Archive for the ‘Kitchen Diaries’

Summer Noodles with Vegetables

December 27, 2013
By Holly Jennings

I love it when members let me know what they think of DCCC picks. Most often, members relay their thoughts about a book in an email, which I then incorporate into my book reviews (the DCCC chapter in Denver has been consistently wonderful in this regard). All members, however, are invited to contribute postings, which can take just about any form (there’s information here about member-submitted postings).


Take this missive from Carlos Santa Coloma, one of the newest members to join DCCC. He lives in Florida, far from the location of the original DCCC (Vermont) and my new home base of Richmond, Virginia. He’s not letting that distance get in the way of his fun. He’s participating from a far, and has contributed a status report on his explorations of The Korean Table.


Carlos sent me his photo and greeting a some weeks back, so by now I imagine he’s become a Korean cooking pro. HJ

Photo by Carlos Santa Coloma

Photo by Carlos Santa Coloma


Hello. To members of DCCC who read this, greetings! I am a new member but I am a longtime avid, amateur cook. I love bold spicy flavors so Jerusalem, Entice with Spice and the current DCCC book, The Korean Table, have recipes that I really like. (Actually, exploring Ottolenghi’s cuisine is what brought me to this club.)


I offer a photo and a few comments on my first selection from The Korean Table. This is my version of Summer Noodles with Vegetables on page 132. I liked it because it has a lot of veggies—kind of like a salad and hearty meal at the same time,  and yes, it was quite tasty. These are flavors that I definitely want to explore. Next time I’ll ease up on the amount of somen . . . or figure it out better. It got too mushy. I think I need to cook the noodles less? Any ideas?


My wife complained that the meat was too cold. Other than that she liked it okay. The dish reminded her of cold sesame noodles. (She’s not one for effusive compliments. So I read her body language.) Today is the next day and I’m craving more from that exotic taste department. My youngest daughter who adores all things Asian is going to be jealous.


I think I’ll try to make kimchi with the Napa cabbage that was left over. The Kimchi Hot Pot on page 87 looks yummy . . .

—Carlos Santa Coloma




New England−style Rolls . . . buttered and grilled. Oh my!

July 03, 2013
By Holly Jennings

To me, nothing says New England and summertime better than a New England−style hot dog roll. When buttered and toasted, its warm temp and crusty exterior is the perfect bed for refreshing, lobster salad. Moving inland, buttered rolls nestle up next to dogs on the grill, blowing what the rest of the nation uses to cradle a dog out of the water.


These are strong words, but I am after all a mid-Westerner transplanted to New England. I grew up on slide-sliced hot dog buns, but once I experienced top-sliced rolls, I fell for them hook, line, and sinker.


As a non-native New Englander, I do not (more…)


June 26, 2013
By Holly Jennings



Tucked in the back of the cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, in the condiment section, is pilpelchuma, a potent chile-and-garlic paste that is often compared to Tunisian harissa. Also spelled pilpelshuma or filfel chuma, it means “pepper garlic.” An apt name considering that in Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s version contains 20 cloves of garlic and 4½ tablespoons of cayenne pepper.


Ottolenghi and Tamimi do not use pilpelchuma in a recipe in Jerusalem, but instead give a couple of suggestions for its use. They suggest (more…)

Chicken Salad Surprise

June 07, 2013
By Holly Jennings

Saffon Chicken & Herb Salad


I have a fun idea for you, if you’re willing to play along. Here is how it works. The next time you’re going to a backyard barbecue, planning a picnic, or having friends over for dinner on the deck, make it known that you will be bringing/serving chicken salad. This will trigger everyone’s (more…)

Nice Day. Nice Temptation.

May 24, 2013
By Holly Jennings

A'ja with the state house in the background


Last Saturday morning, in anticipation of a forecasted sunny day ahead, I made a batch of A’ja (bread fritters) from Jerusalem: A Cookbook. These fritters, along with several other recipes from the book, can be served either warm or room temperature, making them an excellent choice for picnicking.


Once the fritters were fried, the requisite tahini sauce made, the sliced tomatoes and cucumbers prepped, and the rosé wine chilled, we (more…)

Spring Green Soup

May 17, 2013
By Holly Jennings

Watercress & Spinach soup


Is there such a thing as being “good” at social media? If so, I’m the opposite. Yet, in spite of my minimal activity on Facebook and Twitter, etc., I sometimes get to experience the benefits of social media first-hand. It happened just recently when Karen Deyle Miller, new to Vermont, contacted me about joining DCCC. She is a facebook friend with Crescent Dragonwagon, a friend of mine who had “liked” my posting about the club’s wok portrait session. And now Karen is a member. Nice, huh?


Not missing a beat, Karen has jumped right into Jerusalem, our current pick. She quickly discovered that some of the key spices and spice blends used in the book are sold at (more…)

Food of Jerusalem—Is That For Here or To Go?

May 09, 2013
By Holly Jennings

Basic Hummus


“I want to take Jerusalem food outside,” I’d said excitedly to Mike and Otto (boyfriend and cat, respectively) about ten days ago when we finally got our first glimpse of spring in Vermont.


This simple idea hit me like sudden blinding ray of light. I would start on the front porch and then, like the movable gnomes in the movie Amélie, I would take the food of Jerusalem on the road to various picnic spots around the state, or at least around town, to show you my environs. It would get me out of the house—it’s been a LONG winter—and challenge my photography skills.


I need things to get a little bit messy. When you (more…)

How to Host Potlucks with Wok Hay

April 26, 2013
By Holly Jennings

Wok portrait collage


Above (from top left, clockwise): Judy, with her Teflon-coated wok (Judy ordered a flat-bottomed, carbon-steel wok, but was unhappy with the construction and returned it); Melanie, with her beautifully seasoned carbon-steel wok (she’s had it for years); Bhakti, with her 2-month-old carbon-steel wok (that looks as if she’s had it for years); Me, with my 2-month-old-plus wok, looking not nearly as nice as Bhakti’s; Marianne with her skilletful of Spicy Garlic Eggplant—notice the handmade label (she does not own a wok); Judy, again.


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Most recipes in The Breath of a Wok are intended to be stir-fried rapidly over furiously hot heat and dispatched to diners will equal speed. If a finished stir-fry loiters on a kitchen counter even for a few moments, eaters may miss their chance of experiencing its wok hay. Make a dish ahead and reheat—the common MO of potlucks—and you can forget about wok hay or enjoying those just tender but still perky snow peas.


How then to host a potluck of recipes from The Breath of a Wok, or for that matter any (more…)

Capturing Wok Hay

March 22, 2013
By Holly Jennings

Sweet and Sour Cabbage


Perhaps you’ve noticed. The last couple of postings haven’t included food photography. I’m faced with a dilemma: either photograph the stir-fries, and forgo experiencing their momentary wok hay; or (more…)

Using a Cleaver to Cut Through Hard Stuff

March 17, 2013
By Holly Jennings

The cleaver and mallet method


Up until recently, I was using a cleaver all wrong. Not for chopping, but when attempting to cut through something hard and dense.


As though splitting firewood, I would hold the cleaver with both hands out in front of me and, with legs slightly spread for stability, whale down on my intended target, such as the middle of a large butternut squash.


My feeble attempts were seldom effective (about as effective as my wood splitting efforts), and what was worse is that the cleaver would usually get stuck in the squash. At those moments I would solicit the aid of the man of the house who could finish the job, sometimes with half a squash flying off the counter.


There had to be a better way, a less perilous way, but I had no idea what it could be. The way, it turns out, lies in (more…)