Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat and Think by Julian Baggini – review

Is food the key to what makes us human? And should we spend even more time thinking about it?

Cows at Rectory Farm, Newport Pagnell
Baggini asserts that eating meat is life-affirming – the animal's opinion is not solicited. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

While Julian Baggini was writing this book about the "philosophy of food", he bought me lunch at a gastropub near the British Library. I had a chicken burger, served for no apparent reason in a wooden box. In between mouthfuls of barbecued bird, I attempted to explain my hostility to our society's decadent and obscene obsession with cooking and eating. I am not too good, however, at cogitating while ingurgitating. Luckily, I had already written my arguments down in a book, You Aren't What You Eat, about which Baggini in the present volume says nice things. Perhaps all I needed was a book to instruct me, as this one promises to, "how to eat and think".
    Baggini is in some ways anti-foodist, in his sceptical account of faddish modern nostrums about what it is right to eat. He expertly dismantles self-congratulatory assumptions about the evils of large industry and chain restaurants or the superiority of organic food and local eating. He even dislikes recipes ("codification is the death of judgment"), and so offers charmingly vague guidelines for making a pasta sauce, a fish stew, or "a muffin-like bun that is so wholesome as to be virtually monastic". (He calls them "monkins".) On sentimental worries about keeping cows indoors for the winter, he comments beautifully: "To imagine that Ermintrude is wistfully dreaming of roaming free from field to field is infantile." In such moments, Baggini can certainly be recommended as the thinking person's Michael Pollan.

    My day with Nigella Lawson

    Did Stuart Heritage keep it together when he cooked crumble for his longtime crush on her new TV show The Taste?

    Stuart Heritage cooks crumble on The Taste
    Stuart Heritage cooks crumble for Nigella on The Taste.

    Things are not going to plan. After harbouring an intergalactically huge crush on her for longer than I care to remember, I'm now sitting in the same room as Nigella Lawson. This would be the greatest moment of my life, except she's sitting next to a surly Frenchman, and I'm pretty sure he hates me.

    Nigella and the Frenchman – a chef called Ludo Lefebvre – are, along with Anthony Bourdain, the judges on Channel 4's upcoming new cookery competition The Taste. Already a moderate success in America, The Taste is best summarised as one part MasterChef to one part The Voice. Contestants cook dishes, and are judged on a single spoonful. Eventually, presumably, someone wins something.

    I'm here on a press day, seeing how the format works by trying it out for myself. These things are usually enjoyably zero-stake affairs, where nobody tries because nobody wins. But this time, the stress of meeting Nigella – not to mention the angry Frenchman – means I'm cacking myself. And that means I've started babbling.

    Monday, December 30, 2013

    Happy New Year! Kumquat Champagne Cocktail

    Posted: 29 Dec 2013 - bookcooker

     Looking for a festive and slightly special cocktail to ring in the new year?  How about this incredibly easy and refreshing kumquat cocktail?  I picked this cocktail because kumquats are so pretty and cute and in dreary December I am always in the mood for bright citrus flavors.  Little did I know that the kumquat does hold special meaning for the new year  - Chinese New Year that is.  Kumquat represents prosperity and according to tradition (so says the internet), anyone who eats kumquat at the new year will be insured good fortune, prosperity and happiness.  With that in mind, this is the perfect cocktail to ring in 2014!  Happy New Year and I wish you good fortune, prosperity and happiness!

    Kumquat Cocktail, adapted from Epicurious.com

    Ingredients (for 4 cocktails)
    1 and 1/4 cup thinly sliced kumquats, plus more for garnish
    1/3 cup grand marnier
    1/4 cup of sugar
    1 750 ml bottle of chilled champagne (or other bubbly)

    1.       In a small bowl muddle the first three ingredients together with the back of a spoon.  
    2.       Let sit for 10 minutes.  Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer.
    3.       Pour two tablespoons of kumquat liqueur into champagne flutes and top with champagne.
    4.       Garnish with sliced kumquats.

    Buvette Gastrothèque

    Posted: 30 Dec 2013 - David Lebovitz

    chocolate mousse
    There was a lot of talk this year about how Paris, and its food scene, are changing. Some of the talk was regarding gentrification by hipsters in Paris and the transformation of certain quartiers of the city. It was discussed widely by people who don’t live in Paris, and by those of us who do. (And those who work in, or frequent, the area.) Among those of us that live here, it brought up some wider issues, many reflected in the very good article, The Other Paris, Beyond the Boulevards.

