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Special weekly section: Food Extra

Rethink buttermilk soup

Rethink buttermilk soup

You might not always be sure where Thomas Keller is leading you — and you probably won’t be able to make out all four types of allium in the end — but you can count on everything working together to surprise you.

It’s why his restaurants are worth the price, his books points for reference and inspiration, but not necessarily meant to be cooked through. (I once — emphatically once — made his boeuf bourguignon, which necessitated the use of a spreadsheet, ended at 3 a.m., and was what I imagine running a Tough Mudder might be like.)

Keller’s recipe for butternut squash soup, however, will not keep you up past your bedtime.

Pondering pomegranates

Pomegranates have long been one of the world’s most revered fruits. The Bible is littered with references to the red orb, images of which decorate the temple of Solomon and the robes of priests. An Old World staple, the fruit is gaining popularity in the New World as well. Canada, Mexico, and emerging markets of South America are biting into California’s export market.

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Recipe of the week: Better-for-You Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

Recipe of the week: Better-for-You Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

In 2010, Lisa Leake and her family took on a challenge: to eat only “real food” for 100 days. They’d already tried to cut out the packaged, highly processed convenience foods that had crept into their diet, but Leake says she needed another push to help eliminate the shortcuts, snacks and even organic or fancy processed foods that still had dozens of ingredients that this mom of two young girls couldn’t identify.

Culinary SOS: Curry cauliflower soup has sweet heat

Culinary SOS: Curry cauliflower soup has sweet heat

Dear SOS: I was at Mendocino Farms the other day. They had a cauliflower curry soup that was amazing. The home run for me was that it was broth-based as opposed to dairy. Any chance you could get the recipe from them?

— Rafael Mesa,

Hollywood, Calif.

Dear Rafael: A lentil broth provides a nice base to this soup and, along with the coconut broth, gives this a richness you don’t always find with vegetarian soups.

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Mint goes well with lamb and eggplant kabobs

Mint goes well with lamb and eggplant kabobs

Adding fresh mint to prepared pesto sauce gives a new twist to this linguine sauce. Lamb cubes cut from the leg are the best cut for these kabobs. If they’re not on display, ask the butcher to cut them for you. Be sure to leave at least a quarter inch of space between the ingredients on the skewers so that the heat can reach all sides and the food is evenly cooked.

The Puck stops here, with pizza

The Puck stops here, with pizza

Curse you, Wolfgang Puck!

Actually, I’ve interviewed Wolfgang Puck, and I liked him immensely. He is warm and generous, kind of the opposite of the way he seems on television. But curse him, anyway.

Single-handedly, Puck ruined pizza forever. He did it casually, offhandedly even. As if he were not starting a revolution. As if he were not flippantly knocking away the foundations on which Western civilization had been built.

Books for Cooks: The one meat cookbook you need

We recommend: “Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book” (America’s Test Kitchen, $40)

What’s special: A panoply of proteins — including beef, pork, poultry, lamb and veal — get the exhaustive scientific treatment from the Cook’s Illustrated crowd.

With explanations of techniques and very deliberately worded recipes for simple cuts and composed dishes alike, this book is an invaluable reference work.


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