Monday, October 29, 2007

Wine And Cookbook Reviews #1

In my last post, I talked about Anthony Bourdain's cookbook and told you about one of the recipes I fixed. After I did that, I told myself, Deb, you need to pay a little more attention to the wonderful collection of cookbooks that you have. They are screaming out to me to be brought into the kitchen and "played with"! In the past year, the inspiration for my cooking has been everyones wonderful blogs and the array of cooking and wine magazines that I subscribe to. So much that I have been completely ignoring my cookbook collection. Well, I am going to try and remedy that by choosing one cookbook a week or so, picking out a dish that looks appetizing, fix it and share my cookbook and dish with you. I also will pick up my wine books, find a wine out of those books and do the same thing. If I do all of my books, I will be blogging until...well, for the rest of this life! In doing so, if I happen to talk about a book that you might have in your collection and you have made a dish from it, let me know what you prepared from your book! When I did the chicken dish from Bourdain's book, Shaun at Winter Skies, Kitchen Aglow commented that he had the same book and that he was going back and revisit his book and check out the recipe that I prepared. Maybe Shaun will find another good one in that book and share it with us! Anyhow, I think it will be a fun little adventure for me and I will be blowing the dust off of some very good books that have been with me for years and sharing them with you!

The first book I pulled out is Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven. I think everyone knows who Mollie Katzen is, but if not she is the celebrated author of Moosewood Cookbook, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and Still Life With Menu. Mollie has a new book out titled The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without. I have not checked her new book out yet, but I surely will soon. Mollie also has a great webiste here that is chocked full of wonderful recipes and other topics that I enjoy and I am sure you will too. Vegetable Heaven is not only a great cookbook, but gracing the pages are over 50 of Mollie's luminous paintings, richly evocative of the pleasures of cooking and eating. This cookbook weaves together culinary styles from around the world: appetizers like Persian Eggplant Dip and Jamaican Salsa-Salad; soups ranging from Big, Bold Noodle to Tunisian Tomato; hearty main course features like Giant Mushroom Popovers and French Picnic Tarts; and a mix and match section of "side-by-side dishes" including grains like Coconut Rice with Ginger, Chiles and Lime, bean in her Stovetop Cassoulet and vegetables Asparagus with Warm Tarragon-Pecan Vinaigrette, which by the way is one of the dishes I prepared and have for you below. The book also has unusual pasta dishes like Farfalle With Artichokes, Mustard Greens and Slow Cooked Onions and a yummy assortment of desserts like Cherry Upside-Down Gingerbread and Pineapple Pomegranita. Well, I think that about wraps up a nice small review of Vegetable Heaven. Here are a couple of the recipes that I fixed the other night from this book. I must apologize as my photos of the dishes are not the greatest because the men in my life were wanting to eat ASAP! But I think you will get the idea. OK...

Arugula Salad With Orange Vinaigrette

1 medium sized head butter (Boston) lettuce, cleaned, dried and chilled
1 to 2 bunches if arugula, coarsely chopped, about 3 cups
10 radishes, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons minced chives or 1 scallion, finely minced
Nicoise olives (optional)

Orange Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 medium cloves of garlic finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all in a jar and shake well. Shake well as you add to salad.

Break the lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces and place them in a medium large bowl. Add the arugula, radishes, chives and toss until combined.
Pour in about 1/4 cup of the dressing, grind in some black pepper and toss well from the bottom so everything gets well coated. Drizzle in small amounts of additional dressing as needed until the salad is dressed as you like it. You can serve with Nicoise olives if you desire.

Asparagus In Warm Tarragon-Pecan Vinaigrette

1-1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, the thinner the better
2 tablespoons balsamic or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar (this is substituted with honey to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced pecans
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh minced tarragon or 2 teaspoons of dried
Black pepper to taste

Break off and discard the tough bottom ends of the asparagus then cut into 1-1/2 inch or so pieces. I left mine fairly large. Combine the vinegar and sugar or honey in a bowl and mix well. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the pecans and saute over medium low heat for about 10 minutes or until they are fragrant and lightly toasted. Careful not to burn! Turn up the heat to medium high and add the asparagus, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the asparagus are just barely tender. Add the vinegar mixture stirring well. Cook for about 30 seconds and then remove from the heat. Stir in the tarragon and remaining salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, warm or at room temp.

Such great taste from simple, easy to find ingredients. Both of these dishes are loaded with garden fresh flavors that are very satisfying no matter what the season happens to be outside your door!



Belinda said...

