Holiday Recipes from Legendary Editor Judith Jones

Judith Jones, author of THE TENTH MUSE, as well as the recently-published THE PLEASURES OF COOKING FOR ONE, has offered to share two of her favorite recipes this holiday season. Whether you take a breather and indulge yourself in the midst of the holiday rush, or save these gems for when things quiet down, enjoy!

Fillet of Fish in Parchment
Making a parchment envelope in which to steam a fillet of fish surrounded by aromatic vegetables may sound a bit fancy for just one, but cooking in parchment is actually one of the simplest and most effective ways of steaming, because it seals in the flavors. What a treat it is to have that golden- tinged, puffed- up half- moon of parchment on your plate, and then to tear it open and breathe in all the heady aromas. Moreover, you’ll have no cleanup afterward; just wipe off the Silpat mat and throw away the parchment after you’ve scraped and scooped up every last delicious morsel and its jus.

If you want just one meal out of this, get about a 6- ounce fillet of flounder, halibut, salmon, red snapper—whatever looks good. Or, as I did recently, try tilapia, which is quite readily available these days and at a reasonable price. But I bought almost twice the amount I needed, so I could play with the other half of the cooked fillet a couple of days later.

I learned from Katy Sparks, whose book, Sparks in the Kitchen, is full of great cooking tips from a chef to the home cook, the trick of pre- roasting several slices of new potato so they can go in the parchment package. This way you have a complete, balanced meal- in- one cooked all together.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Olive oil
  • 2 or 3 smallish new potatoes, cut into 1⁄2- inch slices
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6- ounce fillet of flounder, halibut, tilapia, salmon, or red snapper, or more if you want leftovers
  • About 1⁄3 medium zucchini, cut into julienne strips
  • 1⁄2 medium carrot, peeled and cut into very thin julienne strips
  • 1 scallion, white and tender green, cut into lengthwise strips
  • 3 slices fresh ginger approximately the size of 25- cent pieces, peeled and cut into julienne strips
  • A splash of white wine
  • A sprinkling of fresh herbs, if available (such as parsley, chives, tarragon, or summer savory)

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Oil lightly the center of your Silpat mat set on a baking sheet, or, if you don’t have the mat, oil a piece of foil. Scatter the potato slices over the oiled area, then turn them. Salt and pepper lightly. Roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, turning once.

Meanwhile, cut off an 18- inch piece of parchment paper, and fold it in half. Open it up, and on one half place the fish alongside the folded edge, after salting and peppering it on both sides (see illustrations on preceding page and opposite). Pile the zucchini, carrot, scallion, and ginger on top of the fish, salt again lightly, and splash on enough wine to bathe the fillet(s) lightly. After the potato slices have had their 10- minute pre- roasting, arrange them on top or around the edge of the fish and sprinkle the herbs over all.

Fold the other half of the parchment over, then fold in the open edge twice, and pleat it all around to make a semicircular airtight package.

If it tends to open up where the folded edges meet, secure that place with a binder clip or a large paper clip. Place on the sheet pan, and bake for 12 minutes. If you have a fairly thick fillet, you may need to bake it 1 or 2 minutes more. Test with a skewer; if it goes in easily, the fish is done.

Plunk the whole parchment package on a big dinner plate, and enjoy.

NOTE: If you deliberately cooked more fish than you need, remove what you won’t want the first time around, and save it for a second round.

SECOND ROUND
You can make a delicious salad with the remaining fish. Arrange a bed of watercress or young arugula leaves on a salad plate, and set the fish on top. Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of Sauce Gribiche over it (see page 160), or, if you don’t have that handy, use about 2 tablespoons mayonnaise thinned and tarted up with a little plain yogurt or lemon juice and seasoned with a small, finely chopped cornichon (or part of a dill pickle) and ½ teaspoon capers. Garnish with some strips of roasted red pepper—your own (see page 242) or from a jar—a few black olives, and some cherry tomatoes. Or try the Fish Salad recipe on page 157. These are just suggestions. Use your imagination, based on what you may have on hand.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Make this rich stew on a leisurely weekend. You’ll probably get a good three meals out of it, if you follow some of the suggestions below. When buying stew meat at a supermarket, you don’t always know what you are getting, so ask the butcher. If it’s a lean meat, it will need less time cooking (in fact, it will be ruined if you cook it too long), but the fattier cuts can benefit from at least another half hour.

