Do you tend to overthink or overcomplicate your cooking? Feel overwhelmed by your perceived lack of skill or by the variety of ingredient combinations? Does it leave you just eating dry tortilla chips while scrolling Instagram, wishing you had time to be a better cook? I'm raising my hand right now, because that's my daily routine, even as a recipe developer/tester/food magazine producer.
I've always got some kind of anxiety around cooking, and that makes it hard to push forward. I revert back to cereal or grilled (vegan) cheese, and it's not particularly healthy. This is why I (spoiler) love this book from Katy Beskow. You may remember my positive review of her first book, 15 Minute Vegan - and I'm still loving it. This Comfort take on her initial concept, though, means even more to me as a person seeking healthy-ish satisfying meals.
The core of this book is simple, quick, and comforting. But it doesn't feel like a lot of "meals under 30 minutes" kind of recipes - it still gives off this vibe of slow, considered, and chill. The kind of food you eat by yourself when you get home from work, relishing in the time alone, or the kind of food you make with a loud group of friends you love.
I actually enjoy reading through the introductory/pantry section of this book, because it really feels like it was written out of experience - it's not just a long list of ingredients, she just picks the few that you might have questions about. Instead of listing out every knife and pot she owns, it only shows what you need to know about quick & simple comfort food. (My personal favorite: the "five steps to comfort food", where it doesn't just give you a recipe, but instead writes on the state of mind and state of home.)
Although the term "comfort" brings to mind fall and winter foods, this works in really any season, and gives a good variety of warm-weather recipes, like the Watermelon Gazpacho, Loaded Chips with Lime Yogurt, or the Coconut Cucumber & Garden Mint Raita.
And even though this is 99% whole foods, she does include quick replacements for time-consuming ingredients, like store-bought pastry dough, (vegan) milks and yogurts.
One of the more unique things about this book is the layout. A lot of cookbooks have a number of recipes, then in the back of the book they have suggested menu ideas that combine a bunch of those recipes. In this book, the "Social" section is broken up into full menus that could quickly fill a table. The "Rustic Bistro" menu includes:
- Chestnut Mushroom Bourguignon
- Parsley & Butter Bean Mash
- Garlic Baguettes
- Fennel & Raddichio Slaw
- Mint & Mustard Green Beans
The best part about these menus is that they can actually be accomplished in one cooking session, so it's easy to put together a dinner party and they all go together. They're a mix of one or two main dishes, along with a couple of sides and a condiment or two. I just really enjoy this layout, where they're specifically designed in menus, rather than put together at the end. If you're into cooking for a group, these menus will definitely inspire you, and if you follow them exactly, they'll make for an easy weeknight party that will look super impressive.
But the recipes designed to be eaten solo are great, too. There's cookie dough for one, mug cakes, tomato soup to be made from ingredients you already have in the pantry, and lots more that I can see myself reaching for on the daily.
This is exactly the kind of book I look for - easy, fast meals that are meant to satisfy, without overcomplicating things. The comfort food take on this concept is right up our alley, especially in the upcoming fall and winter months, so we definitely see ourselves keeping this book on top of our cookbook collection.
- comfort classics
- rustic bistro
- south asian supper
- persian sharer
- thai feast
- tex-mex fiesta
- sides & bites
recipes we tried:
peanut butter cheesecake shots
Recipe below, because they were that good! We did find that there were some non-US items that were a little hard to find, specifically in this recipe, but were easily replaced.
beer-battered cauliflower wings
Super easy to make, and they really hit the spot on a weeknight.
tuscan bean & pasta soup
So satisfying and surprisingly flavorful for how easy it was to make.
recipes we still want to try:
- coffee and cream french toast
- double-decker spicy falafel burger
- caramelized onion, thyme, & fig tartlets
who this book is for
anyone looking to save time & energy on daily cooking
the best part
the sharing menus - you can make them for an actual dinner party, or for a nice weekend dinner for just you (and lunch the next day)
where to get it
15 Minute Vegan Comfort Food by Katy Beskow
from Quadrille Publishing, out September 18, 2018
Recipe excerpted with permission from 15 Minute Vegan Comfort Food by Katy Beskow, published by Quadrille September 2018, RRP $22.99 hardcover. Photo by Dan Jones.
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Shots
Smooth peanut butter makes for the most silken, smooth filling in these cheesecake shots. Best served in small glasses or shot glasses, because they are so rich.
Many supermarket own brand digestive biscuits don’t contain cow’s milk, but always check the ingredients.
- 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
- 100ml (3 ½ fl oz/scant ½ cup) soya single (light) cream*
- 1 rounded tbsp vegan butter
- 6 digestive biscuits (graham crackers), ensure dairy free
- 4 tsp dark chocolate chips (ensure dairy free)
*Note from Chickpea: we used 1/2 cup silken tofu with a tablespoon of maple syrup and it worked as a good substitute!
- Soften the peanut butter in a bowl, then pour in the soya cream and use a fork or balloon whisk to beat to a thick, creamy consistency.
- In a small saucepan, melt the vegan butter over a low heat while you break the biscuits into a breadcrumb consistency, either using a food processor, blender or by adding them to a food bag and beating with a rolling pin. Remove the pan from the heat, then pour the biscuit crumbs into the pan and stir to combine.
- Allow the biscuit mixture to cool for a few minutes, then press into the bottom of small glasses. Spoon in the peanut butter mixture and finish with a sprinkle of chocolate chips. The cheesecake shots can be refrigerated for 2 hours before serving for a gently chilled dessert.