Summer is almost a wrap. A new school year is starting and schedules are about to burst at the seams. One thing you don’t need to worry about is dinner. Weeknight dinners are going to be a breeze with these five new books that can teach, trim the budget, and save you time.
By Carla Lalli Music
Clarkson Potter, $32.50
“Do more with less” is Carla Lalli Music’s mantra. In Where Cooking Begins, Music speaks of the link between grocery shopping, cooking, and eating, referring to shopping as a meal’s “opening act.” She extols the virtues of shopping small and wasting less. An organized pantry is key: Get rid of what you don’t use and pare down to what you actually love and will use. Basically, everyone needs to Marie Kondo their kitchen.
Music shows us how to lessen the load of pots and pans, and how to live with fewer spices, listing her 15 essentials. She believes in the farmers market and grocery store for fresh ingredients and shopping online for such pantry items as salt and olive oil — anything you don’t need to feel and smell.
Where Cooking Begins teaches six cooking techniques from sauteing to confit. Eight chapters of bold, flavorful recipes, such as slow-roasted beef ribs with melted peppers and horseradish, caprese mac and cheese, and sweet potatoes with tahini butter. Every recipe has a “spin it” feature suggesting alternative options for ingredients.
By Antoni Porowski
Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30
We have been given an early holiday gift. I mean, who wouldn’t want the food expert from Queer Eye, currently filming the fifth season of the Netflix show in Philadelphia, in their kitchen to help with dinner? Antoni’s even, kind tone and sense of humor are abundant in his new book, as are adorable pics of Antoni with his dog. He has 10 culinary mantras, including my personal favorites: Buy the best, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and frozen peas for president!
What you get in Antoni in the Kitchen is a melting pot of recipes, some with a nod to Porowski’s Polish heritage and Canadian upbringing. The tempting New Style Polish Hunter’s Stew, a pork on pork on pork dish with cabbage, sauerkraut, and prunes, making an easy and tasty one-bowl meal.
One recipe sure to become a fall favorite is the Chile-Maple Roasted Chicken, a sweet and spicy preparation using maple syrup and ground chipotle pepper.
Choices abound in the Apps and Snacks chapter. There’s hi-lo poutine (using tots!) and an Alsatian tart — think French pizza — with three variations: charred onions and crème fraiche; melted leeks, gruyere, and prosciutto; and miso-glazed squash. As a bonus, he uses store-bought dough.
By Ben Lebus
Ben Lebus’ food philosophy can be wrapped up in three words: affordable, flavorful, and vibrant. Using fresh ingredients, MOB Kitchen proves a fun and tasty book with such chapters as Speedy MOB 54, containing recipes that take 30 minutes or less, and Fakeout MOB 120, which includes takeout recipes you never thought to make at home. Lebus, who has a large social media presence, believes music is a vital part of cooking, you can happily access MOB playlists on Spotify. Scannable Spotify codes are listed alongside each recipe.
Breakfast for dinner is always a good idea and Brunch MOB delivers with the crispiest sweet potato rosti with poached eggs & guac, and zingy vegan black bean & avocado burritos. There is also the Ultimate Pancakes with a choice of four toppings: mushroom, ricotta, lemon and thyme; Parma ham, guacamole and chive; Asian sweet potato; or leek and smoked streaky bacon.
By Diana Henry
Mitchell Beazley, $29.99
From the Oven to the Table is the award-winning British author’s 12th book and it is all about ease in the kitchen. Diana Henry is the conductor of a symphony of flavors and offers recipes that seem and taste complicated, but can all be made in a single skillet or roasting pan.
There is an entire chapter devoted to the chicken thigh, “My Favorite Ingredient/Chicken Thighs Forever,” that offers nine recipes, among them: chicken with feta cheese, dill, lemon, and harissa yogurt, and another recipe with plums, honey and pomegranates.
Looking for a salsa or relish to add flavor to fish, poultry or red meat? There are 12 enticing salsas and relishes, including the smoky chimichurri, a spin on the Argentinian sauce, with garlic, herbs and smoked paprika, an artichoke and green olive tapenade, and a mango and tamarind relish. I love that these recipes are referred to as Endless Embellishments, as the possibilities to add flavor and freshness do seem limitless.
By Marge Perry and David Bonom
William Morrow Cookbooks, $29.99
Wrap that tablecloth around your shoulders — it’s your new hero dinner cape! There are qualifiers to earn the title of Hero Dinner, according to the authors. It must cook entirely in one pan, include a protein, a vegetable and/or a starch, and it must be delicious, using easily accessible ingredients.
Hero Dinners is organized by the protein type, including meatless and bonus treats. Think Peruvian chicken with ají verde, ancho chicken potpie with cornmeal drop biscuit topping, apricot honey spareribs, or grapefruit and pistachio crusted salmon. Looking for meatless? Try the spinach, egg, and fruited quinoa bowl. The quinoa is cooked with orange juice, cranberries and raisins, while the eggs cook in ramekins on the same pan.
From Hero Dinners: Complete One-pan Meals that Save the Day
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 6 thighs)
12 ounces baby purple potatoes, halved lengthwise
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup unsalted chicken broth
Ají Verde sauce
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
1 small garlic clove
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup canola mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Combine the soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder, chipotle powder, thyme, and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl to form a paste. Rub the mixture all over the chicken to coat.
- Combine the potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large bowl. Toss with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until well-browned, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and add the potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and pour in the broth; cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the largest piece of chicken registers 170°F, 23 to 25 minutes.
- While the chicken roasts, make the ají verde: Puree the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, sour cream, mayonnaise, olive oil, vinegar, and salt in a blender.
From Hero Dinners by Marge Perry and David Bonom. Copyright © 2019 by Marge Perry and David Bonom. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
From MOB Kitchen: Big Flavors on a Small Budget
Makes 4 servings
4 sweet potatoes
spring onions (scallions)
dried chili flakes
2 large avocados
salt and pepper