THE COOK’S ATELIER | RECIPE

Mother and daughter American expats Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini always dreamed of living in France. With a lot of hard work and a sprinkling of fate, they realised this dream and founded The Cook’s Atelier, a celebrated French cooking school in the heart of Burgundy.

Combining their professional backgrounds in food and wine, they created a convivial international culinary destination. Their debut cookbook chronicles their life in a charming French village and their relationships with the region’s artisan food producers and winemakers. Featuring more than 100 market-inspired recipes, the book—like their school—teaches classic French techniques in a beautiful, approachable way. With more than 200 enchanting photographs, THE COOK’S ATELIER is a richly illustrated presentation of the family’s delicious world, and a practical primer for adopting elements of the French lifestyle at home, no matter where you live.

The following recipe is from The Cook’s Atelier: Recipes, Techniques and Stories from Our French Cooking School by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini, photographs by Anson Smart. 


Lemon Soufflés

SERVES 6 TO 8

When we make soufflés, we can’t help but think of Julia Child. Inspired by her classic recipe, we begin with a sauce bouilli, a thickened mixture of milk, sugar, and flour, which makes them especially delicate. Light and airy with just a hint of lemon, they can be adapted using orange juice and zest or vanilla.

  • 7 tablespoons (90 g) granulated sugar
  • 1¼ cups (300 ml) whole milk
  • ¼ cup (30 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the moulds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 6 large egg whites
  • ¹⁄⁸ teaspoon fleur de sel
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).

2. Butter the insides of eight individual 1-cup (240-ml) ramekins or one large 6-cup (1.4-L) soufflé mould. Using 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, sprinkle the inside of the mould(s), tapping to remove any excess. Set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, ¼ cup (50 g) of the granulated sugar, and the flour until well-combined. Place over medium-high heat and cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let it cool for 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, whisking until fully incorporated before adding the next yolk. While the mixture is still warm, add the butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice and whisk until fully combined.

5. In a large, very clean, preferably copper bowl, use a large balloon whisk to beat the egg whites with the remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and the salt until firm peaks form. Stir a large spoonful of the whipped egg whites into the soufflé base to begin lightening it. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites, leaving some white streaks in the mixture and working quickly to keep the base light and airy.

6. Pour the finished mixture into the prepared mould(s), filling them just below the top rim. Run your thumb along the inside edge of the moulds to remove any excess and ensure a proper lift. Bake until the tops of the soufflés are golden brown and lifted about 2 inches (5 cm) over the tops of the ramekins, 15 to 18 minutes (25 to 30 minutes for the soufflé mould). Do not be tempted to open the oven during baking or the soufflés will fall. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.


The Cook’s Atelier is out now – find out more here.
Follow The Cook’s Atelier cooking school on Instagram and through their website.

PLATTERS AND BOARDS | RECIPE

This visual cornucopia of a cookbook is THE guide to entertaining with effortless style. Celebrated author and food blogger Shelly Westerhausen shares the secrets to creating casually chic spreads anyone can make and everyone will enjoy (and envy). Organised by time of day, 40 contemporary arrangements are presented with gorgeous photography, easy–to–prepare recipes, suggested meat and drink pairings and notes on preparation and presentation.

Helpful advice includes tips on portioning, picking surfaces and vessels, pairing complementary textures and flavours, plus a handy chart featuring board suggestions for a variety of occasions (from holiday parties to baby showers). PLATTERS AND BOARDS is an inspiring housewarming or hostess gift and resource for throwing unforgettable get–togethers.

Shelly Westerhausen is the author of VEGETARIAN HEARTLAND and the founder of the blog Vegetarian Ventures. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her boyfriend, Wyatt.

The following recipe is from Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen with Wyatt Worcel


FONDUE SPREAD

Fondue (the French word for “melt”) was a popular party theme in the fifties, sixties, and seventies in the United States, and it’s still just as thrilling to have a fondue party today as it was back then! With little preparation required and a communal serving style, fondue is an interactive way to bring people together at the table.

STRATEGY: Dice and prepare as much of the food ahead of time as you can. Steam the vegetables and cook the fondue right before eating. Look for color-coded fondue spears
so that each guest can keep track of their own eating utensils (especially if guests are eating directly from the spears instead of transferring to their plates and using forks).

DRINK PAIRING: Serve with an aromatic white wine like a Riesling. If you want to serve something more unique, add a splash of Kirsch, a German cherry brandy, as it is traditionally added to many cheese fondue recipes.

WYATT’S MEATY SUGGESTION: Salami and cheese are already a delicious match, but when this salty meat is dipped in warm fondue, it reaches an entirely new level of mouth-watering.

