Cook This Book,
Techniques that Teach and Recipes to Repeat – Molly Baz
Reviewed By Naomi Bussin
Some New Year’s resolutions will be different this year. Will anyone resolve to stay home more or cook more? No, but maybe you want to keep cooking, cook better food, or simply enjoy cooking more. If this is you, Molly Baz wants to help. Cook This Book is not focused on a particular meal or type of cuisine, but it has recipes that teach, make you more efficient and help you to make great food.
Molly Baz, formerly of Bon Appetit, became popular for her YouTube cooking videos. Although this is a physical book, most recipes contain QR codes that you scan with your phone to watch a video of Molly demonstrating a particular technique. Cute trick and more useful than looking at static pictures.
This book is about technique and organization, but also about flavour. Each year, the amount of salt and acid in cookbook recipes seems to be increasing. I am firmly in favour of this. If you ask me how to make a dish taste better, I will tell you to add more salt and more acid.
These recipes have flavour, that is for sure. In the Cold & Crunchy Green Beans with Garlicky Pistachio Vinaigrette, the beans are cooked with 1½ cups of salt, I kid you not. The dressing has the juice of two lemons, plus garlic and parmesan cheese. I cut back on the lemon, but it was still very lemony. A bit hit at Thanksgiving, the cold beans with zingy, salty dressing were the yin to the yang of stuffing and turkey. Similarly, I made the Marinated Lentils with Spiced Walnuts & Lotsa Basil for a family get-together, as a side for quiche. Beluga lentils were marinated in a red wine vinaigrette with toasted nuts, raisins, cumin seeds, ground coriander and lots of garlic and served with salty feta and fresh basil. Delicious and can be made in advance.
There is a chapter on eggs and I made B-fast Tacos with Charred Scallion Salsa & Fried Pepitas for a lockdown lunch. This had more components than regular eggs and toast, but it was good. The fried pepitas were crunchy and salty, and the scallion salsa was not too much at all.
The last dish I tried was One-Pot Chicken & Schmaltzy Rice with Lemony Yog. I made this despite the fact that I dislike short forms like “yog” and “veg”; which I know is curmudgeonly. I had to go with the flow. The rice was a revelation. Cook the chicken in the pot, remove it and cook the rice in onions, garlic and chicken schmaltz, then toss with sugar snap peas, add the chicken and drizzle with a very lemony yoghurt.
Lots of recipes to try, like crispy chicken breasts on a bread salad with olives and salty cheese, Orzo al Limone, Blueberry Cornflake Crisp and Black Sesame Shortbread. The book is enthusiastic and positive, and I can readily resolve to bring more of that into my life.