Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Red Hot Chili Peppers... And Green And Yellow And Purple And Orange

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers... specifically poblanos. Or maybe it was piquillos? No, it had to be padrons. Perhaps chef Maricel Presilla, Latin American cooking expert and author of Peppers of the Americas, can help us sort out which pepper Peter Piper picked. Her encyclopedic reference on all things capsicum is sure to hold the answer. Presilla begins her book with the fascinating history of the pepper, with its first appearance in Boliva, and tracks its travels around the world, covering the botany, people, and cultures which have had a hand in making the pepper one of the most used ingredients in our cooking today.

The three-time James Beard Award winner has packed this visual guide with gorgeous photographs and botanical illustrations to showcase 180 different types of chilis. This is the capsicum bible. It is the one reference you need to help you identify peppers, to learn how to grow these berries on your own, and to master how to buy and store peppers -- be it canning or drying. Presilla even includes 40 pepper centric recipes spanning pastes, hot sauces and entrees.

Peppers of the Americas is an exhaustively researched manual with an astounding amount of information. As a cookbook enthusiast and a pepper addict, I was excited about the recipes that I would find in this book, but what really won me over is the combination of science, history, and storytelling that comprise this volume, what Chef Maricel characterizes as “a highly subjective record of my own garden."

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shuijiao (or Boiled Chinese Dumplings) Rule The Dumpling Galaxy

A few years ago I conducted a very scientific study to discover the best dumpling in Flushing. With clear eyes and an empty stomach, I couldn't lose sight of the 6 various dumplings (32 in total quantity) I ventured to sample and score. One of my favorites of that day were found in the basement of a Chinese market where food stalls were cramped in a too-small space to create a food court. It was Helen You's Tianjin Dumpling House and her version of these filled pockets were wildly delicious. Further, her homemade chili sauce was the perfect condiment and stacked with flavor.

You went on to expand her dumpling business, from that tiny food counter to a shiny table-service restaurant in a newly built mall down the street. The Dumpling Galaxy, which opened in 2014, boasts nearly 100 different dumpling varieties. Admittedly they are not all winners, but my favorites from Tianjin like the lamb and green squash were imported and still continue to win over my belly.

Given the impact her dumplings had on my taste buds, I always hoped to find a way to recreate them. It seems with the newly released The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook, by You and co-author Max Falkowitz, my prayers have been answered. This charming little -- physically, it is a small -- cookbook breaks down the dumpling making process, providing the reader with detailed instructions on how to make everything from the dumpling skin to the fillings to condiments, and some other dim sum treats, too.

A great book for dumpling amateurs and masters alike, this is a great guide to learn the 101 on jiaozi and discover new flavor combinations for fillings. If nothing else, it will make you really hungry.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

albondiga (technically meatball)
만두 [man-du]
لقيمات [luqaimaat] (technically a specific sweet dumpling)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Tree Without Roots

"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." -- Marcus Garvey

나무 [na-mu]
شجرة [shajara]

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rain, You Help Complete Me

“We see what we are only through reflection and thus the more our reflections occur, the less our mistakes will be!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Flatiron Sky-Line, New York

비 [bi]
مطر [maTar]

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I Scream. Ice Cream?

I scream.
You scream.
We all scream... for ice cream (cake).

ice cream
아이스크림 [aiseukeulim]
آيس كريم [aayis kriim]

235 Columbus Ave., New York, NY 10023

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome 2017!

It is said that time only exists in our heads. Still, the idea of passing years is a nice way to metaphorically wipe a slate clean and reset. So, welcome 2017! I can't wait to see what bounty the next 365 days will bring.

년 [nyeon]
سنة [sana]

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Proper Drink, or When I Discovered the Trinidad Sour

Robert Simonson has the perfect job by all accounts. He is employed at the NY Times (and contributes to other esteemed titles like Saveur and Lucky Peach) where he writes about the world of spirits and wine, which means he gets to day drink, hang out at bars, and enjoy the company of awesome bartenders and somms. With his latest book, A Proper Drink, Simonson provides the narrative behind the cocktail renaissance. To write this book Simonson interviewed 200 "key players" around the world; in other words he traveled the world to drink awesome cocktails. Sigh.

The book is a fascinating chronicle about the craft cocktail revival. It's part cultural history, part travelogue, and part anthology composed of vignettes about bartenders. As well, it contains about 40 drink recipes of what Simonson deems the 'important cocktails' to emerge from the renaissance. A Proper Drink expertly weaves through the ever-evolving world of mixed drinks, beginning in the 80s when we were blindly downing Long Island Iced Teas (and when TGI Friday's was secretly grooming mixologists, really!) to present day where cocktail is culture.

Really the best way to enjoy this book is skip ahead to a recipe, whip yourself up a boozy concoction, then settle down and enjoy the tipsy tale of the contemporary craft cocktail. Cheers!

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

건배 [gun-bae]
فى صحتك [fe SaHetek]

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What's on My Sofra? Nana's Pumpkin Bread

Since its opening in 2008, Cambridge, MA-based Sofra has been a hit with locals and notable chefs alike. It's no surprise since Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick take great care in turning out the most delicious Middle Eastern inspired eats for their cozy bakery cafe. Whether it's shakshuka for breakfast, gozleme for a quick lunch or any variety of sweets for a well deserved treat, the duo creates food that comforts and delights. It was only a matter of time before they put out a cookbook... and that time is now.

Overall Soframiz is wonderful. The images are beautiful and the recipes numerous. As well, if you are not fluent in Middle Eastern (mostly Turkish) cuisine there is a lot to learn, which I consider a favorable trait in cookbooks. I chose the Nana's Pumpkin Bread as my first recipe. To be honest, while it was the least Middle Eastern, it was the easiest and most accessible, and made sense as we enter Thanksgiving week.

As expected many of the recipes call for popular Middle Eastern ingredients -- halvah, Aleppo peppers, pomegranate molasses, harissa, za'atar, etc -- which is not a huge issue for me since I live in NYC, but could be off-putting for others. I'm sure Soframiz will make several Best of 2016 lists and their inclusion will be well deserved. In the meantime, I have to get back to baking!

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

호박 [ho-bak]
قرعة [qar3a]

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Amore, Amaro, and an Arancia Twist

Recently I was perusing the cookbook section of Amazon -- as one who is cookbook obsessed does -- and I noticed a new, interesting title, Amaro by Brad Thomas Parsons. Being that I'm married to a bartender, who is equally obsessed with drink books as I am cooking books, I was familiar with Parsons' first compendium, Bitters, and assumed this manual would be equally informational, beautiful, and a genuinely enjoyable read.

Less than twenty four hours with Amaro and my assumption was not incorrect. Though, I may be a bit impartial as my daughter is in part named after this liqueur so my husband and I clearly have a certain level of affinity towards this class of digestif. Parsons' study of amari is equally academic and intimate. Each amaro is introduced with a short history and tasting notes while each drink is presented with a vignette that gives life to the cocktail. Further, given that I'm a New Yorker, references to my favorite bars had the effect of making the book feel very personal, like I was sitting with the bartenders profiled in the stories. A great resource for either a home or professional bartender, I would recommend this book for any cocktail enthusiast's shelf.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

쓰다 [sseu-da]