Early Rising In a cook, this quality is most essential, for an hour lost in the morning will keep her toiling, absolutely toiling, all day, to overtake that which might otherwise been achieved with ease.
Mrs. Isabella Beeton
You might think this is yet another entry into our continuing struggle to somehow cook with cooking. But Molly Gilbert takes on the limits of one pan as a challenge to real cooking just as an artist might limit themselves to a color palette. In fact, this book lands at the opposite end of the spectrum from chef’s books recipes written under the odd assumption that, like them, you also have a kitchen crew to prep and clean for you.
Most of her dishes cook in the oven; naturally the soups, like Lentil with Lardons and New England Clam Chowder, cook on the stove. And Gilbert is creative and wide-ranging in her combinations and inspirations. She eliminates, as much as possible, the hassle of cleaning up so you can concentrate on the cooking and eating. How you manage your shopping is up to you.
Recipes begin with breakfast and include a delicate Lemon-Lavender Pull-Apart Loaf and a hearty Artichoke Shakshuka in your cast iron skillet. Starters, Snacks, and Sides range from the familiar, like a queso dip to the elegant, like a Baked Feta with Figs and Tarragon. Recipes for Vegetable Mains, Poultry, Fish and Meat continue with dishes that use world flavors–like a miso ramen or Chickpea and Andouille Skillet.
And there’s no stinting on sweets. Desserts are homey and appealing–Broiled Berries and Cream, a Giant Cookie Cake, or a Skillet Brownie Pie.
At most, Gilbert’s shortcuts are frozen biscuit dough in a savory Cheddar & Herb Monkey Bread, but on the very next page, she encourages you with a recipe for homemade biscuit dough. And she does the same throughout the book, for example with a Warm Apple Biscuit Cake–you can use the store-bought or make your own.
Dishes will get dirty, eggs will be broken, milk will be spilled–but it’s all in a good cause.