Cookbook Confidential Cookbook Club – Dorothy Grover-Read reviews Northing Fancy

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      “Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over,” by Alison Roman, © 2019, is a delightful cookbook! While she maintains in large-type, bold print “This is not a book about entertaining,” it certainly maps out some really stress-free strategies for doing exactly that, in a most appealing way.

  “Using your time and resources to feed people you care about is the ultimate expression of love,” she said in her introduction, adding that love is about expressing joy and not producing anxiety.

      Don’t worry if your plates don’t match, you burn the cake, or dinner is late by two hours, just cut off the burned part, put out some snacks, and pour some good wine. It’s all good is the message here.

      The book is organized by Snacks, Salads, Sides, Mains, and After Dinner. It is beautifully photographed, and the recipes are easy to follow, using approachable ingredients. There are suggestions on what to serve with the dish, little ideas and thoughts.

      I chose two recipes to make one evening when it was just my husband and myself and I wanted to fuss. The photograph of the Swordfish with Crushed Olives and Oregano looked inviting, and since we hadn’t had swordfish in a dog’s age, I decided that would be the feature on the plate.

sted Fennel, Lemon, and Basil and let me tell you, this was the best part of the dinner. So delicious, the texture of the farro and the lovely scents of fennel and lemon (two of my favorites) were beyond satisfying. We both ate quietly, with only the occasional grunts of happiness. I loved that she uses the entire fennel bulb, stems included, and I’m not sure why so many recipes call for cutting these off and sending them to the compost bin!

      The best part of this recipe was the leftovers two nights later. I charred a leek, a small pepper, and a few mushrooms in my wok, added the leftovers, and served up a Fried Farro and Fennel that we ate all by itself for dinner, nothing else was needed, and it was great the next day for lunch in a whole wheat wrap, with a little extra of the leftover olive sauce from the swordfish dish.

Swordfish with Crushed Olives and Oregano

·      2 cups Castelvetrano olives (or similar mild green olives), pitted and crushed

·      2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice

·      Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh oregano or marjoram

·      ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

·      Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

·      3 or 4 swordfish steaks (8 to 10 ounces each), 1 to 1¼ inches thick

·      2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

·      ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, tender leaves and stems

·      2 lemons, halved, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, combine the olives, vinegar, half the oregano leaves and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and let it sit while you cook the swordfish.

2. Season the swordfish with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, add the swordfish steaks, making sure they’ve got a little space between one another. Cook until the steaks are a deep golden brown on one side, 5 to 7 minutes (mine were a little thinner, so 5 minutes did the trick). Using a fish spatula or regular spatula, flip the steaks and cook until they are equally golden brown on the other side, another 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Transfer the fish to a large serving platter or baking dish. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook until just softened, a minute or so. Add the olive mixture and remove from the heat.

4. Spoon some of the olive mixture over the swordfish and let it sit a few minutes to allow the sauce to marinate and really get to know that fish.

5. Scatter with the parsley and the remaining oregano, and serve with any extra olive mixture and the lemon halves for squeezing over.

 I served with the following recipe, and they were delightful together. Roman said “This is a very good and very polite grain salad recipe, maybe my favorite one in this book. It is not offensive to any other dish on the table and it’ll get along with any other vegetable or protein you’re serving. It has interesting things to say but doesn’t dominate the conversation.”

Farro with Toasted Fennel, Lemon, and Basil

·      2 cups pearled or semi-pearled farro, barley, Israeli couscous, freekeh, or wheat berries 

·      1⁄4 cup olive oil

·      6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

·      1 tablespoon fennel seeds 

·      1 large fennel bulb, bulb and stem thinly sliced; fronds reserved 

·      1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed

·      Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

·      Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 

·      1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn 

      1. Cook grains according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. 

      2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and fennel seeds, and cook, stirring occasionally until garlic is just starting to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sliced fennel bulb and half the lemon and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is totally tender and starting to caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. 

