Category Archives: Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Visiting with NYC Cookbook Authors: Kitchen Round Table (Audio)

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Weekend Cooking is a weekly feature hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Click here to check out Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.

cover image for Kitchen Round TableKitchen Round Table is an excellent example of the audio gems that AudioGO comes out with – small, sparkling, and a little out of the ordinary. (I love AudioGO! It’s a local, New England audiobook publisher.)

Last weekend, on a bus ride to New York, I spent an enjoyable hour listening to Kitchen Round Table, a delightful audio program that has Marja Samsom, owner of the iconic Kitchen Club restaurant, talking with five popular home cooks about food memories, frugal cooking , cooking habits, family meals, and the personal stories behind the way each one cooks.

All women, Marja Samsom’s guests are “tastemakers at work in the food world today”: Lidia Bastianich, Betty Fussell, Madhur Jaffrey, Judith Jones, and Deb Perelman, blogger and author of the bestselling cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen.

Recorded live in various locations around New York City, the chats are brief but revealing. They are organized into themes, tied together by Marja Samsom (who has a pleasant Dutch-inflected voice) describing her mother’s recipe for linzertorte. Each part of the recipe introduces the theme for the next section of conversations.

Here’s an excerpt from the audio program’s introduction by Marja Samsom, who, as it turns out, posts beautiful photos of her own cooking on her blog, The Dumpling Diva:

We are a nation of curious consumers. We want the latest gadgets, sub-zero refrigerators, even blowtorches for the perfect carmelized crust, but in the rush to serve the perfect meal, have we lost sight of the forces that bind us together? A quote I once heard comes to mind, “It’s not just the food, it’s the bringing of the food.”

Also from the introduction:

It might surprise you that none of the people we spoke to were formally trained as chefs, but all are known for their culinary wisdom. Might that be because some of the best meals we have are prepared at home?

I wish Kitchen Round Table had been longer because I would have especially liked to hear more from Deb Perelman, whose Smitten Kitchen blog is so good, but maybe other Kitchen Round Table programs are planned. I hope so!

The Kitchen Round Table download is a bargain from AudioGO at $2.99, or on CD at $4.95.

Disclosure: I received a free download of Kitchen Round Table for review from the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox, a great source for reviews from AudioGO and other audiobook publishers.


Weekend Cooking: Honey Beer Chicken, Pinterest, and Me

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Looking through other Weekend Cooking posts the weekend before last, I came across a recipe for Honey Beer Chicken I thought I’d try. It was described in a post titled Weekend Cooking – Pinterest Testing Three Chicken Recipes written by Diane on her blog, BookChickDi. The chicken looked delicious in the photo, but I read through the post again because I couldn’t find the recipe or the link to the recipe. Then, I realized that was because it was somewhere on Pinterest. (Should I say “in” Pinterest or “on” Pinterest? Could someone clue me in?)

Ugh. I’ve been resisting Pinterest for many months. Literally don’t want to go there. Don’t want to join another social media site. Don’t want another space on the Web to maintain. Etc.

But the chicken looked good and I had defrosted chicken breasts sitting in the fridge. Still, I couldn’t see how to get to the actual recipe. So I went to Diane’s Pinterest page (called a “pinboard”) and looked through all these attractively organized recipe categories like Main Dishes, The Lighter Side, etc. (Also got sidetracked into looking at Beverages, Appetizers, and Side Dishes because of all the pretty pictures, but of course didn’t find the chicken recipe in any of those categories either.)

Falling back on good old Google, I found this recipe for Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce on the So, How’s It Taste? blog that looked pretty much like the one, and which I followed exactly. Except that I over-salted the chicken by accident (not the recipe’s fault), the dish came out really well.

photo of Honey-Beer Chicken (oversalted but you can't tell from the photo)

I credit BookChickDi for the original inspiration (and her photo looks much better than mine.)

