Sunday, January 14, 2018

Roasted Winter Squash with Toasted Coconut Gremolata

Sometimes it hits me that I read a lot of cookbooks. I love reading cookbooks. And cooking from them. Mostly I love learning new things ranging from the big ideas and amazing flavors to the tiniest details of cooking techniques. As I read my review copy of Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes by Alison Roman, this fact that I read a lot about food became apparent because these vibrant, flavor-packed recipes brought to mind other similar dishes from other books. For instance, I knew the Blistered Green Beans with Creamy Tahini and Fresh Hot Sauce would be great because I’d previously tried the Roasted Green Beans with Tahini and Sesame-Seed Dressing from Brown Sugar Kitchen. The Grilled Corn Salad with Fresh Cheese and Corn Nuts took me back to the Corn, Green Beans, and Parmsesan Salad with corn nuts from Tartine All Day and the summer salad with corn nuts from Curate. Burrata with Tangerines, Shallots, and Watercress reminded me of how well citrus goes with burrata which I learned from trying the Blood Orange, Burrata, and Freekeh Salad from the book Citrus. Inevitably, food brings back memories, and flavors that pair well are seen together again and again. I’ve been eating smoked trout more often as of late, so the Smoked Trout with Mustard and Apples salad made with mustard seeds and frilly mustard green leaves looked delicious. And, the Skillet Chicken with Crushed Olives and Sumac looked like a fantastic result from not too much effort. The first dish I tried presented a new and different idea I’d never seen before. Toasted coconut chips became a central element in a gremolata for sprinkling over roasted winter squash. Turns out, I have added coconut chips to a winter squash salad before, but that was part of a very different dish and had nothing to do with a gremolata. 

Here, winter squash was sliced and roasted after being tossed with melted coconut oil. I used acorn squash, but delicate is shown in the book. For the gremolata, unsweetened coconut chips were toasted in a dry pan and left to cool. Chopped chives and cilantro leaves that I was able to harvest from my herb garden were added to a bowl with lemon zest, Aleppo pepper, and salt. The coconut chips were added and tossed to combine. This gremolata was sprinkled over the roasted squash pieces before serving. 

Winter squash and coconut go great together, and sweet potato wedges would be a delicious alternative as well. The lemon and Aleppo pepper added nice punch to the mix of flavors. It’s fun for me to connect the dots of ingredients and pairings that I encounter from book to book to book, and mostly it’s a lot of fun to eat what ends up on the plate. 

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice

Maybe I’ve been watching too many documentaries lately, but I was intrigued that the introduction to Night + Market: Delicious Thai Food to Facilitate Drinking and Fun-Having Amongst Friends started with a Werner Herzog reference regarding the difference between objective truth and ecstatic truth. The filmmaker defines objective truth as a record of facts while poetic, ecstatic truth is reached through “fabrication and imagination and stylization.” Kris Yenbamroong, the author of the book of which I received a review copy and founder of the LA restaurants, explains that his cooking is the ecstatic truth of Thai food. The recipes are definitely Thai in origin, but they are translated with his preferences. They don’t necessarily fit a strict definition of traditional Thai cuisine. You’ll find classics like Pad Thai and several variations of Larb, but the particular way they’re presented here are the author’s own style. The other intriguing aspect of these dishes is that they are intended to be paired with alcohol. There are no hard and fast rules, just lots of tips for which dishes to serve together as a meal and ideas for drinks to go with them including several wine suggestions. But mostly, the book encourages the cook to try these recipes and discover your own favorite ways to serve them for family and friends. One dish I can’t wait to try and that I will alter slightly is the Jungle Curry Clams. Jungle curries are hotter and more intensely flavored than others that include coconut milk. And, typically they’re made with water fowl, fish, or pork. Here, clams are used along with ground pork which I would skip or replace with chicken. The Hot and Sour Soups all sound great with lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaves. The Banana Blossom Salad is something I’ve wanted to try for ages but have never located banana blossoms to use. Throughout the book, there are practical substitution hints, and here endive is mentioned as a good alternative to banana blossoms. With all the suggestions for various ways to serve each dish, the condiments and the included recipes for those condiments, and the encouragement to find out how you prefer to enjoy each recipe, this book inspires creative freedom with this food. 

