“Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights” — Sophie’s Culinary Choice
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and, on days like this, my mind tends to be filled with thoughts of food: the perfect brunch meal, the most comforting soup, the tastiest dessert… And it was on a day like this one that I first pored over model Sophie Dahl‘s new cookbook Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights
and feasted my eyes on succulent recipe after recipe — each arranged by season (spring, summer, autumn and winter) and meal (breakfast, lunch, brunch, snack, dinner, and dessert).
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my initial reaction to the cookbook (a superficial reaction based on the cover and title alone) was one of skepticism and faux disgust. A model writing a cookbook? I expected everything to be some low-fat, tofu-encrusted concoction with ample information about caloric intake and proper serving sizes — basically, a book that took the joy out of cooking. To my surprise, however, Sophie Dahl doesn’t indulge Americans’ obsession with weight and dieting, which means no dwelling onultra-skim this and fat-free that. A woman after my own heart.
Even better, the cookbook includes recipes that are completely accessible: from chicken curry to pea soup, banana bread, pasta puttanesca, wild rice risotto, buttermilk chicken with smashed sweet potatoes, eggplant parmigiana, pear and ginger muffins, and cardamom rice pudding. Sure, there are more experimental recipes in the cookbook — such as a shrimp, watercress, grapefruit, avocado and pecan salad and a rhubarb compote with orange flower yogurt and pistachios —but they’re still easy to follow, even for the most rudimentary of cooks.
Personally, I was relieved by the fact that all the ingredients can be obtained at your local supermarket. Nothing unnerves me more than haughty cookbooks that require you to go shopping at Whole Foods, Food Emporium, or some other overpriced, gourmet haunt. I do appreciate that some recipes might require specialty items but, overall, cooking shouldn’t be an exclusionary sport. Dahl’s ingredients are easy enough to track down and prepare, plus they’ll satisfy even the pickiest eaters in the family.
Her chicken curry recipe was absolute perfection (though, if you can’t handle spicy foods, I’d suggest using one green chile instead of the two recommended) and her rice pudding with pea puree was a refreshing, tasty wonder. This cookbook has officially become my go-to manual for the moment, so I suggest you check it out!
Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights, $23.10. Available at Amazon.com