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February 2015 Cookbook of the Month Companion Thread: "MIGHTY SPICE EXPRESS COOKBOOK" by John Gregory-Smith

This sounds great. I'm always bored by my pork tenderloin renditions.

February 2015 Cookbook of the Month Companion Thread: "MIGHTY SPICE EXPRESS COOKBOOK" by John Gregory-Smith

Love the idea of these (but they sound like more than a good idea).

February 2015 Cookbook of the Month Companion Thread: "MIGHTY SPICE EXPRESS COOKBOOK" by John Gregory-Smith

My sentiments exactly.

February 2015 Cookbook of the Month Companion Thread: "MIGHTY SPICE EXPRESS COOKBOOK" by John Gregory-Smith

General Question

Just getting around to reading this thread and all your great reports. And, lordy, now I feel like I need this cookbook, too.

For those who have both MS & MSE, how do they compare? Do you have a favorite? Or these recipes really faster than those in MS?

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Indian [Lamb] and Spinach Curry, p. 70

Lamb Saag is always my husband's choice when we do Indian take-out so I knew I'd have to give this a shot using lamb. With spiced basmati, and a cherry tomato-cucumer-avocado salad, it was last night's dinner, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ecclescake has covered the process, so I'll just note what I did to adapt the recipe to lamb (and that I used 1½ c. chopped Pomi tomatoes in my spice paste and that my garam masala was a previously ground Madhur Jaffrey blend hanging out in the freezer). The paste is meant to simmer for about 30 minutes before adding the protein. I cooked it for about 5 before adding the lamb (1 lb. leg, in small pieces) and then let that simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. I then added the pureed spinach (I did use the stipulated cooking water in the puree) and 1/4 c cream, turned up the heat, and cooked for another 15 minutes, at which point the lamb was indeed tender.

I had made this only once before, from a more complicated (and no doubt more authentic) recipe, in which the spinach was cooked with the lamb the whole time, resulting in a brownish saag. We actually liked this version better. Garish photo notwithstanding, the finished dish looked lovely.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

I bought this (Preethi Eco Twin) on-line (rather impulsively after someone--maybe MelMM?--posted about a similar grinder) for a COTM (don't remember which, but one that involved a lot of pastes). Unlike food processors, it really grinds (wet or dry), so is great for things like lemon grass, ginger, etc. It cost me $100, but I have found it worth it as I don't have the patience for the mortar and pestle. Unlike food processors, it really grinds, and has both large and small cups so it can handle small amounts. The main problem is that I have to store it in an inconvenient spot, and I forget it's there.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

Wow. I wouldn't have to call that dessert!

(I do love the idea of this for dessert after a spicy meal. I never know what to serve.)

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

I've been trying to resist desserts, but your and qianning's reports (and your lovely photo) have just about killed my resolve!

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Singapore Coconut and Shrimp Laksa, p. 16

This is not the most nuanced laksa of (the now three!) I've had, but on a raw day, it sure hit the spot.

I made the spice paste in my handy Preethi grinder (which I always forget about, but is great for these pastes): chopped lemongrass stalks (I upped those to three), red chili (1), garlic (4 cloves), shrimp paste (1 tsp.), turmeric (1/2 tsp.), oil (2 T. grapeseed).

I did not dissolve tamarind paste in water (1 tsp. in scant 1/2 c water) as directed, but used 1½ T of the jarred tamarind I have (which is already diluted in water). That, 1¾ c. coconut milk, salt, and a scant cup of boiling water were added to a saucepan (in which the spice paste had been stir-fried for 30 seconds or so) and brought to a boil. After lowering that to a simmer, I added 1¼ c. bean sprouts, tops from LG stalks, and jumbo shrimp (9 oz.) and let everything cook for a few minutes, until shrimp were just cooked. After ladling the soup over softened rice noodles (wish I'd had rice vermicelli on hand), I took the liberty of topping the soup generously with cilantro and fresh lime juice. (Though not stipulated in the recipe, the lime seemed necessary to me.)

Very nice soup. I debated subbing shrimp stock for the boiling water and probably should have, for another layer of flavor. I found the spicing just right, which meant DH found it a little too spicy, but he still lapped it up.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Exactly. I generally find that streamlined or pared down recipes, especially for Asian cuisine, fall short. But these are generally very satisfying and bring a little excitement to the weeknight table.

Frankly, lilham, I'm impressed that you manage these--or dinner at all--with two that young!

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

One thing I would add, Breadcrumbs: if you like curries of this type a little looser, you could add a little stock. This is looser than the Aleppy shrimp curry, but still pretty creamy.

Feb 24, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Yes, Breadcrumbs, I would. We love coconut curries with shrimp, and this one is so easy.