Fried rice is one of my all-time favorite things, and I had to try the Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice. For all the fried rice recipes, a homemade Stir-Fry Sauce is recommended. It’s a simple sauce that’s sweet and savory with oyster sauce and sugar. I took a short cut when I found a bottled Stir-Fry Sauce that’s made with those same ingredients. The other condiment to make in advance for this is the Prik Nam Pla which is a mixture of fish sauce, lime juice, minced bird’s eye chiles, and minced garlic. And, of course, you want to have all the ingredients chopped and ready before you start heating the wok. With hot oil in a very hot wok, you start with onion and garlic before briefly cooking the shrimp. Next, egg is added and scrambled into the onion and garlic. Then, leftover jasmine rice is added with the stir-fry sauce, and you cook while tossing everything together until the rice is dry and browned from the wok if you like. Off the heat, pineapple chunks and toasted cashews were added with sliced green onions and ground white pepper. In the book, this fried rice is shown being served in a hollowed-out pineapple, but I went for a simpler presentation on a platter. The Prik Nam Pla was served on the side to add to each plate as desired. 

I was already a fan of fruity and spicy things mixed with seafood, so this fried rice was a winner for me. There are some distinct flavors here with the sweet-savory stir-fry sauce and white pepper, but my favorite element was the Prik Nam Pla that I generously spooned on top. There’s so much more I want to try from this book, and I love that it not only gives license to but encourages a bit of a break from complete authenticity. 

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Chocolate-Peppermint Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint-White Chocolate Brittle

As the holiday season was approaching, I pondered new and different cookie recipes to try this year. There are cookies that are good for giving as gifts in person and cookies that can withstand being mailed as gifts. There are also cookies that really only work for serving at home if they’re particularly fragile or require refrigeration. I was looking for options that fit into the first two categories. I also really wanted to spend some more time with a book that I bought a couple of years ago but hadn’t gotten around to mentioning here on the blog. It’s Cookie Love: More Than 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary by Mindy Segal, and it’s full of what I might call special occasion cookies. Although there are some straightforward recipes in the book, several of the cookies require a multi-step process. That was the case with these sandwich cookies, but I can tell you that all the steps involved were worth it. Segal named this recipe The Black Sabbath after the band’s early music because of the intense, dark chocolate flavor of the cookies. As written, the filling is made with cream cheese and flavored with crushed Starlite Mints. Because I wanted to end up with a cookie that wouldn’t require refrigeration, I made a buttercream filling instead. And, because neither grocery store where I shop sells Starlite Mints, I added peppermint extract to the buttercream. Then, more chocolate appears for dipping the cookies, and they’re finished with shards of peppermint-white chocolate brittle. 

To make the cookies, you want to use a dark cocoa powder. In the past, I’ve used a very dark cocoa from Savory Spice Shop. This time, I found Droste cocoa powder from Holland, and it makes a lovely, dark, black cookie. The dough needs to be divided into two disks and chilled for several hours or overnight after being mixed. It was easy to roll between big pieces of parchment paper. Without the parchment, quite a lot of flour would have been needed for rolling since it is a sticky dough. After rolling to about a quarter inch thickness, the dough in the parchment layers should be placed on a sheet pan and chilled again before cutting the cookies. Each step works best when this dough is a bit cold. The cookies were cut, placed on baking sheets, and docked with a fork before baking. Once cooled, the cookies were matched up for best sandwich fitting. I made a simple buttercream with softened butter, melted white chocolate, confectioners’ sugar, peppermint extract, a little vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Each cookie bottom was given a generous swirl of filling. Next, the brittle was made with more melted white chocolate and, since I couldn't find round mints, crushed candy canes. For the brittle, you want some varied texture in the crushed candy. It adds mint flavor, a little color, and some crunch to the brittle. The mixture was spread on a sheet pan and chilled until firm. To finish, dark chocolate and milk chocolate were melted together. The sandwich cookies were partially dipped into the melted chocolate and topped with broken pieces of the white chocolate brittle. 

The sweet mint candy and white chocolate balanced the dark chocolatey-ness nicely. This was a really fun cookie to make and to eat, and they hopefully made good cookie gifts. Happy Holidays and happy cookie baking to all of you! 

