Cookbook Giveaway: Everyday Thai Cooking

I’ve got a confession to make: I adore the heat and complexity of Thai food, but I rarely cook it at home. I always seem to be missing some key specialty ingredient, so unless I’ve planned ahead, a home-cooked Thai meal isn’t on the menu. There must be a lot of cooks like me, because Chef Katie Chin has come to our rescue with her new book, Everyday Thai Cooking: Quick and Easy Family-Style Recipes (Tuttle Publishing). And to celebrate, we’re hosting a giveaway for one lucky reader to win a copy (see below for details to enter).

everyday-thai-cooking-cookbook-giveaway-lunch{Chef Katie demonstrates techniques and ingredients featured in Everyday Thai Cooking.}

The book is especially welcome this time of year, when the indulgence that punctuates the season makes me crave light, bright flavors more than ever. Katie’s Steamed Mussels in Lemongrass and Basil made our Christmas Eve celebration. Her Tangy Pumpkin Soup yielded a nourishing, zippy meal to warm up a couple of chilly weeknights.

And while the recipes are moutcookbook-giveaway-everyday-thai-cookinghwatering, the section that’s perhaps most useful for the Thai cooking newbie is the rundown of signature ingredients. You’ll come away with a solid understanding of the role each plays in building the unique balance of the spicy, salty, sweet and sour flavors that characterize Thai cuisine, as well as helpful tips to make substitutions. Even better, you’ll be inspired to make a field trip to an Asian market to add some ingredients to your pantry and repertoire.

FOR THE GIVEAWAY: To celebrate Katie’s book — and make it easy for you to experience its delicious flavors — we’re giving away one copy of Everyday Thai Cooking to one lucky reader. And it’s easy to enter: Just leave a comment below. We’ll draw a winner at random and announce the lucky winner on the site on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Good luck!

In the meantime, you can enjoy a taste of Everyday Thai Cooking with Katie’s recipe for Tangy Pumpkin Soup.

UPDATE (12/31/13): We have a winner: Liz Carl Ulloa! Thank you to all who entered. Please check back for future giveaways! And สวัสดีปีใหม่ (Happy New Year!)

New Year’s Eve Sips and Nibbles

2010 has been a, well, challenging year for many, so it’s little surprise that people are ready to kiss it goodbye and welcome 2011 with open arms. We’ve got a lineup of elegant and nourishing cocktails and hors d’oeuvres to ring in the new year in style.

To sip:

As cocktail expert, Maria Hunt notes, if you’re hosting the festivities, guests are sure to arrive with sparkling wine, which is celebratory on its own and even better in cocktails. Check out Maria’s tips to create an interactive cocktail bar, plus her recipes for the Lava Lamp and Green Grapefruit.

To nibble:

Pair those bubbly sippers with a selection of savory and sweet items–all of which can be made well in advance. If you’re the host, you can prep these today or tomorrow. If you’re a guest, they’re also easy to tote to the party.

Coppa-Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese: Assemble these before the party, then bake them just before you’re ready to serve. I took a batch of these to a Christmas dinner, and they disappeared in no time. They’re also so easy to make that I’ve made them for us to enjoy just before supper during the week.

Manchego and Nutmeg Gougeres: Lia likes to serve these lovely little cheese puffs with a glass of Spanish Cava.

Spanish Leaning Spinach and Chickpea Dip: The spinach in this tasty dip offers a serving of good-luck greens for the New Year and a dash of color to the table. Serve this with crudite.

Chicken Pate with Brandy: This is an uptown riff on my grandma’s chopped liver. Serve it with crackers or baguette and mustard and cornichons, and you’ll have a pretty little platter.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts: This is classic party food. Make the mousse ahead, pop it into a pastry bag and refrigerate. Pipe it onto the endive leaves and top with toasted walnuts just before serving.

Rosemary-Parmesan Breadsticks: Another ideal finger food, these are so simple the kids can help you knead and shape the dough.

