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BEST COOKBOOKS OF 2011

As the year draws to a close I would love to share with you my cookbook picks for 2011.  As I’ve mentioned before, the hubs and I love to craft a meal together.  The big question is, especially on work/school nights, WHAT TO COOK?  With all the resources for recipes we have at our finger tips, you wouldn’t think that would be the case, but it is.  Unless you’ve invested the time to plan ahead you’ll draw a blank both in ideas and missing ingredients.  A great collection of cookbooks is always an incentive to plan ahead.  Think of it as RESOLUTION #1 for 2012.  Be prepared so that you can eat healthy and achieve RESOLUTION #2 “Get in shape”!  So here you go, my faves for 2011.

Mourad: New Moroccan  by Chef Mourad Lahlou

Always a sucker for exotic spicy flavors, not to mention the HOT guy on the cover, this book definitely makes the cut.  Bon Appetit and Epicurious agree.  Mourad is the real deal, hailing from Marrakesh and currently  residing in  San Fransisco, where he owns a Michelin-starred restaurant.  This self-taught chef  puts a spin on traditional Moroccan fare  with easy to follow instructions.  Just perfect if you’re in the mood for something a little different.

I’m a big fan of the Food Network and love  English chef, Jamie Oliver’s high energy cooking magic.  With his new book, Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast you can create Jamie magic, even on those school/work nights, in 30 minutes or less.  It’s all there, meat, potatoes, salads and what I like is that the recipe includes the whole meal including sides and even a complementary dessert.

Next up on the hit parade is Anito Lo’s Cooking Without Borders because it is all about what makes American cuisine great, fusion.  Anito Lo is the chef-owner of Michelin star–rated restaurant annisa in New York City.This book is filled with 100 recipes offering the best flavors from all over the globe.

 

My final selection,  also a New York Times favorite, is Truly Mexican: Essential Recipes and Techniques for Authentic Mexican Cooking  by Roberto Santibañez, a Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef and owner of the Brooklyn restaurant, Fonda.  I love Mexican food but my pet peeve is chain restaurant “Mexican” food where it’s all buried in melted cheese.  That’s not how it really is folks!  This book focuses on salsas, adobos, and guacamole.  Mr. Santibañez is able to apply his gourmet training to the cuisine of his heritage.

Happy holidays to all and my heartfelt appreciation to you for reading Kitchens for Living.  Bon appetite!

 

 

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1ST ASIAN MARKET, FIRST IN FLAVOR & SAVINGS

I’m so excited!  A true  Asian grocery store has opened about 6.8 miles from my home.  In case you’ve been asleep for the past few years you’ll know that we in the west are currently in the midst of a wild love affair with  Asian style and the love definitely extends to cuisine.  Why?  Who knows.  One can only hope it’s merely because we are becoming a more open society willing to explore and embrace other cultures (LOL).  Anyway, I digress.   Joe and I love to experiment with ethnic flavors (only in a healthy way, of course).  We are always on the lookout for a new recipe that offers heavenly flavor without 10,000 Weight Watchers points.  If you’re going Asian, chances are all you’ll really need is a wok (or just a really big skillet).  Add to that all manner of inexpensive ingredients from your local Asian grocers and you’re on your way.  Yes, I said INEXPENSIVE.  Want to save money?  Go ethnic.  In addition to scoring all kinds of unique products you’ll find a lot of the usual stuff for much less.

 

Here is panang curry made with shrimp courtesy of Off the Broiler.

Try panang curry.  It’s easy versatile and delicious.  I love this curry paste which is only $1.09 per can!  See my recipe below.

When you get tired of rice, try noodles!   There are more types of noodles than you could ever dream of.

Noodles for as far as the eye can see.

...and more on the other side

Jasmine tea comes with this sweet little can and look at the price!

