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Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen [Hardcover]

Michael Symon , Michael Ruhlman , Bobby Flay

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Book Description

Nov. 3 2009
Hometown boy turned superstar, Michael Symon is one of the hottest food personalities in America. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, he is counted among the nation’s greatest chefs, having joined the ranks of Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, and Masaharu Morimoto as one of America’s Iron Chefs. At his core, though, he’s a midwestern guy with family roots in old-world traditions. In Michael Symon’s Live to Cook, Michael tells the amazing story of his whirlwind rise to fame by sharing the food and incredible recipes that have marked his route.

Michael is known for his easy, fresh food. He means it when he says that if a dish requires more than two pans to finish, he’s not going to make it. Cooking what he calls “heritage” food–based on the recipes beloved by his Greek—Italian—Eastern European—American parents and the community in Cleveland–Michael draws on the flavors of traditional recipes to create sophisticated dishes, such as his Beef Cheek Pierogies with Wild Mushrooms and Horseradish, which came out of the pierogies that his grandpa made. Michael translates the influences of the diverse working-class neighborhood in which he grew up into dishes with Mediterranean ingredients, such as those in Olive Oil Poached Halibut with Fennel, Rosemary, and Garlic; Italian-style handmade pastas, like Linguini with Heirloom Tomato, Capers, Anchovies, and Chilies; and re-imagined Cleveland favorites, such as Mac and Cheese with Roasted Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary.

Part of Michael’s irresistible allure on the Food Network comes from how much fun he has in the kitchen. To help readers gain confidence and have a good time, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook has advice for cooking like a pro, starting with basic instructions for how to correctly use techniques such as braising, poaching, and pickling. There’s also information on how caramelizing vegetables and toasting spices can give dishes a greater depth of flavor–instead of a heavy, time-consuming stock-based sauce–and why the perfect finishing touch to most meat or fish dishes can be a savory hot vinaigrette instead.

With fantastic four-color photography throughout and tons of helpful “Symon Says” tips, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook is bound to get anyone fired up about getting into the kitchen and cooking up something downright delicious.

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Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen + Michael Symon's 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners + The Chew: Food. Life. Fun.
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Michael knows who he is and where he lives, and his heritage and community come into play in his deeply personal, soul-satisfying dishes. The thing I love most about Michael's food is that it's hand-crafted and focused and each dish has a distinct story to tell. -- Bobby Flay

About the Author

MICHAEL SYMON is an Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America and a James Beard Award Winner. He is the chef and co-owner of the acclaimed restaurants Lola and Lolita, located in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as Roast, in Detroit, Michigan.

MICHAEL RUHLMAN is the author of twelve nonfiction books, including The Soul of a Chef, and has coauthored many cookbooks, such as The French Laundry Cookbook with Thomas Keller.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  56 reviews
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Symon Rocks! Nov. 11 2009
By Jody Milkie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm a Cleveland girl, so I really wanted to love this cookbook written by a Cleveland boy...and I do! Let me start by saying I'm definitely a Michael Symon fan. I've been to 2 of his restaurants, and really love the food at both. I watched him win the Next Iron Chef competition, and watch him on the Food Network every chance I get. Last weekend I went to hear him speak at an event, which was followed by a book signing of Live to Cook. I perused the book before the lecture and decided not to buy it. Well, after I heard him speak, I couldn't get in line quick enough to buy the book! In addition to being a fabulous chef, he seems to be a genuinely nice guy -- someone you'd want to be friends with. He's so passionate about his work, and more importantly, passionate about his life, family, and friends. His food philosophy is simple and right on -- Eat fresh, whole, local, and seasonal foods; and, processed foods are evil. He was funny and engaging. I could have listened to him all day. By the time the lecture was over, I couldn't wait to get ahold of his cookbook. Considering his passion for what he does, I figured the cookbook couldn't possibly be bad. I was intrigued by the fact that the cookbook contains not only recipes, but also cooking tips and techniques. In addition, it is a story book of sorts, giving the reader a glimpse into the life of Michael Symon. I couldn't wait to dig in.

