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Janet Hazen Chicken Soup

ChickenSoup

 

Margaret’s wonderful piece about chicken soup reminded me of a book I wanted to tell you about, Janet Hazen’s The Chicken Soup Book (Chronicle, 1994).  Janet was a long-time restaurant reviewer for the Bay Guardian, and when we lived in the San Francisco Bay area we were frequently in her debt for pointing us to good eats.  She was a vegetarian for many years, and wrote some great veggie books, but became omnivorous, she said, after her first taste of bacon. 

The book is arranged by region: the Americas; Asia and the South Pacific; Africa and the Caribbean; India and the Middle East; the Mediterranean; and Northern Europe, Russia, and the Adriatic.  The 55 recipes go from homey (chicken broth with matzo balls; potato and leek soup with chicken and chicken broth) to familiar (Mexican chicken and lime soup; Tex-Mex smoked chicken and chile soup; chicken vegetable soup with pesto) to unusual (Georgian chicken and walnut soup with red beans; Persian sweet and sour chicken soup; Spanish cream of chicken soup with almonds).  If you ever get tired of your basic chicken soup recipe — and I’m not saying you will — the book is a storehouse of other ideas. BookFinder.com has more than a hundred copies for sale; you won’t have to spend a fortune.

Even if you were never to cook a single recipe from the book, you’d get a kick out of looking at the bad/good illustrations by Lilla Rogers.  Take a look at her on www.lillarogers.com (along with some thirty other artists whom she represents).  She says The Chicken Soup Book was her favorite project ever.

Writing about Janet Hazen made me realize that she hasn’t had a new book out since 2001 (Girlfriends Get Together, Wildcat Canyon Press).  She wrote more than a dozen books I’ve used and enjoyed — on sandwiches, on spicy food, on garlic, on pears, and her immortal Glories of the Vegetarian Table (Aris; Da Capo; Perseus, 1989).  I hope she’s out there somewhere slicing and simmering and scribbling away.

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indo

MB:  Well, we’ve come to the end …

M-C:  We can’t do our usual trick of going down the chapters and naming our favorites because the book has a different kind of structure, part autobiographical, part by ingredient, part by technique, part by occasion.  If it sounds confusing, it is, a little.  Having a good index was crucial, and the index in the book just plain stank.

MB:  What about your online index?

M-C:  After I did the detailed table of contents for the book, I used it every day, and I found one big lack.

MB:  Ok, can you fill us all in?  How do you use the index, or table of contents, as the case may be?

M-C:  My typical situation is that I’ve found one recipe I want to cook, and now I need one more recipe.  I typically cook a meal rather than a dish.  So suppose I’ve found a recipe I want to make, like Steamed Plantain (pp. 198-200).  Besides the plantains, the recipe calls for dried anchovies and coconut (both coconut milk and coconut sauce).  So I’m looking for two or three other dishes.  What I know about them is partly positive, more veggies please, and partly negative, no more dried fish or coconut.

MB:  Wait, wait, wait … didn’t you always say one recipe per meal at most?  And that the rest should be easy dishes that DON’T involve using a recipe?

M-C:  That was before I started doing research for Domestic Intelligence.  Now I try to cook at least two recipes per meal, preferably three or four.  It’s a completely different way of cooking, and it’s much harder than cooking out of my head.

MB:  Good lord, woman.  I can’t imagine that.  Two recipes per meal is the absolute most I can do, and even then I find it incredibly stressful.

M-C:  I would still counsel everybody else to use only one recipe per meal, or none.

MB:  Good.  That makes me feel better.  And to clarify, you mean recipe, not dish …

M-C:  Exactly.  Cooking from a recipe is harder than putting something together from your head.  You choose one dish to make from a recipe, and then you round it out with two or three other dishes you already know or invent.

MB:  Whereas for D.I. research you want to pack as much in as you possibly can, right?

M-C:  Exactly.  Let’s take another example.  I decide to make Tamarind Fish from Sulawesi (p. 150).  Besides the fish, the recipe uses tomatoes, basil, and scallions.  Now I want another recipe, or two recipes, to serve with the fish.  Again, what I know about the other dishes is partly positive, more veggies, and partly negative, no more tomatoes, basil, or scallions.

MB:  And this is where the index comes in …

M-C:  Yes.  While I found the detailed table of contents helpful, I needed more.  Specifically, a list of all the veggies used in the recipes.

