Teacher shares kitchen wisdom, recipes


Dishes reflect Mediterranean style

September 15, 2004|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN FOOD EDITOR

Want to know the difference between a shallot and an onion or between brown eggs and white?

Cooking teacher and author Perla Meyers answers these questions and many more in her latest book, How to Peel a Peach (Wiley, 2004, $29.95).

Although the book is mostly a compendium of kitchen wisdom and advice, Meyers also finds space for 150 recipes that reflect a contemporary Mediterranean style of cooking.

The cooking process, she says, doesn't start with the recipe, but with fresh ingredients. When teaching culinary classes, she often leads her students on field trips to grocery stores and farmers' markets.

"This is where cooking begins," she says, "with the intimate knowledge of one's ingredients, how to shop for them, store them and cook with them."

The lessons in this book are laid out in a question-and-answer format. There is no difference in taste between white and brown eggs, she notes, although she says she prefers brown eggs. Shallots are members of the onion family, but have a more distinct flavor, with a hint of garlic, she says.

The book's chapters are organized by food groups, such as vegetables and herbs, seafood, poultry, meat, fruit, and pasta, grains and beans. Within the chapters, topics are arranged alphabetically by ingredient. Recipes are included at the end of each chapter.

The dishes are not difficult to make. Each comes with an introduction that elaborates upon ingredients and techniques.

Meyers offers recipes that are full of flavor - lots of herbs, peppers, cheeses and sauces - and lots of calories.

Mashed potatoes are made with butter, mascarpone and sour cream. Pork tenderloins are flavored with 1 cup of tawny port. A lemon sabayon is made with heavy cream and five eggs.

Meyers doesn't specify whether they should be brown or white.

Mascarpone and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

5 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into eighths


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/4 cup mascarpone

2 to 3 tablespoons minced chives

freshly ground black pepper

Drop the potatoes into salted boiling water and cook until tender. Drain, pass through a food mill, and transfer to the top of a double boiler. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Per serving: 301 calories; 4 grams protein; 20 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 29 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 51 milligrams cholesterol; 21 milligrams sodium

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