Judged solely by the recipes, To the Last Bite is almost a 5 star cookbook. It has some great recipes, and beautiful, appetizing photographs. But, it doesn’t quite do what it says it wants to do – teach tips and tricks for reducing food waste. It starts to go there, but then doesn’t really commit. After spending a couple of weeks with it, I wondered if a decision was made to put more of it emphasis on being pretty than useful.
But let’s talk about the recipes first. The first time I scrolled through the recipes, I thought of my Alice Waters and Deborah Madison cookbooks. Very vegetable first with flavorful recipes. Though I have some quibbles all the recipes I tried worked beautifully. My 3 favorites things are elements rather than complete recipes. The black garlic butter (I used plant butter) from the Black Garlic Butter Salmon with Scallions is fantastic. I sliced up some cabbage and carrots, put them in a cast iron skillet, put chicken thighs on top and then smeared everything with black garlic butter and roasted it. So good. She uses the herby salsa verde on some roasted acorn squash, but I would put it on everything. It’s got a really nice, bright herby flavor that’s guaranteed to brighten any dish. And the corn stock. I discovered that you can make stock with dekernaled ears of corn a few years ago and it was a life changing discovery. Now, deBoschnek’s recipe calls for a parmesan rind. That is entirely unnecessary, and for me, unwelcome. I make mine with just fresh corn cobs, water salt and pepper and it’s just the best thing ever. It’s like liquid gold. This whole cookbook is worth it for just the corn stock.
Cutting back on food waste continues to be one of the most effective ways we can combat climate change. But when recipes only call for a small portion of an ingredient, what do we do with the remainder? Alexis deBoschnek has the answer.
This blurb is why I requested the book. I am always interested in finding ways to reduce food waste. I had expectations, and maybe that was unfair, but they were not met. To be fair, what deBoschnek does is include recipes at the foot of each recipe that will use up remaining ingredients or leftover bits of ingredients. It felt like she took 5 steps on a 10 step journey. I wish there had been more recipes like the Any Fruit Granita that encouraged flexibility and creativity in using up produce. The likelyhood that I’m going to make a merengue semifreddo to use up egg whites is very very slim, and that’s only one of two recipes that call for egg whites.
All of that said, I would still buy To the Last Bite, because I love the recipes. It is best for people who have access to a farmers market or a store with a really good produce section. A good cheese shop would also be recommended.
I received this as an advance reader copy from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.