 

If you live in my neck of the woods you can visit 1st Asian Market at 7372 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, Florida 33467.   Manager Anthony  To also wants you to know that Asian 1st  Market is you spot for Boba, or bubble  tea.    Apparently it’s a refreshing delicacy found in many Asian countries and cities with large Asian populations throughout the world,  their Starbuck’s, if you will.  Here’s what our friends at Wiki have to say:

“Bubble tea or foam tea, is a sweetly flavored tea beverage invented inTaiwan. Drink recipes may vary, but most bubble teas contain a tea base mixed with fruit (or fruit syrup) and/or milk. Ice blended versions of the drink are also available, usually in fruit flavors. Bubble teas usually contain small tapioca balls or pearls called “boba”.   If you’re intrigued and would like to know more, click here.

1st Asian can also take care of your sushi catering needs.  How about a sushi birthday cake?

 

You can get a cake built out of sushi.

Anthony made me this boba tea with honey dew!

Just watch out for those cannon balls pearls.  Boba tea comes with a fat straw designed to suck them up and if you’re not one to focus while sucking you may want to have someone certified in the Heimlich Maneuver on hand, just in case.   I found it light, refreshing and not too sweet.  Mine was actually flavored with honey dew melon, unexpected but really good.  Now for that recipe I promised.  Jones-ing for some tasty Thai?  Simple.  Try this.

GLO’S EASY PANANG CURRY

Ingredients

Take one can of Panang curry paste, one can of coconut milk (Mae Ploy is the best but very fattening), an assortment of your fave veggies and about a pound of any type of meat or fish if desired.

Directions:

In your wok or skillet gently stir fry desired veggies (you know which ones take longer to cook) and meat if desired.  I like to add a little seasoning to taste but remember the Panang curry is going to provide lots of flavor.  While that’s going on heat about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a sauce pan and stir in one can of Panang curry paste, turn heat down to medium-low and slowly add about a third of a can of coconut milk.   Make sure you mix the coconut milk up well before adding.  The whole object is to retain a nice smooth consistency.  Once you’ve go that done add it to the skillet mixture  and slowly add the rest of the coconut milk.  Let it all simmer for a few minutes and you’re ready to enjoy over jasmine rice or perhaps rice noodles.  Garnish with lime and fresh basil and enjoy!  If you have any other recipes or suggestions BRING IT BABY 🙂

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SAVORING INDIA

Back when I started this Kitchens for Living blog I mentioned that occasionally we may venture into parts unknown, well this is one of those times.  If you know me you know that I have a not-so-secret love affair with India.  The only way I can attempt to describe it is in a series of words that will hopefully paint a picture with a sense of what I mean.  India is rich, poor, ancient, colorful, vibrant, heart wrenching, sensuous, brutal, intense, beautiful, sacred, succulent and unexpected.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few along the way.  One of the ways I like to remember my visit to India is in my kitchen.  My husband and I have become big fans of Indian cuisine.  Although far from experts, we love to dabble.  One of my fav books on the subject is Savoring India: Recipes and Reflections on Indian Cooking  by  Julie Sahni.  The amazing photos in this book truly capture the essence of what I discovered in this magical place.  The following recipe, found in this book,  has become a family favorite.  Here it is with my commentary.  Try it out and let me know how you like it,  but I promise you’re gonna love it!      


Jheenga Masala (Shrimp in spiced cream sauce)
I serve with Basmati rice, naan (Indian flat bread) and chutney


1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 fresh hot green chiles such as serrano, thinly sliced (remove seeds if you don’t want it too hot)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala (mixture of spices you can make yourself but I buy from Indian grocer)
1 teaspoon minced garlic 
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1lb medium shrimp raw (I buy peeled and deveined but also devein the bottom and I remove tails)
1/2 cup light cream (half and half)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

These quantities are straight from the book but I tweak the amounts to taste.  I’m usually more liberal with the spices.  This is supposed to serve 6 but I think it’s more like 4.  Comment and let me know how you like it.  What changes did you make?

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