Celebrity chef makes appearance in Milford
>Toadstool Bookshop hosts signing with Sara Moulton
MILFORD – Sara Moulton is the petite blond host of public television’s "Sara’s Weeknight Meals," and dozens of her fans packed the Toadstool Bookshop’s cafe recently to listen to her talk about cooking.
And if any of them imagined she spends her leisure hours hosting glamorous dinner parties for celebrity-chef friends, they had to think again.
Moulton said she cooks for her family, but never gives dinner parties.
"My husband and I both work at home, and it’s cluttered with stacks of newspapers and magazines," she said. "And I would have to take a day off" just to clean and tidy up.
Moulton was at Toadstool’s Bookside Cafe recently to promote her latest book, "Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101."
The size of the crowd surprised her.
"In my experience, nobody comes to book signings," she said.
New Hampshire is far from her Manhattan home, but the trip was practical because her parents have a farm in New Ipswich.
Moulton called the book "very, very personal" because it reflects the seven years she worked in restaurants, including Harvest in Cambridge, Mass., as well as a commitment to home cooking and making meals tasty and easy to prepare.
It has more than 150 new recipes and hundreds of tips she guarantees will make anyone a better cook.
"I know it’s really hard to come home and cook," she said, "and we all tend to make the same 10 boring dinners."
Moulton studied at the Culinary Institute of America, working with Julia Child, and served as executive chef at Gourmet magazine.
Those who were disappointed she didn’t give a cooking demonstration have something to look forward to. Moulton said she would return to Toadstool and show how to make a French Apple Tart.
And for anyone who doesn’t want to wait, her book has step-by-step illustrated instructions.
Her audience seemed hungry for advice, and she obliged.
"A good cook pays attention to details – getting the pan hot enough, seasoning well and at the right moment, and balancing the five components of taste," Moulton said.
The book starts with tips for putting together a pantry and instructions for making homemade chicken, turkey and vegetable stock, as well as marinara sauce. There’s basic information on preparing grains and beans, and recipes for 10- minute pizza dough and homemade ricotta-style cheese.
But the bulk of the book is recipes, and they are nearly all entrees – because who has time for multiple courses on weeknights?
They include Tortilla- Crusted Tilapia, Spicy Miso Chicken Wings, Quick Texas Chili, Spicy Greens Ravioli and Vegetable Fritters. There are vegetarian recipes, as well as plenty of meat.
Along with the French Apple Tart, the book’s desserts include Baked Summer Fruit and Apricot Souffle.
10 cooking tips from Sara Moulton
1. Shake hands with your stove. She uses an electric one and tells how it can be used effectively.
2. Buy a good knife – spend money on it.
3. Plan ahead for shopping.
4. Follow the recipe exactly the first time you make it.
5. Dispense with mise en place (setting up all ingredients before cooking). Instead, take advantage of lulls in cooking time.
6. Reach for the salt and use it at the beginning.
7. Balance flavors – sweet, salty, bitter, acidic and spicy.
8. Build umami, the fifth taste, and "the reason Italian food is so good."
9. Don’t waste food. Save all vegetable scraps, chicken bones and fat rendered from cooked meats.
10. Save leftover grains, pasta, etc., and artisanal bread. Combine leftovers with fresh ingredients for a second meal.
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.