Deb, I think its a wonderful idea to reach for a cookbook from the bookshelf every week, and try a new recipe from it. I'm just like you...I'm constantly reading cooking magazines and food blogs and goodness knows, these provide ample inspiration, but I have the attention span of a gnat sometimes...always floating off to some new diversion!

I have to say, excellent choice for the first installment of the "Cookbook Project"! The orange vinaigrette sounds incredibly good to me, as does the salad. And the asparagus looks tasty as well. I am always apprehensive about buying the expensive dried out looking asparagus at the grocery stores around here, but gosh, good asparagus is hard to beat!

Wendy said...

Aww, Deb, I just promised myself two days ago that I wouldn't buy anymore cookbooks until next year. And here you go tempting me with a great review... ;)

Lucy said...

Well, I'm always up for cookbook reviews Deb! My shelves are groaning too and yet, there always space for more...I have learned far more from books (perhaps it's my age), but the internet is fast catching up. Still, it's the books I find my nose in most often.

Mollie Katzen. I don't think I've ever seen this book and that asparagus dish sounds incredible - I have everything for it in the fridge/pantry/garden right now.

No wonder those blokes of yours were keen to get into the meal Deb!

Christina said...

Beautiful, fresh-looking recipes! Thanks for sharing them!

Anh said...

deb, that an excellent post! I think I should start doing something like you did - cooking more from those books & mags that I bought...

And like Belinda, I love those recipes that you tried! The asparagus recipe is especially good for me since we are enjoying its season right now!

Holler said...

Hi Deb, I think that was a great post!
Graham and I have been given a copy Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant as a present, but I haven't tried anything in it yet! I cannot believe how many recipes are in it!
I think the salad and the asparagus both sound good!
Unless, I have a new cookbook, I don't seem to be going back to cookbooks much either, as you say, you pick up so many ideas from blogs and magazines. I just never have enough time!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I love Mollie Katzen's cookbooks. They are always so inventive and so delicious! Great job on the dishes, Deb, they look ewonderful!

Gloria said...

What's delicious salad Debs!! and die for esparagaus, ar so yummy a n so light I think. And the book sound wonderful!!!Gloria

katiez said...

What a great idea! I find there are books that I always use - and some that are rarely even dusted... There must have been a reason that I got them in the first place, right? Love the asparagus...wish it was asparagus season....

Shaun said...

Deb - I love the sound of the vinaigrettes, particularaly. I can imagine how splendid the combination of radishes and orange vinaigrette is. And the tarragon and pecans with the asparagus...Heavenly. Thank you for taking the time to introduce the author and the cookery book. I often read my cookery books and use them when deciding what to cook, or I pick a recipe and use it directly as a guide. There is a lot of knowledge in those pages to let them just languish on bookshelves :-) A lovely post, Deb!

winedeb said...

Hi Belinda, glad you like the idea! Yes, finding good asparagus this time of year is tricky.

Wendy, after reading your post this morning, maybe D will get you a new cookbook:)

Hi Lucy, I am sure at this time of year where you are the asparagus a wonderful!

Christina, my pleasure, enjoy!

Hi Anh, lucky you! Fresh asparagus!

Hey Holler, I have that book also! I will have to go back and visit it to see what dishes I have prepared from it. Looking forward to seeing what you prepare!

Thank Jenn, I do like her variety!

Hi Gloria, yes, nice flavorful dishes. You will like the salad!

Thanks Shaun! Yes, the freshness of the radish and orange is sooo great! I like the crunch that the radish adds to the salad also!

Jen said...

That all looks extremely tasty :-) I'm a big fan of Mollie's and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest was the book that turned me on to cooking in the first place. I didn't know about her website though, so thanks for putting me on to that - it's a real treasure trove!

winedeb said...

Hi Jen! Mollie used to have a TV program on PBS but I do not think it is still airing. I like her style of cooking also! Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Hey Debby! While taking a needed mental break from the world of accounting this morning, I wandered into your blog and found it interesting that you did a post on a cookbook that you may or may not recall giving me for Christmas one year from our fitness group. That was the Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven. I did in fact make the Asparagus in Warm Tarragon Pecan Vinaigrette at least a couple of times. Yummy way to enjoy asparagus. I realize I'm a couple of days behind in reading that post, but it was nice to see something familiar about Debby! Have a great Key West Fall afternoon! Kim

winedeb said...

OMG Kim! Now that you mentioned it, I do remember giving you a copy of that book. Wow, how many years ago was that! So glad you are stopping in to visit me on my blog. I think you need one! You would be loving our weather right about now!