Boozy Orange-Pecan Truffles: You’ll want a little something sweet to round out the buffet. These petite chocolate truffles pack tons of flavor.

All of us at NOURISH Evolution wish you a happy, healthy, nourishing New Year! Cheers!

Holiday Menu for 8

We got together with friends last weekend for an early holiday dinner. It was a truly special meal, and this menu is in a similar vein. I have a soft spot for a traditional feast like this one, because it’s very similar to the special dinner my mom used to prepare every Christmas Eve.

holiday-menu-for-8Pre-dinner nibbles:

Coppa-Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese are tasty little nuggets that will get the party off to a delicious start but won’t spoil anyone’s appetite. Open a bottle of Carbernet Sauvignon or Syrah to pour with these. Last weekend, I also baked a loaf of Nourishing No-Knead Bread–only I added golden raisins and walnuts. Then I thinly sliced and toasted the bread to serve with a selection of cheeses (Manchego works beautifully, so does a soft cheese like Brie).

To start:

This dinner gets a classic start with a simple salad of romaine lettuce tossed with our Bestest Buttermilk-Chive Dressing. The dressing is wonderful on its own, but I also like to stir in an ounce of crumbled blue cheese. Add s sprinkling of croutons and you’re ready to serve.

The main event:

Holiday entrees don’t get more traditional than our Prime Rib of Beef au Jus. Even better, our version includes a classic Yorkshire pudding side, which you can prep while the meat rests. This recipe serves 12, so you’ll have some tasty Boxing Day leftovers.

On the side:

Prime rib deserves some potato action, and our Celery Root, Potato and Apple Mash is an updated riff on plain-Jane mashed potatoes. I also like Brussels sprouts with this menu. Here’s how I make ’em: Blanch 2 pounds of trimmed and quartered Brussels sprouts (dunk ’em in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and plunge them in ice water). Cook 4 ounces diced pancetta in a saute pan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind in the pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots to the pan; saute 2 minutes. Add blanched Brussels sprouts; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Toss with the cooked pancetta.

Sweet finish:

All you need are 7 ingredients to make our Eggnog Flans with Maple and Toasted Walnuts. Remember, these need to made at least a day ahead.

All of us at wish all of you a happy, nourishing holiday!

Busy Night Menu for 4

‘Twas the weekend before Christmas and all through the house … everyone was in a flurry of activity. We know what it’s like– a weekend packed with activity, from holiday parties to shopping expeditions to marathon gift-wrapping sessions. Who has time to cook, much less eat? You do, with our streamlined, super-easy Busy Night Menu for 4.

To start:

Whip up a jar of Lia’s Mustard-Shallot Vinaigrette. Use some to dress a simple green salad for dinner tonight, and keep the rest on hand for suppers during the week.

Main event:

My Brussels Sprouts Carbonara with Whole Wheat Fusilli is one of our favorite go-to winter dinners. It’s creamy, comforting and filling. And ready in about 20 minutes. Open a bottle of Chardonnay to pour with this dish.

To finish:

Keep things super-simple and make a platter of Lia’s Chocolate Crostini with Orange Zest and Sea Salt. They’ll satisfy a yen for something sweet and get you out of the kitchen so you can put your feet up and watch a It’s a Wonderful Life or, if you’re in my house, Bad Santa!

Sunday Supper with Braised Bison Menu

Cheryl’s story about bison as an alternative to beef inspired the braised entree that’s at the center of this menu for four. Start the bison cooking about 2-1/2 hours before you’re ready to eat and you’ll have plenty of time to pull together the other elements of this menu.

To start:

Begin with a salad made with seasonal ingredients like bitter greens, apples, beets, citrus and other winter fare. Lia has great ideas to improvise with what you find at the market. But if you want a recipe, she offers up a tasty Fennel and Granny Smith Salad with Blue Cheese.

