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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review of Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better by Sara Moulton + Recipe

Sara Moulton is one of the first chefs that sparked my inner foodie. It all started with a channel called, TV Food Network (now known as Food Network), back in 1993. I was in my first year of college studying to be an accountant, while in my third year working in New Orleans Restaurants at Disneyland. In that year, I found out even though I was great in math, accounting was simply not my forte. Instead, I went back to what I also knew I was great at, fine arts. Along with the arts, my foodie taste buds began to develop as my boyfriend (now husband) and I began eating different cuisines for date night instead of the usual fast and cafeteria food we ate while working at Disneyland. We ventured out because of chefs like Sara Moulton and Emeril Lagasse who came into our homes through the television showing us that there was more to dinner than just Hamburger Helper and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. My dad has always been great in the kitchen. With the help of Sara, he began to experiment with different cooking techniques and ingredients on the weekends. After 30 years in the auto body business, his inner foodie immerged as well, and now cooks for a living in Hawaii.

Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better is all the details. The opening line of the cookbook pretty much sums it up, “If you selected 10 people and handed them the same recipe to prepare, you’d end up with 10 different dishes.” Good cooking is all about the details. You don’t have to be a trained chef to be detailed in your cooking technique or develop your senses. Sometimes it is not all about the time and temperature reading on your oven, it is about observation using sight, sound, smell, touch, and, of course, taste that can take your cooking to the next level.

I’d like to give a big thank you to Melissa’s culinary team and Sara who prepared the following dishes with the utmost care and expertise.

In the “The Good Cook’s Pantry” chapter, Sara shares Carol Montag and Jonathan Horwich’s technique on the perfect Hard-“Boiled” Eggs to make her Fancy Stuffed Eggs. I am privileged to share these recipes with you (see below). I am a big fan of truffles and the aroma alone from these stuffed eggs reminded me why! I think I was a truffle pig in another life. The hard-boiled technique really does make the egg whites tender and the yolk silky. I am also a HUGE fan of deviled eggs. I could eat a dozen and not even bat an eyelash. The simple ingredients make the egg flavor shine through. I can’t wait to make these again! This would be great for a family gathering and even potluck. Rating: 5/5

Hard-“Boiled” Eggs from Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better by Sara Moulton (Oxmoor House)
Start to finish: 40 minutes / Hands-on time: 10 minutes 
Servings: Makes 6 hard-boiled eggs

6 large eggs (see Note)

Fit a collapsible steamer inside a medium saucepan and fill the saucepan with about 1 inch of water or to just below the level of the steamer basket (no water should be touching the eggs). Put the lid on top of the pan and bring the water to a medium-high boil over medium-high heat.

Using a large, long-handled, slotted spoon, place the eggs in a single layer in the steamer, being careful not to burn your hand with the steam. Steam the eggs for 10 to 12 minutes. (At 10 minutes, the yolks will be slightly undercooked; I prefer them this way.) Transfer the eggs carefully to a bowl of ice and water and let them cool completely.

When they are cool, crack them all over and peel them under cold running water, starting at the wide end of the egg, and making sure to get under the membrane (which makes it much easier to peel the egg).

Hint: Older eggs are much easier to peel, so this is one time when you might not want farm-fresh eggs.

Fancy Stuffed Eggs from Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better by Sara Moulton (Oxmoor House)
Start to finish: 40 minutes / Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Servings: Makes 12 stuffed eggs

6 Hard-Boiled Eggs
2 tablespoons Homemade Mayonnaise or store-bought mayonnaise
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon truffle oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Snipped chives, for garnish

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks, and set the whites aside. Push the yolks through a medium sieve into a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, crème fraîche, mustard, Parmesan, and truffle oil to the mashed yolks and mix well with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste and transfer the mixture to a re-sealable plastic bag. Cut off one of the corners of the bag, pipe the mixture evenly into the hollow of each of the whites, and garnish each egg half with some of the chives. (For a fancier look, transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.)

In the “Soups & Salads For Supper” chapter, Smoky Broccoli-Cheddar Soup is a great soup for fall. I love broccoli cheese soup; actually, anything with cheese is always on the top of my list. This soup has a creamy texture, almost chowder-like, with hints of potato and onion flavors. The smoky Canadian bacon adds another level of flavor. Rating: 5/5

Credit: Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better by Sara Moulton (Oxmoor House)
In the “Quick & Quicker Entrées” chapter, Beef Stroganoff Burgers is a brilliant creation blending the All-American burger with Russian Beef Stroganoff. This burger also practices the use of the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project concept of using mushrooms blended with beef. Mushrooms help stretch the use of the ground beef (healthier and sustainable for the planet) as well as add moisture to your burger. These burgers are amazing! The sauce is delicious. You can serve them like “salisbury steaks” with a side or put them on a bun and eat it like a juicy, messy burger. Rating: 5/5

In the “On The Side” chapter, Spicy Creamed Corn – The Summer Version is one of the best creamed corn recipes I have ever had. Since it was December, we had The Winter Version using frozen corn and Neufchâtel to get the desired creaminess. I can see making this for a family gathering and even potluck. Corn is the perfect side with any protein and will make any crowd happy. Rating: 5/5

In the “Something Sweet” chapter, Sara made Bananas Foster Crepes during the demo using Melissa’s Crepes. Sarah includes ingredients and directions how to make crepes which may seem daunting but once you get the hang of it, they are very easy to make. This simple and easy dessert will wow your family members for a quick family dinner. The bananas foster flavors from the ripe bananas, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum just pop and your family will think a chef is hiding in your kitchen. The coffee ice cream is a perfect match. Rating: 5/5

Strawberry Cannoli Calzones pay homage to a snack that Sarah had on a family trip to France. It is a play on baguettes stuffed with chocolate. It is intriguing how the mind might find it odd to pair something you know as savory with something that you know as sweet. Many times, this combination is surprisingly pleasant. Sarah’s take on this utilizes a pizza dough (we know as savory) and stuffs it with a strawberry cannoli filling (we know as sweet). This fluffy, doughy handpie of a dessert is just perfection. The chewiness of the dough works well with the sweet strawberries and creamy Neufchâtel. I can see making variations on this replacing the strawberries with different fruits like raspberries or cinnamon apples and even chocolate chips. Rating: 5/5

Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better is definitely a must-have cookbook for the home cook. There are so many great techniques and recipes that will make any home cook’s life much easier and bring fun back into the kitchen.

For more information:
Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound

On the search for an ingredient that you can’t find in the store, check out Melissa’s Produce.

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