I have a friend. Her name is Lorna. She writes The Cookbook Chronicles. She is drop dead gorgeous. Kindness and intelligence dance with every word she says. She is generous and humble. Humor and good disposition seem to like her. I have no idea if she is high or low maintenance but if she is the latter, I want to know how she does it. She's got taste and she's got gumption. And she wrote a book. A quirky, funky, well written, beautifully photographed cookbook, The Newlywed Kitchen. No wonder Henri asked her out and then asked for her hand in marriage. Smart man.
Lorna and Henri are newlyweds. They both love food. This is not a loose statement. They met on a food forum. In Lorna's words "Our relationship was founded on our mutual love of food and our desire to nourish one another’s stomachs as well as our spirits." It could sound superficial and barely enough to hold a couple together but as she chronicled the making and writing of the book, you could tell that they were like the vast majority of couples. They love to share with others, spend time learning and give back what they know. Lorna did it with "The Newlywed Kitchen".
I am not a newlywed and yet I, we, thoroughly enjoyed the book. It does not pretend to be the "essential guide to cooking as a couple", instead it focuses on clean, simple recipes that can be at the foundation of any new couple repertoire. Narratives of other well known couples are dispersed throughout the book and add a charming and quaint little thing to it. I caught myself chuckling along as I was reading with that familiar feeling of "been there done that" of kitchen mishaps and victories. Pictures of newlyweds throughout the book are a little too quaint at times but they're here to illustrate a point: there is plenty in this book to bring people together in many different ways.
Some of the recipes are kicked up classics like the "Four Cheese Mac-and-Cheese", the "Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar Thyme Crust". Some are best saved for your first dinner cooking for the in-laws, "Holiday Rib Roast Wtih Thyme Gravy", "Chicken Piccata with Mushrooms and Leeks". Others are made for lazy Sunday mornings in newlywed Bliss like the "Topsy Turvy Apple French Toast", the "Smoked Salmon Frittata". And who would not want to cozy up with their better half with some "Chocolate Mudslide Cookies", "Nutella Doughnuts" or some "Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake"?
I just made myself hungry...
My better half does not cook. He barely boils water. We have shared custody of the grill. I don't even know if he's any good at it, he's just not interested. And as he says "I married a chef, why would I even consider crossing the line? You don't come in the garage and bleed the break of the MG now do you?". Touche. So you might wonder how this cookbook fared with us...
It did exactly what it was intended to do for a couple like us regarding food: I'd hold the book in one hand, pencil in the other and ask him whether "Grandma's Italian Meatballs" sounded good for dinner or would he rather have the "Fall Apart Pot Roast"? Should I take the "Red Velvet Cake" or the "Strawberry Rhubarb Pie" to a dinner party with friends? My man may not cook or enjoy cooking but he loves to eat and knows his food, making it a pleasure and never a chore for me to cook everyday.
Finding a recipe to illustrate this review was a no brainer (I picked two actually and will write about the other one next week - with a little surprise you guys reading). The "Parmesan Roasted Asparagus, Tomatoes and Eggs" is exactly the kind of dish I like to fix us for lunch on Saturdays when we come back from the market or on Sundays when we set out to "not have a schedule". It's simple, it's fresh, it comes together fast and needs nothing but maybe a glass of wine and a piece of bread.
It's the kind of meal we enjoy as a couple. It fits us and it felt even more special when we sat down to ingredients we had just picked up at the market from people who loved food as much as we do.
Let's make lunch this week "French Word A Week" feature: "dejeuner". One of our favorite activity and time of the day. (click on the word to hear the pronunciation).
Check out Jen at Use Real Butter making Grandma's Italian Meatballs from Lorna's book. I also love this review of the book from Becky at Chef Reinvented (and don't forget to click on the video link - adorable).
Parmesan Roasted Asparagus, Tomatoes and Eggs, courtesy and copyright Lorna Yee for "The Newlywed Kitchen"
1 pound asparagus
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino (I used shredded)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grounded black pepper
2 large eggs
3 spoonfuls pesto (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Wash the asparagus. Break the bottom stems off and discard. Toss the asparagus spears and tomatoes in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then place them on a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 12=14 minutes, or until tender and cooked through..
Meanwhile, fry the two eggs in the remaining oil, seasoning them with salt and pepper to taste. Place an egg in each portion of the cooked vegetable and top with a dab of pesto if desired.
Disclosure: I received a free copy from The Newlywed Kitchen from Sasquatch Books.