Main event:

I used bison stew meat in this Buffalo Carbonnade for our riff on a Belgian classic that calls for braising the meat in hearty dark ale. The result is a comforting, fork-tender dish that I love served over Celery Root, Potato and Apple Mash. If you want to keep things really easy, simply serve the meat over egg noodles. And, of course, pour a glass of that lovely ale to sip with it. You’ll have some leftovers, which will make wonderful midweek lunches (warm up a container of this in the office microwave and your co-workers will be envious!).

Sweet finish:

A warm, winter meal like this calls for a warm dessert. Try our Chai-Spiced Amaranth Pudding. The recipe calls for serving the pudding chilled, but I can tell you it’s just good–even better with this menu–warm.

Bon appetit!

Our Hanukkah Menu

Cheryl’s story about her rowdy Hanukkah festivities inspired us! The holiday lasts eight nights, which means there’s still plenty of time to celebrate with our Hanukkah Menu. This lineup serves 4, so it’s ideal for a small celebration at home.

To start:

Alison’s Chicken Pate with Brandy is really just a dressed-up, lightened-up version of her grandma’s chopped liver from Kiev. And, yes, she still likes it best schmeared on rye.

The main event:

Roast chicken is a Hanukkah classic, and Lia’s five-ingredient Simplest Roast Chicken lives up to its name for simplicity and still delivers awesome flavor. Accompany it with a side of Root Veggie Latkes (served with a dollop of applesauce) and Spicy Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Golden Raisins.

Sweet finale:

Our Chocolate Angel Food Cake is a good make-ahead treat. Only instead of the strawberries called for in the recipe, substitute seasonal oranges or tangerines, cut up and macerated in a little sugar, lemon juice and Cointreau.

We wish you all a happy, nourishing, light-filled Hanukkah!

Our Sunday Night Light Menu!

Whew! What it’s been quite a week of cooking and eating! By the time Sunday night rolls around, you’ll appreciate our nourishing Asian-flavored soup-and-salad menu.

sunday-night-menuTo start:

A touch of white miso paste adds heft to the dressing for our Fennel, Red Onion and Blood Orange Salad with Miso-Orange Vinaigrette. Blood oranges are just starting to come into season here in California. If you can’t find them yet, substitute regular oranges. It’ll be just as delicious!

Main event:

From the dashi base to the bok choy and udon noodles, everything about Lia’s Simple Udon Soup will make you sigh, “Ahhhh.” Even better, it comes together in about 20 minutes, and you can add the last of that leftover Thanksgiving turkey to the pot.

Sweet treat:

This supper is all about keepin’ it light, so you don’t want anything too heavy for dessert. Earlier in the afternoon, pop a batch of our Blood Orange Granita in the freezer. Here, too, you can sub regular oranges or even tangerine juice if you can’t find blood oranges.

Our Nourishing Thanksgiving Menu!

For many, the Thanksgiving feast is the biggest meal of the year, both in the scope of the menu and size of the guest list. Our nourishing, high-flavor Thanksgiving menu serves 12, and you can do much of the work ahead of time.


Even though guests know they’re in for a hearty meal, you’ll still want to greet them with a little something. Set out a bowl of Lia’s Spanish Leaning Spinach and Chickpea Dip with crackers, carrot sticks and celery spears. Make a 1.5x batch to serve this crowd.


Ginny’s Wild Rice Salad with Pistachios and Golden Raisin Vinaigrette adds a lovely, fresh note to the spread (you’ll need to make a 1.5x batch of this, too). Even better, it’s designed to be made in advance to save you time on the big day. Be sure to check out her tips for planning a stress-free feast.

Main event:

Lia’s six-ingredient Miso and Herbed-Rubbed Applewood-Smoked Turkey boasts huge flavor. Even better, it’s smoked on the grill, which frees up oven space on Thanksgiving.