    Paris is often seen as a living “museum” – a city that is constantly referencing its past. “Improvements” often yield mixed results; the city has a spiffy new website and the auto-sharing program, Autolib, has been a hit. Yet the popular Vélib bike program is reportedly reducing the number of bikes by one-third and people are questioning if the current renovation of Les Halles is mirroring the same mistakes of the former structure, that it replaced.

    fruit juiceContinue Reading Buvette Gastrothèque...

    Saturday, December 28, 2013

    The Bookman and Wallace Chapman discuss books on Radio Live - including three new cookbooks

    This morning, Sunday 29 December, I discussed the following titles with Wallace.They were all found under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning !

    New York Cult Recipes
    Marc Grossman
    Murdoch Books - Hardback NZ$60

    Discover 130 recipes that unlock the secrets of New York's cult food establishments. Learn the secret to creating the perfect BLT, make the ultimate cheeseburger or for something a little sweeter, indulge in a cinnamon roll, smoothie or famous New York cheesecake. Brimming with delicious food and gorgeous photography of the city that never sleeps, you'll feel like a local.
    Marc Grossman grew up in Manhattan but now resides in Paris with his wife and children. He is the author of several books; Smoothies, Muffins and Bagels, and the creator of French organic food establishments, Bob's Juice Bar and Bob' s Kitchen

    Naked Food - the way food was mean to be
    Jane Grover
    Jane Cooks Pty Ltd. = Hardback - NZ$60

    Over ninety simple and healthy recipes you can cook from scratch, creating food that tastes great and is good for you. Jane Grover is passionate about food & cooking it well, using wholefoods, preferably locally grown, in season, organic & biodynamic produce. Jane is a qualified chef, having worked in many top Sydney restaurants, she then retired from restaurant kitchens to enjoy being a full time mum to her three children. Jane began cooking classes in May 2009. 
    Her passion and vision is to teach others by providing healthy, practical and entertaining cooking classes, usually for groups of 10. She also runs Market Tours, introducing people to fresh produce and the producers who grow it. 
    Jane writes a regular post on her food & travel blog NAKED FOOD. 
    This is Jane's first cookbook. She lives on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, with her husband Paul and their three teenage children.

    Delicious - Love to Cook
    Valli Little
    ABC - Harper Collins - NZ$50

    Sharing good food with family and friends is one of life's great pleasures, but it's easy to become stuck in the daily routine and lose your passion. LOVE TO COOK is designed to help you discover (or rediscover) the joy of spending time in the kitchen and at the table. Inside, you'll find more than 140 recipes - themed by ingredient for easy reference - that will take you from quick weekday dinners with a clever twist to impressive ideas for entertaining. LOVE TO COOK is the eighth book from bestselling author and food director Valli Little, with the team behind one of Australia's leading food magazines, ABC delicious. Each recipe is brought to life with stunning images created by food photographer Jeremy Simons and noted food stylist David Morgan.

    Canongate - Slipcase - NZ$50

    Truly one of the most astonishing pieces of fiction publishine I have ever seen. A book within a book.

    From the review in The Daily Telegraph:
     - a beautiful hardback carefully distressed to look like an old library book, stuffed with astonishing ephemera (postcards, newspaper clippings, photos, letters) that flutter from the turning pages - and a dose of film-industrial chicanery in its cover claims as well. This is, indeed, an Abrams "production": while JJ himself is off playing with the epic train sets of the Star Wars and Star Trek film franchises, the task of turning his concept into a novel has fallen to the writer, teacher and quiz-show champion Doug Dorst. 

    Don't miss this one.


    The three cookbooks were all ought at UBS, Canterbury while the novel was purchased at the Village Bookshop, Matakana.

    Sweet Tooth and Mushroom Ragout with Creamy Polenta

    Posted: 27 Dec 2013 -  bookcooker

    Ian McKewan's Sweet Tooth has one of those standout food moments that bookcooker is all about.  The novel, which I must admit I thought would be a little sexier 007 than it was, is about Serena Frome, a smart, pretty, wispy Cambridge girl who finds her herself working for MI5 in early 1970's London.  This is not a path Serena would have found on her own  - she is the daughter of a bishop and a maths major with a suppressed passion for literature and bad taste in men. 

    It is through an affair with a much older and worldly professor that she finds herself working in the British domestic spy agency during the gloomy days of the cold war, British economic depression and the threat of the IRA.  It is the older professor that also introduces her to this earthy, sexy dish - forest mushrooms with creamy polenta. 
     Serena and Tony Canning, a professor at Cambridge were Serena is a student, spend secret weekends together at a cottage in the country. Tony teaches Serena about world affairs and they drink wine and good food that Tony cooks.  
    This dish was particularly intriguing to me (I love polenta!) and for Serena it was a symbol of the kind of sophisticated world she thought Tony was opening up for her.   Of course, since this is a spy novel, Tony was not what he seemed, he cruelly dumped Serena but she went to work for MI5 in London anyway.  Rather than the exciting and sexy experience you would expect, Serena's work and life was dreary and demeaning - until she was recruited into the "Sweet Tooth" project...

