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Andy Ricker's Drinking Food of Thailand

I wondered what type of book this was; the Drinking Food of Thailand.  I was a little unsure until I starting flipping the pages of the book.  But I knew, with Andy Ricker at the helm that I could be in for a treat.  And a treat it was!  There are chapters on snacks, soups, chile dips, fried foods, grilled foods, salads, stir-fries, late-night and morning food, and finally, sundry items.-chile

Over the past couple of years, my taste buds have changed and I find myself craving spicy foods.  So, I got lucky with this book.  There’s even a recipe for a salt-chile dip.  The recipe calls for green mangos but I believe I will sprinkle this spice on many items…pineapple, apple, steamed veggies….

Another great feature of this book, once when I love, is that there are little stories sprinkled through-out.  This makes a book special to me as I can learn what inspired the person to include a recipe.  And in this case, gives me a taste of Thailand (pun intended).

Many of the recipes require a lot of ingredients, which builds the flavor profile of the dish.  Once an ingredient is purchased, it can be used many times over with the other recipes.  I look forward to spending time cooking from this book, although I’m going to have to work my courage up to make and eat the pig’s brains in banana leaf but I would eat the grilled pig’s tail.  


Kristen Kish cooking

Kristen Kish has an interesting background.   

Orphaned in Korea and adopted by a U.S. couple, she talks of the joy that she has as an adoptee with a loving happy family.  I think her happiness shines through in her recipes and, yes, her tenacity to become the best chef possible.  Read her introduction….it resonated with me and hopefully, it will with you also.

I sat up late (too late) on the night that I received her book and devoured the entire book.  Her recipes are approachable for the home cook and, yet, offer the excitement that is often missing from Tuesday night dinner.  The books chapters include snacks, beginnings, from the sea, pasta and grains, meat, and sweet.  A snapshot of my flagged recipes include:  braised baby potatoes with pancetta, comte, and sage; Kataifi-wrapped (shredded phyllo dough) burrata with date syrup and radish salad; rigatoni with walnuts, béchamel, sage, and fried shallots; onion and gruyere tortelloni with chicken brodo; slow-roasted pork loin with Korean melon, chorizo, and Asian pear; and peach pate de fruit with rosemary sugar.  To be honest….I have many a flag in the sweet section.

Kristen also sets up her book with a techniques and terms section; she is setting us up for success right from the start.  And throughout the book are helpful photos that will guide you through pasta making.  A little suggestion:  grab a comfy seat on the sofa, wrap yourself in a blanket, and peruse this book with some little colorful flags and mark the recipes that you look forward to making


The Cottage Kitchen

Marte Marie Forsberg’s The Cottage Kitchen is a mesmerizing wonderment of a vast array of recipes attached to stories from her life.  I first found Marie on Instagram, of all places, and became immediately fascinated with her work.  Her photos, both on Instragram and within The Cottage Kitchen,makes one long for the small thatched cottage in the English countryside.  The photos emphasize how Marie views her life; a way in which, I believe, many of us strive for.  The good life….one of happiness, simplicity, and time for enjoyment.

Cooking alongside The Cottage Kitchen will bring a little slice of Marie’s life into your home (and your belly).  The book is divided amongst the season, along with a chapter for afternoon tea.  While it is fall here in North Carolina, I can’t help but look ahead to winter.  I’m looking forward to a fire burning and Christmas carols wrapping the house in warmth as I make Marie’s Fig and Pecan No-Knead Bread, Chorizo Macaroni and Cheese, and Olga’s Caramel Pudding (oh, how I love caramel).  Since it is fall, I may ‘fall’ into the Leek and Cheese Gratin, Baked Skillet Apples, and Mulled Cider.  For a sneak peak into spring and summer for those of you on the other side of the world from me, Marie tantalizes with Arancini with Camemert, Zucchini Pasta with Pancetta and Wild Garlic, Rhubarb Soup, Tomato Tarte Tatin with Burrata, Summer Panzanella, and Limoncello Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit.


Peppers of the Americas

Only up until several years ago, I really didn’t like the flavor of peppers.  I’ve recently heard that our taste buds change every seven years.  Perhaps I have experienced this change…this phenomenon…this life event.  Because over the past several years and just today, I have to face my cravings for the heat of a pepper woven into the fabrics of my food.  I love the punch of vinegary heat when I bite into a pepperoncini pepper, especially along-side an arugula salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and a couple slices of charcuterie.   Spicy Udon noodles….yes, please. 

In my little raised bed garden, I planted several pepper plants this year.  Nothing out of the ordinary; Lowe’s and Home Depot aren’t known for that.  But on summer evenings, I pick a cucumber or two, a nice tomato that is still warm from the sun, and a jalapeno pepper; I carry them all wrapped up in my t-shirt back into the house and chop them all up together and add a glug of red-wine vinegar and olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of salt.  I crave this salad!  But I want more. I want more of peppers and I want more of the heaty taste in the back of my throat and the burn of my lips.  I know I need to venture beyond what my local store offers in its garden center.

When I saw Maricel Presilla’s book of Peppers of the Americas, I was so excited.  This book explains the capsicum mystery that has been causing my cravings.  It includes a gallery of fresh and dried peppers, with flavor notes and Pictures. Of. Each. Pepper.  (What a novel idea…to have a reference picture for each pepper!!!)  Maricel also describes how to dry certain peppers which will help me keep the heat during the winter months.  And finally, the last 100 pages is a mélange of recipes, many of which I already have little yellow flags attached.  The flags are my reminders that draw me back and constant view of the recipes will draw me into my kitchen this winter with my dried peppers.

This book is an encyclopedia of peppers – a book of knowledge that everyone with a craving for peppers should have on the shelf.  I am really loving this beautiful book.


Cherry Bombe......is the bomb

Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) has said that, to her, cilantro tastes of dish soap; to me, beets taste of the dirt they grew in.  Therefore, I was really disappointed that the first recipe of the book was Beet Ricotta Dumplings.  When the first word is beet, I know I am never going to make that recipe!

But the book bounced back (even though there are four beet recipes in this book), with the other 90 plus recipes.  There are several in here that are so simple yet I don’t know why I’ve never seen them before!  Candied grapefruit pops!!  I’m making these little suckers this weekend!  What a wonderful idea…..and so fun!  With citrus season coming on strong, I’m imaging myself making varieties of these pops!!!

This book has a vintage feel to it.  One that I think will last and make the reader excited each time it is picked up.  A novelty of the book is that it begins with main courses and then moves into the soups & salads and sides, with apps, snacks & sips later in the book. This book will delight with recipes of manicotti with cherry tomato sauce (and who doesn’t have an over-abundance of cherry tomatoes right now from the garden????), San Beiji – Taiwanese three cup chicken, Adobong Manok Sa Gata – Filipino vinegar chicken, three-cheese cauliflower gratin, grilled oysters with gremolata & chili butter, and finally so many fun sips that I cannot begin to list them all!

Many well-known women contributed a recipe to this book and provided a little tid-bit of information (I always love those – sometimes they are my favorite part).  Women supporting women – my favorite of all!