Read Extra Good Things

Read Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things: Bold, Veget…

Just like Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love, Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things is all about bringing big flavor and flexibility to every meal, with pantry staples and freezer-friendly ingredients. This time, Yotam, Noor, and the rest of the test kitchen team bring you delicious recipes that’ll you love to cook on a weeknight, each with a special element that can be used to create endless Ottolenghi-inspired possibilties. These special elements are the makings of the most fantastic pantry to have at your fingertips–condiments with a little bit of funk or crunch, irresistible sauces, zippy dressings and drizzles, and more make-ahead items you’ll use over and over throughout the week, to elevate every meal with that little extra Ottolenghi touch.
These are recipes for playing it forward, Ottolenghi style–filling your cupboards with adaptable, homemade ingredients to add some oomph to every mealtime.

I find Ottolenghi recipes inspiring but often not actually something I want to cook. (Burnt lemon powder, anyone?) I was surprised to flag ten recipes to try in here.

The concept for this cookbook is intriguing: designed to feature the “extras” that elevate a dish. These are the area of cooking I’m most lacking in — a combination of laziness, not knowing what condiment to add, running out of time and energy to make things, and knowing it’s not worth the effort for two people because it’ll go to waste.


Read Smitten Kitchen Keepers

Read Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Forever …

Deb Perelman is the author of two best-selling cookbooks; one of the internet’s most successful food bloggers; the creator of a homegrown brand with more than a million Instagram followers; and the self-taught cook with the tiny kitchen who obsessively tests her recipes to make sure that no bowls are wasted and that the results are always worth the effort.

Here, in her third book, Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Forever Files, Perelman gives us 100 recipes (including a few favorites from her site) that aim to make shopping easier, preparation more practical and enjoyable, and food more reliably delicious for the home cook.

Skimmed through this and bookmarked a ton of recipes. Some recipes seemed a little audacious or uniquely flavored to be a common meal (zucchini cornbread?) but plenty seemed reasonable to make. Lots of vegetarian dishes and baked treats, which I find Deb is especially good at. Will probably add to my collection.


Read The Korean Vegan

Read The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes from… by Joanne Lee Molinaro

Joanne Lee Molinaro has captivated millions of fans with her powerfully moving personal tales of love, family, and food. In her debut cookbook, she shares a collection of her favorite Korean dishes, some traditional and some reimagined, as well as poignant narrative snapshots that have shaped her family history.

As Joanne reveals, she’s often asked, “How can you be vegan and Korean?” Korean cooking is, after all, synonymous with fish sauce and barbecue. And although grilled meat is indeed prevalent in some Korean food, the ingredients that filled out bapsangs on Joanne’s table growing up–doenjang (fermented soybean paste), gochujang (chili sauce), dashima (seaweed), and more–are fully plant-based, unbelievably flavorful, and totally Korean. Some of the recipes come straight from her childhood: Jjajangmyun, the rich Korean-Chinese black bean noodles she ate on birthdays, or the humble Gamja Guk, a potato-and-leek soup her father makes. Some pay homage: Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake is an ode to the two foods that saved her mother’s life after she fled North Korea.

The Korean Vegan Cookbook is a rich portrait of the immigrant experience with life lessons that are universal. It celebrates how deeply food and the ones we love shape our identity.

Beautiful photography and interesting interweaving of family stories with reinvented recipes. I made two recipes that didn’t require special ingredients (omelette and braised potatoes) — instructions were clear and I appreciated some ingredient options. The potatoes came out well — the flavor palette was unusual but tasty.

Want to try making Korean Toast (which has cabbage and carrots in eggs, and jam on the bread 👀)

bowl of braised potatoes with poached egg
Not being vegan, I topped the braised potatoes with a poached egg 🤷‍♀️
photo of spread in cookbook with pecan pie
Pecan Paht Pie sounded good

Read East

Read East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian recipes from Bangalore to Beijing

Modern, vibrant, easy-to-make food. East is a must-have whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or simply want to eat more delicious meat-free food.

Drawing from her ‘New Vegan’ Guardian column, Meera Sodha’s stunning new collection also features plenty of brand-new recipes inspired by a wide range of Asian cuisines. There are warming noodles, curries, rice dishes, tofu, salads, sides and sweets, all surprisingly easy to make and bursting with exciting flavours. Taking you from India to Indonesia, Singapore to Japan, by way of China, Thailand, and Vietnam, East will show you how to whip up a sprout nasi goreng and a swede laksa; how to make Kimchi pancakes, delicious dairy free black dal, and chilli tofu. There are sweet potato momos for snacks and unexpected desserts like stem ginger chocolate truffles and matcha roll cake.

Only flagged ten recipes to try, too many recipes called for ingredients that are hard to get, and not that many sounded like both I and my husband would like them.