MB:  Is this is list of veggies with page numbers?

M-C:   I found it was enough to have the plain list.  Once I saw the name of a vegetable on the list, I could use Find in my browser to check out recipes in which that vegetable appears.

MB:  And the same for fruit, meat, etc.?

M-C:  For me personally, it was the veggies I needed, but I figured that other people, with other cooking patterns, might need the same kind of list for the others.

MB:  Is it up there now?

M-C:  Even as we speak.  I put the ingredient lists at the end, so I want to be sure everybody knows they’re there.

MB:  But we digress …

M-C:  Indeed.  The whole point of doing the table of contents plus lists was that The Indonesian Kitchen is a terrific book.

MB:  I agree.  It is a great book.  At the beginning of the month I was definitely freaked out about having this as our book of the month.  It seemed like a very intimidating task to set for ourselves.  But, as the month progressed I realized that I was only intimidated because the ingredient lists were filled with strange and new things.  So the more I cooked the less intimidating it became!

M-C:  Wonderful!

MB:  We do, of course, need to tell our favorites.

M-C:  Good idea.  My favorites were the Fried Fish w/Caramelized Onions and Chiles (pp. 22-23) and the Chinese Fried Noodles (p. 67).  That plantain dish I mentioned above is mighty good too.  And I used the flavorings in her recipe for cassava leaves (pp. 18-20) with several other greens.  My Asian market said they sometimes get cassava leaves, but they didn’t have any in all month.

MB:  My favorite, hands down, was the amazing Satay that we made together (p. 240).  I thought it perfectly highlighted the Indonesian flavors and that the end result was more delicious than I could have hoped for.

M-C:  I got a much clearer picture of Indonesia in general and Indonesian cooking in particular than I had ever had before.  I’m woefully ignorant of geography, so I had many misconceptions to clear up.

MB:  For instance?

M-C:  Oh, it’s so embarrassing.  I didn’t know that Bali and Java and Sumatra are part of Indonesia.  I could have looked them up and cleared up my confusion in an instant, but I didn’t know I was confused.

MB:  Huh.  Well, my own personal obsession with someday making it to Bali actually meant that I did know that.

M-C:  Well, you didn’t learn anything from me, that’s for sure.

MB:  Yeah, but I also don’t think I learned as much from the book as I would have liked.  As I mentioned in the first piece I wrote about the book, the publishers didn’t do themselves any favors with the layout of the book.  Specifically with the pale grey type on pale grey paper, which the book is filled with.  How are we supposed to read that?

M-C:  I finally got myself under a brilliant light fixture and read through all the introductory material and chit-chat.

MB:  And was it worth the effort?

M-C:  Besides learning more geography and history, I found Sri to be a lovely person, modest, kind and thoughtful — and courageous, as well.

MB:  I did really enjoy the passage you read me when we were cooking the Indonesian dinner together.  I thought it was beautifully written and a wonderful story.

M-C:  Oh yes.  “The story of the next ten years need not be told in detail.  Many survived far worse experiences than we had to face.  We were often hungry, or had bad food, but we never starved, and sometimes we ate quite well.”  That’s one classy lady.

MB:  She’s definitely classy.  100%.

M-C:  But now I have a confession to make.  Over the course of the month, I got tired of coconut.  I had always thought coconut was like London in Samuel Johnson’s famous saying, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”  Who would ever get tired of coconut?  I reached the point where I simply didn’t want to put any more coconut in my mouth.  At the Last Tuesday supper we had coconut rice, and that tasted fine to me, albeit not very coconutty.  Then the next day I tried the same recipe with a different brand of coconut milk, which tasted more of coconut, and my throat just closed.  I was especially sad because I had planned to make one or two of Sri’s ice cream recipes if we had a warm day, but the Indonesian versions are all on a base of coconut milk, and I just couldn’t.

MB:  Wow.  That really is saying a lot.  I myself didn’t have that problem.

M-C:  I think the problem may be in menu planning, that I don’t yet understand enough about Indonesian cooking to put together meals with the proper balance of flavors.  Assembling good menus in a foreign foodway is way harder than cooking individual recipes.

MB:  That’s very true.  I bet this is actually a situation where it helps that I was only cooking one recipe at a time.  That way I only ended up with one recipe with true Indonesian flavors, combined generally with brown rice and some random vegetable side.

M-C:  I’m sure you remember when you were little we used to have ethnic months, where I’d cook one kind of cuisine for most of our meals.

