Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review: My Beverly Hills Kitchen ~ Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist by Alex Hitz

Well  let me first say the cover says it all. You don't have to have fancy food, you need good food served on beautiful serve ware. I love the concept of "relaxed elegance" when it comes to food, entertaining and interior design. Just look at the cover, a silver platter of Southern Fried Chicken and homemade biscuits; it just exudes comfort food served on a beautiful table, which describes a traditional southern host or hostesses equation for a wonderful time. This book reminded me of how we have beautiful things that we may have inherited from our mother or grandmother or pieces we bought ourselves that we feel are too precious to use; please use them. I think after looking through this cookbook you will start looking in the house for all those treasures, and begin to use them.

I also love how he allows you to get to know about his family, and when he began to love food. He also shows pictures of the African American women who had an influence in his life, especially Dorothy Williams Davis. He always gives a tribute to her; she was the family cook for forty years, and he notes that she inspired many of the recipes in the book. Alex, did come from a family of affluence, but if you listen to him in any interview, he has great humility and charm.

He talks about how to taste food, or the three stages of the palate. He is not afraid of salt or salted butter, and gives all kinds of tips on what equipment you need in a kitchen to make the cooking process a success. I agree about getting the best ingredients that you can afford. I am particular about extracts, cocoa, and spices, so I agree with him 100%, that it does make a difference in the finished product. He also likes the idea of doing Southern Classics that would please a sophisticated foodies palate. That is where the French twist comes in to play in some of the recipes. He uses wine and bourbon and other libations in his cooking, which I just love. I think it adds an additional layer of flavor in the finished dish.

The cookbook has so many recipes that look like you may have to be a chef to cook, but when you read the recipes, you see that "you" can do it. Most ingredients are easily found, and the tips are great. The Hors d' Oeuvres are simple and beautiful. He has a belief you just need a few, and I agree, especially if they are a starter for a formal dinner. They should make you want to see what is next to come, not fill you up! Next is soups, all served in nice bowls, then salads, Eggs, and Cheese, and Grits, and Quiche. Then we move on to sauces, vegetables and side dishes, Seafood, Chicken, Turkey, and, of All Things, Pheasant. I've never had Pheasant before, maybe I should after seeing the recipe.

Next stop, Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork. He really shows you how to take a piece of meat and turn it into something special. Well we can't forget Biscuits, Rolls, Breads, Pastry, and Crepes. I think I want to make a few of these things, especially the biscuits. I'm from New Orleans and we love our biscuits. I love how his biscuits looked in the cookbook, so I am going to try them.

And last but not least Desserts. I love how he makes vanilla ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce served in a beautiful bowl look decadent! I want to try his New Orleans Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bourbon Sauce and his Chocolate Mousse. Alex always adds little tips on how he garnishes dishes to just give them that crowning of elegance.

 The photos of the food makes you want to cook. I know, I am a sucker for good and pretty food. But I have to admit that this is a wonderful Christmas gift or hostess gift for foodies who like good food, with that touch of " relaxed elegance."

This book is beautiful, the photos of food and the table settings make you want to cook and entertain. This is one to add to collection of coveted cookbooks.

Note: This book was provided for review by Alfred A Knopf, Publisher,York k and check out Alex's website This book can also be purchased on SRP $35.00. Tip: Amazon has a great price now, so it will be an affordable Christmas gift. So hurry to get it ordered for the foodie on your list.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wine Review: Jordan 2010 Chardonnay Russian River Valley

This wine is a light straw color. The nose is filled with notes of spice which adds an unusual warmth in this chardonnay, along with fruit notes of green apple, a hint of pear and citrus notes. The palate is round, with the those flavors of green apple, pear, citrus and spice. There is a nice acidity in this wine that makes it beg to be paired with food. This wine is balanced with oak, but the oak does not overpower the fruit flavors in this wine. The finish has a nice length with the the fruit and spice in harmony. This wine is "elegant" and would pair well with poultry that will grace your holiday table. I would also pair this wine with grilled fish, and appetizers with spinach and artichokes in puff pastry.  Note: This wine was a sample provided by Jordan Winery SRP $29.00