Nibbles And Sips Around Town: ‘Summer Cookbooks, Celebs, and A Sri Lankan Pop-Up Dinner’ by Jordan Wright

Apron Anxiety Giveaway – Alyssa Shelasky’s hot new tell-all cookbook will be given away to a one of our readers, so click here and Go to CONTEST to register and enter to win your own copy. See my article abut the cookbook here. The Giveaway ends June 1, 2012.

In between bites we’ve been trying to catch up with the recent crop of cookbooks. This week’s report that the Washington Metro area, Alexandria and Arlington in particular, are the most well-read cities in the country was indeed exciting – so let’s stay on top with a great summer read.

What’s summer without ice cream? Since National Ice Cream Week is from May 30th to June 5th this year, you’ll have just enough time to practice wowing your peeps with these unique formulas from San Francisco’s coolest ice cream chefs. In the Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream Book (Chronicle Books) the shop’s owners Jake Godby and Sean Vahey have partnered with San Francisco Chronicle’s Inside Scoop columnist, Paolo Lucchesiin a book chockfull of beat-a-path-to-your-door sweet treats. In a small Mission District shop they prepare their sometimes pot- more often alcohol-inspired ice cream concoctions each day and fans line up to try their latest whimsies. The Gabba Gabba Hey Sundae was inspired by The Ramones and uses the recipe for Balsamic Caramel ice cream. I can hardly wait to try the one for Sweet Summer Corn or Strawberry Candied Jalapeno.

Lorraine Wallace – Mr. Sunday’s Saturday Night Chicken

Best-selling New York Times author, Lorraine Wallace, has come out with her second cookbook, Mr. Sunday’s Saturday Night Chicken (Wiley). Lorraine is the wife of Fox News journalist Chris Wallace. In a journalistic nod to full disclosure, I went to school with Chris’s sister, Pauline Dora, who was the former president of New York’s tony The Conran Shop and now owns Design Collection, a swank home accessories shop in New Canaan, CT. The siblings are both children of the late 60 Minutes anchorman Mike Wallace. Still with me? Lorraine, a resident of Washington, DC and mother of six, has chosen to cast chicken in the starring role in her tribute to her husband’s favorite dinner choice. There are 130 recipes featuring poultry including one from her pal, Art Smith, Oprah’s former private chef, for his legendary Art and Soul’s Fried Chicken, her sister-in-law Pauline’s Easy Roast Chicken, and the recipe for Brined Organic Pheasant from my dear friend Rob Townsend, former chef at Upperville’s Ayrshire Farms. Lots of Wallace family photos and intimate snippets of their lives grace the pages between recipes.

British author Jane Hornby’s follow-up to What to Cook & How to Cook It is entitled Fresh & Easy (Phaidon Press). The stunning tome features 75 step-by-step recipes with helpful photos for dishes perfectly suited to outdoor entertaining.

Pistachio Yogurt Cake with Figs & Honey from 'Fresh & Easy.'

Pistachio Yogurt Cake with Figs & Honey from Fresh & Easy

Jane Horby’s Pistachio Yogurt Cake

Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves at least 8

Note: I love the unique texture that yogurt gives to cakes and baked goods; sort of dense but light at the same time. Here, I’ve mixed it with olive oil and pistachios to make a moist and tasty Middle-Eastern-style cake that’s ideal for dessert with coffee or a glass of mint tea.

7 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
scant ½ cup olive oil
3 eggs, at room temperature
scant 1 cup Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve
1 ¾ cups shelled pistachios
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine salt
¾ cup superfine sugar
6 fresh figs, or more if you like
2 tbsp honey, plus extra to serve


Butter the inside of a deep 8-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Melt the butter in a pan, then pour it into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the oil and let cool for a few minutes.

Add the eggs and yogurt to the bowl and whisk until smooth and even.

Put 1¼ cups of the pistachios into a food processor with 1 tablespoon of flour and process until fine and sandy. If you don’t have a food processor, the next best thing is to put the pistachios into a food storage bag, squeeze out the air, then bash the nuts with a rolling pin until fine.

Add the nuts, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to the buttery mixture, then fold together using a spatula or metal spoon until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the pan and even out the top.

Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until evenly risen and golden and a skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan for 15 minutes, then transfer it to a cooling rack.

When ready to serve (it can be warm or cold, but is best warm), put the cake onto a serving plate. Slice the figs in half and sit a few pieces on top of the cake. Drizzle 2 tablespoons honey over the top of the cake and fruit, then sprinkle with the remaining whole nuts. Serve with the rest of the figs and more yogurt on the side. The cake will still be very good to eat a few days after baking.

Kim Barnouin's 'Skinny Bitch Book of Vegan Swaps.'

