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Aida Mollenkamp's Keys to the Kitchen: The Essential Reference for Becoming a More Accomplished, Adventurous Cook Hardcover – October 24, 2012
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Featured Recipe: Broiled Swordfish with Pomegranate-Mint Agrodolce
Agrodolce means "sweet-sour" in Italian and refers to a sauce with those predominant flavors. Normally made simply with onions, vinegar, and sugar, this one adds pomegranate, pine nuts, and mint for a more colorful—in both looks and flavor—version.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Takeaway: How to broil fish.
Recipe Within a Recipe: The agrodolce sauce can be used as a condiment for grilled meats, sandwiches, or on toasts with goat cheese as an impromptu appetizer.
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 lb/455 g shallots, halved and cut into 1-in/2.5-cm slices
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup/240 ml red wine vinegar
- ½ cup/120 ml apple juice
- ¼ cup/50 g packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup/135 g pomegranate seeds
- 1/3 cup/70 g toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup/55 g thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
- Four swordfish steaks (about 2 lb/910 kg total)
For the Pomegranate-Mint Agrodolce
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in the vinegar, juice, brown sugar, the 1 teaspoon salt, the ½ teaspoon pepper, and bay leaf. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are very tender and the liquid is thick and syrupy, about 40 minutes. Stir in the pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and mint. Season with salt and pepper.
For the broiled swordfish
Heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack 6 to 8 inches from the heating element. Pat the fish dry, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the fish under the broiler and cook until the fish is flaky, opaque throughout, and has a 135°F/57°C internal temperature, 8 to 12 minutes. Serve topped with agrodolce sauce.
Check out Seafood Watch online for current information about purchasing seafood.
When you add the vinegar to the agrodolce, open a window or turn on a fan because the vinegar fumes released may sting your eyes or make you cough.
The agrodolce can be made without the mint up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Heat over low heat before serving and stir in mint.
About the Author
Alex Farnum is a San Francisco-based food and lifestyle photographer whose previous work for Chronicle Books includes Chicken and Egg and Cake Simple.
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Top Customer Reviews
In fact, the recipes that appeal to me the most in this book are vegetables. There ARE a lot of meat recipes (spare ribs, lamb roasts, Peruvian-style beef steak) but the vegetable course appeal to me more. And that means that if you are not a big meat eater, you can find something to perk up your repertoire in this book.
The dessert course is equally adventuresome: mango custard pie, dulce de leche-lemon cheese cake and a chai-flavored coffee cake.
I found many, many things to bookmark for entertaining or for even just to make more out of a haul of vegetables from the farm stand. It also looks like a pretty decent gift for friends of mine who are enthusiastic cooks. Highly recommended.
The book does in fact have a lot of basic information about cooking techniques and food, but it was nothing that I as an experienced cook did not already know, or did not know where to find in the cookbooks I already have. Moreover, the information part took up only about a quarter of the book; the rest consisted of the recipes. These tended to be rather unusual and eclectic - Braised chile chicken with raisins and almonds, anyone? What about Roasted carrot soup with toasted coconut? If you like such things, this book will certainly help you become a more adventurous cook, as the title promises. But if you're looking for familiar, down-home recipes that won't cause your kids to say "Ee-ew, what's that?" you won't find many of them here. There is, for example, only one recipe for pie. For a cookbook that has a lot of familiar American recipes plus a nice selection of ethnic-style (but not experimental) dishes, and that also has lots of basic information about cooking techniques and foods, a book already on my shelf, namely "The Good Housekeeping Cookbook," 2010 ed., can't be beat.
In conclusion, the basic reference information can be found in many cookbooks, so there's no point in buying it just for the reference part. If you like unusual, experimental dishes, this is a good book for you. However, if you prefer a more familiar cuisine and established recipes, it's probably not worth spending your money on.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After seeing my copy of this, my daughter went right to get hers. It is very informative. We both love it.Published 3 months ago by JI
I give this, and a cast-iron skillet, whenever I'm invited to a bridal shower! Love the way it encourages a new cook to grow and experiment after learning basic skills and... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Reiki Ree
A great book easy to follow with some amazing recipes, Aida is just a great coach!Published 17 months ago by Oceanminds
Binding was completely torn off the book. Condition of the book was not accuratePublished 18 months ago by Angela Naik
A great reference. Aida did a super job-lots of tips. ThanksPublished 18 months ago by Linda J. Weil
I absolutely love this cookbook. There are a lot of more interesting recipes to teach basic cooking concepts. But I think it's worth it just for the pizza dough recipe.Published 19 months ago by A. Reed
This is absolutely excellent for anybody of any cooking level that wants to improve their cooking skills it is very practical and a GREAT reference tool.Published 23 months ago by Heidi Bell