Two food columnists share their expertise

BOOKMARK

Recipes offer twists on familiar dishes

October 01, 2003|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven have written a food column for the Boston Globe Magazine for 20 years, but just this year published their first cookbook together.

The Way We Cook (Houghton Mifflin, 2003, $27) is a collection of 250 recipes that the writers say represent "the new American kitchen." They interpret that to mean fairly simple recipes that don't take a lot of time and fuss.

The Way We Cook resembles a friend's recipe box. There are handy tips written in the margins, but good luck finding what you're looking for. It seems that the logic behind the book's organization is known only to the authors. Chapters titles include "Dishes We Make All the Time" and "Good Enough for Company."

So where do you find Pork Chops With Apples and Onion? Oh, that's under the chapter "When You're in a Rush."

But once you do find your way through this 388-page book, you're likely to encounter some fresh takes on familiar dishes. Deviled eggs are revved up with a touch of curry. Carrot cake is made especially moist with the addition of crushed pineapple. Baked sweet potatoes are sweetened with marmalade.

Most of the recipes are accomplished with just a few basic ingredients and techniques. A perfectly delightful appetizer is made by topping pita bread with crumbled goat cheese, olive oil, scallions, salt and pepper.

Black-and-white photos illustrate some of the recipes and cooking techniques.

Carrot Cake With Cream-Cheese Frosting

Serves 12

CAKE:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups grated carrots (from 4 to 5 large carrots)

1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained

2 cups walnut pieces

FROSTING:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 tablespoons orange juice

3 cups confectioners' sugar

Set the oven at 350 degrees, with a rack in the center. Grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan and dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat the oil and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Beat in the vanilla. Add the carrots and pineapple, and beat just until combined.

With the mixer set on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. With a rubber spatula, fold in the walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Set the pan on a wire rack to cook for 30 minutes. With a knife, cut around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. Turn the cake out onto a rack, turn it right side up and let it cool completely while you make the frosting.

Beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Beat in the orange juice and confectioners' sugar just until thoroughly combined.

Cut the cake in half to make two smaller rectangles. Set one piece, right side up, on the cutting board. Set the other piece, right side up, on the first. Trim the hard edges of the cake. Remove the top piece of cake. Set it right side up on a cake stand or a large rectangular platter. Use a long metal spatula to spread the cream-cheese frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Set the other piece, right side up, on top of the first. Frost the two pieces together and serve.

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