Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inspiring Cookbooks

Today I'm participating in Keeping Creative Kitchens over at Reflective Ponderings.

I thought I would share a few inspiring cookbooks I have on loan right now. Often just looking through a good cookbook will inspire me to try something new, try an old recipe again, or just excite me to get in the kitchen and cook.

The Spice Bible by Jane Lawson is a beautiful dictionary of spices, their uses, and recipes to make. The book is full of gorgeous photos and with its 450 pages, there is plenty to choose from. Not all the recipes are practical for everyday, but it would be fun to choose something to make for a special occassion, or to try out a new spice:

Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver is Jamie's latest cookbook. Divided by seasons, this book focuses on Jamie's garden and the surrounding countryside and what it has to offer. It's filled with lots of beautiful photos and the page decorations remind me of the style of James Beard's Fireside Cookbook. Again, I don't think it's a very practical book, but I think it is inspiring and the pictures definately make you want to cook up a plate full of delectable vegetables.

(I have to laugh at the pictures and talk of "Jamie's Garden" all throughout -- this guy definately has 1 or more full-time gardeners helping him out!)

The Minimalist Cooks Dinner by Mark Bittman is a random book I found at the library. While it is not filled with inspiring pictures, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this man cooks the way I do -- basic ingredients and simple ideas. Most of his recipes seem to contain about 5-7 ingredients and he then gives ideas on how to change or jazz up the recipe. I found a number of recipes to try:
In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley is a book I found recommended in a magazine. I thought I might read some of the comprehensive instructions in the beginning of the book about baking ingredients and how they all work. Then, there are so many recipes to look through in this 650+ page book:

Quick & Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott looks so good! The beautiful pictures are tempting me to try a bunch of the recipes. And, armed with my jar of Thai Red Curry Paste that is currently in my fridge, I think I'll be off to a good start.

Inspired by these books, and a few magazines, I was feeling the urge to cook some "weird" food. I knew it would be just the kind of meal to share with Uncle Bill. He was happy to oblige.
So, last night we enjoyed Chestnut Soup (made with a tin of my chestnut puree imported by friends from England):

and Black Bean Burgers complete with buns, lettuce, tomato, cheese and the essential horseradish cream. This was accompanied by oven chips and carrot salad. The entire meal was terrific! Definately worth the effort. And, be surprised, very surprised -- my kids ate this food! I didn't try the soup on them (which was very good), but, they ate the bean burgers, and the carrot salad (even David was asking for more)! Yay for weird food!

Emily made the recipe for Butterscotch Pudding in the front cover of February's Gourmet and she mixed it with whipped cream to create a kind of mousse. Very good!

And now, a recipe to share: Roasted Squash and Sausage Pasta:

Happy Cooking to all of you!


The syders said...

Love your cookbook suggestions and we are BIG fans of Jamie in my house, especially my teenage son.

We watch Jamie at home on TV all the time and I had to chuckle when you said that he must have gardeners because We have all said exactly the same thing.
In the TV series he has one loyal gardener who is absolutely fab and should have his own show but we think he must have a few more hidden away somewhere, lol.

Lovella said...

Good job on trying new things. . .I thought that those bean burgers looked really yummy and I'll take a closer look at that pasta. .my beloved always says, he has never met a pasta he didn't love. . .He's not terribly fond of squash. . .smile

Monica said...

The Minimalist cookbook looks great! I'll have to check it out.

I'm interested in the black bean burgers. I LOVE these, but never considered making them from scratch. Everyone loves burgers, but I rarely make them. But I do have a fair amount of black beans that need to to be used up soon. Care to share the recipe you used?

Heather said...

I'm so glad your selections were a hit - that is always gratifying! I'm such a plain eater and cook - I'm afraid I'm making the kids picky by not opening their horizons to a more complicated variety! I do like the look of the minimalist's cookbook - I like to use a few ingredients and keep dinner simple most of the time!

Alaina said...

Your food looks delicious! I loved briefly browsing those cookbooks - so inspiring. :)

Anonymous said...

The squash pasta looks easy enough and very yummy! I wish my family were more adventurous so I could make nice things for them....x