Friday, November 01, 2019

The Art of Escapism Cooking Cookbook Review

Lady and Pups is a blog by Mandy Lee an expat living in Hong Kong. But perhaps living is not the best word to describe it. She is suffering in Hong Kong, and before that, she suffered in Beijing. Cooking is her refuge and her blog is a chronicle of how she throws herself into cooking as an escape, hence the cookbook title, The Art of Escapism Cooking. In many ways, her blog and cookbook, are like any others — lots of great photography, impressive recipes and personal stories. Except for one thing, Mandy Lee is unapologetically negative and dark. She does not try and sell some happy vision — real or imagined. She wallows. The politics and pollution are major downers in China, I totally get that. Though I could be wrong, I am fairly certain she does not work outside the home. Her recipes are not the “quick and easy” type, but rather the type that relies on ingredients many Americans are unlikely to have on hand and take a degree of preparation and time that is at times daunting. That isn’t to say her recipes aren’t worth cooking or at very least, using as a jumping-off point. The book includes recipes for things like Poached Eggs with Miso Browned Butter Hollandaise, Buffalo Fried Chicken Ramen, Cumin Lamb Burger and Mochi with Peanut Brown Sugar and Ice Cream. Most of the recipes are very rich and indulgent, not terribly healthy and with very little to no vegetables. 

I spent quite some time looking through the recipes for something I could cook that wouldn’t take too much time or shopping and I ended on a recipe with a rather unpleasant name — Saliva Chicken Meatballs. As Lee explains the Chinese have a quirky sense of humor when it comes to naming food. I would say the name does not translate well into English. While I love the recipe, I don’t love the name. I also have to admit, I needed to adapt the recipe to make it work. Lee cooks the meatballs in a takoyaki pan. Surprise! I don’t have a takoyaki pan. She says you can broil them for 12-14 minutes, but I would certainly recommend baking them instead. If you broil them, they cook too fast on one side and have to be rotated to cook evenly, which is a bother. 

The meatballs are made from chicken and seasonings and no filler ingredients, the sauce is an emulsion of tahini, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and ice. The finished dish also includes some of her ultimate chili oil but frankly, making two recipes was enough for me, so I substituted a chile oil I already had and that worked fine. Speaking of which, I would recommend adapting the recipes to your liking and using them for inspiration, rather than following them exactly as written Would I make this recipe again? Absolutely. While Lee says it's a popular appetizer, I found with rice and some quick pickled cucumbers the tender meatballs with a boldly flavored and creamy textured sauce made a great weekday dinner. I look forward to using up the rest of the sauce soon.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Lady and PupsInstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me as part of TLC Book Tours, this post does not include any affiliate links.