Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts and Anchovies


Historically, there are a few things you will never see me turn down:

1) A glass of champagne.

2) A ripe juicy heirloom tomato during summer.

3) Anchovies or Sardines, In Any Format, Any Time Of The Year, No Matter Where

About number three, yep, it’s true. My lifelong love affair with those salty, powerfully fishy flavors of the sea no doubt originated with my dad, who was happy to keep tins of sardines in the house, and when I think back we kids must’ve been a sight to see, eagerly inhaling sardines in mustard or sardines in olive oil with crackers, toast, or just by themselves. As an adult I was happy to learn that there’s actually a whole world of variety when it comes to anchovies and sardines (two completely separate fish), but it’s a group I’m quick to lump together just because, well, they belong in THAT category. To me, at least.

If they’re on a menu — FRESH — forgettuaboutit. If I’m in Spain, they will be consumed daily. If they’re layered on a pizza (we’re talking anchovies here), I’m in. And my eyes eagerly seek the fine print of menus for the “Our Caesar Is Made With Anchovies, Please Inform Your Server If”, which, of course, I never seem to finish that last sentence.  I am so down.

Then there’s the matter of a few weeks ago when the lovely Melissa Clark professed her fishlove in the NYTimes. And it was her recipe of Anchovy Toast that has been a regular dinner for me lately. Thank you, Melissa!

Anyway, stay with me here. I promise I’ll make a point.

Book-CoverWhen my friends at Food & Wine sent me a copy of Best New Chefs All-Star Cookbook I knew I’d hit the jackpot with amazing recipes. The only problem was, well, where do I start? A random flipping through the pages took me to Nancy Silverton’s Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts and Anchovies and my mind was instantly made up for me. I’ve given kale a slight ribbing lately (see my quick story about it over at Food & Wine), but this time around I was earnest, eager and ready. Why? Because of those fantastic alici,  the vinegary pickly white anchovies that rock my world a few times over. Slightly milder and fresher in flavor than the salt-packed variety, they always lend a sweet, tangy taste to dishes and salads. And this is a full-flavored salad that boldly satisfies. And because it’s Nancy. Who doesn’t love her?

Oh, and about the book? It’s a treasure. It’s filled with 25 years’ worth of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs, highlighting recipes from each year. I went for 1990, and I’m pretty sure you’ll love this and the book, too.

Kale Salad with Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts and Anchovies

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 small shallot, minced

Finely grated zest from 1 lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, grated

Pinch of crushed red pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 ounces ricotta salata cheese, coarsely grated (3/4 cup)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch kale, preferably Tuscan (6 ounces)—stemmed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups)

8 marinated alici (white anchovies), drained


1. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderately low heat, stirring them frequently, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and crushed red pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of the ricotta salata and season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large bowl, toss the kale with half of the vinaigrette; add more vinaigrette if desired. Transfer half of the kale to a serving platter and scatter with 2 tablespoons of the remaining ricotta salata. Top with 4 anchovies and half of the toasted pine nuts. Repeat with the remaining kale, ricotta salata, anchovies and pine nuts and serve.

Recipe kindly reprinted from the Food & Wine Best New Chefs All-Star Cookbook. Photo by Matt Armendariz for the blog.

Book Reviews!

Here are some holiday book reviews from the one and only Kristina Gill. There are a few titles that didn’t make it into this review but will be in next time, but in the meantime enjoy this review which happens to include some of my favorite recent titles, too! — Matt

It has been crazy busy these past few months for me, in a good way.  That hasn’t stopped me from periodic shopping frenzies on Amazon to make sure I get my favorite authors’ latest books, fill cravings with others, and spend some time reading through review copies.  Knowing how the end of year usually goes, we might not have time for another round of reviews in 2012, so I thought I’d get in a longer list.  Between this list and October’s reviews, you have my absolute favorite books of 2012;  One exception is Katie Quinn Davies’ new book, which I have not yet had the opportunity to see, but knowing Katie it’s the bomb.  I’ll have it at the top of my list for the next reviews.