SERVES 6

  • Triple Cheese Truffle Oil Fondue (recipe follows)
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 cups [170 g] snap peas
  • 3 apples, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cups [480 g] seedless grapes
  • 1 pumpernickel loaf, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 French bread loaf, cut into bite-size pieces

1. Transfer the fondue to a fondue pot and place in the centre of your serving table.

2. Working in batches, lightly steam the broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and bell peppers. Transfer the veggies to a platter with the snap peas and set on the serving table. Lightly toss the apple slices in lemon juice, place on a plate with the grapes and put on the serving table.

3. Combine the two breads on the last plate and place on the serving table.


Triple Cheese Truffle Oil Fondue

MAKES 1 1/2 CUPS [400 G]

  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup [240 ml] dry white wine
  • 11/2 cups [110 g] shredded white
  • Cheddar cheese
  • 11/2 cups [110 g] shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup [80 g] shredded Emmental cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 11/2 tsp white truffle oil

1. Rub the garlic all over the inside of a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and cornstarch and whisk together. Slowly pour in the white wine while whisking. Turn the heat to medium and let cook until simmering. Once simmering, add small handfuls of the shredded cheeses to the mixture, constantly whisking and making sure the cheese has completely melted before adding another handful. Once all the cheese has been added and melted, remove from the heat and season with pepper.

2. Transfer the fondue to a fondue pot and drizzle with truffle oil. Serve right away.


Platters and Boards is published on the 20th of March 2018. Find out more here

HEALTHYISH | RECIPE

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Healthyish is recipe developer Lindsay Maitland Hunt’s totally doable, delicious, and dead-simple cookbook, helping us to eat how we all want to eat – healthy, but with an occasional bit of decadence.

Lindsay Maitland Hunt is an expert recipe developer who has created recipes for everyone from college students to busy families to seasoned home cooks. Now, she brings her trademark skillset to her debut cookbook, Healthyish.

For anyone on the move, working long hours, and trying to eat a bit more healthfully, Healthyish offers 131 satisfying recipes with straightforward instructions, using as few pots and pans as possible and ingredients that won’t break the bank. Not to mention, you can find the ingredients at your everyday grocery store (no garam masala or açai berries here!).

Emphasising balanced eating rather than fad diet tricks, Hunt includes guilt-free recipes for every meal of the day, from breakfast to snacks to dinner, and yes, even Healthyish treats, such as:

  • Banana–Avocado Chai Shake
  • Peanut Butter Granola
  • Salty Watermelon, Feta, Mint, and Avocado Salad
  • Miso–Butter Toast with a Nine-Minute Egg
  • Pozole with Pinto Beans and Queso Fresco
  • Spiced Chicken and Chickpea Flatbreads with Cucumber–Dill Tzatziki
  • Single-Serving Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookie

Designed for novices and experienced cooks alike, Hunt’s meticulously considered recipes offer crowd-pleasing flavour profiles and time-saving tips and tricks, and her vegetable-centric dishes, with an occasional dash of meat, dairy, and decadence, are showcased in vibrant, mouthwatering photographs.

Destined to be an everyday kitchen essential, filled with splattered and dog-eared pages, Healthyish is a call for simple ingredients, food that makes us feel good, quick prep and even quicker cleanup, so we all can enjoy what’s most important at the end of a long day: getting back to the couch.

Lindsay Maitland Hunt is a recipe developer and food writer living in Brooklyn, New York. A former editor at Real Simple and BuzzFeed Food, her clients have also included Country Living, Delish, Food Network and Food & Wine. You can follow her on Instagram here.

The following recipe is from Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt.


Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

MAKES 24 BARS

These bars have a classic chocolate chip cookie flavour, but made Healthyish with whole-wheat flour. Instead of scooping individual cookies, you’ll save time by scraping all the dough into a pan and cutting after baking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2¼ cups (9 oz/270 g) whole-wheat flour, spooned and levelled
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • teaspoons kosher salt, or ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¼ cups (9 oz/250 g) packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (3½ oz/100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces (340 g) chopped bittersweet chocolate, or 2 cups (345 g) bittersweet chocolate chips

HOW TO MAKE IT

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175°C), with a rack set in the centre. Butter a 9-by-13‑inch (20-by-30-cm) baking dish and line with parchment; leave a 2-inch (5-cm) flap overhanging on two sides. Set aside. Whisk the flour, espresso powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Whisk both sugars in a large bowl, making sure to break up any lumps. Add the melted butter and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute, until the mixture forms one mass. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula.

3. Whisk 1 egg into the sugar-butter mixture, stirring until it’s fully mixed in. Whisk in the second egg and the vanilla and scrape the sides of bowl again.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with the spatula to fully combine until there are no streaks of dry ingredients left. Stir in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 10 minutes while the oven preheats. Bake, rotating halfway through, for 25 to 30 minutes, until the bars are golden brown and the crust is matte (not wet or glossy looking). Cool completely before cutting into 24 bars.

