T. Susan Chang

T. Susan Chang regularly writes about food and reviews cookbooks for The Boston Globe, NPR.org and the cookbook-indexing website Eat Your Books. She's the author of A Spoonful of Promises: Recipes and Stories From a Well-Tempered Table (Lyons Press, 2011). Her app, CookShelf, features reviews and recommendations for the latest cookbooks, and is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Visit her blog, Cookbooks for Dinner, to find out more.

Food
9:38 am
Mon June 9, 2014

These 10 Summer Cookbooks Will Make The Good Life Even Better

liz west via Flickr

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 1:02 pm

Toss out the china and pick up the picnic basket! Summer cookbooks are fanciful creatures — high on whimsy and shamelessly devoted to making a good life better. For some, that means lingering in the farmers markets or gardening with the kids. For others it's indulging in some usually forbidden pleasures — the fried, the icy sweet, the charred and meaty. And for some, it means crossing oceans to sample less familiar fare — without ever leaving the porch. There's something for everyone, but all go just fine with bare toes and a sun hat.

Read more
Kitchen Window
12:18 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Sous Vide Makes Its Way To The Home Kitchen

A salmon fillet cooked sous vide, with miso-ginger glaze, gets a crisp finish under a broiler or torch flame.
T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 7:22 am

Sous vide. Not that long ago, it sounded so exotic — or, at least, so French. It was a phrase that belonged in restaurants, amid white tablecloths and flower arrangements and hushed conversations. Alternatively, it was a word that belonged to the modernist kitchens just beyond the swinging doors — kitchens filled with gleaming dehydrators and transglutaminase "meat glues" and spherification siphons and more.

Read more
Kitchen Window
12:13 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Oranges: Secret Agents Of The Food World

T. Susan Chang for NPR

For me, the citrus fruits of winter have been bright spots in a long, frost-bound season. The lemons, the oranges, the sweet little clementines, the tart, brawny grapefruits — they glow like miniature suns on the grayest afternoons. As we — finally — turn the long, slow corner in the spring, I love them all the more for knowing they will soon be gone.

Read more
Kitchen Window
3:41 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Valentine Hearts That Are Meant To Be Broken

T. Susan Chang for NPR

In first grade, my heart was stolen by Mark, who sat next to me and had an advanced phonics book (which I also craved). Then there were Peter, Eddie, Raja and Michael. These serial crushes continued right on up through my early 20s, at a rate of approximately three a year. Boys. I fell for their incipient mustaches, their bad attitudes and foul mouths, their poor poetry and bass guitars, their careless humor. I saw their swagger for what it was, but I loved it anyway.

Read more
Food
3:03 am
Wed December 18, 2013

The Stars Come Out For Holiday Bakers

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 1:21 pm

As a young woman, I had an attack of nostalgia for a possibly imaginary cookie. It was prompted by a walk up New York's Third Avenue, where I saw in the bakery case of a local delicatessen a stack of small round cookies, covered in the tiny rainbow sprinkles known as nonpareils. Instantly, I was ambushed by a flashback to the tiny Italian pastry shop of the small riverside town just north of Manhattan where I grew up, and where, I felt sure, I had been given star-shaped sprinkle cookies of a similar kind as a reward for my excellent behavior.

Read more
Kitchen Window
12:03 am
Wed November 20, 2013

You Can't Judge A Celery Root By Its Looks

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 12:59 pm

Imagine how celery root feels at the vegetable beauty pageant. Everyone's falling over the tomato, that smug beauty queen. The cameras love elegant long carrots and parsnips, and the radishes blush in the spotlight. People coo over the potatoes even though they're not much to look at, because they're in it for the fries.

But homely celery root hovers by the concessions table with big, unremarkable rutabaga and antennaed kohlrabi.

Read more
Kitchen Window
1:23 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

In Roasts, A Touch Of Fruit Brings Out The Best In Meat

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 5:35 pm

When the late, great Marcella Hazan passed away a few weeks ago, many people recalled with fondness her recipe for roast chicken with two lemons, and so did I. It was one of the first recipes I ever learned. I loved it at every time of year, but never more than in fall. Did it even count as cooking? It was nothing more than a small chicken, seasoned and roasted with two pierced lemons in the cavity, but it had a way of warming people from the inside out. The juices deceived the senses, suggesting hours of care and attention. The pleasure, though, was undeniably real.

Read more
Kitchen Window
12:08 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Roasted Tomatoes, The Perfect Accessory For Summer Dishes

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 3:31 am

At this time of year, we all love tomatoes. Many of us claim we'll "take a big juicy tomato and bite into it like it's an apple," although you won't often see that happen in actual fact.

