Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi

The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi
Includes 625 step-by-step photographs
by Jeffrey Elliot and Robby Cook

Hardcover, 306 pages

I love Sushi. Not really until I was in my twenties and a good friend with a great pension used to take me out for such treats. (Really, Toronto and surrounding regions are great for multicultural foods. You can find anything here, all ranges in prices and quality and authenticity and combinations thereof.)

Sushi has history and procedure and is interactive. It is an event as well as a great meal.
And you can make it at home. Seriously. I do. You can too.

The word Sushi refers to the rice. In Japan, junior sushi chefs spend a great amount of time learning the basics of perfect sushi rice. It is a skill, and it is worth learning, and us North American home cooks can be a little easier on ourselves than the Japanese Sushi Masters.

The Complete Guide to Sushi and Sashimi is the most comprehensive guide for us sushi enthusiasts that I have ever seen. It lays flat, does not assume you have prior knowledge, and gives you step by step instructions for making any and every kind of sushi, along with the basics to get you going.

By far the best guide to making sushi and sashimi at home that I have ever seen. And, being born in Japan and having quite a taste for sushi, I have looked at many a guide.

Happy Sushi! Feel free to invite me over for a taste. 

Hand-Shaped Sushi Nigiri


This is the basic technique for making nigiri. But even though it’s somewhat basic, it will require a lot of practice. Until you master hand-shaping the sushi rice, it’s best to limit the types of fish you practice with, to avoid any waste. Preslice the fish using the sogizukuri technique (see page 119) before beginning the recipe.

Flip Method (Yokotegaeshi)
2 cups    Sushi Rice (see recipe below), divided    500 mL
20    pieces sushi fish (about 1 lb/500 g),    20
    sliced sogizukuri-style
Dab    wasabi paste    Dab
    Pickled ginger
    Wasabi paste
    Soy sauce

Any type of high-quality fish can be used to make nigiri. Tuna, salmon, yellowtail and white fish are all excellent to use if you are a beginner. Once you become more proficient, you can try flatfish and shellfish.
To make these using the roll method (kotegaeshi), in Step 9 use the fingers of your guide hand to roll over the sushi so that it is fish side up.
When making nigiri, you will need to rewet your hands repeatedly to prevent sticking. If you prefer, use nonstick gloves.

•    Wet towel
•    Nonstick gloves, optional

For vegetarian sushi: Try using pickled vegetables found at Japanese supermarkets, such as cucumber (kyu¯ri), eggplant (nasu), burdock root (gobo), daikon radish (takuan), ginger shallot (myo¯ga) or Japanese turnip (kabu). You can also use fresh or lightly blanched daikon sprouts (kaiware). In fact, you can use any vegetable you have on hand, as long as it will stay on top of the rice (although you can use a piece of nori to help; see page 147).

Sushi Rice Shari


Making rice for sushi is the most important thing you will learn in this book. Without good sushi rice, you can’t make sushi. Apprentice chefs in Japan may take one to two years to perfect rice before they move on to fish. Using a rice cooker will take some of the guesswork out of cooking rice, but following this recipe will help you to cook it on the stovetop.

2 cups    water    500 mL
2 cups    sushi rice    500 mL
1    piece (4 inches/10 cm) konbu optional  1
1⁄2    batch Sushi Vinegar     1⁄2

•    Fine-mesh sieve
•    Large bowl
•    Heavy saucepan with tight-fitting lid
•    Hangiri, optional
•    Rice paddle (shamoji) or spatula
•    Fan, optional

While your rice is cooking, soak your hangiri and rice paddle in cold water to prevent sticking. Drain and wipe dry before adding the rice. If you don’t have a hangiri, use a wide, shallow non-reactive bowl or a clean wooden salad bowl.
If you don’t have a Japanese rice paddle (shamoji), use a wooden or silicone spatula, lightly moistened with water.
Your finished rice should be subtly flavored, free of any clumps and firm but tender, never mushy.

When making nigiri, it is important to work quickly. If you go too slowly, you will transfer too much body heat to the fish and rice, which will make it too warm for serving (sushi should be served at room temperature). This is why it is best to practice making rice balls without the fish, until you develop comfort and speed.

Courtesy of The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi by Jeffrey Elliot & Robby Cook © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Image credit: Andrew Scrivani

From the Back Flap:

These easy-to-follow recipes come from two of the leading experts in North America, who explain everything there is to know about sushi and knives.

Sushi isn't tricky to make so long as you have the right utensils and instructions, and have the patience to get acquainted with the various techniques. All it takes is some practice and in no time at all, you'll be making sumptuous sushi that will wow family and friends.

