Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

cookbooks on sale and recipes

In case you need some dinner inspiration, here are a few recipes I made this past week and a few recipes I may try next week.

By the way, if you’re looking for my usual list of ebooks on sale, I’m publishing it on Saturday mornings in a separate post, On the Bookshelf.

Cookbooks on Sale

Before we get to recipes, let’s talk cookbooks. I know you can find recipes on Pinterest and the rest of the web, but I like reading cookbooks. And when ebooks are on sale at $2 or $3 a pop, why not indulge? When I find cookbook (ebook) bargains like these, I’ll share them here, but only the good ones. I am discerning.

Caveat: Ebook sales like these sometimes only last a day or a week, so act quickly.

Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes by Deborah Madison ($2.99)

Can’t wait to dig into this one. “In her latest cookbook, Deborah Madison, America’s leading authority on vegetarian cooking…reveals the surprising relationships between vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs within the same botanical families, and how understanding these connections can help home cooks see everyday vegetables in new light…Destined to become the new standard reference for cooking vegetables.”

The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine by Erin French ($2.99)

“An entirely self-taught cook who used cookbooks to form her culinary education, [French] now helms her restaurant, The Lost Kitchen…creating meals that draw locals and visitors from around the world to a dining room that feels like an extension of her home kitchen. The food has been called ‘brilliant in its simplicity and honesty’ by Food & Wine, and it is exactly this pure approach that makes Erin’s cooking so appealing—and so easy to embrace at home.”

Sausage Making: The Definitive Guide with Recipes by Ryan Farr ($2.99)

“At San Francisco’s 4505 Meats, butcher Ryan Farr takes the craft of sausage making to a whole new level with his fiery chorizo, maple-bacon breakfast links, smoky bratwurst, creamy boudin blanc, and best-ever all-natural hot dogs. Sausage Making is Farr’s master course for all skill levels, featuring an overview of tools and ingredients, step-by-step sausage-making instructions, more than 175 full-color technique photos, and 50 recipes for his favorite classic and contemporary links.”

Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen B. Fant ($1.99)

Winner of the 2014 International Association of Culinary Association (IACP) Award for international cookbook: “this valuable work contains a vast body of culinary knowledge that can only be gained from an intimate attachment to the Italian way of life…a manual for proper cooking technique and the whys and wherefores of matching of pasta shapes to sauces.”

Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor by Peter Reinhart ($2.99)

“Beloved baking instructor Peter Reinhart…with his decades of experience crafting amazing artisanal breads, has made it his mission to create whole grain breads that are nothing short of incredible. And because his approach is also simpler and less labor intensive than conventional techniques, you’ll choose to make and eat these breads…Written in Reinhart’s famously clear style and accompanied by inspiring photographs, these recipes were perfected with the help of nearly 350 testers.”

cookbooks on sale and recipes

In the Kitchen

We’ve been eating a lot of leftovers here, but on Sunday I made a pretty darn tasty dinner: Braised Pork Loin with Prunes. I only wish the prunes were more emphatic. In the recipe I followed, you don’t butterfly the pork—which I think I’ll do next time—but instead you poke a hole through it with a long knife and push the prunes in—which is quite a messy chore. You only get a thin layer of prunes throughout the loin. I want more.

The pork was moist and the sauce was swoon-worthy. I substituted Marsala for the Armagnac—a wise choice. I’m thinking about making mashed potatoes this weekend just so we can pour the leftover sauce on top.

I made mashed sweet potatoes as a side. Here’s how I did it: cut sweet potatoes into 2” chunks, steam them until they’re soft, and then mash them with a mix of warm milk, melted butter, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and salt. So good. I ate a bowl for breakfast later in the week.

For the veggie: green beans. I sautéed a sliced small onion, sliced shiitake and cremini mushrooms, garlic, halved grape tomatoes, and then when that was all softened, I added the beans along with some chicken broth, and let them cook until the beans were just tender. You could use a shallot instead of an onion. You could start it all with some chopped bacon or add ham later. You could add fresh herbs—I love tarragon but Jim’s not such a fan.

Later in the week, I pulled some flounder out of the freezer and made this simple flounder with spiced bread crumbs. I hadn’t made this recipe in a while, I won’t make that mistake again. It’s so flavorful and quick to put together.

I also did a quick sauté of asparagus with leeks and garlic which I thought would go well with lemon pasta, and it did.

Do you have meal memories you can’t shake? One of mine is a lunch I had in North Beach (San Francisco) back when I was living in Sacramento. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant—it was Italian. I was by myself doing I don’t know what in the city although I always liked strolling through North Beach. I had the most divine pasta dish with lemon sauce. Bright, aromatic, silky, oh my god, so good. Last night’s was darn good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t my dream pasta. The lemon flavor popped but maybe it needs more cream, or an egg yolk. I’ll have to explore some recipes and tweak it a bit.

cookbooks on sale and recipes

On the Menu

A jar of preserved lemons has been hanging out in my pantry (okay, in a bookcase in my office) for far too long. And, there’s a jar of some kind of green olives in there too. Here’s my recipe for tonight: Roasted Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon and Olives. I’ll sauté some collards and whip up some couscous for the sides.

I never made granola last weekend so that’s still on my to-do list.

On Sunday, I’ll see what kind of mood I’m in and choose one of these:

  • I never thought I’d make a recipe from Smithsonian magazine but I love making pizza and this Armenian spiced ground lamb pizza has been calling my name for a while. Flatbread, pizza, call it what you will.

Or, I might make something completely different.

I haven’t thought beyond Sunday. We haven’t had salmon all week so maybe this old favorite, Maple Walnut Salmon. Or, since we’re in citrus season, Roasted Salmon with Shallot-Grapefruit Sauce. Another tasty stand-by is Salmon with Citrus Pesto—we have some home harvested basil pesto in the freezer.

I’ll report back next week on what I ended up doing and what turned out well.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you.

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