Rolling stones sometimes miss moss. South Kanara Brahmin in Mumbai. Bombayite in the midwest. Trishanku in Upstate New York. Where is my moss?
Monroe County brings these questions to the fore. Recently, in the context of 'where are you from' someone asked me, hopefully, "You must be from somewhere originally?"
Serendipitiously, I came upon Simply Ming while ruminating over these thoughts. Aside from being completely attractive and asian, two equally distracting attributes, Ming Tsai is blessed with unique culinary chic. He has an intuitive understanding of ingredients and flavors. Perhaps more importantly, he understands his readers' palate. He is just as comfortable recalling fond memories of warm bistro salads from his experiences in France as he is reminiscing about Chinatown in Dayton!
While I have waxed eloquent on Ming's considerable culinary prowess, I was equally impressed by Arthur Boehm's writing. It would have been so easy to make this an exotic cookbook. Instead the tone and presentation remains scrupulously simple. Even though they're loaded with intriguing new flavors, the recipes are marvellously approachable. Here is a book with enough boyish charm to get away with "Its spiciness will leave you goofy with delight" and "This dish with umeboshi is super-tasty". Who can resist, and I quote "my down-home Asian version of barbecued chicken"!!
This week's highlights included Blue Ginger's signature crackers. Briefly, bread flour, yeast and olive oil come together with an unbeatable spice combination. The original recipe calls for cumin, coriander, fennel, black pepper and garlic. I used cumin, coriander, black pepper, dried pomegranate seed powder and juniper berries. I sprinkled onion seeds (kalonji), in addition to the reccommended sesame seeds.
Theres no other way to say this, the crackers are excellent! This is a fail-safe recipe, one that lends itself to experimentation. Cumin, coriander, black pepper and juniper berries provide a robust spicy background to the playful piquant contribution of the dried pomegranate seeds. I munched on them with some chai, enjoying their mathri-like savory taste. They held their own paired with New York sharp cheddar. Nothing like a little Blue Ginger to bring it all together :-)