30 January 2007

Bacon Makes Asparagus Even Better

I ate an entire recipe of pan-roasted asparagus for dinner, tonight. Originally, I was going to eat just about half the pan, but then I thought the asparagus might not be so fine upon reheating ... so I ate it all.

Obviously, the dish was pretty darn yummy. The recipe -- "Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Red Onion and Bacon" -- is found on page 20 of the new (March/April) Cook's Illustrated and comes with four variations. While I really enjoyed eating this dish, it was a little on the sweet side for me and I made a note to halve the amount of maple syrup next time. Or use different balsamic vinegar -- my balsamic is made from port and so just a tad on the sweet side, anyway. Paired with the maple syrup and it's almost all sweet with just the barest tang. Anyway, the bacon and red onions came out delish and worked really well with the asparagus. When The Husband comes home, I will try the "Red Peppers and Goat Cheese" variation on him as he is not a bacon-lovin' guy.

14 January 2007

Cookbook Talk: Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini

Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference: 500 Recipes and 275 Photographs by Elizabeth Schneider (William Morrow: 2001)

Weighing in at 6.2 pounds, Vegetables From Amaranth to Zucchini is an absolute doorstop of a book. Happily for a book of this size and density, the text is quite lively ... educational, surely, but with just enough humor to keep things fun.

Every entry is accompanied by a full color photograph of the subject, includes common and botanical names, and gives some history of the vegetable as well as providing lots of good information regarding selection, storage, and cooking. The author is even nice enough to toss in a few recipes with each entry ("Parsley Root-Bean Puree with Bacon and Shallots" ... yum).

I also appreciated that rather than having a general entry called "Mushrooms" (like in the Melissa's book) each variety was given it's own entry and full justice. Where I expected to find a general mushroom entry is instead a couple pages of thumbnail photographs and "see also" -- very nice idea for those of us who want a quick and easy visual guide for identifying the gnarly-looking mushroom we bought yesterday.

This book is very thoroughly indexed (Multiple indexes! By recipe category! By common and botanical name! By recipe, recipe ideas, chefs and cooks! I am in love) and comes with a nice bibliography full of some interesting sounding books (I like bibliographies ... I use them as recommended reading lists).

I love this book and, if I owned it, would keep by my bedside table and read it every night.