Tag Archives: Featured Cookbook Friday

Featured Cookbook Friday: Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin

It’s undoubtedly been such a rough week for many, myself included, but I really don’t want to wallow in it. Grieve – yes; wallow – no. Getting back to one of the more fun aspects of my blog, my Featured Cookbook Fridays, seems right. Today we have Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin!

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So yes, I’m well aware that this book was published over ten years ago, but I just got it a few months ago. In my defense, when this book came out, I had *just* started cooking on my own, and frankly Allrecipes and Sandra Lee were much more my speed then. An acclaimed restaurant chef like Goin would have likely been overwhelming to the point of fainting spells. Now, I’m more experienced, confident, and have no problems with books like these. It’s actually perfect for experienced, adventurous home cooks, and if that describes you, I really want this book to be in your collection!

This cookbook is divided by the four textbook seasons – spring, summer, fall, winter – so naturally I focused on fall. First up I made Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta and Balsamic Brown Butter. Yes, almost every recipe in the book has a long name. No matter! This was FANTASTIC. A lot of steps, yes, but none of them were difficult. I adore skate, but it can be very hard to find, and actually finding it spurred me to make this particular recipe more than anything. Absolutely no regrets though, as it was incredible. So many fall flavors made light, but not inappropriately so by a flaky fish. Amazing!

Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta, and Balsamic Brown Butter

Next up I made a dinner salad: Warm Squid Salad with Spinach, Chorizo, and Black Olives. This could easily serve an army. I halved the recipe and still wound up with way more than we could eat. But, we happily devoured what we could, and filled up on it. Quite delicious! The squid was cooked perfectly according to her instructions, and it almost melted in your mouth. The salty flavors of the chorizo and olives punctuated the spinach and squid for a perfect balance of flavors.

Warm Squid Salad with Spinach, Chorizo, and Black Olives

After that, I made… another salad. This one was a Warm Kabocha Squash Salad with Dandelion, Bacon, Manchego, and Pecans. After halving this recipe, it was the perfect amount to feed two people a good dinner. We raved for days after this one. You’ve got sweet squash balanced with bitter greens, salty bacon, and then the cheese shards and crunchy toasted pecans garnish it perfectly. I can’t believe how delicious this was.

Warm Kabocha Salad with Dandelion, Bacon, Manchego and Pecans

And lastly, I made dessert: Cranberry-Walnut Clafoutis with Bourbon Whipped Cream. I changed this one up a little (I know, I know!), but the recipe called for dried cranberries, which made no sense to me. In my mind, dried cranberries are always a side component of a dish, like in granola, or part of a salad, but they are never the main ingredient. So I gambled on using a pound of fresh cranberries, and I think it worked just fine. I’ll say no one complained at all!

Cranberry-Walnut Clafoutis with Bourbon Whipped Cream

And in conclusion, I’m very, VERY impressed with this work of genius. This book will be in the regular rotation for me. The recipes have long titles and some have many components, but the difficultly level is much lower than I expected. Her flavor combinations are spot-on, and perhaps more importantly, you get that satisfaction of having turned out a restaurant-worthy meal in your little home kitchen – and often on a weekday! Can’t beat that.

Featured Cookbook Friday: Asian-American by Dale Talde

It’s Friday again, which means, among other things like oh-thank-god-it’s-the-weekend-finally, that I’m writing up my cookbook of the week! Asian American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from the Philippines to Brooklyn by Dale Talde.

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The general public first became aware of Chef Dale Talde on his first of two stints on the popular reality show Top Chef. Lots of people, myself included, thought he was a bit of a hot-headed jerk with his first appearance. He redeemed himself on Top Chef All-Stars, and has gone on to open one of Brooklyn, NY’s most popular fusion restaurants. I don’t get to Brooklyn much, as that place is a real logistical pain – I think of it as the Hotel California (you can check out any time you like but you can never leave – seriously, it takes forever to get out of there!); but I digress. Apparently Talde’s restaurant is quite wonderful. Fortunately for anyone who lives far away from Brooklyn or who just hates messing with its parking and insane traffic problems, Chef Dale gave us the recipes in cookbook form so we can make them at home.

Talde combines his Filipino heritage with his American upbringing to make the most insane, irreverent yet delicious fusion cuisine. This cookbook is a must-have if that notion appeals to you at all.

I began the week with his Nachos, which are pretty American, except that he adds Sriracha to the cheese sauce, and once you taste it you will wonder why you haven’t been adding Sriracha to nachos your whole life. I think I messed this one up a little though? Either the ratio of milk to cheese is a little off, or I didn’t thicken my sauce enough before adding the cheese (highly likely) because it was way too thin for nachos. I know nachos can be messy, but this was really pushing it. But, incredible tasting, so I will definitely try this one again with either less milk or more patience.

Dale Talde's Nachos

Next up I was feeling something healthy, so Grilled Sweet Potato Skewers with Maple, Soy and Bacon came to be, much to the consternation of my smoke alarms. These are so delicious, and sweet potatoes after my own heart, in that they are given many savory complements like soy sauce, bacon and scallions. So freakin’ good! I’ll probably have to give these their own blog post.

