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A Collection for the Modern Cook

by Susan Spungen

Hardcover, 272 pages, Harpercollins, List Price: $34.95 |


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A Collection for the Modern Cook
Susan Spungen

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Book Summary

An illustrated collection of easy-to-prepare recipes is organized by primary cooking technique and explains how to master basic skills in order to achieve sophisticated results.

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Recipes


A Collection for the Modern Cook

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Susan Spungen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060731249

Peanut Noodles with Mango

Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish

These noodles are the perfect thing to bring to or serve at a summer party. They can be made hours, even a day, ahead of time and they won't become gummy. Mango, while an unorthodox addition, adds juiciness and bright color. Sugar snap peas provide crunch, but don't add them until serving time. Serve with Grill-Roasted Lemongrass Chicken (page io8), Baby Back Ribs with Coffee BBQ Sauce (page 100), or simple grilled chicken breasts.


For the Peanut Dressing
¾ cup smooth natural-style peanut butter
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 heaping tablespoon grated ginger
Scant teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon sugar
For the Noodle Salad
Kosher salt
1 pound thick spaghetti
2 cups sugar snap peas, strings removed, or snow peas
2 ripe mangos
Juice of 1 lime
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
¼ cup roasted peanuts


Make the peanut dressing by combining the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, oil, ginger, red pepper flakes, sugar, and 1/2 cup hot water in a mini food processor. Blend well and set aside. (This can be made several days ahead of time.) Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the spaghetti and cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until al dente.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Cook the peas until they turn bright green, about 30 seconds. Drain and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once the peas have cooled, drain, pat dry, cut in half, and set aside.

Stand a mango on the stem end. Using a sharp knife, cut the mango into two large pieces, cutting as close to the large flat pit as possible. Score each half of the mango into s-inch squares, but don't cut through the skin. Next, run the knife between the flesh and the skin to release the cubes. Place the cubes in a small bowl; repeat with the other mango. Squeeze excess juice from the trimmings into the bowl. Squeeze the lime onto the mango cubes and season with a little salt.

When the spaghetti is done, drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. In a large bowl, toss the spaghetti with the peanut dressing until well coated. Add the peas and three quarters of the scallions and toss to combine. Place the noodles on a large serving platter, sprinkle the mango over the noodles, and garnish with the remaining scallions, the cilantro, and peanuts. Serve immediately. If making in advance reserve about one third of the dressing and toss the noodles with the reserved dressing immediately before serving.

Peach Melba

Serves 6

A sublime and classic dessert that belies its simplicity. Serve in pretty stemmed glasses or tumblers for a refined presentation accompanied by Almond Shortbread. This dessert should be reserved for juicy, ripe in-season peaches, but if for some reason they aren't as flavorful as you'd like, sprinkle the peaches with a little sugar and a few drops of liqueur such as kirsch, Cognac, or use a white dessert wine such as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, which would also go very nicely with it.


1 pint raspberries
½ cup sugar
6 ripe peaches
About 1 pint vanilla ice cream
Almond Shortbread (page 214)


Combine half of the raspberries, the sugar, and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar melts and the mixture comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and fold in the remaining raspberries and transfer to a bowl to cool. (This can be made several days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Cut a shallow X into the bottom of each peach with a paring knife. Plunge the peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds (or until the skins loosen), and then into ice water. Slip off the skins and cut each peach into 6 to 8 slices.

To serve, place 1 sliced peach in each of 6 stemmed glasses or tumblers. Place about ¼ cup raspberry sauce on top, and top with one generous scoop of ice cream. Serve immediately with Almond Shortbread.