This week is a collection of books that I just want to eat from.  Now.  -Kristina

 The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater (4th Estate 2012; photography by Jonathan Lovekin).  I really don’t think more is needed in this review than the title and author’s name.  The more cookbooks I read, the more I am certain in my choice of Nigel Slater as my favorite author.  Kitchen Diaries, a year long journal of what Nigel Slater ate, is one of my favorite cookbooks along with Slater’s Tender Volume I and II, and a select few others.  Kitchen Diaries II joins that elite group.  Nigel Slater’s cooking is intuitive, simple, what’s on hand;  There is very little in this book I wouldn’t eat, and I wish, somehow, he could adopt me so that I could eat dinner (and lunch) at his house every day.  A lattice work pie of plums and raspberries, five-spice chicken and pea shoot salad, pulled pork baps with carrot and galangal slaw, Nigel’s chocolate muscovado banana cake, crab and coriander cakes, another wonderful sandwich (mushrooms, grated cheese), spiced lentils with mint labne…  Slowly cooking through this book will be a pleasure.  Kitchen Diaries II is the perfect book, and will be used and re-used by anyone who owns it!

 Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (published by Ten Speed Press in the USA 2012; photography Jonathan Lovekin and Adam Hinton)  For those of you unfamiliar with the food prepared by Yotam and Sami, this third cookbook goes back to their native Jerusalem and draws upon traditional recipes, as well as modern ‘improvements’ on traditional recipes, and new creations which are inspired by the flavors and foods of traditional Jerusalem cuisine.  Herein you will find recipes using eggplant, chickpeas, tomatoes, spice and spicy pastes, couscous, chicken, garlic, eggs, cumin, cardamom, yogurt, citrus, mint, rice, walnuts…  There are soups, one pot meals, fish dishes, desserts — yes desserts, wonderful desserts.  I could eat food from this book every day and never tire of it.  I love the depth of flavors and textures and the colors of the dishes.  For some reason, I can’t explain, I feel alive when I connect with the food from Ottolenghi, whether in their shops or their books.  And none of it is complicated or difficult to make.  You can have stunning results without risk of failure.  In addition to food photography, there are very many editorial photos of the food culture of Jerusalem.  This is a book for anyone who loves food.  It is a special treat for people who love to be transported to another country/city/culture through images and recipes.

Wahaca Mexican Food at Home by Thomasina Miers (Hodder and Stoughton 2012; photography by Malou Burger and some by Tara Fisher)  I loved Thomasina Miers first book, and somehow became obsessed with making Mexican food at home, so I had to go out and buy her second book also.  Up front I will say that I resisted SO LONG because seeing Oaxaca spelled Wahaca is just…the worst.  But what do they say?  Don’t judge!! So I didn’t, and was rewarded.  This book is one recipe after another of food I want to eat:  Corn pancakes with avocado cream and crispy bacon, crispy prawn taquitos with spicy avocado salsa, fiery little chicken tostados, black bean and chorizo empanadas, sweet potato gratin with thyme, chilli, and feta, mole amarillo, and octopus ceviche.  There are chapters on drinks, desserts, side dishes, soups…  Many of the recipes are based on experiences Thomasina had while living in Mexico for many years and running a food business there.  The photography is sublime also.  Perfect for anyone who wants to make Mexican food at home!


Fire in my Belly by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2012; photography by Angie Mosier)  Most of you have the fortune of knowing Kevin from Top Chef, and another lucky few know him in person.  I know him only through his recipes.  His first book, Fire in my Belly, is a book that really made me say Wow.  Laid out like my senior college year book (that’s not a bad thing!  I was on Yearbook staff!), this book is rich with personal details, explanations, and most importantly recipes.  I was genuinely impressed by the breadth of food covered, not just American, but internationally inspired, like Livornese fish stew (cacciucco), and shawarma, and of course what you’d expect like biscuits (with step by step tutorial), sausage (make your own), banana pudding, and then more original fare like buttermilk marinated fennel with satsumas and jalapeños, brûléed grapefruit with Greek yogurt, African squash tart with whipped eggnog topping, savory fig tart.  There are so many recipes here,  My favorite design element of the book is the table of contents.  This is a good all around cookbook.  Would make a perfect gift for someone who wants to be able to cook healthy food as well as “junk food” or something heavy from time to time.

Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga (Little Brown 2012; photography by Aran Goyoaga).  Aran, best known for her blog Cannelle et Vanille, has published her first cookbook about her family’s journey to gluten-free cooking.  Looking through the pages, you can see that Aran has put her heart and soul into making this book which is a mix between new recipes and recipes from her blog.  Though Aran’s recipes on the blog have veered far from her trained pastry chef beginnings, it is precisely in that area that her book shines:  coconut and lemon soufflés, frozen pistachio nougat mousse, coconut cream cookies, coconut doughnuts (I love coconut), lemon buttermilk and olive oil madeleines.  This isn’t the only place it shines– Aran includes recipes which are quite refined like leek and chive flan with smoked salmon, herbed lamb meatballs in coconut milk, creamy red lentil & squash soup with purple potato chips and scallops, fennel and brown butter risotto with parsley pesto.  This book demonstrates Aran’s knowledge of food and a real cooking ability.  It is a perfect book for a gluten-free family with time to dedicate to making seasonal and nutrient rich food.  It is also the perfect book for anyone who is interested in original gluten-free sweets guaranteed to work!


Real Snacks by Lara Ferroni (Sasquatch Books 2012; photography by Lara Ferroni)  Lara did one of my favorite little books about doughnuts a couple of years ago, so I knew what to expect when I heard about Real Snacks.  This book, like doughnuts, punches way above its weight in every category– aesthetics, recipes, variety, and nostalgia.  All your childhood favorites are here:  twinkies, Hostess cupcakes, powdered donettes, caramel corn, fig newtons, goldfish, moon pies, sugar wafers, pop tarts, thin mints, cheez-its…  The mindboggles!!  I really can’t believe Lara has put this together!  Gluten-free and vegan options make it accessible for everyone.  This book is worth every penny, and would be tremendously appreciated by anyone who loves baking!

Salty Snacks by Cynthia Nims (Ten Speed Press 2012; photography by Jennifer Martine)  Coincidentally, this book could totally work as the savory companion to Lara’s Real Snacks. Salty Snacks runs the gamut of salty treats– pretzels, chips of all types, grissini, crackers, savory waffles, savory cookies, and dips to accompany them.  Between the two of these books, you should never buy processed snacks again.  This book is perfect for anyone who loves to entertain or who loves to have high quality snacks on hand for any occasion.    Photography by Jennifer Martine is beautiful as always.

Book Reviews!

Oh my, I’ve been bad and haven’t posted these reviews from Kristina in some time. K, please forgive me. But they’re as good as ever, I promise. Take it away, Kristina! –mattt

I’ve been away for a long time.  The last time I was writing, there was almost three feet of snow on the ground.  Now it’s hotter than the fourth of July.  Which, actually isn’t all that true, because I spent the fourth of July in Nashville, and it was 105F then.  It’s just 104F here in Rome now.  Summer to me is all about American food.  I don’t know why.  In winter, I really crave all the Italian stuff.  In summer, I crave the freedom and simplicity of a barbecue and a great cobbler.  Even though we’re nearing the end of summer, the temps still feel like the peak, so this week, I’m doing American cookbooks, plus one.

Here’s the plus one:  

POLPO:  A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts) by Russell Norman; Bloomsbury 2012.  Photography by Jenny Zarins.  Don’t wait for this book to be released in the US.  Buy it now from the UK.  It’s that good.  I bought this a few weeks ago and a day hasn’t passed that I haven’t had it in my hands.  From the binding to the cover and graphic design, to the photography, and most importantly the recipes, this book is my #1 book of the year.  The meticulous care that went into making this book is exactly what went into making Polpo the restaurant.  Norman’s intro concludes with a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery which he feels described the dishes in his restaurant Polpo in London: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”  He kinda got it right on the money.  I am guessing this is a Venetian cookbook (of sorts) because not all the recipes are Venetian, but it doesn’t matter.  You will love the pizzette, polpette, risotti, fritto misto, pork belly with radicchio and hazelnuts, cod cheeks lentils and salsa verde, warm octopus salad, bigoli in salsa, and everything else.  Norman has scraped up almost every single dessert made in Italy, except for the Neapolitan and Sicilian ones, too.  And has even included a few cocktails.  All in all, if you could have only a few Italian cookbooks, you’d never get tired of this one.  Ever.  You can see more about the design of the book and the inner pages on the designer, Praline, website.

