Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kudos to...

I think that up until now, there have only been 2 things in my life, outside my immediate and Travelers’ Tales family, that have provided me with instant and helpful hands. One was when I was pregnant and I had a wonderful support group through The Birth Place Resource Center in Menlo Park, CA. We all had something in common and were there for each other with questions, answers, hints, tips, and resources. The second time was when my son was in CYSA - club soccer. Our families all bonded instantly and shared food, rides, Starbucks runs, training tips, and medical wisdom on a regular basis for 4 years.

Now I find myself part of the food blogosphere. It was quite by accident through my friend Tea, but the support and rapport and sharing I have gotten from all over the world is just incredible. People offering suggestions, sharing every kind of recipe imaginable, and providing feedback that has enriched my life immensely. I am always in awe of the wonderful writing I encounter along the way, the gorgeous food photography I am witnessing, and the delicious recipes that I cannot wait to try. It amazes me that food can bring such a connection.

It is this online community, along with my family and close personal friends, that came to my rescue in the latter stages of the book process to test recipes for The World is a Kitchen. Eager hands willing to try anything, which not only took the burden off of me and yielded an unbiased opinion, but lifted my spirits and boosted my energy to get me through the rest of the ordeal.

I want to properly thank them for their time and support.


Tea over at Tea & Cookies tested two recipes. The first was the Yaki Nasu - Japanese grilled eggplant. This recipe appears in the story “Kaoru’s Kitchen”by Tara Austen Weaver, which takes place high in the snowy mountains of Japan. The second was pelmeni, a small meat-and-fat filled dough pocket. She wrote up a beautiful post, Russian Roots, which included information on culture and the origins of pelmeni, as well as the recipe and a review.

Cream Puffs in Venice is one of my favorite food blogs, because I have a sweet tooth and Ivonne takes the most magnificent pictures of her creations. I absolutely cannot read her blog if I am hungry and have learned to only log in once my belly is full, otherwise I am sure to overeat on things I shouldn’t! Ivonne took on two recipes, one for an Italian Crostata from Catherine Ann Lombard’s story “Guiseppa’s Secret Ingredient.” A simple recipe that can be served for breakfast, tea, or dessert, she chose this particular one as her father’s family is from Italy and her grandmother used to make the “sweet dough smothered in jam.” Her post includes a scrumptious photo, as usual. Crepes
The second recipe was a classic Crepes Suzette. This recipe appears in “Kitchen on Wheels” by Canadian Ann McColl Lindsay and as you can see by the picture here, it was a winner. Check out her post on the subject here. [A extra large thanks goes to Ivonne, as she was kind enough to post about my need for recipe testers, and her large audience pitched right in.]

Jenna of Jennatarianism chose the palak paneer. This Indian staple appears in Josh Flosi’s story, “Cooking with Jas” which takes place in Kenya, of all places. Jenna had a bit of problem in posting her test information (something along the lines of “the blogosphere ate my homework!”), so it is posted on my own food blog

Mole_verdeI thought no one would volunteer for the Mole Verde, as it had 23 ingredients and was a bit complex. But I knew that Fran of Flavors would not be disappointed when she offered, as this recipe is from Susana Trilling, author of Seasons of My Heart and owner of an Oaxacan cooking school of the same name. The recipe was featured in a story “Tastes of Generosity” by Judy Ware, where she and her husband attended the school at Rancho Aurora in Mexico. Fran was a trooper, as she probably had the most difficult recipe in the book, and her lovely post can be found here.

Cocopnut_bread“Mama Rose’s Coconut Bread” by Celeste Brash gave Helene of Tartelette fame a taste of Polynesia. A hearty bread, this recipe was actually tested by two people, who came up with similar reviews. Helene even made the bread twice, once with the coconut juice replacing the water and once with coconut milk replacing the water, which yielded a stronger coconut flavor overall. She also tried the recipe using a mixer one time and a bread machine on the other, with similar results. (My second tester used the old-fashioned hand-kneading method.) Be warned, however, this is not a sweet dense breakfast loaf like banana bread, it is, as you can see from the picture, a hearty white loaf with a wonderful texture. Read her whole post here.

Other wonderful recipe testers include:
Maureen Hargrave – who tested the Sate Lilit from Cindy Wallach’s “Souvenir.” Her response is posted on Eating Suburbia here.

