Don't judge "The Ultimate Peanut Butter Book: Savory & Sweet, Breakfast to Dessert, Hundreds of Ways to Use America's Favorite Spread" by its cover. If you're older than 5, you might see the photo of a good old peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. But you'd be missing the many inventive ideas that writers Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have come up with for this ubiquitous spread, from curries to satays to crème brûlée.
One of their winners was an addictive lamb curry that came together quickly and disappeared even faster. The peanut butter brought together cayenne pepper, golden raisins, ginger, coriander and cinnamon with chunks of lamb in this spicy stew.
Cucumber noodles with a vinegary peanut sauce also tasted great, and using strips of cucumber was a fun alternative to sesame noodles. This would have been a nice picnic dish if it hadn't fallen down in the presentation: The watery cucumbers turned gloppy when mixed with the sauce. Next time, we'll drain and perhaps squeeze the moisture out of the "noodles" first.
You'll find plenty of dessert options here, including peanut-butter rugelach, peanut-butter bread pudding, peanut-butter Bundt cake and a peanut-butter dessert burrito.
The authors offer many "customizing" tips for altering the recipes. You may, for example, substitute pork stew meat, pork loin or skinless chicken thighs in the lamb curry.
And if the peanut-butter sandwich is something you still crave, you can do that up big with the Ultimate PB & Marshmallow Cream Sandwich, complete with a recipe for homemade Ultimate White Bread.
The Ultimate Peanut Butter Book is published by William Morrow.
Peanut lamb curry
2 Tbsps. peanut oil
1 pound boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 medium onions, halved, each half cut into 3 wedges
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsps. ground ginger
2 tsps. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or less to taste
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 cup dry vermouth, dry white wine or water
3/4 cup plain yogurt (regular, low-fat or fat-free)
1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/4 cup golden raisins
1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the oil, followed by the lamb chunks. Cook just until they are browned all over, about 4 minutes, turning often. (You may work in batches, if necessary.) Transfer the lamb to a large platter; set aside.
2. Add the onions to the pot and saute until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cook 10 seconds, then sprinkle in the ginger, coriander, cinnamon, salt, cayenne and cloves. Stir well, cook about 10 more seconds, then pour in the vermouth, wine or water to deglaze the pot. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, then add the meat along with the yogurt, peanut butter and raisins, stirring until the peanut butter dissolves.
3. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to very low, and simmer slowly until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Be sure to stir often to prevent scorching. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes off the heat, then serve. Makes 4 servings.