Friday, May 8, 2015

Dinner's On, Hipsters!

"This is a cookbook by Chris Taylor, a musician, and Ithai Schori, a photographer. They are also cooks. One trained at home, the other trained in restaurants. They believe that great food is just what happens when you do simple things well. They believe that great meals are as much about the people you cook for and with as they are about the food. They believe that cooking can be a lazy, beautiful thing, and they want to show you why."

This gem of a description for Twenty Dinners is tucked away neatly inside the back cover of this beautifully printed and bound book from Clarkson Potter Publishers.

The book is a collection of dinner party menus this dynamic cooking duo has put together. It's arranged according to seasons of the year, which is brilliant because it allows you to make the most of what's in season at the local farmers market, produce stall and market. I loved this aspect of the book because I am learning to eat more local foods which definitely change according to the time of year.

Don't let the description of "dinner party menus" fool you. This isn't fussy food that will take three days to prepare in order to serve a crowd. The book and the recipes have a very intimate feel designed to get everyone involved in the kitchen/cooking space together. Throughout the book there are suggestions for getting even the most inept-feeling friends involved in the fun of truly sharing a meal. (Surely your friend with two left thumbs can at least open a bottle a wine and pour, no?)

Speaking of wine, I also really loved the fact that each of the dinners includes suggestions for wine and/or cocktails that will pair well with the food. There are even brief sections on wine, cocktails, and making coffee included which most other cookbooks I've read skip right over. You will love it! (I myself will be googling where to get a Chemex!)

Schori and Taylor suggest up front that your kitchen and your taste buds are different from their own. "We want you to tear this book apart--write in the margins, cross things out, change this around.'s cool to tailor a dish or menu to your taste." They'd like this book to be an inspiration, not a slave-master. So feel free to take inspiration and follow your own instincts!

Young, fresh, and vibrant are the words that jump out at me in the end to describe Twenty Dinners. It's hip. Period. I am thrilled to add this cookbook to my collection and I urge you to run out and get a copy pronto!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

From the Publisher . . .

A photographer (who happens to be an ex-restaurant cook) and an indie rock star (who happens to be an avid home cook) show you how to slow down your life by cooking beautiful, straightforward, but sophisticated, food for–and with–friends.

When he’s on tour with his band, Grizzly Bear, what Chris Taylor misses most about home is the kitchen and the company. With his friend Ithai Schori, he cooks dinner parties for four to forty, using skills Chris learned from his mom and Ithai picked up working at high-end restaurants. Their food is full of smart techniques that make everything taste just a little better than you thought possible–like toasting nuts in browned butter or charring apples for a complex applesauce–but their style is laid-back and unhurried. This is about cooking not just for, but with, your friends, and so the authors enlisted their favorite pastry chef, mixologist, sommelier, and baristas to write detailed material on wine, desserts, stocking a home bar, mixing drinks, and buying and brewing fantastic coffee. Through more than 100 seasonally arranged recipes and gorgeous, evocative photographs of their gatherings you fall into their world, where you and your friends have all day to put food on the table, and where there’s always time for another cocktail in a mason jar before dinner.

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