Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

If you’re looking for dinner inspiration, here are a few recipes I made this past week and a few I may try next week.

By the way, I’m publishing my list of recommended fiction and non-fiction ebooks on sale on Saturday mornings in a separate post, On the Bookshelf. But since we’re in my virtual kitchen, I’ve included a list of great deals on e-cookbooks at the end of this post.

In My Kitchen

Holy moly, pudding cakes are fantastic! Sunday morning I woke up and went straight to the kitchen to make a Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake. And why don’t I do that more often? Whipping up such a tasty delight is the best way to start the day. What a feeling <channeling Irene Cara>.

This is an easy recipe and we loved it. My opinion: lemon pudding cake is better than lemon meringue pie. Pudding cake separates into two layers: the bottom one is like a lemon curd and the top one is light and airy almost like a meringue but somehow more substantial. You could make this recipe with regular lemons (if you missed out on Meyer lemons) or oranges too.

Jim went to the coast for a Sunday morning 5K with his niece—I’m still not back to running yet—and brought home clams and shrimp. Yaaas. He steamed the clams for our lunch. And later I made linguine with Shrimp Scampi for dinner.

First, I made a broth from the shrimp shells, bay leaves, black garlic, peppercorns, and salt. I didn’t have a plan for the broth, but when I get such fresh shrimp I want to take advantage of all the parts. I figured I’d put it in the freezer. Then I got the odd but, it turns out, brilliant idea to boil the linguine in the shrimp broth instead of plain water. I will do that again. You could taste the broth in the strands of pasta—so good.

I made a mix of sautéed radish greens, kohlrabi greens, and kale with onion, red bell pepper, poblano pepper, bacon, and garlic for our side. As you can see, I never throw out any greens. As soon as I bring home radishes or any other vegetable with greens attached, I chop off the greens for later.

I bought two bags of spinach at the farmers market last weekend so I made Spinach-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms during the week. I added onion and red bell pepper to the recipe, substituted salami for the pepperoni, and used a mix of shredded Italian cheeses instead of mozzarella alone.

On the side, we had Roasted Butternut Squash. I tossed the cubes of squash with cinnamon, smoked paprika, sea salt, and grapeseed oil before roasting. Grapeseed oil is more expensive than olive oil but I prefer its neutral flavor for dishes like this.

Since I bought a bunch of kohlrabi at the farmers market too, I made Kohlrabi Parmesan as a side for our leftover stuffed portobellos last night.

spinach stuffed portobello mushroom, kohlrabi parmesan and roasted butternut squash

On My Menu

Tonight, I’m making Maple Cardamom Salmon and roasted sweet potatoes and rutabagas with some warm spicy spices. I hope for leftovers so I can turn them into salmon breakfast hash for Sunday morning. Collards on the side. Hmm, but I also have to make the salad too—Jim’s been stuck on salad duty for a while now. Something’s got to go, I’m not making four things. I might save those collards for Sunday.

So what to make on Sunday? I’m looking at a recipe in the January/February issue of Cook’s Illustrated—my only food magazine subscription, thanks to my parents. I love the looks of the Red Wine Risotto with Pinto Beans, Salami, Cabbage and Pancetta. If only the weather were colder. I love spring but not in February.

If I make the risotto, I’ll make enough for leftovers for Tuesday. But what will I make on Thursday? Maybe…

I’ll report back next week on what I ended up making.

kohlrabi, spinach, lettuces and carrots from the farmers market

e-Cookbooks on Sale

Caveat: Ebook sales like these sometimes only last a day or a week, so act quickly.

Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook by Alex Guarnaschelli ($1.99, 87% off)

“This cookbook has the feel of flipping through someone’s journal—albeit a journal full of recipes. The handwritten notes and homey pictures of simple food definitely contribute to this feeling, but it’s also in the very direct and honest way that Alex Guarnaschelli writes. It’s like she’s talking directly to you, hovering next to your elbow as you contemplate the whole roasted fish or head into the kitchen to make the tart.” (The Kitchn)

Her other cookbook, The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart is still on sale at $2.99 (84% off).

Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat by Barry Estabrook ($1.99)

“Estabrook’s book actually treats the full range of human-porcine relations, and is replete with fascinating details about pigs…To say that Estabrook’s take on industrial hog production/slaughtering is balanced and nuanced is not to suggest that it is wishy-washy or lacks force. No one will come away from reading…without thinking long and hard about the unsavory ethical and environmental trade-offs that the drive for productive efficiency through industrial agriculture has engendered.” (Raleigh News & Observer)

The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone ($2.99)

“Well-designed, accessible, and the recipes work. If you like the convenience of slow cookers and have a penchant for a rustic-French spectrum of flavors, it’s a good choice.” (Boston Globe)

The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones ($4.99, 44% off)

Judith Jones rescued The Diary of Anne Frank from the reject pile and brought us Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking too. My hero.

My PSA: I’ve heard too many people who live alone say they don’t cook for themselves. You, if this is you, are missing out on a great flow activity (really, you will lose yourself) and the luxurious experience of enjoying as much as you want of what you want. Save the rest in the frig or freezer for another night. Don’t rob yourself of this simple pleasure.

“A warm-hearted approach to the joys of slicing, dicing, mixing and cooking for one…Consider “Pleasures” a visit from your best friend who is also a superb, savvy cook, encouraging you to be creative and treat yourself well.” (Seattle Times)

Cook Simple: Effortless Cooking Every Day by Diana Henry ($3.99)

Henry has won “a slew of prestigious food writing awards…What distinguishes her work isn’t just the quantity of recipes she produces, but their quality and originality, particularly in the creativity of her flavor combinations.” (New York Times)

“This is everything I want from a cookbook: inspiration, intelligent company, great good-mood food, and beautiful writing.” (Nigella Lawson)

How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Good Food by Mark Bittman ($2.99)

“An emphasis on food preparation, not food-porn photos…packed with recipes (approximately 2,000 of them, including variations), techniques and tips for working smarter in the kitchen…every dish here is engineered to take 45 minutes or less…[with] strategies on how to work faster and techniques on how to prep fruits and vegetables efficiently.” (Washington Post)

The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and Easy Dishes to Prepare at Home by Diane Kuan ($1.99)

“Recipes for just about anything you’d order for delivery: There’s pork fried rice, of course, and also things like Peking duck (yes, Peking duck), egg foo young, and crab Rangoon. Most of the recipes are fast (besides the duck) and all are fairly easy. None contain food dyes or MSG.” (Serious Eats)

Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal by Jenni Rosenstrach ($1.99)

“A guide to family meals written by a mom who knows what it’s like when your dinner rotation devolves into pizza, pizza, burgers…Rosenstrach provides a 30-day battle plan for making dinner more interesting, fun, and workable for the whole family…advice for shopping, meal planning and working together, along with enjoyable recipes. She doesn’t promise miracles, but even casual readers will gain a boost of inspiration and a handful of new, keeper meals.” (Seattle Times)

Looking for more deals? Check out last week’s list to see if any of those are still on sale.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you.

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