Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Deep Purple

A real looker of a Brussel sprout.
A real looker of a Brussel sprout.

I think Prince would have definitely approved of these Brussels sprouts, don’t you?

With vivid purple streaks, these beauties were grown by Covilli Organics, a family-owned, fair trade-certified farm in Mexico. I snagged them recently in my grocery deliver order from GoodEggs.

They’re slightly sweeter and a little less bitter-sulfur in taste. And yes, the purple will fade a bit once cooked.

Still, what a marvel these are. I typically halve Brussels sprouts, and place them cut-side down in a cast-iron pan on the stove-top to cook or on a sheet pan in an oven at high temperature. But a new sprout called out for a new technique to try.

No surprise, I found what I was looking for in the seminal “Vegetable Literacy” (Ten Speed Press, 2014) by Deborah Madison, the founding chef of San Francisco’s Greens, the pioneering plant-forward restaurant.

Her “Slivered Brussels Sprouts Roasted with Shallots” is a very simple recipe. The only part that takes any real effort is slicing the sprouts with a mandoline.

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Sheet Pan Soy Sauce Chicken with Pineapple and Bok Choy

Chicken gets marinated in soy sauce, then roasted on one pan with fresh pineapple and baby bok choy.
Chicken gets marinated in soy sauce, then roasted on one pan with fresh pineapple and baby bok choy.

My childhood memories of Chinese soy sauce chicken revolve around my mom trekking to a deli in San Francisco Chinatown with me toddling by her side. There, she’d carefully point to a plump one hanging in the window, which would get chopped ferociously with a cleaver into manageable pieces, and wrapped up in a takeout box for our dinner that night.

At home, I’d help plug in the rice cooker for fresh steamed white rice, while my mom stir-fried some asparagus, bok choy or gai lan from the fridge. It was the makings for a quick, simple, and satisfying weeknight family meal.

Pineapple was not something she’d necessarily think to pair with it. But thankfully, food writer Cathy Erway, whose mother hails from pineapple-growing Taiwan, had that light-bulb moment. Because like Tom Cruise to Renee Zellweger in “Jerry Maguire,” pineapple completes soy sauce chicken.

The fresh juicy chunks add sweetness and tropical bright acidity, providing another level of flavor to the soy-caramelized chicken. After all, who among us doesn’t zero in on the pineapple pieces in a dish of sweet and sour pork, right? Best yet, Erway makes this complete dish in a sheet pan in the oven for utmost convenience.

“Mom’s Soy Sauce Chicken with Pineapple and Bok Choy” is from her new cookbook, “Sheet Pan Chicken: 50 Simple and Satisfying Ways to Cook Dinner” (Ten Speed Press). Erway, a Brooklyn-based James Beard Award-winning writer, has created 50 recipes for everyone’s favorite protein using the “it” method of laying it all on a sheet pan, sliding it into the oven, and forgetting about it until the timer goes off.

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Roasted Delicata Squash with Smoked Paprika-Herb Sauce

Crescent-slices of delicata squash get beautifully roasted in the oven until tender and sweet.
Crescent-slices of delicata squash get beautifully roasted in the oven until tender and sweet.

Unless it’s baking pizza, the very bottom rack of my oven seldom gets used.

But thanks to America’s Test Kitchen, I now realize that it’s the perfect position to get deeply browned and caramelized undersides of potatoes, squash, and other veggies.

That’s exactly what I ended up with when making “Roasted Delicata Squash with Smoked Paprika-Herb Sauce” from the new cookbook, “The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook: 500 Inspired, Flexible Recipes for Eating Well Without Meat” of which I received a review copy.

The book, by America’s Test Kitchen, is ideal for anyone, especially those looking to incorporate more plant-based dishes into their diet in this new year. Even if you’re an avowed carnivore, you’ll still find plenty to like, especially if you enjoy these dishes as an accompaniment to whatever meat protein you prefer.

Recipes run the gamut from “Carrot Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal,” “Pinto Bean-Beet Burgers,” and “Creamy Cashew Mac and Cheese” to “Overstuffed Sweet Potatoes with Tofu and Thai Curry,” “Turkish Eggplant Casserole,” and “Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding.”

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Baking Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies With My New Helper

Baking Martha Stewart's Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies with The Tiny Chef.
Baking Martha Stewart’s Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies with The Tiny Chef.

Everyone needs a sous chef in their life, right?

Meet mine.

He may be small, but he’s big on heart. He sure knows his way around a kitchen, too. He’s even eaten at Alinea before I have! So jelly.

Yes, I’ve joined the cult of The Tiny Chef. If you’re not yet acquainted with this little culinary cutie who just loves to cook at his teeny stove with button-burners and quench his thirst from a sewing-thimble cup, then you are missing out. Press his tummy, and he even talks. How could I resist? I call him an early Christmas present to myself. Given this crazy year, I’m pretty sure I deserve him, too.

Chef has a sweet tooth just like me. So, of course, the first thing we had to make together were cookies.

He started leafing through a copy of the new “Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. He took his time pouring over the more than 100 recipes for treats such as “Chocolate Mint Wafers,” “Pumpkin Snickerdoodles,” “Iranian Rice Cookies,” and “Pink Lemonade Thumbprints.”

In the end, he settled on “Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies.” I think it’s because he loves butter. I also think it’s because these cookies get especially pretty crinkly surfaces because the dough balls are first rolled in granulated sugar, then in confectioners’ sugar.

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Mustard, Citrus, and IPA

Just a few carefully selected ingredients combine for this whole roasted cauliflower dish for an incredible depth of flavor.
Just a few carefully selected ingredients combine for this whole roasted cauliflower dish for an incredible depth of flavor.

Have you ever tasted a restaurant dish, and sat back in wonder, flat-out amazed over its intense depth of flavor? Whether it’s a tomato dish that tasted more tomato-y than even the most perfect peak-grown tomato off the vine or the beef dish so boffo meaty it was like tasting beef for the first time again?

Turns out it’s not all about just using the best ingredients. It has even more to do with combining the right ingredients to magnify their shared flavor attributes.

That’s the genius of the new “Flavor for All: Everyday Recipes and Creative Pairings” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by James Briscione, a former culinary instructor who worked with IBM on its “Chef Watson,” which develops cognitive computing applications to create better ingredient combinations. Briscione also was the first two-time “Chopped” champion. He wrote the book with his wife, Brooke Parkhurst, a former culinary instructor. Together, the couple run Angelena’s Ristorante Italiano in Pensacola, FL.

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