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I am pretty excited about the Cook the Books challenge presented by Grow & Resist and Oh, Briggsy…  For each month of 2013, a different cookbook will be chosen by them; participants are asked to select a recipe (or recipes) to whip up from the appointed book and then share their cooking experiences via blog post. There will be a round-up of all the posts on the last Wednesday of the month– participants without blogs, don’t worry! you can comment on the round-up and make your voices heard. (Click on the link above, or below, for full participation rules and timeframes.) I love cookbooks, adore poring through them and jotting notes and bookmarking ideas; I have a carefully chosen home collection and regularly check new cookbooks out from the library for test runs. I knew I was going to play Cook the Books before I was done reading the introductory post on Grow & Resist. Yea cookbooks!

The cookbook of choice in January is Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan, which currently occupies a place of honor on my kitchen bookshelf. About this time last year, I was alerted by fellow food bloggers that Amazon had a crazy deal on a set of Greenspan cookbooks; I bought it so quickly my head is still spinning. I have been cooking from the Greenspan books (the other was Baking: From My Home to Yours) all year and was glad to see that one would be included in this challenge. I decided pretty quickly to make something brand new from Around My French Table, something a little out of my comfort zone that I might not choose to make otherwise. I made anchoiade.

anchoiade

Anchoiade is a sauce made of anchovy fillets, olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper. I had never had or heard of it before this month; my decision was driven by the determination to try something new and my ongoing attempt to work oily fish into our diet for the health benefits. Unsurprisingly, anchoiade is intensely, pungently flavored (and scented) and it was so good on our roasted potatoes and cauliflower. These two vegetables were mentioned as the most popular (at least according to Dorie) vehicles for this silky sauce, which can also be served with raw veggies or as a dressing on baked fish. Any fishiness noticed with the first bite of saucy potatoes soon dissipated and the garlic and salt flavors came forward in an addicting, tell yourself to eat slower kind of way. I served the roast veggies with anchoiade alongside a variety of green olives — garlic-, almond- and ajo-stuffed as well as “plain”– and chard sauteed with bacon & lemon juice. I wanted bold, assertive flavors of sour, bitter and salt with the canvas of very white vegetables. My plan worked, as we spent most of dinner planning when and how to use the rest of the sauce– maybe with a piece of cod, definitely with more potatoes. The recipe for anchoiade is on page 486 of Around My French Table, and I’ll ask encourage you to pick up a copy (at the library, from a friend, whatever works) to get the proportions of ingredients from Ms. Greenspan.

roast veggies with anchoiade

And so, the first month of Cook the Books was every bit as fun as I expected. Is it time to start cooking for February yet? It’s going to be a good month! Up next is Asian Dumplings by San Francisco food writer and cooking teacher Andrea Nguyen, chock full of everything from pot stickers and bao to samosas and lumpia. I started flipping through the book three weeks ago and have been jazzed (and I don’t say that, ever) to start cooking. If anything about Cook the Books sounds interesting to you, consider participating! You’re not locked in to every month and may just find something new and exciting to add to your meal plan or present at your next dinner party. Let me know if you’re in so we can chat more. Happy book cooking!

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