You know what I had to do? I had to take a pause cooking from Jan Scott‘s newest cookbook Oven To Table. Why? Before you go thinking that it’s for a bad reason, it is actually because her book is so cookable. And, what I’ve found is that there is a sweet spot for the number of recipes I can try before writing a review — any more than ten and this means that I’ll have too much good stuff to say. While I still have many more Post-Its left marking off recipes I want to try, I’ve paused at ten so that I can tell you about this cookbook.
Cookable — that’s how I’ve been thinking of Scott’s Oven To Table. Late one February afternoon I found this cookbook perched on my doorstep. I opened the package and started quickly leafing through as I walked to my kitchen to get dinner started. To be honest, I was struggling that day because I really didn’t have anything planned. Many, many recipes caught my attention, but I stopped on the recipe for Crispy Black Bean Tacos because with such a small amount of ingredients (that I already had!) I got to cooking the tacos and had them on the table ready to serve my family. What I immediately noticed with this recipe is that there is a simple economy in the way that mixing bowls, utensils, pans are used so that cleaning up from a meal is just as effortless as making it.
Thinking back on that dinner I realize that this is a situation that happens to many of us — wanting to get a homecooked meal served but feeling like it’s unachievable. Sometimes I don’t have ingredients or even the time. Quiet frankly I’m tired too. Days are long and sometimes dinner is not something I’m in to but when you’re feeding a family none of this matters. Only getting food to hangry people. This is where I’ve been able to fit Scott’s book seamlessly into my kitchen routine — I can definitely say that after ten recipes they’re all just as simple to prepare, don’t need a laundry list of ingredients, and the clean up is so easy (that extra time saved has translated into sitting in a comfy chair to read or binge-watching Poldark with my mom).
Even though I’ve been cooking for my family plus a few visitors over the last couple of weeks Oven To Table isn’t just for big families or a crowd of people. The appeal of this book is that it’s for anyone looking to cook fuss-free food. Recipes are simple enough that any level of cook can make them but at the same time I found that the interesting ways she uses ingredients (such as chickpeas on pizza which I’ll get to later) really made this book one of a kind. In terms of dietary needs, the book offers many recipes geared towards vegetarian, gluten-free, and even kid-friendly diets in addition to recipes for the more omnivorous diner.
Oven To Table is all about the vessel: Dutch oven, skillet, enamel roasting pan, sheet pan, baking pan, and casserole dish. With each of these vessels she has written a ‘101’ for each that explains the types, uses, virtues of each one along with tips and advice. Really crucial because this is how meals get to the table — by relying on these kitchen workhorses to help get the job done! Scott quite helpfully outlines her approach and kitchen philosophy at the beginning of the book along with some other essential cookware and pantry staples a home cook might need. At the end of the book she even lists recipes by which vessel is required to make it. If you want to make something in your Dutch oven, then all of the recipes are listed. I really appreciate that Oven To Table relies on kitchen staples that many of us already own! No gimmicks or one-hit-wonders just traditional cookware and kitchen tools that have stood the test of time.
Here are the highlights of some of the recipes we’ve tried. I think the stand out favourite for my family (which includes a pair of visiting grandparents) is the Barbecue Chickpea Pizza. I got the dough ready in the morning and by the time dinner rolled around I had everyone sitting around my kitchen peninsula watching me assemble it. For my old-school Dad, he was very bothered by the fact there was no tomato sauce. I assured him that there was BBQ sauce instead, but this seemed a little too ‘out there’ for him. While my husband wasn’t too excited about chickpeas on a pizza. And, my 5-year-old didn’t want the pizza at all! Tough crowd — but this ‘newfangled’ pizza really won them over! Everyone raved, ate third and fourth-helpings, and even my daughter declared ‘this is the only pizza you should make from now on!’ Even though this was a new culinary event in my house, I know that whatever recipe is in this book had to make it past Scott’s family first (this is probably why all the recipes are so delicious and completely moreish).
The pizza was one example of how she reimagines a classic dish but there are many others. Take the samosa — it’s transformed into a skillet pot pie! I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a classic than as a one-dish meal. Paired with a Minted Yogurt Sauce it was a great meal when put with a fresh green salad. The classic tuna melt is made super kid-friendly by making them in a muffin tin and a ho-hum baked oatmeal is made a little ‘extra’ with a generous sprinkling of Walnut Streusel Topping. I think this is why I keep coming back to try recipes — I love how Scott innovates here (I know my mom was impressed because after the first couple of meals made from Oven To Table, she went and bought her own copy to take home).
While I’ve been leaning on the more comforting cozy recipes from the book, such as the soups, there are many recipes, such as Ice Cream Cone Pie, that I’ll look forward to making once the weather gets warmer and summer arrives. Inviting and extremely cookable recipes make what might seem impossible (for me it’s a 5 o’clock supper) more manageable. Whether you’re a single person, a family, or somewhere in between Scott has included recipes to suit many different needs. With over 100 recipes I know that Oven To Table has already become a go-to cookbook for me. If you’re curious to see what I’ve been making then have a look at my custom Instagram hashtag #eatworthyoventotable or my dedicated Facebook post.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Penguin Canada 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.