I will admit that my first experience at Polpo in London was 90% negative (the 10% is that they have the best Dark & Stormys I’ve ever had), but knowing everything that has gone into the restaurant, its menu, and seeing these recipes has totes made me believe it was some weird fluke and I can’t wait to go back!

Now on to America

People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell, and Joel Horowitz;  Ten Speed Press 2012.  Photography by Jennifer May.  Last year’s Paletas by Fany Gershon holds a special place in my heart, but People’s Pops is inching its way in.  This is a fruit lovers book.  It’s full of popsicles made with interesting fruit and herb combinations such as plum/yogurt/tarragon, blueberry/cardamom, blackberry/rose, and apricot and salted caramel (I know salted caramel isn’t an herb!).  The heat doesn’t seem to be subsiding, so you may as well make some part of it enjoyable!

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day; Artisan 2012.  Photography by Squire Fox.  Summer is all about American food to me.  Cheryl Day (or “Shurl” and we say in the south) and her husband Griffith run a bakery in Savannah, Georgia.  They have put together the quintessential American baking book.  Cinnamon sticky buns, brown sugar banana bread, apple brown betty, sterling cheesecake.  There’s a savory section too!  I loved the vintage and homemade feel to this book so much, I had to buy a copy for my family.  If you love American baking, you’ll love this book.

Martha’s American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation’s Most Treasured Dishes, from Coast to Coast by Martha Stewart; Clarkson Potter 2012.  Photography various artists.  Last year’s My Family Table by John Besh featured American classics at their finest.  It remains one of my favorite books in the category.  Now that regional American food is having a bit of a revival, I think any basic collection of American cooking books would be enriched by this volume.  This is basically the best of Junior League recipes meets Martha Stewart, and is everything you love and hate about US cuisine.  Sloppy Joes, skillet cornbread, Hoppin’ John, pigs in a blanket, pecan cheese balls, “moon pies” (a recipe to make similar cookies), layered dips, ribs…  This is a very good gift for anyone who enjoys American food and wants all the ‘classics’ in one volume.

The Great American Cookbook: 500 Time-Tested Recipes: Favorite Food from Every State by Clementine Paddleford, edited by Kelly  Alexander; Rizzoli 2011.  No photography.  This is an edited version of How America Eats by Clementine Paddleford.  It took her 12 years to write and is based on over 2,000 interviews with Americans all over the US.  This is an encyclopedic collection of recipes from every state.  It’s a trip in time to many dishes I’ve never heard of and would probably never eat!  Nonetheless it is a valuable archive of the history of food in the USA.  This is more a reference book for authenticity and historical/cultural curiosity than a book you’re likely to cook from.  All the same if you’re someone who likes stories and food, you’ll love this book.  And if you’re like me, and you like to compare recipes and see how they differ from place to place, you’ll also love this.

A Few Things, But Mostly A Shameless Plug

Well hello there.

And how are you? That’s me in a photo taken by the lovely Erin Malone last week at Jordan Winery. I was in San Francisco shooting a few projects which I’ll share with you shortly, but in the meantime it’s back to the grind this week at the studio doing what I love. I’m wrapping up an amazing book for Joe Yonan (oh just you wait! the recipes!), and starting another tomorrow that is nothing but mac and cheese. Heaven help me. Someone’s gonna have to roll me out of the studio garage door, I swear.

In other news, my 2nd book came out last week and I wanted to let you know about it! Titled Focus On Food Photography for Bloggers, it’s jam packed with tips that I’m hoping might help you when it comes to food photography. But only if you need it.

And also, you know what would make me super duper smiley and happy? If you have purchased it I’d love to know what you think about it on Amazon. It’s valuable feedback for authors and potential buyers as they shop. But please be honest. Loved it? Hated it? Thought I was too silly? Not silly enough? Share your thoughts!

Also, just a quick shout out to the people I’m thankful for: Toni from Ten Speed, Lisa at Jordan, Lisa Schiffman (A-D-O-R-E-Y-O-U-!), Linsey G, Lori at Jordan, Carol, Nicole, Erin M, Kristina, Gaby, and our studio staff for keeping things together and putting up with my non-stop babbling about random facts and Paris Is Burning quotes. This world is made better by all these loving, wonderful people.


