Thursday, July 15, 2010

What I'm Reading Today

My book tour is in full swing-I'm two down and five to go for book events in the next week and a half.  Be sure to check out my "upcoming appearances" on the side pane of the page-would love to see you soon.

Ahh, tempura.  When done right it's light as a feather and perfectly crunchy.  When done wrong it's a heavy greasy batter disguising sub par veggies.  In yesterday's LA Times Sonoko Sakai writes about using the best at the farmers' market as the base for an airy tempura batter.  I love the idea of using shishito peppers.  Over the past few years these bite-sized peppers have started showing up everywhere, lightly sauteed and sprinkled with great olive oil and coarse salt.  They can be full of seeds but Sakai recommends cutting a slit in the pepper and shaking out the seeds before frying (it also prevents them from popping in the oil).  Keep the batter ice cold and don't over mix it and your peppers, or whatever veggie you bought at the market, will be the ideal base for your own home cooked tempura. 

Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad, from The New York Times, would have been the perfect substitute for the potato salad I brought to a BBQ last Sunday.  Sure, the potato salad was tasty but this salad screams "fresh" and "summer".  I've mentioned quinoa (that's "keen-wa" if you didn't know) here many time, a lovely little whole grain, originally from the Andes, that itself is a complete protein (rare for a grain) and hugely high in fiber.  In addition to being good for you, it's got a very mild flavor making it ideal for salads with big, bold vinaigrettes.  Be sure to soak your quinoa before you cook it-it can have a bitter flavor to it if you skip this step.  Once you try this salad, experiment with the grain.  I love it with roasted corn, lime juice, and crumbled queso fresco too.  See ya' later Mr. Potato!

The word "slump" doesn't conjure up the most appetizing of desserts, does it?  Read on and your mind will be changed.  Think nectarines, peaches, and cherries simmered until thick and juicy and topped with tender buttermilk-based dumplings.  The result is a cobbler like dish that is made on your stove top instead of the the oven.  Any summer fruit will do so head to the market and think of the "slump" as your go-to recipe for whatever begins to get over ripe later in the week (you've always got something like that this time of year).  Thank you Chicago Tribune for convincing me that a Slump can be a very good thing. 
Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!

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