Whether your idea of “cooking in” consists of dry pasta and jarred sauce or delicate ingredients and professional equipment, the coronavirus has made home chefs of all of us.
And if you’re like us, the combination of boredom, loss of creative outlets, and stress eating (because, let’s be honest, nothing tastes better than feelings), has led to a certain renaissance in our kitchens. We’ve been pickling onions, baking breads, and smoking meats with the best of them! But week after quarantined week, even our new found culinary passions became rote.
We needed inspiration (some quar-inspiration, if you will), so we turned to our friend Kelly.
Kelly is a home cooking aficionado, and a damn good one at that. So many of our go-to recipes on rotation have come from dinner parties at her house, meals she’s delivered after babies were born, or text messaged suggestions to specific requests. She’s a living card catalogue for what you need to make for dinner tonight.
This love of cooking has led her to a love of cookbooks. She even hosts a monthly Lausanne Cookbook Club where guests collectively pick a cookbook and each chooses one recipe to prepare and to share (Interested in joining? You can send her an email).
So as our cookbook expert-in-residence, we asked her to tell us which books she’s turned to most often during this period of confinement. So far, we’ve added one of these to our collection, with plans to pick up the others eventually too…
The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson
This is simple vegetarian fare at its finest. The photos are rich and inspiring, but each recipe calls for only a few ingredients and requires minimal steps. With this book you have everything you need for a fresh, colorful meal on a busy weeknight.
I highly recommend: kale Caesar salad with polenta croutons, accordion zucchini, corn and cauliflower tacos, dipped strawberries.
My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz
Written by an American chef in Paris. He tells funny stories about his culinary adventures, and a number of his recipes are all-time favorites in our kitchen, including ones that are fun weekend projects when you have a little more time.
I highly recommend: spiced meatballs with Sriracha sauce, cherry tomato crostini with homemade herbed goat cheese, lemon-pistachio Israeli couscous, apricot crumble tart, and his vinaigrette recipe is the only one I use.
Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour
Her debut cookbook Persiana put her on the map in the culinary world, but I actually prefer the simpler Feasts, which is full of flavorful, spicy dishes that don’t require too much prep. She has arranged the recipes into different themed “feasts” (e.g. breakfast & brunch, summer feasts) but the individual recipes stand on their own just fine.
I highly recommend: harissa skirt steak sandwiches with sweet red onion pickle (go easy on the harissa unless you really love heat!); chicken, pistachio, and black pepper curry; spicy chickpea, harissa, cheddar pitas; grilled corn in harissa mayo with feta, mint, cilantro, and chillies.
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
What this lacks in pretty pictures it makes up for in practicality. I’ve hauled this through countless moves; it’s my go-to for instructions on how to cook everything besides meat. Not sure what to do with all those turnips from the local farm panier? Wanting to make yogurt from scratch? Came away from Fooby with a new type of lentil? This is where I go for solid advice.
I highly recommend: risotto “frittata” (great for leftover rice), cottage cheese pancakes, kale pie, the simplest bean burgers.
As we know, the global restaurant industry has been hit hard over the past few months. A group of celebrity chefs in the U.S. have published this online cookbook, with proceeds benefiting a restaurant workers’ relief fund. A few recipes call for niche ingredients that the average home cook won’t have on hand (especially while on lockdown!), but most are accessible and creative, and a few are very of the moment (e.g. the “Conference Call Cake”).
I’ve only just started working through this one, but so far I highly recommend: Gluten-free Chocolate-Chip Olive Oil Cookies.
What’s your favorite cookbook? Leave us a comment, so we can add it to our personal list!
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