Hurray! It's finally here, my latest -- and possibly my greatest -- cookbook to date: "Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can't Wait to Make."
I couldn't be prouder or more excited about this new baby because it's the first book I've written that documents the actual food I make for my family on a daily basis. It's the recipes we all love, the ones my small child will happily eat, the ones my husband asks for over and over.
The book came about as a kitchen diary, literally. After years of my family and friends asking me to make that amazing whatever-it-was again, and me having totally forgotten what the heck I put in whatever-it-was, I finally started keeping a small notebook in the kitchen and jotting down recipes. That way when my sister Amy asked me to cook up that savory golden skillet chicken with fresh herbs I once made for a spring dinner, I could just go look it up instead of faking it with another dish. Ditto when my mother asked for the recipe for the figgy snacking cake with crunchy demarara sugar. I wouldn't have to admit, with shame, that I couldn't remember what I put in that batter other than a little whole wheat flour to give it chewiness and depth of flavor (yup, both those recipes are in my book).
What started to emerge was a pattern of seasonally-inspired recipes (I love me my farmers' market). So I organzied the book around the seasons. Each chapter corresponds to a month, and each month has 10 recipes using ingredients that are at their prime.
So for example January is about dark leafy winter greens and slowly stewed beans. August is about tomatoes, corn, and eggplants (The Best Tomato Sandwich, Roasted Ratatouille with Fresh Corn Polenta and Ricotta). October showcases warming, hearty recipes such as Three Meat Chili and Carroty Mac and Cheese. And in December, I use parsnips in my Hanukkah latkes because they taste so sweet and fruity it's as if the applesauce was fried right into the pancake instead of being spooned on top.
Unlike many, more cheffy seasonal cookbooks with esoteric or annoying ingredients (fava beans anyone?), mine are the simple, easy recipes that I can throw together at the end of a long day without fuss. They are the quick, satisfying dishes that reflect the foods that are the freshest and most flavorful because they are in season.
If you've ever been intimidated by the farmers' market, unsure what to buy and what to do with it once you got it home, this book will be your best friend in the kitchen. Or if you've wondered what to cook right now, this book will tell you what ingredients are at their best, and give some innovative and unusal ideas for using, say, skinny green beans, that you might not have ever seen before (how about with toasted walnuts in a simple, succulent salad).
And if that doesn't sell you, the photographs are mouthwateringly stunning, all taken by the amazing Andrew Scrivani.
I know you will love the book as much as I do (or I hope so at least!). Order your copy today or pick one up at your local book store! And let me know what you end up making for your family meal.