I do not have a history of using cookbooks. Most times, I reach for a handful of (mental) recipes that I use week after week to make the same, or similar meals. I do like the food I make, but lately I have been feel uninspired and really wanting to expand my cooking skills and recipe repertoire. I’ve had a few cookbooks come into my home and I am planning to use them to beat the cooking boredom as I try all kinds of new recipes. I’m sharing my first impressions of the cookbooks today, but make sure to add me on snapchat (@writingwhimsy) and I’ll be sharing the recipes as I try them as well.
Something I haven’t really talked about yet on Writing Whimsy is my real effort over the last year to get in better shape and eat healthier. One of the ways I’ve been doing this is by taking salad for lunch every day. Now, that seems like a really boring thing to do until you pick up Salad Love by David Bez and find recipes for 260 different salads you can make.
Not only is there an Instagram-worthy photo for each salad in Salad Love, but the book is divided up based on seasons so that you can pick up the tastiest, most affordable produce to make your salad. Recipes are also labelled with categories like “Omnivore”, “Raw” and “Pescatarian” and there’s often alternatives for other diets listed, like swap shrimp for steamed broccoli to make a Shrimp, Avocado & Red Rice salad vegan. I actually haven’t found myself following these exact recipes but I do reach for this book for inspiration and there are definitely some new ingredient ideas in here that I want to try.
The final thing I really like about Salad Love is that there’s an Index at the back of the book so you can even search by ingredient for recipes that use it!
Cook. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer is a cookbook focused on healthy eating which excludes ingredients such as dairy, gluten and refined sugar. Now, I don’t necessarily think all those things are bad for you, but since I have celiac disease and lactose intolerance, I am definitely interested in trying out Freer’s recipes.
Each chapter in Cook. Nourish. Glow. starts off with some advice from Freer which is up to a few pages in length and helps put the recipes in context. I’ll have to read the book more closely to see how I really feel about some of her advice, because my first impression is that I don’t totally buy it all, but despite that I definitely plan to take some inspiration for healthy meals.
My favourite cuisine is probably Indian food, and lucky for me most of it is naturally gluten-free, but I had never owned an Indian cookbook until The Indian Family Kitchen by Anjali Pathak. This book is filled with beautiful photographs as well as Pathak’s secret tip. There’s a little story accompanying each recipe which makes the book more personal and can may offer a modification or advice for the recipe.
What I didn’t realize about The Indian Family Kitchen is that this is really a cookbook about using Indian spices and flavours, but often with Western ingredients. In some cases, it’s a way to apply Indian seasoning in a new way, or introduce you to the flavours, but in some cases, it honestly doesn’t even seem like Indian food at all. There’s a “scorched corn on the cob” recipe which just used corn, butter, red pepper, salt, pepper and lime. It sounds delicious, but as somebody really interested in learning to cook more authentic Indian cuisine, this book isn’t quite what I was looking for.
However, if you find you are always making the same recipes with the same ingredients, The Indian Family Kitchen might be a good way to spice up (literally…) your meals with some new flavours.
The cookbook Hot Thai Kitchen by Pailin Chongchitnant is actually divided into 2, the first part “Understanding Thai Cuisine” and talks all about ingredients, tools and even the structure of Thai dishes. It’s about 90 pages long and although I haven’t read it all yet, the goal is to offer insight into the how’s and why’s of Thai cuisine, so that you are well prepared to make the dishes.
Of course, the second half of Hot Thai Kitchen is filled with recipes and I am so excited to start making them. Chongchitnant actually has a YouTube channel and I visited it for an idea of what the recipes would be like, and honestly, everything looks delicious. Each recipe is broken down into a style, what aromatics are used, what the “nuggets” are, a sauce, and then a flavour profile. As a result, it’s really easy to know why you are adding each ingredient, and get a good of idea of what the dish will be like prior to making it.
Whether you’re like me and love Thai food but haven’t tried cooking it yet, or you’re just interested in learning about a new cuisine, I think that Hot Thai Kitchen will be an invaluable resource to me. I can’t wait to try out the massaman curry, which is my favourite dish to order!
After flipping through these 4 cookbooks it’s impossible for me to feel uninspired in the kitchen, and after a trip to pick up some new spices I will be all ready to test out new Thai, Indian and other healthy recipes. I’m definitely going to be switching up my salads more often too and I’m feeling so hungry just writing this post!
Do you use cookbooks? Let me know if you have a favourite one you reach for when you’re looking for new inspiration in the kitchen!