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Posted April 6, 2012
Cheese, Charm, and Lovely Flavors
One of the joys of modern cookbooks and food writing relates to genre expansion. While classic, revered dishes and language continue, more room exists for irreverence or quirkiness. The field for 2012 appears to be bringing together the publication of these less-traditional voices with stunning recipes. The Caseus Fromagerie Bistro Cookbook lands in this space with feline agility.
Reading the book provides a strong impression of the chef, restaurant, and patrons. They all share wry humor, a desire to enjoy food made well with fresh tastes that shine through, and the room to be individual. The accessible layout and language, with inspired images make the a pleasure to devour this book before even making any of the recipes.
A number of the recipes won the vote to be on our repeat list. Often, precious jewels should up in expected places. That happened here. A stunning side dish appeared with a recipe for lamb kabobs. The kabob recipe was well done, but the Cured Lemon Quinoa on page 100 was plate-licking good.
I recently started my journey with making cured lemons during the Meyer Lemon season here in Northern California. So far, I don't have enough recipes to use up the bounty. Finding the quinoa with cured lemons recipe added a new standard to my arsenal. The instructions for preparing the quinoa were perfect for releasing a satisfying starchiness while keeping an elusive, al dente toothiness.
One important note: the recipe for the quinoa lists the mint as optional. I strongly suggest you include it. The nutty grains, zingy lemon, smooth comforting butter come together as a stronger family when you include this ingredient adding a minty touch of flair and kitchen clown. Please, don't skip the fresh mint for this recipe.
On the other hand, our tester taste buds were divided on the Crab and Grapefruit over Zucchini Ribbons with Sheep's Milk Feta. I found the first bite tasted fabulous. The combination delighted and intrigued. Others continued to enjoy the dish. My initial infatuation didn't last; like a beautiful crush with a black-board squeaky voice, the rush to meld with the dish failed after the first bite for me. Others simply didn't agree. You may have to try this one yourself to find out how it strikes you.
The Marcona Almond Pesto Pasta also pleased our palates. This recipe was more of a reminder that pesto doesn't mean you have to be locked into same, classic ingredients. It reflects the reality people more likely used what they had on hand. As another reviewer stated, this one reflects the classic riff idea.
The dish I've already made multiple times--to finish off today's breakfast in fact--is simple, elegant with so many applications it's impossible to guess how many times or places serving it will serve you. The simple combination of cheese, a hint of spice and sweet goes piques your interest, intrigues the mouth and satisfies the appetite. "Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with Honey & Black Pepper" wins hands down for favored taste and incredibly useful recipe.