Posts Tagged With: cookbooks

Summer Reading

strawberries creme fraiche book

Market-Fresh Strawberries & Home-Made Crème Fraîche


In case you’d like a taste of what I’m reading, here are two samples from a book I purchased yesterday.

“I do believe, against all the odds, that cream will be with us for a long time yet, despite its well-known high cholesterol content. After all, who in their heart of hearts would want to be without crème brûlée, the best vanilla ice cream, or clotted cream on a scone with strawberry jam?”

“Crème fraîche The only sort of cream to be found in Europe. It is a shock the first time you try it because of its sharp taste. ‘Oh, it’s off,’ people cry. I have never discovered the reason why this cream has been deliberately soured, but for something so rich, it is curiously refreshing and particularly good with chocolate things. I don’t like cooking with it; it separates more easily than any cream I know.”

Roast Chicken and Other Stories

by Simon Hopkinson with Lindsey Bareham

A newspaper clipping left between the first few pages of the book give a good explanation of the difference between an American cookbook and one you might find in Britain. In addition to pointing out that American cookbooks are big, heavy, and “include several dozen profound-looking photographs”, the review accuses Americans of “glamour, swagger [and] religious uplift”.  In contrast, the British author of Roast Chicken and Other Stories, Simon Hopkinson, shares personal favorites in a simple and pleasant manner.

In his introduction, the author admits that he is not a novelist. You can tell that he isn’t a professional recipe-writer, either. Last night I was chuckling out loud at the way he explained some instructions. His work is fun to read because you can tell that he likes to cook and that he enjoys eating good food.

As I looked at the titles of various chapters listed in the Table of Contents, I see there are more than a few ingredients that will probably not make it into my kitchen: brains, hake, squab, sweetbreads, tripe… but it won’t hurt to store some of the information in my head.

I look forward to dipping into this book from time to time over the next few summer months, and perhaps even trying some of the recipes that don’t require turning on the oven.





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Sage Advice


sage [seyj]

1. someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience.

Origin of sage 1.
1250-1300; Middle English (noun and adj.) < Old French < Late Latin sapidus wise, tasteful ( Latin: tasty), equivalent to sap (ere) to know, be wise, orig. to taste


2. an herb, Salvia officinalis, whose grayish-green leaves are used in medicine and for seasoning in cookery.
Origin of sage 2.
1275-1325; Middle English sa (u) ge < Middle French sau (l) ge < Latin salvia, derivative of salvus safe (so named from its supposed healing powers)


Three Kings’ Day (Wise Men) is long past, but cold season is not.  Here is an alternative to lemon & honey tea if you are still suffering:

Sage, lemon, ginger & cayenne pepper tea

Boiling water
Lemon juice
Cayenne pepper (I only had chili powder on hand.)
Maple syrup

I would agree with the cookery book writer when she claims that the “maple syrup adds a little smoky sweetness”.

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Rustic Fruit Dessert whole

Mixed Berry Pandowdy

Between doing some loads of laundry and driving my husband to work on my day off, I stopped at the library. Surfing the internet isn’t always as inspiring as flipping through glossy photos, so I grabbed a few cookbooks from the 641.86 section of the stacks. There wasn’t enough time in the day to decide on anything right away, so I left the three books on our kitchen table.

The next afternoon, I got home in time to talk to my husband for few minutes before he had to head off to his evening job. He pointed with smiling eyes at the cookbooks and said that he was interested in a rustic fruit dessert (the title of the one on the top), but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to wait. A kiss and a hug later he was on his way out the door, and I had a pleasant assignment for the evening.

After looking through the recipes in the three cookbooks, I decided on one recipe to build off. Joel had already eaten an apple that morning, so I was going to make something with berries. The “gingered pear and raspberry pandowdy” on page 88 would be transformed into a mixed berry pandowdy: no pears or crystalized ginger in our pantry tonight.

Rustic Fruit Dessert liquidThe preparation is pretty simple, and since it is a “rustic” dessert, you have more flexibility with the presentation of the finished product. The crust was golden with just enough crispness on the outside to contrast with the inside. The fruit filling was a bit runny, but that could have been my mistake; I didn’t mix the lemon juice with the cornstarch before adding the first pint of berries, so only the last half of the fruit got the paste coating. IMG_1303

Mixed Berry Pandowdy

Fruit Filling
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 T + 1 t cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 pint blackberries
1 pint raspberries
1 lb strawberries
1 T lime juice
1 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Biscuit Crust
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3 T + 1 T granulated sugar
3/4 t baking powder ( I might try less b.p. next time; I could taste it.)
1/2 t salt
10 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 c chopped dried pineapple snack chunks
2/3 c + 1 T cold buttermilk (I substituted milk and lime juice.)

(Instructions to be included sooner or later)

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