Book Review: Kitchen Matrix

Check out one of Mark Bittman’s latest cookbooks, Kitchen Matrix. It’s a great visual cookbook that fans of Bittman will enjoy.

Check out one of Mark Bittman's latest cookbooks, Kitchen Matrix. It's a great visual cookbook that fans of Bittman will enjoy.

A description of the book from the publisher:

Bestselling author Mark Bittman anthologizes his popular Matrix series in a boldly graphic new cookbook that emphasizes creativity, improvisation, and simplicity as the keys to varied cooking.

For years, Mark Bittman has shared his formulas, recipes, and kitchen improvisations in his popular New York Times Eat column, in which an ingredient or essential technique is presented in different variations in a bold matrix. Accompanied by striking photographs and brief, straightforward instructions, these thematic matrices show how simple changes in preparation and ingredient swaps in a master recipe can yield dishes that are each completely different from the original, and equally delicious. In Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix, Mark’s matrices come together to create a collection of over 400 flexible recipes covering vegetables, fruits, meats and chicken, and even desserts. Whether you’re cooking up soup (creamy, brothy, earthy, or hearty), freezing ice pops (in fruity, savory, creamy, or boozy varieties), or preparing asparagus (steamed, roasted, stir-fried, or grilled), following Mark’s approach to culinary improvisation will deliver stand-out results.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I have been a fan of Mark Bittman for awhile. I enjoyed his column in The New York Times, and of course his How to Cook Everything series is great. His views [along with Michael Pollan’s] on the American diet, processed food, and cooking have shaped my food philosophy quite a bit over the past seven years. I like Bittman’s approachable style, and the flexibility he gives to home cooks. For those of you not familiar with his cookbooks, they are recipes that contain lots of suggestions [i.e. for this rice dish, use these ingredients to make it Asian style, these to make it Italian, etc.]. I know newer cooks [or those who don’t like to be told what to do] really benefit from that approach. Kitchen Matrix is no different.
  • Kitchen Matrix is only about 300 pages long, but it has over 700 simple recipes in it that everyone, no matter their food style [paleo, omnivore, vegetarian, etc.] will love. Wow! The size, like all his cookbooks, is a little overwhelming but he breaks down the categories of recipes well–appetizers, vegetables, meat, fruit, etc. In many ways, this could be a replacement “bridal shower” cookbook for creative types instead of the typical Betty Crocker title.
  • This cookbook is by far the prettiest of any of his books. It looks more like a blog than a cookbook, with tons of full color illustrations, recipes, and commentary. It is so fun to just look at, even if you don’t plan to cook anything! You also can learn quite a bit about flavor pairings, ingredients, and basic cooking skills within this book as well. Bittman generally provides flavor profiles beyond just the “American” palate, including profile options for Mediterranean, East Asian, South Asian, and Latin American cuisine.
  • The layout of Kitchen Matrix does take some getting used to. Pages are oriented both ways [left to right and top to bottom]. Some recipes aren’t given in typical recipe format, but rather in paragraphs. But neither of these elements are deal breakers for me!
  • Overall, this is a great cookbook. I pull it out when I want to get creative in the kitchen, or when I have basic ingredients on hand and don’t know what I should make for dinner or for a side dish. For me, it’s not the best cookbook to go to when I don’t have any inspiration at all because it definitely is a bit open ended, but it’s a fun cookbook to have on hand.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to for the chance to read this great book!

Curried Lentil Soup

Easy and flavorful red lentil soup…this curried red lentil soup is simply the best!

I already showed you the soup along with this fabulous hearty Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread… and now here’s the recipe! This Curried Lentil Soup is also fabulous. Why would I share anything less than fabulous? Ha! Lentil soup is always a go-to vegetarian soup because it’s filling and flavorful without meat. This time, we’ve taken a regular ‘ole lentil soup and added red lentils and a south Asian flavor profile to  make something extra special.

Easy and flavorful red lentil soup...this curried red lentil soup is simply the best!

If you’re a fan of dal, you’ll like the soup. The flavors are incredible–garlic, ginger, onion…and of course, curry! There’s nothing better on a cold night, especially when served with some hearty bread. Mmm! The fact that this soup is made in about 30 minutes, thanks to the magic of the microwave [Iiiiiiii know–I never use the microwave in cooking, but it’s magic here], is an added bonus. Perfect for busy weeknights! Hope you guys enjoy!

two years ago: Honey Cornbread
three years ago: Sweet ‘n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw
four years ago: Peach Raspberry Clafouti
five years ago: Peach Shortbread
six years ago: Tropical Granola

Curried Lentil Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

from Jenna’s Everything Blog

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 – 15 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cilantro, chopped
  • plain yogurt

Directions:

In a large bowl, microwave lentils and half of the broth for 10-12 minutes, until liquid is mostly absorbed

In a stockpot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion for 5-7 minutes, until soft and translucent. Season with pepper to taste, then add garlic, ginger, and curry powder. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add the microwaved lentil mixture to the pot, then add the remaining broth and tomatoes. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, seasoning with pepper as desired.

Serve with cilantro and plain yogurt.

 

SRC: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

Hearty and savory pumpkin bread… this is a recipe you don’t want to miss!

Hearty and savory pumpkin bread... this is a recipe you don't want to miss!

Hey everyone! Welcome to another SRC post! This month I was assigned to Smruti’s blog, Herbivore Cucina. As with most food bloggers, Smruti loves to cook–and the more unconventional the recipe, the better! Though she lives in the US now, she is originally from India so she has a wide variety of Indian and international recipes on her blog. Everything sounded SO good that I had a tough time deciding between Indian dishes like Layered Vegetable Biryani, Cilantro Coconut Chutney, and Oats and Dry Fruit Chikki… or Pizza Buns… or finally, Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread. I had to go with the seasonal favorite, ya know?🙂

Hearty and savory pumpkin bread... this is a recipe you don't want to miss!