You can make and refrigerate the dough up to 2 days in advance, or freeze the unbaked bars for up to 3 months. They’ll take longer to bake, 30 to 35 minutes.


Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt is out now – find out more here!

COOK BEAUTIFUL | STYLE YOUR WINTER TABLE WITH ATHENA CALDERONE

Athena Calderone cooks with internationally acclaimed chefs, hosts stunning dinner parties for luxury publications, and showcases it all on EyeSwoon, an online destination for food, fashion, and design. And in Cook Beautiful, she’s revealing the secrets to preparing and presenting gorgeous meals. Included are 100 seasonal recipes with step-by-step advice on everything from prep to presentation—from artfully layering a peach and burrata salad, to searing a perfect steak. Organised by season, each section ends with a menu for entertaining and ideas for table decor. Following in the tradition of EyeSwoon, this book is where design meets food, where culinary tradition marries food styling, where home chefs become experts. These are beautiful, tasteful dishes to make for friends and family, with advice that will inspire you to create visually stunning, and still wholly delicious, culinary masterpieces.

The following is an extract from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone (ABRAMS Books)


THE WINTER TABLE

Rather than mourn winter’s waning light, embrace the darkness with lush, moody décor and a warm, cosy vibe. Here, saturated grey linen, rumpled for added texture, serves as the backdrop for simple black ceramics, mismatched brass candlesticks, and a rambling arrangement of delicate flowers and ferns. A handmade touch—no matter how small—is the best way to add warmth to a table. For this meal at home with friends, I made ink-stained paper menu cards, adorning them with fragrant eucalyptus leaves. The overall feel is intimate, refined, and just a little decadent—like the perfect winter meal. 

N o . 1 

O N  T H E  M E N U

There are few things more festive than handwritten menus—even when they’re not actually written by hand. Rather than hiring a calligrapher, select a scrolling script font and pop some pretty paper into your printer. Here, I used watercolour paper, tearing the edges and dabbing on watered-down ink, which bleeds to form a subtle, organic pattern.

N o . 2 

W E L L  S E A S O N E D

During citrus season, I love to flavour sea salt with a blend of zest and herbs. My recipe not only livens up roast fish or poultry, it also serves as a mouth-watering memento of the meal for guests to take home.

N o . 3 

D A R K  M AT T E R

We change our wardrobes with the seasons, so why not our dishes? These days, investing in darker, moodier place settings for winter isn’t particularly pricey. Chic—and cheap!—pieces can be found at stores like West Elm, CB2, and even IKEA.

N o . 4 

L E T  T H E R E  B E  L I G H T S

A matched pair of candlesticks in the middle of your table can feel a little predictable. Instead, add visual interest—and set a casual, modern mood—with an odd-numbered grouping of vintage finds in a variety of heights and styles. Dark-colored tapers are an especially cosy touch on cold nights.

N o . 5 

S P I C E  T H I N G S  U P

Whole spices like nutmeg, allspice, star anise, and cinnamon are too beautiful to keep hidden away in a drawer. And, especially during the holiday season, their sweet, warm scents feel festive without being overpowering. Here, I used the sculptural little gems to decorate a side table, alongside spicy sachets that guests can use at home to simmer mulled wine.

N o . 6 

P R I Z E  R I B B O N S

Words to live by: Never pass up a spool of pretty ribbon. If you keep some on hand, you’ll find many lovely ways to use it, from holding together cutlery to binding bouquets—and, of course, tying up presents. Velvet varieties add elegant texture and subtle sheen to winter décor.

N o . 7 

W R A P  S TA R

Gauzy linen, available at most fabric stores, can serve as a beautiful and unexpected alternative to wrapping paper. Simply cut or tear a large square—leaving the edges unfinished—place a gift in the centre, and form a loose knot on top, tucking in a few green sprigs for a decorative touch.

N o . 8 

C I R C L E  O F  L I F E

Get the look of a handmade wreath without the hassle of starting from scratch by purchasing the simplest evergreen option from your local market or nursery and embellishing it with seed pods, ornamental berries, feathers, sprigs, and other foraged finds.

N o . 9 

S AY  C H E E S E

When artfully composed, a cheese plate can double as table décor. The most inviting platters feel abundant, so fill in vacant areas with fresh or dried fruit. The cheeses themselves should look natural and gooey. Break up any pristine wedges by hacking off a few messy chunks and let soft cheese sit at room temperature until properly runny.


Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone is out now, find out more here.

