Cornerstone Cooking: Crunchy Black Bean Tacos

We love us a good blog-to-book success story (hellooooooo, agents — what ver happened to Friday Fuck-Ups, the novel?) So I was excited to get my copy of Cornerstone Cooking, the new cookbook from Nick Evans, sometimes ES contributor and the man behind Macheesmo.

Of course, leave it to a blogger to come up with the first cookbook I’ve seen in eons that is actually useful. The concept behind Cornerstone is one we can get behind: “learn to love your leftovers.” In each of his eight chapters, Nick offers up one “Cornerstone recipe” — the simple things that you should just know how to make perfectly (roast chicken, spicy black beans, grilled flank steak, baked potatoes, marinara sauce, lentils, homemade bread and vanilla ice cream). Then for each one, he gives you about a dozen more directions for how to use that cornerstone dish up over the course of a week. For example, how to turn those spicy black beans into black bean burgers, black bean soup, huevos rancheros, black bean salad, and our favorite — fried tacos!

Check out Cornerstone Cooking on Amazon, or keep reading for the recipe.

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ES Local: Booze for Good

From Philadelphia…

It’s all the rage for “celebrity” chefs and restauranteurs to do good things. Marc Vetri just launched his program to save school lunches, and remember when Jamie Oliver had that TV show? Yeah. Next up: Stephen Starr. No, really.

Philly’s Starr restaurant organization isn’t exactly known for its philanthropy or even being nice to its employees. However, this year, some employees have joined together to do the Broad Street Run…because of course, if something is going to sell out in five hours, Starr has to be a part of it. But instead of just running down Broad Street like assholes, they’re using the race to support Teens4Good, a program that transforms vacant lots into urban farms to improve access to healthy food for communities, while creating jobs for at-risk youth and empowering them to become healthy, responsible adults. My favorite part of this is that they’re raising money for the program through my one true love: booze.

If you’re interested in giving back without actually doing anything, need an excuse to get to Route 6 for the oyster crackers, or just want to meet a celebrity (me), head up to Route 6 on Wednesday night after work. Rumor has it the beers are $3 and there may be a specialty cocktail thrown into the mix.

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Plate It or Hate It

Recent food world discoveries the ES crew is loving and hating

Plate It: Creamed Honey

We love honey. We hate how it sticks all over everything. Creamed honey is pure honey that is crystallized so that it changes texture; you get a smooth, creamy product that spreads like butter and doesn’t drip-drip-drip all over everything like that pedestrian un-creamed honey. Brilliant. (Available at http://www.shopbot.co.nz/)

Hate It: Push Pop Cakes

The latest mom blogger craze picks up where cake pops left off. Come on, foodie moms — please stop sacrificing practicality for cuteness. That is not how you eat a cake. Push it up and things start to fall apart once you take your first bite.  (Photo: kristin_a)

Plate It: Travel-Size Brie

Finally. We no longer have to fly with just Laughing Cow. Quality doesn’t compare to regular brie, but it’s sure better than no brie. (Available from Ile de France)

Hate It: Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off

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In Defense of Paula Deen

I’m sure y’all have heard by now that Paula Deen has diabetes. It’s all over the news. People are pissed. I’ve seen media “correspondents” (who are these people who are allowed to throw stones all over the place?) calling her “outrageous” and demanding apologies to the public. WHAT? Why?

whatever

Know what? I’m just gonna say it. I like Paula Deen and I DON’T CARE. I don’t care that my girl Paula cooks food that is bad for her/everyone; I don’t care that she kept her diabetes a secret; I don’t care that she is now doing an endorsement deal with a diabetes pharmaceutical company.

Is a lot of her food hilariously bad for you? Sure is. Does she blatantly ignore nutritional guidelines? Yep. If you cook and eat a ton of her recipes on a regular basis, are you doing your health a disservice? You better believe it.

But guess what, Food Network viewers! The onus is on YOU! If you think Paula Deen’s recipes are unhealthy, don’t cook and eat them. If you think her lifestyle is appalling, don’t watch her show. The fact that Paula has diabetes may be linked to her eating habits, great. Frankly, her health is her business. Anthony Bourdain may say she’s “in bad taste,” but honestly, how is her admitting to diabetes and hawking meds really affecting any of us? Nobody was “betrayed” by her cooking shows, as some people have claimed. She’s never represented herself as an athletic, fit person. Paula Deen’s admission of her diagnosis doesn’t give you a free pass to eat poorly, then complain and point fingers.

Even here at Endless Simmer, we delight in writing about alarmingly extreme foods. I highly doubt any of our readers think we constantly pig out on all of our ridiculous culinary discoveries, or that we encourage anyone else to. We’re all smarter than that, right?

This is just like people who try to sue fast food companies for their health issues. Let’s take some personal responsibility, please. If you honestly think it’s okay to eat burger-stuffed doughnuts three meals a day, that is 100% your problem, not Paula Deen’s.

