Queso for Dinner

What the heck.

Howdy cookbook fans!

And welcome to Tuesday. A quiet Tuesday in cookbook land, but nevertheless here we are. As a lil treat, I’ve included my recipe for GREEN CHILE QUESO from my 2018 cookbook, The Austin Cookbook, at the bottom of this email. Because we all could use a little more cheese these days. Probably. Maybe?

SPN HQ Update! Last night I was treated to some good old fashioned Italian-American lasagna from Lasagna by Anna Hazel. (By treated to, I mean I didn’t cook it, my lovely partner Raphael did.) (I did however make the frozen meat sauce he used, barbecue bolognese starring Franklin Barbecue brisket. There are several benefits to living in Austin and this is one of them.)

Garden remains in a holding pattern, apart from some lettuce that is starting to bolt (?!?) and my snap peas that keep getting knocked off the trellis in the wind. This weekend, though, is my garden prep weekend, and I’m….digging out an entire container, moving it, and refilling it ahead of spring planting. And then sometime in February, we’re getting FIG TREES from awesome Austin nonprofit TreeFolks. I am VERY excited.

Quick reminder that Stained Page News is on Instagram! Please feel free to tag me or send me stuff, especially if you see folks announcing cookbooks or cover reveals or etc. Also if you just want to show me a nice thing you cooked! I love it all.

My cookbook collection is selective. I’m privileged to be sent vast numbers for free on publication. I’m so privileged that I discard many. If I flick through and find over-art-directed colour photography, of a sort my efforts could never match, the local charity shop gets a delivery. Those are less instruction manuals than over-engineered invitations to fail. I keep the ones containing recipes for dishes I want to eat, but I look for other things, too. They must be strong on broader methods. They must have tips that will make me a better cook. They must be well written.

—London restaurant critic Jay Rayner is writing up classic cookbooks now, starting with Gary Rhodes’ New British Classics. [Guardian]

Beloved South African Cookbook Author Dorah Sitole Dies

Dorah Sitole, South African cookbook author and longtime editor of True Love magazine, has died of COVID-19 at the age of 65. Sitole wrote several books, including Cooking From Cape to Cairo, a collection of recipes she famously travelled across Africa to research. Just this past fall she published 40 Years of Iconic Food, a memoir-with-recipes about her life from growing up in townships under apartheid to becoming a culinary icon, popular with both Black and white audiences. Chef and cookbook author Siba Mtongana tells eNCA, “When you speak of legends when it comes to food—icons—that is what she was.”

Green Chile Queso

Queso is an infinitely customizable dish. I like my queso popping with roasted green chiles and with a teensy bit of “real” cheese (i.e., not processed cheese) to give it those camera-ready cheesy strings when you dip into it. But feel free to play with this: adjust the amount of chile to your liking, switch the sharp cheddar to another type of cheese, add some roasted garlic, or top it with Louisiana-style hot sauce for extra kick.

Note: this makes a large quantity of queso. It reheats nicely, but you can also cut it in half easily.

Also note: you can swap the chiles and tomatoes for canned if you want. It’s January. Just make sure you drain them.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup finely diced white onion

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 poblano peppers, roasted and skinned, seeded, peeled, and finely diced

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced

Salt and black pepper

1 package (2 pounds) processed cheese, such as Velveeta, cut into small cubes

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Saute until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the poblanos and tomatoes and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Saute for another minute.

Turn the heat down to low. Add a handful of processed cheese at a time, stirring between each addition until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth. When all of the processed cheese is melted, add the sharp cheddar and stir until it has melted as well. Stir in the cilantro, reserving a little to sprinkle on top as garnish. Serve with chips immediately.

That’s all for today! See all you paid folks later this week. I hope the sun is shining where you are. Have a great week!