Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister: Essential Summer Reading at Cook the Books

Congratulations to Joanne of Eats Well with Others for her winning post about our last Cook the Books pick “Eating for England” by Nigel Slater.  Thanks are heartily extended to our guest judge and three-time CTB winner, Foodycatand to Jo of Food Junkie, not Junk Food for selecting our book and hosting that last round.  Everyone seems to have really enjoyed reading and cooking from Slater’s book.
Jo passes the hosting torch to me, The Crispy Cook, as we dig into the debut novel by Seattle author Erica Bauermeister, “The School of Essential Ingredients” (NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009).  This elegant novel tells the intertwined stories of a group of students at a monthly cooking class held at a Northwest restaurant.  The owner, Lillian, presides over a a group of eight people of various ages and imparts her cooking secrets and imperturbable assuredness in the kitchen.
The author, Erica Bauermeister, has graciously agreed to serve as our guest judge for this round of Cook the Books, which ends on July 30.  To participate in Cook the Books, one must read the book, cook something up inspired by our reading selection and then blog about it before the deadline.  I will then post a roundup of delicious posts for all to digest and Ms. Bauermeister will pick our winner.
Anyone is eligible to join in the fun and we encourage new Cook the Books participants to join the “regulars” that have read and cooked from a varied batch of  foodcentric books.  You can check the CTB tabs above (Guidelines and Books We’ve Read)  to see what we have read, look at past roundups and check out some sample CTB posts.
If you would like to learn more about our author and her book you can visit her website,where she also provides some tantalizing recipes as made by some of her characters in the novel.  However, as she notes, one should use these recipes as a springboard, or as she says “Trust yourself and the food. Have fun.”
Looking forward to your foodie posts…..

Friday, June 4, 2010

We have a winner!

Hello everyone!
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to judge this round of Cook the Books. For one thing, it has taken the pressure off my own entry and for another I got to really think about the wonderful entries that everyone else put in.
I’m really impressed by the dishes that everyone was inspired to make! Such variety. And nobody could accuse them of being stodgy, boring or bland, which seem to be the criticisms usually laid at British food’s door.
So – to the judging.
In 3rd place is Claudia from Honey From Rock with her take on Sticky Toffee Pudding. I find STP very cloying usually, but her variations on the fruit sounded just wonderful, and less sweet. Plus the booze she added to the sauce makes it reminiscent of Tipsy Tart, which is my favourite South African dessert. Her pudding looks delicious and her post was a great read – with a playful tone that fit the tone of the book perfectly.
In 2nd place is Heather, the girlichef, with her fish & chips. I have often said that my last meal before they take me out and shoot me will be fish and chips, and it would be hard to beat Heather’s lovely version in a light ale batter. And as Nigel Slater wrote in the book, the smell of malt vinegar on hot chips really is “the smell of Britain”. We have a very good chippy down the street from us, and on a Friday night the queue will be out the door with people waiting for their battered haddock, and streams of people clutching their white paper parcels (not newspaper anymore) walking the other way. Heather really captured the essence of a fish supper in her post. Lovely!
And the winner is the Chicken Tikka Masala from Joanne at Eats Well With Others. If Heather’s post was the typical old-fashioned British meal, Joanne’s is the epitome of modern British food. A bit of spice (but not too much), fresh herbs and tender chicken. This dish has the added advantage of sounding much nicer than any I have ever had in a curry house over here! Chicken Tikka Masala may not look British or sound British, but apparently 23 millions portions of the stuff are sold a year in restaurants, so this is absolutely the perfect representation of British food for Cook the Books!
Thanks again for letting me judge this one.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eating for England ROUNDUP

Hello everyone!
I am really sorry it took so long to write the roundup, but I don’t even find time to write my own blog these days… So I decided, instead of  wasting more time in order produce something very well put together, with real commentary under each submission, I would just present each of the contestants and make YOU work harder by reading each person’s entry. This way they will get some traffic too!
When I chose “Eating for England” as a read for CTB I was hoping that all the “mysterious” foods and dishes described in it would provoke our readers/cooks to research, but also discover British cooking. As you will see from the roundup all entries were extremely yummy and most of us discovered new favourite flavours. So enjoy the feast below and hopefully we will have a winner soon!
Glennis from Cantbelieveweate made a mango fool.
Beth from Seventh Level of Boredom made a soft boiled egg for the first time in her life as well as treacle tart.
Claudia from Honey from Rock made  sticky toffee pudding
Andreas from Delta Kitchen made lemon and basil pasta
Wendy from Celiacs in the House made a gluten free sticky ginger cake
Heather from Girlichef made fish and chips
Simona from Briciole made digestive biscuits and Chesire cheese
Joanna from Eats well with others made chicken Tikka Masala
Natahya from Living in the kitchen with Puppies made an Amaretto Syllabub
Rachel from The Crispy Cook made Pickled Onions for her Ploughman’s Lunch
Deb from Kahakai Kitchen made a Thirty minute fish supper
Finally me, Jo from Foodjunkie, made Perfect Scones