I’ll admit to not being familiar with Tara O’Brady’s blog “Seven Spoons” before being offered the chance to review the cookbook, but I will most certainly be following her in the future. Beginning with a very nice overview (with specific brands) for common seasonings (including my favorite secret weapon gojuchang!), flavoring agents, and measurements, “Seven Spoons” contains a versatile arsenal of recipes that really appealed to me. As I love breakfast any time of day, the breakfast chapter in particular was particularly tempting, with such gems as fig and ginger granola, bostocks, a savory steel-cut oatmeal, chocolate olive oil zucchini bread, and vanilla espresso walnut butter starting (or ending!) to start your day right.
Main dishes include a variety of chicken, seafood (including an unctuous slow-baked salmon with butter beans), and beef. Many of the recipes are vegetarian-friendly as well, including fattoush with fava and labneh, hummus with white miso, mushrooms and greens with toast, olive and orange cauliflower, the North Indian baked eggs that are reminiscent of Israeli breakfast staple shakshouka, and a notable section of desserts and pantry staples. I have dozens of baking and dessert cookbooks, and really loved some of Tara’s simple yet elegant recipes like fig toasts with buttered honey, blood orange stout cake, Vietnamese coffee ice cream, and roasted grapes with sweet labneh. The staples section includes guidance on making numerous dairy products at home (cultured and flavored butters, crème fraiche, ricotta, yogurt, and dressings). The compound butter section was excellent, including some suggestions I had not seen in my many other cookbooks (as the author is Canadian, I appreciated the addition of maple butter). The maple, tapenade, and sweet fennel pollen butters will be starring in regular rotation in my kitchen,
Recipes are generally quite simple (which makes them perfect for novice cooks), with ingredients given in Imperial volume and metric measurements. There’s a distinctive Indian and Middle Eastern flair running throughout, from veggie pakoras and homemade naan to za’atar chicken, halloumi with chermoula, roasted carrots with harissa aioli and dukkah, and a lentil kofta curry.
Along the way, recipes are rounded out with gorgeous photography (for those who prefer their cookbooks to be photo-heavy, note that not every recipe has a photo). I loved the tone of each recipe foreword, and the excellent section on pantry staples. This is a book that is both appealing and practical, with most ingredients readily available at my supermarket and many recipes that can be put together fairly quickly, meaning that it will see regular rotation in my kitchen! Highly recommended.