Kathy Badman – my brave sister-in-law who climbed out of her comfort zone to test an African stew. Mafe, from the story “A Scandal in Senegal” by Tom Swenson is a lamb dish, which incorporates peanut butter into the recipe. My brother called me mid-bite to rave about the dish, which, if you knew my brother, is a big deal. She was also the second tester on the coconut bread that Fran at Tartelette tested (see above). Also a big hit with her whole family.

Donna Jones and Carol Shroba –Florida friends tried one of my favorite summer desserts—clafouti. This simple but rich recipe is mentioned in “A Foodie Lesson in Philo” by Lynell George and incorporates the best of summer’s fresh fruits. It got rave reviews. They also served Moqueca de Peixe, a Bahian fish stew, at a dinner party. This Brazilian recipe is featured in the story “Moqueca Feast” where Avital Gad Cykman learns the secret to this recipe, which is typically served to your lover.
Ginny Borkowski, one of my oldest and dearest friends, took on Turkish wedding soup from “Flavor by the Spoonful.” This story, by Helen Gallagher, speaks to the necessity of appreciating the old ways of slow cooking.

Emilia Thiuri, my right hand throughout this book process tackled the tagine with meat and prunes. Many might be put off by the prunes in this recipe, but she assured me that it was a delicious meal. And how can you resist something from a story titled “Honor Thy Mother,” where Rachel Newcomb reaps the benefit of culinary treasures from her new mother-in-law.
Again – a huge huge thanks to all of you. And, in my addled frenetic state to get all things done at once, if I have forgotten to mention you, forgotten to send you a copy of the book for your hard work, please, please let me know. The end of the production process is hectic and I know that I am missing at lease one person from this list (I think it was the tester of the Caldo Tlapeno.)

One final homage here to Sam at Becks and Posh who surprised me while I was on vacation and debuted the book as part of her post on Bay Area bloggers titled “Local Bloggers Have Helped Create Cookbooks.” It was a treat to come home and see this and my new book hot off the press. And congrats to the other local bloggers, Jennifer Jeffrey and chef Andrea Froncillo for their new release The Stinking Rose Restaurant Cook Book.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Seattle Anyone?

I have just booked my flights for the first leg of my book tour. I fly into Seattle on Sunday October 8th for 3 events in 4 days.

Sunday, October 8th 4:30 pm – Ravenna Third Place Books
Tuesday, October 10th, 7pm – Wide World Books & Maps
Wednesday, October 11th, 7pm – Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park)

I have contributors joining me at these events, and we hope to be serving some tasty treats at each venue, so come on down and join us for the readings and discussions on culinary travel. Also, I would love to hear from you about the following:

Recommendations on restaurants, tea shops, bakeries, or merchants to see while I am in Seattle. Last year when I was there I stayed near Pike Place Market and did the grand tour there. But I did not get to see much more than that area.

I have some free time during my visit and would love to meet you if you are in the area. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, or even a cup of coffee would work. If you live in the area, drop me a line and let’s see if we can get together.

Tell your friends about the events – the more the merrier. These are wonderful independent bookstores that need your support, and I’d love for the events to be well attended.

Many thanks in advance for your help!

Test Recipe #4 - Indian Cauliflower Soup

Here is the fourth test recipe per my earlier post, Eating Suburbia: The Tables Are Turned. Today’s recipe is called Indian Cauliflower Soup. I have a Nepali friend who introduced me to curries and Indian and Nepali cuisine many years ago, to this day, he still supplies me with homemade Nepali curry that his mother sends over from Kathmandu. I use it to make dal, curried stews, and fish curry ala Raj. Curries are not a favorite food amongst my children, but true to their mother, they will always try what I make. This time was no different. In fairness to the recipe, however, I did use the standard Madras Indian Curry brand, as that is widely available and would lend itself to something that would be easy to replicate taste-wise.

INGREDIENTS: all ingredients can be found at your local store. Nothing unusual here.

PREP: I assembled all the ingredients and prep time was less than 15 minutes.

COOKING: this took about 75 minutes, with minimal intervention. Saute, add, bring to a boil, simmer, cover, add, simmer, add, serve.

