As a cookbook author, now and then I will offer a timely recipe.

I am inspired by world travels, and I especially savor Asian flavors.  Here’s a recipe from my newest cookbook, “The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Fast and Fresh.”  This appears in the book as a light main course, but it can be a lovely appetizer for holiday entertaining.  The endive leaves make serving easy and also provide an eye-catching presentation.

There is no substitute for the five-spice powder, which gives this dish its personality.  You’ll find it in the spice or Asian section of most supermarkets.  

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup Chinese plum sauce
1/4 cup water, or as needed
1 tablespoon canola oil
4  ribs bok choy, cut into 1/4-inch cubes; green tops finely shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 orange bell pepper, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
8 ounces small (41 to 50 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
Salt and ground white pepper to taste
12 Belgian endive leaves
Toasted pine nuts for garnish

Spoon the plum sauce into a small bowl.  Stir in water, as needed, to reach a maple-syrup consistency.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the bok choy and greens, bell peppers, and green onions; cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Add the shrimp, garlic, and five-spice powder; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until the shrimp turn pink.  Season with salt and white pepper.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or refrigerate to cool.
To serve, spoon the vegetable-shrimp mixture into the endive leaves.  Drizzle with plum sauce and sprinkle with pine nuts.