Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cookbook Winners

At long last, I'm announcing the winners of the last 2 cookbook giveaways!

Reader, Amy, won the random drawing for Ready, Steady, Spaghetti. Drop me an email (aminglingoftastes AT gmail DOT com), and I will get the book to you asap.

Reader, "Andrew's Mom," from Long Island is the winner of Modern Spice. Check your email!

If you missed the last giveaway for Modern Spice, I posted a super-simple recipe for seared trout with mint-cilantro chutney from the book. It's perfect for a weeknight. You can also see what other bloggers cooked from the book right here on author Monica Bhide's own blog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monica Bhide's Seared Trout with Mint-Cilantro Chutney (and a chance to win her book!)

Moving is not fun at all. As you're reading this, I will probably be in transit. I'll be deprived of a kitchen until about July 1, but at least there are no dishes to do!

Last week, surrounded by boxes and lacking any surface on which to properly eat a meal (We donated a lot of furniture, including dining table and chairs, coffee table and desk--my 3 favorite places to eat!), I enjoyed a delicious respite from the chaos. Monica Bhide, a lovely, talented food writer friend, decided to throw a virtual dinner party to promote her gorgeous new cookbook, Modern Spice.

When she asked if I could participate, I was afraid the move would make me miss the fun, but I should have known better. Monica does Indian food (and her native Indian cuisine is indeed the subject and inspiration for Modern Spice), but she does it her way. Her recipes are imaginative and beautifully balanced, never choosing excess over pared-down purity of flavor. I wanted to do a main course, but when she sent me the recipe for seared trout with mint-cilantro chutney, it looked so easy that I feared I wouldn't be pulling my weight at this virtual party!

This recipe can be done in 20 minutes, literally. It sounds incredibly simple (which it is), but the flavors are anything but. The chutney, with just a few ingredients, manages to be complex, verdant, spicy and perfectly matched to the simply seared fish. It was an ideal weeknight meal, and I want to make the chutney over and over for a dozen different uses. I'd love it drizzled over eggs or mixed with Greek yogurt for lamb kabobs. I used the leftovers to spice up salmon tacos I had for lunch the next day.

Getting ready to make the chutney with cilantro, serrano chile, mint and lemon (the lime was for gin & tonic--moving calls for libations!)

Monica has enlisted a fantastic group of bloggers (including Dorie Greenspan on desserts!) to fill out her dinner party menu, so click over to her blog, A Life of Spice, to see more food from the book (she will have a round up of mouthwatering pics of everyone's dishes done by Monday night). There are some cocktails and appetizers (mini-Cheesecakes with tomatillo chutney!) that I really want to try.

And finally, Monica and her publisher have also generously provided a copy of Modern Spice for one of you, my lovely readers! To enter to win, leave a comment on this post by Wednesday at midnight, eastern time. Tell me what dish most appeals to you from Monica's virtual dinner party, or talk to me about Indian food. Be sure to leave your name and where you live (must have continental U.S. mailing address to win), and I'll announce the winner here on Thursday.

Pan-Seared Trout with Mint-Cilantro Chutney
If you are reading this recipe and thinking, “Really, can it be that simple?”—yes, it is, and it is simply delicious. Don’t take my word for it, though. Get a pan out and start searing!
Julie's notes: Good substitutes for the trout are cod, snapper and tilapia.

Serve the trout with a drizzle of the Mint-Cilantro Chutney.

Serves 4
Prep/Cook time: 15 minutes

4 skin-on trout fillets, about 6 ounces each, halved lengthwise
Table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄4 cup Mint-Cilantro Chutney

1. Season the trout fillets with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the trout, skin side down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the trout is cooked through.
3. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, skin side down.
4. Place each fillet on a serving plate and drizzle each with up to a tablespoon of chutney. Serve immediately.

Mint-Cilantro Chutney
This is the most popular chutney in India, hands down. It can be found in many Indian-American homes, in restaurants, and now in jars on grocery store shelves. Its charm lies in how simple it is to prepare. My father always adds a little yogurt to his chutney to make it creamy and then pairs it with lamb kebabs. My mom-in-law adds a hearty dose of roasted peanuts and serves it with savory snacks; Mom adds pomegranate seeds—you get the idea—to each his own. This versatile chutney has so many uses. Thin it a little and use it as a salad dressing for a crisp green salad; use it in the consistency provided here as a spread on a baguette topped with fresh cucumber slices; or simply drizzle it on some freshly grilled fish for a fresh flavor. One word of advice here: Green chutneys have a short shelf life. Make them in small batches and make them often—they only take a few minutes but the rewards are well worth the effort (which really isn’t much).
Julie's notes: I did use the optional serrano chile with some of the seeds, but I did not use the optional dried pomegranate.

Makes 1 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes

1 cup packed cilantro (leaves and stems)
1 cup packed mint (leaves only, please)
1 green serrano chile (optional; if you don’t like too much heat, remove the seeds)
1⁄4 small red onion, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon dried pomegranate seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
Up to 2 tablespoons water

1. Blend the cilantro, mint, chile, onion, pomegranate seeds (if using), lemon juice, and salt in a blender to a smooth paste. To aid in the blending process, you can add up to 2 tablespoons of water, if needed. Taste and add more salt if needed.
2. Transfer to a covered container and chill for about 30 minutes.
3. Serve cool. This chutney will keep, refrigerated, for 4 days.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Giveaway: Ready, Steady, Spaghetti

Thanks to everyone who has entered the last two cookbook giveaways! I've enjoyed all the comments. Unfortunately, I still haven't tracked down, "4fish", the winner of Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken. So, Ms. or Mr. 4fish, please email me by Wednesday, or I'll have to pick an alternate! The winner of last week's book, Memorable Recipes is Kathy from Mission, Texas. You should have an email from me in your inbox...congrats!

