Flipping through the pages of Stephanie Izard's "Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats and Drinks," I couldn't stop book-marking recipes I wanted to try. There are no boring recipes in this book. My to-cook list quickly expanded to include shaved fennel and bok choy salad with ginger vinaigrette, braised pork and coconut soup, New York steaks with sauteed cucumbers and salted goat milk caramel, grilled lamb stuffed calamari and crispy braised chicken thighs with black bean tapenade.
Ms. Izard, the fourth-season winner of Bravo's "Top Chef," is now the chef/owner of Girl & The Goat in Chicago. According to the introduction, she wanted "Girl in the Kitchen" to be aimed at home cooks. Many recipes are more geared toward weekend projects than weeknight dinners, but they don't call for expensive equipment or difficult techniques. Ms. Izard and her co-writer, Heather Shouse, have packed the book with useful tips and interesting stories, and gorgeous photos contributed by Dan Goldberg that offer even more incentive to tackle a slightly labor-intensive recipe.
This recipe is a little fussy, but when all the components come together, the results are worth the dirty dishes. Soba noodles will become gummy quickly, so keep them on the al dente side and immediately rinse them in cold water.
-- China Millman
- 12 jumbo (11 to 15) shrimp
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed
- 1/3 cup plus 5 teaspoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 8 ounces soba noodles
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 green onions, whites and greens thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Rub the shrimp with half of the garlic, half of the ginger and the sriracha. Cover and let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the asparagus on a baking sheet and brush with 2 1/2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Roast just until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove, season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Toss the shiitakes with another 2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, spread them on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Roast just until the mushrooms begin to shrivel, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
Put the shrimp in a small baking dish or ovenproof saute pan, cover with the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and season lightly with salt. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and poach the shrimp in the oven just until the exteriors are bright orange and if you slice into one, the interior is still opaque, about 15 minutes. (Don't worry if it doesn't look completely done as it will carry-over cook a bit.) Remove the shrimp from the oil and reserve the oil, allowing it to cool.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Rinse with cold water and set aside to cool.
Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces and the shiitakes into thin strips. Toss the vegetables with the cooled noodles.
Whisk together the remaining garlic and ginger with the soy sauce, honey and mustard. Slowly whisk in the reserved poaching oil. Pour the dressing over the noodles and toss well to combine. Top with the shrimp, green onions and sesame seeds before serving.
Serves 4 as an entree, 6 as an appetizer
-- "Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats and Drinks," by Stephanie Izard (2011, Chronicle Books, $30)
Inspired by the edamame appetizer popular at Japanese restaurants, Ms. Izard came up with this flavorful variation for shelling peas. While sucking the peas from their pods is fun, the flavorful technique also works well for snow or snap peas. Steam until crisp tender, and then enjoy, pods and all.
-- China Millman
1 lemon, juiced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
1 pound English pea pods
In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, fish sauce, olive oil, mustard, soy sauce and sriracha. Add the pea pods, then toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
Bring the peas to room temperature and strain them, reserving the liquid. Heat a large saute pan (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add half of the peas and a small spoonful of the marinade to the pan. Saute for two minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 1/4 cup water, then cover and let steam until just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining peas.
Put the cooked pea pods in a serving bowl and drizzle them with the remaining marinade.