A Beautiful Mess: Weekday Weekend | RECIPE

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This is a funny and relatable narrative vegetarian cookbook for home cooks of all skill levels from the extremely popular blog A Beautiful Mess (over 1.5 million readers). Eighty yummy-healthy recipes for accessible meals from a trusted source are organised into “weekday”–five days without refined flours, sugars, alcohol, and dairy—and “weekend”–indulgent, flavoured foods. The book is divided into four parts—breakfast, meals, snacks and sweets, and drinks–and each part contains both a weekday and weekend chapter. More than 75 bright, naturally lit photos show plated food and some Beautiful Mess style (outfits, kitchen décor, tools) and ambiance (ingredients, interiors, surfaces, textures). Intended for an audience that’s not feeding a family every night, these recipes serve two.

The following recipes are from A Beautiful Mess: Weekday Weekend by Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson.


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Toasts (weekday and weekend) 

Welcome to the world of toasts. If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of a hot, crispy, nutty slab of bread spread with a meal-worthy second layer, you’re in for a treat that will serve you (literally) for many a perfect breakfast—and an endless possibility for toppings lends them equally well to snacks or light lunches. A logical progression of the classic toast and butter and jam, you can make them whatever you want, according to time of day, time of year, and what might be in season, all in minutes.

Below are half a dozen recipes for the toast of the toasts, featuring homemade spreads and an updated classic composition or two. The first four are for weekdays and three more indulgent recipes are for the weekend. The homemade spreads make enough to cover a few rounds of toasting; the composed toasts can be multiplied for as many eager diners as you have lining up at your table. Use good-quality whole-grain toast for all (we like Ezekiel brand), or make your own, like our Whole-Wheat English Muffins. The weekend Caprese toast indulges in a traditional white Italian loaf to match the ingredients.

  • Cashew Cream and Berry Toast 

Sweet and creamy on hot toast, this spread makes the perfect weekday replacement for French toast. Add a few more berries and an extra drizzle of honey, if you like.

Combine 1 cup [140g] raw cashews, soaked in water to cover for 1 hour and drained; ¼ cup [30g] fresh or thawed frozen raspberries (if frozen thaw thoroughly first); 2 Tbsp safflower oil; and 1 Tbsp raw honey in a blender and blend to a completely smooth purée. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

  • Fried Egg and Avocado Toast 

This breakfast combo has become a new classic. So good and perfectly satisfying, it only takes about 10 minutes to make. For an even more no-fuss version, skip the egg and top with sprouts or toasted sun flower seeds.

Spread ½ tsp store-bought (no sugar added) or homemade mayonnaise thinly on warm toast. Scoop 1/2 ripe avocado on top and mash to cover the toast evenly. Sprinkle with pink Himalayan salt or sea salt. Top with 1 large egg, fried (or scrambled) however you like. Get it while it’s hot!

  • Red Pepper Hummus Toast

This healthy and satisfying spicy hummus is a bull’s-eye for a midweek craving. Spread on toast and drizzle with a little olive oil. It also makes a great snack paired with carrot sticks, celery, cucumber slices, or baked corn tortilla chips.

Combine 1 can [15 oz/430 g] chickpeas, rinsed and drained well; 1/2 cup [120 g] chopped roasted red pepper, homemade or drained jarred; 1/4 cup [55 g] tahini; 1/4 cup [60 ml] fresh lemon juice; 2 Tbsp water; 1/2 tsp salt; 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper; and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor and process to a completely smooth purée. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

  • Cinnamon-Almond Butter Toast

Making your own nut butters is way easier than you might think. This lightly spiced almond butter is amazing on warm toast. Top with a few fresh berries and it goes over the top!

Spread 2 cups [280 g] unsalted raw almonds on a baking sheet and bake in a 300°F [150°C] oven, until fragrant, about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Let cool, then combine in a high-powered blender with 3 Tbsp safflower oil. Process until the almonds are finely ground. Add 1 Tbsp raw honey, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt and process until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

  • Creamy Caprese Toast

This toast is one of my favourite weekend treats. I don’t want to get dramatic, but I believe it might be the mother ship of all toasts . . . I think it will float your boat, too.

Spread 1 Tbsp cream cheese on a thick slice of toasted Italian loaf. Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, a slice of ripe tomato, a few torn basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.

  • Goat Cheese, Fruit and Honey Crostini

I love how balanced and delicious this toast combo is—the sharp tang of goat cheese with honey and fresh fruit. Use whatever fruit is in season.

Spread a generous amount of goat cheese on each crostini. Top with your favourite seasonal fruits and a drizzle of honey.

  • Pink Cream Cheese Toast

This garlicky, savoury weekend spread is delicious, but the hot pink colour takes it to another plane of delight. Add slices of avocado or cucumber, if you like. You’re going to want to Instagram your breakfast—you may even want to paint its portrait!

