What I’m Reading Today

Happy Wednesday.  In case you didn’t have a chance to read my post earlier this week, I am doing a demo and book signing at the Union Square Williams Sonoma tonight.  Would love to see you there!

In the meantime, here’s what I’m reading.

It’s Bittman on Burgers in today’s NY Times.  These aren’t just any burgers-kicked up burgers like Pork-Fennel Burger, Shu Mai-Style Burgers, Curry Spiced Lamb Burgers, and a Beef Tartare Burger.  His secret across the board is grinding your own meat.  While a meat grinder is the preferred tool here, a food process works too.  It allows you total control over the amount of fat that goes in (more fat=more drip-down-your-hand-juiciness but don’t go too overboard).  He uses pork and lamb shoulder, with some of the fat, for the pork, shu mai, and lamb burgers and sirloin or chuck for his beef burger. These are traditionally tough cuts but the amount of fat in the meat makes them succulent when cooked just right.  Perfect for burgers.  He also seasons all the meat beyond simple salt and pepper.  Read the recipes then use your creativity to think of what else you might like.  Greek-style lamb burgers with feta and oregano, BBQ Pork burgers with sauce in the meat along with bits of bacon…I’m ready to fire of the grill.

 
Last night I taught the first week of my six week series called “Basics 1”.  We made about 10 recipes, capping it off with a stellar chocolate cake and homemade Philadelphia-Style Vanilla Ice Cream.  What made the ice cream so stunning were the two fresh vanilla beans.  The beans, plump and incredibly fragrant, imparted a vanilla flavor that no extract can provide.  Not only do the seeds fleck the ice cream with their signature dots but the pods, infusing in the ice cream base, give off more of that sweet flavor.  When you’re buying beans it is very important to make sure they are not dried out-this means they’ve been sitting around way too long and have lost their luster.  When you’re spending $3-$5 a bean, you want the best you can get!  In today’s Washington Post they explore not only the sweet but the savory side of the vanilla bean.  In the recipe for Vanilla Pork Chops With Grilled Peach and Fennel Salad the beans compliment the pork with a hint of sweet and smoke.  Of course they also have a recipe for Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream with Bourbon Fudge Sauce so if you want to keep your vanilla with dessert, you’re still all set.
(photo from Seven Fires by Frances Mallmann)
Sever Fires, by Frances Mallmann, is a book with some serious buzz.  A month or two ago I was eating breakfast at Out the Door and chef/owner Charles Phan had the book and told me he loved it.  A friend of mine, and cooking teacher, who’s from Argentina, said she used it with amazing success to create new recipes for a class.  A grilling book at it’s heart, the recipes are based on Mallmann’s “live fire” cooking, thankfully adapted for a home chef cooking indoors or out.  In today’s Chicago Tribune they published an amazing sounding recipe from the book,  Pork tenderloin with Burnt Brown sugar, Orange Confit and Thyme.  Clearly this is more work than throwing a steak on the BBQ but from reading the reviews, it sounds like the recipes from Seven Fires are well worth the effort.  Heck, if it’s still pouring or cold where you live you can even cook it inside.
Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!
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One Response to What I’m Reading Today

  1. Angie says:

    I can't wait to make a couple of those burgers – what a fun and interesting way to spice up and otherwise semi-boring dinner! Always a great post…..

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