Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review of Jacques Pépin's "Heart and Soul in the Kitchen" and his superb recipe for Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops


I am a cookbook enthusiast and reader.  While I may troll the Internet instead of my bookshelves to find a recipe that is in one of the hundreds of cookbooks we own, I still get great pleasure from reading a great cookbook from start to finish.  In this case, even as a long time fan of Jacques Pépin and owner of at least ten cookbooks that the chef has already written, I can say this is my favorite cookbook of the year.  The reason is simple and can be found in the title.  M. Pepin has gone back to his roots and his memories and infused every page with his philosophy on life and of food. And oh what food!  Simple, direct, delicious. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Gong Bao Chicken with Peanuts

I like cooking Chinese food at home.  And I had an overwhelming desire to do so after my stay in Milano last month.  My Italian ‘sister’, Sofia has a real problem with gluten.  This, unfortunately, removes a great deal of Italian food from her diet. So when I wanted to take Sofia and her husband, Mario, out to dinner she chose a local Chinese restaurant in the Art Deco district of Milan where she lives.   This was not necessarily a good sign since I had not see one Asian face in the neighborhood until we arrived at the family-run restaurant.  Sofia is so off gluten, she actually brings her own sauté pan fearing that some hint of flour may be left in the restaurant’s pans.  And how was the food?  Quite possibly the worst Chinese food I have ever tasted.  And you have to go a long way to ruin Chinese food—especially its stir-fries, which aside from chopping and prepping, are among the easiest things on earth to cook.  And today’s Gong Bao Chicken with Peanuts, wildly popular in this country, is no exception. You can be forgiven if the name is unfamiliar to you.  That’s because in America, it’s more often called Kung Pao chicken. And interestingly, it’s not terribly popular in China.