Roasted Shiitake Parmesan Pops

OK, I have to admit, I lured you in with that title. While this addicting new appetizer recipe has indeed been developed, tested, and photographed by yours truly, I will not be posting the recipe. Call me a tease, but you’ll have to buy Peko Peko to get it.

Wait, Peko-what?Peko Peko: Family Friendly Japanese Recipes is a collection of nearly 60 Japanese and Japanese-inspired recipes published by Blurb, 100% of the profits of which will be donated to charity relief in Japan. I was fortunate to be one of the food bloggers who contributed a recipe to the cookbook.Peko Peko: Family Friendly Japanese Recipes offers 120 full-color pages packed with gorgeous photography and 59 Japanese-inspired recipes contributed by 56 food writers, bloggers and photographers.Peko Peko also includes an indispensable guide to over 50 Japanese ingredients, including suitable substitutions for the North American home cook. If you’ve never cooked Japanese food, don’t worry, the detailed pantry section in the book that will give you the information you need to use those new ingredients with confidence.It’s been a amazing honour to be a small part of this project, spearheaded by three talented curators.You can read more about Peko Peko (and see some photos from the book) over on Simple Bites and yesterday the Montreal Gazette was also kind enough to give it a mention in the Applause section. The word is spreading!Of course, you can also go directly to Blurb to purchase the book, where all of the proceeds will go to the GlobalGiving Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. Nobody involved in making the book will profit from Peko Peko, including Blurb. As a Peko Peko sponsor, the good folks at Blurb have agreed to waive their usual cut of book sales. Thanks in advance for supporting our cause and happy cooking!

Peko Peko: A Charity Cookbook for Japan

A lot of opportunities and projects come through my inbox these days, but none as exciting as those that announce intentions of helping others. They are the ones that are easy to say “yes” too, even when I really shouldn’t be saying yes to anything except a mop and a pail. (oh my poor neglected house.)

You can probably see where this is going. Yes, I’m very excited to announce a wonderful new fundraising project I’m participating in.

Peko Peko: A Charity Cookbook for Japan is spearheaded by three very talented food bloggers (Stacie of One Hungry Mama, Rachael of La Fuji Mama, and Marc of No Recipes) and a collaboration of work from about fifty food bloggers. There is an exceptional line-up of contributors to Peko Peko, including several of my food blog crushes like Sara and Amanda, as well as good friends Shaina, Maggy, Julie and many more.

One hundred percent of the profits will go toward relief efforts in Japan, though the charitable organization is to be determined. It is truly an honor and a delight to participate in this project.

The book is still in development, but the finished product is sure to be outstanding. A professional designer is on board, Marc is photographing many of the dishes, and every detail is being carefully considered.

The recipes are best described as family-friendly Japanese and Japanese-inspired food. I created an appetizer exclusively for the book, so you’ll have to purchase one to get the recipe for my Roasted Shiitake Parmesan Pops!

In the coming weeks, I’ll provide more information on where you can purchase the book, as well as an official update of the charity it will benefit. In the meantime, please check out the website, PekoPekoCookbook.com and follow @PekoPekoCharity on Twitter for more information.

A Cookbook Giveaway (or three)

This giveaway is now closed. Check back soon for the winners!

Lest you think all the giveaway fun only happens on that other blog of mine, allow me share a very special giveaway opportunity with you today.

Friends at the most amazing Phaidon Press are helping me to give away three of my absolute favorite cookbooks to Under the High Chair readers! Not one, but TWO winners will receive all three cookbooks you see below. Oh yeah! For a couple of readers, your cookbook collection is about to get a lot richer.

Say, did you know Phaidon Press was named as the Best Cookbook Publisher in the World at The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards earlier this year? I know! I just love them. Now here is the awesome thing about these three cookbooks from Phaidon and why I’m so excited to feature them in this giveaway…

There’s a cookbook here for everyone.

The young cook.
The home cook.
The gourmand.

No matter where you fit in those various stages of culinary mastery, one of the following cookbooks are sure to fit you like a glove.

