Dining In

Highly Cookable Recipes

First it’s your doctor, then your accountant and then maybe even your boss.  How does it happen that the people who reasonably and objectively are experts became so young?  What happened to Julia Child? (She died). I have been looking at a number of new cookbooks lately and it’s all millennials, all the time.  Does it matter? My answer is resoundingly yes. We need that energy. It’s fun to learn new and better ways to make favourite dishes, and to be inspired to try new things.  What I like about these cookbooks is their omnivorous recipes and their really big flavours. When it comes to food, I’m not about subtle.


Dining In is one of these books and Alison Roman is one of those experts.  She is the author of a food blog, she worked as a pastry chef in NYC and was the Senior Food Editor at Bon Appetit Magazine.  She describes her recipes as “highly cookable”, meaning they’re easy to shop for, simple to execute and a joy to eat. OK then.  But she’s right, they are.


Although a pastry chef, Roman says she doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth.  But there are desserts and her recipe for Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread kind of broke the Internet, so I had to try it.  These shortbreads were awesome, tender with the perfect amount of salt. The dough has to be chilled before baking so they won’t work for immediate cookie needs, but you should try them.  


Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower and Dates with Tahini and Pine Nuts sounded curious and I wasn’t sure about the dates.  But it was a winner – when your 19 year old son says that the best thing about a big dinner was the cauliflower then either the rest of the dinner was bad (it wasn’t) or the cauliflower was really good.  It was. The dates were not too sweet and they were good with the salty tahini sauce and the dressing with fresh mint and scallions.


Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemon used a simple rub of freshly ground fennel seeds, smoked paprika and garlic.  The spices, particularly the fennel really come through. Jack, my other son, said we should make this again because it had lots of flavour – a backhanded compliment but he loved the chicken.


Split Pea Salad is a “salad” like French fries are vegetables.  Whatever, it’s yummy new potatoes with bacon, fried in bacon fat, tossed with split peas and fresh (or frozen) peas and a tangy mustard vinaigrette.  I also made a version of the Whole-Wheat Pasta with Brown Buttered Mushrooms, Buckwheat and Egg Yolk. I left out the raw egg, but we made pasta with mushrooms cooked in butter and topped with toasted buckwheat, which added a nice crunch.  


I love it when someone comes up with useful new ideas.  Alison Roman is “highly likable” – this was a good book.  

Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and an accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.

Categories: Book Review, Food & Nutrition