MB:  It’s really not so different from our cookbook of the month, when the cookbook is something extremely ethnic.

M-C:  Right.  I always remember when we were at the end of Moroccan month Mark said, “This cuisine is severely texture-challenged.  Everything is mushy.”

MB:  Ha!

M-C:  And then several years later I read that an important part of every meal in Morocco is tart, crisp pickles, pickles with snap.

MB:  Oh, of course!  Then the mushiness isn’t such a big deal.

M-C:  Even though I tried my best, I was misrepresenting the cuisine.

MB:  It’s hard to do it perfectly if you don’t totally know the cuisine.

M-C:  So I have high hopes that in time I will learn how to integrate Indonesian coconut dishes with other Indonesian dishes in a way that makes me enjoy all of them, coconut and non-coconut alike.

MB:  It might help if we ended by summarizing Indonesian flavors:  coconut (obviously), ginger, garlic, hot hot heat …

M-C:  Shrimp paste, herbal flavors like bay leaf and parsley (which surprised me), fruit sweetness, roasted nuts, and above all rice, rice in all its numberless forms and fashions.  Somewhere in this book or one of her others, Sri talks about a rice recipe that will serve “eight Westerners or two Indonesians.”

MB:  And we need to give a special thanks to Clotilde to moving to The Netherlands and giving us this amazing opportunity to explore a new cuisine.  Thanks so much!

sambal

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04-14-09-004-2

M-C:  I feel bad for poor Andrew Carmellini.

MB:  You feel bad for him?  Why?

M-C:  First we make his Urban Italian (Bloomsbury USA, 2008) our cookbook of the month for February and never cook any recipes from it because we are too busy with other things.

MB:  Oh yeah.  And then we decide to continue it as our cookbook of the month for March and cook a whole bunch of recipes but never write about them.  You’re right.  I feel bad for him too.

M-C:  We’re going to have to do better.  At this rate, nobody will want to be our cookbook of the month.

MB:  I really liked the idea of the book, a chef cooking at home while his restaurant kitchen was being built.

M-C:  OK, let’s start by going through the chapters and calling out our favorite recipes.  It’s such an economical way of letting readers know the scope of the book.

MB:  Excellent.  So first things first, we’ve got antipasti …

M-C:  Oh, we should explain that he book is structured kind of like a big-deal Italian meal.  First the antipasto, appetizer course; then the primo, first course, starchy; then the secondo, second course, meat or fish.  There’s a chapter for contorni, vegetable dishes that sometimes accompany the second course, sometimes get served on their own after the second course.  Then a chapter about dolci, sweets, which are seldom served after a meal in Italy but instead mid-afternoon or late at night.  And then a final chapter on basics, recipes called for in other recipes.

MB:  Right.  So we start with antipasti.  I have to say that my favorite was the tuna-stuffed peppers.  I know I already reported on them, but they were so astoundingly good, that they are definitely my favorite.  And with them came the discovery of an entirely new ingredient – peppadew peppers – which are divine!

M-C:  In the antipasto chapter, I loved his take on caponata (p. 51).  Usually it’s a kind of sweet-and-sour eggplant and tomato relish, flavored highly with olive oil, vinegar, capers, olives, and lots of garlic.  Andrew keeps the eggplant and tomato theme and keeps the sweet-and-sourness but leaves off the capers and olives and uses instead other vegetables like bell peppers and celery, making a sort of half caponata, half ratatouille.  It was a huge hit with us, and we dined off the leftovers for several days.

MB:  Excellent.  And on to primo …

M-C:  I made the gnocchi, little potato dumplings (pp. 94-99), and I have to say his instructions were so well thought out and so thorough that they made the whole process seem like a snap.  Kind of dangerous, actually. You can imagine making them every night.

MB:  I made them too.  I thought his instructions were really easy to follow, which made making them incredibly easy.  Unfortunately, I didn’t actually like the result.  I am actually a fan of the denser gnocchi, and these were just too light and airy for me.  Good, but not exactly what I wanted.

I also made the lamb ragu that Carmellini suggests putting with the gnocchi and it was AMAZING.  It’s everything that I want from a ragu … thick, meaty, flavorful, and delicious.

M-C:    If I could be allowed to pick two favorites, I also loved the red risotto with red wine, radicchio, and smoked cheese (pp. 134-135).

