A look at what’s simmerin’ on the shelves this month.
Hello end of spring! These days, the weather is more warm than not, my container herb gardens are taking off, and the vegetable plots are about to do the same! It’s the time of year where being prepared with a dozen different ways to cook zucchini can be a lifesaver. (Am I right? SO. MUCH. ZUCCHINI. COMING.) In the May roundup, I enjoyed perusing cookbooks and food-related books with different, shall we say, spins on cooking. Yes, there are plenty of seasonal recipes — including for zucchini (yay!) — but also a few surprises. Let’s take a peek!
A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden by April Bloomfield (HarperCollins).April Bloomfield owns Michelin-starred restaurants, she was awarded a 2014 James Beard award for “Best Chef,” and (as if those weren’t enough) she was nominated for an Emmy for cohosting Mind of a Chef on PBS. So, it’s no surprise to me that Bloomfield’s cookbook, A Girl and Her Greens, is a complete delight to read. The introduction guides you through her childhood in England (a fact that then made me read the rest of her cookbook with a British accent — straight away), where she learned — despite not living in the rural countryside — how not to cook vegetables, which, in her working-class house, were often overcooked and not fresh. Instead, Bloomfield found appreciation for fresh veg by way of her grandparents, and leads us through those memories, followed by her take on a proper farmers’ market visit. And that’s just the first quarter of the book. The rest of the space is devoted to recipes with clean and simple photography and fun little blurbs from Bloomfield with tips, tricks, and “why this or why that?” Mushroom Pie with Swiss Chard made with heavy cream and crème fraîche? YES.
The Big Jones Cookbook by Paul Fehribach (University of Chicago Press). Paul Fehribach may hail from the Midwest, but that doesn’t stop him from being a regional Southern cooking expert and taking the time to teach us a thing or two about it. The Big Jones Cookbook has recipes divided by geography. I happen to love this, because as we all know, preparations vary greatly depending on whether you’re in the coastal Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia, south Louisiana, or the Delta. With a little history and a lot of recipes, Fehribach takes you through regional cuisine that’s not only mouthwatering, but also easy to pull together (the “equipment needed” for each recipe helps). Check out his recipe for Bourbon and Brown Sugar Mustard on page 239; it looks delicious!
Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes & Other Forgotten Foods by Jennifer A. Jordan (University of Chicago Press). Jennifer Jordan spins a tale of forgotten foods in Edible Memory. It’s not a cookbook, though reading Jordan wax nostalgic about heirloom tomatoes and other “antiques of the food world” certainly make you want to head to the nearest farmers’ market; fill your reusable shopping bag with cosmic purple carrots, Chioggia beets, and pink pearl apples; and then head right home to cook a feast. I’m a fan!
Everyday Vegetarian: 365 Days of Healthy Seasonal Recipes by Jane Hughes (St. Martin’s Press). Even though the title may lead you to believe so, Everyday Vegetarian isn’t intended to be focused solely on vegetarians. Sure, meat recipes are absent; however, Hughes believes the cookbook will inspire carnivores and omnivores alike to add more fruits and veggies to their daily dining routine. The layout of Everyday Vegetarian is matter-of-fact: one section for each season that includes examples (with photos) of seasonal produce, simple and straightforward numbered recipes (365, to be exact), the letter “V” circled in green to denote vegan recipes, and a handy flap on the front cover that acts as a page marker. Beans Bourguignon! Who knew?
FUDS: A complete Encyclofoodia by Kelly Hudon, Dan Klein, and Arthur Meyer (Bloomsbury USA). “Foreword by Mario Batali” is proudly labeled right at the top of FUDS, something that’s likely to catch the eye of any foodie. That’s pretty smart on the Mizretti Brothers’ part! Or, as the unassuming little asterisk on the cover after “Brothers” points out, it’s actually by Kelly Hudson, Dan Klein, and Arthur Meyer. Clever, those three. Moving along, this “complete encyclofoodia” pokes fun at the foodie world in a way that made me chuckle more than a few times. Sure, you’ll find recipes in this “cookbook,” but I’m not sure you’ll ever actually want to make them — unless the sound of Devil’s Meatcup Christened with a Side of Grayed Chicken Spikes whets your appetite. I’ll leave you with this: If Mario Batalli’s brilliantly snarky foreword doesn’t leave you wanting more, perhaps the promise of “How to Get Someone to Shut Up about Their Vegetable Garden” will. (Snicker.)
Liza Hawkins is a self-proclaimed #wordnerd who loves getting sucked into whimsical novels and epic movies, frequently flying under the coolness radar with her laidback, practical attitude toward life. A foodie at heart, she relishes the chance to both cook and eat. (She's not picky.) She’s on the hunt for the perfect mojito, inspiration for a third tattoo, and world peace. You can also find Liza sharpening her knives over at (a)Musing Foodie.