24 April 2021

Weekend Cooking: It's Not Complicated by Katie Lee Biegel

Review of It's Not Complicated by Katie Lee BiegelThis week I want to share what is quickly becoming my new favorite cookbook. In 2018, I introduced you to Katie Lee Biegel's earlier cookbook, Easy-Breezy Eats, which still has a place in my cookbook collection. Her new book, It's Not Complicated (which I received from the publisher as part of the Abrams Dinner Party), is even better.

I've already cooked almost a dozen recipes from the book, and each was a hit. The other members of the Abrams Dinner Party agree with me: this may be the winning cookbook of Abrams Books' spring season.

The subtitle of Biegel's book, "Simple Recipes for Every Day," rings true. The recipes call for fresh ingredients and yet few will take you more than about an hour from cutting board to dinner table. Even better, the dishes hit that magic place of being unpretentious yet still perfect for casual company dinners. You can see from the photo below how many recipes I have marked to try.

Review of It's Not Complicated by Katie Lee BiegelMy favorite chapters are the ones for soups, salads, and mains, though I know I'll try a cocktail or two and some of the fruit-forward desserts before summer is over. We loved the Chipotle Carrot Soup and the Cannellini and Escarole Soup, both of which could be made vegan by using vegetable stock and omitting the cheese garnish. Standouts among the entrees we tried are Pork Chops with Fennel, Quick Chicken Saltimbocca, and Mushroom Bolognese. I loved the Kale Slaw (see my photo), which cut the usual mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.

Every recipe was easy to make and full of flavor. Biegel's casual style shines in both the types of dishes she shares and in the introductions to the recipes themselves. I liked learning about the inspiration for her recipes, when and how she serves them, and even some personal stories. All the ingredients are easy to find, and the directions are clear-cut.

Here's another thing I love about It's Not Complicated: although the finished dishes are delicious if you follow the instructions exactly as written, Biegel's recipes make for great starting points for those of us who like to put our own twist on the food we cook. For example, Mr. BFR isn't an eggplant fan (though he'll eat it), so I'll probably tweak her eggplant "meatball" sandwiches into real meatball sandwiches. The Grilled Farmers' Market Paella looks delicious, but I'll likely cut down on the meats, amp up the veggies, and skip some of the multiple grilling steps to turn it into more of a sheet-pan supper.

Review of It's Not Complicated by Katie Lee BiegelRecommendation: Whether you follow Katie Lee Biegel's recipes to the letter or use them to create meals with your own signature, I think you'll find plenty of dishes to try in It's Not Complicated. The majority of the recipes can be made in under an hour; those that take longer (roasted turkey, for example) can be saved for holidays or weekends.

Vegetarians will find a number of suitable or adaptable recipes, though vegans will have more trouble. If you have other dietary concerns (gluten-free, keto, etc.), you'll want to be sure to look through the cookbook before buying. If you know someone who loves to cook but is running out of easy ideas, It's Not Complicated would make a good gift.

The recipe I'm sharing is one I have marked to try because I'm always looking for traditional summer salads that omit the usual mayonnaise. In addition, I'm pretty sure this is appropriate for a wide range of diets.

Oil and Vinegar Herbed Potato Salad

Review of It's Not Complicated by Katie Lee BiegelServes 4–6
45 minutes

  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) red new potatoes, cut into 1–1½-inch (2.5 to 4 cm) pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of cold water. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain well.

In a large bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and shallot. Toss the hot potatoes in the dressing. Let cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes, then sprinkle with the herbs and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

BFR's Notes: I'd check the potatoes at 10 minutes or so; the cooking time seems way too long to me. Recipe and scans shared in the context of review; all rights remain with the original copyright holder.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


Jackie McGuinness 4/24/21, 8:39 AM  

Ah another thing Mr. BFF shares with John, a hatred of eggplant.
I just tagged this book at the library it sounds good and I do like her on The Kitchen.
I made one new recipe this week!

Mae Travels 4/24/21, 8:55 AM  

The classic French pommes à l'huile (potato salad in oil) is very close to that recipe, though the grain mustard instaed of French mustard would be a change. There are so many classic recipes that could be made "not complicated."

I'm impressed at how you name a new cookbook as your favorite cookbook so frequently.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Beth F 4/24/21, 9:10 AM  

@Mae: it may seem like I'm always saying "new favorite" -- but a quick check shows that the last time I described a cookbook as "favorite" was in Oct. 2020, when I wrote about "*one* of my new favorite cookbooks." Before that, was a cookbook in fall 2019. So, the truth is, I don't call every cookbook my new favorite, though I often write about our favorite recipe from the ones we tried in a book or my favorite thing about a cookbook.

gluten Free A_Z Blog 4/24/21, 10:13 AM  

Her book sounds limiting for me as a vegan. However, the herbed potatoes that you shared looks fabulous.

Deb in Hawaii 4/24/21, 1:04 PM  

Great review! I love Katie Lee and I have this cookbook on hold both e-book and hard copy at my library--although both lists are VERY long. That potato salad looks amazing!

Tina 4/24/21, 2:13 PM  

I see many tabs in that book! I do that when I want to make so many recipes in a cookbook, if it’s too many tabs I just buy it.

Tweaking a recipe is standard procedure for me. Loving the meals you mentioned such as mushroom bolognese & saltimbocco. Glad you posted the potato salad recipe!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 4/24/21, 5:17 PM  

That Potato Salad looks delicious! I love potato salad but often fall back on the potato salad of my youth. I have made an oil and vinegar salad in the past and really enjoyed it. Funny thing, that photo of the cookbook with all the post-it notes, so many of mine, look like that!

Marg 4/25/21, 3:09 AM  

One of the great joys of getting a new cookbook is going through and marking the recipes that you want to try. This sounds like a good cookbook!

Greg 4/26/21, 9:25 PM  

Well this certainly looks worth a peek! :)

Dayna 11/11/23, 9:37 AM  

My absolute favorite potato salad. I get so many compliments when I take this to a party. I’ll never make another recipe again!

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