This bread is so simple to make, and so delicious. Though there are a lot of steps involved with making a yeast bread, every time I make one I wonder why I don’t do this very often. It’s just mix, knead, rise, shape, rise, and bake. And then enjoy! If you have a stand mixer, it’s even easier because the mixer does the kneading for you.🙂 This bread is way different from your average sweet pumpkin bread… but yummy in its own unique way. Of course, there is pumpkin pie spice to liven things up, yay! I served this hearty pumpkin bread with one of my favorite soups that has yet to make the blog [SOON! I promise]–Curried Lentil Soup. And if you’re waffling between adding the seed topping or not–DO it! It’s well worth the extra effort, even if you have a baby you’re trying to entertain in the meantime. Enjoy! Thanks, Smruti for the great recipe.🙂

two years ago: Sausage and Ranch Potato Skillet with Fried Eggs
four years ago: Peach Ginger Pie
five years ago: Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
six years ago: Chili Burgers

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Print

from Herbivore Cucina

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet yeast [2 1/4 teaspoon]
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup water, heated to 110-115 degrees F
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour [I used 1.5 cups whole wheat and 1.5 cups white whole wheat]
  • 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • toasted sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds, optional

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, honey, 1 teaspoon salt, and water. Stir together and then let rest for 5 minutes or so until yeast is frothy. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together flour, vital wheat gluten, and pumpkin pie spice. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin and olive oil.

When yeast is frothy, add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately, stirring with paddle attachment until combined. Then, use the dough hook to knead bread dough for 7-8 minutes, until a soft dough forms. Remove dough and place in a greased bowl. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise for about an hour until, doubled in size.

Punch dough down and let rest for 5 minutes. Grease a 9×5 inch bread pan with cooking spray, then shape dough into a log and place in bread pan. Sprinkle seeds on top, if desired, gently pressing in. Flip dough and sprinkle the other side with seeds too. Cover bread pan and place in a warm spot to rise for another hour.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-18 minutes, until top is golden brown. Place pan on cooling rack to cool completely before cutting, about 3 hours.

Be sure to check out all the other SRC recipes today at the link below:

Menu Plan

Happy Sunday! Are you ready for a delicious week ahead? I know I am! It’s so fun that it’s getting *just a bit* cooler out so we can make SOUP for dinner now. Last week I made some curried red lentil soup that I love [and will have to share the recipe soon. This week, my black bean soup is up for Wednesday. You need to make it this fall–it is so hearty and flavorful! Enjoy, friends!

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Monday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Tuesday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Wednesday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Thursday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Friday

  • DAY OFF – Go out to eat or order in!

Saturday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Sunday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Breakfast

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Dessert

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

This week’s meal plan was brought to you by:

The Spiffy Cookie | Foodtastic Mom | The Pajama Chef | Big Bear’s Wife | The Cooking Actress | Pies and Plots

Pin this to your meal planning board for easy access all week long!

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers! Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

 

Book Review: Delighting In God

Find out all about A.W. Tozer’s Delighting In God. It’s the intended follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy and it’s powerful!

Find out all about A.W. Tozer's Delighting In God. It's the intended follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy and it's powerful! - a book review on thepajamachef.com

A description of the book from the publisher:

Understand Your Life’s Purpose by Better Understanding God

“My worship grows and grows as my perception of God grows. God cannot grow. My perception of God grows as I experience Him day after day. I should be more capable of worshiping God today than I was ten or twenty years ago.”

Delighting in God is the message A.W. Tozer intended to be the follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy. He demonstrates how the attributes of God–those things God has revealed about himself–are a way to understand the Christian life of worship and service. Because we were created in the image of God, to understand who we are, we need to understand who God is and allow His character and nature to be reflected through us.

We are here to serve and adore Him, and we can only fulfill that role by acknowledging who He is. This is the essence of the Christian life and the source of all our fulfillment, joy, and comfort.

As usual, my five point review:

  • Tozer’s classic The Knowledge of the Holy has been a book that has had a meaningful impact on my life. I think sometimes Christian women especially can have a more “emotional” approach to faith and can forget that we need to engage our minds with God too. The Knowledge of the Holy challenged me to do that, so I was interested in reading this “follow up,” published long after Tozer’s death. I was not disappointed–but keep reading to find out why.
  • Since this is a posthumously published book, I always am interested to know how it came together. With editor James L. Snyder, this book is a compiled collection of selected sermons preached late in Tozer’s life. Like with The Knowledge of the Holy, this book focuses on the attributes of God and our perceptions of him. But it’s not just a repeat of the former book, but rather a refined call to examine these attributes based on what Tozer learned as he continued to know God more.
  • This book is challenging, so I’ll be honest: it took me awhile to get through it, but it is worth it. Sermons can be hard to read, especially when they were prepared in a different era. But that is the beauty of Tozer–he is very timeless and his call to the church to follow God is still very relevant today.
  • One issue I have to mention with the book [that really could go either way, depending on your perspective] is that it’s edited–and by someone from the current era. This can be good because it can make it more readable, but it can also be bad because I think some of Tozer’s voice [but not his perspective] gets lost. Not a huge deal to me but some may be irritated by this.
  • All in all, this is a powerful and convicting book and is recommended for those who are fans of Tozer, especially if you want a more accessible way to read his sermons.

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!