I must say that I was quite pleased with the striking, three-page article about my new book Radically Simple featured in this month’s issue (April) of Cosmopolitan magazine. The headline screamed “So Impressive but Insanely Easy.” The editors chose three dishes to feature and went on to say that “these recipes combine basic foods in some very surprising ways. The result: a purely magical meal that makes you look like a total rock star in the kitchen.” They got it! It really is the essence of the book. I wanted to make it possible to create restaurant-quality, sophisticated food in the easiest way possible — with procedures limited to 140 words. Not quite Twitter but close. My desire was to apply a bit of “chef-thinking” to home cooking. As I’ve said in previous blogs, I am always interested in the recipes initially chosen by food editors to feature and by my readers to try. There seems to be some consensus about the recipe for Pork Loin in Cream with Tomatoes, Sage and Gin! It has become one of the most popular recipes in the book. It’s the “go-to” dish to try out the new radically simple concept. It’s true that the photo is stunning, but I think it’s the twist on something familiar, that makes it so appealing. The Cosmo editors paired it with my “Steamed Broccoli with Blue Cheese, Red Onion & Mint (again, a colorful riff on something familiar), and finished with a radically delicious dessert called “Apples to the Third Power.” The ingredients are apples, apple butter, and apple cider, hence the name. While you can find these recipes in the book, what you can’t find in the book, or anywhere else for that matter, are my “10 Best Cooking Tips” — better yet, new food ideas. Here they are:
1. Roast large black grapes for an unusual treat — they end up looking like olives but are obviously sweeter. Serve them with an array of cheese.
2. Pour olive oil in an ice cube tray and keep in your freezer. Anytime you’re cooking a sauce that needs to be thickened, toss in a cube.
3. If you have canned tomatoes but want ’em chopped, stick your kitchen scissors into the can and snip away!
4. Everything looks more elegant on a bamboo skewer. Try it with grape tomatoes or sugar snap peas and use to dip into hummus.
5. Make your own cream cheese: put 2 cups sour cream into a paper-lined coffee filter over a bowl and let drain in your fridge for a day.
6. Make a fancy but simple chilled-shrimp dipping sauce by blending together a jar of salsa, 1/3 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lime juice.
7. Instead of croutons, add fried chickpeas to your salad. They have the same crunch but are way more flavorful and nutritious.
8. Here’s an unusual ice cream topping: boil 2 cups prune juice until it’s reduced by half and becomes a syrup (it looks like chocolate sauce!) Drizzle over coffee ice cream and top with toasted almonds.
9. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of espresso powder to chili or beef stews for complexity and richness. Hoisin sauce works well, too.
10. Glue old wine corks (not plastic ones) into a circle (standing upright) for a nifty, effective trivet.
I’ve always loved Cosmo!