by Lois Friedman

Cook-offs, throw-downs, competitive cupcakes, top-chefs all conjure up images of men cooking and competing in food careers in kitchens all over town.  In a recent Wall Street Journal article I read of the Generation X author’s opinion, “Men of Generation X are all but elbowing women out of the kitchen these days.  We don’t own the stove outright – yet- but we’re well on our way.”  Whether a sous chef, everyday or occasional chef, butcher, baker or ice cream maker and whether the elbowing is gathering momentum and since Fathers’ Day is in June, these cookbooks are of interest to all and especially the men in charge of the indoor and outdoor ovens.

The Art of Fermentation By Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green, $39.95)    Be a fermento!  This “fermentation revivalist”, who was an early pickle lover fascinated by the taste, demystifies the process and concepts and adds history.  Discover or rediscover the ancient art of fermentation.  Everything bubbles over with wonderful information – a packed read.  My dad’s attempts would have benefited from this book: mysterious pops from bottles of brew in the basement and every year his jars of pickles grew bigger and more puckery.  Try the descriptions to see what happens to vegetables, beverages, grains beans, meat, eggs and more. “Anyone, anywhere can ferment”.

Fruit Kvaas

Pick out a combination of fruit, berries, and fresh herbs or spices that you think would go well together, and get started.  In a 1-quart/liter wide-mouth mason jar combine the following (be sure to use organic ingredients for the best fermentation results):

*A big handful of berries

*One sliced “core” fruit” (such as apple or pear)

*A tablespoon of grated ginger

*1/2 cup/125 ml raw-milk whey

*Enough filtered water to fill the jar

Combine all ingredients, top off with water, place a weight of some sort on top of the fruit to keep it submerged, and close tightly.  Keep on the counter in a warm-ish place for three days before transferring to the fridge.  You can top off the bottle with filtered water and a splash of whey when it gets low, until the fruit is all used up.  This recipe can be varied by using different fruits, citrus juices, fresh herbs or even vegetables.

Saveur The New Comfort Food Edited by James Oseland (Chronice, $35)   Glorious color photographs of people, places, foods and how-tos, over 100 eclectic recipes for comfort food from around the world from this award winning magazine editor and cookbook author extraordinaire.  The book is based on the simple premise that this is food to satisfy the soul.  Terrific headnotes and sidebars are packed with information.  Matzo Ball Soup, Matzo Brei with Mushrooms and Asparagus, Golden Potato Latkes, Lindy’s Cheesecake (like our beloved Omaha Reuben Sandwich, both Lindy’s and Arnold Reuben of Manhattan Deli claim this creation).  Another NYC recipe from the bartenders at Union Square Café using heirloom tomatoes from the nearby farmers’ market.

Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary

(Makes 1 cocktail)

2 large ripe heirloom tomatoes

2 oz. vodka

1 oz. fresh lime juice

1 tsp. freshly grated horseradish

Tabasco, to taste

Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Cherry or grape tomatoes, for garnish

Push tomatoes through a potato ricer or a medium sieve into a small bowl; discard solids.  Refrigerate juice until chilled.  Stir in vodka, lime juice, horseradish and Tabasco and season with salt and pepper.  Fill a highball glass with ice and add tomato juice mixture.  Garnish with a wooden skewer threaded with tomatoes.

The Gardener & The Grill By K. Adler & J. Fertig (Running Press, $23)   The bounty of the garden meets the sizzle of the grill.  The taste of freshly picked veggies enjoyed year ’round.  Savor over 100 vegetarian recipes.  Grow in pots, “potager” (raised in beds in a pattern) or thrill of fresh this and that at farmers’ markets.  Appetizers to desserts.  Try grilled fruits, brie or this quick and easy recipe with added Blue cheese.

Grilled Pears with Honey-Cinnamon Crème Fraîche

Serves 4

½ cup sour cream

½ cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons wildflower honey

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 pears, halved and cored

In a bowl, stir together the sour cream, cream, honey and cinnamon.  Cover and let stand for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours until it thickens.  Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill.  Place the pear halves cut-side down on the grill.  Grill for 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until the pears are tender and blistered.  To serve, place 2 pear halves in each bowl and spoon the crème fraîche on top.  Serve warm.

From the Ground Up By James Villas (Wiley, $22.99)   Over 200 global recipes for an around the world food experience bite by bite, meatloaf by meatloaf, chili with and without beans, ground dishes of every size and shape.  But wait, there’s more.  This is the go-to book for ground beef, chicken, turkey and seafood from Avgolemono Soup to Zarela’s Chipas.  Headnotes, clear instructions, Gefilte Fish and this recipe – feel free to experiment with chopped or minced olives, capers, anchovies, lemon rind and the like.

Smoked Salmon-Stuffed Eggs

Makes 6 to 8 servings)

8 large hard-boiled eggs

¼ pound smoked salmon

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Small dill sprigs for garnish

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, press the yolks through a sieve into a bowl, and reserve the whites.  In a food processor, grind half the salmon to a puree and scrape into the bowl with the egg yolks.  Finely chop the remaining salmon and add to the bowl.  Add the cream cheese, chives, minced dill, and salt and pepper and stir till well blended and smooth.
Connect a star tube to a pastry bag, fill the bag with the salmon mixture, and pipe it evenly into the egg white cavities.  Garnish the tops of each egg half with a sprig of dill.

America’s Best Ribs By A. Davis & P. Kirk (Andrews McMeel, $19.99)   “The best rib is the rib you like.”  The goal of this book written by two great, award winning KC BBQ kings/ribmasters is to help you cook your personal best ribs…make that championship-caliber ribs judged by backyard aficionados.  Helpful tips, headnotes and sidebars.  Memories and stories like which bulls to avoid and which bulls to eat!  Read of grilling, smoking, sops, mops, brines, slaters and rubs.  Six chapters, over 100 recipes covering ribs, sides and desserts.  In a two page spread, Omahan Mason Steinberg recalls in the 25th and Q area in 1949 and his introduction to BBQ, the rib sandwich and the taste of rubs and hickory smoke.  Try this dry rub on beef back ribs.

Rub

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons mild chili powder

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons coarse or restaurant grind black pepper

3 tablespoons sea salt

1 tablespoon cayenne

Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and blend well.  Season the ribs all over with the rub.