My friend Emily suggested this book, in the sense that she tentatively asked our Persian friend Dina for permission to read it and Dina sort of sniffed. But I really love books that are part memoir, part cookbook, and I also really love Persian food, so I decided to try the book out. If you also like cooking memoirs you will probably really enjoy Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen. The author, Donia Bijan, grew up in Tehran, then went to high school in the American Midwest after her family was forced to flee the revolution in Iran in the late 1970s, and went to the Cordon Bleu after college. After working in lots of interesting and famous kitchens, she started her own restaurant in San Francisco. I enjoyed reading about how all of her experiences shaped her cooking, and how food is her medium for exploring the different aspects of her identity. She writes,
Paris, San Francisco, Tehran, all claim a part of me…the kitchens where I was shaped belong to all those places, and yet none claim to be the center. I’ll always negotiate that in-between culture. And I’ll always rely on the longing for those places, and I’ll always be learning to move between them without falling through the gaps.
Each chapter in the book closes with two recipes, which are not purely Persian, purely French, or purely American, but a unique mixture of the three. Although I started the book hoping for Persian food recipes, I do plan to try a few of the hybrids because they sound delicious! Also after a detailed report Dina says it sounds like a good book, if you need the blessing of an authentic gatekeeper. 🙂
Alaina from The Cooks Next Door recommended Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen and I’m so glad because it’s AWESOME. The book is dedicated to recipes that pull from “a pantry full of new and interesting ingredients that come together quickly and inexpensively and turn out stellar, inspired meals.” Yes! That’s what I’m always aiming for. The recipes in the book sound like things I already make, but simpler or more interesting. I am looking forward to making Spiced Kibbe, Apricot Chickpea Salad, Spiced Yogurt Chicken, and several other recipes from this book.
Sheila recommended You’ve Got It Made: Deliciously Easy Meals to Make Now and Bake Later and I like the concept of make ahead recipes that have depth of flavor and good ingredients (I don’t have anything against casseroles, but they aren’t my usual choice). I appreciated how the author gave good information about freezing things – several of the recipes are close to things I already make but didn’t know would freeze well. I’m planning to make a pot-roasted lamb with white beans recipe (probably with beef instead of lamb), Chicken Balsamico, and I might, for the sake of my husband’s undying gratitude, make Maple Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake Streusel Bars. I think I gained five pounds just typing that.
Sheila also recommended a similar book called Don’t Panic–More Dinner’s in the Freezer: A Second Helping of Tasty Meals You Can Make Ahead. This book has a handy reference with each recipe so that you can make multiple batches if you’d like to freeze it bulk. So you can make the recipe once, or if you like it you can make it x3, x6, or x9. I’m going to try Crested Butte Chicken Chile Soup, Red Rocks Green Chili, Spicy Peanut Chicken, and Chops with Honey Curry Sauce.
If you need more kitchen inspiration, be sure to check out The Cooks Next Door blog that I mentioned above – they post interesting and seasonal recipes and often have gluten-free options too!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.