A Few Good Reads :: Filling My Bookshelves
There's few things I like more than devoting a couple of hours on a lazy weekend to sifting through a stack of cookbooks, allowing myself to get sucked into a world of culinary inspiration from great chefs, cooks and writers. So finally, this past weekend, I was able to tackle a bunch of recently published books. And they definitely did not disappoint. Here's a few to feast on just in time for cold-weather and the holiday season. I'll be back with my wishlist of books for the winter and my next round of reading.
Super Natural Everyday (by Heidi Swanson). I highlighted this book last spring, but it's well-worth doing twice. Heidi Swanson knows a thing or two in the kitchen. One might even her call the queen of natural foods cooking. She also happens to be an incredible photographer, always a bonus when featuring gorgeous, gorgeous dishes. Her latest book is filled with recipes to nourish the soul and inspire you to experiment with new/different flavors and wholesome, natural ingredients - definitely healthy staples to add to your repertoire. Recipe sampling: Lemon-Zested Bulgur Wheat with Coconut Milk, Toasted Almonds and Poppy Seeds; Yellow Split Peas and Greens with Serrano Chili and Lemon Juice; Pazanella with Grilled Tofu, Sunflower Sprouts, Peanut Butter and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes; Little Quinoa Patties with Goat Cheese, Garlic and Herbs; Macaroon Tart with White Whole Wheat Flour, Blackberries, Coconut and Pistachios. *You'll find more of Heidi's recipes and photography on her addictive blog 101 Cookbooks.
Feeding the Dragon: A Culinary Travelogue through China with Recipes (by Mary Kate and Nate Tate). I am bit taken with this book. It mixes culture, history and food and reads like an amazing culinary travel journal that's categorized by brother and sister duo Nate and Mary Kate's itinerary. Recipes span from across China--Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet, Xingiang and more. Recipe sampling: Char Su Pork Buns, Black Bean Spareribs, Cool Cucumber Pear Salad, Macanese Crab Curry.
Cook this Now (by Melissa Clark). I admit, I have a major crush on Melissa Clark. From what her cookbooks and NY Times articles tell me, she and I cook in very similar styles, focusing on local, seasonal ingredients and super fresh dishes. Her newest book is geniusly organized, making streamlined family-style cooking that much easier and realistic for just about anyone. The book's split by season...and then by month. Recipe sampling for November: Farro Pasta with Spicy Salami Tomato Sauce and Fresh Mint, Gralicky Broccoli Rabe, Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Caraway, Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise.
Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean (by Silvena Rowe). Take me back to Turkey asap please! I am head over heels fascinated with Mediterranean cooking and I adore how Rowe weaves in not only the rich flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean (Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon), but stories from her childhood and old-world Ottoman-Turkish culture. Recipe sampling: Jerusalem Artichoke Hummus Topped with Lamb and Sumac, Eggplant, Aleppo Pepper and Pomegranate Spread, Mahluta - Lentil, Rice and Lamb Soup, Artichoke, Goat Cheese and Dried Cherry Salad; Lavender and Honey Glazed Chicken with Pine Nut, Chervil and Honey Sauce; Cod in PIstachio and Za'atar Crumbs. Pistachio, Rose Water and Honey Ma'amoul Cookies.
Essential Pepin (by Jacques Pepin). From the famed French chef himself, this book is filled with over 700 classic recipes, Pepin's "short list" of favorites. I love how he provides intermittent tips -- your random kitchen queries answered, like how to choose a good fish or refashion leftovers. Saving shrimp shells and freezing them for later use in a soup or stock, so smart. (He goes on to note his wife's Thai soup with shrimp shell stock with lime juice and lemongrass). Recipe sampling: Warm Oyster with Spinach, Garlic and Ginger. Wild Mushroom Toasts, Stuffed Butternut Squash, Banana Bread Pudding, Chicken Liver Mousse, Pork Tenderloin Medallions in Port.
The Family Meal (by Ferran Adria). This book comes from legendary talent, Ferran Adria, whose restaurant, El Bulli, was recognized as best in the world five times over. Adria might be known for his ingenius molecular gastronomy techniques and 40-some dish dinners at El Bulli, but this book showcases the simpler family meals that the staff might eat before the start of an evening's service. The book is broken into family meal "menus" with tips and tricks woven in as well as a sneak peek into the world of the El Bulli system and day to day routine. Recipe sampling: Meal 16 -- Noodles with Shiitake and Ginger, Duck with Chimichurri Sauce, Pistachio Custard. Meal 7 -- Saffron Risotto with Mushrooms, Catalan-Style Turkey, Yogurt Foam with Strawberries. *El Bulli closed this past July and will reopen as the El Bulli Foundation in 2014, a new creativity center and think tank for creative cuisine and gastronomy.
Ferran’s Family Meal | Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise from Cook This Now | Roasted Lemon Chutney on toast from Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks
More Dishes you might like
The Gift Guide :: For Your Favorite Foodie
December never ceases to be all out craziness. The month seems to speed by like lightening each year, and inevitably I'm caught shopping...well, not totally last minute, but certainly not ahead of the game. That said, if you're scouting out the perfect gift for your favorite foodie or cocktail connoisseur this holiday, take a peek at some of my picks (my own personal lil wishlist), as recently seen on George PR's trusty blog. I will admit, a good few of these picks already adorn my kitchen and coffee table...and they make my cooking and eating experience that much more delightful each and every time.
