September 26, 2011
People often ask me what my favorite cookbook is and at first I invariably freeze up. Yes, temporary stage fright. Wha-wha, what? It’s kind of like being asked to name my favorite shoe. Really, what self-respecting shoe-loving woman could answer that?! Are we talking running shoes? Nike. Stacked peep-toe pumps? Louboutin. Tall boots? Sergio Rossi. Flip-flops? Rainbow. Who knew about the parallels between shoes and cookbooks?
But as a collector of both, I can usually come up with a new top favorite or an old classic in any category. So today, and in days moving forward, I’d like to share some of my favorites—cookbooks, that is.
Recently I fell hard for Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, given to me by my dear chef friend Kim for my birthday. It’s actually a vegetarian cookbook, written by a non-vegetarian. Ottolenghi draws on his Mediterranean background and love of fresh ingredients to create recipes with strong flavors and wonderful combinations. I may be a card-carrying omnivore, but Plenty is near the top of my cookbook list.
What I love most about Plenty is how it is organized (I love organization—especially when it is already done for me!). Each chapter is devoted to one group of vegetables. There’s a whole chapter on roots, for example, one solely on eggplant, and another on pulses, aka legumes. For someone who gardens, this organization by chapter is indispensable. For instance, I have tons of eggplant in my garden right now, so you better believe I have already made three of the seven eggplant recipes in Plenty—even though I just got the book 10 days ago. The recipes are innovative but easy to follow, and I could almost describe them as tasty comfort food, though I don’t usually think of vegetarian cuisine that way. Enjoy!
Can you blame me?