This incredible book provides all the information needed to get started--from ingredients and knives, to equipment, fish butchery, and plating techniques, making perfect rice and so much more.

With full color throughout, lots of recipes, a very user-friendly concealed wiro-bound hardcover binding, 500 photos and hundreds of tips and techniques, this sushi book is sure to become the go-to guide for sushi and sashimi lovers, novice and experienced alike.

You'll learn about how vitally important knives are along with the differences between Japanese and Western equivalents and substitutes. Ingredients certainly take center stage and here Robby Cook shares his extensive experience whether he's sharing his expertise about Fluke (Hirame), Octopus (Tako) or Red Snapper (Tai).

Sushi, maki, sashimi, nigiri, oshizushi--it's all here. From the California and Dragon Rolls we're all familiar with, to tantalizing clam and sea urchin recipes. 

About the Authors Jeffrey Elliot and Robby Cook

Jeffrey Elliot
has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and has cooked at prestigious restaurants such as Le Cirque, and Le Bernardin in New York, he was also the Executive Chef of a group of Japanese restaurants in Miami. Since leaving the kitchen he's gotten an MBA, been a stockbroker, and worked for Share Our Strength, a not for profit dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger in America. After that, Jeffrey was the Director of Culinary Relations for four of the world’s largest luxury housewares brands; Zwilling JA Henckels, Miyabi, Demeyere, and Staub, as well as the Executive Chef and Brand Ambassador of Zwilling JA Henckels USA.
During his time at Zwilling, he coauthored the ZWILLING JA HENCKELS Complete Book of Knife Skills, which was praised by Good Housekeepingmagazine as “the ultimate book on the subject”. Jeffrey is the president of Culinary Relations, a full service marketing and PR agency that specializes in housewares. He resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniawith his wife Jill Sloane, sons Henry and Parker, and Havanese Ruby.

Robby Cook
is the executive sushi chef at one of New York City’s most respected and influential sushi restaurants. He has been making sushi professionally for the past 11 years. Robby’s hobbies include collecting Knives, Shoes, Frogskins, Craft Beers, and Vinyl Records. Dj’ing.
Watersports (wake surfing and wake boarding).
Robby was nominated for Rising Star Chef 2013.
He resides in New York.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Complete Brain Exercise Book

Train Your Brain!
By Dr. Fraser Smith
Paperback, 384 pages

The things you think about after 40. Younger, I suppose, for some people, older for others. But at some point you realize that your brain is in need of maintenance just like every other organ in your body.

Well. That sounds like work. Best left with the treadmill that currently holds a good portion of the laundry.

But The Complete Brain Exercise Book makes waking up those neurons fun (and yes, educational). The focus is wide-spread - a holistic approach to the brain including memory, language and motor skills with a healthy diet plan to foster optimum body and brain agility.

Contents include:

Part 1: More Than Memory
Part 2:Brain Strength Training Exercises
Part 3: Brain Hygiene Exercises
Part 4: A Healthy Brain in a Healthy Body
Part 5: Brain Food
Part 6: Brain Food Menu Plans and Recipes

So wake up your brain and try something new. The projects are each simple and fun. Some open up your mind, some your world. Even if you don't do all of them, or do them at your own speed, you are sure to be positively affected by this program.

From the Back Flap:

While most brain exercise books focus on preventing and treating memory loss due to aging and disease, this unique book takes it steps further, covering mental speed, visual-spatial acuity, language acquisition, sensory growth and motor skills.

In addition to helping recover brain function, the exercises will also help prevent the loss of brain function due to aging and neurological disease.

Entertaining and engaging, the Complete Brain Exercise Book features more than 150 brain exercises and puzzles. And because the relationship between brain health and diet is integral, nutrition is front and center, with extensive brain food lists, menu plans and more than 100 recipes.

This rigorous but easy-to-follow program will help your brain stay sharp.

1) Train more than just your memory: exercise all aspects of intelligence for a well-rounded brain.
2) Prevent and repair losses: build up your brain strength.
3) Feed your brain with a healthy diet: 100 delicious and nutritious recipes to support a healthy brain.
4) Have fun and grow at the same time.

