Cooking after Christmas

Since I love to cook and bake, I always get new cookbooks for Christmas. And while I would like to try out recipes right then and there, it is impossible to do that because all of my Christmas baking and cooking is done. So, it takes me awhile to go back and take a look at some of the new recipes from my new cookbooks.

The first cookbook I received is Baking Style by Lisa Yockelson. This is one of many cookbooks that Yockelson has written. And as with all of them, you shouldn’t substitute ingredients. Her recipes just won’t work. You really have to read through the recipes too before you start to get the results that you want. But it is well worth it. Yockelson tested all of these recipes at least 6 or 7 times. So, this book was not just slapped together. It took her 10 years to write this book. The recipe that I tried was the Cornmeal Cranberry Biscuits that I served with a pork roast. Here is the recipe for the biscuits.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsifted bleached flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon stone-ground yellow cornmeal (see below)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 2/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons, as needed

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line several heavy baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Scatter over the chunks of butter; use a pastry blender or two rounded table knives to cut the butter into the flour until it is reduced to pearl-size bits. Use your fingertips to further reduce the butter to flakes of varying sizes; this should take about 45 seconds.

Scatter the cranberries over the mixture; toss lightly to coat and incorporate.

Pour 1 cup of the buttermilk over the mixture and quickly stir to form a dough, using a wooden spoon or paddle. The dough should be moderately soft and hold its shape in a spoon; add 1 or 2 tablespoons of buttermilk, a little at a time, if needed, to achieve that consistency. Use a flexible spatula to give the dough 4 or 5 quick kneading turns in the bowl. Let the dough stand in the bowl for 1 minute.

Drop heaping 2-tablespoon mounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the mounds about 3 inches apart and arranging 9 mounds on each sheet.

Bake one sheet at a time for 15 minutes or until they are set, with a spotty golden color on top. The undersides of the baked biscuits will be a medium golden color. Use a thin spatula to transfer the biscuits to a cooling rack.

*Stone-ground yellow cornmeal helps create a biscuit with wonderful texture; avoid substituting fine cornmeal as the structure, flavor and crumb of the biscuits will be compromised. A favorite meal to use in this recipe is Arrowhead Mills Organic Yellow Corn Meal.

Recipe Source:

Adapted from “Baking Style,” by Lisa Yockelson (Wiley, 2011).

I did use stone ground cornmeal and these were just yummy. Slathered with butter, they are well worth the effort.

The other cookbook that I received for Christmas is The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook with over 2,000 recipes from their magazine. This is also another huge cookbook. And I have to say that it is somewhat disappointing in that there aren’t any pictures to go with any of the recipes. But if you know Cook’s Illustrated, they have a great reputation for recipes that work and have great flavor.

I have actually tried several of the recipes in the book but the one that I really like right now is the Breakfast Strata with Potatoes, Rosemary and Fontina. A strata is just a savory bread pudding. But this one has the addition of rosemary and fontina cheese. What really sends this over the top is the white wine that is used. This is great for a brunch or for me when I don’t have my husband to feed.

Now, I have told you what cookbooks I received for Christmas. But, guess what? The library has these cookbooks too and you can find them in the Cooking Neighborhood. Along with these books, you can find other recipes to take with you as well as other handouts to make cooking easier for you.

Oh, and if you like cookbooks come and join us for Cooking by the Book, our new book club.  This month we will be talking about chocolate. Three cookbooks have been chosen. Just come into the Reference Room and they are behind the Reference Desk. Take a look at them, find a recipe you like and then make it. Be sure to bring it on February 12th when we meet in the Anton Room at 7:00 pm. We will be sampling and talking chocolate and I would love to see you all there. So check out the Cooking Neighborhood and come and talk chocolate at Cooking by the Book. Happy Cooking!!