Which cookbook was the best-seller last year, as listed in Publishers Weekly ? Well (no surprise given the photo here!), it was Ina Garten and her next volume in the Barefoot Contessa lineup. At more than 400,000 books sold last year, she was significantly ahead of the other authors, even if you add up the sales of the two Pioneer Woman books written by Ree Drummond (which totaled more than 360,000 books).
Any favorites on this list? Note that all but blogger Deb Perelman either have their own TV show or are regulars on other shows.
1. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten. Clarkson Potter. 428,105
2. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond. William Morrow. 267,909
3. In the Kitchen with David by David Venable. Ballantine. 264,953
4. Eat More of What You Love by Marlene Koch. Running Press. 132,796
5. Great Food Fast by Bob Warden. Quail Ridge Press. 122,665
6. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Knopf. 114,547
7. The Chew by The Hosts and Staff of ABC's The Chew. Hyperion. 109,020
8. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond. William Morrow. 103,751
9. Weeknights with Giada by Giada De Laurentiis. Clarkson Potter. 95,040
10. Hungry Girl to the Max! by Lisa Lillien. St. Martin’s Griffin. 86,656
My favorite cranberry relish couldn't be easier: Grind up fresh, uncooked berries in a blender or food processor. Add some sugar and the zest of an orange, lemon or both. Then let it sit for a spell. Fabulous. And beautiful. The berries remind me of jewels. It's a terrific sandwich topper the next day, too. You can find this recipe -- and many others suited for the big day -- in the Taste cookbook, "Come One, Come All/ Easy Entertaining Wtih Seasonal Menus."
EASY CRANBERRY RELISH
Makes about 3 cups.
Note: Every menu needs an easy dish. From "Come One, Come All/ Easy Entertaining With Seasonal Menus," by Lee Svitak Dean.
• 1 (12 oz.) pkg. fresh cranberries
• Zest from 1 orange or 1 lemon (or from both for extra flavor)
In a food processor or blender, coarsely chop the cranberries.
In a large bowl, toss berries and sugar together. Add zest to cranberries; stir. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight to let flavors blend. Stir again before serving.
And now it has an update: The tune is the same but most of the words have changed. The resulting jingle refers in a humorous way to new nutritional data on eggs, in the too-many-words-in-too-little-time rush employed by drug companies explaining all their side effects. (What could possibly be new about eggs? The USDA notes that they have 14 percent less cholesterol and 64 percent more vitamin D.)
In recognition of the longevity of the jingle, the egg board is holding a contest, looking for videos of real people singing the new jingle -- or their own version of it. For inspiration, the board has created its own video of egg farmers singing the tune (below). Grand prize is a package of tech items worth up to $4,000 (iPhone, iPad, sound system and more). Fourth prize is a year's supply of eggs.
Here are the basics of the contest:
* The video has to be at least 30 seconds long, but no more than 2 minutes.
* Lyrics and music can be edited or changed up.
* The contest ends Nov. 6, 2012.
* To enter the contest, go to its Facebook page at Incredible Edible Egg.
Need info on egg nutrition, cooking tips or recipes? Find them at www.IncredibleEgg.org.
The jingle was created in 1977 by the then newly established American Egg Board, which was trying to increase egg consumption, which had fallen since the 1940s.
It was a tough choice to make, to determine the best entry: a beautifully designed beer-cheese BLT soup by Jack Riebel of Butcher & the Boar, or a fragrant three-course meal of an heirloom tomato salad with charred-tomato vinaigrette, a trout and vegetable tagine, and a chilled melon soup for dessert from Sameh Wadi of Saffron. That was the decision the judges had to make Saturday during the Chef Challenge at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, an event held in multiple cities, sponsored by Country Financial and, here, the Minneapolis Farmers Market.
The chefs had 20 minutes to find their foods of choice at the market, and $50 to spend, followed with 30 minutes to prepare their dish. Jack and Sameh raced through the aisles of the very crowded market (or at least they tried to; it was tough to get customers to move out of the way), grabbing the tomatoes, cantaloupe, trout, bacon, bread and more to be used in the prep.
Jack, at right, relied on what he called "the three killer 'Bs' for his dish: beer, bacon and bread. Each chef was allowed to bring two ingredients to the event. Jack brought vinegar and beer; Sameh also turned to vinegar, as well as his own spice blend.
"This is more stressful than Iron Chef. It's Jack Riebel," said Sameh at the start of the competition. By 11 minutes from deadline, Jack noted, "Stress, stress, stress."
