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the appetizer:

The Breakaway Cook by Eric Gower explores global ingredients with recipes like Umeboshi Scallops, Galangal-lnfused Dungeness Crab with Baby Greens, and Breakaway Kofta.

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The Breakaway Cook
Recipes That Break Away from the Ordinary

by Eric Gower

The Breakaway Cook
Click to buy The Breakaway Cook

Eric Gower isn't afraid to experiment in the kitchen: he puts green tea in his salt, roasts chickens with miso and oranges, mixes Greek yogurt and herbs into pasta, and bakes tofu with pomegranate. He's learned that by stocking his pantry with a few key, easily available ingredients from ethnic markets, he's able to whip up bold, flavorful meals with ease and convenience. In his third cookbook, The Breakaway Cook, Gower proves how easy it can be to explore new tastes.

Breakaway cooking is about taking small culinary leaps, starting with the best local produce and meats and then spicing them up with flavors from the world's great culinary traditions (especially those of Japan, India, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia). Eric spent 15 years living and working in Japan, where he learned, through endless experimentation, how to use Japanese ingredients in wonderful new ways. This experimental approach, coupled with his interest in buying locally grown organic produce whenever possible, became the foundation of his cooking style.

The liberal use of bold ingredients is paramount in breakaway cooking. These ingredients help create simple combinations of flavors that play off each other. Along with fresh herbs, citrus, and good salts, Eric also likes to have the following "global flavor blasts" on hand:

  • Carrot Juice—Use instead of stock.
  • Crusts—Use ground up lentils, rice flakes, stale bread, and commeal to add crispiness and texture to foods like fish and tofu.
  • Ginger and Galangal (Thai Ginger)—Fresh gingers perk up foods and help balance rich, fat-laden dishes. (See the Galangal-lnfused Dungeness Crab with Baby Greens recipe.)
  • Habaneros—These hot chiles have to be handled with care but add a fruity spiciness to seafood, eggs, and countless other foods.
  • Maccha—This superfine, antioxidant-rich green tea powder can be brewed as a drink, dusted over chocolate, or mixed with salt and sprinkled over eggs.
  • Miso—Can be used as a base for marinades, glazes for broiled fish, or eaten straight with cucumber spears and beer.
  • Pomegranate Molasses—This sweet-tart syrup has endless uses as a glaze and marinade. (See the Breakaway Kofta recipe.)
  • Umeboshi—Also called pickled plums; salty, sour umeboshi can be added to duck dishes or blended into a salad dressing. (See the Umeboshi Scallops recipe.)
  • Yuzu—Use yuzu juice to braise meats and perk up salad dressings.

Many of the recipes take less than 15 minutes to cook, yet all boast unexpected flavor combinations and a sophisticated interplay of savory, sweet, and tangy. All recipes are "bulletproof," no-fuss, and simple; anyone can make this food, with very little effort or expense. From adding yogurt to scrambled eggs (Fluffy, Herby Eggs), "pouring a cooked mojito over stewed chicken" (Minty, Boozy Chicken), or enhancing lemon sorbet with star anise (Star Anise-Lemon Sorbet), Eric takes ordinary foods and livens them up.

The Breakaway Cook will encourage readers to get creative in the kitchen and infuse favorite foods with fresh, vibrant flavors. If home cooks are intimidated by these unique recipes, consider Eric's advice: "The entire spirit of this book urges you to ignore anything I say in these recipes."

About the Author

Eric Gower lived in Japan for fifteen years, working for the prime minister's office as an editor and writer on political economy before turning his interest to food. Gower is currently a writer and private chef. He writes a twice-weekly column for Yahoo Food called "The Breakaway Cook," and is the author of two previous cookbooks, Eric's Kitchen and The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen. He lives and works in San Francisco.

 
  • The Breakaway Cook
  • Recipes That Break Away from the Ordinary
  • by Eric Gower
  • William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers 2007
  • Hardcover; 240 pp. $29.95
  • ISBN 978-0-06-085166-8 (006085166X)
  • Information provided by the publisher.

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This page created August 2007


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