Quite often twins and triplets have a special bond that lasts through life. The triplet Emich sisters are an exceptional case. They all attended the same university, UNLV. They opened up a wine bar and lounge together, Trilogy. They took a break. And now they co-own Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place in Boulder, Colorado.
The 100 recipes here come from Shine’s kitchen and are gluten-free and paleo-inspired. Now, sometimes you see those descriptions of a cookbook and you shy away, thinking that the book is for a special audience. No, this book has something for everyone. The sisters have studied nutrition and healthy cooking, and that background influences this book to be sure, but this still a very mainstream cookbook with ideas for all of us: with or without gluten, carnivore, vegetarian, or vegan.
What is happy about this book is that their special influences have led to some creative recipe ideas. Now, I admit to being addicted to chip dip made with onion soup packets. My wife Suzi is weaning me off that stuff and the Jalapeno Hummus she offers is a healthier alternative. So I was happy to see the eye-popping Beet Hummus in this book. Take a look:
There are many ideas here to carry you from breakfast to snack time in front of your TV:
Perfectly poached eggs with avocado hollandaise
Baked eggs in avocado cups [the girls love avocado]
Sweet potato and kale hash
Radish chips with arugula sunflower pesto
Squash and pear soup with spiced coconut milk
Whole roasted chicken with maple-roasted vegetables
Seared pork chops with braised cabbage and fennel
Cauliflower fried rice
Banana chocolate mouse
The recipe headers describe the health benefits of the particular ingredients and preparation steps. As you happily indulge, you will probably focus on flavor and texture. It’s grand that the recipes are healthy but, in the moment, you’ll just want that next forkful.
This is a pretty book, telling a charming story, and filled with ideas to extend your “standard” recipe collection. What better way to start a morning than with coffee and some Sweet Potato and Kale Hash? And, if you have never eaten a parsnip, consider these Parsnip Fries! I’ll be posting the recipe next week.
With over twenty books in her portfolio, Judith Choate is a distinguished food writer. And a great chef. Some of those books are hers alone and others are collaborations with prominent chefs who secured her culinary power in putting recipes into print.
That spread of experience displays her manifest skills. She does things on her own. She does things with others. She can be a solo artist or a wonderful partner. In any role, Judith produces wonderful food.
In 1992 she published Meat & Potatoes. That is a basic title and this is a basic book, a paean to classic Middle American cuisine. The recipes here have simple titles, simple lists of ingredients, and easy instructions. The results are anything but simple. And in fact she does rightly boast a bit. The first recipe in the book is called The Perfect Roast Turkey. Followed by The Perfect Roast Chicken.
Simple, but sophisticated. Judith has a knack for being direct. If you’ve ever met her, had those eyes stare right into you, you know she is a no-nonsense lady. So, the recipe titles may be simple, like Macaroni and Cheese. The results are not simply simple, they are perfected. For the Mac and Cheese, she explains that her journey there began with a kitchen disaster. Yes, the chef made a mess. And she vowed not to do that again. She was determined to perfect the recipe so you get just the comfort food you craved. That ideal recipe is here.
Judith is one of those rare food writers that you can totally trust. Every recipe has been tested and tuned. You want great food? Just follow the recipe.
Because the book is now just shy of a quarter century old, there are some old-timers here. Have you ever had Chicken a la King? Pepper Steak? You’ll find them here and you’ll be most happy if you try them. Here’s a photo of that Chicken a la King. I’ll post the recipe for it tomorrow. Planning ahead, you need to buy a roast chicken, some bread, mushrooms and celery. Get ready.
Other recipes in Meat & Potatoes include:
Roast Loin of Veal
Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
Chicken Fricassee with Dumplings
Creamed Chip Beef on Toast
Liver and Onions
Fried Green Tomatoes
Chocolate Cream Pie
Fresh Coconut Cake
I know. Very basic sounding recipes. Except, if the recipes are perfected, then these dishes are more than merely iconic. They are feasts. Meat & Potatoes is a feast-filled tribute to American classics.
Ordinarily, I want my cake made with butter and not oil. It’s a personal preference matter. I just find oil-based cakes to be less attractive in terms of taste and texture.
Except for olive oil cakes. Somehow a good olive oil seems to shine in creating a very special density and texture that I love — and that I don’t believe butter can match.
Beyond olive oil, this cake is rich with eggs and milk, plus citrus impact from zest and juice and liqueur. And the cake is paired with a spring celebration of strawberries and rhubarb in a compote.
“Compote” is a French word for “mixture.” The dessert began in the 1600’s in France combing fruit, often whole, cooked in sugar syrup seasoned with spices or other fruit: cinnamon, lemon or orange peel, vanilla. Sometimes almonds, coconut, candied fruit or raisins were added. These were very sweet desserts.
Served with biscuits and sour cream, the French believed a compote balanced the effect of summer humidity on the human body. Think of it as organic air conditioning.
This cake, served with the strawberry-rhubarb compote, is a totally satisfying dessert all by itself, but it is also a platform for extensions: whipped cream, ice cream, gelato, … You can make it simple, as pictured, or an extravaganza. Add a scoop of blueberry gelato, for example, and you have your total 4th of July dessert.
The compote can be chilled before using, or served warm which actually intensifies the rhubarb notes.
Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Yield: serves 8
For the Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1 ½ tablespoons grated orange zest
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup Grand Marnier
For the Compote:
12 ounces slender rhubarb stalks (about 3), cut into 2-by ⅓ – inch-thick sticks
1 pound fresh strawberries, halved
½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
For the Cake:
Heat the oven to 350° F. Oil, butter, or spray a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (If your cake pan is less than 2 inches deep, divide between 2 pans and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.)
In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest and juice and Grand Marnier. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.
For the Compote:
In a large heavy skillet, bring the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often. Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the juices thicken slightly and the rhubarb is falling apart. Let cool.
Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake. Cut the cake into wedges, place on dessert plates, and spoon the compote on top. Drizzle a little olive oil around the cake and serve.
Sources: Cake from Maialino Restaurant in New York City and Compote from Curtis Stone’s What’s for Dinner
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/50th second at ISO-640