Let me tell you, this is a great book! I read it from cover to cover over the weekend. Some of his recipes contain ingredients we aren't accustomed to cooking with (beef cheeks, pork belly, etc.), but believe me, his food is delicious! I was so pleased to see that he put recipes in the book for some of his classic dishes. Some of the best are the Beef Cheeks Pierogies with Wild Mushrooms and Horseradish; Lola Fries; his famous Mac and Cheese with Rosemary, Goat Cheese and Chicken; Fried Brussels Sprouts; Spicy Tomato Soup with Blue Cheese; Dates with Chiles; Dill Pickles...I could go on and on. In addition to the recipes being absolutely delicious, they are easy to follow and generally uncomplicated. Many times he offers suggestions for substitutions in his recipes, which is nice (e.g., substituting beef shoulder for the beef cheeks in the Beef Cheeks Pierogies). Let me tell you, this man is a food genius, pure and simple. I've already made a few recipes, and can't wait to make more. I encourage you to buy this cookbook. You won't be disappointed!
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Approachable Cooking Nov. 9 2009
By rodboomboom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
Like another reviewer commented that he was not excited about this long awaited Symon cookbook initially from its cover nor quick look through the collection, that was my exact reaction. But I knew that Symon can cook the doors off an oven and so made myself carefully go through it.

The cover does project Michael's great smile, but it should have had another Symon distinctive, in fact a first for a cookbook. It should have been fitted with one of those "sound producing greeting cards when you open the cover" to have his infectious laugh with busy kitchen sounds in the background.

I first ran into Michael in friend Ruhlman's "Soul of a Chef." Next, saw him on FoodTV network in Melting Pot, and then later in Iron Chef competition. Had on top of this that his new restaurant here in Detroit, "Roast" made me check it out. It was superb, so I knew I had to dig and mine this cookbook more than a casual pass.

This reviewer loves the intro writings of the chef(s) and what their philosophy of cooking is, and why this cookbook? Michael is to the point: "approachability! Share food with home cook! straightforward! economical! minimal embellishments! big,big flavors and soulful satisfactions! It's also to be a tribute to his heritage, to which we all should admire and give it a taste. It's Greek-Italian-Slovakian. He's typical in admonishing us home cooks to buy best ingredients and apply good technique, and wanting us home wanna be's to be better with every dish.

What is fascinating about all this as Symon points out is his sections on charcuterie and pickling. Not many of us mess around with these areas, so this will be adventuresome to say the least to indulge. My early venture into Symon's world is not extensive to this point, but can report that he meets his goals easily and persuasively. I made the Pierogies with Wild Mushrooms and Horseradish (my wife is nuts about pierogies) and substituted cubed beef shoulder for the cheeks as Symon Says, and the dish sung! His restaurant was famous because he kept prices low and used minimal pots/pans, limiting himself to $20 back in late '90s and 2 pan max. Here, it takes 3: pasta pot, skillet for mushrooms and Dutch oven, but the results are worth it.

Also, tried his Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup and it is unique and a go-to! Heat of sriracha and rich blue cheese combine with San Marzanos tomatoes to make this rich and satisfying bowl of pleasure. Didn't have opportunity here to go with his recommended blue cheese source, but will try it out soon. Substituted Maytag Blue and it seemed grand.

This is definitely a home centered cookbook, and one the into-it home chef will want to refer to often to learn this wonderful ethnic collection and technique improving offering, as are the Symon Says sidebars. The photos are excellent as are all Clarkston Potter offerings.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to "Live to Cook" to use Symon's tips & strategies! Nov. 24 2009
By Jody Robbins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In the space of one breakfast spent with Chef Symon and through perusing his newest cookbook, I could just tell this guy isn't selling baloney; unless good bologna. No, I'd say his were very straightforward tips like forget the milk and/or water in the eggs. Eggs should be eggs and nature gave them the right consistency.

Or, don't chop the heck out of your herbs; just give them a good chop-through and leave them alone or you'll damage the flavor.

Symon's take on product is also to be admired; take note of it anytime he mentions where he gets his product, as the bacon he uses takes an already sublime project to new heights of sublimity:)

In short, this guy knows what he's talking about and this is one of the more usable and handy cookbooks for the home chef that any celeb chef has put out--and this from a guy who's 18-3 on Iron Chef?
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Judge The Book By Its Cover! Nov. 8 2009
By Jeremy Emmerson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When I first took Michael Symon's Live to Cook out of the box I was kind of deflated, I cannot say why but the cover of the book just did not grab me. As I thumbed through it my pulse did not raise any either... A couple of days later I picked it up again, I had an interview scheduled with him and I was sure there must be some good stuff in his book, he is, after all the coolest Iron Chef and my industry pals always describe him as a "100% solid guy", the book had to be good.

So try again I did and this time it got my attention. Michael's book is a collection of recipes influenced by his heritage, and, although diverse, then end product is a cohesive bounty of dishes, well photographed, supplemented with techniques and stories that translate as if he were standing beside you in your kitchen...