But I really needed to figure out how Pinterest worked, so I went back to BookChickDi’s Weekend Cooking post and there it was, in tiny print, but right under the photo of the Honey-Beer Chicken: Source: via Diane on Pinterest. Click on and you go straight to the recipe. It was the same recipe I followed, posted on a different blog, with credit in both places given to a recipe printed in the September 2012 issue of Cooking Light.

So I think I finally get it. Pinterest is basically a visually appealing update of the old “Cool Links” page you can still find on Web sites that haven’t been redesigned in the last ten years. Instead of plain old text links, pretty pictures on Pinterest draw you further in and keep you clicking.

But, no, this is not an announcement of my new Pinterest pinboard. I still haven’t joined the in crowd. I do, however, plan on doing more “research” into Pinterest to see how libraries are using it for reader’s advisory. Hmmmm. Where can I find the time for that? I guess I’ll stop trying out recipes and just read them online and look at all the pretty photos instead!

Weekend Cooking is a weekly feature hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Click here to check out all Weekend Cooking blog posts.


Weekend Cooking Guest Review: Sensational Slow Cooker Gourmet

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Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. This week’s Weekend Cooking feature is a guest post from Katie from the Doing Dewey blog.  See the original post here: Slow Cooker Recipes Review. Thanks to Katie for suggesting this week’s exchange of cookbook reviews!


Book Title: Sensational Slow Cooker Gourmet

Author: Judith Finlayson

Rating: ★★★★★

Review Summary: Very focused on convenience and does a good job of spelling everything out – plus it finally got me to use my crock pot.This book of slow cooker recipes was a great fit for my busy schedule and most recipes don’t look like they’d be too pricey for my poor college student budget either 🙂 In fact, the recipe I made cost me less than $20 for ingredients and will probably make at least 6 meals. But before we get into the recipe, lets start with the book…

Image of cookbook cover

The Review: The introduction included some very useful information, such as tips for getting to know your crock pot and advice on avoiding mistakes that could lead to food poisoning. Unfortunately, this is buried in some of the typical fluff one finds at the beginning of such a book (“slow cooker recipes are awesome and convenient” kind of stuff), but I would strongly recommend reading this section any way. Where the book really starts to shine though, is the slow cooker recipes themselves.

The recipes all have great pictures, which is a must for me when picking a cook book. It’s by far the easiest way of identifying recipes I want to make. Nearly every recipe begins has a wonderful section called “Make Ahead” in the sidebar which tells you what you parts of the recipe you can prepare several days in advance. This makes it very easy to do the cooking when it’s convenient for you! Most of these slow cooker recipes can cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, which means it’s possible to complete a recipe in a day or let it cook over night depending on your schedule. Although I certainly don’t plan on going out and getting a new crock pot, I did appreciate that the author specified the best sort of crock pot for each recipe. Like many cook books, this book does include some cooking instructions in the ingredients list (“barley, rinsed and drained”, eg) which it’s easy to miss until you actually need to add the barley. Aside from that small and common problem, I liked everything about it.

The Recipe: To truly test out the book, I decided to try making the “Miso-Spiked Vegetable Soup with Barley” and everything went fairly smoothly. I spent about 15 minutes chopping vegetables and another 30 minutes frying them and figuring out my crock pot. I spilled a few things, missed that I needed to drain and rinse the barley until it was time to add it (immediately) to the frying pan, and discovered that the author was serious when she sad a larger crock pot would be better (5 quarts instead of 2.5 like mine). To deal with the smaller crock pot, I only added about half of the called for chicken broth.

In the morning, I discovered that a tiny bit of my barley had burned to the crock pot and my soup was more like a stew – even after adding the rest of the chicken broth. I added an approximate amount of parsley, which ended up being the strongest flavor in the finished product. However, the soup was very tasty any way and even with mistakes the time required to make it was under an hour in the evening and about 30 minutes in the morning. I’ll definitely try making it, and other slow cooker recipes, again 🙂

Picture of finished soup