'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.
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.
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.
Our May Top Pick in Cookbooks is Fabio's Italian Kitchen by Fabio Viviani, an "old world, old school" celebration of Italian tradition. Fabio's personal story of becoming a chef is great, and so are the 150 recipes. Writes Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, "Fabio is favoloso!"
Preheat the oven to 375?F.
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot and cook the carrots, onion, and celery until soft and starting to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
While the vegetables sauté, make the meatballs. Mix the beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Form into 1?2-inch balls and set on a baking sheet. Bake for 12–15 minutes.
Add the spinach to the sautéing vegetables and let it wilt. Then add the chicken stock to the vegetables and cook over high heat until it is somewhat reduced. Add the pasta to cook, and when the meatballs are ready, add them to the pot, too.
Boil 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home by Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner is our Top Pick in Cookbooks for April! Well-fed workers make happy workers, so before preparing delicious meals for hungry patrons, restaurant staff often partake in a "family meal." Family Table collects 150 easy, affordable "family meal" recipes, peppered with behind-the-scenes stories.
Bring the stock to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, then reduce the heat and keep at a bare simmer.
Warm the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the rice, stir to coat, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed by the rice. Add a ladleful of the stock and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed by the rice. Continue adding stock a ladleful at a time and stirring until most of the stock has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes.
Stir in the peas, thyme, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to warm the peas. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the grated cheese and the butter, if using, and serve.
Our March 2013 Top Pick in Cookbooks is The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and it's the ultimate cookbook to help bring the divine flavors of the Lowcountry to any kitchen.
This recipe is a Charleston institution—the Cheese Spread from the hallowed Henry’s.
Time: 10 minutes
When Henry Hasselmeyer and his son-in-law, Walter Shaffer (pronounced SHAFF-er), opened Henry’s, a beer parlor at 54 North Market Street, in 1932, they served only beer and deviled crabs (see page 153), baked up by Hasselmeyer’s wife in their home on Ashley Avenue and delivered to the establishment on cookie sheets in a long black Packard. By the 1940s, Henry’s had evolved into Charleston’s most ambitious restaurant, with waiters in white jackets, steaks trucked in from the Kansas City butcher Pfaelzer Brothers, and the house’s own fanciful turns on local fish and shellfish: seafood à la Wando (named for a river north of Charleston), flounder à la Gherardi (named, it is variously said, for a rear admiral of the U.S. Navy who served in the Civil War, or for his son, a prominent engineer, who might have been a patron). Of all the elegant touches at Henry’s, which survived until 1985, when the family sold it, our favorite was the iced crudité dish set down on every table at the start of the meal. The plate, a simple steel oval, cradled celery, radishes, green cocktail olives, and an astonishingly good cheese spread. Some have likened this dip to pimento cheese, but it may have been more awesome, with the creamy-fiery thing of p.c., but torqued up by horseradish to a picklish, sinus-clearing intensity. It arrived on the table with little fanfare— it appeared nowhere on the menu (see Henry’s Menu, page 123)—but left a deep impression on people who loved Henry’s. This latter category included Albert Goldman, the late Elvis biographer, rock-and-roll critic, and frequent contributor to High Times—“the voice of the marijuana community”—who praised the cheese spread in his hilariously florid story about Charleston in a 1973 issue of Travel & Leisure. Walter Shaffer’s son, Henry, who graduated from the Citadel in 1950 and supervised the kitchen at Henry’s for several years in the fifties, loaned us the restaurant’s original recipe, typed on an old typewriter, calibrated for a commercial quantity. We’ve adapted it here for household use, although once you taste it, you may think we’re high for ratcheting down the quantity. It’s a fabulous spread for asparagus spears, radishes, carrot sticks, and crackers, to name a few. Or stir it into grits or fold it into an omelet!