Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Foodie Reading: Confessions of a Kitchen Diva
Over the past ten years - the current span of my "cooking life" - I have learned many invaluable cooking tips. Some I've gleaned from conversations with my mom and grandmother, most I've learned through trial and error. However, I've also learned a lot from cookbooks, including Claudine Destino's Confessions of a Kitchen Diva. Claudine is a part-time caterer from Roswell, Georgia. She also teaches cooking classes on occasion.
For one thing, I've learned that there are many ways to make my dinner parties run smoothly and free of last minute kitchen drama. When I’ve got a free Sunday afternoon, I like to whip up a batch of Party Quiche Bites, a great recipe found on page 51. These can be frozen and quickly warmed up in a pinch. I’ve also made a promise to myself to do all of my shopping the day prior to a big dinner I’m throwing. On one particularly unfortunate occasion I remember standing in my kitchen, frantically plowing through my shelves for that bottle of raspberry vinegar I needed for the night’s salad. Half an hour before my guests were scheduled to arrive, I had to send my date out on a frenzied trip to the grocery store to acquire this indispensable but missing ingredient. I only have one thing to say about this incident: never again.
I actually have the pleasure of being personally acquainted with Claudine Destino, author of Confessions of a Kitchen Diva, through her daughter, my friend Lindsey. I’ve been to Claudine’s home for large get-togethers on several occasions, and she’s always cool and classy in the kitchen. She never betrays a hint of panic, so I consider her a model hostess and highly endorse her ideas on entertaining. Her food is always scrumptious and her home is beautiful without being stuffy.
I attended a wedding shower for Lindsey in the spring of 2005, when Claudine had prepared a heavenly Kahlua and pecan baked brie. While everyone else talked and laughed out in the fading sunlight, I ate nearly a quarter of the brie with no attempt to be sociable. Although the goal isn’t to stun all of your guests into silence when they visit your home for dinner, it’s a pretty awesome feeling when they love your food too much to talk.
The brie recipe alone (page 22) is a good enough reason to buy this cookbook, but there are many others I've also enjoyed. One is the Zuppa de Ceci's, a soup of pureed chickpeas which includes butter, heavy cream, Swiss cheese, marjoram, thyme and a little sherry. The creamy texture and luscious flavor is unbeatable. The colorful Cloissone' salad (page 70) and the Unorthodox Spinach Salad (page 72) are part of my regular lunch repertoire. Kyle loves the Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe found on page 158.
You can purchase this conveniently spiral bound cookbook for under $20 on barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com, or you may visit Claudine's website at akitchendiva.com.
Verdict: Wherever you are in your cooking life - novice, mid-level or seasoned chef - you can learn something from Confessions of a Kitchen Diva.