|Recently Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen published her first cookbook and I'm tickled pink to be able to share with ya'll how wonderful this book is. :)|
I received it a few weeks ago and have since made 5 recipes from it. Out of the 5 there was only 1 that didn't thrill us, but other than the Cooking Light cookbooks that I constantly cooked out of a few years back, and Dorie's Baking: From My Home to Yours, no other cookbook has given me consistent results until I started cooking from The Steamy Kitchen cookbook. Seriously.
Jaden's recipes are easy to follow, and for people like us, who live in a pretty metro area, ingredients are not hard to find. I can see a few being hard to find for those who aren't lucky enough to have an Asian grocery near-by, but honestly most ingredients you can find in the ethnic aisles of your local mega-mart. Regardless though, those extra hard to find ingredients can be left out or substituted and I'm sure you'll still get great results.
The photography is phenomenal. Each dish is styled so perfectly and makes you not only "want" to cook the recipe, but makes you NEED to cook it. The biggest bonus is each recipe, although looking and tasting as if you have to spend hours preparing it, can all be made in less than 1 hour. Again, for people like us, who are more than exhausted after each day of work, these recipes are a Godsend.
I'll start off with my absolute favorites and those were the Asian Style Brussels Sprouts on page 123. Holy Christmas. I could eat this side dish every day. Hubbs agreed. This simple dish was super easy to make, and it was like fancy for us! Who ever would have thought to shred wee Brussels spouts?? I felt like a giant grating huge heads of cabbage. :P No seriously, the flavor is amazing.. TRY IT!
Secondly is her Crab and Pork Wonton Noodle Soup on pgs. 60 & 61. Easily and unarguably my most favorite Wonton soup EVER. Hey, I'm an Italian who loves Asian food.. add extra noodles to an Asian dish and well, we've got a winner. The wontons were super easy to make.. they take a lil time, but once you make a whole batch, there are plenty left over to freeze. So the next time you've got a hankerin' for the stuff, all you have to do is drop them in the hot broth and cook until they're done. Another great thing, and this is just specifically for us because we have a great Asian grocery store not too far away - is that the egg noodles are sold in their freezer section and they are packaged into little "nests" about 5 to a bag.. so all I need to do is take out two noodle nests and drop them into the hot broth as well. The baby bok choy is another favorite. I think I like this green leafy vegetable in a soup even better than spinach. Add the green onions and yeah, the best wonton soup you can imagine. I just served this again to friends this past weekend at my sushi party and they LOVED it.
Taking third place was Mom's Famous Crispy Eggrolls on pgs. 50 & 51. These are the exact kind of eggrolls that I enjoy the most. Not too fat, not too thin and crispedy with just a tiny chew towards the center when you bite into one. I fried and baked these eggrolls and they were equally delicious.
Fourth was the popular Garlic Butter Noodles on page 134. I didn't make this dish, my husband did. He decided to follow Jaden's suggestion of turning this simple side dish into a main course by adding shrimp. He did a great job cooking it and it was just what I needed that night (I had the sniffles). The garlic really came through, and it had that sweet/salty flavor that I love. For such a quick preparation for the shrimp - first you fry in butter, then take them out leaving as much butter as you can in the wok, then using that butter to saute the onions, garlic and noodles before adding the shrimp back in - the shrimp really took on the garlicky flavor and I thought were the perfect addition to an amazing noodle dish.
Finally, our least favorite was the Grilled Steak with Balsamic Teriyaki on page 90. First off we didn't have steak in the house that day. Instead of running out to buy one, I decided to try it on thick pork chops. I know pork is great with both balsamic and teriyaki, so I figured they'd be great in this sauce. We felt the sauce needed something else. Not sure exactly what.. maybe more garlic? Maybe rosemary or thyme? Something to give the sauce more oomph. The glaze was nice and thick and covered the meat well. We got the char on the chops that we love.. it was good, just not great. Course I served it with the Asian Style Brussels Sprouts, so I was still more than happy with the meal when it was all said and done. ;)
A couple other features of the book I think should be mentioned is that Jaden took the time to add a Tools section. Each tool is given a description of why it's important to Asian cooking and just gave me another excuse to add gadgets onto my already long list of "must-haves". ;) The other section that I think is just brilliant, is "The Basics". Full of recipes for basic sauces, salts, pestos, pickles, and stock. She also includes step by step photo tutorials in this section, as well as a tutorial here and there in each recipe page throughout the book. Very helpful when you are so dang tired that text just isn't seeping through to your brain matter, if yanno what I mean? :)
One last thing I want to mention is this.. the night I was sick, when Hubbs made the Garlic Shrimp Noodles? He told me that he had book marked about 20 recipes he wants to try. Did you hear that people? I'm going to be on the receiving end of 20 recipes in the near future. That means I won't be lifting a finger. Hello? Now that's the mark of a great cookbook. ;)
In a nutshell, if you buy this book and give it a good run through, sure you're going to end up running into a recipe here or there that doesn't do it for you. That's not unusual. What's unusual is finding so many recipes that are appealing, that you really, really like. And all of them are fast enough to make after a grueling day in the dungeon.. or with the kids.. or on the crew.. or even after a day of being lazy when even making dinner sounds like too much effort. Open this book and you'll find something that's quick, easy and delicious.
Labels: Asian, Cookbook or Product Review, Steamy Kitchen