Cookbook Review: Donabe Japanese Clay Pot Cooking

Thursday, November 26, 2015!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

I was really excited to read Donabe by Naoko Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton as it’s foreign topic for me. For those who are not familiar, donabe is a cooking method using Japanese clay pots. After a thorough introduction of donabe history, production, seasoning and care of donabe, the authors shared seven chapters full of delicious recipes: Classic Style Donabe, Double Lid Donabe Rice Cooker, Donabe for Soup and Stew, Donabe Steamer, Tagine Style Donabe, Donabe Smoker, and Dashi, Sauces, and Condiments.

I avoid buying a lot of kitchen gadgets but I couldn’t resist trying some of the recipes from this book and had to rush to our nearest Japanese supermarket to buy a donabe. Before committing to one, keep in mind that a donabe is best used with a gas or a portable butane stove but not with an induction or ceramic cooktop. Even though the recipes are meant to be used with a donabe, I couldn’t see why you can’t try them using a Emile Henry clay French oven. So far, we’ve only tried the smoked duck breast, smoked miso tofu, crab rice with charred green onion, and tofu hotpot but they all turned out delicious. One thing that caught me by surprise is the versatility of a donabe--you can use it as a steamer, rice cooker, smoker, hot pot, and so much more. I’m excited to try more recipes and really love that everything is thrown into one pot.

Overall, Donabe is well written with amazing recipes. Granted some of the recipes are fusion but still delicious. The photography by Eric Wolfinger is gorgeous and make you want to run to your nearest Japanese market to buy all the ingredients and bring these dishes to life. Donabe is the perfect cookbook for those who like Japanese comfort food and one pot meals.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Cookbook Review: Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes

Friday, November 13, 2015!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes is such an interesting book to read.  I’m not sure if the team at Lucky Peach was poking fun at Asian cuisine or trying to introduce delicious but simple Asian food to the public with the premise of no frying, no sub-recipes, and 100% inauthentic.  The book started off with a quick intro into necessary equipment and pantry items accompanied by very useful pictures of what the items look like.  Broken into many chapters that include cold dishes, breakfast, pancakes, soups and stews, noodles, rices, warm vegetables, chicken, meats, seafood, super sauces, and dessert, there’s something for everyone.  Many classic dishes like green papaya salad, dumplings, miso soup, okonomiyaki, Massaman curry, pad see ew, chicken adobo, Hainan chicken rice, and kung pao shrimp are included but don’t expect every single Asian dish featured.  If you’re looking for a comprehensive book on Asian cuisine, you’re looking in the wrong place.  Scanning through the recipes, I’m familiar with ninety percent of the dishes and probably won’t be cooking from it.  Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes would be perfect for someone who’s interested in Asian food but doesn’t know where to start.  It’s like a mini introduction to Asian food just to whet your appetite.  I have mixed feeling about this cookbook and don't know if I hate it or like and highly recommend stopping at your local bookstore and flipping through it before buying.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Vietnamese coffee ice cream

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Considering how we can’t start our morning without a glass of cafe sua da, it was a no brainer to turn one our our favorite drinks into a frozen treat. We’ve been making Vietnamese coffee ice cream since we got a Cuisinart ice cream machine years ago but haven’t thought about putting it on the blog until recently. After testing it out at several parties and ice cream socials, it won first place for the most popular ice cream among ten other frozen treats. A very coveted spot! The Earl gray and honey blossom ice cream and passion fruit frozen yogurt were trailing right behind. 

My friends and coworkers were pleasantly surprised at how similar in taste it was to the actual Vietnamese coffee drink minus the caffeine high. Many people asked for the recipe so it would be a crime not to share! You can now enjoy this delectable treat at home or find someone that is willing to make it for you!

Vietnamese coffee ice cream
1 cup of organic heavy cream
1 cup of organic 2% milk
½ cup of condensed milk
3 tablespoons of Vietnamese coffee (my favorite is Cafe Du Monde with chicory)
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 large organic egg yolks

1. In a heavy saucepan, combine cream, milk, and condensed milk.
2. Put the pan over medium heat and let the mixture boil gently to bubbling just around the edges (gentle simmer). Remove from heat.
3. Add the coffee and let it steep for 8 minutes until the cream has taken on the coffee flavor, stirring occasionally and tasting to make sure it’s not too bitter.
4. While waiting for the coffee to steep, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up and whisk in sugar. Set aside.
5. Put the saucepan back on the stove over low heat and let it warm up for 2 minutes.
6. Carefully measure out ½ cup of hot cream mixture.
7. While whisking the eggs constantly, whisk the hot cream mixture into the eggs until smooth. Continue tempering the eggs by adding another ½ cup of hot cream to the bowl with the yolks.
8. Pour the cream-egg mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened and coats the back of a spatula, about 5 minutes.
9. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container.
10. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziplock freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in an ice bath until cold, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate the ice cream base for at least 2 hours or overnight. I like to refrigerate the base overnight for the most flavor.
11. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
12. Spin until thick and creamy about 25-30 minutes.
13. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.


Cookbook Review: Slow Fires Mastering New Ways to Braise, Roast, and Grill

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Slow Fires by chef Justin Smillie is definitely one of my favorite cookbooks published this year.  With cookbooks by chef, it can be a hit or miss but this one is a home run.  I have gone through this book cover to cover twice already and still enjoy reading it and learning from it.  Chef Smillie teaches you the fundamental techniques of braising, roasting, and grilling, but shows you how to break the rules to bring more flavors to your dishes.  The book is divided into four chapters, braising, roasting, grilling, and foundations and finishes with many delicious recipes and accompanied step by step pictures.  Some recipes are more complicated than other and can take two days to prepare but under his guidance, even the home cook can bring restaurant worthy dishes to the dinner table.  

With regard to the recipes, I tried the red wine-braised oxtails with marinated savoy cabbage and and peppercorn crusted short ribs.  Both dishes were so delicious and a big hit with the family.  With the short ribs, I learned a new technique of steaming the ribs first then searing them to a crisp and will apply this to other dishes.  I can’t wait to try the crisp pork belly braised in milk, stovetop cassoulet, black garlic rubbed hanger steak, real porchetta, zuppa di pesce and many more dishes.  The gorgeous photography by Ed Anderson makes the food beyond drool worthy.  Slow Fires is a masterpiece on braising, roasting, and grilling that will be treasured by chefs and home cooks alike for years to come.  

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Giveaway: The Homemade Kitchen

The really nice folks over at Clarkson Potter gave us an extra copy of the Homemade Kitchen Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure to give to one of our lucky readers.  To enter, please leave a comment below and let us know your favorite fall dish.  The winner will be selected at random.  Comments will close on Monday, November 30th at 9 P.M. Pacific. US residents only please :)