Sheila Lukins gets people to cook, and that's what I love about her. Her books are inviting and not intimidating. Most of them are thick, square paperbacks with brightly colored covers that you can flop open on your counter top and splatter with grease and not fret. They'll all places to go to find a great recipe for something classic, but knowing that it will have a little kick to bring it up to date.
In Ten: All the Foods We Love and 10 Perfect Recipes for Each (Workman Publishing), her latest of eight books, is no exception. Here, she presents ten recipes for each of thirty two foods "we love" from cocktails (a favorite "food" of just a few people I know) to chops to clams, tomatoes and grains. The recipes are the kinds of things people want to cook, they are the recipes for which we here at The Kitchn often get requests: Asian Orange-Scented Chicken (see below for recipe,) Creole Shrimp, Caesar Salad, Velvety Black Bean Soup, Black Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing, and Green Apple Sorbet.
My only criticism is that the book ends at the thirty-two foods "we love." I wonder how something so seasonally specific as asparagus gets a chapter while other more widely available and versatile vegetables like broccoli, onions and beets don't get their time in the Lukins limelight? In an era where seasonality and variety are so coveted, it is a bold move to assume one vegetable is loved more than another. For the most part, her guesses are probably spot-on, but personally, I'd rather have ten recipes featuring beets, something I have in my kitchen from late summer until deep into winter, than ten for asparagus, a vegetable I eat for a few short weeks in spring and believe is best when it's barely cooked at all.
As a mostly-internet based food writer, my first urge is to turn this project into a website so that the library of foods "we love" can expand, more attention can be paid to seasonality and the conversation about what to do when a (fill in the blank ingredient) lands on your counter top or fridge shelf can continue. Just a thought, Sheila.
We're giving away five copies of Ten during tomorrow's Thursday Giveaway, so be sure to check back at 12:30pm eastern time for a chance to win.
• Ten: All the Foods We Love and 10 Perfect Recipes for Each (Amazon, $13.57)
Asian-Scented Orange Chicken
Serves 6 to 8
(reprinted with permission from Workman Publishing)
Here soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger blend beautifully with the juice and zest of fresh oranges to give the chicken a delightfully bright Asian flavor. Honey lacquers the skin to a rich golden brown. The Watercress and Mushroom Salad is just the right counterpoint to the sweet chicken.
2 chickens (each 2 1/2 to 3 pounds), each, cut into 8 pieces
Finely grated zest of 4 oranges
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 scallions (white bulbs and 3 inches green), thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish
Watercress and Mushroom Salad (page 254), for serving
1.The day before serving, rinse the chicken pieces well, removing all excess fat, and pat them dry. Place the chicken in a large bowl.
2.Combine the orange zest and juice with the honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Stir well, and coat the chicken pieces thoroughly with this mixture. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
3.Thirty minutes before cooking time, preheat the oven to 375° F and remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Arrange the pieces in a large shallow roasting pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 2/3 cup of the marinade into the pan.
4.Bake the chicken, basting it frequently, until it is golden brown and shiny, 1 hour.
5.Transfer the chicken pieces to a large serving platter. Strain the pan juices into a small saucepan and boil until thickened, about 10 minutes. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken, and sprinkle with the scallions. Serve immediately, with the Watercress and Mushroom Salad alongside.
(author image: copyright Francesco Scavullo)