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Wild Greens Jam

The holiday season is upon us, and I’m knee-deep in ordering gifts, deciding which cookies to bake this year, and making a wreath for our front door. Bear in mind that crafting is not actually on my list of enjoyable hobbies, but two trips to the craft store, one to the hardware store, and an online order later, the homemade wreath is almost ready to hang. Speaking of gifts, I have one for two of you! I want to tell you about the book Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life of which I received a review copy. And, I have one book to offer to each of two winners. Just leave a comment on this post with your email address so I can contact you, and I’ll pick the winners next week on Friday, December 15th. (The winners will need to provide a mailing address in the US or Canada.) 

You’re going to enjoy this story of Paula Wolfert’s career in food. She started writing about Moroccan food before several of the key ingredients could even be found in the US. Her focus has always been on authentic international cuisines, and her recipes don’t tend to cut corners. I was intrigued to learn that before she wrote her first cookbook, she was the series editor and organizer of an epicurean subscription program called International Home Dining that was part of Columbia House. She created a different box each month for an international-themed dinner that included recipes and ingredients for a unique meal. During this time, “Paula developed another element of what would become her visionary cookbook-writing style: unapologetically complex recipes, engaging descriptions to capture their flavors in vivid detail, and mail-order sources to bypass the limited American supply chain.” That is my favorite kind of food- and cookbook-writing. Wolfert’s first cookbook was Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco written in 1973, and her ability to learn the stories behind the food and draw the techniques and recipes from the cooks as she did for this book became her way of researching all of her food topics. She wrote about the cooking of Southwest France before Americans knew much about cassoulet, and then moved on to writing about sumac, pomegranate molasses, and Aleppo, Marash, and Urfa peppers in Eastern Mediterranean. So many ingredients and dishes we take for granted these days were introduced to cooks in the US by Paula Wolfert. She’s now living with a condition of mixed dementia, and this book was written while she could still contribute memories of her life and career. After reading about how she traveled, learned, and cooked her way through so many cultures, I’m looking forward to adding a couple more of her titles that are missing from my cookbook collection. 

This book moves through Wolfert’s life chapter by chapter, and there are recipes at the end of each. There’s Mussels Saganaki from Thessaloniki, a Mint and Egg Salad suggested as an accompaniment to Turkish kofte, and Tuscan White Beans with Sage and Garlic for clay pot cooking. Some other dishes I want to try are the Leblebi which is a Tunisian soup served over chickpeas and bread cubes with an egg on top and the Sprinkle Pie made with greens and feta with a light cornmeal crust. Since this time of year is definitely greens season here, I had to try the Wild Greens Jam recipe. This dish is firmly in the savory category despite jam being in the name. The greens are cooked until very tender and mixed with spices and olive oil to end up in a spreadable or spoonable form. It’s made with a mix of greens, and purslane and mallow are suggested. Sadly, once the other greens appear at our farm stands and farmers’ markets, purslane is gone for the fall. I used a mix of collards, kale, and arugula. The greens were cleaned, stemmed, and chopped before being steamed. Parsley leaves were added to the greens along with unpeeled garlic cloves, and everything steamed for about 15 minutes. After cooling, the greens were squeezed in a towel and then chopped finely. The garlic was peeled and pureed with cilantro leaves. That mixture was then sauteed in a large skillet with olive oil, and smoked paprika, ground cumin, and cayenne were added. The chopped greens were then added and cooked for another 10 minutes until the liquid evaporated. Lemon juice was stirred into the greens with a little additional olive oil, and the mixture was served with preserved lemon and oil-cured olives for garnish. 

The silky greens with bright pops of citrus from the preserved lemon made a great combination. I spooned the jam onto crostini and made sure to top each one with an olive. Now, there’s so much more to explore that Paula Wolfert brought to life through her books. To be entered to win a copy of Unforgettable, just leave a comment here with your email address so I can contact you. I’ll pick the winners next week on Friday, December 15th. (The winners will need to provide a mailing address in the US or Canada.) 

