Cookbook writing class in September – there’s still room.

 

Some books by Deborah Madison.


This September, as well as last, I’ll be teaching a class at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop called Secret Ingredients for Cookbook Success.  It goes from Sept. l7-20 (not the 21st as given in a previous post) and is not only productive, but a lot of fun.  The class is small and there are still a few places left. It is especially for those who are just writing a first cookbook, and if the class is anything like last year’s, there will be all kinds of cookbooks.

The place is gorgeous (an old Carmelite nunnery) and the food is delicious.  And it is in  Santa Fe.  Come join!

You can learn more at https://santafeworkshops.com/workshop/secret-ingredients-for-cookbook-success.

 

Jicama is a legume!

 

Tubers, beans, and leaves of the Jicama plant.

For a few years I had a wonderful job in lower Baja, Mexico working outside of San Jose del Cabo, in the mountains. The project was the dream of the former leader of the band, Tangerine Dream. He wanted to make a retreat where, just for example, the dining room tables were designed in such a way that people couldn’t easily make eye-contact with one another, so that they were, in effect, alone with their thoughts. What was wonderful about the job was not that so much (I  like contact!) but being able to go to Baja every spring, to work with the wonderful and ingenuous Mexicans who could always figure out how to do difficult things with few materials,  to work with rastra blocks of our buildings, and to learn about plants.

I spent a lot of time with a botanist from the area who was showing me some of the native plants we might use in the spa kitchen. He would often say that jicama was a legume. A bean. I thought he was teasing me.

“Really?” I asked him.

“Yes!” he assured me. “It is.”

This issue was set aside for many years until one day, recently, in the Santa Monica farmers market I saw a stand of greens, bean pods, and jicama roots, all entwined and attached to one another.  The botanist was right. Jicama is a bean!

The brown papery covered part that we mostly eat is a swollen tuberous root. If you look at jicama images on line, they never show the beans, only the tuber. But here’s an image that shows all parts of the plant. It’s a bit chaotic, but if you look, you can make out the beans and the roots among the leaves.

I’m not saying you should eat the beans – I’ve read that the leaves have a toxic element so maybe the beans have it too. Plus there are other beans to eat.

But who knew?

Mostly this is just a curious bit of information. Enjoy!

 

I’m teaching a workshop on how to write a successful cookbook in Santa Fe, Sept. l7-21!

 

Lots of people want to write cookbooks for different reasons, and this is the workshop to address what makes for a successful cookbook.

You can bring a manuscript, an idea, a thought and we’ll work together on crafting it into a book. We will also meet with authors who have approached writing a cookbook in different ways—through mainstream publishers, a university press, and self-publishing. These are very different approaches and it will be helpful to hear from these different authors. We will also talk about working with photographers and stylists.

I hope you’ll join me!  Here is more information:  https://santafeworkshops.com/workshop/secret-ingredients-for-cookbook-success/.

This is a beautiful time of year in Santa Fe.

 

 

Cooking with Confidence!

I recently did an on-line interview with Lisa King who has a blog called Cook with Confidence. It was great fun to do and if you’re at all unsure of yourself in the kitchen, I hope you’ll take a look.  The link to my piece is   https://cookwithconfidence.me/DeborahMadison, and Lisa’s site is cookwithconfidence.me.  It’s a worthwhile site and good work that she’s doing.

 

Cooking with Dante

 

I have a very loyal kitchen hound. His sensitive little ears perk up the minute I enter the kitchen to cook and within moments he is sitting at my feet, looking up inquisitively at my motions, listening to the sounds of chopping and slicing, rustling papers, the unwrapping things, all sounds that have to do with food and cooking. Food is very important for dogs, I have learned, even though my dog does not wolf things down. He is endlessly interested in something to eat, however.

Food is important yes, but he doesn’t go for just any old bite. He is quite selective. We’ve been going through this routine for nearly six years, and I know that he doesn’t like onions. Still he makes a lot of little squeaking noises until I offer him a piece. He sniffs carefully and ever so slowly until he’s finally satisfied he doesn’t want the bit of onion. He turns his head to the side, his elegant poodle nose rejecting what I knew he would reject. We go though this with every vegetable, including those that are cooking. I offer him the skillet to preview, knowing he wont’ be interested. But he thinks he might be.