Dr. Fraser Smith, BA, MATD, ND, is a naturopathic doctor who trained at Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario. He completed his Residency at CCNM and was a clinical supervisor and faculty member. He holds a Masters degree in Training and Development from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is the former Dean of the Naturopathic Program at CCNM.
In 2006, Dr. Smith helped National University of Health Science (NUHS) in Lombard, Illinois launch their new Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree program, which is now a fully accredited program. He is currently the chief academic officer for the ND program serving as Assistant Dean for Naturopathic Medicine in NUHS' College of Professionals Studies. He is an Associate Professor, and author of the textbook Introduction to Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Medicine, which will be out in its 2nd edition in late 2015.
Dr. Smith is also an editorial board member of Natural Medicine Journal, and teaches Botanical Medicine and Naturopathic History, Philosophy and Principles at NUHS. He is licensed as a naturopathic physician in Vermont.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

My Kitchen Year
136 Recipes That Saved My Life
by Ruth Reichl

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publisher: Appetite by Random House

Once again Ruth Reichl hits it out of the park. This culinary memoir is written in her classic warm and personal style, blurring the lines between cookbook, confession, poetic vision and autobiography.

The recipes are simple and Reichl feels they are more of a conversation with food and style than a set of directions to be followed.

Freshness and meditative involvement are key. From the shopping to the prepping to the cooking to the tasting to the eating to the clean-up, Ruth emphasizes a meditative passion with food.

My Kitchen Year follows the closing of Gourmet Magazine and Ruth's need to find stability, equilibrium. She goes back to her food roots, that of discovery and simple passions. This, plus her interaction with friends and fans sets her on a new path, of finding out who she is again. Remembering.

Food is seductive. Eating a pleasure. We are reminded to slow down and savour.

A lovely book.

Rated as Best of Fall and Best of October cookbooks.

From the Back Flap:

In the fall of 2009, the food world was rocked when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered by its parent company. No one was more stunned by this unexpected turn of events than its beloved editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, who suddenly faced an uncertain professional future. As she struggled to process what had seemed unthinkable, Reichl turned to the one place that had always provided sanctuary. “I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened,” she writes. “I disappeared into the kitchen.”

My Kitchen Year follows the change of seasons—and Reichl’s emotions—as she slowly heals through the simple pleasures of cooking. While working 24/7, Reichl would “throw quick meals together” for her family and friends. Now she has the time to rediscover what cooking meant to her. Imagine kale, leaves dark and inviting, sautéed with chiles and garlic; summer peaches baked into a simple cobbler; fresh oysters chilling in a box of snow; plump chickens and earthy mushrooms, fricasseed with cream. Over the course of this challenging year, each dish Reichl prepares becomes a kind of stepping stone to finding joy again in ordinary things.

The 136 recipes collected here represent a life’s passion for food: a blistering ma po tofu that shakes Reichl out of the blues; a decadent grilled cheese sandwich that accompanies a rare sighting in the woods around her home; a rhubarb sundae that signals the arrival of spring. Here, too, is Reichl’s enlivening dialogue with her Twitter followers, who become her culinary supporters and lively confidants.

Part cookbook, part memoir, part paean to the household gods, My Kitchen Year may be Ruth Reichl’s most stirring book yet—one that reveals a refreshingly vulnerable side of the world's most famous food editor as she shares treasured recipes to be returned to again and again and again.

Ruth Reichl is the bestselling author of the memoirs Garlic and Sapphires, Tender at the Bone, and Comfort Me with Apples and the novel Delicious! She was editor in chief of Gourmet magazine for ten years. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and two cats.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Complete Wild Game Cookbook

The Complete Wild Game Cookbook
By Jean-Paul Grappe

Paperback, 368 pages

Believe it or not, meats do not originate in the supermarket, pre-packaged and portioned and cellophaned.

Responsible hunting for food is a way of life around the world that is as old as man and is making a come-back with the call to a more nature-based lifestyle.

The Complete Wild Game Cookbook is a wonderful resource for the home kitchen chef that would like to increase their use of game meats or "up their game" in terms of preparing and serving them.

This is not your basic cookbook, the forward itself is by Paul Bocuse, with a piece on Hunting and Respect by Francoise Kayler.

It includes a chapter on the Structure and Tenderness of Meat and is divided into two main sections - Game Birds and Game Animals. Each section is treated with care and is an informative guide to each animal presented, how to bring out maximum flavour and texture, and includes high-end recipes that are restaurant quality without being too fussy.

Marinades, Stock, Roux and Sauce Recipes allow the reader to bring out the best of their game meats as well as the myriad tips and techniques demonstrated in the book.

No fear here - it's game time!

Mitch Mandel/Rodale Images
Fried Moose Ribs with Red Cabbage, Poached Pears and Candied Chestnuts
To Martin Picard at Au Pied de Cochon restaurant, who created a new approach to Québécois cuisine.

