I have a passing familiarity with Food52 and regularly drool over their Instagram account. It is no surprise that their cookbook is exquisitely curated and planned out. Recipes look mouth-watering and jump off the page while their descriptions read like an exciting new restaurant.
How about a flavor explosion like avocado toast with pesto, bacon and poached eggs? Mmmm! Or snap peas, pea vines and preserved Meyer lemon cream with lamb belly? Yes, please.
But this cookbook is trying to go beyond just the curated selection and help you change your cooking lifestyle. It makes sense, since at some point the fancy recipes begin to inspire fear and intimidation instead of rapture. How does one make preserved Meyer lemon cream while also juggling a job, family and other demands?
You start by perusing a seasonal week, say Merrill’s Summer, with a list of 5 dinners and 2 brownbag lunches to make with leftovers. The next page is a game plan that tells you what to make ahead over the weekend, and a weekly grocery list including amounts to buy.
It is definitely focused on helping you be successful with a set of recipes and then allowing you to deviate from them later, once you’ve figured out this week-in-advance thing. I used to look askance at menus, until our cookbook club cooked the suggested menu in another book – it was an eye-opening experience! The dishes came together like a particularly awesome restaurant.
The summer menus got me really excited, pairing radishes with lime sriracha butter or arugula with parsley, lemon and olive oil. Never mind the delectable meatballs in pasta or the strawberry ice cream floats…
The fall menus with their mixture of warming soups, roast chicken, beef short ribs and brown-butter gnocchi were equally inspiring. And don’t even get me started on winter!
I’m a tad nervous if also pleased that Amanda and Merrill were honest enough to say this process is going to take longer the first few times I try.
But that I’m really thinking through this whole week thing and trying to figure out where it will fit in my summer is a good sign…