Read more
Book Reviews
3:54 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Wandering Appetites: Hunting The Elusive Noodle

Jennifer Lin-Liu is a chef at Black Sesame Kitchen, her restaurant and cooking school in Beijing. She is also the author of Serve the People.
Lucy Cavender Courtesy Riverhead Books

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 6:24 pm

On the Noodle Road is one attempt to answer an old chestnut: Did Marco Polo really bring noodles from China to Italy? If not, where did they really come from? Or — to put it another way — from what point along the storied byways of the Silk Road did that humble paste of flour and water first spring into its multifarious existence?

Read more
Kitchen Window
12:03 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Buttermilk Makes Everything Taste A Little Better

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 12:55 pm

It started happening about 15 years ago. I'd be paging through a new cookbook or browsing through recipes online, and I'd suddenly stop. "Mmm, buttermilk biscuits. Doesn't that sound good?" I'd bookmark the site or dog-ear the page. The next week I'd see a recipe for waffles — buttermilk waffles, as it happened. What a splendid idea. Out came the yellow stickies.

Read more
Kitchen Window
12:03 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Scape Velocity: Green Garlic Takes Flight

T. Susan Chang for NPR

If you've never grown garlic, here's how you do it: On a bright cool fall afternoon, before the ground has frozen, you pry an ordinary, unpeeled clove of garlic off the bulb. You plant it in the ground, about 4 inches down and pointy side up. Maybe you cover the soil with some straw to protect it from extremes of heat, cold and drought.

Read more
Three Books...
6:01 am
Sun June 23, 2013

Feast For The Eyes: 3 Cookbooks Just For Looking

I'm a cookbook reviewer, which means that every night I try recipes from far-flung cuisines or idiosyncratic food bloggers or test-kitchen perfectionists. I've always made a point of steering readers towards practical, thoughtful cookbooks that they'll use every week and hand down to their kids. But privately, there are some cookbooks I never cook from at all: frivolous books full of whimsical sugar art, devoid of nutritional value, and really, best eaten with your eyes.

Read more
Kitchen Window
8:24 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Try A Do-It-Yourself Mother's Day

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 1:22 pm

My mother didn't plant a great many spring bulbs. But over by the pachysandra patch, there was a single lovely pink tulip, and I kept my eye on it for two weeks before Mother's Day. When that Sunday morning arrived, I rushed out, snipped it and ran inside to where she lay sleeping to present it to her. "Did you pick that outside?" she inquired, her expression shifting from sleepy surprise to something more complicated. I nodded proudly. "Oh ... thank you, sweetie."

Read more
Kitchen Window
2:11 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Preserved Lemons: Older, Wiser And Full Of Flavor

T. Susan Chang for NPR

On many occasions in my longtime relationship with cookbooks, I have had this experience (which will sound familiar, if you like Middle Eastern flavors as much as I do). I'm happily paging through my new Moroccan or Lebanese or Israeli book, lost in dreams of lamb and sumac, saffron and figs. "Mmmm," I murmur over a glossy page, "that looks delicious."

I trace my finger down the ingredients list. Shallots, check. Tomatoes, check. Cinnamon stick, check. And then there it is: Preserved lemon. "Drat," I think. "Foiled again."

Read more
Kitchen Window
1:54 am
Wed February 27, 2013

In Praise Of The Humble Lentil

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:01 am

The year I discovered lentils, I was broke and lonely and didn't know how to cook. Lentils, it turned out, would have gone a long way toward providing the solution to some of these problems. However, when I first had them, they were a mystery.

They also were the cheapest thing on the menu at the Middle Eastern deli around the corner. The dish was mudardara, I was told. "What's that again?" I said, unable to untangle the knot of plosive consonants. It was repeated.

Read more
Kitchen Window
1:47 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Understanding The Brussels Sprout

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 1:44 pm

"What are those?" I asked my mom, suspiciously eyeing the little cardboard tub with its cellophane cover. It held a heap of pale, miniature cabbages. "They're Brussels sprouts," she said. "They're supposed to be good for you," she added, sealing my doom.

At dinnertime, the mystery vegetable reappeared, steaming hot and greenish-yellow but otherwise unaltered. It gave off a sulfurous stench. I recoiled, but I knew my job. I took a bite.

Read more
Kitchen Window
7:42 am
Wed September 26, 2012

A Roll For All Seasons, Wrapped In Rice Paper

T. Susan Chang for NPR

It all started several months ago, when I was fishing around for something not-too-unhealthy for lunch. Spring was over — the once-tender lettuces now milky-hearted and stiff-leaved — and I was bored with salad. I love sandwiches, but every time I gorged on bread I stepped a little heavier onto the scale. "If you're going to eat constantly," I said to myself, knowing that I would, "you simply can't afford to pack on that many carbs at a time."

Read more