It wasn’t until many years later, when I was in Bordeaux and I was cooking with a French chef I used to work with, who prepared moules de bouchot (small mussels which have protected AOP status in France) – where everyone was diving into a big pot of moules à la marinière, that I was able put that experience behind me.
Those particular mussels are prized because they’re especially tender and, according to reports at the time, were especially delicious as well. However that was lost on me, because I refused to eat them. That is, until a steaming pot came off the stove and everyone was oohing and aahing over them. Not wanting to be part of the outré crowd, I rolled up my sleeves and reached in.

Moules Frites

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Sunday, October 20, 2013


One of the great joys of being here in London is being able to buy and read hard copies of the Sunday papers. The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph are my two favourites but I also inevitably end up also buying The Independent on Sunday and The Sunday Times.

Included with The Observer today was their monthly food magazine and in it they named the winners of their various Best Of categories. I was especially interested in their Best Chef of the Decade. They named 10 nominees and then placed them in the following order:

1.Heston Blumenthal
2.Nigella Lawson
3.Ferran Adria (el Bulli)
4.Joan Roca  (Catalonia)
5.Fergus Henderson
6.Jamie Oliver
7.David Chang (New York)
8.Rene Redzepi (Copenhagen)
9.Gordon Ramsay
10.Alain Ducasse

Raymond Blanc: British cuisine catching up with French

Raymond Blanc, the chef, says France is "losing its strong food culture, while Britain is gaining one"

As well as simply food’s monetary value, he said that in Britain there was a growing acknowledgement of its impact on health. Photo: AFP
He is perhaps France’s most famous export to Britain and the best-placed authority on the comparative strength of the two nation’s food cultures.
So when Raymond Blanc says he believes that his homeland is a fading gastronomic power, while his adopted country is in the ascendant, it is a view which carries some weight.

The chef, who moved to the UK in the 1970s, said this country’s attitude to food was changing, with a growing appreciation of the importance of quality produce. It meant that, despite all the natural factors in its favour, France was “losing its strong food culture, while Britain is gaining one”.

Blanc, owner of the two Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, in Oxfordshire, added: “France has a number of advantages in food, like its climate, its geography, the knowledge and craft which has grown up over hundreds of years. It also has its history and its revolution which meant that it made food for everyone. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cooking Beans


Below are a few bean-based dishes we’ve cooked up lately plus some helpful tips on cooking with beans.
Cooking beans


1 cup of dry beans should be cooked in about 3 cups of water.
1 cup of dry beans yields about 2-3 cups cooked.
If beans require soaking, do so in cold water for 4-12 hours (generally, the bigger the bean the longer the soak time).
If you don’t have time to soak, cover beans with 2 inches of water and boil for 2 minutes.


Rinse and sort: Whether you're using dried or canned beans, rinsing the beans before you cook or use them is a good idea. If you’re using dried beans, be sure to sift through to make sure any shriveled beans or small stones are removed.
Boil then simmer: Always drop beans into boiling water, then immediately bring down to a simmer.
Cook with kombu: A staple in macrobiotic cooking and used to add flavor to broths in Japanese cooking, kombu (sold in dried strips at health food stores or Asian supermarkets) contains an enzyme that can help us digest beans. Also, adding a drop of vinegar or lemon to beans once they’re cooked can help with digestion (and adds flavor).
Cook clean: Wait to add your salt or acid (vinegar or lemon) until after the beans are cooked. Adding them to the water while they’re cooking can delay the process.
BPA-free: If you’re using canned, try to find cans that are BPA-free. Eden Organic is a great go-to option and they prepare their beans with kombu.

Five Books on French Cuisine

Posted: 17 Oct 2013 - by David Lebovitz

The Whole Fromage
The Whole Fromage

Look, I like cheese a lot. But didn’t think I could get into an entire book on the subject. And as I read the first few paragraphs of The Whole Fromage, my suspicions were almost confirmed and I was considering putting it down because, like cheese (which I’m surrounded by on a daily basis – and I’m not complaining!), a well-edited selection is usually my preferred way to enjoy it. Fortunately I kept going and found myself completely absorbed in the book on les fromage, the subject of Kathe Lison’s obsession. And her book is a series of interesting essays as she traveled around France, visiting cheese producers, from the mountains of the Jura to the caves of Roquefort.

It’s hard to write about cheese because the scents and flavors that come to mind, used to describe the taste and smell of les fromages, aren’t often very appealing; barnyards, cattle pens, rotting milk, and the laundry bin in men’s locker rooms after the big game, often come to mind. But Kathe Lison visited some of the most intriguing cheese regions in France – from Langres to Beaufort, and recounts her visits cheese caves, curd tastings, meetings with artisan cheese producers, and an occasional brush with a cranky character or two.

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