I don't always love celebrity chef cookbooks because the recipes are often too complicated and hard to reproduce in a home kitchen. But the new cookbook from Todd English seems to be an exception. It's called Cooking in Everyday English, The ABCs of Great Flavor at Home, Oxmoor House, 2011.
I love the quote from Leonardo da Vinci on the copyright page: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." That seems to be a theme throughout this book as Todd English pulls together some basic building block recipes that you can use to make many meals: spice blends, sauces, doughs, vinaigrettes, and fresh pastas. He also highlights some of the ingredients he considers essential in his kitchen (salt, tomatoes, and "a.c.g" – anchovies, capers, and garlic.)
Because of his Italian upbringing, the recipes have a definite Mediterranean feel, which is another reason I like this book. These are the flavors I love and the kind of recipes that I enjoy making at home. In just flipping through the pages, I've already flagged a number of recipes that I'll be making for a holiday cocktail party: Olive's Rose Sangria, Imprerial Gin Fizz, Goat Cheese Fondue, Smoked Salmon Sliders, and Gorgonzola Bruschetta.
The main dishes, sides and salads are equally simple and appealing and don't require a huge number of ingredients. If you tend to cook a lot of Mediterranean-style recipes, you'll already have a lot of these ingredients on hand.
We think the recipe that might end up being the most popular in the book is the Pigs in a Pancake (page 217). Our content director, Jason, is probably going to be making these on Christmas morning. It's a new spin on pigs-in-a-blanket and features breakfast sausage coated in pancake batter, then deep-fried and served with maple sryup yogurt. Todd says, "Don't come looking for me when you're addicted." Consider yourself warned.
There are several recipes in this book that might be habit-forming, but I won't blame the chef. This is one chef's cookbook that really might make cooking as easy as A-B-C.
If you're looking for a last-minute holiday gift for someone who loves to cook and eat, Cooking in Everyday English is a great choice and is currently available at most bookstores.