I’m a meat and potatoes girl to my core, but if there’s one thing I love more than a medium-rare hanger steak and parmesan mashed potatoes, it’s a beautiful cookbook. “Vegetables from an Italian Garden” by Phaidon Press is a thoughtfully laid-out guide to cooking seasonal vegetables the Italian way. The handsome photography paired with the short ingredient lists and simple directions that read more like fun kitchen adventures than strict rules make everything in this book feel approachable—the entire section on potatoes included.
Risotto with White Truffle and Parmesan
Last year I took part in my gym’s Paleo-diet challenge for six very sad, very long weeks. I dreamt of carbs, bathed in cheese and washed down with beer. The promise of creamy pasta or Neapolitan pizza and an extra pale ale at the end of those 45 days kept me strong. This diet-disregarding risotto is exactly what I longed for while stuck in an endless sea of salads and meat. Making it definitely took much longer than the listed 35-minute prep and cooking time (ended up being more than an hour from start to finish), but the end result was worth the constant stirring. Adding a nob of butter and parmesan to the cooked rice made it hearty enough for a main course too. I finished it with some fresh parsley that I wanted to use up, and since white truffles go for something like $1,000 per pound (!), I opted for a bottle of truffle oil, which I drizzled on top for a decadent, yet affordable, finish.
—Erin Madsen, executive editor
Turnip and Barley Soup
There are soup people, and there are salad people, and come fall, I turn into a card-carrying member of the soup group. With cooler weather here to stay, I set out to make this simple turnip soup. I had high hopes for the recipe, as it included two of my favorite cold-weather ingredients— whole grains and root vegetables. But alas, it was a flop. Even with a generous handful of parmesan on top, the flavors didn’t register, making for an all-around bland bowl. I don’t think I’d try this recipe again, but if I had to, I’d try adding in some (OK, a ton) of chopped garlic along with the leeks, and maybe some red pepper flakes to add some much-needed heat.
—Meghan McAndrews, senior editor
Cauliflower is pretty much my most boring favorite food—but that’s kind of why I dig it. Its simplicity makes it the perfect complement to almost any ingredient. So when I eyed this recipe for a cauliflower tart filled with cheesy goodness, I thought we might just have a long, happy life together. While the recipe itself was fairly foolproof—just a few simple steps and into the oven it went—it took a lot longer to firm up than expected. Plus, because it had taken on a quiche-like form, I started to think it should taste like one, too, even though it’s eggless. (I blame myself for trying to turn it into something it wasn’t. Equally disastrous in life and cooking.) Because of my quiche expectations, the flavor turned out more subdued than I wanted, falling a bit flat. I will say that the hearty amounts of cheese saved the day, and the crust turned out perfectly flaky and wonderful. Next time, though, I’d add a few extras like tomatoes or bacon to spice things up.
—Claire Davidson, associate editor
I’m not an eater of carrots so this seems like a questionable recipe choice, I know. But in an effort to branch out beyond onions and potatoes, I’ve been giving the orange roots a chance. I had great success with baby carrots in herb sauce (also from this cookbook)—as in, not only did I eat my whole serving but I loved them so much I went back for more and then demanded this be the next cookbook in our series! So I was feeling really confidant about this recipe and on the verge of calling myself a carrot-liker. Then I tried the carrot fritters and they tasted, well, like carrots. I was hoping the brandy and freshly grated nutmeg would create a new taste sensation, but alas, the outcome was a little too subtle for this wary carrot-eater. I’m sticking with the herb sauce recipe for now, since it tastes of cream and basil rather than carrots.
—Kayla Knudson, managing editor
Join our Betty editors as they explore a new cookbook, each cooking a recipe (or two!) from it and reporting back the first Tuesday of every month. Next up: Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book on Dec. 3. In the meantime, what new cookbook(s) are you dying to try?