A meal to build a dream on

I am a natural introvert, and I honestly don’t cook very much on normal days; still, sometimes I dream of lavish dinner parties, themed summertime cocktail gatherings, tea parties, and picnics. I do occasionally gather with some aunts and cousins for tea parties, and I once had a Lord of the Rings movie marathon where we designed a menu around the seven Hobbit meals, but many of my culinary dreams are still in their fledgling form.

Luckily, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found in our Cooking neighborhood to match any mood or skill level! If the warmer weather has you thinking about summer parties or just trying something new for dinner, we have you covered. Here are a few new cookbooks to get you started.

Boards. This blog post is not sponsored, but I spend a lot of time at Olsson’s Fine Foods on Palmer Square checking out the cheeses, meats, and toppings. If you enjoy charcuterie or other plates of small bites, let this collection from America’s Test Kitchen inspire you to create your own gorgeous spread for one or a crowd. 

Gazoz. Is it strange to say this is the most refreshing-looking book cover I’ve seen? Lemonade will never go out of style, but if your next summer picnic is calling for something new to suit the whole family, try this collection of sparkling, nonalcoholic beverages.

Practically Vegan. Whether you’re vegan already or a non-vegan looking for non-meat meals to add to your culinary repertoire, Melvani offers one-pot options, multicultural recipes, and more to keep you coming back again and again.

If you want to try out traditional dishes your grandparents used to make or explore a different culinary tradition, there’s plenty here to tempt the palate from all over the world.

Mi Cocina. If this cover doesn’t make you hungry – well, you’re much stronger than I am, sitting here thinking of chiles and lime. Chef Martinez travels throughout Mexico highlighting regional cuisines and international influences in his collection of recipes, and he helpfully includes substitutions and replacements for what could be highly specific ingredients.

Bavel. Something about Middle Eastern foods and flavors makes me think instantly of warm summer days. Get ready for layered spices paired with fresh yogurt, Mediterranean seafood dishes, and nut and cream desserts.

Kiin. Thai meals are usually meant to be shared, with a table full of dishes that everyone enjoys together. Chef Regular wants home cooks to be able to work with the flavors she grew up with for themselves: think rich curries, pickled vegetables, and cool mango and papaya.

A Good Day to Bake. You may recognize author Benjamina Ebuehi from the Great British Bake Off, so you know she understands the joys of cozy baking. Combining traditional and unexpected recipes, this collection will step up your sweet and savory baking game for any occasion.

There are so many more (cocktailsbreadmore bakery goodness!), so don’t hesitate to stop by and let your stomach and taste buds lead the way. These recipes may inspire you to seek out specialty grocery stores, buy only what’s seasonal and local, or simply to make new use of what’s already in your cupboards, but we hope you’ll find plenty here to help your own culinary dreams take flight.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

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