'Tis the season to be fancypants. Our Top Pick in Cookbooks for December, Sweet by Valerie Gordon, is the ideal guide to the most gorgeous and delicious sweet treats of the season. Writes Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, "Sophisticated, grown-up winners, all; you can’t go wrong."
Gelée sounds so much more sophisticated and elegant than the word “gelatin.” We all grew up with the packaged variety in those electric colors with flavors like orange and lime. Dispel that notion of gelatin; this version is far more delicious and impressive. Use your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine.
2. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup water and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
3. Add the gelatin to the sugar syrup, stirring until it has dissolved. Pour into a large pitcher. Pour the Champagne into the pitcher and stir with a long spoon.
4. Pour the gelée into glasses or small glass bowls and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, until set.
The gelée can be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
Adding strawberries, sliced if large, and raspberries, is a delicious way to vary this recipe. Add the berries to the glasses before refrigerating the gelée. If you add berries, it is best to serve the gelées the day they are made, as the berries can darken and break down, and the effect will not be as pretty.
The season of gift books is upon us, and if you've got a foodie on your list, Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt recommends Daniel Boulud's Daniel: My French Cuisine above all other cookbooks this year. Now to find someone with enough culinary talents to take on recipes like this one . . .
Barley-Mustard Crust (makes extra)
For the Barley-Mustard Crust
Best suited to armchair savoring, Daniel Boulud's Daniel: My French Cuisine is a gorgeous cookbook, our Top Pick in Cookbooks for November and one of the best gourmet gifts of the season. With recipes from Boulud’s famed New York restaurant, Daniel will inspire the most intrepid of cooks.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
With delicious recipes like this one, London restaurateurs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's cookbook Ottolenghi is likely to stir up a "rapturous feeding frenzy" similar to the one inspired by their award-winning, trend-setting cookbook Jerusalem. Ottolenghi is our Top Pick in Cookbooks for October!
To prepare the cauliflower, trim off any leaves and use a small knife ?to divide the cauliflower into little florets. Add them to a large pan ?of boiling salted water and simmer for 15 minutes, until very soft. Drain into a colander.
While the cauliflower is cooking, put the flour, chopped parsley, garlic, shallots, eggs, spices, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk together well to make a batter. When the mixture is smooth and homogenous, add the warm cauliflower. Mix to break down the cauliflower into ?the batter.
Pour the sunflower oil into a wide pan to a depth of 2?3 inch / 1.5 cm and place over high heat. When it is very hot, carefully spoon in generous portions of the cauliflower mixture, 3 tablespoons per fritter. Take care with the hot oil! Space the fritters apart with a fish slicer, making sure they are not overcrowded. Fry in small batches, controlling the oil temperature so the fritters cook but don’t burn. ?They should take 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Remove from the pan and drain well on a few layers of paper towels. Serve with the sauce on the side.
Ottolenghi is our Top Pick in Cookbooks for October! Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt promises that these sunny, bold Middle Eastern recipes, packed with Mediterranean and Californian influences, "will make even the most jaded cook jump for culinary joy."
serves 6 to 8
Preheat the oven to 325°F / 170°C. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.
Put the oil and superfine sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a whisk if you don’t have a mixer). Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and, using a sharp knife, scrape the seeds out into the bowl. Beat the oil, sugar, and vanilla together, then gradually add the eggs. The mix should be smooth and thick at this stage. Mix in the diced apples, raisins, and lemon zest, then lightly fold in the sifted dry ingredients.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl, either by hand or with a mixer, until they have a soft meringue consistency. Fold them into the batter in 2 additions, trying to maintain as much air as possible.
Pour the batter into the lined pan, level it with an icing spatula, and place in the oven. Bake for 1½ hours, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan.
Once the cake is completely cold, you can assemble it. Remove from the pan and use a large serrated knife to cut it in half horizontally. ?You should end up with 2 similar disks. If the cake is very domed, ?you might need to shave a bit off the top half to level it.
To make the icing, beat together the butter, muscovado sugar, and maple syrup until light and airy. You can do this by hand, or, preferably, in a mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the cream cheese and beat until the icing is totally smooth.
Using the icing spatula, spread a layer of icing 3/8 inch / 1 cm thick ?over the bottom half of the cake. Carefully place the top half on it. Spoon the rest of the icing on top and use the icing spatula to create a wavelike or any other pattern. Dust it with confectioners’ sugar, if you like.
Our August Top Pick in Cookbooks is Raghavan Iyer's Indian Cooking Unfolded, a wonderfully accessible "Master Class" for cooking Indian food. Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt calls this one "maharajah-worthy."
2. Combine the vinegar, chiles, salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl to make a slurry. Set the slurry aside.
