08 October 2022

Two New Cookbooks to Broaden Your Cooking Horizons (Weekend Cooking)

Happy Saturday. Today I have two more cookbooks for you one came out last month and the other published just this week. Thanks to the publishers for the review copies.

Book cover of Food52 Simply Genius cookbook with a photo of a roasted chickenI'm sure you're already familiar with Food52, the site that was developed to be "the one place you can see thousands of test kitchen-approved recipes, shop the kitchenware you need to make them, and discuss the results with like-minded people." Food52 was founded by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, both well-respected figures in the food world. I have several of their cookbooks and subscribe to their newsletter.

Their newest cookbook is Food52 Simply Genius: Recipes for Beginners, Busy Cooks & Curious People written by Food52 founding editor Kristen Miglore (Ten Speed Press). The gorgeous photos are by James Ransom and the helpful illustrations are by Eliana Rodgers. No matter your comfort level in the kitchen and skill level while cooking, I guarantee this new cookbook will have something to teach you.

chart for making better pancakes from Food 52 Simply Genius by Kristen MigloreI love the troubleshooting guides (see to the left; click to enlarge), serving ideas, illustrations and photos of techniques, music suggestions, prep tips, time lines, and (of course) more. Food52 Simply Genius has your back, whether you're cooking simple beans and legumes or whipping up some chicken fennel quinoa porridge. Not sure how to tell if the shrimp is cooked perfectly? Just look at the handy photographs. Want to know why it's worth your time to boil potatoes before roasting them? Food52 Simply Genius has the answer. I truly appreciate the step-by-step photos that show the "key" techniques for success.

I made several recipes from Food52 Simply genius. Two of our favorites were Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp and the Sheet-pan Gnocchi with Chili Crisp and Baby Bok Choy. Throughout the book, the recipe directions are clear and easy to follow.

Recommendation: To paraphrase the subtitle: Food52 Simply Genius really is for every curious cook who wants to learn and improve their skills. Vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free eaters will find appropriate recipes by looking in the index.

Cover of the The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo ArronteThe second cookbook I tried this fall was The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook: 400 Authentic Everyday Recipes for the Home Cook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte (Phaidon Press). As promised by the subtitle, this cookbook is brimming with easy weekday (and weekend) recipes that will find their way into your regular rotation. Arronte is committed to showing the world that Mexican cuisine is much more than tacos and burritos; in fact, Mexican cuisine has been recognized as being "one of the most varied and sophisticated in the world." That variety is shown in the broad range of dishes included in this book.

If you really love the more familiar Mexican dishes, have no fear. Among the less well known recipes, Arronte includes several riffs on tamales, pico de gallo, corn soup, enchiladas, and the like. I was excited to see the mix of traditional and contemporary dishes and have several recipes marked to try.

Here are some things I really like about The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook: Each recipe begins with a list telling us where the dish is from (such as Mexico City or Veracruz), prep time, waiting time (chilling, marinating), cooking time, number of servings, diet (gluten free, dairy free, vegan), and other information (one pot, 5 ingredients, 30 minutes). The directions are clearly written and easy to follow. When needed, recipes come with a "chef's tip" to help guarantee success. Arronte includes serving suggestions for many of the dishes. At the back of the book you'll find a glossary of ingredients, recipe notes, and a detailed index.

Photo of Poblano and Corn in Cream from The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook by Margarita Carrilo ArronteWhat I didn't like: I wish some of the dishes were a little more boldly seasoned. I do not mean that every dish should have hot peppers, but in many cases, I wanted a little more than just salt and pepper. For those recipes, I simply added my own extra seasonings or herbs, so no big deal. My only other issue pertains to availability of the ingredients in my small town. Of course, that's not Arronte's fault, and she often suggests substitutes.

I found plenty of healthful vegetarian dishes to try in The Mexican Vegetarian, including Spicy Lentils with Vegetarian Sausages, White Bean Salad with Vegetables, and Red Bell Peppers with Potatoes and Saffron. Everything was good and easy to make, though, as I said, I did doctor up a few dishes; for example, I added some herbs and black pepper to the dressing for the bean salad.

Recommendation: If you're vegetarian or vegan or just looking for new vegetarian recipes, take a look at The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook by Margarita Carrilo Arronte. I strongly suggest that you borrow this from the library before you buy, just to make sure that it's a good fit for you.

Instead of typing out a recipe, I thought I share a spread from The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook (you may have to click the photo to enlarge it). Arronte's simple recipe and clear photos may encourage you to give homemade tortillas a try. I bet you like them much better than the corn tortillas from the grocery store.

How to make homemade tortillas from The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook by Margarita Carrilo Arronte

Note: The recipe and scans are used in the context of a review. Any quality issues are all on me. All rights remain with the original copyright holders.

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


gluten Free A_Z Blog 10/8/22, 7:58 AM  

Thanks for the reviews. Of course the Mexican vegetarian cookbook was of more interest to me. Especially since I became vegan ( from vegetarian) two years ago, I'm finding I'm really looking into ethnic recipes.

rhapsodyinbooks 10/8/22, 9:29 AM  

I love that the first one has a "troubleshooting section." Actually it would be nice to have for every aspect of my life, LOL!

Jackie McGuinness 10/8/22, 9:36 AM  

I will check these out when I get home.TODAY!
I also joined the Jamie Oliver cookbook group that Marg mentioned.

Tina 10/8/22, 9:45 AM  

Both books look great. I like the trouble shooting guide, I can use that!

Mae Travels 10/8/22, 10:02 AM  

Someone should send a copy of that Mexican book to Paul Hollywood and the geniuses who put together this week’s episode of the Great British Baking Show. They showed outstanding ignorance of the breadth and depth of Mexican Cuisine! Also they indulged in the most trite and offensive of stereotypes. But there’s no antidote to that type of behavior.

best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Tina 10/9/22, 9:17 AM  

Thanks for the good wishes for Doug's recovery. I saw you mentioned Mr BFR's cataract surgery upcoming. Not sure what stage he's in with all that, and I knwo theings can vary according to individuals, but my surgery was a piece of cake. Never felt pain and about 20 minutes afterwards we were headed to a pizza place for lunch. I hope all goes well.

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