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Papaya Cocktails

Like every food show fan, I’ve seen Gail Simmons on tv for years. But, I somehow never knew her career history until reading her first cookbook Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating of which I received a review copy. I was fascinated to learn that she was once Jeffrey Steingarten’s assistant, and her description of the research and ingredient gathering she did in that capacity sounds like a lot of fun. She also worked on Daniel Boulud’s PR team and then on Food and Wine magazine’s marketing team before becoming a judge on Top Chef. Her new book is about what she cooks at home and how her work experience, travels, and family have influenced her cooking. The dishes include breakfast, salads, soups, noodles, seafood, meat, party food, drinks, and sweets. I’ve marked the page for Chocolate Ginger Scones, made with coconut milk and coconut oil, that she makes for her dad who is now vegan. Also, the Beet Cured Salmon is something I’d love to try for the pretty pink edges on each sliced piece. I should point out that this is a book of real food. It’s not trendy food or food specific to any particular way of eating. Instead, it’s from-scratch, home cooking with lots of different influences and some great tips. One of those is to grill limes before juicing them for a vinaigrette. It will give you charred flavor and the warmed lime is easier to juice. The Singapore-Style Hokkien Noodles, inspired by a street-food dish enjoyed while shooting in Singapore, is adaptable with suggestions for changing out the meat used. I remembered from reading Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook that the recipe from Gail Simmons in that book was a cocktail. So, I was curious to see the recipes both alcoholic and non- in the drinks chapters here. The Cardamom-Walnut Date Shake sounds delicious, but I pulled out the blender when I read about the papaya cocktail. 

The cocktail was inspired by Nilou Motamed, the former editor of Food and Wine magazine, and in the book it's called The Nilou. In the head note, there’s a story about how papaya is a love-it or hate-it kind of fruit. This drink changed Gail’s mind about it. For me, my first encounter with papaya wasn’t a great one. I wasn’t sure I’d picked a good papaya since I though the flavor was lacking. I ended up using it in a tea bread like banana bread only with papaya. Since then, I’ve discovered I like the fruit much better with a generous squeeze of lime. Here, chunks of papaya were blended with lime juice, rum, honey, and ice cubes. I was excited to use the avocado blossom honey I brought home from our summer trip to Santa Barbara. After pureeing in the blender, the mixture ended up thick, slushy, and a pretty coral color. 

Now, while it might seem fitting to serve tropical fruits for warm weather, summertime parties, I reach for them around the holidays. Maybe it’s because I love Mele Kalikimaka, but I think pineapples and papayas are perfect for Christmas. I’m already forming a plan for some tropical influence on our holiday menus, and these cocktails will be a welcome addition. 

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Griddled Flatbreads and Spicy Carrot Pickle

I’m always on the lookout for vegetarian recipe inspiration, and Middle Eastern food is an excellent source. The latest book from Greg and Lucy Malouf is New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian, and I received a review copy. In the introduction, it’s explained that the climate and terrain of the Middle East is suited to growing a variety of vegetables and less so to raising animals for meat at a large scale. So, we easily find many vegetable, grain, and legume dishes with plenty of herbs and spices. As the authors set out to create this vegetarian cookbook, they wanted to excite people who are trying to eat more plant-based foods and offer some new ideas to those already on that path. The chapters include Breakfast, Breads, Butters and Preserves, Dips and Spreads, Pickles and Relishes, Soups, Stuffed Vegetables, Fritters, Savory Pastries, Raw Vegetable Salads, Cooked Vegetable Salads, Hot Vegetable Dishes, Grains, Rice, Legumes, Pasta and Couscous, Ices, Desserts, Sweet Pastries, and Cakes and Cookies. And, there’s a Menu Ideas list for how to group dishes for different occasions. One of my favorite menus is the Middle-of-the-week working lunch menu: Semolina Bread with Aniseed and Sesame; Artichoke and Lemon Labneh; Baked Tomatoes with Saffron, Bulgur, and Barberries; Shankleesh Salad with Parsley and Pomegranate; and Lemon Posset with Fennel Shortbread Thins. Some other recipes I’d like to try include the Middle Eastern Granola with Pomegratate, Sour Cherries, and Pistachios that’s made even prettier with dried rose petals and the Honey-Roasted Carrots with Dates Dandelions and Moroccan Dressing. But, I got completely distracted by the Breads chapter. The soft, pillowy-looking Sesame Joujou Breads were a strong contender, and then I saw the Griddled Flatbreads and all the suggested options for toppings. To go with the flatbreads, the Spicy Carrot Pickle looked like a fun pairing, and as warned in the head note, it is addictive. 

