Posted in Recipes

A recipe for Kimchi Soup (Kimchi-guk)

A bowl of Kimchi Soup

Today, I am using some of my homemade Kimchi as part of a simple, but very tasty, recipe for Kimchi Soup.

Many people may think of Kimchi as a simply a cold side-dish, or a Banchan (when included as part of a Korean meal). However, it is often used as a cooking ingredient as well. Most notably, it can be added to fried rice, it is used as a primary ingredient in particular types of Korean stews known as Kimchi-jjigae, and  is also used  in a class of soups collectively called Kimchi-guk.

As with any ‘traditional’ soup, there are as many recipes as there are cooks and, today, I didn’t have in mind any particular Korean recipe, rather, I have simply created a fairly straightforward Pork and onion soup to which I add a good, healthy dollop of Kimchi to give it a sour and spicy finish…

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Posted in General

Savoring India

Savoring India by Julie Sahni
ISBN-13: 978-0848725907

By: Julie Sahni

This book is one of a several in the Williams-Sonoma ‘Savoring…’ series, all of which are beautiful to look at and pleasures to read. Like the others in the series, ‘Savoring India’ is not only part travelogue and part culinary atlas, but is also, with its beautiful photography, as much of a coffee-table book as it is a regular cookery publication…

Content and Organization

Table of Contents

The book is organized according to the function of a dish – snack, desert, main course, etc. – and there are 134 recipes, each with an accompanying illustration.  There is a general introduction to Indian cuisine at the beginning of the book and this is continued in more depth at the outset of each section, often featuring some personal recollections and observations by the author. There are also many ‘sidebars’ and additional pieces scattered throughout the text that introduce the reader to some interesting aspect of Indian food or culture, and all of this is richly and lavishly supplemented scores of photographs illustrating Indian life. Finally, in the end-pages, there is a glossary covering the spices and foodstuffs unique to the cuisines of the sub-continent.

Critique

It would be easy to dismiss this book as being a ‘fluff’ piece that is more about the photography than it is the food but, in fact, the recipes are very well chosen and consist of a lot more than just the standard Indian restaurant fare. I particularly like that the author has taken pains to select dishes from all around the continent and to indicate their origin as well as provide some interesting background information for each.

The photographs of each dish are all very beautiful but this is not merely a function of the photographer’s skill as it is clear that the author has taken great pains to produce food that ‘plates’ attractively. Even a well-prepared Indian feast, such as one might see laid out in a buffet, can often present as a bland range of ‘browns’ … red-browns, green-browns, and yellow-browns, to be sure … but a lot of Indian food can still be a bit visually uninteresting sometimes. In this book, however, every single dish is richly and vibrantly colored, all with beautiful contrasts and hues. It is this, perhaps more than anything else, speaks to the expertise of Ms. Sahni.

On a couple of occasions, I have had some less than perfect results following the recipes in this book (the ‘Nimboo Bhat’, comes to mind), but these were exceptions to the rule and it is quite possible that the fault lay with me rather than the recipe as she designed it. Ms. Sahni writes very clearly, and though she doesn’t spend a lot of time discussing technique, the recipes are all, for the most part, very easy to follow.

Overall

This is not the sort of book I would recommend as an introduction to Indian cooking. Rather, it is a celebration of Indian food rather than a manual of technique (although it does not, in fairness, pretend to be anything else). However, for those with a well-rounded library of Indian cuisine already this makes a fantastic addition. It is not impossible that one might learn a thing or two from Ms. Sahni, of course, but this is a book you can just sit down and enjoy.

For myself… this is the sort of thing I love to get as a gift 🙂

Posted in General

Benjamin Bridge Riesling 2017

Benjamin Bridge Riesling 2017

The Benjamin Bridge Winery is situated on the Gaspereau River within the Annapolis Valley wine-growing sub-region of Nova Scotia. The estate produces eight wines currently, three of which are single varietals, these being a Chardonnay, a Vidal Blanc, and a Riesling. Today’s selection, the 2017 Riesling, is, I believe, the third vintage to be available on the public market.


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Posted in Recipes

How to make Dongpo Pork – 東坡肉

Dongpo Pork  served with baby Bok Choy

Dong Po Pork is named after the Chinese poet Su Dongpo, who, by all accounts, loved pork belly prepared this way. The dish is an example of the Chinese technique of ‘red-cooking’ (紅燒), meaning that the main ingredients are braised in a a soy sauce based cooking medium.

Here, aromatics and sugar are added for sweetness and the slow-cooking of the fatty pork belly makes for a result that is rich, unctuous, and absolutely delicious.


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Posted in Recipes

A Recipe for Chrysanthemum Chicken

A dish of Chrysanthemum Chicken

You can find many a recipe for ‘Chrysanthemum Chicken’ which actually contain either Chrysanthemum greens or petals as an ingredient, but our recipe here today differs from all of these and uses ‘Chrysanthemum’ only in the name.

In one of my oldest Chinese cookery books (long lost now, and long out of print), there is a recipe for ‘Chrysanthemum Chicken’ which supposedly was given the name simply because the finished dish resembles a large Chrysanthemum head. Personally, I think any supposed likeness involves a fair degree of poetic license, but the recipe in that old book produced a very nice result and I have re-created here as best I could from memory…


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Posted in Books

Chinese Cuisine Beijing Style

Book cover for Chinese Cuisine Beijing Style
2000: Wei-Chuan Publishing ISBN-13: 978-0941676793

By Lee Hwa Lin

Chinese Cuisine Beijing Style is one of a wide range of cookery books put out by the Wei-Chuan Publishing company, and this particular one is part of a very nice, five-volume ‘Regional cuisine series’. It is hard to pick favorites, but this little book focusing on one of of China’s most famous culinary regions is definitely worth having in your cookery book collection.


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Posted in This Day in History

Today’s the day the music died!

A Beech Bonanza of the sort flown by Buddy Holly on February 3, 1959

Well, not today exactly… the infamous date hailed as ‘the day the music died’ is this day in history… February 3, 1959.

On that date, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, a small, six-seater Beech Bonanza, en-route to Fargo, North Dakota, crashed in a lonely cornfield near Clearwater, Iowa, leaving a twisted wreck and no survivors. In addition to the pilot, the victims of the ill-fated flight were Richie Valens, ‘The Big Bopper’ J.P. Richardson, and … of greater significance in the minds of most… Buddy Holly.


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