Monthly Archives: March 2012

Raising The Bar On Healthy Eating

Just because you can make something quick, doesn’t mean it’s not healthy.

BUY IT! - Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day

Healthy is a trend that’s not going away anytime soon. And, that’s a good thing. We could all use a few healthy alternatives in our lives. Let’s face it, pork belly is awesome, but, a steady diet will probably lead to some not so pleasant results.

Because healthy is so popular there are virtually a truckload of cookbooks that have been written in this culinary space. How to sort out the great from the so-so? That’s where I come in.

If you’ve been a semi regular reader of this site, you know that I’ve touched on a few vegetarian and vegan titles over the past several months. They’re all great cookbooks and contain some very healthy alternatives. But, I have to admit, I like healthy provided it tastes like it’s not.

When it comes to healthy eating it can be tough to strike the correct balance. One part of us whispers, “Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho”. While the other part screams, “Patty Melt”. Weldon Owen is out with a book that can take care of the former, while pacifying our craving for the latter.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Healthy in a Hurry strives for delicious, healthy and accessible food that won’t take you four hours to make. We’re all busy. And, we all like to eat great meals. So, this is a perfect combination.

It’s arranged by meal type and could not be easier to cook from. It carries the Williams-Sonoma nameplate, so, you know that these recipes have been tested time and time again. They’re known for putting great dishes into print. That’s a big plus when buying a cookbook today. You can feel confident that if you take the time to make these recipes they will work. Even in your kitchen.

Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira have teamed up on the recipes, while Maren Caruso contributes some beautiful and mouthwatering photographs. If you already maintain a watchful eye on your diet, this book will give some new options. It’s also a superb starting point for any busy family looking to upgrade their less than healthy menu.

AFTERWARD: I’m pretty certain that you won’t be fooled into thinking that the Pork Medallions with Romesco Sauce is a braised pork shoulder. But, your bathroom scale and your Cardiologist aren’t that easily fooled either.

Author: Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Weldon Owen
ISBN-10: 1616282134

BUY IT! - Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day

Cucina Povera Creates Kitchen Magic


Classic Tuscan dishes transported straight to you kitchen. What could be better?

BUY IT! - Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking

Just pick up a copy of Pamela Sheldon Johns cookbook, Cucina Povera, and something special will happen. You don’t have to cook one dish from this treasure trove of comfort food to feel like you’ve been transported. All you have to do is leaf through the rag edge pages. Once you hold it in your hand, you’ll get the idea. No explanation necessary.

The book, which features more than sixty dishes from Tuscany, is a joy. It’s a throwback to a time when cooking was part of your family and community lifestyle. Dishes were simple, yet bursting with flavor. Ingredients didn’t come from cans, they came from the earth. There was no need to “check-in” to let your friends and acquaintances in on your every dining experience. Chances were they might even be enjoying with you.

Are you getting the sense that this isn’t your typical Italian cookbook? Your instincts are correct.

A fascinating section on the history of the region, the food and the people precedes the recipes. It’s worth taking the time to read. From there it is broken down into the traditional cookbook components. Soups, appetizers, pastas, meats, breads and desserts are all covered. Photos that are just as mouthwatering as the dishes they represent accompany many of these elegant recipes.

This is a cookbook that you’ll return to over and over again. Not because it contains a thousand dishes or that’s it’s an irreplaceable kitchen resource. It’s because it’s nearly impossible to resist the magic of the food.

AFTERWARD: I’m dying to find four days to attempt the Ribollita recipe. It looks amazing! Would you like to cook one of Pamela’s delicious dishes? Of course you would. Here’s her recipe for Pollo Arrosto al Vin Santo — Roasted Chicken with Vin Santo Sauce. Buon Appetito!

Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant CookingAuthor: Pamela Sheldon Johns
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN-10: 1449402380

BUY IT! - Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking


The Cookbookman Recommends:

If you like Cucina Povera here are a few other titles for your consideration.

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen My Tuscan Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from the Castello di Vicarello The Book of Tuscan Cuisine: Traditional Family Recipes, Collected around Tuscany Alvaro's Mamma Toscana: The Authentic Tuscan Cookbook

A Sunday Roast is a Thing of Beauty

Trying to resist the scent is senseless.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

We have five senses. Some people say six. But, for the sake of this post, let’s just agree on five. When it comes to food they’re all pretty important. Obviously, taste is a BIG number one. After that smell, sight, sound and touch fall into line. I’ll let you argue the order of the remaining four.

