Delicious recipes and cookbooks for National Cookbook Month
Delicious recipes and cookbooks for National Cookbook Month
I’m excited to share that October is National Cookbook Month. I’m even more excited to have an excuse to write about one of my favourite subjects: food. The average American woman owns 15 cookbooks. Although three in 10 women collect cookbooks, many must own books in single digits to balance the 50-plus on my bookshelves. Note to self: clear out the shelves and donate books I no longer use to a deserving owner who will love them as I did long ago. Another note to self: buy more books to fill the newly created gaps!
People often ask why I buy so many cookbooks when thousands of recipes are available online. I could Google “what to make with butternut squash”’ or ”how to cook tofu.” But, I prefer to spend my time turning pages and reading about flavours and experiences that inspired chefs, knowing that the recipes have been tried and tested numerous times before making it into the book. I know it’s a book to return to when I want to make another dish instead of scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram, trying to find that elusive recipe I saved weeks ago. The downside is that a sizable collection takes up a lot of space, but that is a small price to pay.
The last three cookbooks I bought were Cucina Povera: The Italian Way of Transforming Humble Ingredients into Unforgettable Meals by Giulia Scarpaleggia, Curry Everyday: Over 100 Simple Vegetarian Recipes from Jaipur to Japan by Atul Kochhar, and The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes from Omma’s Kitchen by Joanne Lee Molinaro.
I will share one of my favourite recipes – a truly delicious and diverse culinary delight for the senses – from each book.
Fresh Pasta and Chickpea Soup; recipe from Giulia Scarpaleggia
I’ve always loved making fresh pasta, so I was excited to use my KitchenAid pasta attachment for the first time – yippee! I’m amazed that flour, water, and a pinch of salt can make an incredible dough that turns into pasta when boiled in water. It astonishes me every single time. Pasta and chickpeas are a combination made in heaven, and I bet you will love this soup from the Italian South. You can use store-bought fresh pasta sheets if you don’t want to make fresh pasta.
1 ⅔ cups semolina flour, plus more for rolling
½ cup plus 2 tbsp water
¼ tsp fine sea salt
6 cups of cooked chickpeas (either freshly cooked or from a can, drained and rinsed)
6 cups of reserved chickpea cooking water (not from a can) or warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
Fine sea salt
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves
Red chilli flakes
- Make fresh pasta by adding water and salt to flour and kneading until smooth. Wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Roll and cut the pasta into thick ribbons about 3 to 4 inches long.
- Process 2 cups of chickpeas with 2 cups of reserved cooking water or warm water in a food processor or blender until the mixture is pureed. Set aside.
- Pour olive oil into a large pot over low heat and add onion, celery, and a pinch of salt. Remove needles from the rosemary, tie the stems and bay leaves together with kitchen twine, add to the pot, and cook until the onion and celery are soft and translucent.
- Add chickpea puree, the remaining 4 cups of chickpeas, and cooking water (or warm water); increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium and cook, occasionally stirring, for about 10 minutes—taste and season with additional salt and red chilli flakes.
- Add the pasta, stir, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pasta sit for 5 minutes until tender. Remove and discard the herb bundle.
- Ladle into warmed bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Aubergine and Sweet Potato Curry; recipe from Atul Kochhar
I adore aubergine; it works well in curry, softening perfectly and absorbing all those unique aromas and spices. You can serve this dish with rice, but I prefer freshly cooked chapati flatbread.
1 tbsp vegetarian fish sauce
1 tsp turmeric
400 g aubergine, trimmed and chopped into bite-size pieces
2 medium onions, finely diced
3 large dried red chilli, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
2 tbsp light, unflavoured oil
4 garlic cloves, grated or pressed
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
100g green beans, topped, tailed, and chopped
600ml vegetable stock
1 tsp sweet paprika
Fresh, chopped coriander to garnish
- Combine fish sauce, turmeric, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Add aubergine, mix well, and let the mixture marinate for 20 minutes.
- Put the onions in a food processor and pulse until they turn into a rough paste.
- When the chilis are rehydrated, drain them, remove the stem, and set aside.
- Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. (You will need a lid later.) Add oil and reduce the heat to medium before adding onion paste, garlic, and chilis. Stir-fry until the onions are caramelized. Add a little water if the onion sticks before it is cooked.
- Stir in aubergine, remaining marinade, sweet potatoes, green beans, vegetable stock, paprika, and a small pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low; simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.
Braised Tofu; recipe from Joanne Lee Molinaro
I usually cook tofu at least once a week, so I look for ways to liven it up and bring some much-needed variety to how I serve it. Braised tofu, also called Dooboo Jorim, has fantastic flavour and is easy to make. I make a batch and serve it warm with rice and green veggies – either broccolini or bok choy. What I don’t eat that evening goes into the fridge for a bibimbap topper (another excellent recipe in the book) or a quick lunch with a salad.
16 oz block of medium-firm or firm tofu
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp spicy soy sauce dressing (recipe in the book)
½ cup vegetable broth
1 onion, julienned or finely sliced
1 carrot, finely diced
3 large mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Press the tofu for 30 minutes to remove excess water, then slice crossways into 8 or 9 rectangular slices. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and place tofu in the pan in a single layer. (You mighty need to do it in batches). Cook the tofu for 7 to 10 minutes until browned. Turn it over and cook the second side until browned.
- Add spicy soy dressing and vegetable broth to the pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle onion, carrot, and mushroom pieces over the tofu. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the braising liquid evaporates. Baste the tofu throughout the cooking process.
- Garnish with scallions and toasted sesame seeds, then serve.
If you make any of these delicious recipes, please share a photo with us.
What’s your favourite cookbook? Share why it’s your top pick and your favourite recipe from the book.
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel. A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications. Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.
A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.