    Winter Salad with Pecans, Pears and Gorgonzola

    Posted: 28 Dec 2013 - David Lebovitz

    winter salad recipe blog pears pecans gorgonzola
    I eat a salad almost every day. I grab a big bowl, make dressing in it, then toss in whatever ingredients I have on hand. It might be a hard-boiled egg, miscellaneous greens, bits of roast chicken, slivered carrots, shredded cabbage, toasted nuts, cherry tomatoes, crumbled cheese, and so forth – whatever I have on hand. (But hold the alfalfa sprouts; does anyone really like those?)

    It gets pretty frosty in Paris in the winter, and I always feel sorry for the outdoor market vendors who stand there and shiver while we decide on what to buy. Those of us who descend on the market try to get in and out as fast as possible. When it gets really cold, some vendors huddle near plug-in heaters that don’t seem to do all that much, but I’m sure are better than nothing. (They have them in some of the French train stations as well, and people flock to be close to them, as if they were some mythic totem.)

    At home, I’m okay in the heat department, but each year I vow I’m going to get one of those lights that is supposed to make you happy during the gray winter season. I was once a guest on a television show in New York and they had one in the corner of their kitchen. When I asked if it really made a difference, they said, “We’re not sure…but we seem to gravitate toward it, and all of us end up working around it.”

    Friday, December 27, 2013

    Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors by Victoria Wise , Susanna Hoffman

    Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise have helped transform the U.S. food scene, through the restaurants they've been associated with (most notably Chez Panisse) and their cookbooks;  their newest collaboration, Bold, is a celebration of that transformation.

    Hoffman and Wise use the melting pot metaphor about American culture to describe their approach to cooking. Their recipes are traditional in the broadest sense, drawing on sources as diverse as Cuba, Louisiana, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the U.S. steakhouse. They layer flavors in unexpected ways without succumbing to preciousness: lamb chops in a cola glaze, flank steak with a pomegranate marinade, potato and celery root latkes with a pear compote. Their recipes offer comfort food with a twist. 

    Bold is more than a cookbook. Its pages are larded with food history: from cod's role in European expansion through the introduction of yogurt to the U.S. by Armenian immigrants to the creation of Campbell's Soup. Hoffman and Wise consider the frequently surprising impact of different ethnic groups on American cuisine. (General Tso's chicken, anyone?) They tell the story of specific ingredients, including Tabasco sauce, rye whiskey, olives and peanuts. Each recipe is introduced with a tidbit to put it in culinary context.

    Thanks to its combination of storytelling and well-written recipes, Bold will appeal both to people who read cookbooks as if they were novels and to adventurous cooks. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

    Monday, December 23, 2013

    La Maison du Whisky

    La Maison du WhiskyPosted: 23 Dec 2013 - David Lebovitz

    This weekend, I think I just made my twentieth, and last, visit of the year to La Maison du Whisky. For the life of me, I have no idea what prompted me to go to a liquor store the Saturday before Christmas. Well, actually I do.
    La Maison du Whisky
    I was preparing to refill one of my empty cocktail aging barrels and the next cocktail on the docket required red (sweet) vermouth. After exhausting the three liquor stores in my neighborhood, who had no idea what I was talking about (although one caviste thanked me for illuminating him, which I thought was odd because I know very little about vermouth), I took a very crowded #96 bus over to the Left Bank to stock up on a few bottles.

    La Maison du Whisky

    Continue Reading La Maison du Whisky...

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

    Harper Collins NZ score three Gourmand Award Nominees

    Eat Your Books names the Best Cookbooks of 2013

    .. and the winner is Pok Pok by Andy Ricker

    This is our 5th year of compiling the Best of the Best, and this is the first year there weren't one or two clear front-runners.  Any one of the top 10 books looked like they could win, but at the end Pok Pok edged ahead.

    Congratulations to Nigel Slater for achieving a Best of the Best first - two cookbooks in the top 10 in the same year. And congratulations go to Ten Speed Press who published 6 of the top 10 books listed below - including the top 4 books. This is an incredible achievement for one publisher.

