As much as I love to cook and bake, you’ll be surprised to see how little cookbooks I own. Cookbooks, for me, are serious business and I don’t take them lightly. Before a book can secure a coveted spot on my lovely Ikea bookshelf, it must undergo an extensive selection process. And although the criteria I set are fairly simple and straightforward, it’s surprising to learn how many books actually make the cut.
I know that we’re not suppose to judge a book by its cover but screw it, I do. The book must, above all, capture my attention immediately, or I won’t even open it. If the cover is not attractive, how good can the recipes inside be? Cookbooks are about food, and I savor food and books with my eyes first.
I’m not too critical about the amount of photographs inside though. Believe it or not, some of my all-time favorite cookbooks have absolutely no pictures in them. For me, the written words are as delicious, or even more decadent, than pretty glossies. Well-chosen words tell a beautiful story, recreate a special experience, and paint a colorful flavor in my mind. And that is a real treat.
Last but not least, I need to feel the love. The book must have passion, pride, inspiration, a defined point of view, and yes, love. It must also be something that has a tremendous meaning to the author. I don’t look at cookbooks solely as a source of good recipes but also as a dialogue between two people who love and respect food very much.
My latest cookbook acquisition is Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave, which focuses on recreating food we love and crave, only healthier. My ritual when I first bring home the baby is to sit down with a cup of tea, go through the book from cover to cover and mark all the recipes that I would like to try with little stickies. By the time I finished skimming through the book, I had marked more than 30 recipes! Everything in this book is fabulous, using fresh and healthy ingredients. I cannot wait to try Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups with Herbs adn Cheese (pictured above), Crab Salad in Crisp Wonton Cups, and Portobello Panini with Gorgonzola and Sun-Dried Tomatoes! How delicious, healthy and satisfying do these sound? I really appreciate the fact that Krieger, a registered dietitian, included nutrition information on each dish too.
Well, speaking of healthy and satisfying, I prepared this huge bowl of salad for dinner tonight (serves 2 as dinner, 4 as appetizers). This did not come from Krieger’s book, but it was inspired by a couple of recipes she created that used some of the same ingredients. This is a combination of savory smoked salmon, tangy goat cheese, meaty sautéed Portobello and Shitake mushrooms, creamy cannelloni beans, red onion slices, capers and a vinaigrette dressing on a bed of baby spinach. I bought each ingredient with an intention of creating couple dishes, but I got lazy so I decided to throw everything in a bowl and call it a salad. Despite the sloppy exterior, the salad was absolutely divine, healthy and complete guilt free.
The Food You Crave
By Ellie Krieger
Her Food Network show, Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger, is pretty darn amazing too!