Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, artichokes were everywhere--we even had them growing in my grandparents' garden. There was a truck farm across the street from my high school, and I remember purchasing them for a nickel each. On meatless Fridays (remember them?), Mom would often serve artichokes with lots of mayonnaise, cracked crab, and sourdough bread, which is still probably my favorite meal in the world. As artichokes are now entering their fall season, here is a sneak preview from my new book, THE BIG BOOK OF SIDES. These are meant to be a side dish, so they don't have any meat in them, but I provide a prosciutto variation.
I have been baking professionally for a long time. How long? Let's just say that when I started, my age and my waist size were the same number. Since I started, a number of desserts have entered the Pantheon of sweets. Tiramisù. Sticky toffee pudding. Crème brûlée. But none of these are as big a challenge to the home baker than macarons. But I have been practicing. And I have nailed them. If you like to try your hand at these amazing confections...read on.
After a couple of years out of print, KAFFEEHAUS has been reprinted by Echo Point Books. You'll find it for sale at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and echopointbooks.com. Echo Point has both paperback and hardcover editions, so be sure that you are clicking on the version you and, and not the old Clarkson Potter hardcover.
To celebrate, I am sharing one of my favorite recipes from the book--which is really saying something considering the treasure trove of recipes that I gathered in Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Milchrahmstrudel translates into "Milk-Cream Strudel," and it is a beauty. Essentially, it is a cheese strudel, but a vanilla custard is poured around the strudel to create an extra layer of flavor. Although the book gives detailed instructions on how to make hand-pulled strudel, this recipe uses frozen filo. Want the recipe? Keep reading...
Sachertorte has been famous almost since its conception in the mid-19th century. It made its inventor so famous that he was able to build a hotel, one that is still one of the premier hosteleries in Vienna, a city renown for its elegance. But I will warn you...it isn't for everybody, and it takes a discerning palate to enjoy its subtleties.
Do you have your Fourth of July menu together yet? If you are like me, the answer is no. One thing is for sure, I'll need a cool carb- based salad, something that I know will match up well with meat that will be the star of the menu. My couscous salad has filled that slot on many of my summertime menus. The Meryl Streep of my summer salad lineup, it is extremely versatile. It goes just as well with grilled steak as it does barbecued chicken, marinated lamb, or seafood kebabs. It looks great. It taste great. You can make it ahead of time. In short: Put it on the menu.
When I was a caterer, I learned one of the most important rules of setting up a buffet table: Tall is Good. Height gives the table some drama. You can accomplish this with a big floral arrangement, or by putting the platters on boxes to lift them up. Or...you can do it with the food. These beautiful bread sticks, decorated with savory seeds, will be a conversation piece, both for their looks and their flavor.
During the holiday season, even those of us who already love cooking seem to expend a little more effort making meals for friends. To me, there is nothing that says "made with love" than homemade dinner rolls on a holiday table. The aroma of just-baked bread in the kitchen on Christmas morning is as wonderful as any fresh-cut Christmas tree--spoken like a true food fan. I have a big collection of buns, rolls, and breads (to be revealed in Ballantine's THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF SIDE DISHES next fall), but these fluffy potato have rolls become my favorite, and they will riding shotgun with my baked ham this year. Take a look at this tall beauty...Read on to find out why potato rolls are so wonderful. (Photo by Ben Fink.)
As I work my way through the 500 recipes in THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF SIDE DISHES, it is easy to repeat myself: "This is the perfect cold weather side dish." The truth is that there are a lot of perfect side dishes, which is just one reason why they are so beloved. But consider this dish. Roasted Brussels sprout, sweetened with maple syrup, balanced by salty crisp bits of bacon. It does give one pause. And if you can find a side dish that is a better match with a holiday roast pork or ham, not to mention a roast chicken, I'm willing to discuss the possibilities. (Photo by Ben Fink.)
Side dishes: Are they the best part of the meal? There a many people who think so, especially during the holidays when cooks go to extra efforts to create festive dishes for the big roasts that are (supposedly) the main attraction of the dinner. For my new side dishes book to come out in Fall 2014, I have been creating a large array of recipes that run from humble (but delicious!) weeknight fare to ones that are fit for company. This caramelized onion tart is a showshopper. The recipe follows... (Photo by Ben Fink.)
It's that time of year again. I have already made five turkeys for various recipe development clients, so I am staying in practice, even if I not teaching Thanksgiving this year. (I promise that I will be back in the saddle next year.) If you have any holiday cooking questions, leave your query here in the comments section, and I will get back to you ASAP. Happy Thanksgiving!