As for the interview, here's how it went;

As his book comes hot off the press, the Iron Chef, restaurateur and now author takes time out to talk about his food, thoughts and first publication Michael Symon's Live To Cook Recipes and Techniques To Rock Your Kitchen.

G.C. - The recipes in your book are influenced by a collection of ethnic backgrounds, diverse, yet cohesive. How did you decide which dishes were going to make the pages of Live To Cook?
M.S. - I wanted the book to be more than a collection of recipes, I wanted it to tell a story too, to tell the tale of my childhood till now. The recipes are a reflection of my family, friends, family and the way I was raised; these are the things that have got me to where I am now.

G.C. - If the book was penned by another author, how would you, as a chef, put the book to work in your kitchen?
M.S. - I would take a real good look at the base recipes, go through the lessons with young cooks, review how to season, baste discuss the use of acid and fat, how one plays off the other.

G.C - Name names... tell us which recipes in your book are must try dishes?
M.S. - Dates with chili; super simple, but sum up how I feel about food - sweet, salty... the pickles are great and such a huge part of how I cook. Pork belly is my thing and some of those family style dishes are great, my mom's lasagna is the best!

G.C - What is your daily or weekly routine like?
M.S. - I am quite regimented; 5am coffee, newspaper, workout, back by 8am. I hang out with my wife and then bounce from restaurant to restaurant. I spend most of my time at Lola working with the cooks. I am normally home around 10pm.

G.C - How did you fit writing Live To Cook in to your schedule?
M.S. - Well just like a restaurant it is not about one person and it took about four years. I did most of it out of my home; we just fitted it in when we could. I am happy that it took so long, it gave me time to really think about it and enjoy the process.

G.C - Your life has dramatically changed over the past several years, chef, restaurateur, author, Iron Chef. Who is Michael Symon?
M.S. - It has not changed me at all. I love being with friends and family, and my family keeps me very grounded especially my mother. She is Greek and know if don't call her I hear all about it, I am the same guy now as I was 20 years ago...

G.C. - With this kind of profile, does it mean that you can't eat out without an enthusiastic chef sending you a tasting menu or a collection of pork dishes when you simply want a burger? What's the best and worst part of being a well known chef?
M.S. - The best thing is that I can give back and give back in a way that I never thought possible. I support three charities; Autism Speaks, Share our Strength, a local Cleveland charity Urban Community Schools, I have been able to raise a million dollars since I have been involved with the school, I could have never done that without my "celebrity status". On the other end I have not had a normal meal out with my wife in years, I know peoples' intentions are never mean spirited, but people always want to stop at the table. As result, we have got pretty good at cooking at home.

G.C. - Whose restaurants' rock?
M.S. - All of Paul Kahn's places, Jonathan Waxman's Barbuto and Mesa Grill is always great. Bobby is so under rated. He is an amazing chef, I mean think about it, he brought Southwestern cooking to New York twenty years ago.

G.C. - Which high profile/Food Network chefs have you become friends with over the past few years?
M.S. - I know a lot of them from the days when the network was just starting up. I was on the show The Melting Pot so I know the old guard pretty well, Mario and Rachel. Bobby and the other Iron Chefs I know well but not so much the newer guys.

G.C. - What's next for you, do you see a follow up to Live To Cook or more restaurants in the future?
M.S. -I would love to do some single subject books, all about the pig... meat, grilling, pasta that type of book.

G.C. - What advice would you give to the chefs out there that would like to follow in your footsteps?
M.S. - You can't be afraid to work your butt off, don't get frustrated, work for the chefs you want to learn from and don't be afraid to ask questions...
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent cookbook! Jan. 17 2010
By Jeffrey P. Riha - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
Upon the initial review of the book, I thought "Ahw, just another cook book with recipes the home cook would never attempt (ingrediants not readily available/process not geared to an average home cook)." My thoughts were changed when I read various reviews on this Amazon review post under this book, designating to give it a second chance. So I did, and I am greatly pleased. Many of the recipes can be made by the home cook. Michael's stories are very enjoyable - they help you greatly to understand his style and what he hopes to accomplish. His chef's tips are also very invaluable (commenting on the role of his pantry, cooking tools, ingrediants, etc.). I greatly enjoy his ideas on how to completly change a dish (i.e. turing it to an oriental slant my making a vinegarette that would include "XXX", etc.). Between his cookbook and the Michael Chiarello cookbooks, I was able to understand the style the each chef is trying to get across. I had never been able to accomplish that in the past.

Note: I am a Clevelander so I do I have an upfront appreciation for Symon's accomplishments.
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