TASTE: This is not a heavy soup, despite pureeing the ingredients. It would make a great lunch item, appetizer, or light meal served with papadums and a salad. The curry flavor is prevalent, but not overpowering and the family all tried the soup and liked it. The chef recommends serving it with mango chutney and sour cream, but we only used sour cream and I couldn’t find the chutney I thought I had on the shelf. I don’t think the sour cream is at all necessary as the soup is not spicy or hot.

Indian Cauliflower Soup

2 oz butter
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 cup yellow onion cut into ½ inch dice
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped ginger
1 Tablespoon curry powder
2 pound cauliflower remove leaves, core, reserve 2 cups small florettes, chop the rest fine
2 ½ pints vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium russet potato peeled and finely sliced
1 can coconut milk
2 medium tomatoes cut into ¼ inch dice
2 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 lime zest and juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a four quart pot and melt the butter, add the cumin seeds, chopped onions, garlic and ginger and curry powder and cook on a medium heat until the onions are soft. Add the chopped cauliflower, liquids and potato and simmer for 45 minutes so that the cauliflower and potatoes are tender. Using a hand held blender puree the soup until smooth. Add the cauliflower florettes and simmer for ten minutes, add the diced tomatoes, cilantro and seasonings. Heat through for 5 minutes and serve.

Next on the list is Black Bean Chipotle Soup (daughter is testing) and French Onion Lyonnaise.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Test Recipe #3 - Oaxaca Tortilla Soup

Guest post, by the daughter

I am all about trying new recipes. In the last 4 months, I have maybe repeated 3 recipes. I cook 3-4 days a week, eat most of the leftovers, and of course, eat dinner at Mom’s on Sunday. I am always looking for quality and relatively quick meals that aren’t going to cost me a fortune. Recipes that have more than a dozen ingredients tend to discourage me, unless I already have most of them. When Mom signed me up to assist her in testing soup recipes for the chef at Sleeping Lady, I was all for it. We love Mexican food in our house, so I decided to try the Oaxaca Tortilla Soup. A pureed, zesty soup, that is great as a starter, light meal (combined with a salad), or as a main meal if you add a protein (shredded chicken or shrimp would be great). The texture is similar to a tomato bisque, without having to add the cream.

I could not, for the life of me, find the Pasilla de Oaxaca listed in the recipe. Not a pasilla in sight, actually. So to substitute, I used a tablespoon of chili powder, though a bit more wouldn’t have hurt. I also lacked a stick blender, which would have made this a bit more simple (and a lot less dishes!)

Oaxaca Tortilla Soup

6 corn tortillas, cut into ¼ wedges
2 oz olive oil
1 medium dried Pasilla de Oaxaca, ground in a coffee grinder
2 oz butter (1/4 cup)
1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
16 oz can of chopped tomatoes (I could only find 14 oz, so I used larger fresh tomatoes)
3 medium tomatoes, cut into ¾ inch dice
2 tsp dried oregano
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
½ cup cilantro, leaves and stems (I packed them to make ½ cup, and it was fine)
1 fresh lime, juiced
2 Tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
Sour cream
Salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, tortillas, and ground chili powder. Spread them out onto a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes at 325°F.

In a 4-quart soup pot, heat the butter until bubbling [I used medium heat]. Add the diced onions and garlic and sauté until golden [just make sure the garlic doesn’t burn]. Over a medium-high heat, add the canned and fresh diced tomatoes to the pot. Add the stock and ½ cup of cilantro, oregano, and bring the pot to a simmer [I turned it down once it began to boil]. Cook for 10 minutes then add the tortillas and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a hand-held stick blender, process the soup until smooth. Add the lime juice and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream [we also sprinkled shredded cheese over].

The chef also suggested the late addition of avocado, salsa, shredded chicken, or prawns. I cubed an avocado and added it to the soup right before serving it, which was a nice addition. The coolness of the sour cream and avocado, with the zesty flavor of the lime juice and chili powder, makes a pretty fun soup.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Here is the second test recipe per my earlier post, Eating Suburbia: The Tables Are Turned. Today’s recipe is called Creamy French Lentil Soup with Bacon. I learned to cook with dried beans when I was a college student and poor as a church mouse. I continue to cook with them today as my whole family loves them. Our standards include spicy black bean soup, white navy bean soup (like my granny used to make), curried lentils (dal), split pea soup, red beans and rice, among others. We have a fantastic farm, Phipps Country Store and Farm , over in Pescadero that sells upwards of 50 types of dried beans, some of them so beautiful they are worthy of counter display.