The Silver Spoon for Children

Yippee! Finally here is a cookbook for my kids with nary a sprinkle or mini-marshmallow in sight. Instead it is full of over forty well-balanced recipes that feature wholesome ingredients such as beans, fish and vegetables. All dishes are depicted with absolutely charming step-by-step illustrations that present cooking as fun – and it already holds the attention of my 5-year old.Noah pounced on The Silver Spoon for Children the second it arrived. He sat down and proceeded to read it for nearly thirty minutes. Have I mentioned he’s five?He then had me read him the recipe for Rigatoni and Meatballs, while he followed along with the illustrations, his finger slowly spanning the page. Well, that was that, we had to make dinner together that very night and we did.
Only we changed it up for spaghetti and meatballs. (Yes, I’m teaching him substitution and adaptation early.)
There’s no question that this is the cookbook that will nurture every seed I have already planted in my boys and help inspire a lifetime love of cooking.What to Cook and How to Cook It

This cookbook is the next best thing to having a personal chef demonstrating right in your own kitchen. It really is the ultimate step-by-step illustrated cookbook for adults; each recipe is depicted with clarity and demonstrated with as many as eight photos, leaving little room for question.What to Cook and How to Cook It IS perfect for beginners, but also compelling for experienced cooks as well. I love its clean, simple layout; somehow it makes the task of preparing dinner seem relaxing.
Recipes are classics: Cinnamon Buns, Barbecue Ribs, Apple Pie, Spaghetti Bolognese. You find all of your favorite comfort food on the pages of What to Cook and How to Cook it, and with such tantalizing visuals, you’ll be opening this cookbook frequently.NOMA

Title: Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine
Author:René Redzepi
Photographer: Ditte Isager

It sounds like the sappiest thing to say, but this cookbook took my breath away when it arrived. I believe I tweeted:

“NOMA! Just received this astonishing cookbook?artwork?manual? from Phaidon. Almost want to weep at the beauty of it. #coffeetablestatus”

After one rapturous trip through the cookbook and its extraordinarily beautiful photos, I immediately cleared a place of honor on my coffee table for Noma.

Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine is the new cookbook from chef René Redzepi, a chef who’s passion is to create something from nature. His Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, holds the prestigious title of, well, The Worlds Best Restaurant. Yeah, serious stuff.

Will I ever cook from it? Never say never, so I’ll say probably, one day. Will I frequently flip through it, sigh over the photographs, find inspiration in the essays and draw from chef Rene’s refreshing philosophies of food and nature? Absolutely.

Boasting 365 pages, 200 photographs, 90 recipes, and an education in Nordic cuisine, Noma is THE most sensational addition to my sizable cookbook collection this year.

Giveaway!!

The prize package includes the following cookbooks from Phaidon Press.

Two winners will be selected to receive the prize package.

How to enter:

Let keep this simple, shall we?

Leave a comment to enter this giveaway answering this question: “What cookbook are you currently enjoying?”

This giveaway will end Friday, December 10, 2010 and 11:59 pm. Good luck to all!

Cookbooks & Kitchen Items: My Top Picks for Gifting


The past three Fridays I have shared gift guides with my readers on Simple Bites. I wanted to showcase which tools help make my kitchen run smoothly, as well as provide inspiration for gift giving this holiday season.

From the first post:

“I’ve rummaged through the tool kit of many a professional chef. I’ve taken detailed inventory of a restaurant kitchen’s supplies. I’d rather shop for spatulas than shoes and I’ve probably cooked every day for the last twenty years. I’ve seen what lasts (my mother’s Le Creuset she received as a wedding present 35 years ago), I’ve seen what breaks (cheap blenders and espresso makers) and I’m ready to share my recommendations.”

So whether you are writing your own holiday wish list, or are looking for the perfect gift for the cook in the family, let these lists of cookbooks, tools and gadgets inspired from my personal kitchen be your guide.


Holiday 2010 Gift Guides on Simple Bites:

My Top Ten ‘Big Ticket’ Kitchen Items.

