Tartine Bread

September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Surpirse! I know I said there wouldn’t be any posts on Thursday, but I was too inspired by this video I found not to share it. It came to me by way of The Kitchn – It’s a story about the owner of Tartine Bakery and the cookbook he wrote. A cookbook that is now on my Amazon wish list.

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Relax, someone else is cooking

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Food Network is one of my favorite channels (and its sister network, the Cooking Channel, would probably be a favorite of mine if we got that channel on Husky Cable). Watching people cook is very relaxing. So I was happy to come across this video while I was reading some blogs. I found it on SwipeLife, but its originally from Kisune Noir. Enjoy.

Slideshows, an analysis

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

The New York Times has a slideshow that accompanies an article about author Leonard Koren and his well-designed house. The slideshow is visually fascinating – the design of his house is calm, and modernist and it really adds a depth to the article it accompanies that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Koren lives in Point Reyes, Calif., and the exterior of his house is weathered-gray wood and beachy grasses and plants. His furniture is an eclectic mix of new and old.

The photos don’t seem to be in any particular order – they are just shots from around his house, illustrating his taste and style. The slideshow turned me on to Koren’s books. He writes about ostensibly mundane things, like arranging objects, but elevates them to an art. Overall, the slideshow of his house was relaxing and enjoyable.

Another slideshow from the NYT that I really enjoyed was a photographic tour of John Steinbeck’s summer home, which accompanied an article about his relatives, and the feud that ensued when they each wanted to inherit the house. Similar to the Leonard Koren slideshow, this one doesn’t seem to have any particular order, but rather its an assemblage of random photos taken around his house that capture little idiosyncrasies, like Steinbeck’s unicorn statue on the lawn.

This slideshow really adds something to the article. You can see why his relatives are so anxious to be the keeper of his legacy – his personal touches are all over the house. The photography is of course well executed, and  the captions are descriptive; many of them describe the picture, as well as offer context from the article.

To be able to glimpse inside someone else’s life via slideshow is something really special, and that words, perhaps, couldn’t give you. A photograph is instantly more striking.

A review of Chez Panisse Vegetables

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Sadly, I do not own Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters, this copy is from the Boston Public Library. My friend Anne turned me on to Alice’s cookbooks when she showed me her wonderful cookbook, The Art of Simple Food (Sidenote: If you happen to be one of the six people who took out one of the only six copies of The Art of Simple Food from the BPL, return it! Please!).

Alice Waters

I am a huge fan of Alice’s. She’s all about local, organic food, and making delicious recipes from those ingredients. The Art of Simple Food is like a great encyclopedia of simple recipes. So when I read about Chez Panisse Vegetables in GQ (the feature that had the cookbook isn’t online, otherwise I would link to it) I knew I had to check it out. Well, it’s great, and I like it for a number of reasons.

1. Just like The Art of Simple Food, this cookbook isn’t just a book of recipes, it’s a compendium of dishes to make with pretty much any vegetable you have on hand. It’s organized by vegetable, so all you have to do is look up what you’ve got. And the recipes couldn’t better. She’s got traditional recipes, and some that don’t give any measurements or cooking times, a la Mark Bittman.

2. The introduction is fascinating. It talks about how Alice’s restaurant, Chez Panisse,  began and the importance of selecting the freshest local produce. My favorite line: “Look for vegetables that look right back at you!”

3. The illustrations. They’re made to look like old-fashioned, stamped images, and they’re really well done. Take a look:

4. The typeface of the book title is reminiscent of the Harry Potter Lumos typeface, except I think this book came first, so perhaps it’s safe to say that J.K. Rowling is an Alice Waters fan?

Usually I like a cookbook with pictures, but I like that this one doesn’t have any. Like the introduction says, you should learn to trust your intuition when you cook, and pictures would make the cook too dependent on the cookbook.

Chez Panisse Vegetables is, in my opinion, indispensable. I can’t wait to cook a recipe from it!