MB:  I would also like to mention that the very second it’s tomato season I’m going to make the tomato risotto (pp. 141-143).  I am hysterically excited to try it, but didn’t want to make it until tomatoes are at the height of perfection.  I can hardly wait!

M-C:  My favorite secondo was the bass with clams (pp. 168-169).  In my cooking journal I have written, “Yes, yes, yes!” like Meg Ryan doing the orgasm, only not faking.  Fish, clams, broth, potatoes, green beans, basil, and little crispy croutons right at the end, for texture.  Brilliant.

MB:  My favorite secondo, without a doubt, was the marinated chicken alla griglia (pp. 176-177).  I am a huge fan of roasted chicken in any variety, but even so this is one of the most astoundingly delicious ones I’ve ever had.  I could honestly eat this once/week for the rest of my life.

M-C:  Oh, that’s a good sign.

MB:  Yeah.  It was really that good.

How about contorno?

M-C:  For me hands down it was the fennel with orange and anise liqueur.  I’ve been searching for years for a cooked fennel recipe that really tastes of fennel, fennel being so licoricey and wonderful raw and so blah cooked.  I still want to fiddle with this recipe a little.  It needs, oh, I don’t know, maybe an anchovy or some red salad onion sliced thin, or something.  But it’s definitely the closest I’ve come so far.  It tasted fennel, and it tasted good.

MB:  I’m going to have to go with the potatoes antico modo (pg. 224).  Three potatoes cooked with two sticks of butter?  You better believe it’s good.  It’s like heaven.  Honestly.

M-C:  I didn’t make a single dessert recipe, not a one.

MB:  Neither did I.  The entire dolci chapter didn’t appeal to me too much.  Nothing called out to me and so I never cooked anything from the chapter.

M-C:  So earlier we were talking about the excellence of his methods.  I think one of his greatest strengths is to divide and conquer.  He understands how to break a dish into components and then break the making of each component down into coherent steps.

MB:  It’s true.  This method of breaking down the recipes makes cooking everything in the books so much easier than it otherwise would be.  I think that’s actually the thing Carmellini does best in the entire book.

M-C:  The one place that the recipe writing falters is for the rigatoni with fava beans and pecorino (pp. 114-115), and it does so for a funny reason.  He says in the introduction, “One of my discoveries, in my months of cooking at home, was how superior cooking is to dishwashing on the enjoyment meter.”  He then proceeds to give us a dish all contorted out of shape conceptually in order to save one cooking pot.  I’m sad he didn’t learn that reading is even harder than cooking and washing dishes.

MB:  There are definitely times when it’s necessary to use more than one pot.  It’s just true.

M-C:  The methods are exquisite (except for that one).  The introductory chit-chat, especially that thirty-page-long introductory chapter — well, let’s just draw a charitable curtain of silence over them.  I blame his co-author, Gwen Hyman, who is also his wife.  She was supposed to help him with the writing parts; I guess they were even worse to start with.

MB:  I hated the chit-chat throughout the entire book.  I think he may be an excellent chef and a wonderful recipe-writer, but the rest of his writing sucks.

M-C:  Another thing she should have explained is that jokes must be told once and once only.  The first time I read that garlic should be sliced “Goodfellas thin” I grinned.  Goodfellas is my favorite Scorsese film.  But gradually I began to realize that whenever he wanted to tell me to slice a clove of garlic thin he was going to say “Goodfellas thin.”  Not funny any more.

MB:  Ditto for “Crumbs, Yo” … enough with the same jokes!  Aargh!

M-C:  But those failings don’t in any way compromise its excellence as a cookbook.  The recipes themselves are beautifully written, and the food is inventive without being weird, interesting without being outré.  Italianate, with a twist.

MB:  The food is brilliant, no doubt about that.

M-C:  So what other recipes are calling out to you?

MB:  The recipes I’m most interested in making are the asparagus a la parmigiana (pp. 44-45), the squash tortellini (pg. 148-152), and the spaghetti pepe de vellis (pg. 144-145).

M-C:  I still want to try the marinated calamari with harissa, chickpeas, + celery (pp. 46-47).  And the fettuccini with corn and bacon and mushrooms (pp. 90-92).  And I’d like to make the spaghetti squash with sage and walnuts.  Spaghetti squash is an ingredient that I’ve never been able to make sense of, and maybe Andrew’s recipe would do the trick.

