Food With Friends by Leela Cyd is an excellent cookbook oriented toward entertaining friends and even oneself, from time to time. It has an appropriate mix of simple and fast recipes and complex, time-intensive recipes so you have options to whip up for drop-in company or to prepare ahead to impress invited guests. The recipes are oriented around the time of day or type of event, the morning brunch/breakfast, the mid-day tea, the evening potluck, and of course, the takeaway gifts of food that are such special presents.
Cyd is a food photographer and the book is filled with beautiful, colorful photos. There is even a section giving tips on how to photograph food. She has a propensity to sprinkle lots of herbs all over that makes for pretty pictures, but messy tables. I don’t mind the mess, though, it encourages me. I am always happy to see photos where the food is not so precise and perfect that I know I can never come close. The Blueberry Galette with Mascarpone and Oat Crust? I can totally see myself producing that. I want my recipe books to have realistic expectations of the home cook, and this one does.
There are a few too many recipes with esoteric ingredients that will take a visit to a specialty grocery or purchasing online. This is a natural result of Cyd’s wide travels that have taken her all around the world, which allows her to draw from many cuisines. It’s just unlikely that most home cooks will have these ingredients to hand. But, not all recipes are that esoteric. Some are downright homey.
Fair warning, the dessert section is dangerous. If you can page through those recipes without drooling on the pages, you are a better one than I. Most of the recipes are off limits to this diabetic and I swear, the pictures alone are enough to raise your glucose levels. There’s a dish called an Eton Mess that looks so amazing, but I know it’s off limits for me.
Cyd is not afraid of spices so her dishes are rich in flavor. I tried the spiced chickpea recipe which was super easy and delicious. The charred lemony asparagus was also tasty and easy to make. I didn’t have any sourdough bread, not bread of any kind for that matter, so I toasted a tortilla with some garlic butter on one side and rolled the asparagus inside it. It was lovely. Not quite her recipe, but that’s when you know a recipe is good, when you can adapt it to compensate for a missing ingredient and still have it work.
Food With Friends is a great addition to your cookbook collection if you already have the basics. This is entertainment oriented, full of the pretty celebratory dishes that help make a party joyful and fun. There is an emphasis on color, bright flavors and appearance. If you like to entertain and want something new and different, this is the cookbook you want.
I received a copy of Food With Friends from Blogging For Books.