How do you design one meal around the concept of creativity?
That’s the challenge we faced when we found out we would be sharing our next
#RiverheadTable with internationally beloved and bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to
celebrate the paperback release of her latest book BIG MAGIC. We tossed a few
ideas around before Liz’s brilliant editor, Rebecca Saletan (who you’ve probably
seen in other #RiverheadTable posts like this
one), suggested we focus on color. Bingo.
After all, BIG MAGIC’s cover art depicts a literal explosion of vibrant
color, and the book itself is all about finding the courage to pursue your
boldest creative impulses. And is there no more colorful cuisine than that of
South East Asia, which also happens to be a region Elizabeth Gilbert explored
in a little book called Eat Pray Love?
With an arsenal of recipes in hand for brightly hued curries,
sunny saffron rice, fruit sorbet and more, two carloads of Riverhead staffers drove out to Elizabeth’s beautiful home in Frenchtown, NJ for a day of creative
Thanks as always to our friends at Jones of Boerum Hill for our
custom Riverhead aprons, and a special shout out to Rosa and Emily of Marie Claire! They bravely rolled up
their sleeves to peel shrimp and crack coconuts (on the sidewalk with a hammer)
alongside us. If you somehow didn’t catch their epic Facebook Live tour of
Elizabeth’s house then you should definitely do that here
We hope you’ll try one or all of these recipes for your next book club or dinner party! If you do, don’t forget to tag us using @riverheadbooks and #RiverheadTable.
salad with edible flowers
Paneer Makhani (Indian cheese in
Baked tandoori shrimp
Basmati Rice with Cinnamon Saffron
chili and mint coriander chutney
blueberry, strawberry and mango sorbet
white and red wine, because why not?
FRESH GREEN SALAD WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS (6 servings;
5 minutes total cooking time) From Martha Stewart Living
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
12 cups tender baby salad greens (about 5 ½ ounces)
1-2 packages edible flowers (We bought ours from the lovely folks of Windfall Farms!)
Combine vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil, then
season dressing with salt and pepper. Toss dressing with greens and top with
flowers. Serve immediately.
Elizabeth Gilbert and a very colorful BIG MAGIC-inspired salad.
Emily from Marie Claire using a widely used method called “hammer and sidewalk” to open coconuts for our chutney recipes.
NOTE: You’ll need a good blender or
Vitamix for the following chutney recipes! And if you don’t yet know what
“tempering” means, we suggest reading this
helpful NPR article before you begin. It never hurts to learn new cooking
techniques, especially when they are integral to a culture’s cuisine!
SOUTH INDIAN COCONUT CHUTNEY (makes
approx. 1 cup; 10 mins total prep/cooking time)
1 cup of
grated coconut (We cracked open fresh coconut but pre-packaged is also fine. No
¼ cup of
3-4 of green
2 tbsp of
3 tbsp plain
1 tsp of oil
¼ tsp cumin
1 tsp of
¼ tsp of
asafoetida or hing
1 of dry red
chili, torn into halves
together the coconut, Bengal gram, ginger, coriander, green chilies and salt. Add
about 3-4 tbsp of water until you get a smooth consistency. Add yogurt and mix
well. Next, heat oil for tempering in a pan and add the ingredients for
tempering in the order listed above.
When the mustard seeds start to pop, dunk the contents into the yogurt mix and
RED CHILI CHUTNEY RECIPE (makes
approx. 1/3 cup; 10 mins total prep/cooking time)
1 cup of
peeled and sliced shallots
red chilies (you can add less or more, depending on how spicy you like things!)
1 pinch of asafoetida
piece of tamarind (or 1 tsp tamarind paste)
1-2 tsp of
salt (adjust to taste)
2 tsp of oil
1 clove of
Heat the oil
in a pan and add the chilies. Keep the flame on low and fry for one minute
until the chilies start to look glossy and smell roasted. Remove the chilies
and add the sliced shallots to the same pan. Fry until golden. Add the hing,
garlic and salt. Stir and then turn off the flame. Add the tamarind. Cool completely
and grind with the chilies in the blender until it becomes a smooth paste.