 

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 2 ounces bacon, cut into small pieces, preferably a chunk cut into little dice
  • About 11⁄4 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1- to 11⁄2- inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1⁄3 carrot, thick end, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons all- purpose flour
  • Salt
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Herb packet of 1⁄2 bay leaf; a fat garlic clove, smashed; a small handful of parsley stems; 1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme; 4 or 5 peppercorns

Vegetable Garnish:

  • 3 or 4 baby onions, or four 1- inch pieces of leek
  • 3 or 4 baby carrots, or the thin ends of larger ones, peeled
  • 2 or 3 small new potatoes

Brown the bacon in a heavy pot, fairly deep but not too large. When it has released its fat and is lightly browned, remove it to a dish, leaving the fat in the pan.

Pat the pieces of beef dry with a paper towel. Pour the oil into the pot, and when it is hot, brown half the pieces of beef on all sides. Remove to the plate with the bacon, and brown the remaining pieces.

Now sauté the onion and the carrot until they are lightly browned.

Return the meats to the pot, sprinkle on the flour and some salt, and pour the wine and beef stock in. Tuck the herb packet into the pot, and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover, and cook at a lively simmer for about 1 hour or more, depending on the cut of the meat. Bite into a piece to determine if it is almost done (it will get another 20 minutes or so of cooking with the vegetables).

When the time is right, add all the vegetables, cover, and cook at a lively simmer again for 20–25 minutes—pierce the veggies to see if they are tender. Serve yourself four or five chunks of meat, with all the vegetables, and a good French bread to mop up the sauce.

SECOND ROUND
Use three or four pieces and some of the remaining sauce to make a quick Beef and Kidney Pie (page 34) later in the week. The recipe follows Veal Kidneys in Mustard Sauce because you want to use the leftover kidneys to put this dish together.

THIRD ROUND
Use what remains to make a meaty pasta sauce for one, breaking up the meat and adding three or four squeezed San Marzano plum tomatoes. Simmer the sauce as the pasta cooks.

Books = Gifts: Our Gift to You is a W. Somerset Maugham Giveaway!

Just in time for the holidays, we’re happy to unveil two newly reissued titles by one of the most prolific and popular writers of the 20th Century, W. Somerset Maugham.

Originally published in 1932 A WRITER’S NOTEBOOK and THE NARROW CORNER are on sale this week in new Vintage editions, and to celebrate, we’re offering the pair as a giveaway. Leave a comment about what books you’re looking forward to giving or receiving as gifts this season– the first five commenters will win.

A unique and exhilarating look into a great writer’s working mind, A WRITER’S NOTEBOOK is Maugham’s intimate journal, chronicling nearly five decades of his life. In it we see the origins of his incomparable vision and the sensibilities that would bring him to the forefront of literature. Covering the years from his time as a medical student in London to his travels around the world, it is by turns playful, sharp witted, and profoundly revealing. A WRITER’S NOTEBOOK is a compelling look at the inner thoughts and inspirations of one of literatures most significant authors.

Filled with adventure, passion, and intrigue, THE NARROW CORNER is a classic tale of the sea by a twentieth-century master at the height of his craft. Island hopping across the South Pacific, the esteemed Dr. Saunders is offered passage by Captain Nichols and his companion Fred Blake. The two men appear unsavory, yet any means of transportation is hard to resist. The trip turns turbulent, however, when a vicious storm forces them to seek shelter on the remote island of Kanda. There these three men fall under the spell of the sultry and stunningly beautiful Louise, and their story spirals into a wicked tale of love, murder, jealousy, and suicide.

Congratulations to National Book Award Winners!

Last night, the National Book Foundation revealed the recipients of the 2009 National Book Award, and we here at Vintage/Anchor are thrilled that Knopf/future Vintage author TJ Stiles took home the prize for best non-fiction!

His book, THE FIRST TYCOON: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, won for its “deep and imaginative research and graceful writing,” and the NBF praised Stiles:

With few letters and no diaries, and with layers of legend to carve through, Stiles captures Cornelius Vanderbilt as a person and as a force who shaped the transportation revolution, all but invented unbridled American capitalism, and left his mark not only all over New York City but, for better or worse, all over our economic landscape.


Also honored at the ceremony were Vintage authors Gore Vidal, recipient of the Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for 2009, and Dave Eggers, recipient of the Literarian Award for his “outstanding service to the American literary community.”

A hearty congratulations to the rest of the winners as well, full list after the jump: Continue reading

Editor Spotlight: Vintage Editor Lexy Bloom on our rich Japanese Backlist

One of the interesting things about working as an editor at Vintage is discovering the many gems hiding on our vastly diverse backlist. Of particular interest to me is our Vintage International list, home to many of the great masters of modern Japanese literature, among others, such as Yukio Mishima, Kobo Abe, and Junichiro Tanizaki, and, of course, Haruki Murakami. As someone with an interest in contemporary Japanese fiction — I edit Natsuo Kirino and others — I had read some of the modern Japanese masters, but certainly not all of them. It’s been an enjoyable project for me to oversee the repackaging and repromotion of many of these classic novels.

