It’s time for another cookbook roundup, and since it’s summer, I’ve kept the selections short, sweet and to the point.
Stressing the need to not go overboard with fancy gadgets, Collins lays out the idea that the home cook really needs only two knives: a good chef’s knife (a knife with a blade at least 8 inches long, used for chopping, cutting and carving) and a paring knife (a short knife with a blade 2- to 4-inches long, used for peeling, slicing, coring and close blade work). Anything extra, such as a serrated blade deli knife (for slicing loaves of bread or hard sausages), boning knife (for removing bones from fish or trimming meat), cleavers and others are personal choices.
There is a section on how to clean and sharpen blades, how to choose the best knife for you (always by feel: test the weight and balance by holding the knife as you would in your kitchen), the importance of cutting boards, and a few diagramson the proper way to carve a turkey and showcase other knife skills.
The book includes easy how-to-layer tips (start with a wide-mouth jar, add liquids first, follow with harder ingredients that won’t absorb too much liquid, then finish with delicate leafy greens, grains or cheese) and how to re-heat soups and oatmeal in jars. Recipes range from breakfast smoothies to various salads, soups and pastas. Really cool way to pack dips and veggies for parties and snacks.
Spinach, Radish and Quinoa Salad
Makes 1 serving
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons Blueberry Vinaigrette (recipe below)
1/3 cup cucumber chunks
1/3 cup vine-ripe tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup fresh peas (or sugar snap peas)
1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced
2 cups spinach leaves
1 quart-size Mason jar
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under running water. Place in a small saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Let quinoa cool before adding to the salad.
Layer the ingredients in the Mason jar, starting with the vinaigrette dressing and continuing with the cucumbers, tomatoes, peas and radishes. Add the cooled quinoa and finish with the spinach greens. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes about 1/2 cup
3 tablespoons fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon honey
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
Place the berries, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil until it is the right consistency.
Starting out with the basics (what is beer?), Amato then moves in to discuss how to store beer (beer cellars, anyone?), how to serve beer (types of glasses and the perfect pour) and how to taste beer.
Beers are categorized (mellow, striking, captivating and beyond) with an overview, and each category has further breakdowns such as Fun For, Pairs With, Also Labeled and Examples. So, for instance, under Mellow Golden Lagers, the Common Lager has an overall description, a detailed overview and is listed as Fun For: Last minute meals; Pairs with: Classic light-flavored American foods, like hot dogs; Also Labeled: Lager, lager beer, premium lager, blonde lager, craft lager, session lager, American-style lager, domestic lager, pre-Prohibition lager; Examples: Beach Blonde, Tree Brewing Co, Canada; Moosehead Lager, Canada; Pabst Blue Ribbon, USA; Session Premium Lager, Full Sail Brewing Co., USA.
There is a section on how to host a beer-tasting party, how to pair beer with food and recipes for beer cocktails.
1/2 ounce bourbon
1 ounce grapefruit juice
1/4 teaspoon simple syrup
dash of lemon juice
4 ounces English brown ale
lemon wedge for garnish
Stir the bourbon, grapefruit juice, simple syrup and lemon. Strain into an 8-ounce rocks glass and add two or three ice cubes. Gently add the brown ale. Throw in the lemon wedge.
In a refreshing new angle on books and authors, Smith McGovern goes about giving you a brief biography of some 40-odd authors, what they are best known for, some suggested reading (yes, actual book titles) and a beverage inspired by the writing or reputation of the profiled author.
From classics (Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters) to moderns (Zora Neale Hurston, Anne Tyler and Dan Zevin), there should be something to suit every taste and genre.
Serves 4, inspired by Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook
Two 12-ounce bottles of your favorite beer, chilled
1/2 cup limeade (frozen concentrate, thawed)
1/2 cup tequila (chilled)
fig wedges, optional, for garnish
In a pitcher, combine the beer, limeade and tequila. Fill glasses with crushed ice then add margarita mixture. Garnish with figs.
One drink, inspired by The Complete Works of Zora Neale Hurston
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce orange juice
orange wheel for garnish
Pour ingredients into a mixing glass with ice. Stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange wheel.