My overall impression of this book is that J G-S does a great job of simplifying recipes that I wouldn't otherwise tackle on an average weeknight. Are these the best versions of these dishes? No. With more prep time and ingredients, most of these dishes would be improved. But for quick cooking, these come pretty close to their more exotic cousins.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Shrimp with Ginger and Chili, p. 139

Similar to several other recipes in the book, this one starts with a quick stir-fry of (thinly sliced) red onion and green chili and ginger (in matchsticks) in a little oil. A few curry leaves get crumbled over the mix as the onion turns golden. In go the jumbo shrimp with lemon juice, water, turmeric, and salt. That cooks for a couple of minutes. That's it. Another easy one from Mighty Spice.

I made these as part of the spread for a casual Oscar-watching get-together. They were tasty enough, but nothing terribly special. I prefer any number of other preps for jumbo shrimp so am not likely to repeat this one.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Stir-Fried Squid w/Chili and Cilantro, p. 145

I thought JG-S's idea for making a quick lunch of this a grand idea yesterday after I saw nice looking squid at Whole Foods. I'm not sure they qualified as baby squid, but they were about as small as I ever see here.

Since my record in cooking squid is abysmal, I prepared this as directed except that I made a half-recipe. In a tablespoon of (avocado) oil, I quickly stir-fried 1/2 tsp. chili flakes (more would have been better) and a minced garlic clove and then put in my prepared squid, about 3/4 lb, cut and scored as directed. They probably took 4-5 minutes to cook over medium meat (rather than the suggested 2-3), and they were more steamed than stir-fried. I thought I'd gotten them as dry as possible, but a good bit of liquid pooled in the bottom of the wok once I tossed in the squid. Just before serving, I added 1 T oyster sauce and 1/2 T fish sauce and almost a half-lime's worth of juice. I wish I'd taken beetlebug's cue and reduced the oyster sauce (and upped the heat), but we liked the flavors. The squid were tender (minor victory), but didn't have the desired stir-fried quality.

I would like to try this with scallops, as LulusMom suggested, but I think I give up on squid!

Feb 22, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Golden Temple Lamb Curry, p. 98

Wanting something warm and not having much time yesterday, I read herby's and ecclescake's reports and settled on this, as it turned out, very nice curry. It was similar in taste to my favorite lamb curry (a Madhur Jaffrey recipe). The stars must have been aligned in my favor: I discovered a pound of already-cubed lamb in the freezer as well as a package of garlic naan. Add a tetra-pak of a serviceable dal hanging out in the pantry, and some spiced basmati rice: dinner is served.

The method has already been well-covered so I'll just note my tweaks: I used four canned tomatoes and two yellow onions. For the chili powder, I just guessed and use 1/2 tsp. Korean chili powder and 1 tsp. ancho chile powder (the only two on hand). I could have used a bit more heat, but DH thought it was perfect. I otherwise deviated from the instructions only in, once the onions were "golden," adding the meat to the pot before adding the curry paste, to try to brown it a bit.

This simple curry hit the spot. I should have made the cherry tomato-cucumber salad I had in mind, for something fresh and bright, but I was just too tired to go to any more effort.

Feb 19, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

I couldn't get whole slices with my mandolin. I probably need a new mandolin. My oranges did seem a bit soft; they'd been out of the fridge for several hours. Maybe I'd have had better luck with "harder" fruit.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

Ha! It never occurred to me to use a serrated knife.

Feb 18, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

Voting Thread: March 2015 Cookbook of the Month

I was one of the folks who mentioned that. I know that there is cold-weather food in Korean cuisine (though not very much in the one slim Korean cookbook I own). I guess it's more of a personal preference about what I want to cook during cooler months. Most of the Korean food--and other Asian, for that matter--that I love is more suited for warmer temps. So Asian COTMs (though I certainly appreciate that these are different cuisines) for the three months seemed like a lot to me. But I'm obviously in the minority and happy to watch and learn from the more open-minded cooks should the Korean book win.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

It was quite peasant--definitely less tart than lemon, and not bitter at all (a little of which I was expecting).

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

Lebanese [Blood Orange] and Vanilla Cake, p. 198

I have a bag of blood oranges, and after seeing the lovely-looking cakes posted here, I knew I had to try an adaptation.

Since my oranges are pretty small, I subbed directly for the batter, zesting and juicing two oranges, but ended up using less of the juice as the oranges produced more than I expected. (If I made this again with oranges, I might add the zest of one lemon to the mix; I think it would enhance the citrus flavor.) And I had enough slices for the top from only 1½ oranges (and my slices were so jaggy that I decided that'll have to be enough).

I followed the recipe except for a couple of tweaks--subbed coconut palm sugar for half the sugar in the batter and used my stand mixer (and thus one bowl), which worked just fine. My caramel hardened in the cake pan before I could spread it evenly so I stuck it in the oven for a few minutes to re-liquefy and averted a disaster. I suppose this is why it had a thin veil of brittle over the top after I (quite) "confidently" flipped that baby. But I kind of liked that effect.

