A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags, and Boxes Hardcover – Mar 27 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this beautifully illustrated book, renowned Los Angeles baker and chef Silverton (Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book) uses premium prepared ingredients as shortcuts to ease the home cooking time crunch. Most recipes are timed at 30 minutes or less, but the elegance and seeming difficulty of the dishes set them apart from the usual quick-fix crowd pleasers: Pomegranate-Glazed Lamb Chops with Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tahini Sauce, or Buttermilk-Fried Oysters with Pickled Vegetables and Chipotle Mayonnaise sound like they should take much longer than half an hour, but with the ready-made ingredients, few cooks will have a problem. They might, however, have trouble actually finding those ingredients; even big-city dwellers may have to turn to the Internet for specialty items like green masala paste or fennel pollen, though a helpful glossary provides insight into locating them and some substitutions. Famous chef friends like Charlie Trotter and Mario Batali provide recipes revealing their own secret shortcuts. Fans of Silverton's last book will love the chapter on crostini with innovative toppings like ventresca, piquillo peppers and caper mayonnaise, using leftovers from jars bought for other recipes. Cooks looking for upscale yet quick meal ideas, and who will pay extra for pricey exotic items, are sure to appreciate this stylish cheat sheet. 38 color photos. 75,000 first printing.(Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
If the idea of using canned food to prepare meals immediately raises visions of cans of condensed cream soups and gloppy tuna-noodle casserole, Silverton and Carreno quickly dispel such uncouth culinary nightmares. They aim to simplify meal preparation through use of canned and boxed ingredients without resorting to the worst of processed foods. A jar of roasted peppers, a couple cans of tuna, a bunch of canned capers, and some fresh parsley compose a hearty cold salad. Canned beans, fresh herbs, and plenty of shredded cabbage make a quick soup in the Tuscan tradition. Sauteed arugula crowns pork chops nestled on a bed of instant polenta and flavored with exotic, expensive fennel pollen. Bottled lime juice and condensed milk make a quick tropical dessert. The authors offer a pantry inventory to ensure that the cook always has the basis for plenty of exciting meals readily at hand. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Worse, prepared foods in quality meals.
Even more unlikely: meals you can prepare with the fewest possible steps and the least preparation time.
That's because Nancy Silverton is a Serious Chef. Trained at the Cordon Bleu in London. Apprenticed at Michael's in Santa Monica. In 1989, with her husband and a partner, she opened Campanile restaurant and La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles. Turned them into national brands. Sold the restaurant for a Brea Bakery for major money, sold an 80% stake in the bakery for $56 million.
So she definitely has the time and resources to embrace "slow cooking," homemade dinners, 101% natural ingredients.
And, in fact, Nancy Silverton is famed largely for her hand-crafted, artisanal breads. And for her elaborate sandwiches. Like her BLT: smoky bacon, Boston lettuce, and sun-dried tomatoes on toasted sourdough bread with a spoon of pepper mayonnaise. And for views like this: "If someone asked me to fillet a whole fish, I wouldn't have a clue."
Still, it's a stunner --- even she thinks so --- for her to praise pasta sauce in a jar. Frozen pie crust. And, yikes, leftovers.
To come to these conclusions, she remembered how frenzied she was when she was raising three children and running two businesses. So she shopped for a year. And not just in supermarkets. She trolled gourmet stores. She clicked around the web. And she found that prepared foods had greatly improved since she started avoiding them, all those years ago.
Warning: To recreate her collection of cooking supplies, you'll have to exert some effort. You'll need to visit a high-end gourmet store. And you may need to shop on the Web, where sane prices are undermined by ridiculous shipping charges.
Other modest warnings: You won't find a pre-mixed vinaigrette dressing that's worth serving. (At least, she didn't.) In season, if you want pesto, she favors a mortar and pestle. And commercial salt-by-the-pound won't do. Silverton favors sea salt. And kosher salt. Two bowls, always handy.
Good news for vegetarians: Silverton discovered her love for cooking when she became the vegetarian chef for her college dorm. There are pages and pages of salads and soups that are either animal-free or easily could be.
For busy people who like to eat well, Silverton has scoured the grocery shelves for gourmet convenience items, like roasted red peppers, the new cartoned soups, jarred curry sauce, and tapenade to come up with dishes like Seared Tuna with Tomato-Olive Salsa, Peppered Skirt Steak with Spicy Tomato-Curry Garbanzo Beans and Tangy Greek Yogurt Sauce, and Chilled Corn Soup with Adobo Swirl.
Most of them take 30 minutes or less and all are designed to be one-dish meals.
There are lots of the usual pantry items too, like canned beans, sardines, capers, anchovies, etc., all used with flair and imagination.
The salad and pasta chapters are especially simple and different with dishes like Orecchiette with Peas, Prosciutto and Crème Fraiche, Pot Sticker and Vegetable Stir-Fry, Spinach Salad with Lentils and Crispy Warm Goat Cheese, and Cumin Shrimp and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Roasted Carrots.
Chicken salads are made with rotisserie chicken and tuna comes from a can (unless it's seared), but all the dressings are homemade, as Silverton cannot abide the commercial ones.
Silverton suggests brands for many items and while most are locally available, she also provides a list of mail-order sources. A fine collection, suitable for enlivening the week night or serving to guests.
Silverton's book relies on quality ingredients, some of which just happen to be jarred, canned, bagged, or boxed (as indicated in the title of the cookbook). Spice pastes, roasted vegetables, cured meats, and other products prove very helpful in throwing together a meal in a short amount of time.
These kinds of recipes are an excellent alternative to quantity cooking on the weekend or simply eating out. Many of these recipes would even be suitable to serve to company.
The section on Silverton's preferred brands, products, and sources is also very useful.
Overall a good book to have on hand for those days where a frozen meal or take-out is just too tempting.