Classic olive oil-garlic-hot pepper pasta gets a boost.
You gotta love a recipe that’s so easy yet so sublime that it can be both a quick clean-out-the-pantry desperation dish, as well as a fit-for-company dazzler.
“Pasta Aglio E Olio Con Peperoncino” is exactly that.
It’s straight-forward enough to whip together on a weeknight when you don’t know what else to make after coming home after work. And it’s special enough to make for spur-of-the-moment guests who come calling unexpectedly.
It’s from “House of Vinegar: The Power of Sour, with Recipes” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s by James Beard Award-winning Chef Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland’s Greenhouse Tavern. You may recognize as a competitor on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef Gauntlet” and the Cooking Channel’s “Chopped.”
As the name implies, the book is all about how vinegar can transform dishes. Depending upon how much you use, it adds noticeable tang, rounds flavors, and can help tame and balance sweetness, bitterness and saltiness.
This lively Meyer lemon salsa will add more punch to most anything.
Meet one of the easiest, most useful recipes you’ll ever encounter: “Meyer Lemon Salsa.”
Of course it’s from the best-selling Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (Simon & Schuster, 2017) by Berkeley’s extraordinary Samin Nosrat.
If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the book, do yourself a favor and get one pronto. With whimsical illustrations and a warm, engaging voice, it will teach you instantly and painlessly how to be a better cook.
And if you haven’t yet caught Nosrat’s “Salt Fat Acid Heat” four-part Netflix cooking show, binge-watch it this week. It’s thoroughly captivating and will make you fall in love with this natural-born teacher and food personality with the winning, infectious spirit.
Big, meaty lamb shanks braised with nutty chickpeas.
Besides my KitchenAid mixer, the workhorse of my kitchen — especially at this time of year — is my Dutch oven.
In bewitching cobalt and made by Le Creuset, it’s an investment that has paid off handsomely in the many satisfying soups and stews it has cooked slowly, evenly and nourishingly.
So I grabbed it immediately when I spied the recipe for “Spicy Aromatic Braised Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas” in the newest cookbook by chef, cooking school owner and Greek cuisine expert Diane Kochilas.
“My Greek Table: Authentic Flavors and Modern Home Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours” (St. Martin’s Press), of which I received a review copy, is all about the dishes that Kochilas cooks at home for friends and family, be they classics or innovations inspired by Mediterranean ingredients. There’s everything from “Whole Wheat Baklava Muffins” and “Greek-Style Tuna Melt” to “Artichoke Moussaka with Caramelized Onions and Feta” and “Ouzo-Glazed Chicken Wings.”
This lamb dish, originally from the islands of eastern Aegean, will require you to use your largest Dutch oven on hand, as six shanks take up quite a bit of real estate.
A simple salad that hits all the notes.
From get-go, you know you’re in for a cookbook packed with thoughtful culinary wisdom and wicked, sly humor when it’s entitled, “Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta: A Vegetarian Cookbook, Kind Of” (William Morrow).
After all, anchovies and pancetta are as far removed as you can get from being vegetarian. But they are flavor boosters like no other, adding salty, meaty umami notes to anything they touch, even in minute proportions.
And who knows better about that than a chef who cooked at Chez Panisse for 22 years? Cal Peternell is now a best-selling cookbook author and the creator of the marvelous podcast, “Cooking By Ear.”
Peternell’s newest cookbook will make you a better cook — by offering up easily doable recipes, all written with mouth-watering descriptions, that teach you why certain ingredients work so well with others, and how a dish built around just a handful of items can truly sing. Enjoy everything from “Steamed Clams with Almond and Parsley Butter and No Linguine” to “Caesar’s Gougeres” and “Almond Granita.”
This herby oven-steamed egg custard is one smooth operator.
One of the dishes I most fondly remember my Mom making when I was a kid was a Chinese savory custard, redolent of seasoned ground pork and with a surprise duck egg yolk the color of a Hawaiian sunset hidden at its very center.
I also remember her expression when it did not turn out perfectly smooth.
She’d wait till it was done steaming to lift the lid to reveal the outcome. If it had a bubbly interior, she would frown and fret — even if the taste was still delicious. But if it was as smooth as creme brulee, she would take it as a personal triumph.
I thought of my late-Mom when I spied “Herby Oven-Steamed Eggs” in the new “Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s the latest and greatest by my friend and colleague, award-winning Bay Area food writer Andrea Nguyen.
As the name implies, this cookbook aims to streamline Vietnamese dishes so you can enjoy the vibrant flavors of the cuisine any day of the week without special trips to Asian markets.