What I’m Reading Today

School’s Out for Summer!  Last night I taught my last cooking class for the summer.  The group was with me for six weeks and as I told them, their Basics series was anything but “basic”.  An incredibly fun gang-keep up the cooking folks, I’ll miss you.

Hello Pavlova!  I’ve always loved the look of this dessert-is it not a stunner?  Channeling my inner- Australian, Donna Hay (the Pavlova is named for an Australian ballerina after all), I tried to make one this spring but it just flopped.  It looked ok but tasted so much more like egg than dessert.  I found this recipe, for Berry Pavlova with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Pistachios, in today’s Los Angeles Times and after seeing the photo I’m trying it again.  You’ll notice the pavlova shell calls for vinegar, critical in this recipe not for its tangy flavor (that shouldn’t even come though) but to give the meringue its soft marshmallow-like center.  Don’t leave it out!  Once I get mine down I’m going to play with size (love the idea of individual ones) and fillings.  Have you made one before?
Mark Bittman is at it again.  This time, in The New York Times, his now-signature 101 list is all about the grill: 101 Fast Recipes for Grilling.  Clean off that grill grate and be prepared to think outside the box-these aren’t just your typical burger or chicken recipes.  Some highlights?  Grilled Guacamole, Grilled Waldorf Salad, Grilled Duck à l’Orange, and Grilled Bread on a Stick with Olives and Tomatoes.  There’s even a video demo of his  “Actual Grilled Cheese“.  Fire up the grill-this stuff is going to be good!

 (photo from Fiesta at Rick’s by Rick Bayless)
I love Rick Bayless.  There, I said it.  It’s true-the guy is amazing.  Not only are his books, recipes, tv shows, and title as “Top Chef Master” all rock solid but he is actually incredibly nice.  When I used to do a lot of food styling I had an opportunity to work for him and he was the most appreciative and gracious personality I’d met in the culinary world.  I’m thrilled about his new book, Fiesta at Rick’sa title dedicated to celebrating with friends and food (think tacos, mole, ceviche, and margaritas).  There is a short excerpt in today’s Chicago Tribune including recipes for Garlic and Orange Grilled Guacamole (guess Bittman isn’t the only one throwing avocados on the BBQ) and Devilish Shrimp.  Add some frijoles, chips, and an icy margarita to the mix and you’ve got your own backyard fiesta.  OK, I’m off to the bookstore….
Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.
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