MB:  Most of the food photos in the book are gorgeous, very well set up and executed.  There aren’t enough, obviously …

M-C:  Never enough photos!  One per recipe at least!

MB:  I know, it drives me nuts when there isn’t at least one.

So, my review of this book is overall positive.  I’m not really a fan of Carmellini himself, but I’m a huge fan of the food.  This food is so delicious and interesting and accessible at the same time, it’s fantastic.  Are there other books with this style of food out there like this?  Are there other “urban Italian” books you can recommend?

M-C: Cooking from Urban Italian made me take a second look at a cookbook I’ve had for a while and never cooked from, Scott Conant’s New Italian Cooking, written with Joanne McAllister Smart (Broadway Books, 2005).  I hadn’t even shelved it with the Italian books.  Curried butternut squash soup with crispy shallots and goat cheese?  Short rib agnolotti with horseradish and brown butter?  Fried zucchini with anchovy mayonnaise?  C’mon, fella, that’s not Italian cooking.  But maybe now that Andrew has shown me the way I might also like Scott’s food.  He has a new book out, Bold Italian (Broadway Books, 2008).  And there’s another book I’ve read about in the urban Italian vein, Nate Appleman’s A16 Food + Wine (Ten Speed, 2008).  I read somewhere that the secret to a happy old age is choosing a project that will outlast your remaining years, so you never have to feel you’re done.  Cooking.  Cooking interesting food.  No chance that’s going to peter out on me.

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Last Night at MB’s

04-13-09-006-21

Last night I followed in the great American tradition of the day-after-Easter-dinner … I made egg salad sandwiches.  Oh so easy, and OH SO delicious.

I peeled some of our beautifully dyed Easter eggs and broke them up with a fork.  I finely diced half an onion and put it into the bowl, then mixed in a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise, about a tablespoon of mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.  I mixed it all up and then served it on whole wheat bread with turkey bacon.

M-C: Here’s a book that every egg-lover will enjoy: Marie Simmons’s The Good Egg: More than 200 Fresh Approaches from Soup to Dessert (Houghton Mifflin, 2000).  Marie is one of those solid cookbook writers who for some reason never make it into the pantheon of Food Network or Bravo fame but who go on producing one dependable book after another for years, winning James Beard awards and loyal readers, among whom I count myself.

Her chapter on egg salad in The Good Egg is typical.  First a run-down on “normal” egg salad, the kind that comes on deli egg salad sandwiches, and all the ways to ring changes on it: slicing the eggs, mashing them, chopping them coarse or fine; home-made or store-bought mayo, and all kinds of flavorings for it; and more than a dozen ingredients to add, like grated onion, chopped dill pickle, and chervil.

But wait.  That’s just the beginning.  Then come 21 full recipes for egg salads unlike deli egg salad.  Potato, bacon, and egg salad with wilted spinach; rice, green bean, and egg salad; chicken and egg salad with curry mayo and toasted hazelnuts.  And that’s just one of fourteen chapters.

What’s the difference between her cookbooks and Ina Garten’s?

Ina would try for the one egg salad that everybody in the whole world will enjoy.  In fact, she gives us that very egg salad in Barefoot Contessa at Home, Clarkson Potter, 2006 pp. 40-41.  Eggs, mayo, grainy mustard, dill, salt, pepper.  And that’s it.  If she finds another egg salad that she likes — and that everyone else in the whole world will like — she’ll tell us about it in another book.  Ina’s like Zoloft for anxious cooks.  Stay calm.  Don’t worry.  Just do exactly as I say and everything will be fine.

Marie, on the other hand, is like caffeine for exuberant cooks.  Wow!  Look at this!  This is great!  Don’t like this?  Then how about that?  Her books are capacious and crowded with ideas and real writing.  Her food is the everyday food I like to cook for myself.  She has done several books for Williams-Sonoma, and those I tend not to like because her personality gets smoothed down beyond recognition.  But by all means check out her website, which is scrappy and funny and chock-full of generous, jolly advice and recipes.  I think you’ll like her.

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copier

Cursed be the anonymous book designers at Pavilion who decided it would be oh so sophisticated to have half the text of Sri Owen’s The Indonesian Kitchen in black and half in grey.  What were they thinking of?  Certainly not the eyes of the readers who hope to extract information from the volume.  Margaret had already complained about the grey type in her First Impressions, but it was far worse than I had feared.

