Paula Peck and Chinese food may not seem like they go together. Though she wrote a cookbook full of international recipes, she’s usually associated with croissants or lovely baked treats and not the inexpensive take-out dinner, complete with MSG (though she did go through a phase of excessive MSG use in the mid 60’s). Surprisingly, she has a fair number of Asian inspired dishes. Her recipes span from Korean Meat and Oriental Chicken Kebabs from “The Art of Good Cooking,” to Sushi and this lovely quick shrimp saute or Chinese Style Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce, that remain unpublished since she was preparing for a new book.
I’m not entirely comfortable improvising with Asian ingredients but I’m always surprised at how quick and easy many of the recipes are. The fermented black bean sauce is not as scary as you may think. It’s a basic sauce made up of fermented and salted black soy beans, garlic, rice wine, and salt and can usually be found in the international foods aisle at your grocery store. You could also try making your own sauce from fermented black beans, but the theme of this meal is quick! Combined with the cornstarch mixture (which Paula Peck notes will keep the shrimp moist and succulent during cooking), the sauce coats the shrimp so that the garlic bean flavor can be enjoyed with every bite. Serve alone or create a balanced meal with brown rice and a side of steamed broccoli.
1 1/2 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveigned
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 large egg white
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon fermented black bean sauce (located near the soy sauce in the international foods section at the grocery store)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons sherry (mirin/japanese rice wine may be substituted)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (amount will depend on the amount of sodium in the black bean sauce)
3 scallions cut in 1 inch pieces
Combine shrimp with cornstarch and egg white. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add black beans, garlic, ginger, and half the green onions. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly. Add shrimp. Cook stirring constantly for just a few minutes or until shrimp become opaque. Stir in sherry and soy sauce. Stir only until sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with remaining scallions.
You may be looking at this photo and thinking this dish is leftover from summer, that this was taken in mid-August when Tomatoes are supposed to be at their peak. I actually found these fabulous heirloom tomatoes in all different sizes prominently displayed at one of the busiest whole foods in the country here in NYC this week. And at summer prices. Pumpkins and apples are definitely here (though still on the expensive side) but let’s use up the best of summer before jumping into fall.
I was surprised by both the simplicity and tastiness of this dish from “The Art of Good Cooking.” I added some fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and thyme both before and after baking. I then sprinkled the whole dish with fresh feta cheese and served it on slices of a toasted seeded grain bread. A healthy and light appetizer or lunch reminiscent of those dog days of summer and the colorful produce it brings.
2 large spanish onions
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 large heirloom tomatoes
1 sprig fresh thyme
8 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon capers (optional)
feta cheese for sprinkling (optional)
1 loaf rustic grain or rye bread, sliced (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Peel onions and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Place onions in baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil over each slice. Cut tomatoes in slices. Place a slice of tomato on each slice of onion. Or, stagger slices, alternating onion and tomato. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay 4-5 basil leaves across the top or sandwich them between the tomato onion layers. Place a sprig of thyme between the 2 rows of layers.
Bake about 45 minutes or until onions are tender and tomatoes are wrinkled. Baste occasionally with additional oil if needed.
Remove from oven and garnish with remaining basil leaves, chopped parsley, capers (if using) and sprinkle with feta cheese.
Serve warm or at room temperature on toasted slices of rustic grain or rye bread.
Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” By Paula Peck.
The original title of this recipe from “The Art of Good Cooking” is Danish Stuffed Tomatoes. However, when I tried to research this recipe, I found little on what makes them “Danish.” I decided to lighten the stuffing by using yogurt, making it more about the cucumbers and less about the overbearing amount of sour cream and mayo originally used. It now maybe considered more Greek than Danish since the stuffing is more of a basic tzadziki. Creamy yogurt, garlic, and dill brighten the cucumbers that then add crunch to the soft juicy ripe tomatoes.
This is a tasty little no bake/cook seasonal appetizer or side dish that presents beautifully.
2 hothouse cucumbers
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups lowfat yogurt or greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons chopped dill
6 vine ripe tomatoes
Peel cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds and discard them. Slice cucumbers thin. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and place in refrigeration for at least 2 hours. Pour off water which has accumulated and press out any additional water so that cucumbers are dry. Add sugar and pepper and stir.
Combine garlic, yogurt, and lemon juice. Pour over cucumbers and toss lightly, adding half of the dill. Place in refrigerator until needed.
Remove a circle from the stem ends of the tomatoes. Carefully scoop out all the seeds and pulp. Turn the tomato shells upside down on paper towels so that any juice may drain.
Stuff each tomato with the cucumber mixture. Sprinkle remaining dill on top of each tomato.
Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking.”
If you’re a clam lover, this dish will make your mouth water. A new England classic and a combination of three different unpublished recipes by my grandmother, Paula Peck: veloute, linguine in white clam sauce, and white wine sauce. I’ve combined them into one easier to follow recipe minus the heavy cream. A hodge-podge that becomes a garlicky semi-creamy sauce with a tang of sweet and sour citrus clam flavor. Exactly what you want in a white clam sauce.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups stock (fish or chicken)
2 shallots, chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine
¾ cup milk
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
16-18 cherrystone clams, scrubbed
1lb cooked linguine
½ cup chopped parsley
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in flour, using a wire whisk. Slowly whisk in 1 ½ cups stock. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.
Combine shallot, remaining stock, and white wine in a large skillet over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Add milk and lemon juice. Heat through. Whisk white wine sauce into butter flour stock mixture. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
In the same large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add sauce and clams. Simmer until clams open. Stir in cooked linguine and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan and lemon slices.
Lentil salad is quickly becoming an American classic. With the popularity of ancient grains and heirloom beans, legume salads are trending and gaining a new hipster following. Satisfying but simple, healthy, and high in protein (so it will keep you full longer). Lentils, which date back thousands of years and possibly originated in Eastern Europe or the Mediterranean, are getting a face lift in salads these days but are not completely unrecognizable compared to those of the 1960’s – when this recipe was most likely written.
Unlike the original recipe titled “Marinated Lentil Salad” from “The Art of Good Cooking” that has parsley and scallions as its only fresh components, I used extra veggies so this salad can be eaten as a well rounded light lunch by itself. The crunch of the cucumber and the brightness of the herbs along with the smooth, slight tenderness of the lentils, shouts summer fresh.
3/4 cup dry green lentils
2 cups water
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 a hothouse cucumber, halved and sliced
1/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill OR fresh thyme (optional)
Prepare frozen corn and peas according to package instructions or cook in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and drain. Set aside.
Pick over lentils and wash them well. Place in pot, add water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Scoop out any loose shells that floated to the top while cooking. Drain. Add salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. Then cool to room temperature. Add green onions, cucumber, corn and peas, parsley, dill or thyme (if using), and grape tomatoes.