Cookbook Review: Cook What You Love

By Bob and Melinda Blanchard.

I checked this out from the library, but it will be a purchase after we get settled in after the move.

So…with all the free recipes online, why would I need to buy cookbooks? (Why? asks Lee. Whyyyyyyy?) The authors address this question in the introduction, and I agree with the answer they quote in their book:

“Like other good books, the best cookbooks have strong voices that lure readers into unfamiliar worlds, give colorful observations about those places, and, above all, reveal a passionate interest in sharing pleasure.” (Barbara Haber, food historian.)

Online recipes (not the food described, but the writing style, if that makes any sense) are usually straightforward and colorless. “Do this. Do that. Don’t let this happen.” The recipes in the best cookbooks, on the other hand, imply the outlook of their writers. “Do this, because it will make your tongue melt. I did that the other day, and while it isn’t for everyone, it made me want to dance around naked.”*

The recipes in Cook What You Love are appealing. The first section, breakfast, begins with a short essay about the joys of making breakfast in bed, so while I was reading this section, I was imagining my husband bringing me breakfast in bed. “Yes,” I said to myself, “I would eat Crunchy Coconut French Toast in bed. I would eat Orange-Currant Muffins and One-Eyed Jacks and Spanish Scrambled Eggs in bed…” It all sounded good. I then asked myself whether I would cook all those recipes if it meant getting up early to do it…well, that one was harder, but I ended up with a “yes” there, too. As I read my way through the book, I realized I would cook anything in the book, just so I could eat it, and that, I think, is the mark of a good cookbook.

The mark of a really good cookbook is when it can talk you into trying something you normally wouldn’t try, either because you don’t care for it or it’s a pain in the butt to make. I found myself actually considering roasting cherry tomatoes, even though I don’t like them, just because of the description in the book:

“We’re always looking for ways to add color and texture to a recipe. Food seems to taste better if it looks beautiful. Roasted whole cherry tomatoes are a quick, easy way to brighten up a platter of these or any other scrambled eggs. Just toss the tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 400F for about 10 minutes or until hot and wrinkled. Serve them hot or at room temperature.”

Hm….I’ll think about it. I keep promising myself a trip to the farmer’s market. Maybe I’ll pick up some cherry tomatoes and give it a go.

*Also, online recipes usually don’t have pictures. Mmmm….it’s food erotica.

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