2 lbs    red cabbage, finely sliced    1 kg
3 tbsp    vinegar    45 mL
2    lemons, divided    2
2    Russet apples, peeled and finely diced    2
2 tbsp    chopped horseradish    30 mL
1⁄2 cup    granulated sugar, divided    125 mL
21⁄2 tbsp    duck fat    37 mL
1    onion, minced    1
11⁄2 oz    cranberries    45 g
4 tsp    all-purpose flour    20 mL
3⁄4 cup    red wine    175 mL
4    Bosc pears    4
2 cups    unthickened light game stock or    500 mL
    store-bought equivalent
3⁄4 cup    butter, divided    175 mL
1⁄4 cup    vegetable oil    60 mL
4    bone-in moose ribs (each 51⁄2 to 7 oz/160 to 210 g)    4
5    juniper berries, finely crushed    5
1⁄2 cup    Madeira wine    125 mL
2 cups    unthickened dark game stock or    500 mL
    store-bought equivalent
10    porcini or other mushrooms    10
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4    candied chestnuts    4

1.    Place sliced cabbage in a large bowl. Add vinegar, juice of 1 lemon, diced apples and horseradish. Marinate for 1 hour.

2.    Make a light caramel with half the sugar. In a saucepan, combine 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) sugar and 2 tbsp (30 mL) water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it comes to a boil, continue to cook, about 5 minutes. Add warm duck fat, then onion. Lightly brown. Add red cabbage mixture, remaining sugar and cranberries. Add 11⁄4 cups (300 mL) water and cook over low heat, stirring frequently with a spoon, for 1 hour. Sprinkle with flour. Add red wine and cook until red cabbage is fork-tender.

3.    Peel pears, cut in half and remove stems and seeds. Add pears and light game stock to a saucepan and cook over medium heat until pears are fork-tender.

4.    Heat 1⁄3 cup (75 mL) of the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add moose ribs and sear until golden brown on the outside but still very rare on the inside. Remove excess cooking fat and add juniper berries. Deglaze saucepan with Madeira wine. Pour in dark game stock and reduce by half. Adjust seasoning, pour through a fine-mesh strainer, then whisk in 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) of butter. Set aside.

5.    Clean and thoroughly wash mushrooms. Season with salt and black pepper. In a skillet over medium heat, add 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) of butter, juice of remaining lemon and mushrooms and fry quickly until softened. Set aside.

6.    Place half a candied chestnut inside each pear and heat in microwave oven.

7.    To Serve: Place a half pear stuffed with a candied chestnut in a dish. Arrange moose rib on top, pour sauce over and add mushrooms on the side. Serve red cabbage separately on a small plate.

Instead of moose ribs, use bison, muskox, caribou, deer, elk, beef or veal.

Mitch Mandel/Rodale Images
Hare with Blackcurrants
In memory of my friend, Chef François Cara

•    Dutch oven

2    small hares (each 11⁄2 to 13⁄4 lbs/750 to 875 g)    2
12    whole shallots    12
1    stalk celery    1
1    carrot, thinly sliced    1
1    bouquet garni    1
4    cloves garlic    4
11⁄4 cups    blackcurrant wine    300 mL
1⁄4 cup    grapeseed oil    60 mL
2 tbsp    black peppercorns    30 mL
2 tbsp    salt    30 mL
1⁄4 cup    vegetable oil    60 mL
1 cup    brown game stock    250 mL
160    blackcurrants (see Tips)    160

1.    Cut hares into pieces. Set aside thighs, saddles and shoulders, and cut breasts into small pieces for the sauce.

2.    Add pieces of hare breast, shallots, celery stalk, thinly sliced carrot, bouquet garni and garlic to a heavy-bottomed skillet. Pour in blackcurrant wine and grapeseed oil. Add peppercorns and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 36 hours.

3.    When you’re ready to cook, remove hare breasts from marinade. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add 4 thighs, 4 shoulders and 2 saddles, each cut in two and cook, stirring, until firm, but not browned, about 5 minutes per side (see Tips, left). Place hare breast and its marinade in a large Dutch oven and heat. Add brown game stock and simmer gently until completely cooked. The blood of the animal will have slightly thickened the sauce.

4.    Using a slotted spoon, drain pieces of hare and shallots. Set aside. Pour sauce through a fine-mesh strainer. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add pieces of hare, whole shallots and blackcurrants to the sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

The pulp of the blackcurrant contains many seeds. Black­currants are tart, juicy and flavorful. They are used in cooking and to make crème de cassis, blackcurrant syrup and fruit jelly.
We do not fry the meat of a hare, we “stiffen” it, which means that we cook it in hot fat just long enough to stiffen the fibers without coloring the meat.

Serving Tips
Serve hot with boiled potatoes, crosnes, salsify or chestnut purée.

Instead of hare, use rabbit or Arctic hare.

Courtesy of The Complete Wild Game Cookbook by Jean-Paul Grappe © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.