How I became obsessed with cookbooks!

 

True Collections

 

As an avid member of a Facebook group appropriately called The Cookbook Junkies, I’m always interested in how others became obsessed.  The group’s owner asked us to tell our stories of how be became cookbook collectors on the website: Eat Your Books .  If you are not familiar with this site and you have many cookbooks you should check it out.  It is designed for you to store a list of the cookbooks you own.  When you are searching for a recipe you type in the recipe name and it tells you which books you own has a version of that recipe with brief description/ingredients etc.  You then seek your book and locate the recipe.  Of course it is limited to those books which have been indexed on the site.  I would guesstimate that 80% of the books I own are indexed.  I do have some old and obscure ones in my collection that are not indexed but those are kept for memories or ingredient specific inspiration.

Anyway to the point of the question, I wrote the following brief synopsis of my progression to an obsessed cookbook collector aka A Cookbook Junkie!

THE MAKING OF A COOKBOOK COLLECTOR

 

At 13 and the oldest of three, I started cooking when my mother returned to the workforce. For the first year or so all I did was start dinner and when she arrived home she would finish it.  So it was a lot of prep work and some initial cooking like starting the stew, or putting the chicken in to bake for oven fried chicken parts.  Eventually I was trusted with the meatloaf instructions.  I say instructions as once my Mother learned a recipe she rarely referred back to it.  A lot of measuring was done by how far up on a glass vessel you added an ingredient.  For how much salt to add to boiling water for pasta she once told me, via phone, to cup my hand and fill to first fold beneath my fingers!  I decided then that there had to be more and concise instructions in cookbooks.  I devoured her 1945 edition of Woman’s Home Companion, a gift from her Mother-in-law, known to me as Nana. I have her book as well as a 1947 edition I purchased on e-bay that is in better condition.  After that I started reading the recipes in the supermarket magazines she treated herself with sometimes, Woman’s Day and Family Circle.  From there I craved more cookbooks and added a few to her shelves over the years.  We shared a love for The Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson & Elaine Hanna.  I literally wore mine out (as in it fell apart) and replaced it with The New Doubleday Cookbook version.  I had been gifted with many cookbooks over the first years of marriage as people knew my hobby was cooking.  In the early 80’s I started buying more cookbooks for myself and expanding my abilities in the kitchen. Then came Martha Stewart’s Entertaining, a coffee table sized book that inspired me to quit my job and with my wife and our best friend start a catering company.  We kept it going for 5 years as a part-time venture.  Then moved on.  I kept buying cookbooks for inspiration in the kitchen.  The joke was that I’d read a recipe in 8 books…close them and create my own version in the kitchen.  I returned to professional cooking in 2004 as a Personal Chef and increased my cookbook obsession greatly!  I built it up to be in the 500 range and recently got a grip on myself and have slowed the procurement to around 10 new titles a year! In other words last year I only added 10!!

Some of the locations where the obsession resides:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat Well…Be Well!

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PORK MEDALLIONS WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE

I made this for dinner last night without hesitation as I recently served Pork Tenderloin Sliders with a homemade Blackberry Mustard! I like this compote due to it’s lack of sugar! The blackberries were perfect with the pork! I seared my pork medallions in a cast iron skillet with some ghee. Yum-Yum! Enjoy and Eat Well…Be Well!

Bewitching Kitchen

Sounds pretty fancy, doesn’t it? But this was our dinner on a humble Wednesday night, which would make it appropriate for a “Celebrate Wednesday” post. It’s been a long while,  I confess I totally forgot about my own blog feature. The pork was prepared sous-vide, but of course you can use any method you prefer. I love the sous-vide path because it results in perfect texture and gives me a lot of flexibility in timing.  In the case of medallions, after cooking them whole in the water bath I slice and sear them briefly on a screaming hot non-stick pan with ridges, but you can also use a grill. On weeknights I am all for convenience and prefer not to wait for the grill to heat up.  Your call.

pork-tenderloin

PORK MEDALLIONS WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
(sous-vide or regular cooking)

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed, silver skin removed
1/2…

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Excellent Baked Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

Despite a stupid chef trick performed while prepping this dish, it turned out delicious!  Suffice it to say you should not turn the oven off when the directions say to turn it down from 450º to 400º.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

Servings: 6

1/2      teaspoon  Kosher salt — plus more for pasta water

1/4      teaspoon  ground black pepper

3/4         pound  Mezzi Rigatoni

4        tablespoons  Olive oil — divided

1        large  head of cauliflower — cut into small florets 2-2 1/2 lbs

3        tablespoons  fresh sage leaves

2        tablespoons  capers — drained

4             cloves  garlic — divided

1/2      teaspoon  grated lemon zest

1/3      teaspoon  crushed red pepper flakes

2               cups  Italian Fontina — shredded

1                cup  fresh ricotta

1/2           cup  panko

6        tablespoons  Pecorino cheese — grated

2        tablespoons  fresh parsley — chopped

3             slices  prosciutto

Preheat the oven to 450°. In a bowl combine 3 cloves of garlic, cauliflower, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread onto parchment paper lined sheet pan and roast until crispy and browned on the edges 20-25 minutes.  On another sheet pan spread out three slices of prosciutto and roast until crispy, 15 minutes or so, remove and crumble. Reduce oven temperature to 400º

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook pasta until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Drain and pour into a very large bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.

Add the additional clove of minced garlic and olive oil to the pasta.  When Cauliflower is finished roasting also add to pasta and stir to combine, adding pasta water.

Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, crumbled prosciutto, to the bowl and stir carefully. Stir in the Fontina. Spray  a 10 x 13 x 2–inch rectangular baking dish with vegetable spray. Place 1/2 pasta/cauliflower mixture into dish. Spread ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture over ricotta. Stir together the panko, Pecorino, parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle it evenly on top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and crusty on top. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.

Here’s a picture right out of the oven:

Baked Pasta w/Roasted Cauliflower

Baked Pasta w/Roasted Cauliflower

Enjoy,

Eat Well…Be Well!

 

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