Art Director Helen Yentus considers a piece of tamarind.
MINT CILANTRO CHUTNEY (makes approx. 1
cup; 10 mins total prep/cooking time)
2 cups of
fresh cilantro leaves
1 packed cup
of mint leaves
tsp chaat masala
A squeeze of
lemon or lime juice
little bit of water a time, grind all ingredients together to a smooth chutney.
Taste as you go along and adjust the ingredients (even adding salt, if you
prefer) until you reach a flavor you like.
Publicity Director Jynne Martin gives the mint cilantro chutney a nudge.
RAITA (Makes approximately 8
servings; 15 min for prep + 2 hrs minimum refrigeration) From
unpeeled English hothouse cucumber, halved, seeded, coarsely grated
2 cups plain
packed chopped fresh mint
1 tsp ground
¼ tsp plus
pinch of cayenne pepper
Wrap the grated
cucumber in a kitchen towel and squeeze until dry. Whisk the yogurt, mint,
cumin, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper in medium bowl. Add cucumbers and toss well.
Season raita to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 2
hours. (You can also refrigerate it up to one day ahead of time.) Sprinkle the
finished raita with a pinch of cayenne pepper before serving.
WITH CINNAMON SAFFRON (Makes
approximately 4-6 servings; 10 min prep; 3 hrs inactive time; 37 mins cooking
Jaffrey’s “From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Kitchen”
1 tsp saffron threads
3 tbsps hot milk
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp sugar
2 cups basmati rice
2 tbsps corn, peanut, or olive oil
2 medium cinnamon sticks
2 2/3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Place the saffron on a piece of foil. Fold some
of the foil over the saffron and crush it with a rolling pin or wooden potato
masher. Put the crushed saffron in a small cup. Add the hot milk, cardamom, and
sugar. Mix with a small spoon and set aside for 3 hours. (NOTE: We definitely did not let the
saffron sit for 3 hours and the flavor came out great. You should be fine after
Put the rice in a large bowl and wash in several
changes of water. Drain well then add fresh water to cover generously. Leave to
soak for 30 minutes. Drain well again.
Pour the oil in a heavy, lidded pan that will just
hold the cooked rice comfortably and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot,
put in the cinnamon sticks. Stir for 10 seconds, then add the rice. Reduce the
heat to medium-low and stir the rice around until the grain look translucent,
about 2 minutes. Add 2 2/3 cups of water and the salt. Bring to a boil. Cover.
Reduce the heat to very, very low and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat. Carefully
lift the lid and quickly dribble the saffron milk in any haphazard pattern.
Quickly cover again and leave for 10 minutes. Mix the rice very delicately with
a slotted spoon before serving.
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails on (tiger prawn preferred)
Olive Oil, for basting
½ tbsp chopped cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/3 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 tsp finely minced garlic
½ tsp Garam Masala
¼ tsp chili powder
2 tbsps lime juice
1 tbsp oil
1 ½ tsps salt or to taste
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Red coloring, optional
Mix all marinade ingredients in a medium or large bowl. Stir
well. Add the shrimp to the mixture and marinate for at least 30 minutes, or
best for two hours. Thread the shrimp onto the bamboo skewers, set aside. Line
a large baking sheet (or two medium sheets) with aluminum foil or parchment
paper and arrange the shrimp skewers in a single layer. Using a small brush,
baste both sides of the shrimp with the oil. Roast for 10 minutes or until the
shrimps are cooked. Broil for 1 minute or until the top surface is slightly
charred. Remove from the oven, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve
immediately with lime wedges.
