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.

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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.

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Kitchen Window
8:22 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."

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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."

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Kitchen Window
2:01 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.

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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.

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Best Books Of 2012
7:03 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Recipe Rebellion: A Year Of Contrarian Cookbooks

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 4:20 pm

"Just throw the whole lemon in the food processor for lemon bars."
"Don't just soak your dried beans — brine them!"
"You don't need a whole day (or two) to make a good sauce."

Some of the things this year's cookbooks said to me as I tested them were downright contrarian. But that's the brilliant thing about cooking in a global, crowdsourced, Web-fueled world: People no longer cook according to some received wisdom handed down by a guy in a white toque. They figure it out as they go along, and if they stumble on a shortcut, it's blogged and shared in no time flat.

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Kitchen Window
3:26 am
Wed October 31, 2012

The Hard-Boiled Truth About Egg Soups

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 9:38 am

The chicks arrived five months ago — eight gray, blond, black and tawny puffballs no bigger than the eggs they'd been hatched from a day earlier. They had a slavishly devoted audience within minutes and names within 24 hours. Every couple of weeks they doubled in size, and over the summer they ballooned from 2 ounces to 7 pounds as we furiously worked to complete their permanent coop.

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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."

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Kitchen Window
7:43 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Zucchini You Actually Can't Resist

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 11:56 am

"Ugh," my sister exclaimed one evening as we were making dinner. It was supposed to be an easy poached chicken with a ginger-scallion sauce, eaten with cold cucumber wedges, and we had just discovered that what we had bought at the store was not cucumber, but zucchini. It was an easy mistake to make — they were the precise same shade of green. But where the zucchini's skin was mostly smooth, the cucumber's was lumpy. We were not happy.

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Kitchen Window
5:29 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Just Add Water: The Miracle Of Seaweed

T. Susan Chang for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 7:41 am

A while back, a craze hit my kids' school. It seemed as though everyone in the lunchroom was bringing in those little green packs of seaweed from Trader Joe's — roasted, salted nori, sometimes flavored with wasabi. (Most of these kids like yogurt and olives, too.) Granted, our town has an idiosyncratic population, and many of the parents are health-minded. It was the kids, though, who couldn't get enough of them.

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