For being completely into cookbooks I’ve never really been too interested in celebrity cookbooks. I think I was always under the impression that these cookbooks leaned more into the celebrity and their celebrity lives with the food being a secondary concern. So I think I surprised myself and those around me when I hardcore fell for
Chrissy Teigen‘s newest book Cravings: Hungry for More. While I had some awareness of her, I’m not sure I really knew much about Chrissy Teigen.
Despite my husband’s claims that I have a high “EQ”** I have a very low-EQ when it comes to Teigen suffice to say that what I do know is that part of the reason for her popularity is her honest, funny, and often irreverent tweets — she is the queen of the clapback (I think people join Twitter just to follow her — if you’re curious there’s a great Twitter/Teigen story relating to this cookbook about her Twitter quest for 6 brown bananas and the banana bread recipe that ended up in Cravings 2 in this USA Today article). After reading through her cookbook I can totally understand the appeal — she’s very funny and her almost conspiratorial tone really draws the reader in. I feel like I could spend the rest of my review coming up with my favourite quotes from Cravings 2 but I won’t do that because in all honesty the food is even better than the writing.
Here’s where I level with you — I’ve never cooked from or looked through her first enormously popular, NYT bestselling cookbook Cravings: Recipes for all the food you want to eat. I feel like I need to be honest so when I start talking about how delicious, wonderful, totally-make-it-again, mouthwatering the food is here the hardcore Teigen/Cravings fans don’t yell at their screens wondering how it comes as a surprise that Cravings 2 is so good when the first book set the bar in that respect. #sorrynotsorrybuttotallysorry Maybe it’s fair to go so far as to say she’s a cookbook author who happens to be famous rather than being a celebrity cookbook author because I feel like her book is a showcase for her voice and vision.
Literally the day before this book arrived for me to review, I had taken the time to talk on Instagram about what my favourite foods are in response to question someone sent me through the stories. There are three — tomato soup, anything potato, and nachos. So, when I saw there was a chapter “Potatoes & Their Friends” I was immediately sold. The first recipe I tried? Taters, Shrooms & Peas w/ Parmesan Cream and I can categorically say it is really, really delicious. Did I mention there’s also a killer tomato soup recipe too? Her Creamy Tomato Soup w/ Peppery Parmesan Crisps is a truly sublime soup. What really helps is that there are no specialty ingredients here just everyday items that you’d have in your pantry or easily find at your local supermarket. In the introduction she does stress the importance of parmesan cheese (which is liberally used throughout the book) and I’m going to tell you now that it’s not a cheap ingredient. Take her advice and grate authentic parm it’ll be worth it! I’m warning you now that if you buy the econo, pre-grated bags of “parmesan” you won’t end up with results you’ll be happy with (case in point those Peppery Parmesan Crisps will be mighty limp instead of being crispy and chip-like).
Throughout the nine chapters — Breakfast & Brunch, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Snacks, Potatoes & Their Friends, Thai Mom, Supper, Sweets — there are almost 50 vegetarian or “vegetarianable” recipes! I’ve made around 15 recipes and I could happily cook my way through this book right now if I didn’t have other commitments to review other cookbooks. After talking to a neighbour the other day, I found out that one of her family’s favourite soup recipe comes from the first Cravings — which goes to illustrate Teigen’s comment about “lifetime books” from her introduction. Home cooks are going to find family favourites here and will keep coming back over and over again. For me, I think her recipe for Crispy Buffalo Smashies w/ Blue Cheese Sauce is now firmly seated in my top-5 all-time favourite recipes — even looking at the picture gives me an immediate Pavlovian response of a drooling mouth. If you talk to my four-year-old her forever favourite is the Instant Mango Sorbet w/ Homemade “Magic Shell” — it was as if our kitchen became her own personal Dairy Queen!
Most of you know me as a person who’s dedicated to giving recipes an honest try. I think it’s important if I’m going to tell you that a food is good (or awful) that I made the recipe exactly as it’s written. It seems only sporting! When I went to make her Crispy Shallots & Shallot Oil as part of the garnish for her TDF Coconut Carrot Soup I couldn’t make the recipe as written, which directs the home cook to put the onions and oil into a glass dish and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes. Later, I started to tell my mom the directions her immediate response was “I hope you didn’t do it!” I honestly couldn’t bring myself to do it because I knew, left uncovered, that dish of shallots and oil would make a mess (to say the least) in the microwave. So, I covered it up with paper towel and while I ended up with shallot oil my shallots were not crispy (I think the paper towel trapped too much moisture to let the shallots crisp up). But thinking of the alternative I was okay with the outcome. (As an aside I used my microwave more for this book than I’ve ever used it for anything ever. She’s a big proponent for precooking potatoes in the microwave rather than boiling them on the stove).
It’s clear as I’ve cooked through Cravings 2 that Teigen has a true passion for food. She’s presented delicious recipes that are worth not only making for the first time but again and again. Have any of you seen the Oliver Stone film Nixon? The one starring Anthony Hopkins? In one of the final scenes in the film Richard Nixon (Hopkins) is standing in front of a portrait of JFK and he says something like “when they look at you they see who they want to be and when they look at me they see who they are.” Not that I’m comparing this cookbook to Nixon or JFK but I think so often celebrity cookbooks are more aspirational rather than practical. Celebrities offering a way that we can be like them but what Teigen is saying here is that she’s like us. She presents a cookbook full of easy to prepare, really tasty recipes that you’ll want to make again. Ask yourself — are you comfort food at heart or are you wishing for something else? What are the recipes that you make again and again? I know in my case classic comfort food wins every time. If you want a glimpse of what I’ve been making and why these recipes have me so excited (and hungry!) then checkout my dedicated Facebook post or my custom Instagram hashtag #eatworthycravings2.
**EQ is stands for “entertainment quotient” here — a term I think he may have subconsciously picked up from all those times I watched Entertainment Tonight
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Penguin Random House Canada / Clarkson Potter Publishers for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.