Thursday, January 11, 2007

Arabesque: My Long Delayed Review

I truly enjoyed reading Arabesque. The cookbook covers the cuisines of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon, with an introduction and overview of each country's culinary traditions. While I am most familiar with Turkish cuisine, I noticed distinctive overlaps in both ingredients and even food names, especially between Turkey and Lebanon.

All of the Turkish recipes that I would hope to see were included, except for my favorite lentil soup. I was especially pleased to see a recipe for cigarette borek (filo dough filled with cheese and Italian parsley, rolled into a long, thin tube, and fried). I was also interested to find a recipe for veiled rice with chicken. It's a rice dish baked in a puff-pastry shell and it's delicious. These are both dishes that are hard to prepare and therefor often passed over in Turkish cookbooks.

I haven't delved as deeply into the Lebanese and Moroccan recipes as I would like to. To be honest, I am a terribly slow reader and I started in the Turkish section. From what I have read, the recipes are thorough and easy to follow. In the past, I have run into problems with the preparation instructions of my Turkish cookbooks, likely due to translation issues.

I would recommend this book for an adventurous chef or a food junkie. Even if you don't plan to prepare these recipes, the history of the cuisines and the photos are worth the read.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Horse Image Obsession

I continue to be drawn to images of horses, which I see a lot more often these days (hooray!). I saw this card from Greenwich Letterpress (cards from $3 - $16) on Design*Sponge and thought how wonderful it would be to have a room full of small, framed horse prints in traditional styles.

Now I just need to find those prints. Did I mention they need to be cheap?

I'd appreciate tips if you've seen something like this around. :)

Tips for Rescuing Stale Artisan Bread

If your household is anything like ours, there's just no way you can eat an entire loaf of French bread in one night, no matter how delicious. Of course, we all know that once that bread sits on the counter overnight it will never taste as fresh again. If you leave it in it's paper bag, the cut-end gets stale. If you wrap it in a plastic bag, the crust gets soft.

You can use a day old loaf for making breadcrumbs, French toast, or Turkish toast, but what if you just want a plain slice of bread? Thankfully, Not Martha has compiled a list of tips for getting that loaf back to tasty.

In addition, I have my own trick for freshening a loaf of bread that has gone stale all the way through (i.e. it's hard as a rock). Simply wrap the loaf in wet paper towels and pop into the microwave on a low heat setting for 15 - 30 seconds. The moisture from the paper towels should soften the loaf up. You can then toast it in the oven to get a crisp crust.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Calphalon Santoku Cutlery Set $29.95 at has this pair of knives marked down from $70 to $29.95.

Via The Bargainist.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Recipe: Pumpkin Blueberry Muffins

I love pumpkin bread and tend to eat it all year round. This is a recipe that I improvised out of necessity, using a Cooking Light recipe for pumpkin raisin muffins as a base. After I began the recipe, I realized that I had no raisins, but I did have a bag of frozen blueberries. I accommodated the additional moisture contained in the berries by reducing the amount of brown sugar, corn syrup, and oil. The original recipe contained 202 calories and 5.1 grams of fat per muffin. These should be a bit lighter.

Pumpkin Blueberry Muffins:

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry or bread flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon corn syrup or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, plus the whites of 2 large eggs (for a denser muffin, you can use 2 large eggs instead)
1 cup frozen blueberries
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a nonstick, 12-muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil, corn syrup, vanilla and eggs. Mix with a whisk until combined.

Toss frozen blueberries in flour mixture and form a well in the center. Pour pumpkin mixture into the well. Stir until just combined. Spoon into muffin tin.

Bake until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean (about 20 minutes).