I’m grouping these two together because they both fulfill the Reading Women Challenge task 4: Cookbook by a woman of color. I own one and borrowed the other, I’ve cooked from both (although no pictures this time – sorry!) and I feel each is a three star book for me, for similar reasons. Without further ado…
After having fallen in love with Nadiya and her outstanding bakes on the Great British Bake Off (Great British Baking Show in the U.S.) and placing her season (who am I kidding, all GBBO) in my self-care television routine I purchased her first cookbook in January of 2020 without really doing much digging into what it contained. I was pleased to discover how easily Nadiya’s authorial voice reminded me of the version of her we were all introduced to on the show. The book features favorite recipes of Nadiya’s and her family’s. Chapters are broken up less by type of food and more by when or why you might be eating them, one for example is ‘Lazy Sunday Mornings’ and others are ‘Midnight Feasts’, ‘Snacks and Sharing’ to ‘Dessert for Dinner’. Which, while not singular in the cookbook arena did make for a nice break from mains, sides, desserts. Nadiya does in this book what she did on GBBO, twists on traditional classics and incorporating flavor profiles of her Bangladeshi heritage.
There were some small, but significant obstacles for me with this one. First, this is a book for the non-American audience, the measures are all in weights which is not how most Americans including myself cook. I was raised in the fine tradition of the Boston Cooking School, cups and such for me please, which has meant that I must do some homework before attempting any of the recipes, or I need to break down and buy a kitchen scale. The other is that I do not enjoy cooking fish at home (although I do enjoy eating it) and there are a lot of recipes in the book featuring fish, including her Cod and Clementine. But the handful of things I have tried have been good, and this is just a comforting read, having Nadiya tell you about food usually is.
Easy Gourmet is the first cookbook by Stephanie Le, creator of I am a Food Blog. I was pointed in the direction of Le by emmalita’s review of her forthcoming cookbook with her husband, That Noodle Life. Impatient about waiting until April for that book to publish and wanting to get a feel for her writing I decided to see what my library had in stock, and lo and behold, Easy Gourmet was waiting for me.
This is a very visual book. Le’s beautiful photography is a strong presence and matched with her strong friendly voice you feel empowered to cook. Which, while the recipes looked delicious there were still a couple of boundaries to me jumping right in. The first is that some of these recipes are a little fancier than I traditionally cook/eat – it does say gourmet in the title, I was sufficiently warned. The other is that a couple recipes called for equipment I don’t have at home, specifically (and annoyingly) a waffle maker for several of the breakfast recipes.
Easy Gourmet is full of updated modern twists on your favorite classics (the Sriracha Hot Wings are calling my name), many of which are things I’m wanting to make for myself. Basically, it succeeded on making me excited for That Noodle Life, so that counts as a win for me.