Recipes are a lot more flexible than you may think. Soups are especially welcome to additional ingredients, adaptable to changing seasons, and open to subtractions in the case of allergy or just preference. I’m of the opinion that in most cases, a recipe is a mere guideline for a certain idea rather than a strict set of instructions. And as such, I usually don’t follow them too closely. But to indulge one early-morning’s random obsessions about vichyssoise, I cracked open Julia Child’s Mastering … Read More
Good winter carrots are like a good idea left alone for a while as it silently, snugly, digs deeper. At least, I think this is what happens with ideas that I leave beside for a whole season—or year perhaps. They develop and grow more legs—or roots—as time goes by, so that when you’re ready to finally pull them up, they’ll be more matured and robust. Even if you did not consciously think about them.
Blooming heads of brassica make such a large, lovely impression that I’m not sure why they’re not kept intact when serving more often. They do take a while to cook—especially in the case of dense, crunchy cauliflower. It’s like a small planet of fiber. You can save an hour by cutting pieces down to equal size before roasting (and that is the preferred thing to do with cauliflower, to bring out its natural sugars and crisp its peaks with texture). But, … Read More
This week marks the publication of my friend Chitra‘s cookbook, Vibrant India. If you’ve been reading this blog a while—or if you just like home cooking as much as I do—you may have found that cheap, healthful, and seasonal are some essential beacons to guide everyday recipes. And Chitra’s home cooking—and, hence, her cookbook—have these traits in spades.
The taste and scent of celery root offends some, and this I had not known before. To me, the cleaned bare root looks, smells and tastes fairly innocent at first, then slowly creeps more complexity. The herbal, vegetal nuances are beguiling, surprising and intriguing to me. And combined with the sweetness of apple and the dairy richness of butter, it’s pure harmony.
The Lunar New Year is upon us—tomorrow marks the start of the Year of the Rooster. This is my year. I’m a rooster, and if you’re familiar with the Chinese calendar, you could deduce that I will be turning 24, 36 or 48 this year. I’ll let you figure it out. In Chinese horoscope theory, it’s supposed to be an unlucky year for you when it’s your year. Funny, it seems that it’s been unlucky for a lot of folks … Read More
File this under Stupidly Simple Seasonal Salads with A ‘Lil Bit of Something Cray-Cray and Not-So. And that’s a pretty good general formula for making a tasty, cheap, healthy and hopefully delightful meal. The cray-cray-not-so in question here are the raspberries, since they’re A) Not in season in my part of the world and B) Not usually found in savory bean or grain salads even if they were. But for some reason I woke up one morning recently thinking about raspberry … Read More
The All-American meal is upon us: Thanksgiving. Apple pie, turkey and cranberry sauce; mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing. I have always been intrigued by this holiday meal because even though I was born and raised in America, none of these things were really familiar to my palate except for once a year, on Thanksgiving. (A phenomenon also discussed by Andrew of the blog Beyond Chinatown, who compiled some great interviews on the Chinese American Thanksgiving here.) But as I’ve learned through the years, … Read More
It is strange seeing winter squashes beside watermelon at the farmers market. Eggplant and enormous turnips. Sweet corn and cabbage. Winter and summer mixed with colorful abandon—that’s what early fall is for. I couldn’t resist plunging for the pumpkins and winter gourds while picking up some tomatoes, too. We won’t have the latter in-season in the Northeast for much longer, but it’s a warm welcome to squash season, having the best of both worlds.