Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

I missed chatting with you last week. We spent a long weekend in the mountains of North Carolina so no blogging for me. We hiked Table Rock, the Chimneys trail in Linville Gorge, Hawksbill and, the highlight of the weekend, Profile trail up to Calloway Peak. Man oh man, that was a slog, but a great hike.

In my last “Kitchen” post, I was writing about my plans for Easter. I made sockeye salmon with citrus pesto which was delicious. On a whim, I added a little honey to the pesto. I also brought a side: asparagus sautéed with red and orange bell pepper, ham, leeks, red onion, lemon zest and flat-leaf parsley.

Since my kitchen was full of all types of onions—yellow, leeks and spring onions—I used a few pounds of them for chicken soubise. I followed the recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (volume 1)—why not go straight to the most authoritative source, right? I made more sauce than we needed so we enjoyed it on leftover greens and all kinds of things. The next time you’re faced with bland chicken breasts, top them with soubise.

Before we left for the mountains, I cooked and bagged the ingredients for a pasta bake which was a smart idea because we hiked the afternoon we arrived. Back at the cabin, I didn’t have much to do to pull together dinner. This edition of the pasta bake included ground beef and Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, fennel, garlic, homemade marinara sauce, basil pesto, smoked Gouda, Parmesan and a mix of Italian cheeses.

While I was putting the pasta together, Jim’s niece assembled our salad which included salad greens, spinach, arugula, breakfast radishes and pea shoots (love them!) from our CSA plus tomatoes, sweet onion, carrot and broccoli. We’re serious about our salads. If you spot pea shoots at a farmers market, grab them, so good.

Earlier this week, I made quinoa paella with mussels and shrimp. I subbed asparagus for the runner beans and added red bell pepper too. I meant to add peas, but I forgot. We loved it.

Last night, we had an entirely North Carolina meal thanks to the Produce Box: Maple Balsamic Glazed (NC) Bone-In Pork Chops, sautéed asparagus with tomatoes and spring onions, and purple sweet potato mash. The potatoes were quite the sight—the photo below shows how they looked before I boiled them for the mash. I added minced chipotle en adobo, milk, maple syrup and butter to the mash.

purple sweet potatoes

On My Menu

I’ve got a wild hair to do something with dandelions before it gets too warm and they dry up. This idea may come to nothing but if I get ambitious I may try making dandelion flower fritters or sautéing dandelion greens Italian-style.

My freezer needs culling—it’s out of control so I pulled out two packages of stew beef today. Unless some other recipe grabs my attention, and despite a warm forecast for tomorrow, dinner will be Italian style beef and porcini stew.

We got Tokyo Bekana cabbage in our CSA last week. It has more of a lettuce than a cabbage flavor but does well in braises and sautés, according to the web. I’m going to make a Tokyo Bekana cabbage risotto with mushroom, onion, garlic, thyme, parmesan and chicken broth.

Another freezer item is a pork loin which may end up in this Tuscan style pork roast with kale and butternut squash on the side.

For the rest of the week, we’ll have leftovers and/or fish. I’ll report back on what I end up making.

Tokyo bekana cabbage

eCookbooks and Food eBooks on Sale

You can never have enough cookbooks, I believe that still. Act quickly if any of these interest you, ebook deals sometimes only last a day or a week. Click on the title to get to the Amazon deal.

The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion ($2.99, 75% off)

The Dinner Plan offers five meal strategies—Make-Ahead, Staggered, One-Dish, Extra-Fast, and Pantry—that will help get dinner on the table no matter what the workweek throws at you…all of the recipes are “keepers”—brag-worthy, reliable, crowd-pleasing preparations that you’ll confidently turn to again and again…The Dinner Plan is every home cook’s indis­pensable weeknight dinner guide.

Cook Simple: Effortless Cooking Every Day by Diana Henry ($0.99, 75% off)

Diana Henry shows you how to turn everyday ingredients into something special with the minimum of effort. Cook Simple is packed with over 150 recipes and ideas…that offer simple ways to make every meal spectacular. Diana dedicates a chapter to each of 12 everyday ingredient groups: chicken, chops, sausages, leg of lamb, fish, leaves, summer veg, winter veg, pasta, summer fruit, winter fruit, flour and eggs. Each recipe takes only minutes to prepare with ingredients easily sourced from your local supermarket.

New French Table by Emily and Giselle Roux ($0.99)

Simple family food forms the heart of French gastronomy…French food is not only easy and approachable, but light, fresh and bursting with flavor. From the provincial home cooking of the Ardeche to the sweet treats of Brittany, this unique collection of recipes shows how the French kitchen has evolved to suit a modern lifestyle – with delicious recipes for every day; family dinners; lighter soups and salads; new trends; international influences; and big feasts to feed a crowd.

Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza, & Calzone by Alice Waters ($1.99)

Alice Waters…gives us the extraordinary pastas, pizzas, and calzones she serves in her famous Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkley, California. Based on the freshest and best seasonal ingredients, every recipe is bursting with flavor and unexpected combinations. Inspired as much by Providence as by Italy, these recipes reveal Chez Panisse’s strong Mediterranean affinities, not only in the choice of ingredients, but also in the combinations that make them so tantalizing.

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman ($1.99, 83% off)

A young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In “a unique and surprising view of American history…richly researched, intriguing, and elegantly written” (The Atlantic), Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.

Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton ($1.99)

Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends.

Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble ($1.99, 81% off)

In January 2012, Megan Kimble was a twenty-six-year-old living in a small apartment without even a garden plot to her name. But she cared about where food came from, how it was made, and what it did to her body: so she decided to go an entire year without eating processed foods. Unprocessed is the narrative of Megan’s extraordinary year, in which she milled wheat, extracted salt from the sea, milked a goat, slaughtered a sheep, and more—all while earning an income that fell well below the federal poverty line…Backed by extensive research and wide-ranging interviews—and including tips on how to ditch processed food and transition to a real-food lifestyle—Unprocessed offers provocative insights not only on the process of food, but also the processes that shape our habits, communities, and day-to-day lives.

Looking for more e-cookbook and ebook deals? Check out previous lists, some might still be on sale.

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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