Category Archives: Asian Recipes

Yearning For Spicy Chinese Noodles

Comfort me -- with spicy Chinese noodles.
Comfort me — with spicy Chinese noodles.

A sense of deep wistfulness came over me as I read Ruth Reichl’s latest book, “Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir.”

And if you haven’t yet read her newest memoir (Random House), of which I received a review copy, you ought to pronto, especially if you were a fan of the dearly missed Gourmet magazine.

When she was the restaurant critic for the New York Times, Reichl was offered the top job at the country’s oldest epicurean magazine. Initially, she actually turned down the job as editor-in-chief of Gourmet. But she eventually reconsidered, realizing the strong pull the magazine had on her since she first leafed through its pages when she was 8 years old.

The book takes you behind the scenes of the iconic magazine, recounting how Reichl turned it around from a publication that had grown stale with ladies-who-lunch fare to one that was ground-breaking in design and text. It thrilled and surprised — until it was no more, shuttered because profit margins weren’t high enough.

I was a long–time subscriber to the magazine. But I had forgotten just how pioneering it had been. It was illuminating to revisit the topics it covered, enlisting some of the country’s best writers — not just best food writers — to pen stories never seen before, including the plight of the Immokalee farm workers in Florida, who picked the industrial tomatoes that flood supermarkets, under conditions that verged on modern-day slavery.

Or the shocking fall-out that occurred when Reichl dared to put a gloriously whimsical cake covered in cupcakes on the cover of the magazine, which somehow ended up offending a number of readers. Go figure.

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Sauteed Radishes with Vadouvan Curry and Almonds

Radishes -- and their tops -- get kissed with home-made vadouvan.
Radishes — and their tops — get kissed with home-made vadouvan.

Spice up your life.

It’s easy with “Spiced: Unlock the Power of Spices to Transform Your Cooking” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

With recipes for 47 different spice blends, plus 139 recipes, your taste buds won’t know what hit ’em.

Sure, it’s easy enough to buy jarred spice blends at the supermarket. But when you make your own, you can customize them to your exact specifications and taste. Plus, when you grind and mix your own from whole spices, you’ll get a fresher, more vibrant and pungent blend that can wake up any vegetable, poultry, meat or seafood just like that.

Learn how to make flavored salts, robust rubs (like “Jerk Rub,” spice-infused oils (such as “Chipotle-Coriander Oil,” and spice-steeped extracts (homemade “rose water”).

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Hand-Torn Noodles with Cumin Lamb

Chewy, rustic hand-made noodles with cumin lamb, dill, cucumbers, and a drizzle of sour cream.
Chewy, rustic hand-made noodles with cumin lamb, dill, cucumbers, and a drizzle of sour cream.

At a time when immigration is a political lightning rod comes a book that reminds us just how much our culinary landscape has been deliciously shaped by the food traditions brought and shared by so many newcomers to this country.

“A Place at the Table: New American Recipes from the Nation’s Top Foreign-Born Chefs” (Prestel), of which I received a review copy, celebrates 40 of America’s top chefs and rising stars, all of them immigrants, who forged a new path here to make their mark in the culinary world.

The new book is by Gabrielle Langholtz and Rick Kinsel, respectively the director of culinary projects and the president of the Vilcek Foundation, a New York organization that raises awareness of immigrant contributions to the United States.

Within the pages of this beautifully photographed book, you’ll get to know chefs such as Maneet Chauhan, a native of India who beat out 40 male chefs to become executive chef at Vermillion in New York and Chicago; Diego Galicia, a native of Mexico, who scraped together $15,000 with a business partner to open his Mixtli in an empty train car in San Antonio, TX that led him to being named one of the year’s “Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine; and Mustsuko Soma of Japan, who moved to Seattle to open her lauded Kamonegi, famed for its hand-made soba, after learning that Washington was one of the largest buckwheat producing states in the country.

The stories captivate. And the recipes entice with dishes such as “Sea Urchin Lumpia” from Chef Charles Olalia of Ma’am Sir in Los Angeles; ” “My Mom’s Coffee-Braised Brisket” from Chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav in Philadelphia; “Easy Bibimbap for Home” from Chef Corey Lee of Benu in San Francisco; and “Pancake Stack Cake” from Pastry Chef Miroslav Usukokovic of New York’s Gramercy Tavern.

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Win A Signed Copy of My New “East Bay Cooks” Cookbook

Flourless chocolate cake from Old Towne Danville Bakery. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)
Flourless chocolate cake from Old Towne Danville Bakery. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)

Remember when you were a kid, and beamed with pride and happiness the first time you donned a snazzy new pair of red cowboy boots?

That’s how I feel about my newest cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), which debuts this week. Thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, it turned out more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Just get a load of the images here from the book, all of them shot by the incredibly talented Bay Area photographer Eva Kolenko.

Chorizo sourdough toast from Sabio on Main in Pleasanton. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)
Chorizo sourdough toast from Sabio on Main in Pleasanton. (Photo by Eva Kolenko)

Whether you’re a Bay Area native or not, this book will have you enthralled with the East Bay, the most populous region in the Bay Area. It spotlights 41 restaurants and bakeries, some brand new, and others that have endured for decades — no easy feat in this challenging and competitive market.

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Shrimp with Cilantro, Lime and Peanuts — As Easy As It Gets

This dish comes together in a flash.
This dish comes together in a flash.

Now that the kids are back in school, and summer getaways have done come and gone, it’s time for quick-cooking dishes that require little thought but deliver way more than anticipated.

“Shrimp with Cilantro, Lime and Peanuts” is that kind of dish.

It’s from “Martha Stewart’s Grilling: 125+ Recipes for Gatherings Large and Small: A Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter), the new cookbook by the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living, of which I received a review copy.

I’d already tried out one recipe from this cookbook that boasts more than 125 to choose from. Since it came out so delightfully well, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at another one before the grilling days of summer end.

This shrimp dish takes barely 10 minutes to put together. You’d be hard pressed to find another that cooks up faster with this much punch.

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