In trying to keep a sense of normalcy around here, I thought I would take some time to do a cookbook review, this being Saturday and all!
With everyone being stuck at home, I know that many people have increased their cooking and baking. I've been thinking about why this is, but I think in part it's because there is an extreme sense of comfort to be derived from being in the kitchen. The world feels very overwhelming right now, and things feel a bit out of control. But cooking? You can control that. If you whisk eggs and cream and butter, you know what you're going to get. There's comfort in that.
For this week's review I've selected the Magnolia Table cookbook from Joanna Gaines. I am reviewing her first book as she has her second one coming out this week.
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I received this book as a Christmas gift. I'm sure you know by now that I love cookbooks and collect them. My favorite activity is to drink a cup of coffee while reading a cookbook.
The version I have is: Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines (c) 2018 Harper Collins I should note that I have the Target Hearth and Hand edition which includes additional recipes.
I will admit that this book is a little outside the normal realm for me. While I cook a lot of comfort food, it tends to be Italian or French. I also cook a lot of New England classics as that is where I live. I do not tend to cook food that would be considered Southern, so I was unsure if I would like the recipes in this book.
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this collection or recipes. The first part of the book includes and introduction by Joanna Gaines where she explains her evolution as a cook over the course of her marriage. Since she is renowned for her designs, and inparticular her influence on kitchen trends, it was interesting to read about her experiences in the kitchen as a home cook.
The book includes some helpful charts and checklists if you're just starting out. It's divided into sections that are familiar, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Soups, Desserts, etc. The photography is calming and the physical book feels good in your hands, like a cookbook that probably sat on your grandmother's shelf.
The recipes are not overwhelming, I love Ina's cookbooks for their scientific preciseness when following along. These recipes aren't as precise, rather they feel like a recipe a friend might write down for you on an index card, and I actually enjoy that about them.
I definitely think if you are someone who is cooking for a family, and maybe not that experienced in the kitchen, you will find these recipes approachable and easy to follow. Many of the recipes were familiar to my palette, so my concerns about not really eating a lot of souther cuisine were unfounded. Recipes for bruschetta, Fettuccine Alfredo, and Beef Tenderloin are familiar favorites, but here they find a twist with Jalapeño Sour Cream or southern style chicken. I like when I can find a new twist on something but still recognize what it is.
Where this book really shines for me is the Breakfast and Dessert section. Most of my cookbook collection is dedicated to elevated dinner dishes, yet breakfast remains my favorite meal of the day. I am thrilled to finally have a recipe for ricotta pancakes (which I love but only get as a brunch treat when I find a restaurant that serves them) and the banana bread while not my grandmother's (still trying to get that recipe out of her) is delicious and easy to whip up.
My favorite recipe? Broiled Honey-Thyme Peaches with Ice Cream and Aged Balsamic. If you buy the book just for that recipe it will be worth it. It is absolutely delicious!
Overall this is a great addition to your collection, it's approachable and comforting, which I think is something we all need in times like this.
I'm excited to see what the follow up book contains!
Have you ever branched outside of your "normal" cuisine?
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