Fast Review: Looking for a new “go-to”? Well, it’s here. Find a place for this engaging cookbook on one of your shelves. You won’t regret it.
You may have heard of Julia Turshen before. She’s worked with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mario Batali, and Dana Cowin. She’s written articles for Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Saveur (to name a few). She hosted the first two seasons of Radio Cherry Bombe. It’s safe to say that she knows her stuff. Julia named this book for some valuable advice she shares: “becoming a confident cook means mastering one delicious thing at a time, taking pleasure in each small victory.” This personal book shares 95 recipes with countless variations and advice for cooks of any skill level. The message is clear through the many delicious recipes that the author has one goal and that is for the reader to be able to celebrate their own cooking triumphs.
Who’s Kitchen Would You Find It In: Fans of Ina Garten (she writes the foreword), new cooks who favor a versatile and realistic cookbook or seasoned cooks who want a new valuable addition to their library.
Nuts and Bolts:
The book begins with a glimpse into the contents. It outlines the chapters ahead with the recipes and page numbers called out from the beginning. Ina Garten writes the foreword to the book and gives us a glimpse into the first time she met the author. Julia pens her own introduction which gives the reader insight into how she began cooking. Cooking has been her lifelong passion (“If I am not cooking, I am thinking about what I’d like to cook, and if you can’t find me at the stove, chances are I’m out getting groceries.”). The goal of this book is to help find a cooking roadmap and become relaxed in the kitchen, ready to celebrate the small victories.
Before going into the chapters and recipes, Julia has two other sections. “Some Things to Keep in Mind” and “Unusual Ingredients.” In “Some Things to Keep in Mind”, we get a list of essential tools a cook needs. It also discusses the items she typically uses– as in all the eggs are large, all the milk is whole, and all the butter is unsalted unless otherwise called for (but don’t fret– there are adjustments for everything). There’s advice like keeping tomatoes at room temperature and store your spices in a drawer away from your stove since it will be cool and dark. Most of the book uses readily available ingredients but Julia makes a note to include an explanation and suggests substitutions. She also lists some of these “unusual” items beforehand and gives her thoughts on them. For example, her thoughts on fish sauce are “one of the world’s most incredible condiments, totally full of funk and a deep, salty flavor”. The list is short which shows the care Julia’s taken into making this book as accessible as possible.
The book is broken into the following chapters: “Breakfast”, “Soups + Salads”, “Vegetables”, “Grains, Beans + Pasta”, “Meat + Poultry”, “Shellfish + Fish”, “Desserts”, “A Few Drinks + Some Things to Keep on Hand”, “Seven Lists.” There is also a list of menu suggestions.
Each recipe has a personal story or memory from Julia. Almost all the recipes include advice (like how to cut an avocado correctly), spin-offs (see the section on pickling ), and what makes something a small victory (“cooking a vegetable that is almost always served raw” or “baking meatballs instead of frying them”). The instructions are detailed, well thought out and easy to follow. Gentil + Hyers are the photographers of the book and they really do it justice. Even the pages of the book feel thick and sturdy. Small Victories is the type of cookbook that will stand the test of time and that’s something Julia Turshen can certainly celebrate.
What to Make:
Classic Comfort Foods: Aunt Renee’s Chicken Soup (p. 74) and Julia’s Caesar (p. 83) and Turkey + Ricotta Meatballs (p.168)
When you’re bringing the appetizers: Smoky Eggplant Dip with Yogurt and Za’atar (p, 122)
For brunch: Chilaquiles with Roasted Tomato Salsa (p. 36) or Black Pepper Bloody Marys (p. 251)
For dessert: Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake (p. 224)
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What to pair with this book at Relish:
Staub’s 7 Qt Round Cocotte: https://www.relishdecor.com/shop/staub-cherry-red-cookware-collection/
Serif Mixing Bowl Set:https://www.relishdecor.com/shop/serif-mixing-bowl-set/
Garlic Keeper: https://www.relishdecor.com/shop/bungalow-keeper/
Small Victories is by Julia Turshen and photography is by Gentil + Hyers.
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