1. The Edible Selby. Mouthwatering food photos and recipes, perfect addition to my coffee table.
2. Wolfum Coasters. Just cause they’re fun (and an easy stocking stuffer).
3. The Breville Juicer. The perfect detoxifying remedy after a long evening of holiday cheer.
4. Because you can be fashionable in the kitchen too. Birdkage St. Marks Studded Apron
5. Need I say more? Noble Bourbon Maple Syrup
6. Teroforma Whiskey Stones and Glasses. Nothing like sipping around a roaring fire.
7. For my dream kitchen….Brooklyn Copper Cookware's Hammersmith Saute Pan
Lucky you, you'll be able to find many of these items at my soon-to-be cafe and food shop, Nourish Kitchen + Table at 95 Greenwich Avenue (opening this coming spring, and with gifts galore come holiday season 2013!).
Image via: George PR
More Dishes you might like
Fresh and Clean :: Spring Cookbook Roundup
It's been quite sometime since I've last posted. Amazing how quickly a few months can fly by. Yes, I'd say I'm having fun - but working like mad at the same time to ensure that Nourish Kitchen + Table's launch is running on schedule (relatively) and is going smoothly. And it is, so I hope you're getting excited! Our doors will be open for business in a matter of weeks (aka earlyish June) and we'll have a whole new blog site with more frequent content ready to roll. More on that to come. In all the thrilling madness of the past few months, I've found some respite and inspiration retreating to a good cookbook read here and there. Actually, I take that back -- a bunch of good cookbook reads, all hot off the presses. And there quite a few stand-outs adorning bookshelves this spring. They've managed to remind me why I made the potentially-crazy decision (aka best decision of my 30-some years thus far) to open Nourish KT. Each book showcases fresh, wholesome food that's delicious, awe-inspiring, authentic and that brings people close to you around a table. And with that...here's the roundup for this spring season (and btw, you'll be able to find these books on Nourish KT's shelves at 95 Greenwich Ave soon enough). Happy reading, and cooking!
Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. One could easily tag her as the 'Queen of veggies' as she's written countless books on vegetarian cooking and making vegetables shine at the table. This book is filled with jaw-dropping recipes broken out by vegetable family (genius) like "the carrot family" or "the cabbage family" etc. You'll have a whole new appreciation for what veg can do for you after reading this book. A few recipes that got me excited...Beefsteak Tomatoes Baked with Feta and Marjoram; Chard Stems with Sesame-Yogurt Sauce and Black Sesame Seeds; Beulga Lentil Salad with Purslane and Green Coriander Buds.
It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen. So this book has been all over the press, for various reasons, but after reading it, I was instantly won over not only be the drop-dead gorgeous photos (thanks to acclaimed food photographer Ditte Isager), but also by the truly approachable and flavorful recipes, and by the book's overall take-home message: we simply need to be more conscious of what we're eating...and how food makes us feel which is essentially my personal viewpoint as well, and what I encourage others to consider. A plain and pretty simple message, and a nice reminder to reevaulate what's on your plate, in your fridge and how you're shopping for it. The book gives you options...to eliminate certain things like gluten and dairy and sugar, or be conscious about their use. I love the line, "We have mostly stayed away from dairy in this book (though if you put a ripe, runny, stinky cheese in front of us...watch out)." In a lot ways, Gwyneth's book hits on how we should be eating the vast majority of the time - for energy (and for enjoyment) and to just feel downright good. Just a few recipes to get your senses going...Roasted eggplant with tahini dressing, date molasses and mint. Grilled striped bass with cucumber and clementine salsa. Five spice sweet potato muffins.
The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Koo. Anyone who knows me, learns fairly quickly of my slight obsession with Paris. For obvious reasons...the incredible history you feel seep into your bones the second you step off the plane, the rich culture round every corner and tucked into every cobblestone, the fresh markets brimming with glittering food--even the simplest baguette and bowl of soup--that'll blow your mind, the lights, the romance, the teeniest of cafes, the joie de vivre in a city that can be so "grey"...I could easily go on for days. The Little Paris Kitchen brings the food and freshness of one of my favorite cities into my NYC kitchen. Simple French classics translated to a modern kitchen. A great read that'll keep you smiling...and dreaming of grabbing a passport, packing your bags and slowing life down just a little.
There are a few other new cookbooks that I've got my eye on...I Love New York by the acclaimed team behind Eleven Madison Park, The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia and Homemade by Irish culinary queen, Clodagh McKenna. No doubt these will provide some inspiration and a mini mental-vacation in the near future.
Five Spice Sweet Potato Muffins ::
Serves :: 12
from It's All Good
1 large sweet potato
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup good-quality maple syrup or xylitol, plus 2 extra tablespoons for brushing the muffins
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free flour (if the flour doesn’t include xanthan gum, add 1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a paring knife or fork. Bake until soft (when a paring knife can cut through with zero resistance), about 1 hour. Set the sweet potato aside until it’s completely cool.
Peel the sweet potato, discard the skin and mash the flesh in a mixing bowl with a fork. Whisk the olive oil, almond milk, maple syrup or xylitol, and vanilla into the sweet potato. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, five-spice powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and evenly distribute the muffin batter among the cups.
Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, brushing the tops with extra maple syrup during the last 5 minutes of baking. Let the muffins cool before serving.
Photos via :: Amazon.com, Eater.com