Fresh Happy Tasty: Culinary book review

Fresh citrus and herbs run through the recipes in Fresh Happy Tasty by Jane Coxwell. She shares her recipe for Israeli couscous with shrimp and zucchini. Photo: John Bedell

NEW YORK CITY, Nov 4, 2013—Raised in South Africa, Coxwell is an accomplished chef who divides her time between living in New York City and cooking aboard Diane Von Furstenberg’s yacht, Eos.

After graduating from culinary school, Coxwell read a book on how to work as a cook on a private yacht. She promptly moved to the south of France to look for position that would allow her to exercise her love of cooking and her love of travel. Fulfilling her wish, she found work for people on their private yachts and was able to cook and create while seeing the world. During that time she landed a job on Eos, a yacht belonging to Diane Von Furstenberg who encouraged her to write the book.


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Beautiful photography of her colorful dishes, some step-by-step images, and a few shots of exotic locations give the reader a peek into her adventures.

Besides lemons and herbs, Coxwell favors agave nectar, raw garlic, red onions, nuts and Maldon salt. She writes about each of these foods and how to make the most of their flavors.

Many of the international ingredients she discovered and made a study of in the shipboard galleys find their way into the recipes. Vegetables play a large role in her recipes along with seafood and meat prepared in healthy ways.

Middle Eastern Watermelon Salad is sprinkled with black sesame seeds, mint and cilantro leaves, and crumbled feta. Drizzled with orange juice and olive oil, the salad is “exciting eating.”


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Every salad fan will enjoy reading about such original dishes as Asian Slaw with Wasabi; Brie, Grape and Arugula; Celeriac, Green Apple and Fennel; And Green Bean, Tomato, and Potato Salad with Kewpie mayonnaise dressing. The Japanese mayo is Coxwell’s favorite, if only for its creamy smoothness.

She mixes cornmeal and chickpea for falafels, seasoning them with cumin and allspice. A Cape Malay Lamb Curry can be served with Cardamom Rice and Chile Relish, topped with finely diced banana.

The closest thing to dessert here is honey-poached pineapple scented with vanilla.

No nutritional data is given but the lack of butter, cream and white flour plus the emphasis on fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils make the book a winner in guilt-free and delicious eating.


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Israeli couscous with shrimp and zucchini

Israeli couscous

Israeli couscous with shrimp and zucchini

 

(Serves 4 to 6)

The lemon, cumin, and fresh herbs combined with the richness of the shrimp and the great texture of the Israeli couscous make this wonderful eating. Be sure to taste the dish before serving to check that it has enough seasoning and lemon—it’ll make the meal.

 

1 1⁄2 pounds uncooked shrimp

2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous

2 cups grated zucchini (11⁄2 to 2 zucchinis)

2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced

1⁄4 red onion, finely chopped

3 whole scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed

Agave nectar

Maldon or other flaky salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves

1 large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 handful fresh dill leaves (no big stems)

 

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute, until pink. (The exact time will depend on their size, but be careful not to overcook them.) Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and run cold water over them to stop the cooking.

2. Keep the water boiling and add the couscous. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente.

3. While the couscous is cooking, place the zucchini in a bowl and add the garlic, red onion, scallions, and shrimp.

4. Drain the couscous and run it under cold water to stop the cooking. Shake off as much excess water as possible and add the couscous to the bowl with the zucchini.

5. Add the olive oil, cumin, lemon juice, and a squeeze of agave nectar; season with salt and pepper. Give it a good mix and check the seasoning. Add the herbs and mix again. Recheck the seasoning, adding more lemon juice if necessary.

 


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Linda Mensinga

Linda Mensinga was editor of Culinary Trends for 15 years, now a contributing writer. Researching restaurants and hotels, she interviews the best and brightest chefs, not necessarily the most famous, to learn their secrets and recipes. Their talent and dedication never cease to inspire her. 

Mrs. Mensinga is happily food obsessed and fortunate enough to be married to a chef. 

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