In a food processor or blender, combine 8 oz [230 g] cream cheese, 1/2 cup [75 g] drained canned sliced beets, 2 tsp coarsely chopped garlic, and 1/2 tsp salt. Process to a completely smooth purée. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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A Beautiful Mess: Weekday Weekend is out from 07 November 2017. Find out more here.

F*CK THAT’S DELICIOUS | RECIPE

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Part cookbook, part memoir, part travelogue, and wholly original, F*ck, That’s Delicious is rapper Action Bronson’s comprehensive guide to the food, chefs, food makers, regions, neighborhoods, and restaurants that every food obsessive should know. Organised as a full-colour illustrated guide with 100 entries, the book captures all the foods that get to him: When his mama makes him a good ol’ bagel and cheese with scrambled eggs. The tacos in LA. Dominican chimis. Jamaican jerk. Hand-rolled pasta from Mario Batali and Michael White. The best Chinese red-pork char siu buns in the world, found in London. And more, lots more. F*ck, That’s Delicious also includes 40 recipes inspired by Action’s childhood, family, tours, and travels—like the Arslani Family Baklava and Bronson’s Original Lamb Burger—and adapted from name-brand chefs and street cooks he’s met on his show. Richly visual, the book is layered with illustrations and photographs of Action’s childhood, food excursions, tours, lyric notebooks, and more.

The following recipe is from F*ck That’s Delicious by Action Bronson, with Rachel Wharton, photographs by Gabriele Stabile


Photographs by Gabriele Stabile
Photographs by Gabriele Stabile

Flatbreads with Ricotta and Pickled Jalapeño Honey

Olive oil before, during and after.

MAKES 4 FLATBREAD PIZZAS

This started as a Neapolitan-style pie I made for myself at my birthday party at Otto, but it is also banging as a flat-bread pizza on leftover Balkan bread like the ones on the previous page. I like to use La Morena pickled jalapeños as they have a good kick to them. Pair it with a ginger ale.

  • 1 12 ounce (340g) bear of clove honey
  • 3 pickled jalapeños, diced
  • Calabrian chile oil, optional
  • 4 Balkan flatbreads or thick pitas
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces (245g) good-quality ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (135g) hazelnuts

1. Preheat your broiler and set out a sheet pan.

2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the clover honey and the pickled jalapeños. If you want, swirl in a little Calabrian chile oil for color too. Set aside.

3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the breads, then spread each with of the ricotta cheese and sprinkle on of the hazelnuts. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil again.

4. Coat the bottom of a small skillet with olive oil, then heat it over medium-high. Add one of the flatbread pizzas and cook just until the bottom has toasted. Remove it to the sheet pan and repeat with the remaining 3 pies.

5. Toast the pies under the broiler until the edges of the bread and the top of the hazelnuts are well toasted. Drizzle on some of the pickled chile-honey (you’ll have some left over, but it keeps forever), then some more olive oil and eat right away.


F*ck That’s Delicious by Action Bronson, with Rachel Wharton, photographs by Gabriele Stabile is out now – find out more here. 

You could win a copy of F*ck That’s Delicious, a meal for two at Pitt Cue Co in London and a free bottle of Pitt Cue wine over at Munchies UK. Find out more here!

Grocery | The Invisible Behemoth on Main Street

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America

In Grocery, bestselling author Michael Ruhlman offers incisive commentary on America’s relationship with its food and investigates the overlooked source of so much of it – the grocery store.

In a culture obsessed with food – how it looks, what it tastes like, where it comes from, what is good for us – there are often more questions than answers. Ruhlman proposes that the best practices for consuming wisely could be hiding in plain sight – in the aisles of your local supermarket.

The following is an extract from Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman


THE INVISIBLE BEHEMOTH ON MAIN STREET

Grocery stores are where we purchase most of our food – $650 billion annually at thirty-eight thousand of them in America, $1 trillion if you count all retail food sales(1) – yet most people know almost nothing about how they operate or where the food they sell comes from. We do, however, count on their always being here. While food issues drive some of the most compelling stories in the news (after national and international crises) – everything from the gluten-free fad, the pros and cons of genetically modified foods, questions about food’s possible impact on increasing gastrointestinal illnesses, food fanaticism, food recalls, anxiety about food expiration dates, eating disorders, the paleo diet, our $1 billion-per-day health care crisis – we remain more confused than ever by conflicting information we receive in the news about the food we eat.

Some of this confusion can be clarified and explored by looking inside a grocery store.

The American supermarket is like no other retail store, and we use it like no other retail store, venturing out to buy groceries on average twice a week, every week, all year long, to feed ourselves. A family’s biggest expense, after housing and transportation, is groceries (about 10 percent of its income). A small portion of the population grows some of their own food, but almost no one, or no family, fails to go to a grocery store each week. It’s the only store most Americans have to spend money in. Those who can’t get to one tend to be sicker than those who can, according to researchers who study urban and rural food deserts, places where there are no convenient grocery stores.

