Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

The Big, Bold Flavors of Shrimp Tamarind

Tamarind, lemongrass and fish sauce give this easy shrimp stir-fry a big boost.

Tamarind, lemongrass and fish sauce give this easy shrimp stir-fry a big boost.

 

For weeknights especially, I’m always on the hunt for recipes that promise big bang for the buck.

Not necessarily economically. Though, that’s always a plus, too.

But more so in terms of delivering bold, brash, satisfying flavors without a lot of effort.

“Shrimp Tamarind” is just such a dish.

It’s from “The Vietnamese Market Cookbook” (Running Press), of which I received a review copy last year. The book is by Van Tran and Anh Vu, Vietnamese-natives who now run a couple of popular market stalls and cafes in London. Their focus is on recipes easily made at home, such as “Asparagus and Crabmeat Soup,” “Salmon with Ginger Caramel.” and “Braised Eggplant.”

“Shrimp Tamarind” comes together in the time it takes your rice cooker to cook up some fluffy steamed rice to accompany this dish.

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Roasted Asparagus Soup to Feed the Mind and Tummy

A rich pistachio cream gets stirred into this asparagus soup just before serving.

A rich pistachio cream gets stirred into this asparagus soup just before serving.

 

In today’s harried world, there’s a lot to be said for eating foods that nourish our body and our brain.

Wellness chef and speaker, Rebecca Katz, certainly thinks so. Her cookbook,“The Healthy Mind Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, includes more than 120 recipes designed to optimize brain health, boost memory, improve your mood and strengthen the central nervous system. It was written with Mat Edelson, an award-winning health and science writer.

I can’t say that her “Roasted Asparagus Soup with Pistachio Cream” caught my attention solely for those reasons. Mostly, I was intrigued by the cream made of pistachios, broth, mint and lemon juice that gets blitzed in a blender until thick and luscious, before being stirred into this velvety soup, which is a puree of roasted asparagus, onions, leeks and garlic. Plus, in spring, I can’t get enough of asparagus. I buy it every week at the grocery store or farmers market, and enjoy every single spear until the season ends all too abruptly.

HealthyMindCookbook

Asparagus are loaded with vitamin B1, Katz writes, which boosts mood and energy levels, as well as vitamin B2, which reduces fatigue. Leeks are a good source of Vitamin K, which can improve memory. Pistachios also contain a lot of vitamin K and vitamin B thiamen, as well as folate, which may help prevent dementia.

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An Abundance of Oregano

Oregano is a prime ingredient in this salad dressing -- for good reason.

Oregano is a prime ingredient in this salad dressing — for good reason.

 

At this time of year, it inevitably happens: The attack of the oregano.

What started as a teeny-tiny seedling planted years ago has taken on a life of its own — growing with abandon into a dense bush that would over take everything else in my small backyard if I let it.

Sure, I’ve killed hardy cactus, gone through turmoil trying to grow healthy basil at times, and fretted over finicky tomato plants. But my oregano? It’s survived freak frosts, spells without regular watering, and downright neglect. I half think it secretly considers every other plant in my yard a wuss. After all, Mr. Oregano is a survivor. He’s the king of this domain, for sure.

It looks so innocent in my yard, doesn't it?

It looks so innocent in my yard, doesn’t it?

So, at this time of year especially, I find myself adding fresh oregano leaves to pastas, vegetable soups, tabbouleh, roasted chicken, and blistered pizzas. But no matter how much I use, there’s always more oregano where that came from, if you know what I mean.

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Presenting Carrot Tarte Tatin

A pretty -- and savory -- tart tatin to dig into.

A pretty — and savory — tart tatin to dig into.

 

It looks like a sweet. But eats like a savory.

That’s exactly what this lovely “Carrot Tarte Tatin” is.

It’s from the new cookbook, “My Little French Kitchen” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy, by Rachel Khoo. The cookbook author, who also has starred on cooking shows on BBC2 and The Cooking Channel, chronicles her travels through France through these rustic recipes that capture the ease with which Europeans cook and entertain at home. They always make it look easy, don’t they? Enjoy everything from “Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Cod” to “Red Wine Roast Chicken” to “Chocolate and Creme Fraiche Tart.”

MyLittleFrenchKitchen

Unlike a classic apple tart tatin, this carrot one is not drenched in sweet caramel syrup. Instead, it lets the purity of the carrots shine through with just a touch of honey, red wine vinegar and fresh thyme to awaken their flavors even more.

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Lemon Marmalade — Not Just For Scones

Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.

Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.

 

Almost every morning, I slather jam or marmalade on toast.

I’ve also used it time and again for filling batch after batch of thumbprint cookies.

And I’ve warmed it to brush on fruit tarts to give them a dazzling gloss.

But “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade” (Andrews McMeel), of which I received a review copy, really opened my eyes to so many other ways you can use jam in everyday cooking. The book is by Rachel Saunders, founder of Blue Chair Fruit Company, a jam company that specializes in jams made from sustainable fruit grown in the Bay Area.

How about a vibrant beet soup made with red plum jam? Or prawn and squid paella made with nectarine jam? Or even tempeh stir-fried with mushrooms, bok choy and greengage jam?

You’ll find those recipes and other creative fare in these pages, along with recipes to make jam if you don’t want to just buy a ready-made jar from the market.

“My Roast Chicken” appealed to me because the whole bird is roasted with a lemon marmalade and fresh rosemary mixture slathered underneath its skin.

With a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in my backyard, I always end up with a steady supply of this fragrant citrus that’s a cross between a Eureka lemon and a tangerine. I use them to make pitchers of lemonade, all manner of baked goods, and Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade, a Bon Appetit magazine recipe that I’ve been making every winter.

My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.

My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.

I was curious as to whether the marmalade would make a real difference or if it would turn this chicken into dessert.

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