Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cookbooks Answers, Plus Yumm Sauce and Other Recipes...

The following is in response to Susan R's questions about five of my favorite cookbooks. Try as I might, I could not seem to keep myself within the bounds of your specific questions, Susie. I hope this will suffice! :-):

Oops. Sorry for the poor picture quality. I'm too lazy at the moment to take another photo.

It's pretty impossible for me to pick just five cookbooks when I could easily choose five cookbooks for each question. I really don't have favorite cookbooks per se. I have many wonderful, beautiful, well-written books. I don't even have books I tend to cook from again and again-- not significantly more than others, that is. I've gotten to the point where I might look in 20 different cookbooks to see how a certain type of food or recipe was prepared, and then I will usually come up with my own way. I do, though, follow recipes exactly when I'm unfamiliar with a thing or when I absolutely love something and don't want it altered a whit.

The above books are not really my favorites, or even the ones I look at most often, necessarily, but I like each of these very much, and they are a good representation of the type of books I like. Each one is an excellent cookbook, and in each case, I have others like them. I'm leaving out some of my favorite cookbooks here, which pains me greatly.

Clockwise, from the upper left corner:

I've written previously about Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I love them. Yes, I do. If I had to choose just one of their beautiful books, I might choose this one-- Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet-- because I love Thai food and cuisine from that whole region. So, this book represents my love of world cuisines, especially spicy food, and it's a beautiful book to view and read, too.

Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This is a great resource. I've learned a lot from this book, and I still use it all the time as a good idea book for using vegetables. Deborah Madison is a great, knowledgeable cook. I have five or six of her books.

Unplugged Kitchen by Viana LaPlace. I enjoy this one because it's relaxing to read about Viana's lovely kitchen philosophy. She's into very simple, hands-on cooking, using high-quality produce and ingredients. The book is an encouragement to slow down and enjoy the process of cooking (something many people don't even want to consider-- shudder). I happen to like this. Fewer machines and a quieter, slower pace in the kitchen can make for a lovely time. I know how it is, though. Really I do. When the baby is crying and toddlers are running and squealing all over and everyone is hungry and the phone is ringing and the kitchen is a mess, cooking doesn't seem remotely relaxing. I understand. But it's worth aiming for this!

The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers. For a stellar cooking education. This woman knows what she's talking about, and she gives very detailed explanations of how and why she's doing what she's doing. She's very finicky, but this is a very good way to learn. Some of the best "teaching" writing for a cook I've ever read. I should say, though, that for a novice cook, learning from this book is definitely jumping in at the deep end. Some people like to learn that way, though... :-)

Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros. This is such a pretty, pretty book, but not in a too-perfect way. In fact it's quite the opposite. Very down to earth, real, and accessible. This is one that inspires me. I flip through it, and I'm suddenly feeling nostalgic and loving everyone and wanting to go bake a chocolate cake and put pretty violets all over it (just for my family; just because I love them). When I open this book, little beams of warmth and light enter my kitchen. I would love to have Tessa's out-of-print book, Falling Cloudberries.

Here's the list of the five cookbooks that have made their way into my hands most often in recent days. I must admit that most of these books don't feature good old American cosy home-cooking, if that's what you like best. Some of the food is a stretch and some of it isn't. Tamasin's Parmesan, Anchovy, and Chilli Biscuits (crackers), anyone?! (These really are super-delicious and addicting.) Or how about Padma's Red Snapper with Mint-Apple Chutney (it's delicious, too)? Or maybe Claudia Roden's Moroccan chicken tagine buried in vermicelli? Nigel Slater's sticky chicken wings or chocolate brownies should tempt just about anyone. Those five books:

Mangoes and Curry Leave (by Alford and Duguid)
Tamasin's Kitchen Classics (by Tamasin Day-Lewis)
Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet (by Padma Lakshmi)
Arabesque (by Claudia Roden)
The Kitchen Diaries (by Nigel Slater)


Someone (sorry I can't remember who) asked for the recipe to my Strawberry Kefir Smoothie. To make one serving:

1/4 c. all-natural whole milk yogurt
1/4 c. plain whole milk kefir
1/4 c. frozen strawberries (or a bit more; I think I use almost 1/2 c. berries)
1 T. (or less) pure maple syrup
1/4 t. vanilla, if you like
(1 T. coconut oil to add after initial blending; see instructions)

Whirl the top five ingredients in a blender until it's smooth. Try not to add additional liquid, but if you must (and sometimes I do), pour in as little kefir as possible. When it's completely smooth and blended, with the blender still running, trickle in 1 T. melted unrefined coconut oil. Blend to mix. I add 1 T. dolomite powder to this as a (highly absorbable) calcium/magnesium supplement, but this is optional.

The coconut oil might seem odd, but there's an awful lot of information out there about the health benefits of coconut oil. My favorite resource is Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Lots of great coconutty info here! They talk about why you want to avoid reduced fat dairy, too, if you consume dairy, that is.


BessieJoy, I'm finally getting the homemade Yumm sauce recipe posted for you. I found the following recipe online this past summer and emailed it to Laura A after her family visited Oregon (her family likes to eat at Cafe Yumm! when they visit Oregon). Laura's family liked the sauce, but she wasn't entirely sure if it compared well to the real thing. Then my best friend from the Oregon coast sent me the recipe in a letter, and she said that it compares really well to what is served in the cafes, and that's enough verification for me. My friend is a good cook and likes good food.

Original Yumm Sauce:

1/2. c. oil (the person who posted this uses canola)
1/2 c. almonds
1/3 c. nutritional yeast
1/3. c. garbanzo beans, drained (closer to 1/2 c.)
1/4 c. soybeans (this person used 1/2 c. tofu)
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1/2 t. salt
1 t. curry powder

Blend nuts beans, and oil in food processor (I'd add the garlic now, too). Add the rest of the ingredients, one at a time. Puree til smooth.

(Susan speaking again...) The way I construct a Yumm bowl at home is to layer these things in the following order (and it might be slightly different from the cafe way, but this is how I like it best). You can look at the Cafe Yumm! website to see their menu, for ideas. But here's my at-home way:

1. short grain brown rice, cooked (if you're in a hurry, you can use instant brown rice, or you can even use white rice-- Thai jasmine works best for Yumm! bowls, I think)
2. a good serving of Yumm! sauce; just dollop it on
3. beans (I combine black and red-- and sometimes pinto-- drained)
4. toppings (whatever you like-- sour cream or yogurt, grated cheese, avacado, salsa, tomatoes, cilantro, sliced black olives)

My toppings of choice are simply chopped tomatoes mixed with a very small amount of red wine vinegar and salt, avacado, and cilantro. I don't like the other toppings on mine. In the store, I order a vegan Smoky Yumm bowl with extra avacado. And, in my opinion, the Yumm bowls taste much better if you do not stir to combine everything. Leave it in layers, and dig into it. Yumm! :-)


I do have the catfish curry recipe that was requested, but now that I think about it, I should get permission from Michelle's mother-in-law before posting it. I don't think she'd mind at all, but I need to ask first.