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.
A pasta dish that will thrill with surprise.
As I set this brimming bowl of pasta in front of my husband, he twirled in his fork, then took a bite.
“This is so weird,” he exclaimed with growing glee. “But it’s really good!”
That might just be your reaction, as well, to this eyebrow-raising spaghetti tossed with peas, lime, goat cheese — and are you ready for it — duck fat.
Yes, “Spaghetti with Peas, Lime, Goat Cheese, and Duck Fat” is from the cookbook, “Rich Table” (Chronicle Books, 2018), of which I received a review copy. It’s by husband-and-wife chef-owners Evan and Sarah Rich with assist from Eater Cities Director Carolyn Alburger.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at San Francisco’s Rich Table — where scoring a table is never an easy feat — you know that this type of dish is part and parcel for this Michelin-starred restaurant that has a knack for creating winning dishes with rather unexpected, and often mind-boggling combinations of ingredients.
The easy way to make a lot of steamed fish at once — in the oven.
I grew up with Chinese-style steamed fish — both as a focal point of a celebratory banquet meal or an everyday staple made by my Mom on a harried weeknight.
But the one thing I always found challenging was trying to steam a large amount of fish to feed a hangry, hungry crowd.
After all, a stovetop bamboo steamer only holds so much. You could always stack two or three atop one another to steam more fish. But what if you only have the one steamer basket?
Enter a genius solution by recipe developer Julia Turshen in her new cookbook, “Now & Again: Go-To Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.
With more than 125 recipes, she shows off her flair for making delicious food a no-brainer in recipes that include”Chicken and Roasted Tomato Enchiladas,” “Pressed Broccoli Rabe and Mozzarella Sandwiches,” and “Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese and Honey Frosting.”
Five-minute hummus with cinnamon-scented chicken.
These days, hummus is so ubiquitous that you can pick up a tub at most any store. You can even find snickerdoodle and brownie batter hummus — abominations that are enough to make the mind reel and the taste buds go into perpetual hiding.
But for a real treat, try making hummus yourself.
In his first cookbook, “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Chef-Owner Michael Solomonov of Philadelphia’s landmark Zahav restaurant, provided a detailed recipe for making hummus from scratch with dried chickpeas that need to be soaked overnight before being cooked until — yes — mushy to get the best consistency.
In his second cookbook, Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy, Solomonov and business partner Steven Cook acknowledge that few Israelis make hummus at home because they can get their hands on great versions so easily at supermarkets or hummusiyas.
In contrast, the quality of store-bought hummus in the United States can vary greatly, as anyone who has bought a tub can attest. To make it easier for home-cooks here, Solomonov provides a more streamlined hummus recipe in his newest cookbook that makes use of canned chickpeas instead. “5-Minute Hummus” really does come together as fast as it implies. As Solomonov quips, it will take you longer to clean your food processor afterward than it will to actually make this wonderful hummus.