© Courtesy of Workbook Publishing Company
Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey is one of my favorite baking books. So I am totally thrilled that Chronicle Books is publishing a much-needed sequel: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. Even though the book is aimed at kids, everything looks insanely good. I'm planning to start by trying the Holy Moly! Strawberry Jam Roly-Poly (sort of like a jelly roll but with a more flaky, biscuit-like dough), and then I'll tackle the Wicked Good Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cups. The only downside? I can't share the book with friends until October, when it goes on sale. Until then, I'll be baking these great Food & Wine standbys for my kids:
Chocolate Chip–Pretzel Bars
Cookies & Cream Cupcakes
Chocolate Soufflé Sundae
When testing cookbooks, experience has taught me to not always trust popular television personalities. So when Down Home with the Neelys by Patrick and Gina Neely landed on my desk, I braced myself for a day of mediocre recipes and possible disasters. I was wrong! And I totally admit it. Much to my surprise, the recipes worked. Not only that, but I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious, original spins on homey Southern classics. (Note that you may have to diet afterward-but that's really not the point.) Skillet-baked cornbread was moist and filled with tons of cheddar cheese and broccoli. A fairly standard homemade pimento cheese was transformed into Pimento Cheese Melts. I've never thought to broil pimento cheese, but why not? What's not to like? And what's not to like about adding a touch of bacon? I've learned my lesson not to judge a book by its cover, and I look forward to testing more recipes from the Neelys. I think Candy Bar Brownie Crunch will be next on my list.
© 2008 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.
Meryl Streep as "Julia Child" in Columbia Pictures' Julie & Julia. Photo by Jonathan Wenk.
On what kind of food statement Julie & Julia makes I don’t think it makes a revolutionary statement. It’s not making a statement about corn, or keeping a compost heap, or growing your own food supply. It’s just a celebration of food and how it can change people’s lives. I hope people will cook more after seeing this movie—but it’s okay if it doesn’t change that either.
On intertwining the lives of Julie Powell and Julia Child When I first read about Julie Powell in the New York Times, I thought, ‘no, this isn't a movie.’ I couldn’t see how the story could be two hours long. It was producer Amy Robinson’s idea to combine the two books—like in my favorite movie, The Godfather: Part II.
On Meryl Streep playing Julia Child She had very clear ideas of the Julia she wanted to do—Julia before she had her show and before she became more and more ‘Julia Child-like.’ Meryl read everything, knew everything. But you never had any sense of all that while she was working. There was no sense that anything she did was hard for her.
On Amy Adams playing Julie Powell Amy Adams is so able to become all sorts of things. [I wanted an actress] who could play someone smart. Amy’s also the perfect example of someone living in New York City but is not of New York City [like Julie]. Julie has so much Texas in her.
On food and film I said to the actors that everyone had to eat in the movie—that was a given. I wanted to shoot something that I’d want to eat. The bruschetta should look like it deserves its own web page. We didn’t want it to look styled. We didn’t want it to look as if a home cook couldn’t do it. (The one downside Chris Messina [who plays Julie’s husband, Eric Powell] really threw himself into it. The first day we shot, he swallowed 32 Tums.)
© Courtesy of The Sims 3, EA Games
My Sim self making mac and cheese.
Using the Create-A-Sim tool, I came up with an avatar that has the above-mentioned personality traits. My Sim self reads cookbooks (such as Cooking Vol. 2: Why You Need Baking Soda), takes cooking classes at the local grocery store and practices making everything from mac and cheese to sushi, all in an effort to move up from Kitchen Scullion to Celebrated Five-Star Chef at Little Corsican Bistro.
So far, things are going pretty well in my virtual life: I’ve eaten pancakes and waffles for breakfast every day, gotten promoted twice and "acquired" new furniture for my home (OK, so I stole lamps and chairs from the bistro, but kleptomania is an acceptable mental disorder in The Sims 3). I just hope my stealing habit won't derail my culinary aspirations.
© Photo Courtesy of Clarkson Potter
I picked cherries in wine, which infuses Bing cherries—just now in my supermarket—in red wine reduced with cloves and orange zest. After finding an inexpensive cherry pitter, preparing four pounds of cherries and scouring for stray pits, the process went smoothly and swiftly. I had only to boil the jars and wash the red juice from my fingers. The preserved cherries are proudly resting, like little rubies, in my kitchen. They’ll be perfect alongside grilled beef tenderloin or duck (Bone’s suggestions), spooned over vanilla ice cream or served straight with whipped cream.
Eugenia’s a busy woman. Not only does she scour the greenmarkets and put up enough to feed her family year-round, she’ll be publishing a holiday food diary in our December issue. I can’t wait!
When chef David Bull, an F&W Best New Chef 2003 and executive chef at Bolla in Dallas’s iconic Stoneleigh Hotel, told me he was working on a cookbook a few months ago, I told him to make sure he sent me a copy. This cookbook, however, was not going to be a traditional, tangible, get the pages dirty, dog-ear your favorite recipe type cookbook. Chef Bull was launching an online cookbook, which debuted last week, called Bull’s Eye On Food. Instead of going to Barnes & Noble, people sign up here and pay $34.94 for an annual subscription. A user name and password let you access 80 recipes, plus loads of other information that gets continuously updated throughout the year. I got to give it a test run this week and spent hours on the interactive site, which includes much more than just recipes. I loved the one-click grocery list (which you can then send to your PDA) and the video-demo segments. There’s a glossary for esoteric ingredients. You can search by recipe title, recipe type, “with” or “without” certain ingredients, difficulty level (ranging from one through five), lifestyle (e.g., vegetarian) and cooking method. Cooking tips and wine pairings are also built into the site, as is a fantastic party-planner tool that lets you customize place cards and design e-vites. I won’t be giving up my hard copy of Joy of Cooking anytime soon, but I do wonder if we won’t start seeing more of these eco-friendly, web-based cookbooks in the future.
© Simon & Schuster
Check out Monica's favorite Mumbai restaurants here.
This morning I had had breakfast with writer Anna Watson. Anna used to be a peripatetic editor at the brilliant but sadly shuttered Culture + Travel magazine. These days the La Varenne–trained foodie has been spending her days in the kitchen, on a mission to try and eat extraordinarily well on a budget. She recently launched a new blog called The Recession Cookbook, where she shares her cost-saving strategies (steak dinner and a bottle of red for two for under $35), excellent recipes and genius ideas for turning leftovers into delicious meals. I know I’ll be regularly checking in for value-minded dinner party inspiration.