For a few years now, I have joined Deborah Balint, as she hosts a fantastic Cookbook Club on Instagram. Her site is called @rainydaybites and it has been a joy to follow along. By focussing on one cookbook for an entire month, we really get to know it well. We can cook and post as our individual lives allow, and because we all hashtag using her ‘rainydaybitescookbookclub’ we can also see what everyone else is creating. And often this results in getting ideas from others, to try recipes that we may have passed over. And if you like the recipes that I highlight from each book, you may be inspired to check the book out for yourself.
It’s a new year, and our first book for 2017 is Small Victories by Julia Turshen. Very few books have inspired me as this one has. Each recipe was better than the one before. Each one turned out perfectly- both in execution and in flavour. With each recipe, Julia offers twists and options, so that there are virtually hundreds of recipes and variations to try. It has what what you would think are basic recipes that become much more than what they appear. I now have replaced some of my relied on recipes with her (i.e: her lasagna is a true game changer. The chocolate cake is just classic. And easy!! Please run out and get this book.
For March 2016 we have been cooking from ‘The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits’ by Hugh Acheson. It it witty, refreshing, and highlights ways to use common (and not so common) vegetables and fruit in a way that is outside of the box. His approach is relaxed and funny, and yet very easy to follow. And everything I have made has turned out great. I can honestly say that I don’t state this about each book: some books I find the recipes to be on the bland side, and I need to adjust the seasonings more often than I would think should be necessary. But not so here! If you like what I’ve made, then maybe this is the book for you! These are the recipes that I am sharing from this book:
For April 2016, we’re using “Gjelina, Cooking from Venice, California” by Travis Lett. A hotspot of a restaurant in trendy Venice Beach has now been opened up to the rest of us with this amazing cookbook. The recipes are complex in flavour, but not unnattainable for the home cook. The recipes showcase fantastic condiment preparations, like spice blends, confits, pickles, sauces etc. Once you’ve prepped these, the rest of the book opens up to you. Veggies are the stars of many of the recipes, but there are just as many tasty dishes dedicated to pizzas, proteins, grains, and amazingly decadent desserts. So far, everything I’ve made from this book have turned out spot on.
We’re cooking from Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless this May. He lives and breathes Mexican food and culture, so he’s a trusted source for a good reference work, which is what this book is. It’s not a new book (16 years old) but it is comprehensive and well researched. I was hoping for more photos (I’m a visual person) and there are current trending Mexican specialties that are not in the book. But for a first book that gives a solid foundation for Mexican cuisine, this definitely works. A lot of questions are answered, and these recipes are great for getting your feet wet. So far everything I’ve made I’ve loved. If anything, I’m finding that I need to add more heat to the recipes that require heat. But that may be just me.
So excited that we’re cooking out of Zahav by Micheal Solomonov and Steven Cook this June. A fresh take on Israeli cooking, based on Michael’s Philadelphia restaurant. His honest, touching and funny memoir is weaved throughout the recipes, which are healthy, traditional, and yet also modern at the same time. Middle eastern flavours and spices abound, and it has a little bit of everything: mezze, grilled and roasted meats and fish, fantastic grain and side dishes and some super yummy desserts. I hope that the few recipes I share here will inspire you to run out and grab the book. You won’t be disappointed.
What Katie Ate on the Weekend is our cookbook for July. A perfect partner for her first book, What Katie Ate, by Katie Quinn Davies. Her photography skills are beyond stellar. Earthy, gritty, textural, honest. I can honestly say the photos for the books were what drew me in initially. But thankfully she backs them up with accessible, tasty, and fun recipes. They are approachable and yet not pedestrian. They have personality and are packed with flavour. I have so many pages marked to try out, which says a lot (not every book I’ve purchases through the years can say the same thing.)
It’s been a crazy few months, travelling and the such, but finally for November 2016, I can actually contribute some recipes from this month’s cookbook, Sunday Suppers by Karen Mordechai. It is a complilation of dinners and gatherings that she and her husband threw for friends and family over the past few years. It started in their living room in Brooklyn, and has now moved into an industrial loft that serves as a communal cooking and dining space where they continue their hosting. There are meal plans for lazy Sunday mornings, afternoon picnics, autumn tailgating, and cozy winter evenings. Most of the recipes are straightforward with easily accessible ingredients. I found some of the baking recipes needed some skewing. Could be my oven?