Tuck into a big bowl of clam juk by David Chang.
If ever a book captures just what a delicious, beautiful and bountiful buffet of cultures and peoples we are, “America The Great Cookbook” does.
The cookbook (Welden Owen), of which I received a review copy, was edited by Joe Yonan, food and dining editor at the Washington Post. It features iconic recipes from 100 of America’s best chefs and food heroes.
What is American food? It is “Creole Gumbo” by Leah Chase of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans. It is “Yun-Hui (My Mother’s) Red-Cooked Pork” by Cecilia Chiang, ground-breaking San Francisco restaurateur. It is “Maple-Glazed Roasted Acorn Squash with Toasted Pepitas” by Sean Sherman, founder of The Sioux Chef in Minneapolis. It is “Soft-Shell Crabs with Shishito Mole, Roasted Tomatoes, and Lemon Balm” by Daniela Soto-Innes, chef of Cosme in New York. It is “Baklava Cheesecake” by food blogger Amanda Saab, founder of “Dinner with Your Muslim Neighbor.” And it is so much more.
For me, Asian rice porridge, congee or jook (or juk) is a comforting taste of America, because I’ve grown up enjoying it here. I’ve spooned up its thick, creamy deliciousness countless times when my Mother would make it, typically after Thanksgiving, using the turkey carcass as the base for its broth. Or anytime my stomach was upset, when she would whip it up to soothe me.
“Clam Juk” is by New York’s David Chang, chef and founder of Momofuku. It’s a slightly more fanciful version of the basic congee, with its addition of pickled clams, which are quite easy to make.
A healthier take on your favorite Japanese restaurant salad dressing.
My friends and relatives have been known to ask for extra dressing on their salads at Japanese restaurants. That’s how much they love its creamy, nutty taste.
Of course, drowning your greens in dressing, and probably one made with a generous amount of Kewpie mayo, may not be the most heart-healthy action.
That’s why they’re sure to be as glad as I am to find this alternative recipe that has all the delightful flavor they’re accustomed to, but makes use of canola oil and carrots to create its sweet creaminess.
“Ginger Carrot Fixer” is from “Secret Sauces” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. The book, which contains 65 recipes, is by Vanessa Seder, a recipe developer and tester for cookbooks, and magazines including Martha Stewart Living, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Cooking Light.
She understands how a great sauce can transform even the most basic of ingredients — be it “Avocado Green Goddess,” “Fig and Balsamic Agrodolce,” “Waikiki Teriyake,” “Secret Ingredient Caramel” and many more. Seder also provides recommendations on what to use each sauce for.
A most versatile torta filled with eggs, veggies, fresh herbs and nutty farro.
Is it a frittata? Or a quiche?
It’s a hybrid that is definitely authentic.
After all, “Farro Torta” comes from the new cookbook, “Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way” (St. Martin’s), of which I received a review copy.
It’s by Rolando Beramendi, founder of Italian fine food importer Manicaretti, who splits his time between San Francisco, New York and Florence. His expertise on all things Italian has been lauded by the likes of Ina Garten, Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, and Nancy Silverton.
As he writes in the intro of the book: “I cook food in its most authentic form. I cook to break preconceived notions of what food should be — no overcrowded plates, no recipes with too many disparate ingredients, no out-of-season ingredients, no need for a lot of equipment. I make no-fuss food for my guests and myself that nourishes both hearts and our stomachs.”
Dinner in mere minutes: A big pot of mussels cooked in sour beer.
For sour beer, that is.
My husband may wince at this style of brew, much preferring a smooth Amber Ale instead.
But I can’t get enough of the specialty fermented beer that gets its characteristic tang from wild yeast strains or bacteria.
I love its bracing quality, especially paired with food, much like that of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in the wine world. Both wake up the taste buds with a brisk bite, acting like a natural-born palate cleanser.
Though I’ve cooked with various types of beer over the years, somehow it never dawned on me to try it with sour beer.
That is, until I spied the recipe for “Mussels in Sour Beer” in the new “Cheers to The Publican Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall” (Lorena Jones Books), of which I received a review copy.
The book is by Chef-Owner Paul Kahan of The Publican in Chicago, a modern-day beer hall known for its huge communal wood tables, deep beer list, and rustic dishes flavored with gusto and served charmingly on mismatched plates.
The Publican is just one of eight establishments in Chicago by Kahan and the One Off Hospitality Group. The others include Avec, Blackbird, and the wholesale Publican Quality Bread. (His bread is fantastic, too, as I found out when he brought loaves to a recent holiday dinner at Acacia House in St. Helena where he cooked with Chef Chris Cosentino.)
Settle into 2018 with soothing home-made pumpkin soup and sage bread.
Now that the decadent holiday feasts are over, you can’t help but long for something simpler, born of total ease and comfort.
Soup fits that bill like nothing else.
Portland, OR food writer Ivy Manning comes to the rescue with her clever “Easy Soups From Scratch with Quick Breads to Match” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.
Sure, you could make a batch of soup and serve it with a purchased baguette. But why not up your game by pairing a soup perfectly with an accompanying bread that takes little time to make fresh at home?
That’s the premise of the book, which includes 70 recipes for soups and breads, which you can mix and match, though Manning gives a bread recommendation or two for each soup in case you find yourself overwhelmed by the choices.