Foodie Ramblings: Masterchef

Finishing off a long weekend with mom by marathoning Masterchef USA while flipping through the Masterchef cookbook we checked out of the library. Talk about a great find! You see, mom and I have been big fans of the show since its first season, and we always enjoy seeing what the contests cook during each episode. Come Wednesday nights, you can always find us sitting in the den watching intently. Actually, I think my mom is more excited about having the cookbook than I am; if that’s possible. She keeps pointing out and bookmarking recipes. Clearly, we’re going to be spending some quality time with this cookbook for the next two weeks.

You know, I’ve noticed a change in my mom’s attitude towards food lately. She probably won’t admit it, but I think is starting to become something of a foodie herself. Give me time, I’ll get her to join the dark side eventually.




Recipe Write Up: Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes (kind of) and Lemon

There is nothing more wonderful then receiving a birthday present from a friend. Especially if your birthday happens to occur right at the start of what some would refer to as ‘Academic Hell’ aka spring finals and you are so stressed that you’ve forgotten completely about the fact that you’re turning twenty-two because you have a final in your Weapons of Mass Destruction chem class and still have to memorize the top ten deadliest animals in the world. But then, amidst this male-storm of exams, presentations, and papers, your friend from freshmen year pops over to wish you a happy birthday and then hands you one of the most beautiful cookbooks you have ever seen. IMG_20130609_171634_20130616150445203Beautifully written and photographed, this cookbook is a food porn addict’s dream. If you are acquainted with food porn than I you know what I mean. If you have never ever heard of food porn before, click this link right away,, now. I can promise you, it’s worth it.

Ironically, my mother had purchased this book for my older sister some months ago. When I saw it before she handed it off to her, I asked my mom why she hadn’t gotten me a copy. This is how the conversation went.

Me: You know that I’m the sister who cooks and stuff. Where’s my cookbook?

Mom: Your sister cooks, she just doesn’t have as much free time as you do. Besides, I think your sister would appreciate this book more. She did spend a lot of time there.

Me: I went to Israel too mom.

Mom: I know, but this doesn’t really seem like a cookbook you’d like. Anyway, if you want a copy, buy one yourself.

In summary, what she was referring to is the fact that 1). my sister did spend a lot of time in Israel (about 6 months) and really fell in love with the country and 2). she has a closer connection to our Jewish culture than I do. What this is has to do with whether or not I’d appreciate an attractive and unique cookbook like Jerusalem its beyond me but clearly, my mom saw it differently.  Needless to say, you can guess what I didn’t get as a holiday present from my mom.

Jump forward to May 3rd and there, in my hands was the very book my mom had denied me. Contrary to my mom’s initial theory I can honestly tell you that it was love at first sight. Just flipping through the well photographed pages bought me right back to my personal journey to Israel four years ago. Almost immediately, my memory started recalling all the delicious food that I had had there. And when I say food, I am talking about more than just falafel. There is just something about Mediterranean flavors that I love. They are both vibrant and subtle. IMG_20130609_194641_20130616150701693 The additions of saffron and tarragon really gave this mean a punch when combined with the lemon and its juices. As for the artichokes, I can proudly report that, unlike those wicked olives, I love them. I  can’t recall if I had ever had artichokes before I made this but I can guarantee that I will be eating more. There are only two things that I would do differently. The first is that next time, I will let the chicken marinate in the mixture (see below) for at least four hours or even over night. My mom and I were in a rush so we only let it sit for maybe two hours. The second thing is to finish off the chicken on the grill or leave it in the broiler longer so it can get a bit more crispy. When I make it again, I’ll let you know what happens.

Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes and Lemon

From Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yoyam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

1 lb/420 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 6 wedges 2/3 inches*
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 skin-on, bone in chicken thighs, or 1 medium whole chicken, quartered
12 banana or other large shallots, halved lengthwise*
12 large cloves garlic, sliced*
1 medium lemon, halved lengthwise and then sliced thinly
1 tsp saffron threads
3 1/2 tbsp/50 ml olive oil
2/3 cup/150 ml cold water
1 1./2 tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/4 cup/10 g fresh thyme leaves
1 cup/40 g tarragon leaves, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

*Since I couldn’t find these specific artichokes, I used frozen artichokes from Trader Joes
*I used 5-6 shallots and about 4-5 cloves of garlic. Remember my mom hates intense flavor so using 12 cloves of garlic was absolutely out of the question

