Hip, flavorful, mouth-watering and healthy

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Hip, flavorful, mouth-watering and healthy

Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration by Carla Hall & Genevieve Ko, Harper Wave, US $29.99, Pp 320, October 2018, ISBN 978-0062669834

Sous Vide for Everybody: The Easy, Foolproof Cooking Technique That’s Sweeping the World edited by America’s Test Kitchen editors, US $26.99, Pp 220, September 2018, ISBN 978-1945256493

Normally, Soul food refers to the dishes of the Cotton Belt of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama that traveled out to the rest of the country during the Great Migration. (The term itself came around the middle of the 20th century.) In Carla Hall’s Soul Food, Carla Hall redefines soul food in order to reclaim it, as she puts it. She says that soul food is the true food of African-Americans. She says that the roots of soul cooking are in West Africa. And from there, the American South, from the slave ports along the eastern coast to the southern border. She writes, “We relied on seasonal vegetable, beans, and grains, with meat on rare occasions. Those were the horrible times of suffering under the most unspeakable evil. Slaves did not get to choose what they cooked or ate. But they made the most delicious dishes from what little they had. And what they cooked for the slave owners effectively became what we know as ‘American’ food today.” After emancipation, African-Americans relied on the land and water for their daily meals. Collards in winter, peas through spring, tomatoes come in summer. The chicken was for laying eggs, not frying. Fish and shrimp were abundant for the coast and river folks. She writes, “We lost that connection during the Great Migration and in the decades since as industrialized convenience food has made us unhealthy and sick. Our celebration foods — smokes whole hogs, candied yams, caramel cake — became what we ate all the time. We forgot about all the amazing daily meals we created from greens and beans and grains.”

Carla Hall’s Soul Food is about those everyday foods African-Americans ate for generations in the South. Explaining the difference between Southern food and soul food, she writes that a lot of the dishes, seasonings, and techniques are the same, but there is an extra “oomph” in soul food. The chapters are divided according to the ingredients like vegetable, beans, cornmeal, breads, poultry, meat, seafood. There are also chapters on starters, desserts, and seasonings and drinks. Carla Hall’s Soul Food is a great collection of tantalizing, scrumptious soul food recipes. It is an empowering, soul-satisfying and the life-changing journey you’re about to take your body and mind through. It is a soulful feast. Carla serves the morsels of love both home and professional cooks will embrace. Carla Hall’s Soul Food tells the story of Black America and their food. It also gives a peep into the lives and the daily struggle of African Americans. Carla Hall’s Soul Food will be of great interest to all those who want to eat delicious, tasty but healthy food. It is a must-have for those who want to lose weight or keep healthy. It is a treasure trove for people suffering from diabetes and blood pressure; these recipes will help you to stay healthy and live longer.

*****

Cooking with a sous vide is a game-changing technique. It makes cooking relatively easy and preserves the nutrients which may not survive under high stove temperature. A sous vide machine — or an immersion circulator — is used to preheat a water bath to a precise temperature. Food is sealed in a plastic bag or a glass jar and immersed in the bath. The food eventually reaches the same temperature as the water, which is often set to the ideal serving temperature of the final dish. This differs from the conventional stovetop and oven methods in which heat used is much higher than the serving temperature of the food, making it imperative to remove the food at just the right moment, when it’s done but not overcooked.  But, with sous vide, there’s usually no risk of overcooking, making it a game-changing technique — especially for temperature-sensitive (and often expensive) foods such as fish or steak. The low cooking temperature ensures the meat remains juicy. And dialing in the precise temperature creates exceptionally consistent results that cannot be achieved with traditional methods. Long, slow cooking breaks down collagen to render even tough cuts such as chuck or pork shoulder extremely tender. Sous vide was first used for cooking in a French restaurant in 1974. It slowly spread to other parts of the world. Restaurants in the United States started using sous vide and its techniques in the early 2000s. Sous Vide for Everybody provides a range of delicious and flavorful recipes that range from ‘Peri Peri Chicken’ to ‘Butter-Basted Ribeye Steaks’ to ‘Thick-Cut Halibut Fillets with Lemon Browned Butter’to ‘Butter-Poached Lobster Tails’ to ‘Better-Than Braised Beets.’ You can also prepare desserts with this technique such as ‘Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango and Basil.’ Sous Vide for Everybody is an amazing technique that preserves nutrition in the food and makes the food more delicious than if it were cooked on the conventional stovetop. The recipes are easy to cook and the editors have explained how to use the sous vide machine as well as the cooking process from scratch. You can also cook your other favorite recipes by using this machine and technique.

*****

 

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