Thursday, August 13, 2015

Join us for our August/September Book Pick: Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson

I am pleased to officially announce our August/September Cook the Books reading selection: 

Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson. 

You may know Chef Marcus Samuelsson from hearing about his New York restaurant Red Rooster or his time as head chef at Aquavit or from appearances on Top Chef and Iron Chef, but I found the story of his youth tremendously interesting in his memoir, Yes, Chef. Marcus was born in rural Ethiopia and when he and his mother and older sister contracted tuberculosis in a 1973 epidemic, his mother walked 75 miles with her children to a hospital in the capital city of Addis Ababa, where she unfortunately succumbed to the disease. Marcus and his sister were adopted by a Swedish family, where he squeezed in Saturday cooking lessons with his grandmother, Helga, when he wasn't on the soccer field. A sports career didn't pan out, so he poured his extensive energies into cooking school and various apprenticeships at world-class hotels and restaurants around Europe.
Samuelsson is passionate about "chasing flavors", and experimenting with ingredients and cuisines from around the globe, and I learned a lot about layering taste and texture in dishes from this book. I hope you all will enjoy it as much as I did.

As always, we welcome anyone to join our band of regulars in reading this great foodie book, blogging about it and cooking up something inspired from its pages. Just let me know that you have posted by our deadline below either by leaving a comment here or by sending me an email at: info@oldsaratogabooks dot coM. 
Submissions due: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

-Rachel, The Crispy Cook

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Wedding Bees: the roundup

It's time for the roundup of Cook the Books' Club June-July 2015 edition for which we read The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch.

For each contribution (given in order of publication), I will give you the official information (author, blog name and post title) and a brief quote from it — a teaser that will entice you to follow the link and read the details of the dish prepared and of how the reading inspired the activity in the  kitchen.

Now, please, make yourself comfortable, then follow me on a little literary / culinary journey to the queendom of bees.

Rachel of The Crispy Cook was inspired to make Stuffed Cabbage

Rachel was flat out not prepared to like the book, "but then, this book snuck up on me... I had to make a Hungarian-inspired meal. One of the things I've always wanted to make was stuffed cabbage. Despite threads of Eastern European heritage that I carry in my DNA and have married into, no one in my family ever made galumpkes, though the word was thrown around now and then in relation to someone making a dumb decision; as in, 'Don't be such a galumpke!'."

Amy loved this month’s book: "It is an absolutely perfect summer read! It’s a light, happy romance (without the smut) that leaves the reader happy and hopeful!... And as much as I wanted to choose a recipe with honey, I ended up making ice cream! It’s been on my bucket list for ages plus there’s a lovely ice cream scene in the book, full of quirky characters that had me laughing out loud!"

Wendy read this book in one sitting, which tells you know just how much she loved it: "It is a love story with absolutely no smut included... The Wedding Bees is filled with tons of delicious food all described in mouthwatering detail.  The dish I decided to make was Baklava, a dish that showed up a few times in the story."

Alicia would not have cared for the novel under normal circumstances, but "reading it with the back-drop of a white supremacist trying to instigate a race war by murdering African Americans in Charleston meant that it was not the best of times... I think the shootings at Emanuel AME church have opened up so many conversations about race, heritage and different experiences of the deep South that I felt obliged to post. And I felt compelled to look for a recipe from African American food traditions."

Claudia "loved how a little thoughtfulness, love and attention were so effective in working changes in those around [Sugar]. Actually, we could all benefit from application of the Sugar Wallace technique on those we encounter day to day... I love pavlovas, but had never made one with pineapple, or with mint and chocolate... They are also called Angel Pies, for good reason."

Debra of Eliot's Eats prepared Honey Cookies

Although "about a little over halfway through the book" Debra "wanted to slap Sugar," she still "admired her sweet (pun intended) demeanor and eagerness to help all around her... I would classify The Wedding Bees as the perfect summer beach read. Of course I was inspired to make something sugary sweet and I thought these cookies fit the bill. Despite all the honey in these cookies, they are not as sweet as I imagined."

Deb is "a fan of Sarah-Kate Lynch and her books--she has a talent for writing books that are filled with quirky, fun characters, a little bit of magic, and usually some pretty mouthwatering food mixed in, The Wedding Bees was no exception... I decided to make the drink and use some of the leftover burnt honey to make some Spicy-Sweet Honey-Glazed Pecans to nibble on while imbibing."

When Cathy enjoys a book "it’s fun to read all the way to the end because you often find interesting post-scripts." The dish she shares "is not sweet really but made with a honey dressing. Folks don’t think about grilling green beans. But that charred flavor is really something, especially when you pair it with the dressing."

Simona of briciole (your host) baked Cuchaule: Swiss saffron bread

Among the characters, Simona was particularly taken by "Ruby, a young woman robbed of their smile by anorexia. The few 1/8 of a rice cracker portions she doles out to herself daily made me want to bake bread for her, the quintessential nourishing food of the culinary tradition in which I grew up, and sweeten it lightly with honey. Its yellow color is a way of bringing a ray of light in Ruby's life."

A great Thank you! to everyone who joined in this edition of Cook the Books.

I believe all the submissions I have received are presented in the roundup. However, mishaps are part of life, so if you find anything missing or in need of amendment anywhere in the roundup, please do let me know.

And now, I’ll turn things over to Rachel of The Crispy Cook for the August-September 2015 selection: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson.

Arrivederci a presto!