I really learned a valuable lesson from Dorie Greenspan‘s newest cookbook, Everyday Dorie. As soon as the book arrived for me to review, I began the way I always do — bookmarking all the delicious and interesting recipes I want to make for the review. Being that the book is called “everyday” I assumed that the recipes would be easy, weeknight-cooking-type recipes (they mostly are, but I’ll get to that later). So, the first recipe I decided to try was her Potato Tourte. Potatoes are one of my favourite things to eat (probably ever!) so what better recipe to start with then a recipe full of potatoes, puff pastry, butter, herbs, garlic, and cream.
Looking at the instructions, which span over more than two pages, I knew the recipe was involved so I decided I would spend an afternoon working on it (not including prep time, the baking and resting time is about 2 hours). While I prepped, my four-year-old climbed up to the counter to help pat the potato slices dry and then she helped me to layer the herbs and potato slices so that we could get it in the oven. When it was finally baked, rested, and eaten I was happy with the result — it turned out exactly like it should have and was enjoyed by my family. But it took so long to make! Up to this point I had been trying easy recipes for my reviews (I try about 10 per cookbook review) and this recipe stopped me cold. I wondered how I would try 9 other recipes if this one took me hours to make? If I hadn’t been reviewing, I may have just stopped with this recipe but I knew I wanted to try other things so that I could get a real idea what this cookbook is all about.
This is where the learning comes in: learning patience, to appreciate the process and not the just the result, and above all, I learned that a cookbook is never just one recipe. I did try more recipes and realized that for the most part all her recipes are fairly quick to make (great for weeknight cooking) and that I really needed to make the Tourte because I hadn’t been really challenged by a recipe in a very long time. It’s also ok for recipes to take time to make sometimes — how else can we enjoy the simple pleasures of home cooking?
One of the things about this book is that the ingredients are very easy to source — many are readily available at the local farmer’s market or grocery store. She also very helpfully provides a section at the end of the book — A Pantry Alphabet — that lists uncommon ingredients (such as ponzu and harissa) and some substitutions. Everyday Dorie is about using the freshest ingredients to make casual, relaxed meals. A few times while posting pictures of what I’ve made to Instagram, I’ve commented how I couldn’t have predicted how much my husband would love her food. From the Potato Soup, to the Ginger-Beet Salad Bowls he’s asked, “When are you going to make this again?”
The majority of the recipes are very flexible and forgiving — you can customize them to your own tastes and she often provides directions on how to make elements for recipes ahead of time (for a recipe like My Newest Gougeres she directs you how to make the choux ahead of time and freeze the unbaked gougeres until you need to bake them — a timesaver when you have guests) or even giving options on how to bake things like cookies. For the Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies she gives options to either freeze the dough (for “chubbier” cookies) or to bake the dough immediately for a more spread-out cookie. Since I had dark chocolate chips from something else I had made I opted to use them in this recipe (she advocates for the use of chopped chocolate for the flavor and the look) and I found they tasted good (maybe not the same texture as when you use chopped chocolate — chips will keep their shape whereas chocolate chopped from a bar will melt and work it’s way through the cookie). As you can see from my picture, I’m impatient and I baked them as fast as I could get them on my cookie sheet! The resulting cookies were chewy and delicious!
The book is divided into 8 sections — Nibbles, Starters & Small Meals, Soups & Salads, Chicken, Meat, Fish & Shellfish, Vegetable Go-Alongs & Go-Alones, Desserts, and Basics & Transformers. Since she and her family eat a varied diet (and the book focuses on how she cooks for her family) there is no special mention of other diet types — vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc. Since I’m cooking for my very vegetarian family I found many recipes that suited my purpose and there were even a few recipes that could satisfy vegan or gluten free diets (in some cases with slight substitutions). Her Bean and Tortilla Soup can be vegan if you omit or substitute for the cheese and yogurt used to garnish the soup (it’s already gluten free). I really liked this recipe because during the cooler months a hearty soup like this is simple to prepare and feels so very comforting (it’s also great because it allows each person to customize their soup with what they add to garnish — cheese, yogurt, tortilla chips, fresh diced onion and bell pepper, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, a dash of hot sauce, avocado — the possibilities are almost limitless).
Here’s a tip I’ll give you (something I learned awhile ago) — some of the most delicious recipes in a cookbook are the ones without pictures. It’s the truth. And, it’s also true that recipes without photos are the least made. There are many recipes in Dorie’s book that don’t have a picture — like her recipe for Miso-Maple-Jammed Sweet Potatoes. No picture but you’ll totally miss out if you don’t try these! Spicy, sweet, salty — such a glorious combination and the most perfect comfort food. My daughter is a HUGE miso fan (and I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love sweet potatoes) which makes this a very kid-friendly recipe (I made my daughter’s version very light on the spiciness though). The last section of recipes, Basics & Transformers, full of dressings, syrups, spreads, and other pantry staples has no pictures but is full of some of the best, forever recipes you’ll encounter. Worth a read so as not to miss any of those recipes.
Best lesson — never judge a cookbook just on one recipe! I think Everyday Dorie is full of recipes that suit both weeknight and weekend cooking. It is a cookbook to explore and discover yourself in the recipes. The nice thing is that you don’t need a lot of culinary skill for this book because the recipes have been well-tested and are geared for any type of home cook (whether you’re a novice or a pro). To explore what I’ve been making from this book checkout #eatworthyeveryday on Instagram or my dedicated Facebook post.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Raincoast Books 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.