Cooking with Scraps
Table Talk: January 2019
From the January, 2019 issue
Did you know you can eat banana peels? Me neither. They're one of many foods I formerly thought of as compost that I'm now learning to love thanks to Cooking with Scraps, the new cookbook by Zingerman's Bakehouse marketer (and occasional Observer contributor) Lindsay-Jean Hard. Gorgeously illustrated with lush photos, the collection includes some eighty recipes that rehabilitate everything from apple cores to zucchini stems.
Banana Peel Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting introduced me to the concept of cooking down and pureeing the peels, which go in the cake batter. (They could also go in banana bread.) The cake itself tasted like a fluffy, rich banana bread, and the old-fashioned frosting is one I'll keep in my back pocket for many future cakes. Also on the sweet side, Hard's Pumpkin Gut Scones didn't last an hour at my house. Those call for using the stringy bits inside the pumpkin. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to process an entire large pumpkin and throw away only the stem. I used the peel in a broth for risotto, per Hard's suggestion, and her Everything Bagel Roasted Pumpkin Seeds made for a satisfying post-Thanksgiving snack.
On the savory side, the Collard Stems and Lemony Ricotta Stuffed Shells are a sophisticated take on the old hide-the-vegetables-in-the-lasagna trick. I particularly enjoyed not having to cram the woody stalks into my countertop compost bin. I saved cauliflower innards for White Bean and Cauliflower Core Puree, which my husband and I devoured for dinner one night, abandoning our planned menu when the appetizer proved to be tasty and hearty enough.
For me, good cookbooks yield a handful of recipes that make it into permanent rotation, but the best ones transform the way I think about cooking. Hard's book is the latter, because it showed me how to turn trash into treats. Just the other day, my seven-year-old stopped me from putting the remains of a sliced apple in the compost: "Wait, Mom! We can make apple core syrup with that!" And so we did, elevating our weekday pancake breakfast into something memorable.
[Originally published in January, 2019.]
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