I’ve been cooking from this book and sitting on this review for months, mainly because I don’t think I have much to add to the write-up here.
It’s good! If you’re gluten-intolerant, or just tired of eating so much bread, and looking for a big all-purpose book, this is it. It’s a bit more complex and cheffy than, say, Smitten Kitchen or Small Victories, but the recipes are simple enough for most home cooks who know how to turn on their oven. If you’ve tried and failed to follow a twenty-page Tartine bread recipe, don’t be turned off by the brand – this was written by Elisabeth Pruiett, not her bread-genius husband and business partner Chad Robertson, and I found everything considerably easier to cook along with.
I like that there are a lot of base recipes, from meats to sauces to sides, with suggestions of how to combine them into meals – there are just so many ideas floating around in the book that it felt hard to keep track of what I wanted to do with them. Her headnotes had a wealth of ideas for that, as well as lots of modifications for dealing with other potential problems, from picky kids to what’s available in your market and pantry. There are a lot of helpful tips in general – my jam is almost always runny but she suggests that you use a candy thermometer and measure til 221F – it turns out my visual cues were off and I was taking my jam off the heat 5 minutes too soon. Problem solved!
The biggest success in this book, though, was something I barely photographed – a dinner party starring her carnitas and homemade corn tortillas. I don’t know why people buy these at the grocery store, making them by hand was almost the same amount of work and much fresher. The carnitas were easy enough that a friend who doesn’t cook much was able to reproduce them in a foreign kitchen for a party of her own. In general, there are a lot of interesting protein ideas
So, I would say that this book is very, very solid. It didn’t transport me, but if you’re looking for a lot of really useful ideas, and trying to cut down on your gluten intake without feeling like you’re missing out on anything, it’s a great place to start.
make this one thing:
3 lb pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 quart water, plus more as needed
Combine the pork and water in a 4-qt or 6-qt Dutch oven or similar heavy-bottomed pot. Add additional water as needed to cover the meat. Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat so that the liquid simmers very gently. Look for lazy bubbles, like champagne bubbles in a glass, as opposed to many vigorous bubbles. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
1/2 navel orange, quartered
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano or fresh oregano leaves
5 cloves garlic, crushed
10 black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp salt
Add the orange, onion, oregano, garlic, peppercorns, and salt to the pot. Cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours either on the stovetop or in a 200F oven.
1 to 2 tbsp vegetable oil, as needed
Using tongs, transfer the meat and orange wedges to a plate. Bring the juices to a boil over medium heat and cook until reduced to approximately 1/4 cup, about 45 minutes. Return the meat and orange quarters to the pot and continue cooking, stirring often, until no liquid remains and the meat is nicely browned in a few places, about 15 minutes. If the meat sticks to the pot and threatens to burn, add a little oil to facilitate browning. For extra-crispy carnitas, continue browning the meat for another 10 to 15 minutes.
24 small corn tortillas
chopped fresh cilantro
1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
The meat can be served as-is, or if you prefer you can shred it using two forks. Take care not to overshred it - the pork will be very tender and a few larger pieces add nice texture. Serve with the tortillas, cilantro, onion and lime wedges. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.