Monday, February 14, 2011

En Passant . . .

From time to time, ideas cross my mind, often in response to questions from friends, that are worth writing about, but do not individually merit full posts. This is the first post in a series devoted to such matters.

1. Rancho Gordo sells many varieties of wonderful heirloom beans. They are so fresh that the overnight soak is generally reduced to four hours.

2. I love Cook's Illustrated, and have a rather unwieldy collection spanning many years. An easy way to access the work done at America's Test Kitchen is to buy The Complete American's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010 and The TV Companion Cookbook 2011. I won't swear to it but it seems to me these books have all, but if not most, of what you find in Cook's Illustrated, including a somewhat shorter version of the analysis that makes the recipes so useful. I still haven't thrown away my Cook's Illustrated but probably could. And certainly it's nice to have so much in a single book (or 2 books).

3. I haven't written about The Art of Eating. This is a very scholarly, no-nonsense, no-ads publication, edited by Edward Behr, that comes out four times a year. I usually read it from cover to cover even though I will never make use of most of what's in it. Occasionally, though, I do use what I learn there; for example, I recently discovered a great product, Trahana, a kind of Greek sour couscous-like grain made with yogurt and dried on the rocks of sunny Greek villages.

4. If you use a mandoline to slice vegetables, you will know that it's a great tool, but dangerous to use. To get the last bit of the zucchini requires a scary motion, and the food pushers that come with mandolines are not good. The solution: get a cut-resistant glove, made from super-tough space-age fibers, and slice with abandon. Microplane makes a good one, which sells for about $15.

5. Like hot sauce? Tears of Joy Hot Sauce Shop, in Austin, Texas, has 300 types of bottled hot sauces from around the world. I have not yet ordered because my wife is not a crazy hot sauce fan like myself. I'm looking for a partner for an order.

Bobby Jay

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