Atsuko’s Japanese Kitchen, a cookbook review

If I had to name a cookbook that both embodied home cooking and simple elegance, it would be Atsuko’s Japanese Kitchen by Atsuko Ikeda.  It’s the reason why I was looking forward to this review.

Back when I first started to cook, I was drawn to Japanese cuisine.  Shabu shabu, Japanese curry, miso soup with a proper dashi, etc. were the things I was trying to make in my home kitchen.  Somewhere, I stopped cooking Japanese food (with the exception of the occasional nabe). I’m not sure why. Maybe because it stopped feeling new to me?

But Ms. Ikeda does an excellent job of taking those familiar Japanese dishes and adding a modern flair, taking a familiar homemade dish and giving it a breath of newness.  Some examples are:

  • Smoked mackerel and dill onigiri
  • Mushrooms with blue cheese, yuzu ponzu, and truffle
  • Molten eggs with lightly seared marinated steak (molten eggs seem to be jammy eggs)
  • Mushroom and soy milk soup

 

That isn’t to say that there are no traditional recipes in this book.  For a few days, I couldn’t decide whether to test out her chicken and eggs on rice (oyakodon) recipe, or her beef and potato stew (nikujaga) recipe.  (And then I chose neither for this review.)

The book is divided into fairly standard chapters:

  • My Japanese kitchen
  • Regional Dishes
  • The secrets of Japanese cuisine
  • Small dishes for sharing
  • Soups and Noodles
  • Easy one-plate meals
  • Special occasion meals
  • Sides and Dressings
  • Desserts

 

The recipes I’m interested in making that I haven’t named already:

Glazed lotus root and chicken meatballs – I was introduced to this recipe years ago, and I may have lost the recipe.  I love renkon (lotus root) and you don’t see this stuffed renkon recipe in English written cookbooks often.

  • Ceviche-style scallops with citrus sauce – On paper, it reminds me of a dish from Tyler Kinnett, Executive Chef at Harvest (one of my favorite restaurants in the Greater Boston area).
  • Chicken in nanban seasonings with tartar sauce – Somehow, I never heard chicken nanban until recently.  It’s apparently the Japanese version of sweet and sour chicken.
  • Fried and steamed salmon in miso garlic sauce – The photo for this recipe really appeals to me.  It’s listed in the special occasion meals chapter but the ingredient list isn’t daunting, nor are the instructions.
  • Pumpkin salad – Kabocha squash, Japanese mayo, Greek yogurt, raisins, and almonds.  It sounds intriguing.
  • Azuki bean paste pancake sandwiches – It never occurred to me to make my own dorayaki.  I love red bean desserts!

 

And a shout out to the photographer, Yuki Sugiura.  Every recipe is accompanied was a gorgeous photo to inspire!

For my review recipe, I ultimately picked the chicken teriyaki with lime.  (The recipe serves it over quinoa rice, but it’s been hot here in the Greater Boston area so I chose not to cook another dish.  I ate it with store bought naan, and salad. I’ll make the rice next time.) I like Japanese teriyaki but I just never make it at home, but I was really curious how the lime matched the dish.

Aside from the chicken and the lime, I had all of the ingredients in the recipe.  (Full disclosure, I swapped the leeks with onion.) It was easy to make, so I can vouch that it’s a perfect dish to make at home.  Ms. Ikeda claims “after trying this recipe, you might never purchase ready-made teriyaki sauce again.” I’m inclined to agree! I thought this was delicious!  And the touch of lime elevated the recipe from being boring and ordinary.

If you’re interested in Japanese food, or if you’re looking for some new ideas that can be used for everyday cooking, I highly recommend this book.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I wasn’t. In fact, I think I’ll make the fried ginger pork for dinner this weekend.

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Ryland and Peters for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

 

Reference Links:

https://rylandpeters.com/products/atsukos-japanese-kitchen?_pos=2&_sid=d98f195e2&_ss=r

https://www.atsukoskitchen.com/

Advertisements

Cherry Bombe, The Cookbook, a cookbook review

9780553459524

When I first saw the cover for Cherry Bombe, The Cookbook, my first thought was “is this just a collection of cherry recipes?”  A quick look proved me very, very wrong.

From its website:

Cherry Bombe celebrates women and food through our biannual magazine, the weekly Radio Cherry Bombe podcast, and our Jubilee conference. What rocks our world? Sharing the stories of everyone from industry icons to notable newcomers, encouraging creativity in the kitchen, and bringing the Bombesquad together whenever possible. Our first cookbook, featuring 100+ recipes from 100+ of the most inspiring women around, will be out this October from Clarkson Potter.

Oh.

And per the book’s index, there only appears to be six recipes with cherries in them.  (Just in case you were dying to know.)

So then… what is in this book?  That’s the real question, isn’t it?  I’m happy to report that I literally got the last review copy available from Blogging for Books to satisfy my curiosity and yours.

The thing about this book:  It’s pretty diverse in terms of recipe selection and sophistication.  It makes me really look forward to cooking from this book.  (No recipe testing yet at this time.  My attention is still held by Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker book.)

The chapters are standard: Mains, Soups and Salads, Sides, Apps/Snacks/Sips, Cookies/Cakes/Pies, and Sweet Treats.

Here’s a sampling of what I’m looking forward to and why:

  • Pink Spaghetti with Beet and Ricotta Sauce – I like beets but rarely cook them.  Plus, this recipes has only 10 ingredients, two of which are salt and boiling water.  It seems very approachable.
  • Filipino Vinegar Chicken – What Filipino food I have, has always been pretty delicious.  I would love to become more familiar with it.
  • Shroomy Cheeseburgers with Maple Thyme Caramelized Onions – Just the title alone sounds amazing.  While more complicated than the burgers I normally make, nothing immediately looks scary or impossible.
  • Chicken Meatballs in Roasted Lemon Broth – The broth is nothing that readily makes sense to me.  Broth ingredients are lemons, olive oil, shallot, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, chicken broth, dried mint, potatoes, cipollini onions, and spinach.  I can’t imagine how this tastes, so I feel the need to make it.
  • Roasted Asparagus and Scallions with Burrata – I recently had dinner at The Amsterdam in Rhinebeck, NY.  My plate was fish with grilled bok choy, grilled scallions, and green goddess dressing.  I was surprised at how mild the grilled scallions were.  I imagine that roasted scallions will the same, and I bet it’s delicious with asparagus and burrata.
  • Best Friend Cheesecake – Overall, it’s a straightforward and basic cheesecake recipe.  That’s not a bad thing.
  • Dad’s Perfect Sweet Potato Pie – Submitted by Joy Wilson, aka Joy the Baker.  Also, sweet potato pie will always be my favorite pie ever.
  • Irish Soda Bread – Interestingly, this falls into the Sweet Treats chapter.  I think it appeals to me just because this recipe is baked in a 9×5 pan.  I like baking in my loaf pan.  I bake a lot of recipes in it that were meant to be muffins and such.

View this post on Instagram

#cherrybombe #cookbook

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

Other comments about the physical book, and not the content:  I suspect that the cover will be prone to wear and tear.  I haven’t even owned this book for 24 hours yet, but the corners of the front look like they’ve seen better days.

Every recipe has an accompanying photo.  The general style of the photography reminds me of current day Bon Appetite – a bit more HDR looking, a bit too brightly lit.  It’s not my favorite style, but I know it appeals to others.

As I ponder which cookbooks to cull from my collection, I feel confident that Cherry Bombe will stay in it.  There’s just too many recipes I legitimately want to try.

Related Links:

https://cherrybombe.com/

https://cherrybombe.com/cherry-bombe-the-cookbook/

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.