  1. Put the artichokes in a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of water and add halt the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, lower the hat, and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until tender but not soft. If you are using frozen artichokes it will be about ten minutes. Drain and leave to cool
  2. Place the artichokes and all the remaining ingredients, excluding the remaining lemon juice and half of the tarragon, in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to mix everything together well. Cover and leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge overnight, or for at least two hours
  3. Preheat the oven to 475F/240C. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in the center of a roosting pan and spread the remaining ingredients around the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes. cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for a further 15 minutes. At this point, the chicken should be completely cooked. Remove from the oven and add the reserved tarragon and lemon juice. Stir well, taste, and add more salt if needed. Serve immediately.

*Special thanks to my friend Therese for getting me this cookbook for my birthday. If hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t be the foodie I am today*

Till next time,


History of Cookbooks pt. 2

*Considering how lengthy my last post was when I included my history section, I have decided to dedicate a separate post to it entirely. That way, I won’t have to fight with my inner voice that screams at me when things are getting to lengthy*

For today’s segment, I’m going to give a brief overview of four of the first ever printed cookbooks, all originated in the fifteenth century.

1). De honesta voluptate et valetudine (Of Honest Indulgence and Good Health) is considered to be the first ever printed cookbook, published in 1474 Italy. Written by Bartolomeo Sacchi, he combined methodologies towards achieving good health along with recipes from other works. According to authors Anne Willan and Mark Cherniavsky “The recipes in De honesta have an artisanal rather than an intellectual bent, reflecting the new scientific philosophy of the humanist era” (49).

Like other cookbooks printed during this century, these books were relatively plain in appearance; there was definitely no celebrity chef’s picture plastered on the cover. Additionally, the average reader of these books were often ones of wealth or nobility. For that reason, they paint a clear picture of what life was like for those with affluent backgrounds, especially during times of feasts and banquets.

2). While the first printed cookbook originated from Italy, the second on my overview comes from Germany. Kuchenmeisterei (Mastery of the Kitchen) was published in 1485. While De honesta was written for a targeted audience, the author of Kuchenmeisterei had a broader audience in mind: “For princely households, prosperous city-dwellers, for  wealthy cloisters, and for master chefs in the taverns and inns of the nobility and their families” (Willan & Cherniavsky 50). A rather short volume, the book is divided into sections, such as dishes for fasting-days (soups, fruit preserves, and fish) meats, game, and finally, side dishes.

3). The list would not be complete without something French. Published in Paris, in 1486, Le Viandier (The Victualler) captured the essence of culinary traditions during the medieval era. Influenced by older manuscript from the fourteenth century, Le Viandier was extremely popular during its time, even getting a re-print in the nineteenth century. As for recipes. it is rumored that they originated from the author, Taillevent, himself. The remaining recipes are more contemporary, reflecting the culinary trends of the century. Another thing that is interesting to note  is that the recipes “Reflect the fact that table implements were sparse” with purees and porridge appearing frequently throughout (Willan & Cherniavsky54).

Additionally, the presence of spices too is an interesting trend. Heavily used in preparation, spices represented both signs of wealth as well as a new means of trade. Light and portable, they could be traded for other goods. Strangely, the popularity of spices would wane, barely being featured in European cooking during the sixteenth century.

4). The English cookbook, Boke of Cokery (1500) complete today’s list. Published in London, the book featured both recipes from the medieval era and more contemporary, English recipes and techniques. As the case with the other books mentioned here, the printed version of the Boke of Cokery was based off earlier texts. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that much about the Boke of Cokery, though a bit of online research brought me here:

While I can’t totally tell if this is the same cookbook since the title is different, overall, this is a really  cool website. With translated manuscripts and cookbooks, articles, term glossary, and much much more, you could spend hours reading up on per-modernity cooking. If you have some time, check it out. There are tons of translated recipes there so if you’re planning a Renaissance themed dinner party, this would be an excellent source.

That’s all for now though I can assure you the next installment will be coming soon. I will admit that I am still figuring out how I want to present this whole history thing so please bear with me. I promise to iron out the kinks over time.


Till then,


Work Cited

Willan, Anne, Mark Cherniavsky, and Kyri Claflin. The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook. Berkeley: University of California, 2012. Print.