Read up on some of 2012's most-loved cookbooks, tested and reviewed by the one and only Food52 community.
Today: Mariaraynal finds out how a little competition can be a good thing.
If you’re inclined to wonder if the well of original cookbook concepts has run dry, look to CookFight for reassurance that is has not -- it's a story of food, friends and self-proclaimed work wives who duke it out for culinary dominance. Who could possibly resist?
This yearlong throwdown between New York Times writers Kim Severson and Julia Moskin began as a dare from their Dining section colleague and friend Frank Bruni (who pens the Forward) to cook a menu for six for just fifty dollars.
The duo accepted the challenge, Bruni judged the battle, and he later wrote about it in the newspaper. One challenge led to another, and another, and well, you know where this is headed. But this isn’t a book about food writers. You won’t find exhaustive accounts of 27-course tasting menus or tales of exotic travels in unpronounceable locales.
Instead, Severson and Moskin offer a glimpse into their world as home cooks and mothers grappling with the business of life: frenzied weeknights, dinner parties, holiday feasts, family picnics – 12 challenges in all – laid out in a collection of amusing vignettes and appealing menus. Along the way, they let us in on their shopping secrets, kitchen tips, and how life’s inevitable changes affect the way they cook.
Severson and Moskin are feisty, taking frequent, good-natured pokes at one another as they spar for victory. Paired with candid, often unretouched photographs, it’s clear these two are having a raucous good time in combat mode.
But don't get too caught up in the storyline and overlook the recipes. That's where the years of hardcore reporting for the dining section pays off.
The food ranges from traditional fare with emphasis on comfort, to dishes of the moment like fried chickpeas and kale chips. Readers will find a nice, easy-going mix of approachable recipes from savvy experts who have seen and eaten it all. My favorites include Pork Braised in Milk and Cream, Black Bean Soup with Pickled Onions, White Bean Soup with Chive Oil, Fiery Sweet Potatoes, Cheese Grits with Scallions, Bacon and Red Pepper, and Lemon Brown Butter Shortbread (I die!).
Who wins the duel? Who cares. In the end, all I really wanted was to get in the kitchen and cook alongside them, sharing laughs, jabs, and a big pile of their Bacon-Fat Gingersnaps. Give peace a chance, ladies.
A good read, and epic fun.
Have you read Cook Fight? Tell us your take in the comments!
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