It’s common knowledge that most of the effects of text design on readability disappear after the first ten pages or so of a book.  The book teaches you how to read the book — up to your physical limits.  A book in 3-point gem type cannot teach you to read 3-point gem type.  It’s simply too small.  A book with green overlay on red type cannot teach you to read green overlay on red type.  The contrast is too high.  A book with 90-character-wide type cannot teach you to read 90-character-wide type.  Your eye can’t track from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.

And a book in pale grey type cannot teach you to read pale grey type.  There’s not enough contrast.  The poor reader will go blind, like the legendary lace-makers of Belgium, laboring away in their dim, damp basements.  Blind, do you hear?

Luckily, there is a technological solution.  Photocopying (or scanning and printing) turns the grey to black.  The contrast becomes high enough to read.  But it’s hard to recommend a book half of which requires running through the copier to read.

And the situation is especially sad because some of the best information is in grey.  The recipes per se are in black, but the grey includes, along with background information and chit-chat, some of the very best culinary information.

For instance, last night’s noodle soup.  Let me quote what I couldn’t read till I put it through the copier:

“Making good noodle soup will take only a few minutes, however, provided, of course, you have prepared the broth of stock in advance (see recipes for making stock on pp. 130-1).

“The next step is to prepare, say, three different vegetables which are in season, cut up small enough to be eaten comfortably with a soup spoon, and some thin slices of chicken or beef.  Stir-fry the meat in 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil, together with just a little chopped shallot, garlic, and fresh ginger, for 4 minutes, add the vegetables and continue stir-frying for another 2 minutes, then add the stock.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and continue boiling the stock with the meat and vegetables in it for 3-4 minutes.  In another saucepan, cook the noodles in boiling water: about 3 minutes for dried noodles; 1-2 minutes for fresh noodles, which you can buy from most Chinese shops.”

This is not a proper recipe, of course, but something equally important in learning about a new cuisine, a pattern for many recipes.  That such patterns are going to be hard to read in Sri’s new book because of some mistaken notion about what makes a cookbook glamorous is maddening.  I’d like to shake the designers till their teeth rattle.

The soup, on the other hand, was good.

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First Impressions

04-07-09-001-21

I recently opened up my copy of Indonesian Kitchen to give it an intensive first look.

First of all, this book is gorgeous.  The photographs of the food are incredible, full of astounding, mind-boggling colors.  These aren’t colors you’d find in an American or Asian or Italian cookbook.  They are colors that fit perfectly in an Indonesian cookbook … bright greens and yellows and pinks and intense reds.  They’re really spectacular.  There are also photographs of marketplaces and people and scenery in Indonesia, but to me these pictures pale in comparison to the food photos.

The type-size used in this book is way too small.  There are simply too many words packed into too small a space.  The recipes are in black and the smalltalk is in grey, which means my eyes immediately pass right over everything that’s not recipe.  Both of these things mean that I’m never going to read any of the words in this book that aren’t directly related to the food.  I can tell you that right now.

And the recipes themselves?  Oh, they look SO intriguing.  I’m really excited to cook from this book.  Also totally terrified because it’s going to mean using a whole laundry-list of ingredients that I’ve never even heard of before.  I’m lucky to have a pretty good Asian grocery store relatively near me, so I’m sure that’ll help.  But I think I’m going to have to ask for a lot of help in the store, finding things like cassava leaves, candlenuts, pandan essence and galangal.

It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure.

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In honor of our friend Clotilde, our cookbook of the month for April will be:

Sri Owen
The Indonesian Kitchen:
Recipes & Stories
Interlink, 2009

Clotilde is moving to the Netherlands and asked us about Indonesian cookbooks. The Dutch, who held Indonesia as a colony for 350 years, love Indonesian food, and lucky Clotilde is going to be able to get Indonesian ingredients with no trouble.

In looking for books to recommend to her, we found a brand new one by Sri Owen so wonderful that we’re going to make it our cookbook of the month for March. The cuisine is mostly new to us, the organization of the book is novel (let’s hope the index holds up), Sri lives in London, so ingredients are available to her that won’t be to us — in short, the whole thing is a great adventure.

If you’d like to cook along with us, run out and buy a copy at your local bookstore or, if you’re not lucky enough to have a local bookstore, buy a copy from amazon.com or ecookbooks.com. For orientation, be sure to read the Wikipedia article on Indonesian cuisine and our friend Janice’s comment on the Indonesian cookbook post.

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