06 July 2013

Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journals 11

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

I thought I'd take advantage of the holiday weekend (at least here in the United States) to dip into my Kitchen Journal and share some new discoveries and kitchen adventures. I also gave the Weekend Cooking button a makeover. Hope you like it.

Adult Beverages. In the heat of the summer we've turned to beer instead of wine on most nights. For some reason, we're on a German kick and are rotating among our three current favorites, a black larger and two dunkels. I first bought Kostritzer black lager to use in a short rib recipe, and we were pleased to discover how much we liked the beer.

As for the German dunkels, we can't quite decide if we like the Warsteiner or Spaten better, but we bought the Spaten for our Fourth of July of party. Our beer distributor (don't ask, this is Pennsylvania and we have weird liquor laws) has encouraged us to try the Spaten Octoberfest, and I know we'll buy it before the end of the month.

A new wine we like is Coppola Diamond Red Blend, which one of our guests brought to the Fourth party It's fruity without being sweet and went very well with our traditional cookout menu. We haven't been drinking much white wine lately, but I think crisp, dry whites are wonderful in the summer.

Blue Plate Special by Kate ChristensenCulinary Reading. I recently finished Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen (Doubleday, 2013), in which the author explores her experiences with the intertwined connections among memory, emotion, and food. The autobiography deserves a full review, but I'm swamped with work, and I'm not sure when I'll get to it. In the style of M. F. K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, and other great food writers from the last century, Christensen presents a startlingly frank look at her life, her search for love, her relationship with her mother and sisters, and her complex feelings about her father. Throughout it all, and despite a somewhat dismal beginning, she remembers the foods and meals that both comforted her and opened her horizons. Make room for her next to Elizabeth David, Ruth Reichl, and the rest, Christensen has (as I wrote for Bloggers Recommend) earned her place at their table.

What I've Been Cooking. The farmers' market and our CSA are both in full swing and our dinner table has been overflowing with fresh, wonderful veggies. We buy a full share, and even though there are only two of us, we manage to hold our own week after week. I tried two new recipes for our Fourth party; although neither uses those good CSA vegetables, each was a success.

Every year I make the same old baked beans and same old potato salad. Our guests like my classic versions, but I decided I needed to shake things up. So where to turn? Why America's Test Kitchen, of course. I looked through the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook and found their All-American Potato Salad, which was traditional enough to be a sure hit but included some ingredients I don't normally use. For once, I followed the recipe almost exactly. I loved that the salad was tangy and not mayo heavy. Our guests seemed to agree and helped themselves to seconds.

I knew I wanted to use my slow cooker for the beans, so I pulled out ATK's Slow Cooker Revolution and picked their Barbecued Beans. I did not follow their directions exactly, however. Here's what I did differently: I went ahead and fried the bacon and broke it into pieces. I didn't mind the extra pan and was happy not to have to fish out the limp bacon strips before serving. At the end of the recipe, I was generous with the mustard, and when I stirred it into the beans, I also added chipotle hot sauce and 1/4 cup of bourbon. Everyone loved this dish too.

What food or drink adventures have you had this week?


caite 7/6/13, 6:19 AM  

Can't go far wrong with ATK recipes or beer..but I totally agree about the bacon.

Tina 7/6/13, 7:11 AM  

I haven't had Warsteiner in ages. That's a good beer. We are still on the white wine kick with this heat.

Great recommendation on that Kate Christensen book. Since I am a fan of MFK Fisher I will check it out.

rhapsodyinbooks 7/6/13, 7:55 AM  

I just noticed the new icon for Weekend Cooking! Very cute. Wonder how long it has been there before I noticed! LOL

bermudaonion 7/6/13, 8:36 AM  

I hope to listen to Blue Plate Special soon!

Have you tried Weihenstephaner's dunkel?

Beth S. 7/6/13, 8:42 AM  

I just added Blue Plate Special to my to-read list. :)

Anita 7/6/13, 11:06 AM  

Your recipe for beans sounds yummy!! I don't make potato salad,but my family likes it. I'm disgusted my cold potatoes and mayo. Lol.
Love the new button. I'll have to update my post.

Cecelia 7/6/13, 6:37 PM  

I still haven't found a potato salad recipe that makes me want to eat it over some of the other options. I should start on a quest to find one I like, and begin with the one you mention here.

Laurie C 7/7/13, 7:03 AM  

I like the new Weekend Cooking button! I usually only like potato salad that I make myself (because I make it the way I like it, I guess) but I have the ATK cookbook so I'll see what the experts have to say!

(Diane) bookchickdi 7/7/13, 8:57 AM  

Your baked bean recipe sounds fantastic. My mom makes the best potato salad and she doesn't use a recipe so it's hard for me to replicate. My guys like when I make Barefoot Contessa's Tarragon Potato Salad.

Ellis Drake 7/7/13, 1:19 PM  

I like the new button! Very nice. :)

Gilion Dumas 7/7/13, 6:56 PM  

Blue Plate Special looks great -- I'm adding it to my wish list.

I just noticed the new icon too. I'll go change my post to use it!

Joy 7/7/13, 7:58 PM  

Sounds like an excellent 4th of July party. I don't normally like baked beans, but I think I'd go for those!

Joy's Book Blog

Trish 7/9/13, 8:46 AM  

Baked beans and potato salad. What could be more Fourth of July fare than that! And absolutely agree with the crisp bacon--nothing worse than soggy bacon in a dish. I've only attempted to make baked beans once and the beans weren't quite cooked enough (first time making them from dried) but I need to keep trying. My grandma makes a wonderful wonderful baked bean recipe but she doesn't have it written down and doesn't seem willing to share. Ha!! She has told me the secret is in the liquid smoke but that's all I can gather so far...

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