Up next, I have a copy of Ready, Steady, Spaghetti by Lucy Broadhurst. This big, user-friendly paperback cookbook full of color photos is all about food with major kid-appeal. While there are plenty of fun gimmicks like Fairy Wands, there are also plenty of options that will satisfy adults and older kids, like Spaghetti with Chicken Meatballs. Whether your little one is in the kitchen cooking along or just needs some dishes tailored to his or her developing palate, this looks like a winning book.

To enter the giveaway, follow the same drill as last time: leave a comment to this post, perhaps about your favorite meal as a kid (or your own kid's "unique" food preferences). Comment by Sunday, June 21 when I'll pick a winner at random and contact you. If you don't have a website, or don't want to leave your email address, just leave your first name and I'll announce it in an upcoming post (of course you'll have to check back and email me to get your prize, but I want to make sure everyone can maintain as much privacy as they want to). Good luck!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Giveaway: Memorable Recipes

This week's cookbook giveaway is Memorable Recipes to Share with Family & Friends by Renee Behnke with Cynthia Nims. There's a lot of eye candy here thanks to full-color photos, but this cookbook is also a primer on simple, elegant entertaining.

Recipes range from comforting classics like corn chowder and rack of lamb with rosemary and garlic to international favorites like chiles rellenos and gazpacho. There is also a chapter of menu ideas complete with cocktail recipes and wine notes. As the president of the Sur La Table, I'm guessing author Renee Behnke had plenty of experience to pour into this book.

To enter to win, all you have to do is leave a comment to this post. Lost for words? Tell me what your favorite dish or menu for entertaining is by Sunday, June 14 when I'll pick a winner at random and contact you. If you don't have a website, or don't want to leave your email address, just leave your first name and I'll announce it in an upcoming post (of course you'll have to check back and email me to get your prize, but I want to make sure everyone can maintain as much privacy as they want to.) Good luck!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Giveaway: Lost Ravioli

As promised, here is this week's book giveaway: The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food & Family by Laura Schenone. Here's what Anne Mendelson of Saveur has to say about it:
"[A] solidly researched, lovingly written memoir--and a splendid detective story...This wonderfully intricate, rumpled, generous narrative would be a joy even without the final lagniappe of about two dozen hard-won recipes."
To enter to win this book, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. What to say? If you've ever made homemade pasta (I have with delicious, though rustic, results), tell us how the experience was. Or tell us your absolute favorite pasta dish. Comment before Sunday June 7 at noon eastern, after which the random integer generator will do its work. Be sure to leave some way for me to contact you (email address, link to blogger profile page, link to website, facebook or twitter page) if you win. Sorry international, Hawaiian and Alaskan friends, but this contest is limited to readers in the continental USA only.

Good luck! (Now aren't you dying to go look up lagniappe?!)

Monday, June 01, 2009

June Cookbook Giveaways!

Photo Credit: Brian Teutsch (creative commons license)

Top 10 reasons to move to Chicago:

1) To shop at the many farmer's markets.

2) To drive less--call me a masochist, but I love public transportation.

3) To eat elk poutine at The Gage as often as possible (That one's for Mike. Mostly).

4) To soak up the Obama mystique.

5) To wear layers! (You can only make so many style statements with tank tops and shorts)

6) To live near a big airport with direct flights going virtually everywhere.

7) To eat at The Bristol and Mercat a la Planxa at will.

8) To buy truffles at Ethel's Chocolate.

9) To have a Ferris Bueller moment at the Art Institute whenever I feel like it.

10) To live in an apartment that allows pets (I'm getting a pug!)

Can you guess why I made that (highly subjective) top 10 list? We're moving to Chicago! If you've ever noticed the subtle jabs I take at Fort Lauderdale occasionally, you'll know that I am very, very happy about this. I love living in big cities. We're not exactly in rural Florida down here, but it's just never felt right for me. Chicago, on the other hand, is an incredible food town (see #s 1, 3, 7 and 8 above)...we can't wait!

So what does this have to do with cookbooks? I'm hoping to be in a yet-to-be-found new apartment by the Fourth of July, but until then life will be full of crazy moving fun. That means less time to cook and occasionally a lot less kitchen. But I'll still have time to blog, making it the perfect opportunity to thank all of you by giving away some recently released cookbooks.

A new prize will be up for grabs each week. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post announcing the giveaway. At the end of the week, I'll use the random integer generator to pick a number, which will correspond to a specific comment. I'll email the winner and send your book as soon as possible. I will probably manage to post a recipe or two this month, as well. At least I hope so! Either way, giving away cookbooks keeps me in touch with you guys and lets me show my appreciation to everyone for reading!

I'm going to announce a new prize every Monday, except for this week when I'll post it on Tuesday. So check back tomorrow (or anytime before Sunday) to see what's up for grabs this week and to enter by leaving a comment. If you receive posts by email, simply scroll to the bottom and click on "comments" to get straight to the comment section on

And in the meantime, who lives in Chicago? Any advice? Once we get settled, I'd love to meet up. Perhaps you will give me a tour of your favorite ethnic market/gourmet shop/wine shop/coffee shop (yes, I'm dying to know all your local foodie secrets). Drop me a line at aminglingoftastes AT gmail DOT com.