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"To read a book about a country's cuisine isn't simply to go looking for 'good things'; it is also to better know - by means of the recipes - the customs and the richness or poverty of a place, and the spirit of those who inhabit it. It is above all, to participate in the symbolic celebration of the shared repast."

~ Ginette Olivesi-Lorenzi, La Cuisine Mentonnaise



Savoring Tuscany : Recipes and Reflections on Tuscan Cooking

Savoring Tuscany : Recipes and Reflections on Tuscan Cooking (The Savoring Series)
by Lori De Mori

Part of the Savoring Series, which is one of my favorite series of books about Regional Cuisine, Savoring Tuscany is a beautiful book filled with sumptuous recipes and delectable writing about the cuisine and culture of Tuscany. As with all the books in the series, Savoring Tuscany is put together beautifully and all of the recipes are well written and presented. The recipes that we tested were all superb and the book is an excellent source for fans of Tuscan cuisine.


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Recipe - Massaman Curry Paste
by Wen Zientek-Sico

If I had to pick a curry paste that was my favorite to make, it would have to be this one. While it is not my favorite curry paste to use, there is almost something sensuous about making it. This curry paste, influenced by the large Muslim population in southern Thailand, is filled with wonderfully aromatic spices. This curry paste is usually used to make hearty stews and dipping sauces for Satay dishes to be enjoyed on special occasions.

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Massaman Curry Paste

If I had to pick a curry paste that was my favorite to make, it would have to be this one. While it is not my favorite curry paste to use, there is almost something sensuous about making it. This curry paste, influenced by the large Muslim population in southern Thailand, is filled with wonderfully aromatic spices. This curry paste is usually used to make hearty stews and dipping sauces for Satay dishes to be enjoyed on special occasions.

3 ounces dried New Mexico or California chile peppers
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup finely minced shallots
1/3 cup finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons sliced lemongrass
2 tablespoons fresh galanga or gingerroot
1 teaspoon shrimp paste

Cover the chile peppers with warm water and let sit for 30 minutes. While the chiles are soaking, toast the cumin, coriander, and cardamom seeds in a wok or small frying pan over medium low heat for five minutes, tossing frequently, or until the seeds are toasted and fragrant. Grind or crush the seeds into a fine powder, and then place the powder in the bowl of a food processor along with the white pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, and cloves. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, or until the garlic and shallots are tender and just starting to brown. Do not overcook. Place the shallots and garlic into a large mortar and mash coarsely with the pestle. Transfer the shallots and garlic to the food processor. Place the salt, lemongrass, and galanga into the mortar and pound with pestle briefly to break down the fibers and release the oils. Add the lemongrass mixture to the food processor along with the shrimp paste. Drain the chile peppers, reserving the liquid. Halve all of the soaked peppers using gloves and a sharp knife. Remove the seeds and any tough ribs and then coarsely chop. Add the chiles to the food processor. Process the ingredients until a thick smooth paste forms, adding a tablespoon of the chile liquid every 30 seconds or so until the mixture is smooth and you have added between 6-8 tablespoons of liquid. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month or freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes about 1 cup curry paste.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This recipe is part of our special feature on Thai Curries: Thai Curry - Adding the Flavors of Thailand to Your Table Tablespoon by Tablespoon. Read the article for hints and tips about making and using Thai curry pastes along with dozens more great recipes.