Paula Deen’s Special Collector’s Issue “Quick & Easy Meals”

March 16, 2007 in baking, beef, breakfast, cheese, chicken, cookbook, cooking, dessert, drink, Paper Palate, pork, recipe, review, seafood, Well Fed Network

[This post appeared on the Paper Palate blog, a member of the Well Fed Network]

Deen Special Collectors

(Source: [tag]Hoffman Media[/tag], click image to go to magazine order page)

I watch only a few shows on the [tag]Food Network[/tag], two of those being [tag]Alton Brown[/tag]’s “Good Eats” and [tag]Paula Deen[/tag]’s “[tag]Home Cooking[/tag]”. I do not watch the “[tag]Paula’s Party[/tag]” show though, something about that show makes me feel uneasy. I am positively inclined toward Ms. Deen but am not what you would call a fan. I am only a fan of the Japanese [tag]Iron Chef[/tag], other than that, I watch without much fan-like adoration.

I am also not the sort to buy [tag]cooking magazine[/tag]s because I am not in the habit of buying in the “women’s magazine” [tag]genre[/tag]. When I was a kid, I did have a subscription to [tag]Bon Appetit[/tag] (I know, wierd, I was an odd one to say the least) but not to any of the pop culture teen mags. Thus, I am not jaded by other “women’s” genre food magazines. I get [tag]Food & Wine[/tag] and [tag]Saveur[/tag] but I did not compare them to this magazine, different concept.

When I opened this [tag]magazine[/tag], I wasnt really paying attention to the fact that it was a [tag]special edition[/tag]. I was astounded that a food magazine would have zero interstitial ads. The only ads you will find are on the back and front cover. What you get instead is bombarded by page after page of simply delicious [tag]recipe[/tag]s, [tag]appetizing[/tag] and dynamic [tag]food photography[/tag], and a huge dose of Paula’s personality.

This issue boasts 85 recipes, 20 complete [tag]menu[/tag]s (and they ARE, I got full just reading them, honest) and photographic suggestions of inviting table settings and decorations. In the back, you can find all sorts of high quality kitchenalia and dining room related objects carefully chosen from artists in [tag]Savanna[/tag] and other people and places relevant to Paula’s universe.

Each of the seven recipe [tag]chapter[/tag]s starts with a nifty little box outlining the menu and then provides recipes. With no ads, they really pack quite a few recipes in on each page.

  • Wake Up Sunshine – Ham and Cheese [tag]Quiche[/tag] with Potato Crust
  • Lunch Bunch – Molto [tag]Muffeletta[/tag] (Paula’s vegetarian version of the resplendent New Orleans sandwich, too much bread and too little Italian cold cuts in my mind)
  • Special Suppers – None of the protein dishes attracted me but the [tag]Lime[/tag] [tag]Blueberry[/tag] [tag]Tiramasu[/tag] calls my name like a siren.
  • Dinner from the Grill – Bourbon Beef [tag]Tenderloin[/tag] with Sweet [tag]Bourbon[/tag] Sauce and Sweet Potato [tag]Cheesecake[/tag] with [tag]Streusel[/tag] Topping (Pinch me, I think this sounds fantastic! When my grill thaws out, I will be trying this for certain)
  • Casual Evenings – New York [tag]Strip Steak[/tag]s with Terragon Melting sauce, Herbed Monkey Bread and pornographic Easy [tag]Chocolate[/tag]-[tag]Cherry[/tag] [tag]Cake[/tag]
  • Game Time Tonight – Mini [tag]Bratwurst[/tag] [tag]Sandwiche[/tag]s (cute things. Little = eat more!) and Queen of Hearts [tag]Brownie[/tag]s (dainty decadence)
  • After Dinner Delights – Hot [tag]Carmel[/tag] Apple Cider

In the last chapter, “Quick and Classy [tag]Tabletops[/tag]”, the table setups are so colorful and very textural.

All that said, I do not see how these could be considered quick! The time I would have to spend in [tag]Pier One[/tag] just buying all the stuff would be hours. Note – I will use any excuse to spend hours there, my toddler cries when she sees the Pier One sign though.

