Summer’s intensely hot, humid days are on the way out, much to my relief. I’m an autumn person; I live for cooler temperatures, gentler sunlight, and the changing colors of leaves. Yet I find it bittersweet that the bountiful growing season is winding down. Still, there are goodies to be found at area farmer’s markets, which is convenient because I’m continuing to seek inspiration from the cookbooks that grace the shelves of the Joplin Public Library.
As a fan of the Netflix series “Queer Eye,” I was excited to see that the show’s food and wine expert, Antoni Porowski, has released a new book. “Antoni: let’s do dinner” is the second cookbook by the author. It’s brimming with dishes that come together easily, a handy trait during these busy fall days.
The chapter titles are fun – “Swim Team” is devoted to seafood – and contain recipes that appeal to an array of tastes.
My favorite chapter was “Break an Egg.” I tagged almost everything in it to try at some point. Cheesy Polenta with Eggs, Mushrooms and Thyme would make for a satisfying, fast dinner. The Masala Spinach Omelette intrigued me, with its use of mustard seeds and mango chutney. And who doesn’t love pizza? You might consider the Breakfast-for-dinner Pizza with Eggs, Zucchini and Spicy Salami.
Being a fan of pasta, I also gravitated toward the “Carb Comas” section. There was a Rigatoni alla Vodka dish that uses Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream for a healthier touch. And if you can find decent tomatoes this time of year, I’d give the Penne with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Burrata and Herbs a whirl; personally, I love a raw tomato sauce, and I’m crazy for burrata.
Craving meatier fare? Sink your teeth into the Strip Steak with Harissa Butter & Parsley Salad. Or try this spin on a classic dish, Lamb Lollies with Mint Gremolata. If poultry is more your thing, turn on the oven and throw together the Sheet Pan Chicken with Rosemary & Grapes.
I enjoyed flipping through “Antoni: let’s do dinner.” I appreciate the approachable nature of the recipes, which rely on easily acquired fresh ingredients and pantry staples. And the author pulls in flavors from other countries, from Vietnam to Turkey to Poland, so you have an opportunity to expand your palate.
But if you’re looking for a cookbook with a bit more depth, might I recommend “Everyone’s Table” by Gregory Gourdet?
I realized this was a deeply personal work for “Top Chef” star Gourdet when I read the introduction, entitled “A Recipe for Change.” Across several emotional pages, he shares with readers his Haitian roots, details his battles with addiction and describes his journey to better health through diet and exercise.
This cookbook’s subtitle is “Global Recipes for Modern Health,” which clues you in to the fact that the author has created dishes free of gluten, dairy, soy, legumes and grains. Wait – don’t run away! You’re in for a treat, I promise. Within the pages of “Everyone’s Table” are tempting recipes. Whether you are vegan or follow a paleo diet, there is something here for you.
I consider myself well-versed in meatless, dairy-free cooking, but Gregory Gourdet taught me a few things. As a long-time vegetarian, I miss a classic Caesar salad, so I’m always on the hunt for flavorful, anchovy-free versions. Gourdet features a Power Greens and Herbs with Caesar-Style Pine Nut Dressing. Pine nuts! I never would have considered that! And I love the use of leafy greens such as spinach, collards, chard and kale.
Tomato soup is my jam, one of my favorite comfort foods. I have my old faithful recipe, but I’m forever on the lookout for new versions. “A Recipe for Change” offers up Tomato-Hazelnut Milk Soup with Garam Masala. I’m all about hazelnuts but had not thought of using hazelnut milk. And I love the addition of garam masala, which jazzes up a traditional soup.
Are you a snacker? Put down the Cheez-Its and try the Creamy Cashew Dip with Jalapeno and Seedy Seaweed Crackers. These homemade crackers feature such powerhouse seeds as chia and flax, along with sunflower seeds.
But, wait, I promised there was something for everyone here. Step away from the vegan dishes and get carnivorous, if you like. There are chapters that feature recipes such as Spicy Sauteed Shrimp with Scallions, Cashews and Pineapple; Chicken Roasted over Root Vegetables with Ginger and Rosemary; and Spice-Crusted Pork Chops with Cherries and Oregano.
I can’t say enough good things about “A Recipe for Change.” It’s inclusive, encompassing many types of diets, and contains diverse, healthy recipes that are far from boring. I admire the author’s honesty and willingness to share his personal story. And the photographs are gorgeous – beautifully framed, colorful, and appetizing.
Joplin Public Library has an amazing cookbook collection, with something for everyone. “Atoni: let’s do dinner” and “Everyone’s Table” are but a couple of the newer additions. Come by and explore what we have to offer!