It’s really easy for celebrities to just slap their names on books—even a cookbook—and claim they’re authors.
But once in a rare while a celebrity will take the time and effort to build painstakingly a book project that truly reflects her interests and personality.
That is clearly the case with Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo and her first book, “Judy Ann’s Kitchen.”
Judy Ann’s connection to cooking goes far beyond her hosting of cooking shows. She’s had a lifelong interest in food and has run (as well as cooked in) her own restaurant.
She’s taken time from her grueling schedule to take culinary studies; she cooks as much as she can. She’s serious about food.
This book presents Judy Ann as someone who cares as deeply about the food she cooks as she does about those who will partake of it.
“There’s something about preparing meals for the people who matter in your life,” she writes. “You can show your love and care for them by simply sharing the food you prepared with your heart. I see that good food can put smiles on their faces, and I consider it an accomplishment that I am able to make people happy with the food that I cook.”
“Judy Ann’s Kitchen” contains a lot of recipes, ranging from interesting comfort food in the chapter “Comfort Food,” natch, (Miswa Bona-Bona and Triple Chocolate Champorado), to more complicated dishes under the heading “Wifey Duties” (Seared Scallop Salad with Arugula and Orange Segments and Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Jalapeños).
The recipes are clear and vary in length and complexity. The book alternates sections containing recipes with various intros to basics (Pantry Essentials, Preparing Before Cooking) and how-to’s (Kitchen Emergency!, Table Setting, Fridge Tips).
“Judy Ann’s Kitchen” focuses on cooking for the family, as it contains chapters like the aforementioned “Wifey Duties” and “Kiddie Parties,” with the appropriate dishes and advice.
Care has been taken to ensure that the recipes are easy to follow and that “Judy Ann’s Kitchen” can be useful for both those starting out as cook as well as those who already know how to do so.
The thing about “Judy Ann’s Kitchen” is that it doesn’t simply present itself as a book for would-be cooks. The book’s inside back cover flap identifies the author as wife, homemaker, actress and mom, and beyond the recipes, the book reflects this by design and content.
The book is written in Judy Ann’s distinctive voice—earnest and in a combination of English and Filipino.
That the book contains many photographs of and many constant references to Judy Ann’s family give the book a personal, friendly feeling.
Glossy, full color
Coming from Anvil Publishing, “Judy Ann’s Kitchen” has an oversized softcover format with glossy, full-color pages illustrated handsomely by Raymund Isaac’s big photographs. The book bears the mark of a project that’s been carefully and thoughtfully planned; it is also that rare project that encapsulates its author’s personality completely.
To the long list of definitions that Judy Ann has gathered, you may now add, “author.”
“I hope you won’t forget that these recipes are not only lists of what to buy and what to do, but a part of who I am,” Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo reminds the reader.
Available at National Book Store.
Judy Ann’s Chicken Curry
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 piece medium-size onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece thumb-size ginger, julienned
1 tbsp red curry paste (See recipe
on page C2.)
4 pieces chicken thighs, skin on
4 pieces chicken legs, skin on
2 tbsp fish sauce, divided
2 cups coconut milk (second extract of pressed grated coconut)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 pieces medium-size potatoes, quartered
2 pieces carrots, quartered
1 piece big red bell pepper, quartered
1 cup fresh coconut cream or kakang-gata
3 pieces Kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp lemongrass, minced
1 can lychees, drained
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a wok, heat oil, and sauté onion, garlic, and ginger. Add curry paste and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add chicken. Season with 1 tablespoon fish sauce.
Next, pour in coconut milk. Add curry powder and brown sugar. Simmer until chicken is tender.
Add potatoes, carrots, and bell pepper. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add coconut cream, Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and lychees. Season with pepper and remaining fish sauce according to taste.
Makes 4 to 6 serving
To make red curry paste
2 pieces medium-size shallots or red onions, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only
2 pieces red chilies
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece thumb-size ginger, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp muscovado sugar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Mix all ingredients.
Pound in mortar and pestle until mixture achieves a thick consistency.