The tabletops are classy, certainly, but super complex. I think I would need a Masters in Design to accomplish this on my own. I am sure there are many readers here who have the desire and talent to do this (it is just beautiful) but I dont see my doing it any time soon. Its likely that one of my kids would either pull the tablecloth off with little flair or light a bonfire with candles and fancy linens.

I have only three beefs with this magazine:

  1. I gained 3 pounds just reading the thing
  2. I honestly felt lonely after putting it down because Paula looks like she has SO MUCH FUN
  3. Paula’s photos can be a bit disconcerting at times because some of the shots make her look like she has a 1000 yard stare and her blue eyes are a bit too retouched to look natural. Note to Paula’s photographer, keep her giggling, catch her happy smiles and forget the Hello Kitty vapid look, it is a disservice to Miss Paula.

I can not recommend this Special Collector’s Issue ENOUGH.

If you see it on the news stand, grab it.

It will be out until May and sells for

  • $7.99 US
  • $8.99 CAN

Cappuccino – Well Fed Network article – The Spirit World

January 28, 2006 in drink, recipe, Spirit World Blog, Well Fed Network

I posted the following article (Part 2 of 2) at The Spirit World, a blog in the Well Fed Network.

Please cruise by The Spirit World and The Well Fed Network and check out this new venture!

Cappuccino

illy coffee bean can

In my previous post at the Well Fed Network, I wrote about Italian coffee concoctions that did a great job of extrapolating from a base of black brew. Clearly, the Italians have done an excellent job maximizing coffee in cocktails. But before the creative and perhaps, at times, cloying cocktails, was the simplicity of a black espresso with a twist of lime and the comforting capuccino.

For a point of reference, I am a Colombian-American and I like my coffee strong. I won’t wax on about the need for that intensity other than to say that I appreciate it in other types of coffee. My experience with coffee in Colombia has been very low tech. I remember a cloth hung from a wire above my cup, coffee packed inside, and hot water poured over the top. Italian coffee, with its massive, complicated, steamy coffee making machines, seems to involve a whole lot more technology than what I grew up with.

Italian espresso machines cross the line from utility to high octane machinery. The barrista, behind the steaming fury of the milk frother, hidden with my little cup of espresso, would likely feel just as comfortable adjusting the spark plugs of a Maserati, while it’s still running.

But it is very hard to complain as you look down into the creamy foam-edged carmel depths of a good espresso or the delicate felt on the surface of a cappuccino. Leaving the gleaming mass of high-tech coffee machine behind, I can sit in the café and sip divine coffee beauty, too content to compare, only to enjoy.

Just how does the barrista harness that machine that seems like its bulging with steam to make tiny little potent espressos and whispy froths for lattes? From the experts on Italian coffee, illy, comes an exacting set of directions for making a cappuccino, Italian style.



Cappuccino Italian Style

The ceramic container – or, if not available, one made out of stainless steel – should be twice as large as the volume of milk to be heated; in addition, the container’s optimal diameter is 1/3 of its height.

The temperature of the cup is irrelevant, but the milk’s temperature should not exceed 70°C (158°F). It should never be heated a second time without at least adding some fresh milk. It is heated up by means of the steam nozzle of the “espresso machine” after discharging any condensed water which may have collected in the nozzle. The foam should be fine and dry, compact and lasting.

Proportions:

1/3 espresso coffee
1/3 milk (preferably whole milk)
1/3 foam

Preparation:

1. Pour the necessary quantity of milk in the container.
2. Discharge any condensed water which may have collected in the steam nozzle by opening the steam tap for 2-3 seconds.
3. Immerse the steam nozzle in the milk and open the tap.
4. Once the foam has reached the desired consistency and volume, prepare the espresso in a large cup (max 120cc).
5. Pour the milk and the foam in the cup with the espresso coffee, keeping in mind that the proportions are 1/3 for each component.