    We amalgamated 192 Best Cookbooks of 2013 lists from TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines, Websites, Blogs and Booksellers across the world (there are links to all of them below) to come up with the definitive guide to the best books on food and drink.
    For those of you interested in data:
    • From 192 lists there were 1,862 votes
    • 717 different cookbooks made the list
    • 408 cookbooks had only one vote
    Check out the Best Cookbooks of 2012,  Best cookbooks of 2011, Best cookbooks of 2010 and Best cookbooks of 2009 lists.

    Link here for the full 2013 lists on the Eat Your Books Website

    Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Cupcakes

    Posted: 19 Dec 2013 - David Lebovitz

    Chocolate peanut butter pretzel Robicelli's cupcakesWell, this is quite a baking book. Starting off with the first thirty-one pages, which contain some of the most profanity laced – and best – advice I’ve read about baking. (Hmm, maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong.) But I couldn’t put Robicelli’s: A Love Story with Cupcakes down as I read through the fore matter, which the authors admonish that you’d better read because they “spent the better part of two freaking years” writing it because they “don’t want you jumping in like a lunatic and do(ing) something stupid.” Fair enough.
    chocolate, peanut butter & pretzel cupcakes

    So it’s a good idea to drop any reluctance you have to strong language – and cupcakes – if you want to enjoy this book, which I couldn’t put down and is truly laugh-out-loud funny. After dropping a number of f-bombs, the Robicelli’s warn you right off the bat that you’re probably thinking that cupcakes are stupid. And they agree with you, that many cupcakes are. But they make their case saying cupcakes are basically individual-sized versions of cake, which they say is one of the top five things in the world. And everyone likes cake – so why the hate?

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

    denizen WEEKLY

    19 December 2013

    GastronomyBEDFORD SODA



    Josh Emett takes Seven Sharp’s Jesse Mulligan back to his Waikato family farm

    Josh Emett takes Seven Sharp’s Jesse Mulligan back to his Waikato family farm for Christmas. Running tonight on TV One at 7.00pm.

    Julie Biuso at Home, announced as New Zealand winner in prestigious international Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

    Already celebrating her 30th year as a food writer, Julie Biuso now has another good reason to be proud, as her 16th cookbook, the recently released Julie Biuso at Home, is announced as a New Zealand winner in the prestigious international Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

    The book has this week been nominated as a regional winner in the Easy Recipe category, and now has the opportunity to go up against winners in the same category from around the globe, for the ultimate Best in the World award, results of which will be announced at a ceremony attended by the glitterati of the food world during the Beijing Cookbook Fair in May 2014. 

    “I can’t wait to be there! This is a very special book for me, and it's wonderful to have it recognised by such a respected and influential institution as Gourmand,” said Julie about the win.

    Julie Biuso At Home winning the Best Easy Recipes category is just so perfect. The book is crammed full of recipes – 270 in total! – and there are heaps of ideas for mid-week meals, the sorts of things that are not difficult to put together at short notice, good food made from scratch that will nourish a family.

    “Writing this book was a joy, and a wonderful sharing experience. My family were all involved, not just as tasters, but also helping with recipe development and on the shoots. There were many long days, but there was a lot of fun and laughter, too, and of course, plenty of scrumptious food to devour at the end of the shoots.

    “The award also acknowledges the other key people who worked with me to make the book a success. The absolutely stunning photography by Aaron McLean and the original and stand-out design by Philippa Moffit give the book the X-factor that is so important in these awards,” she said.

    Julie Biuso is no stranger to the Gourmand awards, having been a finalist numerous times and having had three of her books take out the ultimate Best in World title. She was also awarded a Special Prize by the Gourmand World Cookbook Award’s Jury in 2007 for her career achievements.                                 

    JULIE BIUSO AT HOME by Julie Biuso, with photography by Aaron McLean, published by New Holland. Hardcover with French-fold jacket and ribbon marker. RRP NZ$65.00.

    Julie’s previous Gourmand awards:
    1999    Take A Vine-ripened Tomato wins award for the Best Mediterranean
                Cuisine Cookbook at the Versailles World Cookbook Awards in France

    2000    Fresh nominated for Best Photography Award ICR Awards Perigueux

    2001    Dancing On My Table wins Best Food Literature in English Language and Best Food Literature In The World, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Sorges, France

    2002    Viva L'Italia Nominated for Best Italian Cookbook and Best Photography in International Gourmand Cookbook Awards, wins Best Photography award

    2006    Sizzle: Sensational Barbecue Food wins Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Barbecue Book

    2007    Julie is awarded a Special Prize by the Gourmand World Cookbook Award’s Jury for her career achievements
    2009   Julie Biuso’s Never-ending Summer wins Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Barbecue Book in New Zealand and is a finalist in the world awards

    2011    Sweet Feast Wins Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Desserts Cookbook in New Zealand and is a finalist in the world awards

    The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards
    After five years in France, the next awards ceremony will return to China, where it was last held in 2007. It will be part of the Beijing Cookbook Fair, to be held at Starpark in the city’s Southern Daxing District, from May 19-21, 2014. For further information on the awards and the fair, visit www.cookbookfair.com.

