Tag Archives: Ina Garten

Building Your Cookbook Library Vol. I

3 Oct

People keep asking which cookbooks they should buy. If you take a look at the photo below, you can see I am as good as person to ask as any! So I decided I would do a few posts about how to practically build your cookbook library.

It should be noted that the photo below was taken after I tossed over 50 cookbooks… and the books are stacked on these shelves two deep… and I am not showing the myriad cookbooks in various bookshelves all over the house… nor the two large drawers under the shelf in the photo that are filled to the brim.

shelf

a small part of my cookbook collection, 2 deep

It’s true, I have a cookbook addiction.

Not only are cookbooks worth buying because, well, you know, you can cook great food from them, the best cookbooks open up different parts of the world. Even better, the best cookbooks are not only about food but about exquisite and passionate writing. There are few things I love to read more than a chef writing vividly about their love for food and their approach to food. Reading cookbooks is a big de-stresser for me. I can get lost in them for hours.

For starters, we need to be semi-practical. I will later do another post about more exotic cookbooks. For this post, I want to recommend the books I return to over and over and over again. Each one has terrific recipes that are for the most part practical and simple, recipes you will make again and again. These books are all terrific references for anything you might need. If you have just these cookbooks I list in this post, and no other, you will enjoy years of amazing food.

FAVORITES

PW book

I’ve written before about a cookbook that changed my life, Patricia Wells at Home In Provence. Read the entire post to find out my experience with both this book and this wonderful woman. Know, however, that the book is filled with easy, glorious dishes that will transform your table and, additionally, your approach to cooking. If you can find a copy of the original book, cover shown above, I highly recommend it as it is a beautiful book. I am including a photo of the original copy of my book, which proves how much I return to it.

2pw book

I’ve used this book quite a bit…

Among many favorites in this book, Patricia’s Gratin Dauphinois recipe (potatoes au gratin) is a divine version I make for every holiday meal.

book

I also wrote lovingly about Suzanne Goin and her cornbread, the best ever invented. She, too, is a chef that changed how I thought about cooking and food. Her book Sunday Suppers at Lucques is filled with marvelous food I’ve cited many times before on this blog. Two standouts of many, many killer recipes are her Devil’s Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks (you can simply make the leeks as well, they are great as is and are usually on my holiday table) and her Braised Beef Stew. Check this link for a few more recipes… the 5 recipes in the link are recipes I make all the time. The tart is a go-to I make constantly.

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Sunday Night Vegetable Roast

18 Jul

There’s a terrific Farmers’ Market I visit every Sunday, the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market. Conveniently, it’s 5 minutes from my house, and also directly across the street from Bikram Yoga Silverlake where most days I am either torturing people or being tortured in what we lovingly refer to as ‘the hot room.’ (Best workout on the planet. But I digress.) “Farmers’ Market Sundays” have helped create traditions at the house. A few times a year, for instance, we have a Farmers’ Market Dinner, where friends bring to the house whatever they liked from their Farmers’ Market.  We cook it all up and have a great meal.

“Farmers’ Market Sundays” also led to Sunday Night Vegetable Roast. A little backstory: I often take time on Sundays to cook. I make broth, I put up vegetables and fruit, I prep for the week. My hometown friend Doneane Beckcom Reese recently turned me onto Salad In A Jar, which works incredibly well and gives you fresh, ready made salad every day. Wine is certainly most always involved and I’m usually writing at the computer at the same time. For me, it’s a great way to relax before Monday rears its head. 

One of the things I love to do on Sundays is roast a lot of vegetables. Roasting veggies is my favorite way to prepare them. It’s fast, easy, healthy and tastes so good. There are perks to a Sunday Night Vegetable Roast. First, you end up with an amazing dinner. Roast all your veg, grill some chicken or fish, and you have one of my favorite meals on the planet:

Roast Veggie Dinner

Grilled Ahi Tuna with roasted tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus and zucchini

Also, if you double or triple your quantities, you have a bunch of vegetables that will keep all week and be ready for a plethora of fast prep dishes. It makes breakfast very easy, for instance. As an avowed egg fanatic, I can attest that roasted vegetables in your fridge help create excellent breakfasts every morning. 

Below, then, I’ll tell you how to best roast your vegetables, and then give you some of the varied dishes you can create with them later in the week. Try doing this some Sunday. Even if you are not much of a cook or are too busy to cook much during the week, taking a couple of hours on a Sunday to prep food is a great idea. You can precook a bunch of different things, all at once, and have a lot of tasty items to pull from the fridge.

BASIC ROASTING

Roasting vegetables is easy. Seriously. Take, for instance, the tomatoes and asparagus pictured below. You toss them with a little olive oil and salt & pepper, stick them in a 400 degree oven, and roast. That’s it.

Tomatoes and Asparagus prepped for roasting

Tomatoes and Asparagus prepped for roasting

I don’t know of a single vegetable that won’t work perfectly this way. Cooking time differs, certainly. Asparagus roast fast.. only a few minutes if they are thin, perhaps 10 minutes if they are thick. Tomatoes… well, it depends on how you like them. I like to roast tomatoes down big time, maybe even get a little bit of black here and there. So for tomatoes this could be 45 minutes to an hour. For you, 30 minutes might be ideal. Just check the oven every ten minutes or so, you’ll know when you want to pull them out. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for this prep, btw. They are little pops of wonder in your mouth.

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