Book Review- Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana

homecooked

I first saw Home Cooked by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana while passing through a mall bookstore. It pulled me in and I tried to stop and flip through it, but with a three year old I just couldn’t make it work that day. I took a picture of the cover intending to look into it more later. I went home and searched for the book on my local library’s website, hoping to request it to check out. Unfortunately, my library does not have a copy of this book available (at least not yet.) I disappointedly left it at that, hoping I would get a chance to look through it in depth some day.

Fast forward a few weeks and a friend recommended the blogging for books website to me. Lo and behold Home Cooked was one of the books I could request! I figured it might be fate, and decided to give it a try. About a week later I came home to a box on my doorstep.

The book starts with an introduction to the author’s culinary life. She was drawn to the food industry from an early age, before the food movement really took off in the US. She started off intending to become a cheese maker, but in her travels she discovered so much more. She learned about good food, made naturally and with simple ingredients, and now she’s passing that knowledge on to us.

The way Anya Fernald cooks is something I aspire to. She is committed to using fresh, high quality ingredients and meat that comes from humanely treated animals. Stuff I can’t always afford, but I try to when I can. She is also big on using as much of the animal as possible, which is a fantastic idea and one I am working towards, but recipes for things like seared lamb heart crudo and chicken hearts cooked in brown butter are a little beyond my comfort zone at this point in my life.

That said, there are plenty of delicious recipes in this book, and great tips. For example, the author mentions things she calls “longcuts” which  are bits and pieces of food prep that she completes when she has time and ingredients are abundant, and then she can use these prepared items to quickly get dinner on the table at a future date. These include things like soffritto (a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery cooked down and carmelized), bone broths, rendered fat, canned tomatoes, and more. Using these homemade ingredients in later recipes adds more flavor than you can often get from store bought substitutes, and you get the added peace of mind of knowing exactly what is in your food.

There are also plenty of recipes in here that I am looking forward to trying. My cooking style is not really all that similar to the author’s so I will have to plan some shopping trips before I can actually make very much from this book. I’d like to try the aioli for sure, since I’ve never actually made one, and it looks both delicious and versatile. There’s also a recipe for crackers I’m looking forward to trying, a frittatina d’erbe,  cornmeal spoonbread, etc. This book includes recipes for drinks, snacks, and meals both simple and complex. Each recipe has a story, which I enjoy. The pictures are beautiful. There are tips for cooking, entertaining, and living life.

While many of these recipes are out of my reach for now, and this book isn’t necessarily a new favorite, it is a nice book with great pictures, solid recipes, and interesting stories. I find this book inspiring and definitely think it deserves at least a look through if you run across it.

I received this book from blogging for books in exchange for my review. Please note that all opinions are my own.  You can find more information here.

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