Books & Literature

Book Review: The Unapologetic Cookbook, by Joshua Weissman

If you love to host and entertain; if you like a good project; if you crave control of your food; if fast food or the frozen aisle or the super-fast-super-easy cookbook keeps letting your tastebuds down; then this book is your ideal kitchen companion.

A keeper for seasoned cooks and passionate foodies.
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In The Unapologetic Cookbook, Joshua Weissman offers a wide range of recipes to suit all tastes. The broad repertoire, along with the detail that each recipe covers and the helpful, humourous cooking notes, makes this cookbook a keeper.

The chapters feature the usual suspects—fish, meat, soup etc.—as well as an initial section called A Little Foundation Cooking. This covers fermented vegetables, a selection of sauces and cheeses, and breads made from scratch, in addition to plenty more. The recipes contained in the rest of the book then call for those foundation dishes, so in this way the book acts almost as a progressive cooking course rather than a simple collection of recipes.

It seems that The Unapologetic Cookbook would suit a seasoned cook or perhaps someone who’s really passionate about cooking and looking to spend hours in the kitchen creating dishes from scratch. Some of the recipes are quick and easy, but there are also those that require more time, effort, skill, and equipment.

One of the highlights of the book, at least for an Australian audience, are the American dishes that wouldn’t normally be available, either served at local restaurants or in local cookbooks. Recipes like “mom’s chicken fried steak” or “buttermilk biscuits” are quite rare over here and definitely one of the book’s drawing points.

It’s convenient to refer to The Unapologetic Cookbook as you’re cooking, thanks to the book’s design that allows the pages to stay open easily. The glossy paper also means that spillages could be easily wiped off.

GRAVLAX SMØRREBRØD (PAGE 140)

If you’re looking for a quick, simple, and satisfying dish that also looks impressive, this is it! You might not automatically think of an open-faced sandwich as a dish for entertaining, but it’s actually a good one for dinner parties because making it is so easy. It looks much more complex than it is and the flavours are to die for.

Even though I opted not to use caviar, this smørrebrød still felt more special than your everyday open sandwich. The horseradish cream was more tart than I expected but the flavours matched perfectly with the salmon and the dill.

The best part about this dish is that it’s so surprisingly filling. The sourdough combined with the strong notes makes it hit the spot. Looks and taste-wise, it’s great for summer get-togethers and pretty much impossible to mess up.

THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE (PAGE 247)

Even if you’re not normally a sweet tooth, these are the kind of cookies that you won’t be able to stop nibbling on. I was curious to try an authentic American choc-chip cookie recipe and this didn’t disappoint.

The ingredients were easy to find and the method was fairly quick and easy. The technique of banging the baking tray to flatten the cookies sounded odd at first but it worked perfectly. I overcooked them slightly but the taste was still delectable.

The only issue is that the cookies were a little too big. Next time, I would divide the dough into more balls than the recipe asks for and make smaller cookies which, although probably not as impressive, would be more practical. Still, these ginormous cookies definitely didn’t go to waste!

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

Distributed by: Penguin Books
Released: 14 September 2021
RRP: $39.99

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