If I could share a meal with the Food Network star of my choice, I'd pick Alton Brown without a second thought.
After watching approximately a zillion episodes of Good Eats, Iron Chef America, and Cutthroat Kitchen, I'd just about kill to spend an evening in the kitchen with him.
With the help of Brown's latest cookbook, EveryDayCook, fans like myself can get as close as possible to that experience without the man himself being in attendance. Read on for my full review.
EveryDayCook was published on September 27 and is available in both book and ebook formats. Brown states—on the cover in fact—that although he's published seven other books, "This time, it's personal."
Brown's previous books were related to his shows, or took a scientific approach to food. It's clear that EveryDayCook is influenced by Brown's Food Network history, but its niche is recipes that "were concocted because somebody (usually me) was hungry."
Brown has perfected his cache of everyday dishes, and has permitted the world a glance of not only his personal recipes, but his personal approach to food in general.
Recipes include breakfast carbonara (pasta for breakfast?!), turkey tikka masala, plenty of vegetarian recipes (in the eyes of this omnivore) and a slew of snacks and baked goods. There is no lack of variety in any section of this book.
The 100 or so recipes in EveryDayCook are broken down into what time of day they generally fit into.
Here's a speedy overview of three of the several recipes I've attempted so far.
This recipe starts with making a flavored oil (and sending a shout out to Bobby Flay). Then you'll learn a whole new way to cook pasta, accept that anchovies have a place in the world, and become a connoisseur of canned tomatoes.
Heavenly Orbs of Belgian Goodness
Recipe name checks out. Brussels sprouts, I knew that someday I would come to love you. I can't wait to try the variation, which invites bacon to the party.
Not gonna lie, I'm not sure why candied bacon is a thing...But I'm certainly not mad about it. In this version, red pepper flakes add a spicy dimension to the sweet, salty, fatty treat. It's tasty, I'm just not entirely sure how to love it.
Of course, knowing the source, I expect that all the recipes are going to taste amazing. The one downside that I see is a lack of accessibility.
As a college student, I just recently came to own a small cast-iron skillet. I only own a fair amount of the tools listed in the "Hardware" section because I'm a regular home cook and a contributor to this foodie website.
A lot of gadgets (useful though they may be) are required or strongly recommended for these recipes, and for that reason the book isn't perfectly friendly to young adults in small kitchens. Personally, I can work around my limits for 85% of the book.
I'll also defend EveryDayCook by saying that it isn't intended for college students in small kitchens, it's intended for people who want to cook every day and who have the means to do so. For me, that's more of a long-term goal.
Every aspect of this book encourages cooking every day. There's a good balance of nutritious and indulgent, and there seems to be a clear effort to get great results without needlessly overcomplicating. It is, as I believe it aspires to be, a wonderful everyday recipe resource.
It's also worth noting that EveryDayCook has the most beautiful photography and design I've seen in a cookbook, and it manages to accomplish that while exclusively using photos taken on an iPhone 6s Plus. I love my DSLR, but I'm very impressed with the competition.
We can probably all agree that this book is aimed at people who already recognize the name Alton Brown. I mean, check out that author/title text ratio. Still, if I had never heard of him, I think this could stand alone as a friendly and informative cookbook.
The writing that supplements the recipes is friendly and funny while succinctly communicating relevant facts (and the occasional goofy aside). Brown's personality shines just like it does on TV, his writing is sprinkled with "gosh-darns" and dramatic utensil drops (imagine a mic drop, but with a spoon).
I feel like Alton Brown himself is teaching me to cook his favorites, rather than just handing me the recipes and wishing me luck. That makes this book pretty special, in my eyes.
All in all, I am very impressed...But as a fan I'm clearly biased. Check it for out for yourself.