3. Fill up a medium-size bowl with cold water. Take a leaf of kale, cut along both sides of the tough rib, and discard it. Slice the leaf in half lengthwise. Repeat with the remaining leaves. Stack the leaf halves, about 6 at a time, one on top of the other, and roll them into a tight log. Thinly slice the log crosswise; you will end up with long, slender shreds. When cutting the kale, you can’t help notice how strong smelling and grassy it is (no wonder I love the smell of fresh-mowed grass in the summer). Dunk the shreds into the bowl of water to rinse off any grit, then scoop the shreds out and drain them in a colander. Repeat once or twice if the kale does not appear clean.
4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, add the turmeric-smeared fillet to the skillet. The instant sizzle and sear will turn the salmon light brown on the underside, about 2 minutes. Turn it over and repeat with the second side, about 2 minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate. Add the garlic to the skillet and stir-fry it until light brown and aromatic, about 1 minute.
5. Pour the vinegar-based spice slurry into the skillet and stir to mix with the garlic. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. The pungency will slap you in the face (in a good way—I promise) and the liquid will release all the browned bits of fish from the bottom of the skillet into the thin sauce.
6. Add the kale shreds and stir to coat them evenly with the liquid. Pour 1?2 cup of water into the skillet and stir. Lower the heat to medium, cover the skillet, and stew the kale, stirring occasionally, until the shreds are tender when tested (and tasted, I hope), 5 to 8 minutes.
7. Stir the coconut milk into the kale. Let the milk come to a boil uncovered. Add the seared salmon to the liquid, basting it to make sure it continues to poach. Cook, uncovered, scooping up the sauce and basting the fish occasionally, until it barely starts to flake, 3 to 5 minutes.
8. Transfer the fish to a serving plate. Let the sauce boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the sauce over the salmon and serve.
Our Top Pick in Cookbooks for July is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's paean to vegetables, River Cottage Veg! Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt raves: "His approach is practical and practiced, his enthusiasm boundless and inspiring. Vegging out has just taken on a new and delicious meaning."
Meanwhile, cut the eggplants and potatoes into 1-inch / 2.5cm cubes, tip into a bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Take the roasting pan from the oven and place on a stable, heatproof surface. Add the eggplants and potatoes and turn to coat in the oil, being careful not to splash yourself. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Remove from the oven, stir in the garlic, and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are golden brown all over. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a little more salt and pepper if needed, and any finishing touches you fancy. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg is our Top Pick in Cookbooks for July, and as Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt writes, it "is big, beautiful and so bountiful that it’s not going to encourage moderation."
So here's to gorging ourselves on veggies!
Melt the butter with the oil in the frying pan (or tarte tatin dish). Add the cider vinegar, sugar, and some salt and pepper, stir well, then ?add the halved beets and toss to coat. You want the beets to fill the pan snugly, so add a few more if you need to. Cover the pan with foil, transfer to the oven, and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the beets are tender.
Take the pan from the oven and rearrange the beet halves neatly, placing them cut side up. Lay the pastry disk over the beets, patting it down and tucking in the edges down the side of the pan. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is fully puffed up and golden brown.
Put the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a screw-topped jar, season well with salt and pepper, and shake to combine. Trickle over the tarte tatin and serve.
Our Top Pick in Cookbooks for June is Pati's Mexican Table by Pati Jinich, a collection of recipes for "the simple, healthy, comforting, sensational food that’s served in homes," not the gooey Mexican food so many of us are used to.
2. Serve with the garnishes so everyone can fi x their corn the way they want. The traditional way is to spread on a layer of butter, then a layer of mayonnaise. Next, thoroughly cover the corn with the crumbled cheese, either by rolling the corn on a plate of the cheese or sprinkling it on. Finish with a shower of salt and ground chile, then a squeeze or two of lime juice.
? MEXICAN COOK’S TRICK: Grilling the corn draws out the sugars and caramelizes them, creating a rustic sweetness that is magical with the garnishes.
Fabio Viviani's debut cookbook, Fabio's Italian Kitchen, is our Top Pick in Cookbooks! Writes Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, "Fabio’s food is old world, old school; it’s “not meant to impress, it’s meant to feed people.” When you add his Mom’s Meatballs, Drunken Spaghetti and Chicken with Marsala Sauce to your repertoire, you’ll be feeding family and friends real Italian home cooking, and you’ll agree that Fabio is favoloso!"
In Italy we feel bad throwing away even old wine, so we color our pasta water with it to get a little aroma of wine and a dramatic presentation. The flavor of the wine is in the water but you’re not going to feel it, and you give leftover wine a last chance to be useful. The more wine you use, the redder the spaghetti will be—and this dish is all about the presentation, so you can use up to a whole bottle depending on how much you have around. You can also always buy an inexpensive bottle just for the recipe.
Add the spaghetti and about 1 tablespoon of the reserved cooking liquid to the sauté pan. Once the liquid has reduced, remove the pasta from the heat.
Add the ricotta and walnuts and mix with tongs. Top with the Pecorino and serve.