I first became aware of the dynamic duo that is Phoebe Lapine and Cara Eisenpress (aka the “Quarter-Life Cooks”) through our mutual participation on food52. I fell hard for their recipes and immediately became a fan of the blog they co-write: Big Girls, Small Kitchen. When I met Cara and Phoebe in New York City last winter (at the blogger cookie swap, where I took this picture), I was even more impressed: they are lovely and I enjoyed spending time with them.
I was not at all surprised to hear they were working on their first book. Despite their youth, these ladies have serious talent. They’ve been friends since middle school and that friendship has developed into a truly fabulous cooking and writing partnership. When In the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World was released last week, I was thrilled to receive a copy for review.
In the Small Kitchen is an absolute treasure. The elements of memoir make it incredibly charming, but the beautifully photographed recipes make you want to get into the kitchen and cook each and every one. I am, um, quite a bit older than Phoebe and Cara (and my kitchen isn’t small), but I am still learning a lot from this book. I particularly love their advice about entertaining (they clearly excel at cooking for crowds).
I’ve made three of the recipes from the book so far, and all have been terrific.
The first one I am sharing with you, this refreshing and healthy spicy cold Asian noodle salad (which I slightly adapted from the book so it’s gluten-free and has an almond sauce instead of a peanut one), was a big hit with my family. It reminds me of the delicious peanut butter noodles my brother and I used to get from the Chinese restaurant across the street from our NYC apartment when we were kids, but it’s way better.
Recipe for Spicy Asian Noodle Salad with Almond Sauce
Adapted from the recipe for Noodles with BGSK Peanut Sauce that appears in the book In the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World
*1 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and diced
*1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
*1/4 cup palm sugar or organic brown sugar
*1/2 teaspoon crushed chile flakes
*1/2 cup smooth all-natural almond or peanut butter
*1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
*2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I used Annie's brand vegan Worcestershire sauce)
*1 tablespoon rice vinegar
*3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
*1/2-3/4 pound spaghetti-style rice noodles (I like Tinkyada brand) or udon noodles if you don't need the dish to be gluten-free
*2 bunches baby bok choy, ends trimmed off and chopped
*1 bunch scallions or early spring onions (use the green parts in the salad, and garnish with the minced whites, if you like)
*1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
*minced cilantro to garnish the salad- optional
*Sriracha sauce for serving- optional
*1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds- optional
1. In a food processor or blender, pulse together the ginger, garlic, and sugar. Add the chile flakes, almond or peanut butter, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil, and 1/3 cup water and process again until smooth. Transfer to a smaller bowl and refrigerate sauce for at least an hour.
2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Toss bok choy into the boiling water with the noodles for the last minute of so of cooking. Drain and rinse with cold water to chill the noodles, then toss with the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.
3. Mix noodles and blanched bok choy with the chilled sauce (which you can thin with a little boiling water if it's thickened up after refrigeration), the scallions, and the julienned cucumber. Garnish with cilantro and toasted sesame seeds before serving, and douse with some Sriracha, if desired.
I’m happy to say I have an extra copy of the book to give away to one of my readers! To enter the giveaway:
1. Let me know if you have a small or big kitchen in the comments section below.
This giveaway is open until next Monday, June 6, 2011 at midnight, then I will choose a winner using random.org. Make sure I have your email so I can contact you if you win; please note the giveaway is only open to US residents.