Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Twenty Dinners by Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor

I wonder when I stopped buying cookbooks? For the longest time I was constantly looking for new cookbooks to buy. New or used, each one was brought home and put to work. Somewhere along the line, I just stopped adding to my collection. I guess because they can be so expensive. Who needs the cookbook when thousands of blogs are full of recipes? But it seems all my favorite recipes are in my old cookbooks-- and when hours of scouring the internet for recipes fails me, I inevitably flip through my books.

There is just something about the look and feel of a good cookbook and ascetically, this one ranks among the best. The cover and pages are all matte, which I think gives the book a richness. The color palette throughout is sort of moody and dark, but it doesn't lack vibrancy. The experience of flipping through it, touching the sturdy pages, you just can't recreate that online.

It isn't just beautiful either, the book inspires in many other ways. I loved the introduction by both of the authors and I thought it gave one a good sense of what they were about. Ithai and Chris encourage the reader to "tear the book apart- write in the margins, cross things out, change things around". I love that.  Don't just belabor over every direction, make the food your own.

The book is separated in four sections, meals for fall, winter, spring and summer. Each section has seasonally appropriate ingredients and cooking methods. Some meals are more complicated than others, but all have a main dish, a variety of sides and a simple dessert. They also have a paired drink with the meals. The serving size varies sometimes only 4, but other times up to 14.

Some recipes I felt were outside my reach. I don't have a good source for duck, so I doubt I will ever make the pan roasted duck breast. For the most part, whenever a ingredient that is not easily accessible is called for, a substitution is suggested as well. My favorite recipes were the sides. Many were simple but very creative. For instance the carrot, parsley and pomegranate salad, something I would never think of- but so easy to make.

There were also sections about things like the home bar and coffee. Just little extra tidbits for the reader. Also included in the back of the book is a section on techniques, terms and handy advice. Here you will find practical advice like how to blanch or what arroser means-- and that failure is an option and not the end of the world.

I found the book very inspiring and a good reminder of how important it is to gather, cook and eat. This is the sort of thing I live for. Cooking with friends can be magical, creating memories and not just food. I cook often with a close friends and we always reminisce, 'remember that time you made all those pies at midnight? Remember when we grilled that tuna or the cake disaster?' I love that now my kids can make those memories with me. This book has given me some new recipes to share with those I love. I know that I will be flipping through it time and time again. I am so pleased to own it and have it in my collection.    

book courtesy of Blogging for Books

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