But neither seemed too stressed; they were calmly -- though hastily -- at work, focused on the end results.
I was one of the four judges, who included food blogger Stephanie Meyer and WCCO-TV weekend anchors Matt Brickman and Jamie Yuccas.
Take a look for yourself at the completed dishes. Jack cooked and plated a stunning soup in the very formal, elegant method of first presenting the soup ingredients without the broth, then at the table slowly pouring in the liquid. No matter how many times I've had soup presented this way, it makes me swoon. See the tomatoes, maple-glazed bacon and green onion? That's a slice of gouda atop the bacon and the mild beer-cheese broth also uses the cheese. It was a real stunner. Here's how the dish was initially served before the liquid was added, followed by a photo after the addition of the beer-cheese broth.
Sameh presented a three-course meal, starting with a salad of heirloom tomatoes with a charred-tomato vinaigrette. The fragrance was wonderful. The dressing was drizzled on the salad at the table. (Again, a swooning moment.)
Heirloom Tomato Salad With Tomato Vinaigrette
• 5 heirloom tomatoes, (3 sliced thinly, plus 2 whole for vinaigrette), divided
• 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 1/4 jalapeno (no seeds)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1/2 pint (2 cups) raspberries
• A few fresh basil leaves
To make vinaigrette: Char 2 tomatoes over flame until mostly black. Do not rinse off the charred bits. In a blender, combine tomatoes with vinegar, olive oil, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Pour over sliced tomatoes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, raspberries, salt and pepper.
Second course from Sameh was a seafood tagine made with rainbow trout and vegetables (zucchini, patty-pan squash and corn in the mix), mixed with North African spices, a blend called ras el hanout. The dish was originally presented in a cobalt blue tagine, then dished up individually for the judges.
Trout Tagine with Ras El Hanout and Corn Broth
Note: Tagine is a type of dish found in the North African cuisines of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, which is named after the special pot in which it is cooked. They are slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce. If you don’t have a tagine pot, this recipe could also be prepared in a covered baking dish. This is one of the winning recipes in the Chef Challenge from Sameh Wadi of Saffron restaurant. The recipe calls for a Moroccan spice blend called ras el hanout, which varies considerably depending on who makes it. Wadi uses his own blend of 29 spices that he sells at Saffron and online at saffronMPLS.com/spicetrail.html. Other blends can be used and would be available at Middle Eastern stores, as well as at Kitchen Window (3001 Hennepin Av., Minneapolis, 612-824-4417). The blend typically includes cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chili peppers, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and turmeric. If not using Wadi’s spice mix, adjust the amount to your taste.
• 2 c. corn stock (see directions below)
• 3 ( 5-oz.) pieces rainbow trout or similar fish
• 2 tbsp. ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend, see Note), divided
• 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
• 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
• 1 large onion, sliced thin
• 3 c. fresh corn kernels
• 6 baby zucchini, halved
• 12 baby patty-pan squash, whole
• 1 c. yellow wax beans, blanched and cut into 1-in. pieces
• Salt to taste
• 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
To make 2 cups corn stock: Simmer several corn cobs (from the fresh kernels you will use in this dish) with water, onions, garlic and salt for 30 to 45 minutes on medium. Strain and season with a pinch of salt.
To prepare fish: Marinate fish with a pinch of ras el hanout spice and a drizzle of olive oil for 15 minutes and reserve in the refridgerator.
Heat remaining oil in tagine or large pot. Add garlic, onion and corn; cook on low heat. Add zucchini, patty-pan squash and beans. Then season with salt and remaining ras el hanout spice. Add corn stock and reduce liquid by a quarter, with pot uncovered.
Season the fish with salt and place in the tagine with the fresh cilantro. Cook for 3 minutes on high with the cover on. Add the lemon juice and serve.
Third course from Sameh was a frothy muskmelon soup, that will definitely find a place on my summer menus.
• 1 muskmelon, peeled and cut in chunks
• 1/4 c. ice
• 1/4 c. water
• Juice from about 1 1/2 limes
• Honey, to taste
• 1/2 pint (2 c.) raspberries
• Freshly cracked black pepper
• Few sprigs of mint
Combine muskmelon, ice, water, lime juice and a bit of honey (amount will depend on how sweet the melon is) in blender. Purée on high; add more water for desired consistency, then taste (adjusting honey, if needed) and strain.
To serve, place soup in bowls and garnish with raspberries, a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper and mint leaves. Serve cold.
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