Let’s try an experiment.

Close your eyes. Smell that smell. Something is roasting away in your oven. The particular scent can change from moment to moment. But, the familiar, comforting aroma still wafts through the house. As they say, “It smells so good you can almost taste it”.

You can vote for whatever sense you want. I’m logging smell in at an easy number two.

The smell of a Sunday roast is like no other smell. If you’ve been outside all day, you walk in the door and the rich aroma greats you like an old friend. It says, “come on in”. The scent breeds anticipation. It makes you sit up and take notice. Something delicious is about to happen.

We’ve all had the obvious Sunday roasts. Standing rib, pot roast and a perfectly roasted turkey all qualify. But, what if you want to mix it up a little. What are the options? Lucky for us there’s a more than able guide.

Betty Rosbottom’s aptly titled, Sunday Roasts, A Years’ worth of Mouthwatering Roasts will give you enough ideas for, yes, a year. After looking and cooking, you may want to set some time aside for drooling on these recipes. There are so many tempting dishes in this book, choosing one to make is a first class challenge.

I was looking for something a little different than the standard leg of lamb for my Sunday effort. After stopping at nearly every page to say, “WOW that looks great”, I settled on the Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears. I think I made an excellent choice. You can decide for yourself.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

Here’s how to do it.

2 ½lb. center cut boneless pork loin
2 Tbsp. rosemary, dried and crushed
2 Tbsp. thyme leaves, dried and crushed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1½ cups fresh bread crumbs (I used Panko instead)
1 cup blue cheese (I used Maytag)
3 Tbsp. + 1 cup chicken broth, reduced sodium
4 or 5 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Bartlett or Bosc pears, slightly under ripe
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Fresh rosemary and thyme springs for garnish

Take a long narrow knife and insert it through the center of the roast lengthwise. Push the knife all the way through the roast. Turn it to cut out a 1 inch pocket in the center all the way through.

Mix together the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Place about half of this mixture into a bowl with the bread crumbs and the cheese. Reserve the rest of the seasonings. Combine gently using your fingers. Stir in just enough chicken broth to moisten the bread crumb mixture.

Blue Cheese Stuffing

Using your thumb, push the stuffing into the pocket. Fill to within ½ inch of each end. Keep pushing that stuffing in. It will take a lot. When finished, pat the roast dry and rub the whole roast with the remaining spice mixture.

Rubbed Pork Roast

Preheat your oven to 400⁰. Arrange rack to center position.

In a medium size bowl whisk together 2 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Add pears and toss to coat. In a large flameproof roasting pan add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and heat over 1 or 2 stovetop burners on medium high heat. Brown rubbed pork on all sides. About 6 to 8 minutes. Place pan in oven and roast for 10 minutes. Scatter pears around roast, skin side up around meat. Roast another 10 minutes. Turn meat and pears. Continue roasting until an internal temperature of 150⁰F is reached. About 20 to 25 minutes. Remove meat and pears from pan. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove any loose stuffing from pan. Skim off any fat that has accumulated.

Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Add remaining 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 tbsp of vinegar. Reduce by one third while scraping bits from bottom. Swirl butter into the sauce. Salt if needed.

To serve, slice ¾ inch thick. Drizzle the meat (and pears) with some of the sauce. Serve!

Serves 6

Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears
Recipe adapted from Pork Loin with a Blue Cheese Stuffing and Roasted Pears. Betty Rosbottom, Sunday Roasts, Chronicle Books © 2011.

TIPS: OK, I know all of that looks complicated. Let me tell you it’s not. It actually pretty easy especially when you see how elegant the finished product is. Any fine dining establishment would be happy to have this on their dinner menu.

The bottom line: Betty’s book is loaded (and I mean it) with delicious comforting roasts. From beef to chicken and lamb to seafood there is something for everyone’s taste and diets. There are some easy to make sides too. Be sure to check out the Best-Ever Mashed Potatoes. I could have that as my main course. Sunday Roasts is intended for those lazy Sundays that are the prelude to another busy workweek. But, any of these dishes would be a welcome mid-week indulgence.

BUY IT! - Sunday Roasts: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts, from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of LambAuthor: Betty Rosbottom
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN-10: 0811879682



The Cookbookman Recommends

If you like Sunday Roasts here are a few other cookbooks for your consideration.

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art Williams-Sonoma: Roasting All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking Roasting: Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Sauces, and More