My Top Ten Stocking Stuffers for the Kitchen.

My Top 10 Cookbook Picks.

Don’t skip the comments on these posts, either. Savvy readers offer which tools and cookbooks they love the most and why.

Cookbook Love: What I’m Reading


My cookbook collection has expanded considerably this summer and the content has gotten much, much richer. I use to be a collector of coffee table cookbooks – pretty to flip through, but not so practical for the home cook- but nowadays, I’m all about practicality and application.

Yes, gorgeous photos are still appreciated, but writing, style, fresh ideas and personality all take precedence as well.

That said, here are some recent acquisitions that I can’t put down, clutter my night stand and counter tops, and are already getting a tad splatted…


250 Home Preserving Favorites by Yvonne Tremblay.

If there is a Canadian queen of jam, it’s probably Yvonne. She’s pretty much the quintessential Prairie girl who grew up making jam & jelly alongside her mother and grandmother. Fortunately for us, she shares her favorite recipes in this new cookbook that is jam-packed (terrible, pun, I know) with inspiration.

250 Home Preserving Favorites begins with a thorough primer on preserving (Thank. You. Yvonne.) covering everything from The Fundamentals of making jam to Choosing and Preparing Fruit & Vegetables. The entire section is crammed with tips, obviously learned from years of experience and is worth the price of the book alone.

Then, the recipes!
Yvonne already won me over with her Micro-Mini Jams, explored and tested over at Simple Bites. The book also contains a bevy of both single and mixed fruit jams, conserves, marmalades, fruit butters (we love those!) and chutneys.

Oh, there’s also a few mincemeat recipes. You’ll recall I made mincemeat for the first time last Christmas. Well, I’ll be giving these new recipes a go come November.

Ideal for the fledgling or veteran jammer, I recommend 250 Home Preserving Favorites for anyone who loves preserving food in jars.

Lighthearted at Home by Anne Lindsay

Yet another Canadian girl! Culinary icon, Anne Lindsay is probably familiar to many of you and in this new cookbook she gives us over 500 –um, wow!– recipes with a ‘lighter’ side to them.

Basically, I’ve adopted this cookbook as my new ‘Joy of Cooking’. Anne pack so much into this hefty hardcover book, with recipes from appetizers to desserts and everything in between. The hard part? I want to try everything!

Recipes are easy to read and follow, the photos are splendid, and the tips on healthy eating an added bonus.

I particularly love the creative menu planning ideas, as I entertain often.

Lighthearted at Home is an extremely well-rounded, feel-good cookbook. It’s one you want to buy and slip into your kids’ suitcase when they leave for college. I can’t wait to try the other, oh, 490-some recipes, that are calling to me!


The Berry Bible by Janie Hibler.

Who doesn’t love berries? OK, my kids don’t, but that is besides the point. I’m loving my advanced copy of The Berry Bible and its 175 recipes for berries of all kinds.
These are gorgeous and original recipes; just the section on poultry paired with all sort of succulent berry sauces and glazes is enough to get the tummy really, really rumbling.

Oh, and did I mention that the first half of the book is an A-Z encyclopedia on berries worldwide? Yep. There’s no question this is Janie Hibler’s area of expertise.

Just one quibble about the Berry Bible: no photos. Yeah.
Now, I read cookbooks the same way others read novels, I’ll devour them, photos or no photos, but this could be an issue for those of you who are more visual.

However, my advice? Get in line for a copy of The Berry Bible.


Poor Girl Gourmet by Amy McCoy

I’ve already waxed eloquent over my love of Amy’s cookbook, but in no way has it gotten shuffled to the bottom of the pile or pushed aside as new books arrive.

It stays on my counter with my other favorites (pictured at the top of the post) and is getting plenty of use. In fact, I’m packing a jar of her Tangy Barbecue Sauce for our upcoming camping trip to the Maine coast.

Sure, go ahead and leave a comment: What cookbook is getting the most use this summer in your kitchen?