There are no two things I love more. Food and friends. So all it took for me to want this book in my hands immediately was the title and tag line. And then it arrived. I didn’t know a cookbook could be so fun!
This incredible cookbook Food with Friends: the art of simple gatherings by Leela Cyd serves my heart up on a platter. From the texture of the pages, to the vibrant images, delectable recipes, and a true sense of style Cyd has captured the art of simple entertaining as her tagline claims. I immediately dove in and I have never wanted to read a cookbook cover to cover… until… this one landed in my mailbox. Having paged through, read, and cooked from this book I’m telling you it’s beauty is one to enjoy yourself and grab for a friend in your life. I can’t wait to wow my guests with some of these fabulous recipes. But I also love that they are approachable and doable in my everyday home. Yes some of the ingredients are not my “regular ones” but as I cook through more I see similar ingredients laced through the pages and see how unusual ingredients could become staples for us. Pass the chia seeds anyone?
The loaded table of contents includes all kinds of gathering based foods. I dig that. She encourages small portions that leave people wanting more. It is in the quality of the food not the quantity. A perfect bite or two trumps a heaping plate that is just so-so and none of these recipes will ever be dubbed mediocre.
I will be honest that despite a well stocked pantry I probably only have two-thirds of the ingredients on hand and would have to purchase the other one-third. I do love that Cyd focuses on flavor and not as much on the “health” side of things. Not to say she doesn’t encourage important healthy elements like buying organic and in season when you can, and recipes include lots of great alternative oils and yummy additives like flax and chia seeds. It’s just that she’ll also toss in rich and delicious ingredients along the way that enhance flavor.
Then…it hit me, or rather I hit the style section! Oh my, I thought I couldn’t fall in love more, and then I did. It’s like Cyd peered into my china cabinet and wrote this portion for me. Forget the “matchy matchy,” ditch perfection and embrace unique and eclectic. Whether it is a “neighborhood bouquet” put together from the medians and overhanging plants in your neighborhood or found treasures from the beach Cyd inspires you to use what you have. And to get hunting for treasure. She suggests local antique shops and estate sales. I chose my local Buy Nothing group.
A sweet neighbor of mine is moving and she passed on these incredible vintage, retro pieces. An egg platter from her grandmother, some beautiful “anchor dishes” from an antique shop in Florida – just look at those curled edges – and then she brought out the retro pitcher. I swoon. And the cherry on top the sundae was the pretty, pink glass candle sticks she tossed in at the end. Are you kidding me? I may have felt like I died and went to heaven.
I cannot wait to fill them with candles or prop up a pretty piece of drift wood or the right shade of blossom on these sweet candlesticks at my next gathering.
I love that Cyd calls you to not only set the stage for the food but to use the tablescape to help the guests feel loved and “thought of.” The style pages alone. Worth it.
The secret ingredients are unusual and yet practical enough to try on my own. I cannot wait to integrate them into my own cooking and try them as suggested in the recipes. You’ll have to snag a copy to read about all of them, but whether it’s an unusual nut oil, spicy toppings or fun seasonings these are sure to spice up your normal recipes. She also includes a list of some of the more unusual ingredients she considers “basics” and talks to you about how she utilizes them herself.
Then in she dives to the recipes. They are laid out beautifully, easy to ready, and you know exactly what you need and how to execute. This says a lot – the simple and colorful layout is inspiring and empowering. Each recipe creates flavor filled and colorful food that truly entices your appetite and encourages creativity. Filling our home with adults and children alike is something I value. I want all my people exposed to creative food and to love eating it.