My new book! And a sneak preview from Bon Appetit!

Well, what do ya know…I wrote another book! I’ll spare you the details about sweating my butt off, missed deadlines, really creative strings of swearwords, and all those other things that happen when you are working on something you love. Keyword: WORK. But now, this? This is the best part. This is the part that it’s out of my hands, soon to be in yours (I hope!), and the part where I light that candle and pray to the gods that it’s well-received. Because when you put your heart into something like writing a book you just want people to respond appropriately, and in this case I want them to find it useful, engaging, and approachable. I really do.

But enough of my author’s song & dance. I want you to see a really quick sneak preview of my book. It’s not every day Bon Appetit snags the first peak at one’s book, and I couldn’t be happier about it. HELLO? Anyway, check it out.

My second book, Focus On Food Photography For Bloggers, is available for pre-order on Amazon. It hits the street September 15th and I’m sure I’ll be doing a giveaway. Because I love you! Seriously. For real.


Oh, Steve.

Oh, Steve. Clearly you don’t have a copy of my book. Have your agent call my agent, we’ll fix that. In the meantime, my plan for WSD (World Stick Domination) is working. But gummy worms? I’m with you on that one.

Book Reviews!

Hello everyone! I’m off to Australia in a few hours but wanted to let you know that I am thrilled to feature the return of Book Reviews from the one and only Kristina Gill! It’s such a great way to discover new titles and I always appreciate Kristina’s curating. Enjoy this installment and I’ll be back soon after a very long, long long plane ride! – Matt

Kristina: I am sorry.  I am SOOOO woefully late on my cookbook reviews, that I will spend time over the next few weeks to catch up.  I’m still not so convinced that wrapping up the end of the year, going home for Christmas and New Year’s, starting the new year,  and getting unexpectedly snowed into my house for seven out of the past ten days, are good excuses for my absence.  But I hope you’ll let me make it up to you.   There isn’t any rhyme or reason to this grouping of books because I just couldn’t wait to dig into my stack and let you know just what you’re missing (and what you’re not missing).   I know I say this a lot, but just when I think that I can’t get passionate about another cookbook, one comes along that changes my mind.  There are a couple in this week’s reviews.

My Family Table by John Besh (Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2011.  Photography by Maura McEvoy)
Well-known New Orleans chef John Besh has put together an unforgettable collection of Southern recipes that anyone passionate about Southern cooking, or even just curious, should want to read.  I like it because they are the staples from my childhood and therefore recipes that I really would eat at home and can prepare on my own, without any special skills or knowledge, as “chefs at home” books often are.  It has the corn pudding, two recipes for fried chicken, fried catfish, cheese grits, angel biscuits, drop biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, sloppy joes, baked beans… with a few little ‘inspired’ recipes thrown in for good measure.  I would love a paperback version because this bound version is large and heavy (and beautiful).  I am biased when it comes to Southern cooking, so I think everyone should have a copy of this.


Small Adventures in Cooking by James Ramsden (Quadrille Books, 2011.  Photography by Steven Joyce)  

For those not in the UK, and those in the UK who are unfamiliar with Quadrille Books, I think it is probably one of the best producers of cookbooks in the UK, rivaled perhaps only by Murdoch, which I consider Australian, and which is an entirely different beast.  Quadrille is a small publisher which punches way above its weight in the quantity and quality of cookbooks it publishes each year.  Two years ago, breaking with the name-brand authors typical of cookbooks, they started a series called “New Voices in Food” which debuts cookbooks by up and coming food professionals.  The books are paperback,  a little smaller in dimension than an iPad, beautifully photographed, and attractively designed.  James Ramsden’s book, Adventures in Cooking, is the third in the series of which four have been produced so far.  All of the books have quite easy recipes, tending toward British-y and international recipes.  James is one of the best of the four because it’s not too simplistic, but not so complicated you’d never use it.  (Any book which has recipes for English Muffins and also Homemade Baked Beans gets an A+ from me!).  The recipes evenly cover savory and sweet, with notes in the margin occasionally suggesting how to change the recipe up with minor “tweaks” and what to do with the leftovers.  Ramsden also experiments with hashtags for recipes, which don’t convince me, but the rest of the book is great.