Sweet Potato Skewers with Maple, Soy and Bacon

Pepperoni Marinara. Need I say more? Very spicy, acidic tomato sauce punctuated by earthy, salty pepperoni, tossed with spaghetti. Amazing.

Spaghetti with Pepperoni Marinara

Lastly, I chose one from the (somewhat short) dessert chapter – Chocolate-Caramel Bars with a Pretzel-Potato Chip Crust. These are crack. After sneaking a taste (or two!) I sent them to work with Matt, and he was literally getting compliments all day. Like, people stopping by his office out of their way to rave about them. It’s an incredibly thoughtful recipe that works beautifully.

Chocolate-Caramel Bars with Pretzel-Potato Chip Crust

I can’t say enough good things about this book. The recipes look way more involved than they actually are – it’s perfect for home cooks with zany palates.

Featured Cookbook Friday: Fresh Mexico by Marcela Valladolid

I picked this week’s cookbook, Fresh Mexico by Food Network’s Marcela Valladolid, on something of a lark – I needed a salsa for some tacos I was making, Marcela’s first book has a beautiful recipe for yellow tomato pico de gallo; once I made that one, I decided to keep going! It was a good week. 🙂

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The Yellow Tomato Pico de Gallo was delicious – a very classic Mexican pico but with a twist of yellow tomatoes instead, which makes it slightly sweeter. Good on tacos, good on tortilla chips!

Yellow Tomato Pico de Gallo

Next up I decided to do some baking – another Mexican classic, Polvorones! These are fabulous little cookies, coming to the blog in their own post soon!

Polvorones

Since fresh sweet corn will be leaving us soon, I made this extremely tasty Mexican version of a classic potato salad: Grilled Corn and Poblano Potato Salad. Baby potatoes are boiled then halved, corn is grilled on the cob, poblanos are roasted and peeled, then the whole thing gets tossed together in a mayonnaise and sour cream dressing with plenty of scallions and cilantro. Very nice!

Grilled Corn and Poblano Potato Salad

Lastly, I’ve long since been intrigued by one of her dinner salad recipes: White Bean and Octopus Salad, so this provided as good a time as any! The recipe calls for baby octopus, which I couldn’t find, so I (nervously!) ordered already cooked octopus legs from Fresh Direct, praying they wouldn’t be overcooked, (they weren’t, yea!) and just warmed them in some garlicky olive oil, which became the base for the dressing. Beyond that, I made the salad as written, and we both absolutely loved it!

White Bean and Octopus Salad

I really like this book. So far everything I’ve tried has turned out delicious!

Featured Cookbook Friday: Flour by Joanne Chang

I love cookbooks the way Oprah loves bread.

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So, I’ve decided to actually do something about it – each week that it’s feasible, I’m concentrating most of that week’s cooking/baking efforts on a single book, making three to five recipes from it. I’ll report on my endeavors here each Friday!

Although it’s been published for several years now, Flour by Joanne Chang is new to my collection and after baking four recipes from it, I have no idea what took me so long to pick it up. It’s a fantastic book that not only inspires you to bake fearlessly, her directions are just good. The recipes work.

Flour cookbook image

I began with Cornmeal Lime Cookies, which I thought for sure I’d burned at the edges when I removed them from the oven, but they were delicious! I think I made them a little bigger than instructed because I wound up with about three fewer cookies than I was supposed to, but I’ll just have to stand by it. Oh, and these got even better the next day.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies (Flour)

Next I made Lemon Ginger Scones, mainly because I had some crystallized ginger that needed using up. Results? Outstanding! This is the one recipe I deviated from in the cooking method – the book instructs to cook them for a longer time at a lower temperature, but I’ve always made scones and biscuits at 425 F and anywhere between 12 and 20 minutes bake time. The high heat blasts the cold butter and makes them taller and flakier. Since I know this method works, and this way gets the scone in your mouth faster, I stuck with it. Worked beautifully!

Lemon Ginger Scones (Flour)

I made her brioche dough, which is enough for either two loaves, or two recipes calling for manipulating the dough into a breakfast treat. I went for the latter, and one recipe of brioche dough yielded a batch of Flour’s famous sticky buns and a brioche au chocolat. I followed her directions exactly on the brioche dough and found them very precise and successful.

So, Flour Bakery’s Sticky Buns shot to fame on that old Food Network show “Throwdown” and they are most assuredly worth the hype. This may ruin all other sticky buns for you, period. The recipe worked *exactly* as advertised, and they are just. so. good! Tastes best slightly warmed.

Flour Bakery's Famous Sticky Buns

With the remaining half of the brioche dough, I made Brioche au Chocolat, which is essentially rolling out the brioche dough to a thin rectangle, spreading pastry cream all over it, and sprinkling chopped dark chocolate on the bottom half; fold it in half, cut into logs and bake. I thought for sure this was going to be the terrible recipe because the insides royally spilled out of the logs, but somehow it all worked. They’re not the prettiest breakfast pastry out there, but swoon-worthy delicious.

Brioche au Chocolat (Flour)

Overall, highly recommend this book to any home bakers out there!