In my quest to improve my cooking skills, I’ve come across a few books that have helped immensely. Call me a little geeky, but I read cookbooks like they’re treasured novels. They totally romance me. :)
The following books will definitely help make you a master in the kitchen. And, they make great gifts for the person who loves to cook, or for that person, who, ehem, might need some help.
The Flavor Bible – This award winning book is a best seller on Amazon.com and for good reason. Learning to mix flavors, in an easy-to-look-up format is extremely useful. You can look up complementary flavors and combinations for a particular ingredient. For example, over 100 are listed for oranges.
Melissa’s Great Book of Produce – My family eats a lot of produce and this book helped me learn how to recognize the produce, pick the best ones, cook them, and how to store them.
Herbs and Spices – Knowing how to use herbs and spices is a smart skill for improving cooking. Herbs and spices take any simple dish and elevate it to a party in your mouth. Not only that, but by mastering herbs and spices you can create an immense variety for everything from burgers to plain pasta dishes.
The Science of Good Cooking – A popular classic that breaks down the science of cooking. This is useful because learning how and why certain cuts and varieties of meats/vegetables/etc cook the way they do, gives you confidence in approaching anything you want to cook.
How to Cook Everything (The Basics) – This is the latest book I’m reading and I love it. It’s filled with easy recipes using ingredients most of us have on hand, and is filled with 1000 useful photos. Each recipe uses two pages where the final product is shown plus small photos of the various steps. Mark Bittman smartly includes tips for variations of ingredients and also tips of what not to do in some cases. I even found use for the recipes I didn’t care to make because they included tips or variations that were useful.
I REALLY enjoy this book and damn near tabbed every page. Once you make your way through the delicious recipes you will be a much improved (and confident) cook.
Having all of the pictures for each recipe is very helpful.
Today, I’m sharing a post written by my friend, Joanna Steven, about eggs. Turns out she loves eggs as much as I do.
I met Joanna, online, many years ago and I simply adore her. We’ve maintained a relationship through email, Facebook, and twitter over the years though I look forward to seeing her face to face someday and having a big hug… over a plate of eggs such as the ones she’s writing about here.
Eggs might just be the most perfect food there is. Not only are they rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamin A, D, K2, and more, but they also cost less than $1.25 per serving, and can be cooked in a few minutes flat.
For all these reasons and more, eggs are a staple food in my family’s diet. We eat them on their own, in quiches, fritattas, pancakes, vegetables patties… They’re the ultimate fast food, and are so versatile you can have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
We love them so much that we even got backyard hens, much to our children’s delight. I spent many mornings relaxing and watching my toddler throw food at them and trying to pet them!
One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is scrambled. I’m a busy mom of 2 and need a quick lunch I can make easily, eat quickly, and is sustaining enough that I can run after my boys all afternoon without dips in energy.
This recipe fits the bill, and I make it weekly. With flavorful ghee, an extra egg yolk for more taste and nutrition, and iodine rich kelp, it really ticks all the boxes!
Best French Style Scrambled Eggs
Ingredients (serves 1)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon ghee
Pinch kelp powder
Freshly ground pepper and fresh herbs to taste
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk until homogeneous. Add one tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes.
Heat a stainless steel pan, or your favorite pan, and add 1 tablespoon ghee. Swirl around the pan, and when hot, pour in the eggs in the center of the pan.
Lower the heat to medium low. With the tines of a fork, drag the egg mixture from the edge of the pan toward the center as it begins to set. Go back to the edge and repeat the same motion a little farther from where you started.
Keep dragging the egg mixture towards the center as it cooks, letting the uncooked egg flow freely. If your pan was hot enough, nothing should stick.
When you’ve run out of liquid egg, turn off the heat. Sprinkle the eggs with salt, pepper, kelp powder, and herbs if using.
Let the eggs stand a bit of you want them to cook more, or serve right away with buttery sourdough bread, a generous scoop of sauerkraut, and fresh berries for dessert.
Joanna Steven is an Amazon best-selling author, and the founder of The Nourished Village, a nurturing community for moms and their families. Her work as been published in Food Matters, Eco Hearth, Get Fresh!, Yum Gluten Free Magazine, and more. She regularly shares kid-friendly vegetarian recipes on her blog, and loves to interact with other moms on Facebook page and Twitter.
Organice swiss chard salad. Simple and full of flavor.
I was watching a show featuring renowned chef, Arnaud Daguin, at his Michelin rated guest house in Basque country. As I hung onto every word and scene of beauty, I picked up a great tip for swiss chard (and promised myself that someday I would visit his place, Hegia).
This is food porn to me.
Chef Arnaud said that cooking the chard stems would degrade their gorgeous color so he set to thinly slicing them. I loved the idea and happened to have a bunch of organic swiss chard from the farmer’s market with which I was trying to decide what to do.
So, that’s what I did with my salad.