Grocery stores are more than just places to buy food. They are in a broader sense a reflection of our culture. During the Cold War, for instance, supermarkets were a powerful symbol. “With their dizzying array of processed foods, [supermarkets] came to be regarded as quintessential symbols of the triumph of American capitalism,” writes Harvey Levenstein in Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America. During the impromptu 1959 Kitchen Debate in Moscow, then Vice President Richard Nixon pointed to the astonishing variety of goods available to Americans as evidence of capitalism’s superiority, pooh-poohed by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. The next year, however, when Khrushchev and his pals visited a San Francisco supermarket, “the expression on their faces was something to behold,” writes Levenstein, quoting Henry Cabot Lodge, one of the hosts.

Because they are a reflection, even symbol, of our culture, and thus a gauge of who we are, supermarkets illuminate what we care about, what we fear, what we desire. They offer a view of our demographic makeup, including how much money we have and how big the country is, not to mention how much it is changing. The grocery store describes the effects of global warming on farms from Washington down through California, the state of our oceans, and the health of our land. It is a showcase for the latest food production innovations, which is critical given the world’s escalating population. And the grocery store is at the center of broader issues of how the food we eat affects our bodies and our body politic.

All these issues, and countless others, come into focus when viewed through the lens of the American supermarket, food’s last stop before it enters our homes. Though we aren’t often reflective or thoughtful about grocery stores, they are in truth a barometer of our country’s collective state of mind.

Why this lack of attention? Perhaps because on the surface, grocery stores seem banal. Perhaps because they are so ubiquitous. I don’t know. There’s a scene in the extraordinary film The Hurt Locker, in which an American serviceman, a bomb diffuser, is home after a tour in Afghanistan, and is grocery shopping with his wife and young child. The fluorescent lighting in the supermarket aisles makes even the brightly colored boxes and packaging seem flat; we sense that the character, played by Jeremy Renner, will not be able to exist in this colorful but dead consumer landscape – a landscape embodied by the grocery store. Sure enough, he is soon back in Afghanistan, suiting up to dismantle a car bomb.

We tend to use grocery stores without thinking about them, or if we do think about them, it’s with mild annoyance, the thought of shopping itself a chore. What we rarely reflect on is what a luxury it is to be able to buy an extraordinary variety and quantity of food whenever we want every day of the year.

I’m often asked about the reason for our country’s growing obsession with food—the emergence of “the foodie,” the 1993 creation of a 24-hour TV channel devoted to food, chefs becoming celebrities, new cooking appliance fetishes, and ever-fancier kitchens that see less and less actual cooking. My response is that when something you need to survive starts making you confused and sick, you become obsessive about it. We don’t tend to think much about air, but if we suddenly didn’t have any, it would be pretty much all we’d be able to think about. The same might be said about grocery stores—if they suddenly vanished, if our only option for sustenance was the Cheesecake Factory or a CVS pharmacy, we’d think about them a lot.

Part of the reason we don’t think about them is that food, on a daily basis, isn’t a concern in this country. We have a lot of food—more than what we need, in fact. It’s available every hour of every day. Just walk into any supermarket in America, an industry that responds aggressively to what America wants to buy, and you enter a landscape composed of tens of thousands of square feet of inexpensive food, food that’s critical first to our comfort and ultimately to our health and happiness. And yet there’s something wrong here, and we know it, though we can’t we quite get at what it is.

Here’s what this book is not: It is not a history of grocery stores, though their transformation from trading posts to country stores to stores selling packaged food to everything-under-one-roof supermarkets is part of the story. It’s not an aisle-by-aisle tour of each of the ten main departments of a grocery store (produce, grocery, seafood, meat, floral, bakery, frozen/dairy, deli, prepared foods, wine and beer). Nor do I report on the industrial system we’ve developed to feed our hunger

for beef and pork, the methods and impact of overfishing our oceans, or even the ways the major food manufacturing companies (Kraft, Kellogg, PepsiCo, Nestlé, etc.) create, market, and profit from the food that seems to be making us sick. And this is not a nutritional guide to what is on the shelves and how it affects our health, though food choices and health are central to my story. These issues have been widely covered in other books and in the media. (2)

This book is instead what I would call a reported reflection on the grocery store in America, and an expression of my own love, anger, opinions, and concerns over what is in them, how it got there, and what it all means. I’ve been writing about food and cooking since 1996, when I snuck into the Culinary Institute of America to write about what the most prominent cooking school said you had to know in order to be a chef. In the intervening two decades, food issues have become some of the most pressing and confusing of our time. Because these issues are so numerous and disparate, I’ve had to be selective about what I choose to write about, and about these subjects I do not attempt to conceal my opinions.