(image: eater.com)

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Review and Recipe: The Dead Celebrity Cookbook

When I first discovered The Dead Celebrity Cookbook it was a near hit at the back of Entertainment Weekly’s The Bullseye feature. Frank Decaro, best know for being the movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, drew inspiration for the book from a college party in the 80’s. All of Decaro’s friends dressed as a dead celebrity, but the party had a fatal flaw — it lacked food. So, over the years Decaro collected a mass of cookbooks, magazines and other sources of recipes from celebrities who are now dead. If you can get past the morbidity of the book it really is a great collection of recipes, with no particular rhyme or reason other than they’re each supposedly a favorite of a deceased famous person. Who’d have thought Johnny Casrson cooked? Whitefish, no less.

If you can convince yourself that these people actually cooked, let alone had a favorite recipe worth keeping note of, then it’s worth having as an addition to your collection of cookbooks. Plus, most  the recipes are pretty basic. Dean Martin’s burgers and bourbon consists of three ingredients — beef, salt and bourbon — at least he seasoned (what, you’re expecting molecular gastronomy?) My favorite chapter is chapter 25, Thank You for Feeding a Friend, which includes Bea Arthur’s veggie breakfast and Rue McClanahan’s non-dairy cheesecake, among other Golden Girls goodies. And to get your started, here’s one fabulous recipe from the DCD.

How does one catch a salmon, why with a wire clothes hanger of course…

 

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Who is the Eater of the Year?

Each year, Endless Simmer asks our loyal readers to vote on which person deserves the coveted title Eater of the Year. Past winners include Anthony Bourdain, Hezbollah Tofu, This is Why You’re Fat and Ruth Bourdain. So who made the biggest splash in the food world in 2011? The nominees are…

Herman Cain

Maybe it didn’t work out in the end, but you have to admit, there’s something admirable about a man who isn’t afraid to say that running the nation’s 36th best pizza chain qualifies you to run for president. In fact, there isn’t much at all Herman Cain is afraid to say. In a world where presidential politicians deep-throat corn dogs in public and then retreat to their campaign bus for lobster thermidor, it was refreshing to have an honest eater in the race, at least for awhile. Herman Cain wasn’t afraid to sing about his love for crappy fast food, or to declare that only sissy men put vegetables on their pizza. He wasn’t afraid to eat chicken wings win Michele Bachmann, or to propse that poor people don’t need food stamps because they can just buy used food. How is this man not already eater-in-chief? Just hope he never asks you to dinner. (Photo: Broward Palm Beach New Times)

Epic Meal Time

We can all acknowledge that the Food Network is pure shite nowadays, and there hasn’t been a food show worth watching since Cookin’ with Coolio. What the teevee execs don’t seem to get is that Americans don’t want 30 minute meals or cutesy casserole recipes. We want WORLD RECORD BREAKING FOOD.

Enter Epic Meal Time, the web TV show that ate all of the other web TV shows and then burped them up. Fancy an 84-egg sandwich? Meatloaf made out of McDonald’s? A Christmas tree crafted from bacon? EMT’s outrageous creations make state fair food look like a tea party hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow, and we just can’t look away. The ultra-American eaters dirty little secret? They’re Canadian.

The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project

When Julia Child said she was going to use television to teach Americans how to cook French cuisine properly, people laughed at her, but she became a foodie legend. When Julie Powell said she was going to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and record it all on something called a weblog, people just thought she was weird, but she became a blog-to-book-to-big-screen phenomenon. When college student Lawrence Dai decided he was going to watch Julie & Julia every day for a year, people immediately realized he was a genius. Yes, the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project had all the hallmarks of a jokey web project that wouldn’t last more than 15 minutes, but Lawrence actually did it, watching J&J a full 365 times, and firmly proving that online journalism does indeed have a purpose.

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Presents for Foodies: Food Network Star Book

This time of year I am always scrambling for holiday gift ideas. It’s not that I’m not a generous person… it’s just that sometimes, come on, people are hard as hell to buy for. Being a food-minded individual, I often solve this dilemma by throwing a cookbook their way and calling it good. In this case, here is something to please the masses: Food Network Star: The Official Insider’s Guide to America’s Hottest Food Show. It’s chock full of recipes and television gossip. We all know people who love Food Network, so there! One gift to cross off the list.

How good is this cookbook? Well, it’s definitely a crowd pleaser. FNS:TOIGTAHFS, as I like to call it to save time, offers a wide array of recipes, from the laughably simple (Carissa Seward’s Shrimp Puffs), to the reasonable (Eggs en Cocotte from Amy Finley), to the elegantly involved (Alex Hernandez’s Beignets with Rosemary Caramel). It’s fun because recipes from basically every cheftestant from every season of the show are featured, so it’s easy to pick a selection from one’s favorite. I, for example, eagerly sought out recipes from the Hearty Boys. Then, upon seeing that their featured item was lobster pot pie and reminding myself I was supposed to be saving money for other presents, decided to go with something a bit more pedestrian.

I would hardly call Guy Fieri my favorite “chef” but hey, he is probably the ultimate Next Food Network Star winner. This dude is everywhere! How’s his food? There’s only one way to find out, and that is to make one of the recipes that catapulted him to stardom.

Chipotle Pasta

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