A lot of butter and sugar for one 8-inch layer, but the cake was dense, almost custard-y, and very good, especially with, ahem, the crème fraîche. DH *really* loved it. I woke this morning to a mere fraction of the cake I knew last night.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

May I ask what you used to slice your lemons? I can't get nice super-thin slices on my (cheap) mandolin, and even w/ a sharp knife I can't get them as I'd like.

Any tips from anyone will be much appreciated!

Feb 17, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Sure looks nice!

Feb 17, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

Nominations Thread: Cookbook of the Month, March 2015

Looks like all the momentum is behind a Korean month, but since I'd rather have a little break from Asian until it warms up a little bit, I'm going to throw out some Italian titles and see if they generate any interest. A couple have been mentioned. (First two available, used, on Amazon starting at a penny plus shipping; CFC @ .77, as pistachio peas has already noted.

THE ROMAGNOLIS' TABLE (and/or NEW ROMAGNOLIS' TABLE)
THE ITALIAN COUNTRY TABLE
CHIANTI FAMILY COOKBOOK

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

Beijing Teahouse Vegetable Stir-Fry, p. 169

This made a very nice side dish with grilled steak. I made it as mostly as directed except I had a little more than the stipulated 7 oz pak choi and a little less than the 9 oz. oyster mushrooms. I also misread and ended up using mushroom soy sauce and non-vegetarian oyster sauce. But no matter: the end result was very tasty. Even my husband, usually not a pak choi fan, really enjoyed it.

First, 1 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns are heated in sizzling oil and then discarded. Garlic (3 cloves, sliced), chopped fresh ginger (1-inch piece), chopped red onion (1), and 1 tsp. chili flakes are added to the hot oil and stir-fried for a couple of minutes. Next, the mushrooms are addded and cooked for another two minutes, and then the halved (I quartered mine) pak choi for another two. The soy sauce (2 T) and oyster sauce (1 T) is poured in, and everything is tossed for another minute.

Quick and easy: I'll make this again.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Malaysian Spice Garden Shrimp Curry, p. 138

Another quick dinner: curry paste (lemongrass, red Thai chili x2, garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, and that smelly shrimp paste, all whizzed in baby FP) gets stir-fried in hot oil (about 30 seconds). Coconut milk, lime juice, salt, and tops of lemongrass stalks then joined the mix, are brought to a boil and simmered for a few minutes before jumbo shrimp are added and cooked just until done.

I did prefer this over the Aleppy version. Both are good, but I liked the looser sauce that results from the coconut milk (vs. coconut cream) and lime juice (vs. lemon). And the color was nicer too.

Nominations Thread: Cookbook of the Month, March 2015

I'd be happy with Italian of any stripe!

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

Thank you, LN! Those are the ingredients so I went ahead and used it. (Vile smelling so it must be the right stuff.)

Feb 12, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

[Question about] Malaysian Spice Garden Shrimp Curry recipe, p. 138

This recipe calls for 1/4 tsp shrimp paste. I have a small container of what I'm sure is the right product, a Thai product, but it is 3, maybe 4, years old. It had never been opened. When I cracked through the wax seal, I found paste that is greyish-brown, med. dark. Assuming this is old and probably degraded, I went to a couple of Asian markets looking for shrimp paste, and the only thing I could find is Lee Kum Kee "shrimp sauce" (in photo), which is light purple. It looks pretty different.

Can someone tell me whether these two products are similar? Would the shrimp sauce be appropriate in this curry? Thank you!

Feb 11, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Vietnamese Chicken with Chili and Lemongrass, p. 56

We enjoyed this. I went ahead and made it as directed this time, but wish I had added a generous squeeze of lime and doubled the chili and will do so next time. Definite do-over as this was so quick, with very little chopping.

I skipped the rice noodles side and opted for jasmine rice as I had some already cooked in the fridge. With a stir-fry of oyster mushrooms and asparagus, this made for a nice, easy meal after a very long day.

Feb 10, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 3 & 4

In the recipe, pork ribs are boiled until tender and then finished under the broiler, but I'm not sure I'll go for boiling, even with pork.

However, many moons ago, I had a boyfriend who made the most delicious "BBQ" ribs from a "secret recipe." When he decided we'd been together long enough, he divulged his secret. He boiled the ribs for a long time in spiced up water, and then finished them on the grill, basting them with his "secret" sauce. I would have never guessed they were boiled. (And he always served them with a delicious chopped salad of cauliflower, cucumber, tomato, and red onion in a creamy buttermilk dressing with lots of black pepper. But I digress.)

Feb 10, 2015
nomadchowwoman in Home Cooking
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