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.
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.”
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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