MADHUR JAFFREY’S FRESH INDIAN CHEESE IN BUTTER-TOMATO SAUCE (Paneer
(Makes 15-20 servings; 30 mins prep time; 15 mins cooking time)
3 lbs fresh Indian cheese (paneer), cut into chunky cubes (pictured above)
Combine the tomato puree, cream, ginger, garam masala, lemon
juice, sugar, green chili, 1 tbsp of
the salt, chili powder, ground cumin and fenugreek leaves in a large
mixing bowl. Stir thoroughly and set aside. Put the cubed cheese into another
bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Toss well to mix. Put the
butter, oil and cumin seeds in a medium, non-stick pan and set over a
medium heat. Put all the cheese cubes in the pan in a single layer and
brown them very lightly on at least two sides. Pour the tomato sauce over
the top and carefully stir to mix. (Use two pans if it looks like the
sauce will overflow.) Bring to a simmer, then heat very gently for 4–5 minutes,
stirring with a light hand as you do so. Sprinkle the fresh coriander over
the top before serving.
Director of Marketing Kate Stark peels ginger for our blueberry ginger sorbet.
NOTE: You’ll need
a good blender or food processor, plus an ice cream maker for
each of the following sorbet recipes!
SORBET (Makes approx. 3-4 cups; 40-50 mins active cooking time; 4 hours
4 cups blueberries, washed (about 1 ¼ pounds)
2 tbsp minced ginger
¾ cup sugar
2 tsps lemon juice, to taste
¼ tsp kosher salt, to taste
blueberries and ginger in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add sugar
and blend for 30 seconds. Add lemon and salt, blend, and adjust to taste. Strain
purée into a bowl and transfer to refrigerator; chill for 2 to 3 hours until
very cold. Churn sorbet in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s
instructions. Transfer sorbet to freezer to firm up for 2 to 3 hours before
MANGOSORBET (Makes approx. 3-4 cups; 40-50 mins active cooking time; 4
4 ½ to 5
cups ripe mangoes, peeled and diced (about 2 pounds)
1 tsp lime
juice, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
mangoes in the blender with water and blend on high speed until very smooth,
about 30 seconds. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup,
pushing purée through strainer with a spoon, until you have 3 cups of purée.
Reserve remainder for another use. Transfer strained purée into a large bowl
and whisk in sugar until well dissolved. Whisk in lime juice and salt in small
increments, adding more to taste. Chill purée in refrigerator until very cold,
2 to 3 hours. Churn in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s
instructions, then transfer to airtight container and chill in freezer at least
4 hours before serving.
STRAWBERRYSORBET (Makes approx. 3-4 cups; 40-50 mins active cooking time; 4
2 quarts strawberries (about 2
1 cup sugar
2 tsps lemon juice, to taste
½ tsp kosher salt, to taste
Remove tops from strawberries and purée in a blender or food processor until
smooth. Add sugar and blend for 30 seconds. Add lemon and salt, blend, and
adjust to taste. Strain purée into a bowl and transfer to refrigerator; chill
for 2 to 3 hours until very cold. Churn sorbet in ice cream maker according to
the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer sorbet to freezer to firm up for 2 to
3 hours before serving.
¾ to 1 cup
sugar (depending on how sweet you would like it to be)
1 cup dried
A few thin
slices of ginger (optional)
lime slices for garnish
Put 4 cups of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan.
Add cinnamon, ginger slices, and a few allspice berries if you would like. Heat
until boiling and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the dried
hibiscus flowers. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and
discard the used hibiscus flowers, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice berries. Add
remaining 4 cups of water (or if you want to chill the drink quickly, ice and
water) to the mixture, then chill. Alternatively, you can add ice and chilled
soda water for a bubbly version. Add a little lime juice for a more punch-like
flavor. Serve over ice with a slice of orange or lime.
It was a gorgeous evening and our hostess happened to have the most beautifully decorated wrap-around porch, so we decided to have an outdoor dinner party! Our BIG MAGIC / EAT PRAY LOVE meal was feast for the eyes as well as for our hungry bellies. Keep scrolling to see more behind the scenes photos from our day with Elizabeth Gilbert.
Senior Publicity Manager Liz Hohenadel sets the #RiverheadTableon Elizabeth Gilbert’s porch.
Head Designer Taylor Grant, Associate Publicity Al Guillen and Marketing Manager Mary Stone prep the shrimp!
Rosa of Marie Claire in one of our custom made Jones of Boerum Hill aprons.
Celebrating BIG MAGIC in paperback!
Liz and Liz (ha!) decorate the salad with edible flowers.