Butternut Squash Risotto

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yikes! I climbed into bed Monday night and realized that I never posted, but I was so tired…so here is my Monday post a day late.

Sometime last week (at this point I can’t remember what day) I made butternut squash risotto for Hayley Miller, Liz Kelley and myself. I used this recipe from Ina Garten, but made a few alterations, like leaving out the prohibitively-expensive saffron. (Also, I mostly knew how to make risotto already, but I just needed a recipe there as a reminder.)

Here are the ingredients I started with:

The butternut squash were from my mom – I met her the previous weekend in Providence, RI, and she gave them to me. They’re straight from our backyard garden in Connecticut. Everything else is from Whole Foods, with the exception of the Riesling, which Hayley brought.

The first step was to chop the butternut squash so it could roast in the oven while the risotto cooked.

Once that was chopped up, I tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper, threw it on a sheet pan and into the oven at a high heat (I think it was 400 degrees). Next up came the onion, garlic and olive oil into the pot.

The vegetable broth (the recipe usually calls for chicken broth, but I was trying to keep this vegan – more on that later) was getting warm in the small pot on the left. Next up, the rice went in the big pot, the Riesling and then I added the vegetable broth, two ladle-fulls at a time when the rice looked dry.

Once the vegetable broth had been added, the final step was to add in the roasted squash.

Most recipes call for lots of freshly-grated parmesan cheese, which I decided to leave out and let my guests add into their own bowls. A few bites into my cheese-less risotto, and I was reaching for the cheese. You need the parmesan.

Here’s the finished result, still in the pot.

And here’s Liz enjoying her meal.

The meal was a hit! Everyone enjoyed it, and we especially enjoyed finishing off the bottle of Riesling (the recipe only calls for half a cup).

I love risotto. It’s a great vehicle for any seasonal vegetable – I think I’ll try some sort of root vegetable as the weather gets colder, and if I don’t have any guests, I’ll have leftovers for days.

My weekly schedule

September 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

So here’s what you can expect from The Curious Cook:

Mondays: I’ll post pics and a description of some kind of delicious meal I cooked the previous week.

Tuesdays: A write up on a cookbook I want but don’t have. Thank goodness for the Boston Public Library.

Wednesdays: I’ll put up a pic of food that looks good to me, or link to another blog post about food that I enjoyed. (I’m busy on Wednesdays!)

Thursdays: No post.

Fridays: I’ll give a summary and my analysis of an interesting bit of food news.

Sneak preview for Monday…a dish involving butternut squash from my mom’s garden in Connecticut!

Multimedia, via Mary Knox Merrill

September 23, 2010 § 1 Comment

Mary Knox Merrill, a staff photographer for Northeastern University and former photojournalist for The Christian Science Monitor, stopped by class Wednesday to talk about multimedia journalsim – that is, using pictures, slideshows, video, voice-overs, and a combination of them all to tell a story.

She told us a fascinating story (one that sounds like the epitome of being in the right place at the right time):  When she was in college, she used to carry around a camera, and caught pictures of an accident of some kind on her digital point-and-shoot camera before any professional news photographer showed up. When one finally did, she showed him the pictures she took, and before she knew it she was in his car on the way to the newspaper where he worked. The paper bought the pictures on the spot.

After college, she interned at The Monitor, and was hired as a staff photographer, which took her around the world photographing a variety of subjects, from gorillas in Africa to cyclists.

In class, we took a look at some multimedia stories from The New York Times and the White House in order to dissect how they were made, put together, and just how many people it takes to create an informative, well-executed multimedia presentation. It can range from one person (Merrill called this a “one-man band”) and a team of photographers, videographers, reporters, producers and designers (in the case of The Times.)

But after watching a video from The Times, she revealed that she revealed that it, and many other new sources, are moving toward slideshows, in place of videos, because they allow for more advertising space (this can be seen on The Times’ multimedia page, which is now practically filled with slideshows.

So are multimedia presentations the future of journalism? We ended class by discussing that question. Yes, we thought, it probably would be the future, but that still remains to be seen.

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