Lentils, in particular, are low in fat, high in fiber, and absorb the flavors of herbs and spices well. And just like they were when I was in college, they are inexpensive. A pound usually runs about $1 and it serves 6. Even these fancy French lentils were $1.99/pound at Whole Foods, which is reasonable for a main dish.

INGREDIENTS: the recipe calls for French lentils, which my Safeway did not have. I was able to get them across the street at Whole Foods, which had them min bulk. Everything else was available at my local Safeway or was already on my shelf or in my garden.

PREP: this was easy, just chopping and measuring. It took less than 15 minutes once I had everything assembled.

COOKING: this took about 80 minutes, with minimal intervention. Saute, add, sauté, add, boil, simmer, cover, add, simmer.

TASTE: We were all in agreement that this would be a good winter soup. The flavor was good. The combination of the vegetables worked well with the lentils and made for a hearty, earthy soup. Definitely a keeper recipe for my household. The directions called for salt, nutmeg, cayenne, and white pepper to taste. It needed very little salt, due to the bacon. I thought nutmeg was a poor choice of spice to add, so I only added ¼ tsp, making it indiscernible. I also added ½ tsp of each of the peppers, which added a nice warmth to the overall mouthfeel of the soup.

4 oz sliced bacon cut into ½ inch dice
2 cup ½ inch diced onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon dry thyme
1 cup carrots cut into ½ inch dice
1 cup celery cut into ¼ inch slices
1 cup brown lentils
2 quart chicken stock
2 cup diced tomato
3 bay leaves
1 cup whipping cream
Salt, nutmeg, cayenne, and white pepper to taste
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Heat a four quart pot and cook bacon until crispy, add the onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat until brown, add thyme, bay leaves carrots, celery, and lentils and stir well. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, cook for 40 minutes so that the lentils are soft, cover the pot with a lid for ten minutes. Add the tomatoes, cream, basil and seasoning and return to a simmer for five minutes

I had concerns about the amount of lentils. Thinking that athe recipe called for a pound of lentils, that is what I purchased. But upon closely reading the recipe, it only called for 1 cup. This seemed strange to me, as that would make it more of a vegetable soup with lentils. So what I did was cook the recipe as the chef had intended. I also cooked extra lentils on the side in stock. I tasted the recipe once it was cooked, and adjusted the lentils to my own satisfaction. What I would suggest is using 2 cups of lentils, rather than one. It makes for a heariter and thicker soup. The family agreed with me.

I also think the word “creamy” should not be in the title. The addition of cream does make it somewhat creamy, but the word intimates thick and luscious like a cream of potato soup, which it is not. Because it is not pureed or thick, the word is a bit misleading, in my humble opinion.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Duo Bread Pudding…for Breakfast

Guest post, by the daughter.

Bread pudding has been a bit of a fad in our combined households. As you may remember, it began in June, when my two Canadian friends were visiting. Since then, we have made approximately 5 batches of various styles of bread pudding. Mainly it has been myself, experimenting with berry, chocolate, and plain versions. Upon making the plain bread pudding (no spices, just milk, eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla), it occurred to me that it tasted a lot like a baked French toast. Interesting… Talking it over with my mother, Mrs. B, we decided to try a duo of breakfast bread puddings, inspired by the marriage of bread pudding and French toast. So, for the first time since I moved out in May, I stayed the night in order to wake up to make our new creations. Here they are, and by all means we are not wedded to these names, so if you have a better suggestion, please let us know!

Maple-Pecan Breakfast Bread Pudding

6 cups bread cubes*
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half (can use milk or cream instead, if needed)
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
¼ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup pecan, roughly chopped (optional)

Whisk milk, half-and-half, and sugar together. Slowly add melted butter (stirring as you add), then the eggs and syrup. Grease 1 ½ qt baking dish and add bread cubes. Sprinkle pecans throughout dry bread. Pour wet mixture over bread, and push the bread to moisten. Make sure all the bread has been coated. Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes, or until custard is set.

Orange Breakfast Bread Pudding

6 cups bread cubes*
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
Zest and juice from one orange
½ cup almond slices (optional)

Wisk milk, half-and-half, and sugar together. Slowly add melted butter (stirring as you add), then the eggs, zest, and juice. Grease 1 ½ qt baking dish and add bread cubes. Pour wet mixture over bread, and push the bread to moisten. Make sure all the bread has been coated. Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes, or until custard is set.

