Thursday, June 4, 2015

Carrot and Cashew Soup

I was intrigued by this soup recipe in which the cashews are blended into a carrot soup. It reminds me of things my vegan friends do. Cashews seem to do everything creamy in the vegan world. For example, my friend Michael blends it up to make cheese as the basis for cheesecake. Also, he blends up cashews with water and vanilla extract to make a cream for breakfast parfaits. Cashews can be made to make ranch dressing. So why not use cashews in soup? You don't have to be a vegan to enjoy new uses for an ingredient!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan [book review]

Our May book for the Kitchen Reader was Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan. It's hilarious. Here's a sampling of the delights.

Cheese and Gratitude

"There's an old Weight Watchers saying, 'Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.' I for one can think of a thousand things that taste better than thin feels. Many of them are two-word phrases that end with cheese (Cheddar cheese, blue cheese, grilled cheese)."

"In America we have gone way beyond sustenance. Eating is an activity. 'Why don't we get lunch, and then we'll grab some pizza.' Most Americans eat constantly. And when we're not eating, we're chewing gum. We are literally practicing eating. We chew gum with a swagger and purpose that says, 'Yeah, I got a big meal coming up. I'm training for Thanksgiving.'"

"My wife likes to pause before the meals with our [five] kids and say grace. While I think this is a great opportunity for our children to learn to appreciate the gifts God has given them, I view grace as kind of 'On your mark, get set...' and the 'Amen' and the 'Go!'. I am pretty sure that's the way God intended it."

Beef with Parley Pesto and Sauteed Vegetables

People are always asking me how I eat complete meals with no carbohydrates. First, I answer by pointing out that vegetables are carbohydrates, and actually I only avoid starchy carbs such as pasta, bread, and grains. Secondly, I make meals like this: full of veg and filling, too, thanks to the protein and fats.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Parsley and Walnut Pesto

Earlier this week I wrote about how hard I find it to use up those little packs of herbs when I buy them. I usually purchse them for one specific recipe and somehow forget to use the rest. One solution is to make herbs into a salad with goat's cheese.

Well, I realised something obvious. Another solution would be to use up the whole pack the first time I open it. I could use that parsley spring on the one specific recipe and at the same time, whizz up some parsley pesto.

Making pesto is as easy as throwing items into a food processor. It tastes incredible over meat, fish, (veggie) pasta, and as a dip for veggies. It's like spring in a jar!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ratio by MIchael Ruhlman [book review]

Our April Kitchen Reader book is Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman. In it, he explains how many classic dishes can be described using a simple ratio. For example, bread doughs for loaves, pasta, pies, biscuits, and cookies have similar ratios of flour, water, and eggs or fat. How much of each in the ratio determines what kind of item you are making.

Besides doughs, Rulhman describes the ratios for batters (which make different cakes, muffins, and fritters), stocks, roux, meat mixtures (sausages, for example), fat-based sauces (such as mayonnaise and hollandaise), and custards. I am a grain-free cook, so I skipped over all the baked goods, but for those who make breads and cakes, I imagine this is the most useful part of the book. It's also extensive and detailed. This is a little ironic, since Ruhlman is trying to champion the idea that once you know the basic ratios you are freed from recipes and complications.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Herb Salad with Goat's Cheese

I am terrible at using up the herbs that I buy in little plastic packets. And I am annoyed at myself for this. Often I will buy a pack of mint or parsley or coriander to use with a specific meal. Then I put the remaining herbs away thinking they will be just the things to sprinkle over a meal in a day or two. But then I forget. Later I realise I have a pack of leaves where half of them are already past using and the rest should maybe--no, definitely--be used right now.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

An Omelette and a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David [book review]

Elizabeth David was an English food writer after the Second World War who revolutionized food writing in the UK. She was highly opinionated and very judgemental of the British food of her time. She spent a lot of time in Europe and praised the ingredients and preparation of regular restaurants there as being far superior to that of the UK. She lauded the "peasant" food of the Mediterranean, and paid vast sums to have fresh produce imported from Europe; this wasn't a luxury available to ordinary British families. David was not interested in reaching ordinary families, though; she was focused on middle-class and upper middle-class audiences and was content being considered a snob.

For the Kitchen Reader book club in March, we were tasked with reading any work by or about Elizabeth David and I chose a collection of her published essays called An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. I was prepared to be entertained and to learn a lot about good, fresh food.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Simple Kale Salad

Kale is a luxury good in Singapore. The only kind I can buy is organic kale imported from the USA, with a commensurate price tag. Because it is not very wallet- or earth-friendly, I buy it rarely. But the urge struck and so I wanted to make something that let the kale stand as the star of the dish.

This is a simple massaged kale salad. It's so simple you don't need a recipe for it. Chop up some kale leaves (ribs removed). Mix a vinaigrette with equal parts oil and vinegar. I used white whine vinegar this time. Then massage the kale with the dressing in a large bowl for about a minute by rubbing it in handfuls in your hands. Add some garnishes, like raisins plumped in hot water and toasted sunflower seeds. Voila, a simple kale salad that showcases the leafy green in all its glory.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Zucchini Noodles with Rocket, Lemon, and Capers

People are always asking me how I eat so many vegetables. Today I am going to share with you one of my tricks. I adapted this pasta recipe from a published Donna Hay recipe. Regular readers already know one trick that I used: I replaced the spaghetti with zucchini (courgette) noodles. But today I want to talk about another trick.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pork Banh Mi Lettuce Cups

Anthony and I spent a weekend in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam a couple of years ago. Today's Eating with Ellie recipe is Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi sandwiches, and it brought back memories of our trip.


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