There are some things he likes. They are beet skins. Sweet potatoes. Cooked carrots, and what I call broccoli bones, (the coarse lower ends of broccoli stems, which he’s carries away and works over just as if they were bones). He will accept a kale stem, but then he just walks around the island and drops it on the floor. When I finally emerge from the stove the floor can be littered with bits of stems and leaves. And when I sweep them up, he doesn’t linger at the dustbin wondering if there might be a treat. After all, that’s usually about the time he gets his own dinner, which he far prefers.

You might have met my pup on the page after 231 In My Kitchen. He shows up a few times. But my favorite picture is of him sitting on the kitchen steps looking very robust indeed. In case you’re wondering, his fur is not colored and he is a small Labradoodle – actually mostly poodle. He weighs only 32 pounds, but he’s pretty convinced he weights at least seventy. Must be all those brococli bones! Whatever it is, he’s a good kitchen friend.

 

 

Grubbing Around in the Garden & Looking for Spring

One day every body is complaining about snow and winter, then, the minute the temp sores to 50 degrees, suddenly it’s spring and all is forgiven.  

At least that’s how it was this past Sunday.  And Monday. And even Tuesday.

There wasn’t a speck of green to be seen on Sunday. The rain, wind, sun took their turns throughout the day, and the warmth was pretty fragile. But it was enough to pull people outside and make them feel giddy. I closed my lap-to,  pulled on my gardening gloves and grabbed a rake.  I was so tired of those brown leaves and besides, I was dying to see what was going on beneath them.  Here’s what I saw. Maybe not so thrilling to most people, but let me interpret these tangles among the dead leaves.  There are a few nibs of chives poking out of the withered strands that froze months ago Here are the first sorrel leaves to appear. The leaves of the thyme are looking fleshy here, instead of merely dried. And I didn’t even take a picture of the first red shoots of the lovage plant because they really were pretty small. Barely visible to the uninterested eye. This may not look like salad to you. But in a few weeks there will be a garden salad that will include, along with the lettuce, spinach and arugula still under safe cover of remay, maybe one snipped chive blade, few torn sorrel leaves, probably not the thyme, but perhaps a tender lovage leaf. There will be more snows and freezing nights for weeks to come, but this tiny bouquet will be enough to launch both spring and summer. This is the wild joy that the garden promises.  Even though I’m heartily tired of brown, I rather love this time of year because each day there’s something new poking up and leafing out, usually plants I’ve forgotten about. I stare at some leaves and remember, oh, the agastache!  The daffodils. The wild strawberries. Little signs of life appearing each day, taking hold. It’s like seeing old friends, whether birds as they first return from their travels, or human ones. What I’m wondering, though, would these tender shoots and leaves be happier with their blanket of leaves left to cover them a little while longer. Or can I take them off? Tell me if you have an answer to this because I really want to know. I suspect the leaves should stay, but I’m really eager to see them go.  Many thanks to all who try to set the story straight.

My New Book: In My Kitchen

 

A friend pointed out recently that myweb-site had disappeared!  And she was right, but it’s back now, which is good, because I want to tell you about my new book that’s coming out in March.

It’s called In My Kitchen. And that’s just what it is – me in my kitchen cooking favorite recipes, brought right up to date with today’s new ingredients, as well as recipes that are quite new.  It is lavishly illustrated with gorgeous photographs by Erin Scott and all in all I think it’s a handsome, intimate book. (I just got a copy in the mail from my publisher, 10-Speed Press.) It is richer in narrative than most of my books, replete with stories and a close look at how new ingredients have made good food more accessible.

I really enjoyed writing this book and working with everyone who was involved with it. I hope you’ll like it, too!

Thanksgiving Without the Turkey (but with so much else!)

Platter of Fall Fruit (photo by Laurie Smith)

For years I’ve been asked by news folks of various stripes to comment about what vegetarians can eat at Thanksgiving, and for as many years I’ve replied, ”Everything but the turkey.” Even when turkey is on the table, there’s bound to be a host of other foods, mostly seasonal vegetable dishes, that are just right for the vegetarian and everyone else at the table, too. Traditionally those sides so numerous that plates are heaped with them while the turkey makes up but a small portion.

And if you’re planning to make a Thanksgiving meal without the bird, what then? Here are some of the thoughts on that.

The first is to skip the mock turkey, unless you just absolutely love it.

The second is to make something that’s special to you and those at your table, something that you don’t make often because it’s too expensive or too time consuming, or maybe too rich. Such as? A wild mushroom lasagna (or any kind of lasagna, especially when made with fresh pasta.) Homemade ravioli are always welcome. Or a winter vegetable stew that brings together black lentils, root vegetables, pureed potatoes and a red wine sauce. You know what you like.