Kitchen Simple by James Peterson (Ten Speed Press, 2011.  Photography by James Peterson)  

While we’re on the subject of basics, I thought I’d do a couple more titles aimed at the “basic” repertoire of recipes for quick and easy meals.  There is nothing extraordinary in this book, unfortunately.  I will say that the chapters on Salads and Vegetables are the most inviting, though nothing innovative.  Vegetable gratins, glazed vegetables, tomato and mozzarella salad (better known as a caprese), Moroccan spiced carrots… you get the point.  I guess if you like James Peterson, and you want a book that has recipes of food you’ve probably had in a restaurant somewhere, this is the book for you.  If you’re looking for a twist on a favorite, or something new, this isn’t for you.

Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food by Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough (Ten Speed Press, 2011.  Photography by France Ruffenach)  

Now this is a good basic cookbook.  It is perfect for beginners but also for seasoned cooks who like to keep a reference book on food on the shelf.  What I like about this book is that it explains how to select, store, and prepare everything from herbs to meat.  There are recipes included throughout, but this book is more about the food itself and the community which produces it.  Stories about the producers and the people involved in bringing the food to the Bi-Rite Market also make the book seem very familiar.  This is an amazing book, and I think it is a book everyone should keep on their bookshelf.  It will quickly become your most used cookbook, I bet.

The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen by Laura B. Russell (Celestial Arts, 2011.  Photography by Leo Gong)

As with most Asian cookbooks, you will need to make a small upfront investment in some items which you may not already have in your pantry–  dry sherry or Chinese Shaoxing rice wine, mirin, miso paste, sake, rice vinegar.  Buying these items is a tiny price to pay to be able to make fabulous Asian food thereafter, however!  This is a beautiful cookbook with an abundance of recipes, starting with a section on sauces and stocks, and going through all my favorites:  skewers and snacks, dumplings and savory pancakes, noodles, rice (bibimbap, hello!), vegetables and tofu…  The sweets chapter isn’t very Asian, and some of the recipes are clearly Americanized but I’m not one to nitpick with authenticity or leave room for dessert when I am enjoying a great red curry soup, minced duck salad, spicy pork with kimchi and tofu, mu shu pork, or salt and pepper squid.  Speaking of mu shu pork, there is a recipe for the mandarin pancakes to go with!(which you can freeze for up to a month!)  Most importantly are the opening pages of the book which contain a chart and valuable information on identifying sources of gluten in Asian cooking, including which brands are gluten free.  I recommend this book to anyone looking to add variety to their usual diet (if it doesn’t contain Asian food), regardless of gluten tolerance.  Is an excellent book to keep if you have other Asian cookbooks (like Bill’s Everyday Asian) you’d like to be able to use with gluten-free products also.


I’ll take Cookbooks for $200, Alex

It was my sister Angela that texted me first.

“Did you know you were a question on Jeopardy?” she wrote.

Soon after the facebook posts and messages started coming in. Mostly from the other side of the country from friends who were settled in for the night and enjoying some gameshow tv time.

“What the hell!?” I thought. There’s been a mistake. I don’t get it. It must be someone else, it could happen. So I waited for the Jeopardy broadcast here on the west coast and there it was.

Under the cookbook categories in all its glory.

Mr. Trebek pronounced it correctly. Hallelujah.

The answer…

And Drew got it! On A Stick!  That’s why he is this week’s big winner, after all.

Oh life, you are really really funny that way.

Big thanks to my editor Margaret McGuire at Quirk for helping me enter Pop Culture via a giant blue flashcard. You rock. Really you do.

November’s Everyday Food

Hi folks! Just a little quick post to tell you know about this month’s Everyday Food Magazine! I’ve got a quick little feature as well as a new favorite holiday side dish that I will be serving this year! It’s Sweet Potato Fries with Brown-Butter Marshmallow Sauce and you can find it on page 33 of the November issue!

There’s also a few extra questions in the ipad version of Everyday Food as well as the blog, You can read it here! As usual the magazine is filled with fantastic recipes appropriate for the season and I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to make the Turkey & Mashed Potato Potpie that is on the cover. Heck to the yes.

A very special thanks to Anna Last and Merritt Watts! And thank you to Monika Dalkin of Fifty One And A Half for the gorgeous handmade platter!

Book Review: Say Cheese!

