07 December 2013

Weekend Cooking: Choosing Sides by Tara Mataraza Desmond

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Choosing Sides by Tara Mataraza DesmondWhen planning your meals--for every day, weekends, casual entertaining, or holiday feasts--do you think one of the hardest parts is coming up with the side dishes? If so, you'll be happy to know that your fretting days are over. Tara Mataraza Desmond's Choosing Sides has come to the rescue.

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.

copyright Tara Mataraza DesmondThe 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
ISBN-13: 9781449427115
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 12/7/13, 7:15 AM  

Well I know we won't be preparing Brussels points, husband despises them :-(
I love your review of this book and it indeed sounds like a great go-to book. I usually get ideas for side dishes from somewhere within the cookbook I am using.
Good tips too, a winner!

jama 12/7/13, 8:02 AM  

Love brussels sprouts and will definitely try this recipe.

I'm one of those "side dish" challenged cooks so this cookbook is right up my alley. Thanks for the great review, as always.

Anonymous,  12/7/13, 8:41 AM  

I love brussels sprouts, thank for sharing the recipe. I always give a lot of thought to the main dish and then try to come up with side dishes at the last minute. Sounds like this would be an ideal book for me.

Beth S. 12/7/13, 9:17 AM  

This book sounds like it's right up my alley. I've always been more excited about side dishes than main courses. :)

Unknown 12/7/13, 9:53 AM  

I often fall into side dish ruts. Sounds like a great book to find something new and tasty.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 12/7/13, 10:05 AM  

Yum! I have to admit sometimes I get more excited abut choosing sides then I do about the main dish. Sides are so fun and I love to experiment with them.

JoAnn 12/7/13, 10:06 AM  

I definitely need to take a closer look at this cookbook!

Joy 12/7/13, 10:27 AM  

What a great idea for a cookbook. We tend to do one-pot dishes -- pretty much into a rut with that. My big fear with side dishes is getting them all to be ready at the same time.

Joy's Book Blog

(Diane) bookchickdi 12/7/13, 11:47 AM  

What a wonderful idea for a cookbook! And I love the "Alongside" section. I could definitely use this cookbook.

Kailana 12/7/13, 12:32 PM  

I make the same side dishes over and over. I could use some inspiration!

bermudaonion 12/7/13, 4:41 PM  

This sounds terrific to me because the sides are my favorite part of the meal.

Couscous & Consciousness 12/7/13, 8:30 PM  

This is a great idea, and as I generally get more excited about the side dishes than the main course, or often turn a side into a main, I'm thinking this book would be right up my alley.

Heather Webb 12/8/13, 9:12 AM  

The side dishes are almost always my favorite part of a meal. I just roasted Brussel sprouts last night. I'll have to check this book out.

Sue Jackson 12/8/13, 9:41 AM  

This looks like good one! That Brussels sprouts recipe sounds fabulous! Yum.


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Laurie C 12/8/13, 2:27 PM  

I'm a recent Brussels sprouts convert, and especially love them roasted. I don't have a problem planning side dishes, but generally run out of time to make all that I've planned to make! I like the sound of this cookbook, though.
No Weekend Cooking post by me this week -- can't find the cable for my camera to get my photos off it! :(

Unknown 12/8/13, 5:00 PM  

I LOVE sides - if I had my way I'd eat dinners of sides all the times. =]

Cecelia 12/8/13, 5:32 PM  

I'm very interested in the salads from this cookbook - I eat a salad just about every day (for lunch) and new ingredients or prep ideas are always welcome.

Peaceful Reader 12/8/13, 6:54 PM  

We love brussels sprouts! I like the idea of this recipe. As a vegetarian you learn to love the side dishes!

Anonymous,  12/8/13, 9:44 PM  

Hi Beth! It's Carolyn. I see the new "What's In A Name" is up and I'm glad you're at least a guest, or you'd be missed. The new hostess looks really nice and I welcomed her.

I want you and your readers to know, I will become a hostess in 2014... with 3 creations of my own! I launched last. It's uncanny, two of Wormhole's new categories follow the same vein as mine. Makes it easy for readers to subscribe to both! :-)


Anonymous,  12/8/13, 9:46 PM  

Typo- That was supposed to say "I launched last week". http://cmriedel.wordpress.com/gentle-spectrums-2014/

Daryl 12/9/13, 7:36 AM  

another weekend of eating and out of town visitors

Heather 12/9/13, 12:31 PM  

Those Brussels sprouts look amazing!!! I used to hate them, now they are one of my very favorite things! I'll be keeping my eye open for this one.

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