While you might choose to make menu with that special dish as the star, another way is to honor the holiday is to go for the groaning board approach, a big table loved with seasonal dishes. Now is when we’re excited about winter squash and sweet potatoes, or the appearance of corn meal or dried beans at the farmers market, or you home grown cache of Jerusalem artichokes, so you might just decide to indulge and have some of everything.

You could have everyone sit down and start off with a bowl of warming soup, then invite people to get up and help themselves to the bounty. Or just keep passing all those platters with someone designated to set them somewhere when they’ve gone around once.

Whatever approach you take, do invite others to participate in making the meal. They may just want to bring a favorite dish of their own, or help out in your kitchen, or show up with an extra pie or a bottle of wine.

Here are a few dishes I’m likely to serve, all of them can be found in my cookbooks. VCFE can for the most part, be the old or The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I have to admit, it was hard to choose just these.

 

Possible Appteizers

White Bean, Sage, and Roasted Garlic Spread, VCFE

Savory Wild Rice Crepe-Cakes, Vegetable Literacy

Gourgere (Cheese Puffs), The Savory Way

 

Two Special Soups

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Bisque with Sunflower Sprouts, Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

My Really Good Mushroom Soup, from the soup book, above

 

Three or Four Main Dish Possbilities

Braised Root Vegetables with Black Lentils and Red Wine Sauce, Local Flavors

Winter Squash Galette, VCFE – or another vegetable galette -there are more!

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage, VCFE or Mushroom Lasagna, VCFE

 

Some Possible Sides

Quince Compote or Spiced Quince and Cranberry Compote, The Savory Way

Asian Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Butter, Vegetable Literacy

An Over-the-Top Holiday Sweet Potato Gratin with Red Chile, The New VCFE

Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Pecans, VCFE and a different one in Vegetable Literacy

Wilted Greens with Crisped Bread Crumbs, VCFE

Celery Root and Potato Puree with Truffle Salt, VCFE

Provencal Winter Squash Gratin or Delicata Squash Rings, VCFE

Buttermilk Skillet Corn Bread with Heirloom Flint Cornmeal, Vegetable Literacy

 

Salad

Endive with Walnuts and Blue Cheese, VCFE

Shredded Radicchio with Walnut Vinaigrette, Vegetable Literacy

 

Dessert Possibilities

Steamed Persimmon Pudding, Local Flavors

Sweet Potato Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans, Vegetable Literacy

Indian Pudding (if you have an oven free for a few hours), Seasonal Fruit Desserts

Tangelo-Tangerine Pudding, Seasonal Fruit Desserts (a very light dessert)

 

And you don’t need a recipe to build a platter of fall fruits, nuts, chocolates and the like for people to munch on long after the table is cleared.

Happy Thanksgiving To All

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Harvesting Larkspur Seeds in July

Larkspur seeds

Larkspurs are a great annual plant, one that that flowers and seeds abundantly. I love this plant because it’s generous and beautiful. Its little black seeds germinate with ease and produce tall stalks of delicate flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink and near white. Over the years I’ve selected seeds from those with the richest azure color, and now my larkspur are stunning in they blue and purple groups, which is how they tend to grow.

I started with larkspur nearly twenty years ago when we moved into a house whose yard was barren. It was one of those lots that had been scraped clean, save for the house. A friend gave me a handful of larkspur seeds and another handful of deep red giant amaranth. I tossed both into the dirt and lo and behold, they all —or so it seemed—germinated. The amaranth was a little creepy with it’s big, nodding blood red seed heads on six-foot tall stalks. My husband asked me not to plant them again and I didn’t. But come spring, thousands of them came up, carpeting the lot with a sea of scarlet leaves. They were gorgeous—and edible.

The larkspur was easier to handle. They were robust growers to be sure, but not overwhelming like the amaranth. Certainly not creepy. As the latter came out and more perennial plants came in, the blue blossoms of the larkspur seemed to harmonize with every color, especially the silvers and grey plants. Plus they could also end up in a vase and look sprightly for a nearly a week. I started saving the seeds, which is easy to do, and have ever since. I wanted those flowers again. And I’ve had them ever since—everywhere!

