Admit it, we all have our unusual food predilections.
My husband doesn’t enjoy sour foods, but loves ceviche. He is not fond of raw carrots, but will happily chomp on them if they’re cut into sticks.
Me? I am typically not the biggest fan of coconut. Yet I dream of Tom Douglas’ famed coconut cream pie, and the coconut layer cakes I devoured in South Carolina. Neither am I usually a fan of raisins in baked goods. Yet I somehow adore them in savory dishes.
That’s why the recipe for “Cauliflower with Raisins” stopped me in my tracks in the best of ways.
It’s from the new “6 Spices, 60 Dishes” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. Ruta Kahate, a veteran cookbook author who own Ruta’s, an Indian cafe in Milwaukee.
Kahate recognizes that the intoxicating array of spices that makes Indian cuisine so exciting can also prove intimidating to a home-cook. With this book, she demonstrates that with only six spices in the pantry — cayenne, coriander, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, and asafetida — you can make 60 vibrant and distinct dishes that aren’t taxing.
Our fickle spring weather may be warm one day, and chilly the next. But this is one recipe to keep handy whenever you need a restorative slurp that’s like a great big hug in a bowl.
“Cornish Game Hen Soup” is all that, and straightforward to make, too.
It’s from the new “Korean American” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, by the gifted New York Times staff food writer Eric Kim.
In this wonderful cookbook, Kim tells the story of being born to Korean immigrant parents trying to make a new life in an Atlanta suburb, where there was no Korean grocery to be found. So, his mother, whom he frustratingly says never measures anything nor ever gives out an entire recipe willingly, adapted and made do. The Korean home-cooking he grew up on was not necessarily completely traditional food, but a delicious amalgamation of cultures and countries flavored with unmistakable can-do spirit.
With bright technicolor photos, the book brings to life his bold, playful, and comforting dishes such as “Creamy Butatini with Roasted Seaweed,” “Meatloaf-Glazed Kalbi with Gamja Salad,” “Kimchi Sandwiches,” and “No-Churn Ice Cream with Dalgona Butterscotch Sauce.”
I may be an omnivore and my husband, aka Meat Boy, an avowed carnivore, but the recipes in this vegetarian cookbook never cease to satisfy. Indeed, neither of us ever feels wanting, despite the meat-free dishes.
“Steamed Tofu with Trumpet Mushrooms with Ginger, Scallion and Soy” is ready in a blink of an eye. In fact, it’s so easy that you’ll practically be able to make it from memory again the next time.
After seasoning a lamb dish spectacularly, my leftover ras el hanout had been languishing forlornly in my pantry.
Remnants of this aromatic and punchy Moroccan spice blend were badly in need of a purpose and home.
Thankfully, the ideal one arrived in the form of “Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies with Ras El Hanout.”
Ras El Hanout is Arabic for “top shelf.” Like liquor at a bar, it connotes the best a mixologist or spice shop owner has to offer.
It’s a blend that can consist of more than a dozen spices, including cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, coriander, peppercorns, paprika, fenugreek, turmeric, fennel seeds, aniseed, and galangal.
I’ve always associated it with savory cooking. But this clever cookie recipe demonstrates just how well it takes to sweet preparations, as well.
Betty Liu makes the rest of us look like slackers.
Not only is she a doctor training to be a surgeon in Boston, but she’s a home-cook so gifted that she created an award-winning food blog, bettysliu.com. Her writing, recipes and photos have appeared in Bon Appetit and Saveurmagazines. She’s also taught food photography classes around the world.
It’s even more impressive when you realize that Liu didn’t even learn to cook until she was in college, and missing her mother’s cooking. Back then, whenever she visited her parents, she cajoled her mother into teaching her how to make her favorite dishes. After college, she worked in Shanghai for a spell, which only deepened her passion for that regional cuisine.
Her cookbook honors her heritage and her family’s cooking, spotlighting the Jiangnan region, which encompasses the lower Yangtzee area, including the city of Shanghai. Not surprisingly, Jiangnan cuisine is all about seasonal fresh ingredients and elevating the natural, pure flavors of the food.
This beautifully illustrated book is complete with lavish photos that bring this region of China to life, as well as useful images that take you step-by-step through specific techniques, including making “Suzhou-Style Mooncakes,” “Scallion Flower Buns,” and “Shanghai Big Wontons.”