I cover the food that interests me, the people who are most outspoken in the grocery business, and follow the stories that matter to me, whether it’s on a vast ranch in a national park in Idaho or on a tour of the grocery store with my physician. In researching this book, I visited farms, stores, and produce auctions; I joined grocers at food shows and interviewed the cheese makers they buy from; I toured a fish auction in Honolulu, one of the major fish auctions in the country; I bagged groceries, got to know the people who ran the stores and who worked in them, and generally hung out in the supermarket. In short, as a lover of food, a cook, and a person who cares about the future of food in America, I wrote a book that, using a small family grocery chain in my hometown of Cleveland as my inroad, is the book that I wanted most to read. Ultimately it is a story that’s never been written: an appreciation of, and wonder at, the American grocery store and the complex and fascinating business of retailing food to a country of 350 million people.

But it is also, as you’ll see, a deeply personal subject, and I try to tell that story as well. Happily, I grew up in a household that loved food and cooking, the place where, surely, my love of food and my fascination with grocery stores began. Having written about the food world for twenty years now, I’ve come to care about food more than I ever thought possible—about how we grow it, raise it, catch it, kill it, package it, distribute it, buy it, cook it, and dispose of what we don’t want. Our food (and the cooking of it, or lack thereof) is more important than most people realize, and we fail to understand this at our peril.


1 Figures from Food Marketing Institute and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2 See Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma for beef (and more), Ted Genoways’s The Chain for pork, and Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish for seafood. Michael Moss’s Salt Sugar Fat investigates food manufacturing giants. Dan Barber contrasts industrial agriculture with potential models for growing food sustainably in The Third Plate. Marion Nestle explores every department in the grocery store, examining food from a nutritionist’s vantage point in What to Eat.

Break-the-Fast Feast.

You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the feast celebrating the end of Yom Kippur. 

Yom Kippur, Jewish Lent, is the holiest of Jewish holidays. Jews honour this day of repentance and atonement with a twenty-five hour fasting, followed by a Break-the-Fast feast. This break-fast usually includes light dishes and often cake, like this Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel from Leah Koenig’s Modern Jewish Cooking

Sour_Cream_Coffee_Cake_Hero_MT15
© 2015 by Sang An.

Serves 12

Sometimes I wonder what happened to the coffee cake; the moist, streusel-topped pastry that once sat at the center of family breakfasts and served as the premise for countless afternoon get-togethers for another generation. You don’t see it much anymore, and it likely has something to do with our society’s long-standing fear of fat. Enriched with both butter and sour cream, coffee cake has plenty of it. Or maybe we are simply too busy these days to spend so much time chitchatting over a slice of something sweet? But I think this cake is worth finding time for. Simple to make and covered with a layer of toasty, caramelized pecan streusel that sinks into the tender crumb, this is the sour cream coffee cake your grandmother made. Or maybe she didn’t. Either way, the cake’s old-world flavor, and the conversations that come with it, are yours for the baking.

FOR THE STREUSEL

2/3 CUP/130 G PACKED DARK BROWN SUGAR

1/2 CUP/60 G ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR

1 CUP/115 G PECANS, ROUGHLY CHOPPED

1 TBSP GROUND CINNAMON

1 TSP GROUND GINGER

1/4 TSP KOSHER SALT

6 TBSP/85 G COLD UNSALTED BUTTER, CUT INTO SMALL PIECES

FOR THE CAKE

2 1/2 CUPS/315 G ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR

2 TSP BAKING POWDER

1 TSP BAKING SODA

1 TSP KOSHER SALT

1/2 CUP/115 G UNSALTED BUTTER, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE

1 CUP/200 G GRANULATED SUGAR

3 EGGS

1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT

1/4 TSP LEMON ZEST (OPTIONAL)

1 1/2 CUPS/360 ML SOUR CREAM

CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR, FOR DUSTING

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and grease a 9-by-13-in/23-by-33-cm metal baking pan.
  2. Make the streusel: In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, pecans, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, combine until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are pea-size.
  1. Make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a handheld electric mixer and a large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and lemon zest (if using), beating after each addition until fully incorporated. Add approximately half of the sour cream and beat on medium-low until incorporated, then add half of the flour mix­ture and beat until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining sour cream and flour mixture.
  1. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. Top evenly with a thick layer of streusel. Bake until the cake is golden brown, springy to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
9781452127484
Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Todays Kitchen
By Leah Koenig and Sang An
Chronicle Books

 

#DidJewKnow? Yom Kippur is actually considered the happiest day of the year, because it is a day of forgiveness for all sins. Think of it as cleaning out the closet: It’s a pain in the neck while you’re doing it, and you are forced to confront the embarrassing stuff you used to wear, but afterward you feel so fresh and so clean.

