Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What I'm Reading Today

The cool weather is lingering, with rain to boot.  Keep on cooking!

Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin of The Observer

I barely needed to read the recipe after seeing this stunning photo of Nigel Slater's Mild Chicken Curry in the London Observer.  Nigel, a humble but stunning cook and food writer from the U.K. is a rock star across the pond. His books shoot to best seller lists and his articles appear all over the place.  Ergo (in this case), his recipes aren't to be missed.  This curry is his way of tackling his overflowing spice cabinet.  The flavors of cardamom, black pepper, ginger, cumin, and coriander blend together to make a homemade curry mixture that gives this chicken its distinctive Indian flavor.  And remember, if you haven't cleaned your spice drawer out in the last year, now is the time to do it.  After 12 months your ground spices have lost all their luster so toss them out.  Next time buy spices whole (i.e., cumin seed v. ground cumin).  Grinding them as you need them will bring out all the essential oils and give you tons more flavor than the ground versions.

Photograph: Kirk McKoy for the Los Angeles Times

About 10 years ago I had the pleasure of taking a cooking class with the amazing Russ Parsons of the LA Times.  He was humble, friendly, generous, and well versed in the Indian ingredients we were cooking. I've been reading his writing ever since and it continues to impress me, and many others of course.  He has a realistic approach to food, meaning he likes if fresh and real, fancy be damned!  Nothing epitomizes this more than his article today on good old-fashioned Romaine lettuce.  My 7 1/2 year old son loves Caesar salad so I find Romaine on my grocery list every week.  It's sturdy with a longer shelf life than other lettuces, it has a mild flavor which makes it a great partner to bold dressings, and the crunch can't be beat. Today Russ re-introduces us to anchovy spiked the Caesar (with grilled Romaine), the herbaceous Green Goddess (with shrimp), and his version of the "wedge" with Romaine (and of course blue cheese).  I hope to cross paths with Russ Parson again but in the meantime I'll keep cooking what he's writing because it always tastes good!

photograph: Evan Sung for The New York Times

Last night I taught a class all about eggs (and cheese).  We poached, fried, frittata'd, and even soft boiled/breaded/fried some eggs for gorgeous dishes.  So, I was immediately taken by Mark Bittman's version of Jean Georges Vongerichten's simple Fried Rice.  Writer Bittman and Chef/Restaurateur Vongerichten have collaborated on many books and recipes so they know each other's work well, making Bittman the perfect translator of the famous recipes from many of Jean Georges' hot spots (think Jean George, Mercer Kitchen, Spice Market, and many more).  When you think of the restaurants, simplicity might not be the first adjective to come to mind but wait until you read this recipe.  Cooked rice is stir fried with crispy ginger and leeks then topped with a fried egg.  To me this is dinner on a plate, really-what more do you need?  Who knew it was so easy to cook like a restaurant chef!

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!


Amelia PS said...


Nigel Slater writes incredibly well... I love him!!!

For eggs, I also like them en-cocotte (and of course, en souffle'!!!)

After years of trying to make a better fried rice at home, I have figured out that the best thing to do is making the day before and let it cool and dry out in the fridge. When I made it fresh and then "fried" it, it wall stick together (a disaster!).

Angie said...

Each of those recipes looks amazing and what a great tip on the spices...I hate to imagine how long some of those have been sitting in my drawer. I like the idea of buying them whole...worth the effort indeed!

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