I received a number of cookbooks for the holidays last year (one of the best kinds of gifts, in my opinion). I’ve been meaning to tell you about them for some time now, along with one other cookbook I discovered. All of the books have beautiful photographs, which for me, is an integral part of any good cookbook.
I came across La Tartine Gourmande at a bookstore, and borrowed it at the library. It was love at first glance. The photos are breathtakingly beautiful, as is the simple, yet elegant recipes Béa Peltre developed. She is French, and while all her recipes are clearly influenced by this, each recipe is uniquely her own. Our favorite recipes have been the banana, chocolate, hazelnut muffins (I make these all the time – and have a batch in the freezer for – well, just in case!), and the asian chicken salad we consumed in vast quantities this summer. I just love her style of writing, and the photos hands down make you want to rush out to the farmer’s market and get cooking! (I have my own copy of this book now – it was one of the books I took on our big adventures this past summer & fall).
A friend of mine had received the Smitten Kitchen cookbook as soon as it was published. I have always loved her blog, and it’s always the first place I search to answer the question of what to make for dinner when I’m having difficultly choosing. I borrowed the book from the library as soon as I could get it. (Can you tell how much I love my library???) I loved this book so much I asked for it for the holidays (thank you Kristin!). Our current favorite recipe is actually found on the blog – the carrot cake (it’s commonly make for birthdays or anytime Mama gets a craving).
I really fell for Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights by Sophie Dalh and when I heard she wrote another book – Very Fond of Food – I just had to get it. The recipes are part comfort foods, and part enjoying immensely the food that are available in season that you suddenly find yourself longing for. Sophie refers to most of her cooking as nursery food – food that your mom might have made when you fell and skinned you knee or you had a really bad day…if you grew up British. There is nothing I liked more I was growing up than secretly wishing I was British and could have lovely tea parties and scones and clotted cream all day long. I specifically wanted to be Elizabeth Bennet, and looked around for Mr. Darcy to come whisk me away to Pemberley in Derbyshire, so you can begin to understand my English-longing a bit better. Or perhaps I just liked the idea of lounging around all day in the drawing room. Of course, I’d probably would have been the maid than the lady, but still, a girl can dream. Back to the book: Sophie’s food-filled memories and musings on her idea of a good life, along with some rather tasty recipes, is a book I reach for when I want to have a bit of nostalgia on the dinner table. I’m partial to the breakfast ideas and the curry myself.
The last book I received from my dear friend Trinka is called Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. I just read it cover to cover this past weekend, and I want to run out, buy a bunch of strawberries or something, and make jam. I have made jam many a time, but this book is uniquely different in that she doesn’t use pectin to make the jams firm. I had no idea jams didn’t need pectin – every recipe I’ve seen calls for loads of sugar and pectin. The method she prefers is to cook the fruit and sugar briefly, and then drained them so that the syrup they produce can be cooked down and thickened – before the fruit is returned to the pan with the syrup. This results in a much more intense fruit flavor than jams made with pectin gelling the excess water. Jon will no doubt be excited by the many recipes for making pickles that I plan to make for him this summer. This books is really going to expand my canning repertoire. I can’t wait to get started. Plus, there are a number of lovely little canning tags for your bounty located at the end of the book. Just lovely.
After reading all about cookbooks, I bet you’re hungry. I’ll leave you with the yummy dinner I made Sunday night – zucchini crab cakes and a lovely tossed salad. And that delightful glass of prosecco…