Reading While Cooking

Two weeks ago I saw this post from Rose Fox in my Twitter feed:


Intrigued, I replied:


Rose answered:


Rose and I have worked together before, so after a few email exchanges we divided up the tasks. We grabbed a domain name, set up a WordPress blog, launched a Patreon campaign, and within 24 hours Reading While Cooking was born.

Our introductory post explains how the blog works:

Reading While Cooking is an advice column for readers and eaters. We provide book and recipe pairings tailored to your interests, to nourish your mind and your body together. Every Reading While Cooking advice column answers a request for book and recipe recommendations, taking all your literary and dietary preferences and restrictions into consideration.

We published our first official recommendations post today: Epics, Peppercorns, Pomegranates. I think we both rose to the challenge with interesting suggestions. I even wrote new recipe adaptations to accommodate our first request.

Have a look, check out the books and recipes, and, if you like what you’ve read, consider tossing a few bucks our way via our Patreon page. You literary and dining needs could be the subject of one of our next posts!

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Meet Meat

July 9, 2015

Meat Fruit

During last summer’s London trip, we ate at two of Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants. The first, The Fat Duck, was reported here. The second, dinner at Dinner, was an evening that I preferred not to document. The restaurant bases its menu on updated recreations of historical recipes researched by Blumenthal and recorded for his Heston’s Feasts series. (The mock turtle soup at The Fat Duck was from his Victorian feast.

One of the early courses in our Dinner dinner was “meat fruit,” a recipe from the Medieval Feast in which chicken liver mousse was prepared to resemble a mandarin orange. Blumenthal’s update uses foie gras terrine as a filling, but otherwise follows the original presentation, as seen at the top of this post.

Knowing that She Who Must Be Obeyed loves foie gras, and knowing that the recipe was published in Historic Heston Blumenthal, I decided to devote a week (yes, a whole week) to recreating the dish for her birthday dinner.

The first step was a two-day affair involving a ruby port/white port/madeira and shallot reduction,


sous vide cooked foie and chicken liver,


and sous vide egg yolks and butter – all of which were blended together and made into a silky terrine.


I piped the terrine into hemispherical silicone molds.


After an overnight freeze, I lightly torched the tops of the hemispheres, just enough to melt them a bit.


I folded the molds to fuse the halves into complete spheres, and added a skewer to each.


I prepared a mandarin orange jelly, held just above melting temperature, and dipped each sphere multiple times to create the peel-like texture.


The finished spheres were stored in the freezer until six hours before service.


To serve, I placed a thawed fruit on each plate, made a slight depression in the top with my thumb, and inserted a stalk and a few leaves from some ruscus (a filler plant used in floral arrangements). I painted some thick-cut sourdough bread with herb oil and grilled it under the broiler, then plated it with the fruit.


Did it look the same? Check. Did it taste the same? Check, again. Was She Who happy? Yup.

Nailed it.

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Tenth Annual Birthday Dinner

May 4, 2015
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  It’s hard to believe I’ve been cooking a birthday dinner for She Who Must Be Obeyed for ten years. This year I decided the menu would include some new dishes she had enjoyed over the past year, which would present some interesting technical challenges for me. Charcuterie I changed up the traditional charcuterie starter by […]

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Carrying a Torch

March 23, 2015

I have devoted a lot of time and effort into arriving at a consistent perfectly cooked steak. A combination of sous vide cooking and a high-heat final sear works every time to produce a medium rare result with a good crust. But there’s always room for improvement, which I found in the form of a new […]

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Birthday Dinner at wd~50

December 14, 2014
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When chef Wylie Dufresne opened his restaurant wd~50 in 2003 he unwittingly sowed the seeds of his eventual demise. Choosing Clinton Street in Manhattan’s lower east side was a clever move, in that the rent was cheap due to the sketchy neighborhood, but the restaurant was so good that the area improved due to the […]

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Pasta My Prime

September 28, 2014
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I‘m something of a Kickstarter junkie. I’ve backed projects as diverse as interacive fiction games, immersion circulators, titanium collar stays, graphic novels, music, and more. When I saw the campaign for Pasta Flyer, I practically screamed SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! How could I not contribute? I would get a chance to work with chef […]

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Lunch at The Fat Duck

September 21, 2014
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Our August trip to attend Loncon 3 was a thinly veiled excuse to get together with overseas friends, visit three countries, and, of course, eat. Thanks to the efforts of gourmand extraordinaire Scott Edelman, one of our eating destinations would be The Fat Duck. To say that I was excited about the meal would be […]

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Can’t Talk, Eating

September 16, 2014
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At the end of this post, I concluded: I hope this doesn’t escalate into a food war. Who am I kidding? I hope this does escalate into a food war. I was right, it did escalate into a food war. That dinner became the inaugural entry for Can’t Talk, Eating, our dining club. Four couples convene at […]

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Salep Happy

August 2, 2014
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Mess around with enough ice cream recipes and you discover the differences in texture created by certain ingredients. My go-to recipe uses egg yolks to make a denser, more custard-like ice cream than Philadelphia-style, which is made without. Adding various hydrocolloids (carageenan, guar or xanthan gums) inhibits ice crystal formation but changes the texture. I thought […]

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Ninth Annual Birthday Dinner

May 18, 2014

The date for the 9th annual birthday dinner for She Who Must Be Obeyed had been chosen months ago. Two weeks before that date, it was decided that the web site for Secret Internet Project (post to follow, I promise) would go live on May 1. My menu planning up to that point had been no more […]

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