By Freya Bellin
In making this recipe, I was reminded to never underestimate the power of fresh herbs. I went with a mix of pretty much every herb listed below (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, tarragon, thyme), and despite my concerns that the flavors might clash, everything came together. The leeks and herbs made my kitchen smell like a garden, and the color is gorgeous. Cannellini beans make a great base for this dish. They’re very creamy but relatively neutral in flavor, so they take well to the herbs and leeks. The result was earthy and fresh—not to mention quite versatile. As noted below, you could serve this dish with fish or chicken (you may want a chunkier, hand-mashed consistency for that), or you can puree it and use it as a topping for crostini, as I did. And I will admit to just eating it by the spoonful as well.
After a quick taste-test, I decided to add just about a tablespoon or 2 of lemon juice (about 1/3 of a fresh lemon) to the mixture. The citrus really brightened up the flavors and gave it a nice zing at the end. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
The just-released How to Cook Everything iPad App is spectacular (and I can say that since I didn’t develop it!). It’s something neither I nor anyone else could have dreamed of when I was first working on the book in the mid-90s.
To celebrate the launch I’m officially kicking off “The 12 Days of How to Cook Everything,” a countdown of the 12 most-voted-for HTCE recipes (based on an ongoing voting feature embedded in the App), one-a-day until new year’s eve.
It’s fascinating to me to see the recipes that people search for and come back to again and again: If you have any all-time favorites, post them in the comments section below, or just vote for them on the App.
Jim Lahey’s No-Work Bread
Throwing a holiday party sometime soon? Forget store-bought crackers and try these.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 30 minutes
Excuse the superlatives; this spin on a Spanish tapa is my favorite, and everyone I serve it to loves it. The shrimp juices infuse the oil, and the sum is beyond delicious. It’s good with bread, over rice, tossed with pasta, or stuffed into tacos.
Other seafood you can use: similar-sized scallops (or larger, though they’ll take longer to cook). Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
This week the Wall Street Journal and James Knickman, President and CEO of the New York State Health Foundation, weighed in on a potential soda tax. WSJ cited research which suggested that while a 40% levy on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages would raise $2.5 billion annually, it would “only” result in an average weight loss of 1.3 pounds per person, per year (most of that weight being lost in middle-income households.) The article goes on to paraphrase one of the primary authors of the study:
If the goal is obesity prevention, taxing only sugary drinks may not be the most effective way to go. . . Targeting the sugary and fat-laden foods with the lowest per-calorie cost would actually suggest going after candy rather than soda, he says. A soda tax might have its biggest effect on obesity not by reducing consumption, but by raising money to put towards prevention or other anti-obesity efforts.
Check out this NPR piece about the role of the cookbook in the age of the app. Spoiler alert: according to one home cook, using the iPad in the kitchen requires “lots of paper towels.” Just when you thought technology had rendered paper nearly obsolete. . .
So, do you cook from books or from apps? Which are better? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts; please post them in the comments section.
If you’re not already anti-factory-farming, this will do it: The Humane Society just released an undercover investigation (watch the video if you can stomach it, or scroll down the link to find the full report) into the obscene abuses of female breeding pigs and piglets by Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest (and probably most profitable) producer of pork. The video leaves me pretty much speechless.(More links here, at Vegan.com.)
I’m usually not one to cry “boycott,” but if you, like Paula Deen, are a Smithfield supporter – in fact, if you’re still eating industrially raised pork (or chicken or beef or fish for that matter) – get real. Any industry (and Smithfield is hardly alone, though it does seem to be performing most egregiously) that operates with such infuriating disregard for the welfare of their animals deserves all the trouble we can muster.
Check out this James McWillams article called Why Free-Range Meat Isn’t Much Better Than Factory-Farmed. McWilliams says that “when it comes to farming methods and harm, free range is better,” but “better does not mean acceptable.” He goes on to suggest that it is nearly as harmful and morally dubious to kill a factory-farmed animal as it is to kill one that was not raised in confinement (follow his logic from start to finish and see what you think.)
As far as I know, McWilliams is a vegan. If he wants to personally and/or publicly object to raising animals for food that we don’t need, I have no problem with that. I understand and appreciate that a notable contrarian like McWilliams needs to be careful about flat-out telling people what to do, but in a way I’d have a lot more respect for this article if it were called Be A Vegan. By working to discredit free-range farming, he is in practice giving us all an excuse to buy into a system of industrial livestock production that he admits is worse. McWilliams may be right that none of it is perfect, but if it’s truly a more moral and less harmful system that he’s after, wouldn’t his time (and ours) be a lot better spent rallying against what’s worse (and ubiquitous) than picking on what’s better (and small)?
I’d really love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Please post them in the comments section below.
(Photo Credit: Socially Responsible Agricultural Project via Flickr)
By Freya Bellin
Boiled Brussels sprouts have a reputation for being mushy, but this recipe succeeds in saving them from that fate. Shocking the sprouts before they have a chance to soften completely helps preserve both the crunch and color of the vegetable. They retain a nice green freshness, and I chose to use red onions in the marinade for the bright color contrast. The dressing is very versatile, and that basic combination could be used on a variety of vegetables or salads. The recipe would also work just as well with roasted Brussels sprouts if you prefer those, although it would be a hot dish rather than this cold one. I didn’t end up using the full amount of dressing that was called for, so you may want to mix it in a few tablespoons at a time to be safe.
When buying Brussels sprouts, keep in mind that you’ll lose the outer layer of leaves of each one, so you may want to get a bit more than what the recipe calls for. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.