Suzi's Blog

Cooking by the Book Perspective: Chipotle Heat and Chipotle Convenience



This post is triggered by Monday’s recipe for chipotle cream. Chipotle has this reputation for being ungodly hot. But as the photo shows, just minutes out of the fridge, they are only in the 50s, so …

I may have the concept of heat confused here. I’ll need to recheck. I’m a little confused right now. I saw something that had my head spinning and it is only now that I can begin to sort it out and write about it.

When I was researching chipotle cream, one of the recipes I saw, but did not mention, used a new product: packaged chipotle paste, that is chipotle and adobe processed, amalgamated, and put into a tube so you can conveniently squeeze out flavor. And heat. One inch at a time.

I saw the product mentioned in the recipe and I went to the vendor’s website. I saw where I could purchase the product in New York City, and the price for it. Two or three times the price of a simple metal can of chipotle in adobo, one of those cans you may have in your pantry.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? Is it a good thing? A bad thing?

After an hour, I got testy. It’s too much. I don’t buy anchovy paste in tubes any more, or tomato paste. I take real anchovies, for example, and I get dirty and I make my own paste, which is different every time.

Ask a little kid where hamburger comes from, and he’ll say, “The store.” People don’t know where their food comes from or what is involved in transitioning molecules from the soil and air to fruits, vegetables, and proteins.

And now tubed chipotle. It’s too much. The cooking experience should involve all the senses. The pop of that lid as you open the can of chipotles. The assault on your nose as the fumes first rise up. The squishiness of the chili as you try to cut it. The smoothness of the adobo sauce that triggers all kinds of ideas: what happens if I put that sauce in mayonnaise. Magic happens. But that inspiration does not come out of a tube.

We need the full sensory experience when we cook or we lose touch with our heritage, ourselves, and our food. For those of us, most of us, who are not astronauts, cooking and eating does not have to be an exercise in squeezing something processed so much that all connection to its roots is lost in the plastic and metal packaging thingy that encloses it, strangles it. It’s strangling us, too.

If I want chipotle, I’m going to risk getting my shirt stained.



Cookbook Review: On Skyhorse Publishing

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Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” If you love books and check the news about publishing, that quote can often come to mind. We hear about the imminent death of the printed book. Yet, Amazon is manufacturing a drone fleet to delivery books to our doorstop — how they are going to fly into my third floor Manhattan apartment is beyond me but I have faith in technology. And homeowners insurance.

Local bookstores perish, in some places, but thrive in others. Some authors prosper while others talk about how hard it is to get published, or to make a living even if their words are printed.

And all of us readers face a challenge in finding new things, new perspectives, new styles of books. The “big book” stores do not always have the latest or the broadest selection. It’s hard to get your hands physically on niche books, to turn the pages, and to be charmed by the physicality of the book.

So, I was wondering: what am I missing out? I began reading Amazon not just for book titles but for book publishers. Who is new? Who has niche cookbooks out there that I may have to order on line and that I almost certainly will not easily find on a local bookstore shelf, even in Manhattan.

And I’m finding those publishers. I should mention Ryland, Peters and Small, a British house that publishes lovely cookbooks. I’ve posted about them many times and suggested you visit their website to see what a delightful array of books they have. [Actually, I have several in my queue here and you’ll see some great books spotlighted.].

The good news for any foodie is that I’ve found another wonderful, important publisher: Skyhorse Publishing. The very odd thing is that I saw the name the same week that Suzen and I began planning for an August outing to Yellowstone National Park. Now, when I read “Skyhorse” I imagined this firm would be located in Seattle, or Montana somewhere or maybe Denver. But not east of Denver. Not with that name.

Maybe, if I was out west anyway, I could visit them. Turns out, visiting is possible, and I don’t have to go through security at an airport.

Skyhorse Publishing is based in Manhattan, just 2.5 miles from where I live. If I want them to deliver, no drone is necessary. They could practically toss a book in my window. Well, maybe 2.5 miles is a stretch, but how many of you have a major publisher that close to home? There are benefits to living in Manhattan.

Here’s what the website says about Skyhorse:

Skyhorse Publishing was launched in September 2006 by Tony Lyons, former president and publisher of the Lyons Press, and its first titles were published in March 2007. Lyons talked to dozens of potential investors, all of whom asked the same question: ‘Can a new book publishing company make it in the current environment?’ His response remains: ‘Succeeding as an independent publisher is not going to be easy, but by scouring the country for genre books that large publishers ignore, resurrecting forgotten classics, and by moving both more quickly and with greater attention to detail than other publishers, I believe we can flourish.'

And flourish they have. Skyhorse has 3,000 titles in its backlist. Eight New York Times best sellers.

Foodies now have a deep, rich treat in store. Go to the Skyhorese website and navigate to the Cooking & Beverages section: 

There are almost 200 titles here, diverse and interesting. I just blogged about Let Them Eat Kale! which is a charming and carefully constructed book that will have you going way beyond mere kale chips. The production quality of Kale! — and other books I have seen — is very strong: lovely paper, great layout, photos that bleed to the edge of the page, and those photos are really well posed. Seductive enough to have you headed for the kitchen. The recipes themselves? From Vegetarian Grilling I’ve already posted the Onions with Fig and Goat Cheese Topping. It’s almost too pretty to eat, but eat it you will. And with delight.

I invite you to go and browse at Skyhorse. You can order online. There are many choices, and I’m sure you’ll be pleased to have this significant new source for culinary inspiration.