03/14/17 5:24pm

Let me be blunt for a moment. All those delicious Pi Day pies and snow day stews aside, this is the worst time of year for cooking. Late winter and early spring are a challenge in in the kitchen. The chicken pot pies, roasted vegetables and bean soups I was so excited to make in October feel heavy and boring now, and it’s going to be more than a few weeks before the first spring edibles show up at the farmer’s market.

We’re in luck though, fellow cooks. A new book came out today that will help get us all over the hump and into nettle, asparagus and pea season.

Vibrant India, Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn is the first cookbook from Chitra Agrawal, cook, writer and owner of Brooklyn Delhi. She wrote a great guide to eating all over the subcontinent by taking a day trip to Edison and Iselin, N.J. for us a few years back, and if you’ve always wanted to try your hand at cooking South Asian food, but have never quite been able to make sense of all the spice roasting and grinding, this is the book for you.

Agrawal’s recipes are not the heavy butter chicken and saag paneer type fare–which is generally Northern Indian in origin–that often represents Indian cuisine in the U.S. In the foreword she explains that her cooking is very much informed by the vegetarian cuisine of South India, Bangalore specifically, which is based around rice, beans, pulses, fresh vegetables and spices like mustard seed, hing and tumeric.

What does South India have to do with late winter cooking?

Many of the recipes in Vibrant India are variations on rice and dal, which are not just hearty, durable, winter fare, they’re also fragrantly spiced and lush with coconut, ghee and curry leaves. This combination of new flavors and cooking techniques is sure to hold your attention until the farmer’s market is full of ingredients for her spiced spring vegetable and coconut polenta recipe.

I’ve tried to wrap my head around how to build up a pantry of spices and the techniques for cooking Indian dishes at home several times, never with much luck. There are several South Asian cookbooks on my shelf and I’ve never prepared a single dish from any of them. I get overwhelmed by planning what to make, gathering the ingredients and understanding the techniques. This book feels so much more accessible and easy to understand than my past forays into subcontinental cooking. (more…)

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09/18/14 11:00am

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The Brooklyn Book Festival is this Sunday, and it has us thinking about what to read as the weather grows cooler. Who better to recommend a great book than one of Brooklyn’s many writers? We talked to a distinguished group of local authors about what they’re looking forward to curling up with–or baking from–this fall.

Mark Chiusano: author of Marine Park, part of Brooklyn Bound: Writing Kings County tonight, Sept. 18, a Brooklyn Book Festival Bookends event
Recommendation: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, out now
“In the interest of full disclosure I work for the company that publishes this book, but Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, is worth the conflict of interest. Station Eleven is the warmest, most haunting, most lyrical post-apocalyptic story I’ve ever read, featuring a travelling Shakespearean theater troupe, an otherworldly art project, a strange airplane and a harrowing escape from Toronto. Jumping back and forth before and after the fall, Mandel uses the pressure of the apocalypse to evoke the exquisiteness of the present.”

Emma Straub: author of The Vacationers, part of Join the Conversation with Leonard Lopate and Mary Gordon at the Brooklyn Book Festival
Recommendation: 
Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Peterson, out Sept. 30
“Right now I am breathlessly anticipating Anne Helen Peterson’s Scandals of Classic Hollywood, based on her popular column for The Hairpin. For the past year, I’ve been blaming my baby for not having enough time to read, and I’m hoping that these bite-sized pieces of salaciousness will quickly convert me back into being a Reader of Books. Anne Helen, take me away!” (more…)

10/25/13 12:00pm
Sat November 2, 2013

pieWhatever cupcakes, cookies and cake-pops (three gun salute to a horrible trend that finally died), we all know who the real dessert king is in town–pie. And in Kings County, the ruler of pies is Four and Twenty Blackbirds, the little slice of heaven in Gowanus that serves a few hundred slices of delicious pie daily. And finally (finally!) you can grab a fork and make your own claim to the pastry throne because Emily and Melissa Elsen have written the official Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, and they’ll be at Smorgasburg on Saturday, Nov. 2, for you to snap up a copy and a slice.

07/29/13 11:00am
Mon August 5, 2013
Ahead of the release of its first three, single-ingredient cookbooks this fall, Short Stack Editions is holding book binding parties Aug.5-8 at Kitchensurfing Townhouse in Gowanus. Photo: Short Stack

Ahead of the release of its first three, single-ingredient cookbooks this fall, Short Stack Editions is holding bookbinding parties Aug.5-8 at Kitchensurfing Townhouse in Gowanus. Photo: Short Stack

If you’ve tended to tomato plants over the past few months, you most likely now have more of the fruit than you know what to do with–I swear my heirloom tomatoes are like hydras, I pick a bunch, and three more grow in its place. Consider attending Short Stack Editions’ bookbinding parties at Kitchensurfing Townhouse in Gowanus next week to figure out what to do with the excess spoils (canning can only get you so far). The local company is launching the first three volumes of its single-ingredient cookbooks in the fall but decided to get creative with its production process by hosting three bookbinding parties in August where you can mingle with the authors over drinks and taste test some of the recipes from their books. You can also learn to bind a book yourself while assembling first editions of the cookbooks (they’re hoping to bind between 100-200 books per party).  Susan Spungen, the former director of food and entertaining at Martha Stewart Living, will share recipes from her strawberry cookbook on Aug. 5; cookbook author Ian Knauer’s eggs volume is being bound on Aug. 6 followed by culinary consultant Soa Davies’ tome on tomatoes Aug. 8. Keen on craftsmanship, each 50-page book is locally printed on paper stock and, will be hand bound with baker’s twine. There are only 30 spots in each party, so snag your $20 tickets soon.