“Kitchen Remix: 75 Recipes for Making the Most of Your Ingredients” by Charlotte Druckman (Potter, $28)

‘Kitchen Remix’ can help you become more flexible with ingredients

On days when I’m short on dinner inspiration but not up for a shopping trip, my first instinct is to turn to Google. I’ll enter a few ingredients I have on hand followed by “recipe” and hit “search.” It’s often fascinating to see the wildly different combinations that turn up. Occasionally, I’ll get lucky and stumble upon a new taste revelation I can’t wait to make again. I’ve also produced some duds that have sent me scurrying back to my comfort zone of the boringly tried-and-true.

Now I have a new resource to improve my odds of success.

Charlotte Druckman’s “Kitchen Remix: 75 Recipes for Making the Most of Your Ingredients” (Potter, $28) is designed for adventurous diners like myself who can use some confidence-building when it comes to mixing and matching ingredients on the fly at home.

In this fun to use and cleverly organized volume, the New York-based food writer and co-creator of Food52’s popular cookbook tournament, The Piglet, builds trios of imaginative recipes around ingredients that play well together.

Shrimp, tomatoes and almonds are “all savory, with a sweet streak,” she writes and, I can attest, complement each other deliciously in Shrimp and Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. Now I’m curious to see what happens when these ingredients reappear in Pasta with Sicilian-Style Pesto and Shrimp, or Almond Soup with Shrimp and Candied Tomatoes — an enticing play on the Spanish white gazpacho.

Cauliflower, bacon and capers collaborate in an Indian-inspired stew, a cheesy gratin, and the one I tried, and loved: Cauliflower a la Prune, a riff on the signature of Manhattan’s famed Prune restaurant where cauliflower ably subs for sweetbreads in a brown-butter caper sauce with bacon garnish.

Each recipe set comes with a chart describing the character of each core ingredient, potential substitutes, flavor complements, and tips for using them to help you master the art of ad-libbing on your own.

With cutting-edge chefs’ specials mostly limited to takeout boxes, and availability of supermarket staples often hit or miss, it’s a skill I’m ready to master.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

Cauliflower a la Prune from the cookbook Kitchen Remix. Contributed by Aubrie Pick, copyright 2020
Photo: Aubrie Pick

Recipe: Cauliflower a la Prune (The Restaurant)

In “Kitchen Remix: 75 Recipes for Making the Most of Your Ingredients (Potter, $28)” Charlotte Druckman shows three ways the fatty flavor of bacon and the “sour salinity” of capers can perk up a cauliflower-based dish. This one fully lives up to the high expectations the author presents in the headnote here: 

“Whether because of the literary acclaim of its chef Gabrielle Hamilton or her resolve to do whatever the hell she pleases and damn the consequences, Prune has become one of New York City’s high-profile restaurants. Its most iconic dish, debatably, is the fried sweetbreads doused in a caper-dotted brown-butter sauce, garnished with a curling slice of bacon. Once tasted, it’s the kind of thing you hunger for at home. Preparing pancreatic matter is a major deterrent, but if you try it with cauliflower and a less complicated grenobloise sauce comprised of the same ingredients — plus a brisk burst of lemon — you get similar results without breaking a sweat.”

Cauliflower a la Prune (The Restaurant)
  • 4 slices thinly cut bacon (about 1/16 inch thick)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cups panko crumbs, finely ground
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (about 1½ pounds), cut into 1- to 1½-inch florets
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons drained brined capers
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Place the bacon in a large cast- iron skillet and set it over medium-low heat. When the bacon starts to sizzle, about 7 minutes, increase the heat to medium. Using tongs, flip it over repeatedly as it cooks until it’s crispy and the fat has been rendered, 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer the finished strips to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Drain the skillet, rinse, and dry.
  • Set up a dredging station with three small bowls in a row, the first filled with the flour, the second with the eggs, and the third with the ground panko seasoned with ¾ teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Dredge each piece of cauliflower through the flour, then dunk it completely into the egg wash, draining any excess, and drop it in the panko mixture, gently rolling it to coat evenly. Transfer to a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, heat 3 inches of peanut oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the cauliflower, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Transfer to a serving platter.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue to cook, swirling constantly, until it turns a deep brown and smells nutty, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the capers, lemon juice, and parsley, swirling the pan to combine.
  • Spoon the sauce over the cauliflower. Top with the bacon. Season liberally with pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side.

Nutritional information

Per serving: 457 calories (percent of calories from fat, 72), 10 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 37 grams fat (15 grams saturated), 158 milligrams cholesterol, 518 milligrams sodium.

Excerpted and reprinted with permission from “Kitchen Remix: 75 Recipes for Making the Most of Your Ingredients” by Charlotte Druckman (Potter, $28).

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