Wonton flavors without the dumplings


We’ve been battling off a persistent virus for weeks at our house.  Just as we start to feel better, it creeps back with scratchy throats and dull headaches.

What we need now is soup, hot and soothing with chicken broth, lots of vegetables and  a good dose of ginger.  When I spotted this take on won ton soup in Nina Simonds new cookbook, “Simple Asian Food” (Rodale, 2012), I knew I had to make it. Continue reading Wonton flavors without the dumplings

Popcorn reconsidered

Popcorn was the last thing on my mind when I bought a carbon steel wok last fall. My goal was to get a pan that could withstand high enough temperatures to actually sear meat and vegetables in a stir-fry.

But new woks need seasoning to get that wonderfully slick, virtually non-stick surface I coveted. My efforts in that direction were agonizingly slow until I found Grace Young’s account of seasoning a wok by making popcorn in “Stir-Frying from the Sky’s Edge” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). She points out that popping corn distributes a thin coat of oil all over the pan and the high heat helps it adhere.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how good the popcorn would be. Every kernel popped up big and fluffy with just enough oil to help the salt stick. Continue reading Popcorn reconsidered

The romance of hazelnuts and chocolate

Hazelnuts and chocolate were meant for each other.   The rich, browned butter flavor of the nuts fairly cries out for the embrace of dark, dusky chocolate.  Together, they’re unbeatable.

I find the combination as inspiring as it is addictive.   (No jar of Nutella, or the organic alternative, Nocciolata, is safe around me.)

So it’s no surprise that I would be obsessed by the idea of a hazelnut cookie dipped in bittersweet chocolate for Valentine’s Day.  The cookie of my dreams would have a great sandy texture with just enough crunch to contrast with a smooth, dense coat of very good chocolate.   It should be elegant enough to pair with a flute of champagne but substantial enough to satisfy a serious sweet tooth. Continue reading The romance of hazelnuts and chocolate

“Caviar” for everyone

The “caviar” on my mind these days involves black-eyed peas, not those extravagant little fish eggs.  Marinated with chiles, onions, bell pepper, corn and tomatoes, the humble legumes are transformed into the classic Texas caviar.

This chunky salsa is a staple in the Lone Star State–a little bit Southern, a little bit Mexican, and altogether irresistible.  Countless variations have made the round of backyard barbecues and tailgate parties since the 1950s, but the original was the creation of Texas culinary star Helen Corbitt, a cookbook author who served as food consultant for Neiman-Marcus in Dallas. Continue reading “Caviar” for everyone