I think I can say that my love of cheese is no secret. It’s my favorite food group (yes, I consider it a group that must be eaten regularly). I was excited when Kristina told me her next book round up would be all about cheese. BRING IT. Oh, and bring me some wine while you’re at it. Take it away, Kristina! — matt

Kristina Gill: I read on Twitter that it is National Cheese Month, so I thought I’d bring you guys a small selection of the books I have on my shelf about cheese.  Something old, something new, but infinitely useful to cover all the bases from buying it, making it, cooking with it, pairing it with other foods.  Last year, Matt did a brief video providing tips on cheese plates.  You should check it out again if you missed it the first time.  (You can just see me sitting at the table at 2:29, then I got sent upstairs!!  But I was allowed to hoover up all the leftovers afterward!)  I must say that after having written these reviews, I sooooo wish I had a cheese plate.

Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins (Workman, 1996) and Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager by Max McCalman and David Gibbons (Clarkson Potter, 2009)  Two books you could consider your cheese atlases.  They take you on a trip around the world of cheese.  The Cheese Primer is 90% about individual cheeses and how to choose and serve them, spanning Europe and the United States.  Mastering Cheese on the other hand is the opposite.  It’s about the food itself, cheese from A-Z, with 25% about the cheeses of Europe and the United States, a little by country a little by type.  The Cheese Primer is a very useful reference book for when I want to hone in on a specific cheese.  When I got the book in 1996, it was so exciting to read, now that I think about it, maybe that’s why I moved to Italy…  I’ve tasted almost all the Italian cheeses in the book, but not many of the others.  And though Nancy Silverton likes to say that it was LA that put burrata on the map in the United States, Steven Jenkins did indeed have burrata in his book in 1996 (and he includes my favorite castelmagno from Piedmont)!  I would highly recommend either (or both) of these books if you want to know about a lot of different cheeses, where they’re from, and what they’re about.

 (Matt’s notes: I don’t think you could find a greater example of mid 90’s graphic design than Cheese Primer’s book cover. Whoa.)

Artisan Cheese Making at Home:  Techniques and Recipes for Mastering World Class Cheeses by Mary Karlin (Ten Speed Press, 2011; photography by Ed Anderson)  I have never used this book because there are three farms not too far from my home which make their own cheeses.  One makes only mozzarella, one makes an entire range of raw milk cheeses including very good mozzarella, and a third organic farm specialized in aged cheeses, up to 8 years.  If I didn’t live so close to these three farms, I might indeed be tempted to do some experimenting.  This book is beautiful (Ed Anderson’s photographs are wonderful) and goes from the beginning to the end of the cheese-making process.  It has recipes for traditional cheeses, like provolone, queso blanco, whole milk ricotta, and chèvre.  It also covers rubbed cheeses (cocoa, honey, etc) and more advanced bloomy rind, surface-ripened, smeared-rind, and blue cheeses.  I am curious about everything and I find even reading about how these cheeses are made fascinating, and understanding the process only increases my respect for the artisans who make good versions of them!  This is a book for that person you know would love to try out cheese-making, or for someone who is just really curious about how cheese is made.  There are also recipes in the book that use cheese as a featured ingredient.

Fiona Beckett’s Cheese Course (Ryland Peters and Small, 2009; photography by Richard Jung)  Now that you know everything there is to know about cheese– where it’s from, how it’s made, how it should taste, how to choose it, and how to serve it, enter British food journalist, Fiona Beckett, with her book on cheese and how to pair it and serve it.  Beckett has cheese covered, from the explanation of the types of cheeses to wine/drink and cheese pairing, cheese boards, and recipes.  Richard Jung has beautifully photographed it all, and it really is torture looking at the photographs if you’re trying to keep a low-fat diet (hello leek and blue cheese quiche with hazelnut crust…lavender honey and vanilla cheesecake anyone??).  This is a book for someone who loves putting together cheese plates and boards.  This is perfect if you don’t need to know too much about any single cheese, but you like to have a general guide on pairing different types of cheese with each other and with other items.  If you need the reader’s digest version, watch Matt’s video!  [There is a recipe in this book for oat crackers, divine with cheese, or you can use my favorite recipe from Richard Corrigan’s Clatter of Forks and Spoons].