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April 27, 2017

"In My Kitchen" with Deborah Madison and Melissa's Produce

Turns out Deborah Madison and I have more in common than vegetarian cooking - she too is a dog lover! I had the pleasure of meeting the fourteen-time cookbook author and James Beard Foundation Hall of Fame inductee at Melissa's Produce, where she was touring for her latest book, "In My Kitchen:  a Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes."

This press tour is one I could not have been more ecstatic about.  While I'm always interested to learn new things that widen my experience, it isn't often I get to meet someone who is concerned with my own interests.  Not only is "In My Kitchen" a reference tome for vegetarians, it's the best of Ms. Madison, updated to the way she cooks today, with prose that speaks to each choice.  I consider it similar to recipes from my grandmother, as they are time-tested.  I'll treasure this cookbook, and its inscription, for years to come. 

The author demonstrating Breakfast Bread with Rosemary and Lemon, pg 56

Ms. Madison spoke casually at her book signing, explaining how she'd culled the collection and updated each recipe.  Her Breakfast Bread on pg 56 is the Holiday Bread in "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," changed from a yeasted bread to a quick bread.  She complimented Melissa's corporate chefs on the beautifully prepared spread from her recipes, while remarking that the desserts looked nothing like hers.  Each chef cooks according to their experience, upbringing and culinary background, which leads the exact same recipe to look and taste slightly different from cook to cook.  

Baked Ricotta Infused with Thyme and Served on Crostini, pg 215-217
The whole concept of baking ricotta was new to me.  It made a creamy sponge-like consistency that soaks up spices.  This recipe is high on my list of experimentation! Deborah Madison also taught us to reuse leftovers by pointing out the baked ricotta can be made into croutons for soups and salads the next day. 

Close-up of Baked Ricotta

Caramelized Onion Fritatta with Sherry Vinegar pg 176-179
This Fritatta was my favorite item at the Melissa's event.  It was so meaty that I thought it contained mushrooms.  I could easily eat this served warm or cold, any day of the week.  Ms. Madison pointed out that the sherry makes the onions pop, and she was correct.  

Citrus & Avocado Salad with Shredded Greens, Ojai Pixie Tangerines & Kumquats
Dressing of Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette, pg 94-96
 I loved the look of the kumquats in the Citrus and Avocado salad.  I had a kumquat tree in my last apartment, and I made a chutney on a regular basis.  It was great to see the whole fruit used here fresh.  The dressing for the salad was so thick and inviting.  Whole segments of citrus were visible.  I almost expected the greens to be a mint, but the kick from the cumin was unmistakeable.     

Hearty Lentil Minestrone with Kale, pg 144-145
I'm not a fan of most savory flavor profiles, but this Minestrone soup was excellent.  I so enjoyed its warmth, and would make it at home, which is actually saying a lot.   It was served with a nice hard cheese shredded alongside - that alone makes a huge difference.

Potato & Chickpea Stew with Sauteed Spinach, pg 192-194
The Potato & Chickpea Stew was served with a Romesco Sauce alongside to swirl in, which made a lovely topping and complimented the chunkiness of the stew.  I would serve the sauce on top of a spaghetti squash, or as a stuffing for a portobello mushroom.  

Romesco Sauce, pg 218-219

Rhubarb-Raspberry Compote, pg 210-211, Served with Shortbread Cookies
We grew Rhubarb in our garden in the first house I grew up in, Chicago suburbs, till I was nine years old.   I remember the stalks, and huge leaves like elephant ears; my mom making pie.  This compote from Deborah Madison has all the flavor of rhubarb with the sweetness of raspberries. 

Walnut Nugget Cookies, pg 264-265
The Walnut Nugget Cookies are a wonderful treat for everyday, as well as special holiday occasions.  Easy substitutions can be swapped if you prefer a different nut or even dried fruit.  Ms. Madison reiterated that the cookies are crumbly when first out of the oven but set when cooled. 

My plate from the Melissa's buffet

To see all of Deborah Madison's work in one place is awe inspiring.  Of course the aubergine cover of "The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" is familiar; at this event I discovered the rest of her catalog.   As I mentioned, the thing I like about this latest book, is that these are not only great recipes, but they have been time tested and updated for modern cooking. 

A well-loved copy of Ms. Madison's Vegetable Literacy.  The dog-eared pages are inspiring!

Ms. Madison listed several of the recipes in "In My Kitchen" as her personal favorites, one of which is the souffle.  She spoke of how traditional her recipe is, yet how flexible, and that it is so much easier to make than most expect.  I was amused, since my mom's cheese souffle is a staple that I grew up on, and was one of the first I put into my blog.  Revisiting my post for Tapiocha Cheese Souffle, I cringe at the food photography from my tiny dark apartment, but the flavor is exactly like my mom's comfort.  I'll have to update the post as Ms. Madison did in her book. 

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