*Challah works great for breakfast, ½ loaf of Challah = about 6 cups cubed

We tried the maple version alone and with a drizzle of maple syrup. You could also add a dollop of whipped cream, if you so choose. Both versions were good, and the addition of syrup or cream just adds to the sweetness and intensity of the maple flavor.

The orange one had a nice subtle flavor, which could be intensified by substituting or adding a few tablespoons of frozen concentrated orange juice. We chose not to make a glaze, but a simple powdered sugar/orange juice glaze would be a nice addition and would make it a significantly sweeter breakfast dish.

Monday, September 04, 2006


I have started testing recipes per my earlier post, Eating Suburbia: The Tables Are Turned. Today’s recipe is Ginger Sweet Potato Soup. I chose this recipe for several reasons. One, as a child my mother thought I was allergic to sweet potatoes as I had a rash that she thought was an allergic reaction when I first ate them. So it wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually tried them again and found this was a false assumption. So I am making up for lost time. Two, I love ginger—anything with ginger, be it sweet or savory. Three, it is a recipe I might not have made without prompting and I like to cook outside the box whenever possible.

Usually I think of sweet potatoes in that southern delight, Sweet Potato Pie. Then, of course, the holidays, for which most people serve yams instead of sweet potatoes. And last, sweet potato fries, which I eat whenever I get the chance. Most people frown on the lowly sweet potato and I don’t hear of it being used very often these days, which is a shame, as this root vegetable is very nutritious, being full of Vitamins A and C and beta carotene. It is also low in calories and a good source of fiber. I got a bit nervous when I went to the store as all they seemed to carry was yams – several varieties in fact. But I bought 3 organic garnet yams and brought them home and did a little research. These are actually sweet potatoes, but a variety that is often referred to as yams. I cannot understand why they just don’t call it a sweet potato. Are they saving money on the lettering?

If I were to guess, I would say this recipe is Caribbean in origin. Sweet potatoes are grown in warm southern climates, such as South America, the Caribbean and Polynesia. But the addition of the coconut milk in this recipe reminds me of Caribbean/African cooking. Any thoughts on this?

INGREDIENTS: everything was easy to find at my local Safeway or was already on my spice shelf. I purchased fresh orange juice and used canned chicken stock as I had none in my freezer.

PREP: this was easy, just chopping and measuring. It took roughly 15 minutes once I had everything assembled.

COOKING: this took about 60 minutes, with minimal intervention. The last stage is to puree the ingredients. Normally I use a hand blender, which is the easiest tool to use and requires the least amount of clean up. But since I loaned out the hand blender, I had to use the old fashioned blender, which necessitates an additional bowl to put the puree in, as it has to be done in stages.

TASTE: Tester #1 (faithful husband who will eat anything) loved it. Tester #2 (Daughter won’t eat anything with ginger) so she passed. Tester #3 (me) With the initial taste, there was a slight tang, from the ginger and peppers and the flavor of the orange really came through, almost a bit too much on first taste. But after a few bites it wasn’t so prominent and there was a wonderful creamy texture to the soup. Tester #4 (son, the butcher) said it was good. Like the tang. Tester #5 (son, the electrician) liked it. Made him guess what was in it and he recognized oranges and potato. Also said he felt the tang on first bite.

The only thing I would change is the amount of orange juice. Maybe cut it down to 1 or 1 ½ cups and increase the chicken stock. The coconut milk is not discernable but lends a creaminess and sweetness to the soup.

I think this soup may taste better tomorrow after all the flavors have melded even more. Good thing there are leftovers!

Ginger Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into ½” dice
2 oz butter
3 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼” slices
2 cups fresh orange juice
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
13 oz can coconut milk
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp salt
1 pinch nutmeg, cayenne pepper, white pepper .
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Melt butter in a four-quart pot and add diced onions, sautéing until lightly golden. Add ginger and garlic, and cook for one minute. Add sliced sweet potatoes and stir. Add juice, stock, and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Blend soup using your blender guide for processing hot liquids or a hand blender. Add sugar, vinegar and seasonings. Serve.

