Thursday, March 19, 2009

Things I Didn't Know

"Things Cooks Love" by Marie Simmons Andrews McMeel Publishing $35 342 pages

This is the first in a series produced and promoted by "Sur La Table" a firm started in the Pike Place Farmers' Market, Seattle, when Shirley Collins opened it in the mid-70s as a sort of "enlightened place" to buy kitchen utensils for foodies and wanna-be's. Sur La Table is now a franchise. The book is dedicated to the knowledgeable staff there.

I was furious to have picked up a book that promised recipes and then -- sold pots, pans, knives, etc. Until I got into it and discovered the book is actually quite readable, very informative and had a host of things I didn't know in it. My bad, eh?

Ridged Grill Pan - I've always used ours for hamburgers and steaks. Other things that work well (I learned) are chicken breasts, fish and thin-sliced vegetables or to heat up hot dogs or already-cooked sausages.

Pita Chips - Make your own. Buy a bag of pita bread, cut the discs into two rounds each and lightly coat one side of each slice with olive oil. Stack up perhaps four slices and cut them into wedges. Spread the wedges out on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 until they start to brown. Flip them over and bake the other side. Let cool and then store in plastic bags.

Rice - Comes in colors I never imagined!

Green rice is imported from China and flavored with bamboo juice; steamed, it's served as a side dish.

Red - usually imported from Bhutan, the Himalayas or the Camargue, in southern France. All have a chewy consistency and nutty flavor.

Black - served in Thailand, often with coconut milk and sliced mango.

Spanish Rice- it's not just what we're served in Mexican restaurants. There are three varieties. Those are Bomba, Calasparra - which are prized for their ability to sop up liquids - and Valencia, which has a slightly smaller grain. All are excellent for paella.

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