On the side:

If you’re like me, you love the Thanksgiving sides best of all! Our “Sans Pan” Cider Gravy is designed to go with our grilled bird, and you can make it in advance. Round out the buffet with our interpretations of all the traditional trimmings: Green Beans with Frizzled Shallots (prep a triple batch for this menu), Susie’s Breadcrumb Stuffing (1.5x batch), Sweet Potato Puree with Honey and Crispy Shallots and Grandma Friese’s Whole Cranberries.

Sweet finale:

Pumpkin Tart with Maple Whipped Cream and Toasted Walnuts or Apple Pie with Chinese Five Spice and Hazelnut Crumb Topping? I say, make both and keep everyone happy.

To sip:

Pairing wine with a widespread menu like this can be tricky. Lia’s advice: Let the flavors of the bird be your guide. In this case, the turkey’s miso and smoky notes lead her straight to Gewurztraminer.

All of us at wish all of you and yours a happy, healthy and nourishing Thanksgiving!

Supper Menu for 4!

A menu with fall flavors, an entree that comes together in less than 15 minutes and a winning make-ahead dessert–that’s our idea of a perfect dinner.

To start:

Everything about our Fennel and Granny Smith Salad with Blue Cheese says “autumn.” If you have one, use a mandoline to shave the fennel and onion; otherwise a sharp knife will do the job nicely.

Main event:

Lia’s Veal Scaloppini with Shallot-Caper Sauce will impress everyone, yet you can make it in less than 15 minutes and it yields superb flavor.

On the side:

Whip up a batch of Celery Root, Potato and Apple Mash (you’ll have some leftovers, which reheat beautifully for dinner another night), and round out the plate with our colorful Green Beans with Frizzled Shallots.

Sweet finish:

I made a batch of Cheryl’s Mini Dark Chocolate Puddings with Shaved Chocolate the other night to quell a chocolate craving. High-quality dark chocolate and brown sugar lend these puddings intense flavor, so a petite serving really does satisfy.

To drink:

I consulted with my friend, John, who’s studying to be a master sommelier and has a terrific palate for matching food and wine. His top recommendation: a pinot gris from Oregon or Alsace. It has a touch of green fruit and citrus to complement the veal. Open a bottle, which you can use in the pan sauce, then enjoy the rest with the meal!

Baby Cuisine Cookbook

Here’s a serious feel-good thing to do today: help Shane and Chantal Valentine fund a second printing of their awesome Baby Cuisine Cookbook by pledging a donation here on Kickstarter.

I first found out about Shane and Chantal through their website, Alina’s Cucina, and instantly fell in love with their approach. Shane is a trained chef. His wife is a marketing guru. When they had their first baby, Alina, they were both committed to feeding her food that would help her form healthy eating habits for a lifetime.

When I first met Shane and Chantal face to face a little over a year ago, they were about to bust out a brand new set of twins and were in the midst of evaluating publishing options for their cookbook. They decided to self-publish a small run, and were immediately picked up by Whole Foods in Northern California. Distribution has now expanded into the Northwest and the Valentines are looking to transition to a hardcover (they originally printed in a handy spiral bound format, but found out it didn’t ship super well) and print a second run. And they’re raising money the old-fashioned way to fund it.

But this isn’t just any old baby food book; Shane drew on inspiration from what parents feed their babies around the world. The layout is gorgeous, with adorable kiddo photos, mouthwatering food photography and passport stamps from different countries. Dishes like Turkey Bolognese, Tarragon Carrots and Gyro with Tzatziki are not only healthy choices that will expand your baby’s palate … they’re darn fine meals for the whole family.

Help them fund the printing through Kickstarter and you not only get a very cool cookbook for as little as $25 (which also makes a great gift, by the way); you get to know you’re supporting a couple in a worthy quest of raising a nation of children who love nourishing food.

Watch this video and click through to support if you’re moved … and help spread the word by tweeting, posting on facebook, or even grabbing the cool widget from Kickstarter.