We are always on the lookout for cooking inspiration and this month we struck gold with three new cookbooks and one fun website.
The Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life by Kate McDermott. It’s no secret that we love a good pie, Sweeties, especially in summertime, when so much fruit is at its ripe best. In The Art of The Pie, McDermott – who runs popular pie-making classes in the US – dishes up advice in a relaxed, informal style that takes the intimidation out of pie making. In fact, in quite a few instances, there is no recipe – just encouragement to try a bit of this and a dash of that (followed by foolproof recipes for those who don’t want to experiment). McDermott also provides lots of pastry advice for perfecting the dreaded piecrust and she includes recipes for gluten-free pastry, which she developed herself. We love that the book includes everything from American pecan pies to savory English pork pies –and the photos by Andrew Scrivani are beautiful and inspiring. For us, the only drawback is that McDermott is a little heavy on homespun wisdom, but it’s easy enough to skip the homilies and get right to the next perfect pie.
Burma Superstar by Desmond Tay and Kate Leahy. As we mentioned in our recent post from San Francisco, Burma Superstar is a very popular restaurant in the Bay Area –and for good reason. The restaurant has a knack for serving up delicious dishes that are a sort of Best of Burma – including curries, the 20-ingredient Rainbow Salad, soups, and kebabs. In the new Burma Superstar cookbook, restaurant owner Desmond Tay (working with food writer Kate Leahy) tells of how he came to buy Burmese Superstar in 2000 and gives insight into his homeland and its culinary traditions. Then, he shares the recipes for all of Burma Superstar’s dishes, with information about the dish’s origin and how it is eaten in Myanmar. It’s all readable and enjoyable. Of course, the book is also a little more aspirational than practical – if you are outside a major city, it will be hard to find some ingredients. But if you can’t get to Myanmar, reading this book and imagining the flavors, might just be the next best thing.
Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark. A confession – we straight up love Melissa Clark, whose recipes in the New York Times’ Food section are always worth trying out. She has a no-nonsense, practical approach to cooking that we appreciate and in her new book, Dinner, that un-fussy style holds true. In fact, Dinner might be our new favorite cookbook. Clark’s idea is to move away from meat-and-two-veg thinking. In this book, each dish is dinner – no need to prepare lots of time-consuming sides (although you might want to have bread or a salad at the table). We love that there are recipes from around the world – for example, you can make a simple roast chicken or you can try Vietnamese Ginger Chicken or Colombian-Style Chicken or Middle Eastern Za’atar Chicken. In each case, Clark keeps the ingredients to a minimum and the techniques simple. This is a brilliant book for modern cooks– we think should be in every kitchen. What can we say, Sweeties? It’s time for Dinner.
Maangchi.com by Maangchi. Maangchi (Emily Kim) is an on-line cooking sensation, whose YouTube videos teach the art of Korean home cooking. We find ourselves visiting her website time and again to learn how to whip up our favorite Korean dishes – from a spicy tofu appetizer to galbitang (beef short ribs soup). What we (and thousands of her followers) have discovered is that ever-encouraging Maangchi is great at demystifying Korean cooking. If you follow her directions, you’ll be serving up yummy kimchi pork buns in no time. The only occasional hitch is in the organization of the recipes themselves. Following the video might be fine, but the written-out website versions are often split into confusing sections. It usually takes two or three reads until we’re sure we have a complete ingredient list and we’re ready to begin following instructions. This boils down to a little extra time in prep –but that’s A-OK when you taste the results. Plus, she now has a cookbook, making things that much easier and more accessible.