I went to Books to Cooks last night for a demo by Barbara Fairchild, editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit magazine. She was talking about her latest book, The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook. The book is organized around key shopping ingredients (turkey, pasta, potatoes) so that you can use it at the last minute. Most recipes use between 6-10 ingredients, so it’s definitely designed to be used when you don’t have much time to cook.
While she talked, an assistant prepared a roast chicken with gremolata butter, bacon-wrapped dates, and mushrooms en croute. I had to leave before the chicken came out of the oven, but it smelled delicious. The mushrooms en croute were really tasty, with meaty mushrooms and a kick of lemon zest on a baguette chip, with melted parmesan cheese on top.
But oh, the bacon-wrapped dates were delicious. It was a juicy pitted date stuffed with smoked bacon, with the whole thing wrapped in bacon and baked until it was crispy, smoky, salty perfection. I had to exercise serious restraint, but I still ate three of them.
There were also wine tastings from Farmstead wines and Barrel Select. Tasty.
It was a perfect way to spend a snowy evening: in a cookbook store, listening to Barbara Fairchild talk about food while eating delicious food and tasting lovely wine. Life doesn’t get much better.
People often ask me what my favourite cookbook is, and I never know what to tell them. It really depends on what you plan to be cooking, and what your skill level is. However, if you really pressed me for an answer, I would tell you that you should probably have The Joy of Cooking on your bookshelf. I own the 1997 edition, and it has been there for me whenever I’ve had a culinary question. There are great reference sections for vegetables, meat, and fish, and I’m constantly referring to the handy-dandy table of cake pan substitutions.
This weekend was the winter farmer’s market and I picked up some gorgeous buttery baby potatoes, baby sunchokes, walnuts, and fuji apples. As soon as I got home, I sliced up the sunchokes and pan-fried them with garlic and rosemary. There’s a distinctive sweetness to sunchokes that gets me every time. I’m going to boil the potatoes, smoosh them with the palm of my hand into little medallions, and then roast them in the oven with olive oil and rosemary. The fuji apples are ridiculously crisp and sweet, and I have yet to smash open the walnuts – but I can’t wait!
A friend gave me some organic carrots and vanilla (talk about extravagance), so I did what any normal person would do and made a four-layer carrot cake with cream cheese-vanilla icing. The icing tasted so vanilla-y and creamy – remarkably like vanilla ice cream – that I ate more than a quality-control portion while waiting for the cake to cool.