Kim Barnouin – Skinny Bitch Book of Vegan Swaps

From the Skinny Bitch series best-selling author and holistic nutritionist Kim Barnouin, we get her umpteenth guide to a healthier lifestyle – (HarperOne). We knew she was headed there sooner or later. Barnouin’s R-rated banter intends to strip away the fear of an inaugural trip to Whole Foods. Seriously? “Swap Hostess Twinkies for X’s and O’s Vegan Bakery Canoe Boats,” she counsels the culinary naif. That should be a snap with bankrupt Hostess Brands laying off all 18,500 employees this week. Read this if you don’t know the difference between Kellogg’s and Kashi.

On a more serious note, Napa Valley’s award-winning chef and restaurateur, Cindy Pawlcyn’s new book, Cindy’s Supper Club – Meals From Around the World to Share with Family and Friends (Ten Speed Press) got us planning our next dinner party. Pawlcyn takes us to exotic locales – think Turkey, Peru, Korea and South Africa – without ever leaving the sanctity of our own kitchen. Twenty-five complete menus plus luscious photos from Alex Farnum. Take note of the Hawaiian Pork Katsu and grab your market basket to prepare the refreshing Forager’s Salad from Ireland with ten veggies, a clutch of herbs, hazelnuts and blue cheese. Wildflowers are optional.

Also from Ten Speed Press is Brooklyn native Victoria Belanger’s Hello, Jell-O, a cutesy summer-useful book of gelatin treats. You might try serving her Pear and Lychee Martini or a minty Mojito mold at your next cookout. I like the Petite Watermelons made with blended vodka-infused strawberries, decorated with tiny black sesame seeds and served in a scooped-out lime wedge. These are not your grammie’s potluck supper recipes, it’s upmarket throwback fun.

When Anthony Bourdain filmed an episode of No Reservations in Sri Lanka his guide was Baltimorean S. H. Fernando, chef/author of the new cookbook Rice & Curry (Hippocrene). “Skiz”, as everyone calls him, whose first effort cookbook is enthusiastically endorsed by both Bourdain and Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern, has compiled authentic recipes from his homeland into a highly engaging book. Using spices that have applications in the ancient Ayurvedic system of holistic health, Fernando takes the home cook into a world few have ever written about. As a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University’s School of Journalism, the multi-dimensional renaissance man is also a film director, record producer and music journalist having written for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Vibe and Spin. He’ll be hosting (and cheffing!) a 12-course pop-up dinner called The Sri Lankan Supper Club at Montserrat House in Washington, DC on June 8th. For details and ticket info visit his blog.

If you’re watching your figure, or maybe someone else is, NBC’s Today Show Diet and Fitness Guru, Joy Bauer has a new book for you. The Joy Fit Club – Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration (Wiley) is Bauer’s entry into the world of before-and-after success stories. This super user-friendly at-home approach to weight loss ratchets up the inspiration with thirty transformative stories and photos from men and women who have followed her expert advice while losing up to 300 pounds. The easy to follow 21-day diet plan includes yummy snacks like Lime Ginger Baby Cakes with Coconut Frosting (only 5 grams of fat each).


Read other articles in Nibble and Sips.

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Jordan Wright
Jordan Wright is an accomplished writer on food, spirits, travel, and theatre. Her clients include the tony Georgetowner and hip sister publication the Downtowner, the Washington Examiner and San Francisco Examiner, as well as, DC Metro Magazine, Washington Life Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine,, The Alexandria Times,, and now DCMetroTheaterArts. Her articles feature restaurant openings, food and wine events, food-oriented film reviews, farmer’s markets, food trends, restaurant reviews, food memories, new food products, hotels, spas, resorts and interviews with the country’s leading chefs – from Jose Andres and Top Chef’s Carla Hall, to CakeLove’s Warren Brown and Top Chef’s Spike Mendelsohn. She has also interviewed famed chef and TV star, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, cookbook author Joan Nathan, and director Robert Kenner for an in-depth article about his film Food, Inc. Photographs by Wright accompany many of her articles and has picked up and used several of her stories. Jordan Wright hails from three generations of show business. Her grandmother, Betty Morton, was a Ziegfield Follies girl; her step-grandmother Corinne Griffith, a noted author and silent screen star wrote Hail to the Redskins; her father, Georgie Price, an entertainer and founder of The Lamb’s Club in New York, as well as a CBS radio show host, songwriter and vaudevillian; her sister, Penny Larsen Vine, a theatre critic both on radio and in print for Variety, a former longtime member of the Outer Critics Circle, and a lead performer in countless national touring companies; one brother, Peter Price, appeared in leading roles in over 16 major motion pictures for MGM; while her other brother, Marshall Price performed at Carnegie Hall. Niece, Stephanie Vine, was the final Annie in the original production of Annie on Broadway, and niece, Liz Larsen, has received two Tony nominations and a Helen Hayes award for lead actress in Sunday in the Park with George. Wright sang with Columbia Records in New York and Barclay Records in France. In the sports world her grandfather was the original owner and founder of the Washington Redskins football team. Wright has traveled throughout four continents and currently resides in Old Town Alexandria.


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