I know I mostly write about baking here, but cooking generally is something that gives me real pleasure - especially when it's food to share. Somehow cooking for one is less satisfying, most likely because I end up with a lot of something which I'll then have to spend a week working through, something I've not taken as much care over, or something that's quick but not very exciting. I'm lazy when I only have myself to please, so it's perhaps lucky that I'm given to enthusiasms for different foods which galvanise me into action, and demand some care and attention (it's even better when the quantities can be adapted for one).
'Lemongrass and Ginger' was waiting on my doorstep when I got home yesterday, it's proving to be a hit. I had a friend coming for dinner and just had time to change my cooking plans. An emergency dash to M&S got me some Nam Pla fish sauce which was all I lacked to make caramelized salmon with pineapple. It's a recipe that apparently has it's roots in Cambodia and Vietnam (that at least is the chapter I found it in), is a combination I wouldn't have considered off my own bat, and was really very good. Bar Chinese and Japanese food I normally steer clear of Asian dishes - I have a pathetically low tolerance for hot food (not a curry girl) which makes me unadventurous when it comes to restaurant choices. That in turn has led to a small frame of reference, separate books dedicated to the cuisine of Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka etc. would be underused in my kitchen. A book that nods to all of them is a different matter.
The great thing about cooking at home is that I can seriously back pedal on the chilli where others might ramp it up. On a roll I made braised pork ribs tonight - without doubt the best I've ever cooked or eaten - despite having to improvise with a couple of ingredients. Both these recipes are keepers and I have plenty more bookmarked.
I hadn't realised but 'Lemongrass and Ginger' started life as a blog which will be interesting to explore (although, and I find this interesting, so far I like the book far more). It is the most beautifully produced object - the cover particularly is delightful (if you were judging by covers this one would win every time). The pictures are a good mix of informative and decorative and although the two recipes I've tried were at the simpler end of the scale they're well laid out and easy to follow.
The one thing I find daunting about this type of food is the number of reasonably specialist ingredients you need, and the number of things that can go into each dish - fine if you cook this way all the time, not great if you only want to dabble (and not spend a fortune), so having a few recipes which only need a few things is appealing. Most measurements are in spoons and cups - something else I find appealing, and there's a really handy looking set of basic recipes for making various pastes - all designed to make the exact amount for it's specific recipes which seems amazingly sensible yet is quite rare.
Finally, worth saying again - those braised pork ribs were fantastic (vegetarians might want to look away now).