In September 2019, we started participating in The Kitchn’s Cookbook Club. Imagine a book club, but with cookbooks. It’s been really fun and inspiring. The cookbook club is based on social media, and it’s fun to see everyone else’s creations and learn from their trials & errors. All our blog posts from cookbook club selections are tagged with Cookbook Club, but here we’ll recap each month’s endeavor and the book itself. If you’re interested in participating, anyone can join! Join in the fun by either requesting to join the FB group “Kitchn’s Cookbook Club,” or use/follow the hashtag #kitchncookbookclub on Instagram. (Most of the discussion happens on FB though). So without further ado…
The Book – Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat
Recipes Tried – Pasta with Clams & Sausage, Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Cream, Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce, steamy sauteed garlicky green beans, a yogurt & saffron brined whole chicken, and a big salad.
Favorite Recipe – Toss up between the pasta and the sausage & veggies in agrodolce – we LOVED both!
Book Review – At first I wasn’t super excited about this book. It’s not entirely a cookbook in the traditional sense; instead it is more of an educational tome of cooking and food science, with some recipes. This turned me off a little bit at first, but the more time I spent with the book, the more I appreciated it. I learned a lot and was very pleased with the recipes we tried. The illustrations are also super fun! It also prompted us to watch her four part Netflix mini-series (also called Salt Fat Acid Heat), which was great too! Overall, my appreciation of the book grew over the month for sure!
The Book – Indian (-ish): Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family, by Priya Krishna
Favorite Recipe – Divided household on this one. Selim liked the chicken as a quick weeknight dinner option and Ally loved the smashed potatoes. They’re like Indian-flavored potato nachos!
Book Review – Think of this book as a peek into Priya’s mother’s Indian-American kitchen when she was growing up. Most of the recipe are based in Indian cuisine and flavored with Indian spices, but have tweaks and adjustments for life in the US. To be honest, Selim (who grew up eating a lot of authentic Indian food) was a little disappointed in that – he was hoping for more traditional Indian dishes. We didn’t end up making a whole lot out of here for that reason… just weren’t all that inspired.
The Book – Sister Pie, by Lisa Ludwinski
Recipes Tried – Salted Maple Pie. Yea, that’s it. Whoops!
Favorite Recipe – By default since we only tried one… The salted maple pie was absolutely delicious though, so it’s definitely worthy of favorite status!
Book Review – This book is gorgeous and full of detailed pie-making instructions – definitely needed for reluctant bakers like us. The detail of step by step instruction for the dough especially is really helpful. Our dough turned out flaky and delicious, but it was not the favorite dough of a lot of other (more proficient bakers) in the group. We wanted to make quite a few other recipes out of here, especially the savory handpies, but that brings us to the main downside of this book… The recipes are quite time-consuming. Many of the pies are full-day, if not full-weekend efforts. We just couldn’t make the time to try any others.
The Book – The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer
Recipes Tried – Pumpkin Chip Bread
Favorite Recipe – Another default favorite since we only made one recipe… Holiday business got the best of us!
Book Review – Joy of Cooking is kind of in its own category of cookbooks. It’s a classic! It’s also very different from so many other cookbooks these days… it doesn’t have any pictures, the font is tiny, and the ingredients are listed chronologically within the text of the recipe. It has SO many recipes; there was no way we were reading the whole thing. I think it’s best used as a book when you have an ingredient and need inspiration of something to do with it! There isn’t anything fancy or super-exciting in there, but there are a ton of solid, classic recipes.
The Book – Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi
Favorite Recipe – Both were great, but I think the noodles were the favorite. The dish had all of the elements… it’s sweet and earthy and a little spicy and vinegar-y.
Book Review – A great book if you’re looking to add some vegetables into your life! The whole book is vegetarian. And it is full of dishes that still feel substantial and filling, despite their vegetarian status. As with other Ottolenghi recipes, many of these are fairly complex or appear so because of the length of the ingredient list. I’ve yet to find a recipe of his that I didn’t like though.
The Book – Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, by Toni Tipton-Martin
Recipes Tried – Sour Beets and West African Groundnut Stew
Favorite Recipe – Ally really liked the Sour Beets, but Selim was kind of indifferent to both recipes.
Book Review – This is a beautiful book and a perfect selection for Black History Month. We loved the stories, details, and explanations of the legacy of African-American cooking throughout the book. Perhaps my favorite parts were the excerpts from old (sometimes 100+ years old) cookbooks. We didn’t end up making all of the recipes we wanted to and skipped some seemingly delicious ones because they were rather familiar. This in and of itself is probably commentary on the fact that many “Southern” recipes really originated with the South’s black cooks and chefs, though they were not awarded their due credit, which is exactly what the author is trying to teach us.
The Book – Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South, by Vivian Howard
Favorite Recipe – The pecans! They’re the perfect snack.
Book Review – You might recognize Vivian Howard from her PBS show A Chef’s Life. This beautiful book is the perfect complement to her show. It’s huge, full of lovely pictures, fun stories, and anecdotes. She organizes it in a way I’ve never seen before – by ingredient. The ingredients are clearly the important thing for her, and she centers the book and her recipes that way.I think that’s a beautiful way to approach cooking in general and a cookbook in particular, but unfortunately I was a little disappointed because a lot of the featured ingredients that I would love to cook with (corn, watermelon, figs, peaches, etc) were not in season when we cooked this book in March. I’ve saved a bunch of gorgeous recipes to try this summer though! My other critique was that many of the recipes, especially the main dishes, are actually multiple recipes in one. They’re delicious, but time-consuming! The beets we made and shared are actually one part of a full meal/recipe in the book.
The Book – Barefoot Contessa at Home, by Ina Garten
Recipes Tried – Berry Pavlova with Chocolate Drizzle
Favorite Recipe – Another default, but it’d be my favorite even if we’d made a million recipes from this book.
Book Review – Honestly, I’m not a huge Barefoot Contessa fan and wasn’t super excited about this month’s selection. That comes off terribly; I have nothing against her, but she’s just not one of my go-to recipe gals! The book is accessible and approachable for sure, which is obviously a plus. And I’m so glad we cooked it, because otherwise I never would have had the nerve to try the pavlova!
Our participation in the Kitchn Cookbook Club waned for a few months, due to the stresses of living life and working in the hospital during a pandemic, combined with the closure of libraries and our local bookstore, also due to the pandemic! We missed May’s 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food, by Jamie Oliver, June’s Small Victories, by Julia Turshen, and July’s Vegetable Kingdom, by Bryant Terry. Maybe one day we’ll circle back to try a few recipes!