March 24, 2014 at 1:00 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food (& maybe win a cookbook): 'Cooking Know-How'

So Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes stopped by last week to let me know he was “aghast” when he read my column on my favorite Brussels sprouts.

Aghast or horrified. Maybe one was what he said, one was the expression on his face. (OK, he was smiling some, too.)

“I read it to my wife, I was so shocked,” he said about my take on sprouts, which I cook from frozen for like an hour and a half at 400 degrees until they’re (delightful) little crispy balls. “You know how long I’d cook ’em? Twenty minutes maybe.”

I love talking food with Daniel. First, I learn a lot (now how much I retain is another question). Second, it tickles me to no end how much my methods horrify this clearly high-brow cook. (Thank God I’m not pretending to be any kind of expert; I just enjoy what I do and hearing/being inspired by what others do. For me, the journey is the destination.)

Anyway, when Daniel came by to talk sprouts, he gave me three different ideas. But unfortunately, I just listened instead of taking notes, so now I can’t share all his tips with you — except his simple roast, and even that courtesy of Entertainment Editor Leslie Green who got in on the fun. Using fresh sprouts, cut ends off then chop the sprouts in half, shake in a bag with olive oil, salt and pepper in a bag and roast on parchment paper (to avoid sticking) at like 425-450 convection for 20 minutes, flipping or shaking midway then poking a couple large ones near the root end to see if they’re done.

You’re looking, Daniel clarified later, for a little resistance. Whereas mine have noooooo resistance left in the end ...

The good news is maybe I can use my lack of retention to talk Daniel into doing some videos on his methods for Let’s Talk Food someday (we talked about it — having seen a video one of our photographers did of a restaurant chef making her dish, I’m feeling inspired to look for ways to find more of a video presence in The Detroit News’ food offerings. And remember Daniel’s great meat-cooking tips in a previous Let’s Talk Food? There’s more where that came from for my fellow cooks in need of growth, methinks).

By the time Daniel walked away, I got inspiration on more than sprouts. He shared how years ago, when he lived in Germany, he told his wife it was the “month of duck” and cooked duck day after day until he got it down; I LOVE that idea for practicing meat. Sounds way more effective then me making something, wringing my hands as my husband begs me not to put it back into the oven and just HAVING to do it anyway out of sheer fear it’s undercooked, then avoiding cooking meat for some time out of PTSD from chewing, chewing, chewing.

I can’t give you all a newsroom Daniel encounter, but I at least wanted to share the experience of being inspired. So, it’s time to give away one of the most interesting books I’ve had sitting on my desk for a while: “Cooking Know-How” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. The book features 65 recipes and — most interestingly — 325 instructional photos to guide home cooks. It’s a technique book focused on the recipes. After a “master recipe” is provided, the book explains the science and offers tips along with photos, demonstrations, explanations and even bits of humor. The authors then offer eight suggestions for improvisation for each of the 65 “master recipes,” which is how those recipes turn into more than 500 meal options.

If you’re interested in “Cooking Know-How,” send an email to Eats&Drinks@detroitnews.com with “Cookbook/Know-How” in the subject line. Include your name and mailing address in the body. Enter only once by midnight March 30. A winner will be chosen at random from among entries. (If it’s March 31 or later when you read this, the giveaway will be over — but thanks for stopping by.)

Good luck! Now, I wonder if my next Daniel encounter will be him being aghast I gave away a book I so clearly could use myself ...

You can also follow Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale on Twitter @reentiz.