I’ve been reviewing cookbooks here on Eating Normal for a year and a half, and I can say with a full heart that July is a lucky month for me and cookbooks. Last year, we did Dining In by Allison Roman, a cookbook I revisit at least once a month. This year, I picked up Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music, and I know that I will be wearing its pages out month after month. I’ll get oil stains on the pages, and I’ll wear it down with the deepest love.
At the beginning of the month, I looked into this cookbook and was excited by the options listed for every recipe. Nothing was truly set in stone except for the technique, and given that so many things are sometimes absent in one grocery store and not another, this addition makes it all more accessible to a regular home cook. The ability to mix up a recipe yielded some fun combinations, one of which is now a regular meal.
Deep in the pages of this cookbook, I discovered the recipe for one big ass lamb patty served with marinated cheese and herbs. The beauty of this recipe is in the simplicity of its cooking. You can marinade the cheese, something that holds up like a queso fresco, in spices like fennel seeds and green onion with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. It marinades just long enough for you to flatten out a pound of lamb in a pan, flip it, and call it a day. The olive oil and spices used for the cheese go over that cooked patty with the split up cheese. I’ve made few things I enjoyed more as a main course.
The last meal we made from this cookbook came as something of a revelation. We are deep into fresh sweet corn season here in Delaware, so when I stumbled upon clams with fregola and sweet corn, I was hooked. Fregola pasta is a hard one to get out here, and as with all of her other recipes, Carla has options for that situation. We made ours with orecchiette pasta, and the pesto is mostly parsley. My outdoor basil plant couldn’t handle being the majority of the pesto base, but it certainly helped out.
Littleneck clams are available year round at my preferred grocery store, so I didn’t struggle there. This might be the hard piece in the rest of the country. Frozen mussels can also be used, though she recommends that clams still take up most of the shell space.
If you’re someone like me that enjoys having options. Where Cooking Begins is an ideal cookbook to add to your collection. The spin ingredient options are often things you can find with more success than what the recipe would otherwise call for, and I do not believe the cook suffers for using sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin seeds, or orecchiette instead of fregola. You can go on an adventure through each recipe, returning to it more than once to find your ideal combination for your go to meals.
I have yet to be let down by cookbook recommendations from Bon Appetit magazine, so we can hope that trend continues for so long as there is a cookbook of the month. You can get Where Cooking Begins wherever cookbooks are sold, but I purchased my copy through Amazon.
Have you been cooking along with me this month? Let me know how your experience with the July cookbook went.
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