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This exciting cookbook, with its bright teal and orange color scheme, is all about coaxing the veggies, fruits, breads, and grains out from the shadows and into the spotlight. Because today's cooks rely less on showcasing large cuts of meat, the sides have taken on more importance, but many of us have a limited repertoire or lack the confidence to mix and match recipes.
Fortunately, Choosing Sides has you covered, with ideas for salads, breads, savory tarts, pastas, gratins, and new ways to cook fresh vegetables. Even better, Desmond doesn't leave you to fend for yourself when it comes to planning a meal. She offers advice on how to pick the perfect side, matching flavors, colors, and textures to the main dish. Useful charts make it easy to see which of the included recipes complement specific meat, fish, poultry, pasta, and vegetarian meals. Finally, each recipe concludes with a list of "Alongside" suggestions. For example, you could serve the orange and black bean quinoa with chicken and poblano fajitas, chile-dusted shrimp, or vegetarian enchiladas.
The recipes themselves are a welcoming mix of updated traditional sides and new ideas, which create a balance between comforting and vibrant flavors. The called-for ingredients are a step above common but still easily found in well-stocked supermarkets.
Less-experienced cooks will appreciate Desmond's tips, suggestions, and chatty style. Sidebars and features throughout Choosing Sides help us negotiate grocery store shelves, offer master recipes that we can personalize, and provide the stories behind some of the recipes.
I have my eye on a number of dishes, including andouille bites for a holiday brunch, apple cabbage salad for a fall meal, ginger honey carrots to brighten up a weekday table, roasted red pepper orzo for a summer potluck, and sesame braised bok choy for a dinner with friends. I particularly love the bread chapter (flatbreads, crackers, savory scones), the holiday suggestions (savory puddings, roasted root veggies), and the dinner party sides (grilled eggplant, mustardy lentils, flavorful bulgur).
I predict that Tara Mataraza Desmond's Choosing Sides will become a much-used cookbook in my collection. The well-written recipes make it a snap to prepare outstanding sides for every meal and occasion. And thanks to Desmond's advice, creating balanced, delicious menus has never been so easy.
Click on the scan of the Brussels sprouts recipe to read it and see the photo. The scan cuts off the "Alongsides," so I'll list them here: Bacon-crusted roast turkey * Apple, pear, and sage stuffed pork loin roulade * Slow-cooked chicken and cippoline * herb-stuffed leg of lamb * Butternut ricotta lasagna
Andrews McMeel, 2013
Source: Review (see review policy)
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