    Four Random House Authors Scoop Top Prizes in NZ Division of Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

    Four Random House authors have scooped top prizes in the New Zealand division of the prestigious Gourmand Word Cookbook Awards for books published during 2013. They now go on to compete against their international peers for the top 2013 awards.

    The winning authors and their books are Josh Emett for Cut – Best Chef Cookbook category;  Michael Van de Elzen for The Food Truck Cookbook No 2 - Best Street Food Cookbook category; Karla Goodwin for Bluebell’s Cakery -  Best Pastry Sweets Cookbook category, and Nadia Lim for Nadia Lim’s Good Food Cookbook  - Best TV-English cookbook category.

    ‘We’re thrilled at this recognition for Josh, Mike, Karla and Nadia and their fabulous new books,’ says Random House New Zealand publishing director Nicola Legat. ‘Random House New Zealand is this country’s most active cookbook publisher and we believe that our books are of international stature. Indeed one of them took the top award in 2011! We have high hopes for Josh, Mike, Karla and Nadia as their books go on to the next round. Their books are full of their passion and their commitment to using the very best ingredients to deliver amazing flavours. We’re very proud to be their publishers.’

    Cookbooks figure prominently in UK best-seller non-fiction list

    Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food, by Nigel Slater, the broadcaster and Observer columnist's collection of easy recipes for busy people, was in fourth position, selling 29,072.

    The annual yuletide Jamie Oliver staple, Save With Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less, was in eight position, up from 10 on the previous week. It is a relatively modest placing for the chef. Last year his cookbook Jamie's 15-minute Meals gave him his fifth Christmas No 1 – and his third in a row.
    Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food was in 10th place.

    Close behind, and in recognition of the popularity of TV show The Great British Bake Off, its presenter's title, Paul Hollywood's Pies and Pubs, was in 11th position, selling 16,307.

    Full article at The Guardian

    Zuni Café and Chez Panisse

    Posted: 18 Dec 2013 - David Lebovitz

    Zuni hamburger with blue cheese
    I tried. I gave it my best shot to try and make it through the list of the new places that were on my radar for my visit to San Francisco, the one that I’d been scribbling down for the last few month. But getting felled by a bout of whatever it was that I picked up on my flight sapped me of a bit of my energy. 

    Fortunately, midway through my trip, I was able to rally back and proved myself to be the trooper that I knew I could be. But apologies to the folks who came by to meet me at my event, for the laryngitis that prevented me from expressing my enthusiasm for meeting you! And thanks for braving the cold temperatures to come out and say hi.

    Zuni burgerEven since my last visit just a few years ago, a bunch of bakeries, chocolate purveyors, bread places, and restaurants have opened in San Francisco that pretty much knocked my socks off. I was also thrilled to see that the city has implemented a city-wide composting program, to deal with all the kitchen and food scraps that normally get tossed. Seeing that has prompted me to take another look at options in my own kitchen in Paris, since it pains me to throw things that can be reused away. (The worm-based composters, which seem to be the best option for apartment-dwellers, make me a little uneasy. I have nothing against worms, but am not sure I could sleep soundly at night with a big container of them wriggling around nearby.)

    Continue Reading Zuni Café and Chez Panisse...

    'Anarchist Cookbook' Author Wants It Banned In Wake Of Latest Murder

    Book2Book Wednesday 18 Dec 2013

    William Powell, the author of the Anarchist Cookbook has pleaded with publishers and booksellers to immediately remove the book from print after reports emerged that last week's Colorado school shooter Karl Pierson had been reading it.


    Daily Mail

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    dish magazine announce a brand new e-newsletter

    Christmas is nearly here, but before we head off into the sunshine we wanted to share some news. This is our brand new e-newsletter, which will be arriving in your inbox weekly from next year, packed with foodie news, recipes and giveaways. And we have a fantastic new website too at www.dish.co.nz, where you'll find all our latest news and stories. Have a fantastic summer break.

    Chocolate Peppermint Thins

    We always had a box of After Dinner Mints in the pantry when I was growing up – now I like to make my own and have given this version a festive twist by adding that quintessential Christmas sweet, the candy cane...
    View Recipe