TIPS:
a. To obtain dryer foam, the pressure of the boiler should be above 0.7 atmospheres; hit the container (with the milk foam) hard on the counter a couple of times before you pour it.
b. To obtain a fine cream, use a spoon to remove the layer of large bubbles after the first heating, restricting the operation to the foam only.
c. Prepare the milk before the espresso if you wish to have the center of foam colored. Proceed in the opposite manner if you wish the foam to obtain a colored contour.
d. To give a greater intensity to the taste of the espresso, prepare two extra strong espresso coffee (“ristretti”). Thanks to the low caffeine content of illy coffee, even in this case 130-140 mg of caffeine per cappuccino are never exceeded.
e. Refrigerate the milk container.
Cocoa powder, though optional, is sometimes sprinkled on top of the cappuccino, often to cover imperfections.

(FYI: Ristretto is a very short shot of espresso coffee. A normal (double) espresso shot is a 2 fl.oz or 0.6 DL extraction over 25-30 seconds. A (double) ristretto is a 1-1.5 fl.oz (0.3-0.45 DL) extraction with the same amount of ground coffee over the same period of time. Ristretti is the plural of ristretto. Source.)

Whew, that is some protocol for using a set of Maserati spark plugs to make a cup of coffee.

While you are at it, you may wish to indulge in extravagant scientifically rigorous caffeinated adventures as do Dr.s Andrew Smith and David Thomas, scientists in the Department Of Chemical Engineering at Loughborough University, UK. They have an interesting site that discusses Coffee Science and the vagaries of the infusion of coffee solubles. (Check out the following PDF of a scientific article that discusses the extraction kinetics of coffee brewing, at length. The Infusion of Coffee Solubles into Water: Effect of Particle Size and Temperature.)

Books of Interest

Italian Coffee – Well Fed Network article – The Spirit World

January 27, 2006 in drink, recipe, Spirit World Blog, Well Fed Network

I posted the following article (Part 1 of 2 actually) at The Spirit World, a blog in the Well Fed Network.

Please go on by The Spirit World and The Well Fed Network and cruise all the amazing articles we have been putting up there!

I promise you will learn a thing or two.

Italian Coffee

Micro croissants

As a counterpoint, of sorts, to the post on Italian Grappa, this post will discuss that OTHER amazing drink, Italian Coffee.

As you likely know, there is more to Italian coffee than espresso and cappuccino. Thanks to Starbucks and local cafés across the US, we have developed a taste for Lattes and Frapuccinos and many other drinks that may have never seen the light of day in Italia. (Except for the Starbucks there, I suppose). There are plenty of indigenous Italian coffees that deserve our attention and I will mention a few here, with their recipes.

The use of alcohol is a lovely way to amend a coffee. Some Italian coffees call for it, others do not.

Recipes

This first recipe calls for Grappa and would make a tasty after-dinner drink that will keep you up to watch the sunrise.

Espresso Corretto – 1 serving
Combine one shot of espresso and a 1/2 teaspoon of Italian Grappa (or to taste, do not dilute the brew too much), and knock it back.

This next drink sounds like a delightful ice breaker for a party that plans to last late into the night.

Caffè all’Arancia – 4 servings
2 cups of boiling coffee, 1 tsp. ground orange peel, 4 shots of Cognac, whipped cream to top. Mix the coffee with the sugar, orange peel and Cognac. Pour into cups and top with whipped cream and a strip of peel.

The following recipe makes a drink that would be great on a hot afternoon, invigorating and cooling both in temperature and aroma.

Caffè Profumatissimo
– 4 servings
4 cups of very strong coffee, 1T. sugar, a few mint leaves, whole cloves. Prepare the coffee, add sugar and set aside. Pour cooled coffee into a carafe with ice cubes. Add a few cloves and several mint leaves.

This next one is so extravagant I get a milk-coffee foam mustache just reading it.

Caffè Imperiale – 4 servings
1 very strong cup of coffee, 4 egg yolks, 4T. sugar, 1 Cup milk, 3 shots brandy. Beat the egg yolks well, stirring in the sugar and brandy. Add to heated milk and coffee. Serve in heated punch cups.

(The previous three recipes can be found at the DolceVita site.)

Or, you may simply wish to indulge in a cup of hot java, black and no sugar, contemplating only the depth of flavor and perhaps pleasant associated memories. In any context, this brew faithfully serves as a constant, anchoring the greater mixological infusion in the authentic and earthy reality of coffee.

Visit The Spirit World Cappuccio post where I delve into the intricacies of the making of a cappuccino.

Books of Interest