Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman

What does it take to be a great cook?
What does perfect cooking taste like?

These are the questions Michael Ruhlman sets out to answer in his engaging book, The Soul of a Chef. The book covers three parts. First, Rulhman narrates an inside view of the Certified Master Chef (CMC) exam. Next, he spends time in the restaurant and kitchen of Michael Symon, the up-and-coming chef of Lola. Finally, Ruhlman stays at The French Laundry and meets Thomas Keller, named America's best chef by Time magazine in 2001.

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection was our Kitchen Reader book in January, chosen by Lisa of Charleston Treasures. As it turns out, reading about how great chefs strive to cook the perfect food was enlightening for me, a humble home cook.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brown Rice and Avocado Salad with Vietnamese Dressing

Everyday home cooking is often about using what you have on hand. Each evening when I look in the fridge and cupboards, I have to make something to eat with what I find.

Sometimes I plan a week's worth of meals and then each evening's job is easy. At other times I have no plan. But food must still be produced. And I refuse to eat (or serve) something boring. At least not more than once a week!

This super easy dinner is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. She made it originally with black rice and prawns, but the headnotes suggested avocado as an option. I usually have leftover brown rice on hand, and I made a few substitutions in the dressing. That doesn't really matter, don't you think? As long as an interesting meal is produced and enjoyed from what is available, I am happy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

This soup doesn't have any cream.

This soup does have a creamy, smooth texture and taste.

Furthermore, this soup contains a full head of cauliflower, two leeks, and a potato. The potato is the secret to the creamy texture.

This warm and creamy soup could not be more satisfying in cold weather. It's easy and cheap to make. It dresses up well for company, when you can garnish it with parsley leaves, fresh ground pepper, and some sunflower seeds. It can be made in advance and reheated when needed.

This soup is the reason you need to buy cauliflower this week!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend Links #26

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--Starbucks are going to start displaying calorie counts on their UK menus (from The Guardian). It should come as no surprise that plain coffee has virtually no calories, whereas the syrupy Praline Mocha with Whipped Cream has 555 calories.
--A helpful primer on sea vegetables (from Small Bites): their health benefits, where to buy them, and how to prepare them. Andy includes three recipes to get you started.
--Troubleshooting tips if your homemade bread is too dense (from The Kitchn).
--Six tips for interviewing someone successfully (from Dianne Jacob). As always, Dianne provides food writers with lots of excellent ideas and the comments are stuffed with more.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Seven Foods for Healthy Hair

I don't know how to have a good hair day. I recently got a new hair cut and colour; sophisticated is going to be my style henceforth. However, "natural" (also known as "frizzy mess") has been my default hair style for many years. I had to go out and buy a hair dryer yesterday. And I am determined to have more good hair days.

I bought two "hair styling for dummies" books. Both contain a section about food for healthy hair. Of course, I gravitate to the food section in any book! (Plus, reading about food meant I could put off the nervous moment when I had to pick up my new hair dryer.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How to Write Recipes to Make Cooking Easier - Carrot and Apple Muffins

I was making carrot and apple muffins for my colleagues. Every muffin recipe uses two bowls and the recipe is always much the same. Wet ingredients go in one bowl, dry in another. They are combined with a few strokes, then the batter is dropped into the muffin tins and baked. Muffins are designed to be easy; hence the reason I make them so frequently. But the recipe I was (roughly) following for the muffins was making the process harder.


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