      3. Add the farro to the skillet and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Toss to coat and cook a few minutes, letting the farro absorb some of that garlicky, fennel-y olive oil. Add remaining lemon slices and chopped fennel stem and remove from heat. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl and top with the basil and fennel fronds. 

      Since this grain salad is so accommodating, feel free to make it your own by adding more herbs (basil! tarragon!), a grating of salty cheese (ricotta salata or pecorino), or handful of toasted and chopped nuts for texture. 

      DO AHEAD: Farro can be cooked up to 5 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated. The whole dish can be cooked 2 days ahead, but wait to add the fresh herbs and fennel fronds. 

Should you buy this cookbook? I highly recommend it, and I now have it on my own crowded shelf. If you like to have folks over for an evening of stress-free cooking and eating, there are lots of great ideas here – from a marvelous roasted chicken to playing around with pastas and pizza, even sweet endings that can be made a day ahead. There’s something for everyone here, with built-in confidence for even the novice cook.

I’m a writer, cook, gardener, photographer, poet, quilter, and accomplished daydreamer. I’m also a wife, mother, grandmother, and sister. cousin, aunt, and friend, in no particular order on any given day. 

                I’ve been a writer all my life, newspaper reporter and columnist, radio news writer, magazine contributor, and poet and short-story writer as the spirit moves. Now, I turn my attention to my cookbook, the blog, and a cooking column “Memorable Meals,” which runs in our county newspaper. Besides my family, I love dogs, cats, good coffee, and my never-dwindling pile of books I intend to read.

         Our family ran a small Vermont Inn for 18 years, with our focus on local, organic ingredients. After many years of daily serving up our local delicacies, cooking classes, and catering, we are now only open for special events, and the odd cooking class as the spirit moves me. We also host musicians and artists, having helped produce a musical festival and other musical events for nearly 20 years. Many incredible artists have found a place at our table. Wonderful experiences, we will treasure always.   

Please be sure and visit Dorothy at Dorothy Grover-Read writes the “The New Vintage Kitchen” blog. Dorothy’s blog is all about celebrating traditional cooking techniques and recipes, while incorporating fresh, locally-sourced ingredients into her dishes. She’s known for her creative approach to classic recipes, and her passion for using sustainable and seasonal produce. Dorothy’s blog is a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about the art of cooking and preserving traditional culinary techniques.

10 responses to “Cookbook Confidential Cookbook Club – Dorothy Grover-Read reviews Northing Fancy”

  1. If I was to be stranded somewhere with a group, I’d want both Bernadette and Dorothy to be there too. I promise to work hard, but at least we would eat well. 🙂

  2. V.M.Sang – UK – I was born and educated in the north west of England. I trained as a teacher in Manchester and taught in Salford, Lancashire, Hampshire and Croydon. I write fantasy novels currently. I also make cards, knit, crochet, tat, do cross stitch and paint. I enjoy walking on the Downs, cycling and kayaking. I do not enjoy housework, but like cooking.
    V.M.Sang says:

    Next time I’m at the fishmonger’s, I think I’ll get some swordfish and try this.
    It might work well with tuna, too.

  3. johnrieber – I love great food, interesting books, fascinating travel, outrageous movies, and bacon, especially when it sits on top of a great cheeseburger! I work in entertainment – and I have been lucky enough to interview some really talented Artists – that guides my posts: interesting and provocative movies, music, social media and of course, food, since I believe strongly in the maxim, "everyone eats!"
    johnrieber says:

    Terrific recipe – I had grilled green olives at a restaurant the other day and they were a unique preparation…this catfish with green olives looks terrific!

  4. Angela – New England-born, Pennsylvania raised, fervent Italian-American, I'm a reader/writer/editor and lover of family, travel, food, and wine, and Enzo, our slightly oversized but otherwise textbook Maltese. My husband's a concrete sequential Leo and I’m a daydreaming Pisces, which makes daily life just a bit more interesting.
    Angela says:

    That looks so good, and the cookbook might end up on my list as I need a “refresh.” Apart from that, you are always so creative, Dorothy.

