LIVE TO COOK
BY MICHAEL SYMON
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
Michael Symon's Live to Cook - Recipes and techniques to rock your kitchen
(Clarkson Potter) ISBN 978-0307453655 0307453650
Iron Chef, Michael Symon, helps readers become better home cooks with family recipes that reflect his Mediterranean heritage. A few recipes are for popular dishes from his Lola and Lolita restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio.
His simple recipes use a minimum number of cooking pots. Numerous sidebars provide cooking lessons in everything from how to caramelize vegetables to how to keep turkey moist (drape it with cheesecloth dipped in melted butter with herbs).
Michael Symon talks to you like a friend, who is also an expert chef, who divulges his culinary secrets.
Each chapter in Live to Cook begins with an introduction. In the Charcuterie chapter introduction, Chef Symon explains that charcuterie allows you to make special sausages and confits with inexpensive cuts of meat. He also tells you where to buy sodium nitrite, or pink salt (DQ Curing Salt from butcher-packer.com), and how it adds a piquant flavor to meat and protects it from botulism organisms.
Corn cob broth
Michael Symon discusses ingredients in the introduction to each recipe. In the sweet corn and wild mushroom soup recipe, he explains that you can make a flavorful broth by simmering corn cobs until they release their milk.
Symon Says sidebars add cooking tips, like soaking sliced onions in ice water to remove the raw bite and make the onions crunchy.
Colored culinary arts pages teach you cooking techniques. One explains how to braise pork belly, or fresh bacon, cool it in its own liquid, then saute it until crisp.
Cooking with herbs
Another cooking lesson in the 255-page cookbook explains that you should add woody herbs, like thyme and rosemary, at the beginning of cooking, and soft herbs, like basil and cilantro, just before serving, so that you don't lose their flavors.
Black-and-white and color photos by Ben Fink and Donna Turner Ruhlman depict Michael Symon cooking and the delicious dishes prepared from the recipes in Live to Cook.
How to cook inexpensive cuts of meat
Michael Symon provides many cooking tips, such as toasting spices to increase their flavors and balancing the fat in meat with acidic ingredients like pickles, vinegar and lemon juice. He explains when to salt foods (e.g., meats, 8-24 hours before cooking, and fish, immediately before cooking). He prefers Kosher salt because it doesn't have the acrid chemical flavor of iodized table salt.
In Live to Cook, Michael Symon includes recipes for delicious, but less popular cuts of meat, like pork cheeks, lamb tongue, beef cheeks, pig ears and even pig's head, which he cooks into a tasty ragu with pasta.
A Sources chapter provides names of stores and websites where you can buy chestnut honey, barrel-aged feta, Roth Kase buttermilk blue cheese and other hard-to-find ingredients.
Sample recipes for home cooks
Roasted dates with pancetta, almonds and chile. Zucchini fritters with feta and dill. Corn crepes with barbecue duck confit. Spicy tomato and blue cheese soup. Orange vinaigrette. Slow-roasted beets with buttermilk blue cheese, watercress and toasted walnuts. Lola bacon (homemade bacon). Lolita pancetta (homemade pancetta). Lamb sausage. Turnip kraut. Spicy ketchup. Coffee barbecue sauce. Braised greens with smoky bacon. Braised pork belly with soft polenta and seared mushrooms. Bacon-wrapped pan-roasted walleye. Pickled cherries.
- Foreword by Bobby Flay
- Becoming a better cook
- Soups and sandwiches
- Pasta, gnocchi and risotto
- Stocks, sauces and condiments
- Side dishes
- Family meal
Michael Symon is a James Beard Award-winning chef, who has appeared on Iron Chef America. Michael Ruhlman has co-authored several cookbooks.