One personal note: If you use a standard blender, be very careful. Because I do not usually use this type of blender for hot foods, I was unaccustomed to the procedure. I filled my glass blender pitcher half full, put the lid on tightly and turned it on to puree. The top proceeded to blow off, spewing hot soup all over me and the kitchen. I got a nasty burn. I continued by filling the pitcher a quarter of the way full, and holding down the top with a dishtowel over it, which worked significantly better.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I'm Off My Game

I decided that Saturday night would be tapas night. I felt like a little noshing and sangria and those little bites from Spain filled the bill. I proceeded to root around my cookbook shelves and unbelievably, I found that I did not own a tapas cookbook, or even a cookbook from Spain. Shame on me. I immediately remedied that by ordering one off Amazon, but that didn’thelp me plan a menu. I hit Epicurious and but wasn’t satisfied, so I just googled tapas and found a few recipes. On the menu:

Grilled sausage
Patata brava
Ajillo mushrooms
Bruschetta (my daughter’s contribution – as we have an enormous amount of basil and roma , tomatoes)

The results:

The sangria, made Friday night in a huge glass crock with red wine, limes, oranges, lemons, was just mediocre. It was probably the wine I used, but rather disappointing overall.
The grilled sausage was not homemade, so I can’t take any credit for it. But it was good.
Patata brava, which is cubed potatoes fried in olive oil and served tossed with a brava sauce was also mediocre. The first batch of cubes did not fry up well. I blame the olive oil. They broke up and stuck to the botton of the pan and looked rather pathetic. The second batch, cooked in a combo of olive and vegetable oils turned out a bit better, but I was unhappy at this point, so I probably didn’t give the second batch a fair shake on flavor. The sauce was quite spicy, so at least the sangria was put to good use putting the fire out in our mouths.
Ajillo mushrooms, which are cooked with garlic, sherry, lemon juice, and paprika was just plain boring and the combination just didn’t work for us. I had looked forward to sopping up the juices with some bread, but even that was a bust.
The ceviche, made Saturday morning with scallops, shrimp, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, cilantro and lime juice was refreshing and bright. It put a smile on our faces and almost dimmed the sadness we felt over the rest of the dishes.
My daughter’s bruschetta was fantastic as always. She mixes fresh perlini mozzarella (available at Trader Joes), roma tomatoes, basil, garlic, balsamic and olive oil. She lets it all marinate awhile and we served it on a rustic loaf. I think it is better served on a toasted baguette piece, however, so I failed on that score.

So overall, I felt I had failed. Maybe I took some short cuts by not trying things that were more challenging. Maybe it was the combination of dishes. Any way you look at it, it was a disappointing evening. So I will wait for my cookbook to arrive, and I will try again.

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle. —James Russell Lowell

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Tables Are Turned

Not that long ago I put out the call to test recipes for my book. The World Is a Kitchen. The response was great and book is now released (copies were mailed on Thursday for domestic partipciants and will go out Tuesday for international testers.)

So it was with some amusement that I received an email requesting that I do some recipe testing myself. The project is a soup cookbook written by Damian Browne, head chef at the Sleeping Lady Retreat Center in Leavenworth, Washington. It will be published and available next year.

Sleeping Lady is a year round retreat center specializing in conference and event planning. Nestled in the Eastern Cascade Mountains overlooking Icicle Canyon, the retreat was built with nature in mind. The landscape is much like it once was, with preservation efforts a top priority for the owners and architects. Integrated into the property is a rich arts presentation, including Icicle Creek Music Center.

Kingfisher Dining Lodge, the restaurant directed by Damian Browne, serves gourmet foods with a healthy focus. In addition to growing organic produce and herbs right on the premises, he endeavors to use local vendors for the bulk of his offerings.

Damian is from Australia and trained in Europe. He has worked in Canada and the States, first for large hotel chains, and opening new restaurants, and then found his way to Sleeping Lady when it opened in 1995. I am thrilled to be able to humbly assist by testing a few recipes over the next several weeks. On the agenda, assisted by my capable daughter, is:

Black Bean and Chipotle
French Creamy Lentil
Onion Soup Lyonnaise
Indian Cauliflower
Oaxaca Tortilla with Shrimp and Avocado
Sweet Potato and Ginger
Thai Chicken and Coconut
Southwestern Cauliflower

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. What’s on your cooking agenda?