Posted December 13, 2017
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November 17, 2017
QVC star and best-selling cookbook author Meredith Laurence, The Blue Jean Chef, has released her latest cookbook. The follow-up to Air Fry Everything, last year's Top 5 BookScan selling cookbook, Air Fry Genius is the must-have for anyone getting an air fryer under their Christmas tree...or anyone who wants to impress guests with this trendy appliance that makes classics for calorie-saving football game feasts and inventive dishes fancy enough to take to a holiday buffet.
Laurence is all about keeping her cooking down-to-earth, easy, and delicious—as comfortable as you are in your blue jeans—but don't let that fool you. She received culinary training from the New England Culinary Institute, honed her skills in two Michelin-rated restaurants in Les-Baux-de-Provence, France, and went onto work as a line cook at Zuni Café in San Francisco and at Café Rouge in Berkeley, California.
We recently interviewed Meredith Laurence to learn her secrets:
BTPS: Meredith – thanks so much for joining us! We're really excited to share your exciting new cookbook, Air Fry Genius - and how you’ve gained a rabid following on QVC and online with your approach using these time-saving and calorie-saving devices. First question - you truly are an Air Fry Genius – we were blown away by your techniques using the air fryer for adding texture and flavor that we had never seen before. Do some of these methods just come to you as you’re working to prepare dishes for your show, or was it more deliberate, thinking about what you could do with the air and the surfaces of one based on your culinary training?
Laurence: When I write a cookbook, I really try to immerse myself in the project. Writing a book about the air fryer was exciting because it’s a relatively new appliance in our home kitchens. Convection cooking itself is not new, but putting that technology into the form of a compact, cylindrical, counter-top, convection oven is pretty new. So, this book (along with my first air fryer cookbook, Air Fry Everything!) meant getting really involved with the appliance and thinking about all the foods that benefit from convection cooking. Once you’re thinking about convection cooking and its benefits (even cooking, extra crisping on the outside, quicker browning), you start to also think about the limitations of that type of cooking. So, I started thinking about how to use a dry-heat cooking method without drying foods out when you don’t want to. That led me to figure out a technique to keep moisture in the equation when air frying. A couple results of that was the lobster tail recipe and the country style rib recipe – putting a liquid below the air fryer basket to keep some steam in the cooking process and helping those foods stay moist. I think discovering the genius tips and tricks for the air fryer was deliberate and came from trouble-shooting as much as from accidental discovery.
BTPS: We also loved the extensive amount of recipes starring your take on classic fried foods in the cookbook. Do your viewers ever share with you some of their favorites?
Laurence: Viewers do share their favorite ideas with me, but usually in the form of asking me for a recipe for their favorites. I try to encourage them to try things on their own and experiment, asking for a photo when they are done. My long-term goal is to make people confident in the kitchen so that they feel comfortable playing around with a recipe and making it their own.
BTPS: Do they prefer the air fryer versions on classic foods, or other dishes you’ve included? We loved some of the more creative entrees, but honestly would have paid the price of admission for the onion rings alone.
Laurence: I think what most people love is leaving the guilt out of their pleasure eating! So, whether or not they prefer the air-fried version of foods better than the deep-fried version doesn’t really come into play. It’s like going to a restaurant that has great food but terrible ambiance – you probably won’t go back. If both the food and the atmosphere are great, then it’s a winner. It’s the same with air-fried food – you get that deep-fried experience without the guilt – that makes it a winner. I think people love having their fried favorites and interesting creative options as well. That justifies having this appliance in their kitchen – it’s for more than just fried food substitutes.
BTPS: What’s driven the air fryer trend lately do you think? Is the technology easier to use, or are people looking to cut calories more by frying foods without oil?
Laurence: I think it’s both. I think people don’t really understand what convection cooking is, even if they’ve had a convection feature on their oven for years. An air fryer makes convection cooking so easy – the push of a button. Also, being able to open the air fryer and shake the basket, makes it even easier. But that’s just half the story. People do also love cutting their calories without sacrificing flavor. The air fryer allows you to do that. Anything that would usually be deep-fried, but is air-fried instead cuts calories in a big way. Converting other techniques like roasting or grilling to the air fryer doesn’t cut as many calories, but having that perforated basket to let the grease drip away from your food does help.
BTPS: Can you give us your starring lineup for a couple game-day recipes for the fall sports season – and a couple recipes that would be the perfect dish to bring for a Thanksgiving potluck?
Laurence: Sure! For game day, why not try some of the finger foods in the book? The Spicy Chicken and Pepper Jack Cheese Bites would be perfect and you can customize the spiciness to your own taste. The Cheeseburger Slider Pockets make grabbing a burger without spilling it all over your shirt easy and delicious. Also, the Mozzarella en Carrozza with Puttanesca Sauce are basically fried grilled cheese sandwiches in miniature form. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate a touchdown with one of those? For Thanksgiving, the air fryer can really be your kitchen assistant. You can air-fry a 6-pound turkey breast in the air fryer, so the Air Fried Turkey Breast with Cherry Glaze could be the main meal or supplement a whole oven-roasted turkey for a crowd. The Butternut Medallions with Honey Butter and Sage are a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving and are super easy to make. Finally, the Hasselback Apple Crisp would be a sweet dessert to serve on Thanksgiving – seasonal and special.
To learn more about Meredith Laurence and her collection of cookbooks visit: http://www.bookmasters.com/blog/air-fry-everything-meredith-laurence