I liked the cover art and illustrations throughout. Beautiful photo staging.

Author lives in London, and is of Indian heritage. Interestingly, she wrote in the intro that she had a toddler and couldn’t travel for inspiration like she’d done for her previous books, so she asked around people she knew for ideas and favorites, and visited restaurants around London.


Read Snacking Cakes

Read Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings: A B…

In Snacking Cakes, the indulgent, treat-yourself concept of cake becomes an anytime, easy-to-make treat. Expert baker Yossy Arefi’s collection of no-fuss recipes is perfect for anyone who craves near-instant cake satisfaction.

With little time and effort, these single-layered cakes are made using only one bowl (no electric mixers needed) and utilize ingredients likely sitting in your cupboard. They’re baked in the basic pans you already own and shine with only the most modest adornments: a dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of glaze, a dollop of whipped cream. From Nectarine and Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake and Gingery Sweet Potato Cake to Salty Caramel Peanut Butter Cake and Milk Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cake, these humble, comforting treats couldn’t be simpler to create. Yossy’s rustic, elegant style combines accessible, diverse flavors in intriguing ways that make them easy for kids to join in on the baking, but special enough to serve company or bring to potlucks.

Borrowed this from the library and bought a copy immediately. Love the idea of quick not-fussy cakes — NO CREAMING REQUIRED — with simple toppings. Alternate baking instructions provided for every cake, as well as flavor variations.

I baked Berry Cream Cheese Cake in half an hour of prep time, which is unheard of for this slow baker 😉 Simple but clear instructions and ONE BOWL 👏


Read The Forest Feast Mediterranean

Read The Forest Feast Mediterranean

For years, Forest Feast readers have been transported to Erin Gleeson’s picturesque cabin in the woods through her stunning photography of magical gatherings and vibrant vegetarian cooking. Now, Gleeson transports readers to Europe, with recipes inspired by her exploration of the cultures and cuisines of France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy during an extended family trip. Reimagining the flavors and signature dishes of this part of the Mediterranean, Gleeson presents 100 vegetarian recipes for creating effortless, unforgettable meals. Filled with atmospheric images of coastal villages, charming watercolor illustrations, and mouthwatering food photography, The Forest Feast Mediterranean is an irresistible escape from the everyday, no matter where you might live.

Lemons and sprigs of dill and votive candles in glass decorate a dinner table in a strip down the center between the plates
Lemons as centerpiece – probably cheaper than flowers and you can eat them or give them as party favors 😉

Very much a vibes cookbook, with a good number of simple vegetarian recipes inspired by the Mediterranean lifestyle and flavor palate. Complexity ranged from a crudite platter to homemade pasta. Very colorful and dynamic, each page different, with a blend of photos and paintings. The recipes are brief and casual, reading like a friend’s told you what to do.

The author created recipes, painted illustrations, took photos, and designed the book! That’s a lot of skills at work, and creative control, for a decisively bold look and relaxed feel.

It’s as much inspirational and aspirational as it is useful; it brings you the flavor of the Med in taste and imagery. Many of the recipes are photographed on location, meaning she developed the recipe while traveling! 👏


Every Day is Saturday Cookbook

Read Every Day Is Saturday

From beloved cookbook author and recipe developer Sarah Copeland, Every Day Is Saturday brims with inspiration.

More than 100 beautiful recipes that make weeknight cooking a breeze, gorgeous food and lifestyle photography, and easy-to-follow tips for cooking delicious, healthful, sustaining food provide a joyous Saturday mentality of taking pleasure in food and occasion, whatever the day of the week.

Recipes cover every course, from breakfast to dessert, including dishes perfect for the life occasions of a busy family: potlucks, picnics, lazy Sundays, and casual dinners with friends. Here is a delightful and inspiring resource—in a bright and beautiful jacketed package—for weeknight cooks, weekend dreamers, and working parents who want to put great meals at the centre of the table where their family gathers.

This is written for upper middle class moms who prioritize making all the food for their families and hosting large gatherings (nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me 😉). Ten years ago I would probably have liked this much more but nowadays I have Complicated Feelings about the cultural expectation that you have to handmake all your food to be healthy and a good caregiver, given the time burden, and gender and class implications. Virginia Sole-Smith’s newsletter Burnt Toast opened my eyes about some cultural beliefs about food.

If you are like me there will be things you’ll roll your eyes at, like the idea that you’ll wait a day to even cut into a chocolate loaf, or the anecdote about how even as a teenager she could create meals out of anything during her lunch break.

I was hoping for more of bringing the attitude of the weekend into weekday foods, some of which was there but a lot was also just “spend your weekend prepping food for the week”. Frankly, many of these recipes felt a bit fussy and complicated. I baked the Chocolate Snacking Cake which was quite tasty but made A Lot of dishes. I like some of her ideas about concocting tray meals out of a collection of goodies.

