I do the bulk of my day to day cooking without recipes. Over the years, I’ve developed a fairly reliable set of dishes and cooking techniques that I call on and adapt on the fly. However, the one problem with cooking in this manner is that no matter what I make, much of what I eat on a regular basis tastes very much the same. I regularly find myself deeply weary of my own food.
Once of the reasons I love going to potlucks so much is that it’s a chance to get a break from my food and eat something prepared by home cooks working in other kitchens. And when there’s no potluck on the horizon, I turn to cookbooks that feel friendly, familiar, and like the author might well bring a dish to share at my table someday.
Who Wants Seconds? by Jennie Cook appeared in my mailbox, it immediately felt like the kind of book I’d turn to for a home cooking palate cleanser. It’s bright and feels more like Jennie’s personal kitchen notebook than the highly designed cookbooks we see so much these days. Obviously, both book styles have their places, but it’s refreshing to see something that feels like a modern Moosewood in a world of perfectly styled images.
Jennie is lifelong cook, former restaurant owner, and currently runs a plant-based catering company in the Los Angeles area. This book is imbued with her personality and character, and I want to eat everything she writes about.
I’ve only had the opportunity to try out a single recipe from the book, but it did everything I want from a friendly potluck-style cookbook. I made the Sunshine Ginger Soup (the recipe follows) and it was a happy change from my regular versions of carrot and squash soups. I will be employing the combination of coconut milk and citrus again in future soups, as it tastes fabulously alive.
If you’re located in or around Portland, OR, Jennie is going to be in your area in about a week, offering cooking classes. She’ll be at In Good Taste on, talking about Holiday Appetizers on November 5 (click here for more info) and at the Whole Foods Market at Bridgeport Village on November 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm (sign up by calling 503-639-6500. For even more of her events, click here.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, or any combination thereof
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon dried ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 4 cups stock or water
- 1 15.5-ounce can coconut milk
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 orange
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon light-colored vinegar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Peel squash with a vegetable peeler, remove seeds, and slice into large chunks, as if you’re making mashed potatoes, and set aside.
- Place large stockpot over medium heat, add oil, and sauté onions, garlic, fresh ginger, dried ginger, cinnamon stick, thyme, cumin and cayenne until translucent, about 6 minutes.
- Add squash and stock or water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until vegetables are super soft, about 30 minutes.
- Add coconut milk, lemon juice, orange juice, zest, maple syrup, and vinegar. Stir and mash the squash and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Add more stock or water if necessary to achieve the consistency you prefer.
- Allow to cool slightly, remove the cinnamon stick, and purée in a blender or with emulsion blender. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Variation: Add a tablespoon of curry powder when sautéing the onion.