Once I thinly sliced the stems, I found myself thinly slicing the entire thing. I tossed them in a bowl with pinch of icelandic sea salt, a scoop of thinly sliced, homemade pickled cucumbers, and a quick drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The fresh green flavor of the swiss chard was gently front and center, supported by bites of spice from my pickled cucumbers, and the olive oil smoothed everything out.
I know I’m probably a bit weird, though I know I can’t be totally alone, when I say that I get super excited at the farmers’ market. Seeing all of that fresh organic produce, quite frankly, makes me want to pee my pants. (I’m the same in a bookstore.)
You’re probably not surprised though, after I shared with you how I can’t get enough of scratch cooking. It’s my passion.
This past week, I was particularly smitten by those gorgeous carrots you see above.
And, then there was this purple sweet potato that I had to cut into wedges and roast with ghee, garlic, rosemary, spices, and sea salt.
2 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano and rosemary, combined
heavy dollop grass-fed whole-fat Greek yogurt
freshly grated parmesan cheese
I steamed my cauliflower, and then processed it in my food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, with salt and grass-fed butter to the texture of something between rice and mashed potatoes.
While the cauliflower was steaming, I started the eggs. I used a generous chunk of butter, which melted gloriously, after which I cracked in the eggs and started to scramble them slowly over medium-low heat. I added sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I also added fresh oregano and rosemary.
When the eggs were mostly cooked, I I stirred in a big dollop of whole-fat, grass-fed Greek yogurt (<– amazing in eggs).
Then, I transferred the eggs and cauliflower to a bowl and stirred it together. Portioned it into bowls and topped it with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
I’m so happy to announce that I just released another Kindle ebook, Turmeric Hacks!
This one features 55 recipes to help you add more turmeric to your life.
(Just last week I published my other new ebook, Matcha Hacks.)
Why would you want more turmeric in your diet?
Because it’s good for you. :)
Turmeric is a deep orange-yellow spice that’s been used in South Asian cuisine for thousands of years. Many people consider turmeric to be a superfood due to its active compound, curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant reputed to decrease inflammation, notably for chronic inflammation, which can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, type-2 diabetes, and arthritis (it can work for acute inflammation, too!).
With the recent increase in awareness of the health benefits of curcumin, it’s no surprise that people want more ways to get more turmeric into their diet. I can help you with that.
In my own quest to have more turmeric in my family’s life, I have taken turmeric beyond its traditional role as a spice by creating these 55 recipes for adding turmeric to all kinds of foods, including smoothies, entrees, soups, sides, salads, desserts, breakfast, condiments, snacks, beverages… even toothpaste!
A simple and fresh salad with homemade dressing. #scratchcook
I’m watching Cooked, the documentary series on Netflix featuring Michael Pollan, and I was inspired to share my life with respect to some of the ideas presented in the show.
Namely, home cooked meals.
My family eats most of our meals at home, and almost all of them are made from scratch.
Scratch cooking means the meals are made from fresh ingredients. Therefore, we don’t eat a lot of meals made from ingredients that are pre-cooked or processed, except a few (canned sardines/tuna, organic salsa, BBQ sauce, etc).
Sadly, it’s not what’s going on in most American homes anymore. Michael Pollan points out in Cooked that as the amount of time cooking went down, obesity went up. I’m not surprised.
Maybe I’m a bit strange, but I get such a rush from cooking this way. I think making meals from scratch is beautiful, especially when I’m connected to my food by knowing my farmer, fisherman, and rancher. When I cut into an orange that was grown in my mom’s yard, and the light hits it just right so I see the misty spray coming from the peel, and I smell the intense aroma… I get chills from the thrill.
In fact, my Amazon wish list is filled with pots, quality utensils, and other kitchen gadgets I want in my collection. When a birthday or holiday comes around, I ask for these things. Do I ask for clothes, purses, or shoes? No. I ask for a Le Creuset pot or a fancy ice cream machine or a beautiful salt collection.
I’ll admit not every meal I make is a success, in spite of the time I put into it. I also recognize that making all of these meals isn’t always easy. I experience a large part of my life in the kitchen preparing food, shopping for food, cleaning up after cooking (there are so many dishes to wash!). But… At least I know what’s in my food. I approve of the ingredients. I don’t have to wonder.
As a result, my comfort level in the kitchen has grown tremendously. For the most part, I can fix my messes, and if I can’t, I still know the meal was made with wholesome organic ingredients, which compensates for any culinary mishaps, at least in my opinion.
My meals are pure, organic, and prepared just the way I want. And, aside from the obvious nutrition reasons, it comes back to Chop Wood Carry Water for me. I enjoy the process. The kitchen draws me in… if I’m not making something I’ll find something to make.
Well, in spite of that image above, I’m making a tea for Michigan State fans, because I thought them when I was mixing it together. It’s matcha green tea and white tea. Those are their colors: green and white. Nuff’ said.
My five year old daughter, Kamea, was visiting my mom for the night, and they surprised me with this video that she made about “how to meditate.” Glad to know that all of my meditating is rubbing off on her.