After many years of eating out most of the time, I have got
quite into cooking recently - a major contributing factor
being Paula living with me, since it's a lot more fun to
cook for two than one! We like to cook a pretty wide range
of things, especially Asian - Thai, Indian, Chinese,
Japanese. Check our
cooking photo album!
The book I would recommend most highly (to
anyone, but especially someone who doesn't cook
that much or wants to get into cooking more
exotic things) is Food and Wine magazine's quick
from scratch one-dish meals cookbook. The
recipes are easy to make and they tell you
precisely what to do in simple terms, which is
especially good if you haven't done much cooking
(Jamie Oliver's books - see below - are great,
but they tend to leave rather more to your
discretion, which is good once you have a bit of
confidence but can be a bit daunting if you
haven't cooked much).
Some of my favorite recipes in the book that I've
made include the following:
- Tortilla soup - lovely thick spicy tomato-based soup
with chicken and avocado which you pour over fried
tortilla strips and cheese
- Turkey and black bean soup - flavored with chili
powder, cocoa, oregano and Tabasco, yum!!
- Chicken and smoked sausage gumbo - great tasting and
easier than a lot of other gumbo recipes I've seen
- Lamb biryani - great Indian dish, another very easy
recipe (once you've bought the various spices you need)
- Thai one pot - pork, bell peppers and shiitake
mushrooms cooked in a single pan and flavored with soy
sauce, lime juice and Cayenne pepper
- Pork paprikash - Hungarian dish featuring cubes of
pork tenderloin browned and stewed in broth flavored
with paprika, onions and peppers
- Szechuan shrimp - spicy Chinese dish
- Scallop-topped potato and celery root (celeriac)
puree with lemon brown-butter sauce - this is one of
Paula's favorites, less spicy than most of our other
favorites but great flavors
- Chicken chilaquiles - a really unusual mexican dish
which features tortilla chips softened by heating them
in a spicy chile sauce, topped with feta, onion, sour
cream, cilantro and chicken - I really like this one
- Shrimp po' boys - New Orleans sandwich which is a
favorite of Paula's daughter Nikki
Quite an impressive list of exotic but easy to make
dishes, I think!
My other favorite cookery book is by Jamie Oliver, "The
Naked Chef" (it's his cooking that is "naked", not him!).
He's a really popular TV chef in the UK and apparently his
show is now on the food channel in the US, though the title
has been changed from "The Naked Chef" to "Oliver's Twist"
(I wonder about Americans sometime)!!
My brother John got me into Jamie Oliver when he bought me
the DVD from his first series and one of his books last
Christmas. There's a pretty wide range of Jamie Oliver stuff
The DVD I have is the UK version of "Oliver's Twist" and the book I
have is the second one - Return of the Naked Chef in the UK, or The
Naked Chef Takes Off in the US. Some of the recipes I've tried
include the following:
- Monkfish wrapped in banana leaves with ginger,
coriander, chilli and coconut milk - this is a fantastic
dish I've done quite a few times, great for
entertaining! Actually I've done it with halibut and
- "Peter's lamb curry" - named after Jamie's friend
Peter rather than me :) but nevertheless obviously an
appropriate recipe for me. This is completely from
scratch - you grind up seeds in a mortar and pestle for
the spices, no curry powder here!
- Risottos - I've made a couple of these and they've
both been great - one is roasted sweet garlic, thyme and
marscapone risotto with toasted almonds and breadcrumbs,
the other white risotto with lemon thyme, sliced
prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat's cheese
- Fragrant Thai broth - another great one for
entertaining, tastes great and interesting presentation!
There are lots more interesting recipes I'll get to in
due course - I definitely want to try his home made pasta
and breads! A few pictures of our adventures with Jamie's
recipes below - more in our
One final book to recommend for the moment, which is "Asian Soups" by
Suzie Smith. The soups I've tried from this book have been
reasonably easy, the only tricky part is tracking down all
the ingredients. We have a really good local Asian market in
Downtown Denver, which is where we get all Asian ingredients
Pacific Mercantile Company.
Soups I've tried from this book include:
- Thai chicken coconut soup (Tom Ka Gai) - I love
this, one of my favorite meals!
- Chinese hot and sour soup - this is a little
different from your typical hot and sour soup (not as
thick) but very good!
- Marinated lime and chili fish soup - this is really
interesting, you marinade the fish beforehand then put
it in the bowl with various other ingredients, add hot
stock and it cooks in the bowl in a few minutes!
- Thai hot and sour chicken soup (Tom Yum) - seriously
spicy this one!
We also like to make miso soup which is very easy - just
need some good miso paste and we add some combination of
mushrooms, tofu and seaweed (nori).