I started on the flatbread dough first since it needed to proof. Flour and baking powder were sifted before the yeast was added. Warm milk along with olive oil, yogurt, an egg, and salt were added next. Everything was combined in a stand mixer and then kneaded with the dough hook on low speed for several minutes to create a very smooth dough. It was placed in a bowl, covered, and left to rise for an hour. Meanwhile, I moved on to the carrot pickle. Carrots were cut into matchsticks and set aside. For a spice paste, cumin seeds and dried chiles were ground to a powder. Salt, minced garlic, and grated fresh ginger were added along with turmeric. In a saucepan, oil was heated and cumin and mustard seeds were fried until they popped. Curry leaves were called for, but I failed to procure them and left them out. The spice paste was added to the oil followed by apple juice and apple cider vinegar. The carrot matchsticks were stirred into the mixture. The heat was lowered to allow the carrots to barely simmer for about 15 minutes. Moving back to the flatbreads, the dough was divided into six pieces, and each piece was rolled just before cooking. The breads were cooked in a dry pan over high heat for a couple of minutes per side. After removing each bread from the pan, it was brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs and spices. I used a mixture of sumac, za’atar, and fresh oregano on some breads and crushed fennel seeds and Aleppo pepper on others. 

The carrot pickle was nicely spicy. I tore off pieces of bread and spooned carrot matchsticks onto each bite. I kept thinking how delicious the carrot pickle would be on a sandwich. And, the breads bubbled just as they should while cooking and came out of the pan crisp on the edges and deliciously chewy in the middle. Eating vegetarian is an easy sell with flavors like these.   

Griddled Flatbreads 
Excerpted with permission from New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian by Greg and Lucy Malouf, published by Hardie Grant Books.

This is a wonderful all-purpose dough that suits both griddled and naan-style baked flatbreads, which are the most popular accompaniment for Middle Eastern meals. Use the basic recipe to make a batch of dough and fry them plain, or choose the filling that you fancy from below. The quantities of dough and fillings are sufficient for six large-ish flatbreads or eight smaller ones. 

MAKES 6–8 
450 g (1 lb) strong (bread) flour, plus extra for dusting 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons dried active yeast (7.5 g / 1/4 oz sachet) 
2 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar 
150 ml (5 fl oz) hand-hot milk 
30 ml (1 fl oz) vegetable oil 
150 g (5 oz) natural yoghurt, lightly beaten 
1 egg, lightly beaten 
clarified butter, for brushing 

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl of a stand-mixer. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the opposite side (salt can kill the yeast). Dissolve the sugar in the hand-hot milk then add it to the bowl, along with the oil, yoghurt and egg. Mix briefly to form a ball. Knead with the dough hook on a slow–medium speed for 10 minutes. You may need to scrape it up from the bottom of the bowl every now and then. Once the gluten has developed and the dough is smooth and satiny, shape it into a ball with lightly oiled hands and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a draught-free spot for an hour, or until doubled in size. 

Punch down the dough and knead by hand for a few minutes. Divide into 6 or 8 equal balls. At this point you can fry the breads as they are, or fill them with one of the stuffings, as outlined below. Keeping the rest covered, roll out one ball of dough onto a floured work surface, to a 30 cm (12 in) round for large breads or 23 cm (9 in) for smaller ones. 

Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a very high heat. Fry the bread in the dry pan until large bubbles start to appear on the surface – it should only take 1–2 minutes. Flip over and fry for a further minute, or until lightly golden. Brush with clarified butter while still warm and serve. Repeat with the rest of the dough. 

Spicy Carrot Pickle 

This much-loved pickle seems to go with just about everything. We think you’ll find it’s addictive; we’ve been known to finish a jar in one sitting. 

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) carrots 
2 teaspoons cumin seeds 
2 teaspoons mustard seeds 
6 fresh curry leaves (or dried will do at a pinch) 
100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) apple juice 
200 ml (7 fl oz) cider vinegar 

Spice paste 
2 teaspoons cumin seeds 
3–4 small dried red chillies (depending on their heat) 
1 teaspoon sea salt 
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 
50 g (1 3/4 oz) fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped 
1 teaspoon turmeric 
75 g (2 1/2 oz) soft brown sugar 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

Cut the carrots into roughly 6 cm (2 1/2 in) lengths, then cut into matchsticks. Set aside. To make the spice paste, combine the cumin seeds and dried chillies in a mortar and grind to a fine powder. Add the salt, garlic and ginger to the mortar and continue to grind to a fairly smooth paste. Add the turmeric and sugar and mix in well. 