#FiveYearsOfBooks | Top Five Food & Drink Books

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I Love Macarons
I Love Macarons Hisako Ogita Chronicle Books

An oldie but a goodie! We still LOVE macarons and this I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita is a superb way to launch our Top 5 Food & Drink List!

I Love Macarons is a step-by-step guide to making macarons, with accompanying photographs. Hisako Ogita offers up recipes for making superb macarons at home.

Eat Pretty
Eat Pretty
Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out
Jolene Hart
Chronicle Books

Eat Pretty, the foodie revolution has, without a doubt, earned its place on our Top 5 Food & Drink list.

Beauty nutrition is the fastest rising beauty trend around the world. Eat Pretty simplifies the latest science and presents a user-friendly program for gorgeous looks, at any age. Nutrition buzzwords like antioxidants, biotin and omega-3s are explained alongside more than 100 everyday foods, each paired with their specific beauty-boosting benefits: celery for skin hydration, red peppers for sun defence, nutmeg for beauty sleep and kale for bright eyes, to name a few. Charts, lists and immediately actionable bullet points, plus 20 recipes, make for a delicious and infinitely useful package.

Home Made Summer
Home Made Summer
Yvette van Boven, photographs by Oof Verschurem
Abrams

Our favourite Dutch Foodie Yvette Van Boven’s Home Made Summer is an office favourite. It’s seasonal recipes and amazing photography have captured our hearts. Home Made Summer adds a touch of sunshine to our Top 5 Food & Drink titles.

Inspired by her childhood in Ireland and her frequent sojourns in France, Yvette van Boven has created a collection of recipes that will truly inspire you to step into the kitchen. Using seasonal ingredients such as freshly picked apples and berries, as well as delicate summer lettuces and fresh herbs, Yvette presents recipes for Breakfast, Brunch & Lunch, Snacks, Beverages, Appetizers and Dessert. The book includes savoury baked goods perfect for a weekend morning with friends, light salads to enjoy on a warm summer evening and hearty dinners that celebrate great flavour.

The Forest Feast
Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods, The
Erin Gleeson, illustrated by Erin Gleeson
Abrams

From her cabin in the forest, Erin Gleeson created one of our favourite cookbooks of all time. Adorned with wonderful watercolours and filled with mouth watering recipes. We aren’t sure whats NOT to love about The Forest Feast.

Talented artist and professional food photographer Erin Gleeson began her blog, The Forest Feast, in 2011 to document the beauty and simplicity of vegetarian food. Her recipes contain very few ingredients (less than 5 in many cases) and are notable for their simplicity and creative flavours.

Tartine Bread
Tartine Bread
Chad Robertson
Chronicle Books

Bread baking at its finest. Tartine Bread is a superstar in our Food & Drink list, with good reason; Chad Robertson is one of the most celebrated bread makers in the United States!

Tartine Bread is a master formula for basic bread with many variations forming the backbone of the book, which also includes yeasted breads and recipes for sweet and savoury foods made with days-old bread.

This delicious cookbook is a must have for bread bakers everywhere.

What is your idea of Foodie Heaven? Send us your favourite cookbooks. #FiveYearsOfBooks

Midsummer’s Day Blackberry Thyme Cake with Honey–Goat Cheese Frosting

Summer means blackberry picking and we’ve got the perfect recipe for you this Midsummer’s Day from Hannah Queen’s Honey & Jam!

© 2015 Hannah Queen
© 2015 Hannah Queen

In late July my sister and I brave the thorny blackberry bushes in our backyard and are rewarded with baskets full of ripe berries. When we’ve had our fill of eating them by the handful, I like to use up whatever is left by making this cake.

Serves 8

For the cake and assembly:

3 cups (300 g) fresh blackberries, plus more for garnishing

¼ cup (60 ml) honey

1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus more for garnishing

1²⁄³ cups (215 g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup (120 ml) buttermilk

For the frosting:

4 ounces (115 g) goat cheese, room temperature

4 ounces (115 g) cream cheese, room temperature

¹⁄³ cup (75 ml) honey

About 2 cups (200 g) powdered sugar

To make the cake:

In a small bowl, stir together the blackberries, honey and thyme.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter two 6-inch (15-cm) round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the mixer bowl, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and top each with 1 cup of the blackberry mixture.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans before turning the layers out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the goat cheese and cream cheese until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the honey. Reduce the speed and add the powdered sugar ½ cup (50 g) at a time.

To assemble the cake:

Place one cake layer on a plate and spread the top with frosting, then add the remaining blackberry mixture. Set the remaining cake layer on top and cover the outside of the cake with frosting. Top with fresh blackberries and thyme.

Text and Images from Honey & Jam by Hannah Queen published by ABRAMS Stewart Tabori and Chang.

© 2015 Hannah Queen