A great place to start is with Junichiro Tanizaki’s fabulous novel THE MAKIOKA SISTERS, often called “the greatest Japanese novel of the 20th century.”

In 2007, Leonard Lopate selected this novel as part of his “Underappreciated Writers” series, stating this: “In the rigid literary society of Japan, Junichiro Tanizaki stood out by constructing long narratives whose imaginative content, amplitude, and structure can rightly be called novelistic. He eschewed shishosetsu – the Japanese genre that most closely resembles the novel but includes autobiographical details – choosing instead to call attention to the fictionality of his texts. . .”

Click  here to listen to entire piece.

Interview with Sapphire, author of PUSH (Now the Major Motion Picture PRECIOUS)

 

Director Lee Daniels’ movie “Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire” opened last weekend to record breaking box office.  The movie has already won the 2009 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Toronto People’s Choice Award (the only film to have ever won both awards). 

The story behind the making of the film “Precious” is almost as compelling as the movie itself: Watching this recent interview with Sapphire and find out more about the background story of how Sapphire worked closely with Daniels to help adapt PUSH into “Precious”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj5gbFecRFw.

“Precious” is based on the #1 best-selling novel PUSH by Sapphire, which follows Precious Jones who at 16-years old and already pregnant with her second child, meets a determined and highly devoted teacher who takes her on a journey of transformation and redemption.

“Precious” is now playing is currently playing in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.  The movie opens tomorrow in Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Dallas and San Francisco.

For more information, including interviews with “Precious” executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, and director Lee Daniels please visit: http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/screen/featured.html.

 

Art Director John Gall on The Nabokov Collection

Today’s Design Observer highlights John Gall’s recent project — a redesign of our Nabokov backlist.

See a brief excerpt of here:

“Every so often, a dream project lands on your desk. Here’s one: redesign Vladimir Nabokov’s book covers. All twenty-one of them. Let me rephrase. Every so often the most daunting project of your entire life arrives on your desk.

*****

Nabokov was a passionate butterfly collector, a theme that has cropped up on some of his past covers. My idea was also a play on this concept. Each cover consists of a photograph of a specimen box, the kind used by collectors like Nabokov to display insects. Each box would be filled with paper, ephemera, and insect pins, selected to somehow evoke the book’s content. And to make it more interesting for readers — and less daunting for me — I thought it would be fun to ask a group of talented designers to help create the boxes.

Here’s who I asked: Chip Kidd, Carol Carson, Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin, Megan Wilson and Duncan Hannah, Rodrigo Corral, Martin Venezky, Charles Wilkin, Helen Yentus and Jason Booher, Peter Mendelsund, Sam Potts, Dave Eggers, Paul Sahre, Stephen Doyle, Carin Goldberg, Michael Bierut, Barbara de Wilde, and Marian Bantjes.”


Please visit Design Observer for complete slide show.

Equal parts Margaret Mead, Albert Camus and Indiana Jones, meet Daniel Everett

When Professor Daniel Everett set off for the tiny village of the Pirahã people, located deep in the heart of the Amazon, his goal was to convert the 350-person indigenous tribe to Christianity. Thirty years later, he emerged an expert, enthusiast and atheist.Part passionate memoir, part scientific exploration, DON’T SLEEP, THERE ARE SNAKES is Everett’s riveting account of his life-changing experiences and discoveries deep in the Amazon jungle. Everett spent seven of the last thirty years living alongside the Pirahã, captivated and inspired by their language and its cultural and linguistic implications. The Pirahã ethos is rooted in the present, and driven only by immediate goals and needs; this worldview is reflected in their unique language in several ways.  See below a sampling of images and sounds from the Piraha’s.

In the Pirahã language, there is such a complex array of tones, stresses and syllable lengths that its speakers can dispense with their vowels and consonants altogether and sing, hum, or whistle conversations:

Listen to a A Pirahã Song.

Learn how to say:: Tomorrow I will collect Brazilnuts – in Pirahã

Below are select images from the area:

On the Maici River, approaching the Piraha Villages

The Piraha helping Daniel disembark from the boat

A view of a Piraha village from across the river

A young Piraha family from one of the villages

Please visit Professor Everett’s website for more information. His memoir DON’T SLEEP THERE ARE SNAKES is available wherever books are sold.