Owen is psyched about Vietnamese food.
Last night, I made the rice noodles with Chinese chives, shrimp and pork from Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, a handsome dish that I regrettably neglected to photograph. This whole entire bunch of monster chives went into the noodles:
Beautiful, no? Sadly, eating them was like eating grass, albeit very flavorful grass. Noodles get a B+
Another B+: Nguyen's poached chicken with Kaffir lime leaves. (Kaffir lime leaves: the intensely -- intensely -- fragrant foliage of a citrus tree that produces a gnarled green fruit. I bought a Kaffir lime tree last month, and it is thriving in a giant pot on our patio; you can also find the leaves at Asian markets.)
But even strewn with the lime leaves, the chicken was exceedingly plain -- poached chicken could be a synonym for plain -- and it was much improved when dipped in nuoc cham, as is everything. If you've never tasted nuoc cham -- lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, chilies -- you need to make some right away. Here's Nguyen's recipe, which gets an A+.
A couple of David Lebovitz desserts to report on:
Monday, I made his dainty floating islands from The Sweet Life in Paris.
Not so lovely to look at, but lovely to eat -- foamy, crunchy, creamy, sweet. For a more cunning presentation of the same recipe, check this out.
Finally, last night, following a reader's recommendation I baked the fresh ginger cake from Lebovitz's (excellent) first cookbook, Room for Dessert.
Moist and fiery with a crunchy crust, this was by far the best gingerbread I've ever eaten, probably because it contains a full quarter pound of fresh ginger. That sounded like a lot of grating, so I threw the peeled ginger in the food processor which did the job nicely in seven seconds. Even my finicky husband said the cake was "unbelievable," which is unbelievable. You can find the recipe here.