Only a few hours ago I was dead-set on posting about my dinner last night, which was my own spicy adaptation of Skinnytaste's Turkey Chili Taco Soup. It was amazing. Plenty spicy, but not too much, with lots of flavor from my homemade taco seasoning and a bit of extra broth. It landed somewhere squarely between chili and soup, not quite reaching either category.
But then I took a gander at the far side of my desk where a stack of books I'd been gifted for Christmas and my birthday lay. Most of them are cookbooks and I don't own many of those, which is plenty weird since I'm a genuine bibliophile (I refuse to use an e-reader) and creative writer with a degree in English. I've been obsessed with books since I learned to read in kindergarten. I can honestly say it's the best trait my parents passed down to me. Both of them were voracious readers (my dad more so) and I cannot thank them enough for reading books aloud to me all throughout my early childhood.
So, since I'm such a book lover, was gifted cookbooks recently and happen to now have a food blog (the last two are obviously connected), I figured it'd be blasphemous to not discuss them here. Who knows, maybe my crappy pictures (I took them really quickly...sorry) and kind words of excitement will influence one of you to check out the books!
And as for the post title "Recommendations From a Bibliophile", I'm considering making it a series that I update occasionally. :)
Book #1: Williams-Sonoma, The Weeknight Cook Cookbook
There wasn't any information about specific recipe authors, so I'm assuming the folks at Williams-Sonoma either created them or bought the rights. This book is HUGE, organized into sections with handy and colorful tabs and interspersed with helpful tips. I'd definitely recommend it to beginners, but seasoned cooks will find it useful, as well.
Here's a quote from the beginning of the book:
"With this binder in hand, you'll find a wide variety of recipes to keep your family happy at the table every night of the week. When you maintain a well-stocked pantry, you'll have the foundation for all your weekday suppers. And if you plan your menus each week, you'll shop more efficiently and make fewer trips to the store. In the following pages, you'll discover dozens of tips for managing your time and stocking your kitchen—the keys to becoming a smarter cook."
Recipes I'm most excited to try: Clam Chowder, Lime Shrimp with Coconut Rice and Chicken in Orange-Riesling Sauce.
Book #2: Pinches & Dashes: Recipes & Life Measures From The Junior League of Wichita
I'm a born and bred Kansas girl, so I love that my boyfriend's parents gave me this cookbook. I like supporting smaller, local organizations, especially when it benefits women.
Here's a quote from the title page of the book:
"Junior League of Wichita, Inc., is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable."
And another quote from the introduction:
"Most of us have those fabulous celebration recipes that take us out of our daily cooking routines and stretch our culinary skills. The richness of a stuffed beef tenderloin, served with an extraordinary potato au gratin and finished off with a cake drenched in homemade butterscotch: these are the memorable meal that scatter life's landscape. These meals are the fork-in-the-road days that permanantly shape our journey. To mark momentous moments such as graduations, holidays, baby announcements, new jobs, retirement, we look for recipes that will honor these special occasions. This collection of recipes hopes to add to your repertoire of meaningful meals by providing you with celebratory selections that have a little something extra sprinkled throughout the ingredients."
Recipes I'm most excited to try: Dukkah—A North African Herb Dip, Brown Sugar & Mustard Glazed Salmon, Orange Walnut Biscotti Dipped in Chocolate.
Book #3: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
I have to admit that when I asked my boyfriend to buy me books for christmas and my birthday this year, he asked me outright what I wanted. I usually don't make it that easy for gift givers (because I enjoy surprises), but I gave in this time, knowing I'd get exactly what I wanted. I had several cookbooks from a range of well-known chefs in mind, but decided I'd much rather support a fellow food-blogger who had just published her first book: Deb Perelman. This lady deserves success. She has a wonderful writing style, tells descriptive stories, is very thorough in her recipe testing & writing and takes beautiful photographs. It's absolutely no surprise that she receives 5 million unique visitors to her site each month. I definitely look up to her. :)
Here's a snippet from her introduction:
"Welcome. Welcome to my tiny kitchen. Wouldn't it be great if we could all fit in here? I'd make us mulled cider and gooey cinnamon squares. We could talk about pie. Jacob would probably bust out his guitar (actually, it's a ukulele, but don't tell him that) and sing 'baa baa blakk shee!' because he's a total ham, and my husband would pour us some drinks. We'd have a great time. Of course, unless you can squeeze yourself onto a fraction of a six-inch tile--grumbling, no doubt, that this was the worst part ever--this is probably not going to happen. I always wanted a kitchen big enough for a crowd , but instead, I chose to live in New York City, a place where the kitchens are barely usable but nobody complains because there's no reason to cook when there's a great restaurant on every corner."
Recipes I'm most excited to try: Big Cluster Maple Granola, Roasted Baby Roots with Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette and Pancetta, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Pot Pies.
Question for Discussion: What's your favorite new cookbook? Any you're dying to purchase? Answer in the comments section below.