Today, in a different yard and a hotter summer, I noticed that the seed heads were starting to open a month early and that the flowers were so diminished in number that the hummingbirds had little interest in them. I also was ready to reveal some of the plants the larkspur were hiding —a handsome oregano plant, a culinary sage coming into a second bloom, the gorgeous Mojave sage, a stand of rue, clumps of ornament grasses that  had come back after the gopher snake moved in,  and above all,  a snaking trail of Blonde Ambition, a striking grama grass that didn’t need the punctuation of larkspur given that it’s own handsome seed heads were about to emerge.

I started clipping the seed heads that were open and bringing them into my office where I set them on a  metal table. With every bump from me, the dog, or a whoosh of wind, the black seeds came tumbling out of their elongated pods. There are so many. I’ve already given some away and there are thousands more seeds that will fall out while I’m at the Seed Savers Exchange Campout this next week. Unless I get busy.

I’m thinking the time has come to use a little more control, having stands of larkspur only here and there where they set off other plants or cluster together to make a purple-blue haze, rather than having them come up willy-nilly everywhere. So if time allows before I leave, I’ll be ruthless about pulling out the rest of the plants that remain, their seed heads still closed and ripening.

The Golden Glow of Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons in a Bob Brady bowl.

Meyer Lemons in a Bob Brady bowl.

A heavy box arrived just before Christmas, delivered by my trusty UPS man who always has a warm hello for my pesky little dog as he searches the big brown truck for cookies. It was from chef Charlene Badman of FnB, (as in Food and Beverage). Charlene is one of my favorite chefs. Anywhere. In addition to serving up some very good dishes, FnB also has a bodega where some of those good and unusual ingredients used in the restaurant can be bought, and a wine shop to boot. It makes such good sense. FnB happens to be in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Scottsdale is also a place where Meyer lemon trees grow along with other citrus fruits.

I suspected that this large, well-taped box might be filled with Gillfeather rutabagas, a vegetable Charlene and I share something of a passion for. But once I cut though all the tape that held the cardboard together, it was lemons that came tumbling out, lemons of a deep yellow hue, lemons that were exceptionally large and that spewed fragrant oil into the air when nicked with a fingernail or sliced in half. These were the lemons I grew up with in California. Charlene couldn’t have known – or maybe she did – how very happy her citrusy gift made me, especially in winter when I tend to be more homesick than usual for California produce.

Don’t get me wrong – we are grateful to have snow on the ground and we’re happy to have it be cold outside because fruit trees need their chill hours to bear fruit next summer. Nine degree mornings aren’t the easiest for dog walks, but the sunny cheer of these winter fruits seemed to warm up the air with their glow.

First I put them in a bowl –one of my favorites— (see the picture) and it’s made by Robert Brady in Berkeley (www.traxgallery.com) to admire. Nestled there, they lit up the darkness of winter. Even in sunny New Mexico we do have grey, overcast days. I also left some in the refrigerator so that they wouldn’t get slack and soft, and now that the official holidays are nearly over, my lemony lights will join them in the chill. I do treasure them so I know there’s a danger of keeping them far too long instead of using them, but I intend to overcome that, starting now. I know there are many things I can do with Meyer lemons, besides look at them.

There are lemon sorbets and ice creams to make, lemon curd and lemon tarts, which David Lebowitz (www.davidlebowitz.com) has recently written about, or, turning to one of my favorite dessert books, Lindsey Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts, I’m reminded of how to make a Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie and her Meyer lemon Ice Cream. And of course these fragrant fruits can be used wherever lemons are called for. For the moment, though, I will use at least some my lemons in sauces and vinaigrettes as the holidays have brought a surfeit of sweets and the beginning of the New Year does inspire a break.

So here’s a simple Meyer lemon sauce from Local Flavors, Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers Markets, that I’m inclined to spoon over avocado and pomelo salads, toss with shaved fennel, or spoon over poached or roasted fish or use to dress a frikeh and beet salad—on the menu for tomorrow, I think. In short,  you can use this sauce wherever you want a complex tasting but simply made dressing. Now is one time I splurge on buying fresh tarragon, as mine has crisped up and fallen away with winter and its freezing temperatures.

 

Meyer Lemon Sauce with Tarragon

Makes 1/3 to 1/2-cup.

1 large Meyer lemon

1 shallot, finely diced

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped

 

Remove the zest, juice the lemon and put both in a small bowl with the shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand for several minutes, then whisk in the oil and add the tarragon. Season with a little freshly ground pepper. Taste and add more oil if needed. Meyer lemons are generally sweeter and less acidic than Eurekas so 2 tablespoons might be enough.