After a brief summer hiatus, I’m back, and so is the fog. We had actually been experiencing summer-like temperatures in San Francisco, which is completely unexpected and requires copious amounts of cold confections to withstand the 80 degree heat. My Texas self would shake its head in shame…
New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. Perhaps that stems from what starts one year as possibility and by year-end equals failure. I, however, do not fall into the camp that recycled resolutions denote some sort of inadequacy on the part of the goal-maker. Instead, I choose to consider that perhaps the lesson of that particular goal has not completed what it needs to, knowing some things take much longer to learn, even in our instant satisfaction society. So, this year, let a cookbook (or cookbook author) help you get one step closer to completing your goals. Selecting one tome to take you into a New Year sounds like a tradition I can get behind (and have selected the Bi-Rite Eat Good Food cookbook as the one feeding us this January).
When Garrett McCord and Stephanie Stiavetti first started working on their cookbook, “Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese,” I leapt at the opportunity to test some of their recipes knowing this would be a fun kitchen exercise that would also double as a bowl of creamy decadence my cheese-loving husband could sink his fork into. So, we set out to build a cheese sauce for that evening’s mac and cheese making notes throughout the preparation and tasting notes after dinner.
THE SKINNY: If you’re looking for a cookbook with a focus on whole foods, eating seasonally and an anti-inflammatory approach to eating, check out True Food Kitchen cookbook, and expect higher grocery bills.
A fledgling cookbook with this much heart, I would say you might be hard pressed to find. That is a very broad and ridiculously pointed statement, but wherever you look in Herbivoracious, you find author Michael Natkin. Almost each recipe is accompanied by a photo, 115 in total, styled and shot by Natkin. The recipes span a variety of cultures taking the reader through Southeast Asia and all the way to the Middle East and the United States. Is it bad to call a cookbook ambitious? And yet, that is what a reader finds upon cracking open “Herbivoracious.”
If you think of what inspires you, perhaps a person comes to mind. Maybe, you envision a painting, the lyrics of a poem or a dynamic speech that stir you to action.
Very soon, you will see a few changes afoot in these parts. I trust you will find them worthwhile and winsome almost as much as I am chomping at the bit to see them in their full technicolor glory. In the meantime, I thought it might behoove me to tell you what’s coming up and what’s keeping my eyes occupied in my veritable reading corner. Think of it as a travel agent handing over a proposed itinerary to places you have yet to visit. And the best part is we get to visit together.
Yotam Ottolenghi is not scared of butter. In fact, his appreciation for the combination and results of a ratio of fat to vegetables really is something worth extolling in this book of 128 recipes. He gives you plenty of ideas from which to become a voraciously eager eater of vegetables. But this is no vegetarian cookbook for the solely health-conscious. He describes his first reaction to farro in his headnotes for Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad (p. 234) as tasting “a bit too ‘healthy’ for my liking.” That admission makes me more endeared to Ottolenghi as he proceeds to describe his later attempts at farro and pointing out its flavor profile as what changed his mind.
You might think Seamus Mullen’s new Hero Food cookbook is a health-centric cookbook from the press it’s been receiving. It’s true, he writes a whole chapter on his hero food, parsley and waxes poetic about the benefits he finds from his daily drink of Parsley Juice (p. 155), but don’t be deceived. “Hero Food” may talk about foods that make Mullen feel better but he approaches it from the culinary perspective of the New York chef star that he is. This is notably evident in his technique tips dispersed throughout like the photo instructions of Cutting Up a Duck (p.120).
“Cooking made me appreciate food. It made me slow down and enjoy. Today we call this ‘mindful eating.’ I believe this happens naturally- when you cook (Speck, p. 5).”