So here’s the funny thing about me and Pinterest. I save all these recipes to my boards, but when I want a new recipe, I type it into the search bar instead of looking back through my old pins. And when I occasionally do look through my recipe boards, I’m reinspired to make them all again, but I rarely do. I realized this silly habit of mine a while ago but still continue to do the same thing! My silly Pinterest habits aside, I’m still a big fan of cookbooks. There’s something wonderful about flipping through the pages and getting inspired. And I love my stack of cookbooks on the bookshelf. Because I work with Melissa’s Produce on occasion, I often attend luncheons with cookbook authors where we get to try recipes from their books before they give a short talk about something related to their recipes and inspiration for the book. All three of these cookbooks were from these luncheons and I just love having them on my shelf. I find that I just can’t follow a recipe exactly as printed, but they’ve all inspired some really tasty concoctions – some very similar to the recipe and some really rather different. I don’t consider myself very artistic or creative, but in the kitchen my creative juices do get flowing…
When I saw that Sara Moulton was going to be a presenter for her latest cookbook Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better, I couldn’t RSVP yes fast enough. I remember watching her cook on PBS with my dad growing up. Since everything that reminds me of him has been really important to me this year, it felt like fate for her to be presenting. At the talk, I all but cried on her cookbook, telling her my connection with her and her cooking. AND all the food was delectable. The recipes are completely manageable for real life and use ingredients that I often have on hand. Our favorite so far is the Spicy Creamed Corn, which is only as spicy as you make it. It uses pureed corn instead of cream to get the silky thickness too, which I love. There are tons of tasty recipes I need to make out of the cookbook. It’s a great go-to for homemade meals that fill your soul and your stomach!
While Sarah’s cookbook is full of familiar flavors and recipes, the day we had Feride’s Azerbaijani food from her cookbook Pomegranates & Saffron: A Culinary Journey through Azerbaijan was a whole new experience for me. I love trying new cuisines. I’ve found that I’m familiar with many flavors used around the world and love seeing how different cultures use ingredients in completely different ways. Azerbaijani cuisine is heavily influenced by Turkish, Iranian, and (the kicker) Russian flavors. So eggplant and cardamom mix with sauerkraut and potatoes in the most natural of ways. I fell in love with the food we had at the Melissa’s luncheon. I also met Feride who is one of the sweetest people. She’s a fellow LA food blogger. In addition to her cookbook writing, she teaches Azerbaijani cooking classes that are so fun. Each class has its own theme and recipes (some from her book), but the techniques she shows you are just as important as the ingredients. I learned about rinsing rice in warm water a few times before cooking it to make it less starchy – it’s phenomenal. I also learned more about using turmeric and cardamom in my cooking and was introduced to those barberries I mentioned in the white chocolate bark – a small, tart dried fruit. I’ve yet to make any of the desserts from her book, but the baklava I had at the luncheon was the best I’ve ever had and the photos in the book are to die for!
Considering my love of veggies, Cara Mangini’s The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini (“long name, amazing results”) is no surprise on my cookbook review list. I love vegetables, but some of them are a mystery how to cut and prepare. The book offers step-by-step photos of how to do all those things mentioned in the title. There’s also insanely fresh, delicious recipes in the book. Load up on sides and hearty entrees in this beautifully photographed collection of recipes. And then you can make the strawberry rhubarb crumble with lime yogurt and pistachios. Yep. And then send me a piece, please!!