Welcome to this year's Piglet Community Picks! Until the Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks kicks off in March, we'll be posting weekly reviews of the best new books you cooked from in 2018—written by you. To see other reviews, head here. And to catch up on the books that made it into the main tournament, look no further.
I first decided to purchase the sequel to Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen because in the first book, I found so many recipes that my family and I enjoyed. But when I first picked up her second book, Cravings: Hungry for More, and started reading through it, I wasn’t initially taken with it like I was the first one.
Then I started to really look at the recipes and read through her stories, and I saw how much added depth and complexity this book has. In the introduction to Cravings: Hungry for More, Chrissy states that it is a much different book than her first, because of the family and lifestyle changes she experienced in the time between: More travel and new foods; contending with the different aspects and challenges of postpartum life; further growing her family, with another baby on the way. Chrissy says that she "grew up" between her first and second books, and I certainly felt that growth.
The book is laid out in a very clear manner, by subject, starting with breakfast and brunch and ending with a few sweets. There's also a specific chapter on Thai food (called "Thai Mom") that includes the family recipes that Chrissy's mom cooked for her during her childhood. This is a collection of very approachable recipes with ingredients that are easy to come by; not to mention, instructions on how to handle any less easy-to-come-by items, like fresh lemongrass.
In her first book, Chrissy unabashedly professes her love for pantry staples and ready-to-eat items, such as deli ham, white bread, and canned beans. Knowing this, I wasn't totally surprised by what I found in the Parmesan Minestrone Soup with Chili Mayo Toasts recipe: "This version is like the soup you get in the can that you always love, only a little fresher (though, yes, hello, it's me, Chrissy, and I use three cans in the recipe)."
This was the first dish that I tried, and it turned out to be a very hearty and extremely flavorful soup. I did have to make some adjustments based on Chrissy’s suggestions in the recipe (as well as my own preferences in the kitchen). Chrissy lists canned green beans and cannellini beans in the ingredients, but does offer the substitution of fresh green beans and added water in place of the canned. I thought the combination of fresh green beans and canned cannellini beans was a good compromise.
However, unfortunately she doesn’t account for the difference in salt between fresh and canned beans—especially since the recipe also uses vegetable or chicken broth and a cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, every little speck of salt can add up. If you're not paying attention and tasting along the way, this can lead to a very salty dish.
The salad recipes are wonderful, all using fresh and very flavorful ingredients. The first one I chose to make was the Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing. This is a very pretty salad and it's super easy to make: You simply toss the carrots in a quick oil-and-garlic marinade, and roast them until caramelized. Then you arrange the carrots over a bed of baby lettuce and sliced avocados, drizzle a zingy lime dressing over the whole mixture, and top with crunchy roasted pepitas. The salad is light, fresh, and so simple, and I loved it.
Chrissy has added tips to almost every recipe, which I think is great and such a helpful feature for the average home cook. For example, as I was gearing up to make the Roasted Butternut Squash & Pomegranate Salad with Garlicky Honey-Dijon Dressing, I encountered the perfect tip: "How to Seed A Pomegranate Without Staining Your Life Red!"
Chrissy instructs us to fill a bowl with cold water, cut the pomegranate in sections, submerge the sections in the cold water, and break apart the seeds from the pith. When you do this, the pith will mostly float to the top, and the seeds will sink. Skim off the floating pith and drain the water, and there you have pomegranate seeds. Why didn’t I think of that? (Chrissy also gives the option of using finely-diced green apple instead of pomegranate seeds, if they're not in season or you don't like them. So helpful.)
Though I only got a chance to try a few dishes for now, I am so excited to delve a little deeper into this book. There are so many gems still to cook—especially in the Thai section—that I'm sure will have an equally lovely back story.
"In typical Chrissy fashion (I call her by her first name because we are, of course, friends—in my mind), this follow-up to her first Cravings cookbook is filled with simple, delicious recipes, adorable pics of baby Luna (just wait till you see her in a matching avocado one-piece), and many, many stories we can all relate to." —Erin Alexander
"Chrissy Teigen's recipes are so good, and so unfussy. It's a really nice break to cook dishes written by the genius behind potato chip-crusted Cheesy Jalapeño Tuna Noodle Casserole and Yellow Cake Baked Oatmeal." —Heather Nabers West
"Chrissy Teigen is really making me a better cook." —Jess Hali
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