Roast or Toast: You Be the Judge



There should be chopped peanuts on top, but you get the idea.
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  • There should be chopped peanuts on top, but you get the idea.

Editing chef cookbooks — which happens to be the hat I'm wearing this week — is far different than editing other types of cookbooks.

The recipes usually arrive as handwritten notes with lots of margin scribbles, or worse, as files from an early computer program called something like Menu Master. To turn them into a cookbook, the recipes are scaled way back (60 zucchini muffins, anyone?), then re-tested on home kitchen equipment. Even after that, there's a lot of educated guessing and querying. Does the chef mean cilantro when he says "sprinkle with coriander"? What size "mini muffin" cups? There's no tuna in the Tuna Coating recipe, nor is it used for tuna — what is a better name?

No two recipes are worded the same way, so a lot of the job involves coaxing all the bread, soup or salad recipes into a similar flow and format.

The current cookbook project (for a mid-Atlantic resort) includes lots of nut garnishes and toppings. Some recipes call for "roasting" the nuts and others call for "toasting" them. I'm spending a lot of mental energy fretting about the difference. Roasting is in the oven and toasting is on the stovetop, but beyond that, what's the difference, if there is any?

After the jump, the most intriguing recipe I edited all week. I haven't made it yet, but it's been tested, so jump right in. When you make it, will you roast or a toast the nuts?

Sweet Potato Peanut Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
Vegetable oil
3 sweet potatoes, peeled, diced
1 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups V-8 vegetable juice
2 quarts chicken stock
8 ounces peanut butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Sliced green onions
Chopped toasted peanuts

Cook the onion, carrot and celery in the oil over medium-low heat until onion is translucent. Add the sweet potato, chili sauce, coconut milk, vegetable juice, stock and peanut butter. Simmer for one-and-a-half hours. Puree the mixture in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. Serve garnished with green onions and chopped toasted peanuts. Makes about 16 1-cup servings.

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