Bookshop's 2017 Cookbook Potluck


by Stefanie Berntson

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."                                                   

—Laurie Colwin

Bookshop Santa Cruz’s staff took the incomparable Laurie Colwin’s words to heart when we gathered to share and talk about food that we cooked from some of this season’s most eagerly awaited cookbooks. As the cookbook buyer I am certainly biased but I can’t think of anything more fun to do with my fellow booksellers. Here is a recap:


Smitten Kitchen Every Day

by Deb Perelman (KNOPF)


by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh (TEN SPEED PRESS)

I was so excited to get to cook from two of the most anticipated cookbooks of the season—and they definitely lived up to the hype! The charm and delicious recipes that blogger Deb Perelman is known for are in full force in Smitten Kitchen Every Day. (Don’t miss her appearance at Bookshop on November 18th!) I tried several recipes (including her Charred Corn Succotash with Lime and Crispy Shallots, which I can’t stop thinking about) and each was absolutely delicious. For the potluck I made Roasted Tomato Picnic Sandwich, which was so easy and put our late-season cherry tomatoes to good use.

Yotam Ottolenghi is known for his best-selling cookbooks, including Plenty and Jerusalem, and it’s safe to say he has another huge hit on his hands. Ottolenghi collaborated with pastry chef Helen Goh to produce Sweet, a dreamy collection of dessert recipes. I tried out numerous cookie and cake recipes (my kids were very happy!) before settling on Lemon, Blueberry and Almond Teacakes for our potluck. Featuring ground almonds in place of much of the flour, these tiny cakes are a knockout. Ottolenghi never fails to open my eyes (and palate) to flavors and techniques that I’m not familiar with and now never want to stop using.



Guerrilla Tacos

by Wesley Avila (TEN SPEED PRESS)

The Moosewood Restaurant Table

by the Moosewood Collective (ST. MARTIN’S GRIFFIN)

Jenny loved reading and cooking from Guerrilla Tacos, which she said has a great narrative and fun instructions. Wesley Avila’s tacos have been called one of the best things to eat in Los Angeles (by legendary food critic Jonathan Gold) and based on his recipe for Chile Colorado tacos that Jenny made for our potluck, we’d have to say that holds true beyond L.A. They were sensational.

Natalie was hoping to try out some vegetarian recipes, so the new Moosewood cookbook was the perfect fit. She liked that the food was creative but still accessible and used easy-to-find ingredients throughout. Natalie made Stuffed Poblano Peppers for our staff, and the rice, tomato, corn and cheese filling was perfectly seasoned with herbs and spices. The Moosewood Restaurant Table is a fine collection of meatless basics with a twist.


Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian

by Lidia Bastianich (KNOPF)

The Home Cook

by Alex Guarnaschelli (CLARKSON POTTER)

Lidia Bastianich has spent two decades teaching us how to cook via her award-winning PBS shows and cookbooks. In her latest book, Bastianich shows us how to celebrate like an Italian—whether hosting a dinner for two or an entire wedding. Jenny jumped at the chance to cook from it and enjoyed how festive and fun it is, and our staff loved the Portobello Mushroom and Grilled Corn Salad with a Balsamic Reduction that she made.

Cat cooked multiple recipes from chef and Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli’s new book, The Home Cook, and was thrilled with the results. Although she found that many recipes call for quite a few ingredients and some longer prep time than she anticipated, Cat stressed that they are absolutely worth the effort. The excellent Chicken Cacciatore she made for our staff certainly backs up that claim!


State Bird Provisions

by Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski (TEN SPEED PRESS)

Cheers to the Publican


Our booksellers tried out two new books by acclaimed restaurateurs: Megan took home State Bird Provisions and was wowed by the inventive recipes (which have earned the San Francisco restaurant a Michelin star). While she found some of the food a bit out of her reach, Meghan became a convert when she made the Rose Petal Lemonade for the potluck. Easy to make and featuring only three ingredients, the lemonade is the prettiest shade of pink and its flavor is sublime.

Cheers to the Publican, a toast to Chicago’s destination beer hall restaurant the Publican, was tried out by Jax, who appreciates a good meal and a good beverage. She found the cookbook to be a great adventure and encourages reading the recipes thoroughly before tackling them. This is not weeknight fare, but it is a great book to elevate your cooking. Jax made the Pimiento Cheese for our potluck and the staff gobbled it right up.



by Stella Parks (W.W. NORTON & COMPANY)

Breaking Bread

by Martin Philip (HARPER WAVE)

We never seem to have a shortage of enthusiastic bakers on our staff, which really pays off around the holidays and other special occasions—like this one. Nicole found Bravetart, with its focus on American desserts, as fun to read as to bake from, since it includes the history of iconic sweets like chocolate chip cookies and cherry pie. She made a big plate of Homemade Oreo Cookies for our staff gathering and they were worlds beyond the original.

Ivy is a terrific baker, so she was excited to get a preview of Breaking Bread by the head baker at King Arthur Flour, Martin Philip. She felt Philip’s philosophical approach (“I bake because it connects my soul to my hands, and my heart to my mouth”) gave the book a compelling narrative, and his recipes were easy to follow. Ivy whipped up the most beautiful butter biscuits for our potluck.


These books would make wonderful gifts or valuable additions to your own cookbook shelf. For more recommendations, please see our cookbook reviews.

Stefanie Berntson has had the pleasure of being Bookshop’s cookbook buyer for more than 20 years.


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