As a pescetarian, there were plenty of breakfasts and desserts that I could make, and I could adapt some of the mains. Several drinks sounded nice. I was disappointed that several “midday meals” were salads.

Food Shopping

Read (part of) The Food Lab

Read The Food Lab

Ever wondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that’s perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it? How to make homemade mac ‘n’ cheese that is as satisfyingly gooey and velvety-smooth as the blue box stuff, but far tastier? How to roast a succulent, moist turkey (forget about brining!)—and use a foolproof method that works every time?

As Serious Eats’s culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt has pondered all these questions and more. In The Food Lab, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new—but simple—techniques. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.

This is a tome so I only made it through the first 200ish pages in the three weeks I had it from the library: the breakfast chapter and the tools / supplies sections. There were a few more chapters I wanted to read but much of the book is about meat so I don’t need that info. And lbh, right now I’m basically just cooking breakfast anyway so good thing for me to read.

I failed at his poached and soft-boiled eggs but his fried egg technique and biscuit recipe were both great if annoyingly a little more hassle. He includes sour cream in his biscuits…and laminates the dough. Tender and flaky, not overworked at all.

His kitchen recommendations I want to get, assuming I decide I want to start cooking again:

  • 12-15″ carbon steel flat bottomed wok (look for 4-5″ flat area)
  • 2.5-3 quart saucier
  • 7″ Wusthof hollow ground santoku (his rec for small hands) or MAC Superior 6 1/2″ santoku (budget)
  • 1000-1200 grit water stone and fixer
  • rice cooker
  • stainless steel prep bowls
  • spider
  • fridge thermometer (keep coldest part of fridge at minimum 34, keep whole fridge below 39)

Read The Book on Pie

Read The Book on Pie

Erin Jeanne McDowell, New York Times contributing baker extraordinaire and top food stylist, wrote the book on pie, a comprehensive handbook that distills all you’ll ever need to know for making perfect pies. The Book on Pie starts with the basics, including ways to mix pie dough for extra flaky crusts, storage and freezing, recipe size conversions, and expert tips for decorating and styling, before diving into the recipes for all the different kinds of pies: fruit, custard, cream, chiffon, cold set, savory, and mini. Find everything from classics like Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie, to more inspired recipes like Birthday-Cake Pie and Caramel Pork Pie with Chile and Scallions.

Erin also suggests recommended pie doughs and toppings with each recipe for infinitely customizable pies: Mix and match Pumpkin Spice Pie Dough and Dark Chocolate Drippy Glaze with the Pumpkin Pie, or sub in the Chive Compound-Butter Crust for the Croque Madame Pielets . . . the possibilities are endless. With helpful tips, photographic guides, and inspirations—pie-deas—it’s almost like having Erin in the kitchen baking pies with you.

Borrowed this from the library to read the front matter and skim the recipes. She has clearly put a lot of thought into pie baking. And she baked a looooot of pies to photograph for this book in a wide variety of flavors and decor! I appreciate her openness to different kinds of pie fillings.

I was hoping to find some magical explanation for being able to lift pie out of the plate like she shows on her Instagram. Tweaks to try in my pie-making process from this book: using more pie weights, pricking the bottom a lot more, and leaving the butter larger when I cut it in. (I thought I left it on the large side but not compared to her!) Her bake times were shorter than mine but crusts were darker — I think I might cover mine earlier than she does. I liked a couple of her variations on crust decoration (scalloped edge, rope twist, and spoon marking).

I also learned that the reason the filling needs to bubble is that it must boil to make the cornstarch or flour get thick.

I’d like to make her roasted strawberry pie:

Food Outdoors

Read A Year of Picnics

Read A Year of Picnics by Ashley English

Everyone loves picnicking—dining in the great outdoors, cozied up on blankets, and surrounded by the beauty of the natural world. Now imagine doing it year-round, where the setting speaks to the foods served, and you’ve got A Year of Picnics!

All it takes is a picnic blanket and some inspiration to take a meal from so-so to sensational. Pair the perfect location with the right foods, and you can take your picnicking to the next level. On mountaintops or rooftops, in nocturnal settings or in daylight, even in winter, this book invites readers to look at picnics in a whole new way. The twenty themed, seasonal picnics are made all the more special with activities, games, and crafts that encourage people to explore the outdoors and connect to one another—over food, perhaps on a blanket, in a special place. Grab a blanket and a basket, get outside, and start experiencing the joy that picnicking provides.

I liked a few of the picnic concepts (afternoon tea picnic and high altitude picnic), but overall a bit too twee for me. Probably best for families with kids – I don’t think my husband would go for most of the activity ideas. A book for inspiration even if you don’t follow the concepts fully.