A Cool & Somewhat Utile Cookbook
Cookbooks usually fall into two general categories for me. Both types have a place in a cookbook library. Some contain useful information or are inspiring, but will rarely be used for cooking because the recipes are time-consuming or require special tools or ingredients. Other books are more likely to be used (look for the food splatters) but are less avant-garde or interesting. Seven Spoons is unique as it falls somewhere in the middle. Tara O’Brady brings a global influence to her recipes, introducing ingredients and flavour combinations that are fresh and unusual. But although it’s billed as such, I’m not sure it will become an everyday book for me.
Usually I try to find a book that has received less press, but the rave reviews intrigued me and I like that O’Brady is Canadian. Her parents are from India and these influences are woven throughout the recipes. But her recipes reflect a variety of cultural influences and showcase Canada’s culinary diversity.
While the Indian-influenced recipes sound great, they require specific ingredients and tend to be time-consuming. I wanted to try Chaat Tostadas, with fried chickpeas, yogurt, tamarind chutney and mint chutney served in corn tortillas, but I had basically none of the ingredients. I would order it in a restaurant but wasn’t willing to invest the time to make it. Same goes for Lentil Kofta Curry served with Cachoombar Salad and Tomato Raita.
Chicken and Couscous with a Punchy Relish – roast chicken on a bed of Israeli couscous cooked in the pan with the chicken and served with a sauce of capers, currants, lemon and anchovies – is something that I would try. Confetti Rice, a mix of grains and lentils with onions, herbs and a strong punch of warm spices is a version of Megadarra, an Egyptian dish that I love. Fig Toasts with Buttered Honey, accented with salt, pepper and fresh thyme or rosemary, is simple and looks pretty delicious.
I made Pickled Strawberry Preserves, a sweet and slightly sour compote that worked as both a condiment with cheese, and as jam. This was very tasty and not difficult. I also made Olive and Orange Cauliflower, a “cauliflower rice” dish that was healthy but also delicious, a great party dish. (I did not include the oranges or cheese). Blackberry Buttermilk Whole Grain Scones made with oats and buckwheat flour were not flaky but tasted good. I tried Hummus with White Miso, largely because I wondered whether this would work. It did, but I prefer hummus straight up without the miso.
I liked the book and I thought the recipes were interesting and provide the opportunity to be adventurous. But don’t look for the food splatters on my copy.