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Sunday, October 01, 2006

A New Cookbook by Yours Truly

I've finally finished my second cookbook. I thought it was just what the world needed. After all, a search on Amazon for cookbooks only turns up 46,829 results. If I bother to get an ISBN number, there will be 46,830.

The book is called "Get This Cookbook First: It Has All the Kitchen Stuff Your Mom Tried to Teach You." Why this book? Well, as I explain in the introduction:

It’s been rumored that while people in their 20s and 30s appreciate good food, they haven’t the foggiest idea of how to cook it. I disagree. They do have the foggiest idea. That’s the problem. They never really paid attention to what Mom or Dad did in the kitchen—if Mom and Dad did anything at all.

It will teach you how to cook things you can eat. It won’t make you trendy. It won’t introduce you to food exotica or fusion cooking. But it will give you the skills you need to put together a meal that will leave your guests smiling in contentment.

Cooking and eating together is making a comeback, especially among men. Browse through on-line dating ads. There are a lot of folks that list “cooking” as a favorite pastime. In fact, in Japan, cooking is the number one hobby for young men. Worldwide, membership in an organization that celebrates the idea of slowing down to enjoy food—aptly called Slow Food (www.slowfood.com)–is enjoying steady growth.

The organization is dedicated to—among other things—“the revival of the kitchen table as a center of pleasure, culture and community.”

Despite our continued connectedness via mobile phones and instant messaging, sitting shoulder to shoulder (or toe to toe) and sharing a meal is, well, nice. Real nice.

The book is divided into four sections. The first, “What to Get after You’ve Found the Kitchen,” is a handy reference guide with everything you need to know about kitchen equipment, basic ingredients, cooking methods, cooking techniques and food safety.

The second section, “Some Things You Can Eat with Your Fingers (and Some You Really Can’t),” is full of easy recipes for hors d’oeuvres, soups and salads that you can serve your guests as a prelude to a great dinner party or mix and match in any combination for an evening of grazing.

The third is called “The First Course: Soup or Salad or Both.” It covers pretty much what the title says—soups and salads. Not the kind of soups you would have for a main course (they’re in the next section), but the kind that you sip delicately before dinner. There are also several recipes for salad dressings—including one for that the dressing turned condiment, ranch.

The fourth section is called “The Protein on the Plate.” Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about putting a great meal on the table. There are tips on how to grill, sauté, boil and roast your favorite kind of protein. There are recipes for one pot stews, chili and soups, for pasta as a main course and some simple, step-by-step guidance on making the kinds of sauces—from gravy to barbecue –- that add the fine to fine cooking. I think this section is the most fun.

The next section is called “The Next Most Important Thing on Your Plate: The Starch” that covers the things that go with the protein or just after it; side dishes like potatoes, grains, pasta and rice.

Then comes the section on things you may still not be willing to eat called “What You Didn’t Eat as a Kid: Vegetables.” It has several recipes for things that made your mother so happy when you ate them. You still don’t have to eat them, but it wouldn’t be a cookbook without them.

Finally, there is a section that makes the book even more useful. It’s is called “Menus and the Wines That Go with Them,” which is pretty self-explanatory.

Each recipe is followed by a shopping list to make it easier to pull together all the ingredients you might need. Folks who have read the pre-publication edition like the shopping list a lot.

Like my first cookbook, which I am now "publishing" on my wiki, this one will be available on Lulu within the next week or so. I should have the test copy this week, make any changes next weekend (a few folks have caught a typo or two and I found some some recipe errors) and offer it up for sale. I'm going to keep it around $15. An e-book version will be available through the same folks who bring you The Seductive Chef for something under $10 probably.

So stay tuned. While you're waiting, try this recipe. And do it with the garlic salt.



Cauliflower Popcorn

Serves 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Popcorn’s not just for dinner anymore. Now you can have a version as a healthy snack. What a great way to get in a serving or two of vegetables. The long roasting caramelizes cauliflower’s natural sugars and makes it sweet. Most recipes call for 60 minutes in the oven, but mine burnt at 60. 45 minutes seemed to work well. But maybe my oven thermostat is off.
1 head cauliflower
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt (great with garlic salt too)
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Trim head of cauliflower into bite sized florets.
  • Toss the florets with the olive oil and salt.
  • Spread them on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or so, turning every 15 minutes until the florets are golden brown.

The shopping list

  1. 1 head of cauliflower
  2. Olive oil
  3. Garlic Salt

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