Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Recipe reviews: Sodium Girl's Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook

This evening I gave my aunt a copy of one of my favorite cookbooks, Sodium Girl's Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook by Jessica Goldman Foung, who blogs at sodiumgirl.com. I spent a bunch of time adding bookmarks for recipes I liked or loved, and little "don't do it" signs for a few recipes I don't recommend. It'd be silly to do that again the next time I give someone this book, so here are my notes.

This cookbook isn't perfect. The directions don't always seem tested, and sometimes they're unnecessarily convoluted. I suspect that Sodium Girl is a self-taught cook who happens to be a wizard at figuring out combinations of ingredients that work without salt. These recipes use tons of herbs, spices, and other flavorful ingredients, such as tamarind paste. Although not every recipe works, the ones that do are utterly delicious.

Loved it

  • Tamarind "teriyaki" chicken skewers (p. 90)
    • Don't bother skewering the chicken. Just stir fry and serve it over rice.
  • Salad of grapefruit + avocado with toasted pumpkin seeds (p. 125)
    • So good!
    • Half a jicama is enough.
    • Try it with 1/4 cup or less of olive oil. (It calls for 1/3 cup, but that seems like overkill.)
  • Pistachio + broccoli pesto-crusted salmon (p. 196)
    • Use half the amount of pistachios.
    • Trader Joe's sometimes has unsalted, shelled pistachios; get them online if not in the store.
    • Don't go overboard on the broccoli.
    • This makes a lot of pesto; you could probably reduce those ingredients by 25%.
    • Don't buy too much salmon; 4-6 oz per person is plenty.
    • This recipe is very filling (lots of good fats!).
  • Pork + fennel meat loaf (p. 226)
    • Yum!!!
    • Don't bother basting with ketchup so often. Once before it goes into the oven and once halfway through baking is plenty.
    • We've made this twice in the last week.
  • Whiskey orange pulled pork (p. 227)
    • Cook [the boneless pork butt] until the meat falls easily from the bone??? Riiiight.

Liked it

  • Mushroom broth barley soup (p. 143)
    • Makes a lot (enough for 8 people, not 4 to 6).
    • We omitted the dried mushrooms (probably because we didn't have any). It was fine without them but would probably be better with them.
    • The whole black peppercorns were a bit much; just use more ground pepper.
    • We reduced the cooking time (15 minutes simmer -> 5, 45 minute covered simmer -> 30).
  • Chicken wraps with plum sauce (p. 212)
    • Tasty!
    • The sauce makes the chicken gray; consider coloring the chicken somehow to make it more appetizing?
  • Pumpkin turkey pasta (p. 217)
  • Beef taquitos (p. 222)
    • I think we've made this with chicken a couple of times.
    • Don't bother rolling up the stuff and baking it; the tortillas fall apart. Just bring out the meat and some warm corn tortillas, and let people roll their own.
  • Moroccan lamb stew (p. 239)
    • We might have loved this, but I only made it once a long time ago, so I don't remember.
    • Can use > 2# of lamb, even without the bone.
    • We used an entire orange (from a serious juicer).
    • The couscous can wait until just before show time.
  • Quick chai tea cookies (p. 250)
    • Sliced almonds taste better than pumpkin seeds.

Don't bother

  • Homemade chorizo patties (p. 67)
    • Might have been good with some salt.
  • Fraiche start carrot quiche (p. 68)
    • We tried this twice, without success.
    • Once we used creme fraiche, and once greek yogurt.
    • With creme fraiche it was too creamy and not eggy enough.
    • The crust was better the second time, when we used half shortening (and half butter) instead of all butter.
  • Beef + broccoli with szechuan orange sauce (p. 225)
    • Coating the beef (step 3) was a waste of time; stir frying would've been easier and better.
    • We used oranges instead of mandarin oranges; mandarins would've been better.
    • We didn't like it enough to try again.

Want to try

Pickles, curry, .... We haven't made even half the recipes I want to try. I'll put a list here eventually.

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