Heat the oil in a wide casserole pan – a cast iron Le Creuset is ideal. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry for 10 seconds or until they just start to pop. Add the curry leaves and fry for 1–2 minutes, until they turn translucent. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the apple juice and vinegar and bring to a vigorous simmer. Add the carrots and stir well, so that they are all coated with the spicy liquid. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 15–20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure they cook evenly. By the end of the cooking time the carrots should be soft, but still retain some texture and the liquid should have reduced by about one-third. 

Leave to cool slightly then transfer to sterilized jars and store for up to 3 months. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within 5 days.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Golden Scallion Crepes and Dipping Sauce

I love talking about good food. The details, minutia, and subtleties of what makes particular ingredients so good is the talk I enjoy. As we all know, when you start with the best ingredients, you’ll end up with the best meals. This is exactly the path taken in the recipes in David Tanis Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient, and I received a review copy. Whether he’s writing about heirloom beans, the fleeting season for perfect tomatoes, or the “vast and remarkable difference between the taste of conventional factory chicken eggs and that of those purchased at a farmers’ market,” it’s the details about the ingredients that matter here. Once you’ve gathered the best you can find, the rest is easy. The recipes aren’t difficult, but they are all devoted to made-from-scratch cooking with instructions for homemade mayonnaise and yogurt to name two. In the recipe for Cucumbers in Yogurt, he explains that commercial Greek yogurt available today is too creamy and bland with a lack of acidity. By making your own, you can control the flavor by letting it ferment longer. The recipes are presented one starring ingredient at a time with varied flavor influences. Among the cauliflower dishes, there’s Seared Cauliflower with Anchovy, Lemon, and Capers and Indian Panfried Cauliflower. For winter squash, there’s Hubbard Squash with Parmesan and Brown Butter and Sake-Steamed Kabocha with Miso. I’ve made the Glazed Shitake Mushrooms with Bok Choy and Sesame, and it’s a nice mix of spicy and well-seasoned shitakes over simply steamed greens. My favorite part of the book is near the end with The Art of Seasoning. There’s a section about chiles that has inspired me to grab as many from our local farms as I can now that the season is at an end and roast and freeze them. I also have my eye on the recipe for Taqueria Pickles with carrots, jalapenos, onion, and garlic. Next time I have a bunch of fresh, lovely carrots, I’ll be deciding between North African Carrot Salad with Preserved Lemon and Roasted Coconut Carrots with cilantro and mint. To start cooking, I flipped to the beginning for the Alliums United chapter. I had some green onions from the farmers’ market, and Golden Scallion Crepes sounded like a great way to use them. 

The crepes themselves are actually vegan with no eggs or dairy. The dipping sauce does contain fish sauce though. For the crepes, the batter was made with rice flour, and I used brown rice flour, ground turmeric, salt, and water. It was whisked together and left to sit for one hour. I cooked the crepes in coconut oil in a small skillet. The batter needs to be stirred well before ladling about one half cup into the hot pan. It does spatter a bit in the oil. The batter needs a couple of minutes to cook and set, and sliced scallions were added on top while cooking. Now, I had a little difficulty with flipping the crepes. They wanted to stick to the pan despite the oil. I loosened all around the edges with a spatula and carefully moved the spatula to the center of the crepe to completely loosen and flip. Still, a couple of crepes ended up broken. The dipping sauce was a mix of thinly sliced chiles, minced garlic, grated ginger, lime juice, a pinch of sugar, and fish sauce. To serve, bean sprouts, grated carrots, mint, and basil were added before folding each crepe in half. Lettuce was served on the side for picking up the crepes. 

The crepes are a simple, tasty vehicle to convey all the fresh, bright flavors of vegetables and herbs and the zip of the dipping sauce. They become like a handheld salad with the lettuce used to wrap the crepes before dipping. I could go on and on about the flavors of the fresh chiles and just-snipped herbs, but there’s much better talk of good food and recipes to go with it in this book. 

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