  5. Retirement Reflections – Vancouver Island, BC – Prior to retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing China for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope that you enjoy reading these reflections, and will be willing to share your own.
    Retirement Reflections says:

    Hi, Dorothy – These dishes both look delicious. I will definitely make that Farro with Toasted Fennel, Lemon, and Basil. Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. Awakening Wonders – Everyday life is filled with wondrous things and embraceable moments, but only if we allow ourselves to be fully awakened. I invite you to join me as I share passionate life adventures and ramblings that awaken my spirit. I look forward to awakening your senses to the simple, joyous wonders that are all around us. I feel that we are destined to become soulful adventurers!
    Awakening Wonders says:

    As a cookbook lover – I will check this book out!

  7. Annika Perry – East Anglia, UK – I’m a versatile writer whose books span across various genres. My first venture into publishing is "The Storyteller Speaks" and this a collection of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Published in January 2018 "The Storyteller Speaks" has received over twenty-five glowing reviews on Amazon. "Oskar’s Quest", my second book, it is a beautifully illustrated children’s book for younger children (and all young at heart!). "Oskar’s Quest" is an engaging story of adventure and courage. I have also completed one more story for children which is as yet unpublished. "Island Girl", my first full-length novel, is in its final edits and I’m looking forward to publishing this in due course. Writing has been a passion since childhood although it is only in the past few years that I have seriously started to write fiction. Initially, a writing course gave me encouragement and direction with my writing. Furthermore, the tutor recommended blogging and in January 2015 I set up my blog, Annika Perry’s Writing Blog. I never imagined the friendships I would make and I’ve been overwhelmed with the warmth and incredible support from people around the world. In spring 2014 I won First Prize in a Writing Magazine’s Short Story Competition which was a fantastic surprise and joy. Furthermore, I was short-listed for an Ink Tears Short Story Competition the same year. The recognition of my writing ability outside of my family and friends was a huge boost to my self-confidence and as a result, I started the mammoth undertaking of writing my first novel. Meanwhile, in early 2017 I was greatly encouraged by my friends and writers to publish some of my numerous short stories in a book. It was with great excitement and sense of achievement to launch the publication of my first book, "The Storyteller Speaks", in December 2017 with the paperback released in January 2018. The latter part of 2018 and throughout 2019 was busy with the realisation of a dream project, to publish a children’s book. Like so many parents, my son when young would request a bedtime story. These I tended to make up and a couple became his and my personal favourites. I revisited one of these stories and after much rewriting, editing and finding a wonderful illustrator, "Oskar’s Quest" was ready! Overall my road to publication has been circuitous and aided by the support of my family and friends. After gaining my BA Honours Degree in German Language and Literature from the University of Leeds I started working as a journalist. Following a serious illness, I changed career and gained a position as Administration Manager for a busy timber import company. I worked here for many years before leaving to pursue my passion for writing. I am now a full-time writer, blogger and book reviewer. I was born in Gothenburg, Sweden and at the age of six, moved to the UK with my family where we settled near Ilkley, West Yorkshire. Since then I have moved many times but now live in a small village in North Essex, England with my husband and occasionally my son, when he returns during university holidays. I am on the following social media sites and look forward to seeing you there. If you have a specific enquiry please use the form below. Twitter: Author Website: Amazon Page: Goodreads: Linkedin:
    Annika Perry says:

    Wow! What a wonderful and unique introduction to a cookery book and the words encompass what so much of cooking is all about. A lovely share of recipes and the meals look sublime!

  8. Nancy – Arizona – Two Trails become One Road in Arizona. Read All About the Adventures of this Arizonian.
    Nancy says:

    I agree with Judy… I want to be stranded with you and Dorothy and Judy too! This book looks interesting!

  9. Hi Bernadette, two super recipes from this book. I am definitely getting this one.

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