We're at the beach this week, where we're taking in some sun with friends, eating seafood and (gasp!) taking a break from the Internet.
Typically at the end of the month, we post items we liked in food magazines that weren't necessarily recipe related. (See previous Leftovers here.)
But you know what? In August, while there were several dishes we wanted to cook, there wasn't really any non-recipe stuff we wanted to share with you.
Instead, here's a look at what we've been reading this summer and what we plan to read at the beach.
THE FORTUNE COOKIE CHRONICLES: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8 Lee
Purchase The Fortune Cookie Chronicles
Zach just finished this book and Clay is going to read it while we're gone. It's an absolutely amazing look into the history of Chinese food in America.
Starting with an instance of dozens of people across many U.S. states all winning the lottery using the same set of numbers they each got from fortune cookies, Lee takes a deep dive into Chinese food around the globe.
The entire book is chock-full of interesting tidbits that you'll be sharing over your General Tso's for years to come.
Word of warning: You will crave Chinese food!
RATIO: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman
Clay just finished this book and found it fascinating. Ruhlman outlines 33 basic food ratios and then gives you ideas on how to use those ratio to create your own variations on classic dishes. The dough chapter, for instead, includes ratios for, among other things, Cookie Dough (1 part sugar: 2 parts fat: 3 parts flour) and Pie Dough (3 parts flour: 1 part fat: 2 parts liquid). Once each ratio is introduced, Ruhlman then gives you many variations on both.
Other chapters cover Batters, Stocks/Sauces, Farcir (meat-related ratios), Fat-Based Sauces, and Custards. We haven't been baking much this summer, but when we get back, we're eager to take some of these ratios for a spin.
THE FLAVOR BIBLE: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
Purchase The Flavor Bible
This isn't so much a book we're reading as one we're constantly browsing.
The authors have created an extremely useful reference book that tells which ingredients go together best. Let's say, for instance, you find yourself with a bunch of juniper berries sitting on the shelf (like we have right now). The Flavor Bible has more than 40 recommendations for complimentary flavors, from cabbage to pork to venison.
Earlier this summer, when we wanted to make a cardamom ice cream, we got the idea for adding vanilla by browsing this book, resulting in our Cardamom-Vanilla Ice Cream.
If you're the kind of cook who likes to experiment and just go with the flow, this book is perfect for you.
INSATIABLE: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess by Gael Greene
Top Chef viewers likely know Gael Greene as a judge on this summer's Masters series. Before that show, we were aware that Greene was a long-time New York City restaurant critic, but we knew very little else about her. Zach's mom just read Greene's memoir and then sent us her copy of the book, with an intriguing note:
"This book is a really fun read but it's really raunchy. Pretend you didn't get it from your mother."
Let's just say, by page three, she's describing a very intimate encounter with Elvis. We can't wait to read it at the beach!
What did you read this summer? Any books to recommend? We'd love to hear about them.