Dorie Greenspan is a marvel. This is a woman who has won five James Beard awards. She has written 13 cookbooks. She has a column for the New York Times, “On Dessert.” If you want to give her a go without the investment of buying a book, you can find some recipes on her website and also in the NYT recipes app if you subscribe. The number of cookbooks I have amassed by this one person—four: Baking Chez Moi, Around my French Table, Dorie’s Cookies, and Everyday Dorie. All excellent.
But, I am here to argue for Everyday Dorie as the place to start with her. It feels so authentic to her specific experience, which has of course been influenced by many food cultures from around the world, both here in the U.S., in France, and while traveling. The unifying thread is that the favorite meals that she (and we) continue to make at home, over spans of years, are the things that are the most delicious. And the most reward for our effort. And the most convenient.
In Everyday Dorie, nearly every recipe contains a ‘working ahead’ section. So useful. For example, her tart recipes advise us that the crust can be made, partially baked, wrapped up and stored in the freezer up to two months in advance. In her gougères recipe, she shares that her secret to serving these at a moment’s notice is to store them, unbaked, in the freezer. They can be baked from frozen, like cookies! Her recipes are elegant, but they are also lived in. And whether you’ve got kids to manage or guests to talk to or just not much time between work and bed while getting dinner on the table, the best thing for most of us is to have a part of the work done at our convenience, earlier that day or week. Most of the recipes also contain a ‘storing’ section to help with leftovers, and a ‘playing around’ section, which lays out different paths the recipes could take. Very encouraging for those of us who like to mix things up.
Convenience is king (queen?) in this book, not at the expense of good food, but because good food is the end goal. And it is achievable with this collection on your counter. Nearly every dish I made was amazing, and every time I open this book, I find multiple recipes I’d like to make. This is another book, like David Tanis’ One Good Dish, that I would recommend to anyone with a kitchen who wants to cook. Seasoned cooks, beginner cooks, and everyone in between.
I made: Miso salmon rillettes (p. 15), Ricotta spoonable (p. 22), Mushroom bacon galette (p. 52), Moroccan spiced chickpea and noodle soup (p. 66), White beans and smoked fish (p. 102), Chicken and salad Milanese style (p. 109), Beef and beer stew (p. 146), Salmon burgers (p. 174), Potato tourte (p. 220), Chewy chocolate chip cookies (p. 246), Last-of -the-bunch banana bundt (p. 251).
Would make again: Mushroom bacon galette (p. 52), Moroccan spiced chickpea and noodle soup (p. 66), White beans and smoked fish (p. 102), Beef and beer stew (p. 146), Potato tourte (p. 220), Chewy chocolate chip cookies (p. 246), Last-of -the-bunch banana bundt (p. 251).
Standout Star Recipe: So difficult to choose! I’m going with a tie between the Mushroom bacon galette (p. 52) and the Moroccan spiced chickpea and noodle soup (p. 66).
Quick answers to important questions:
- Is it necessary to spend a bunch of money for new equipment? No. Everything is very simple.
- Are the ingredients expensive? No.
- Are the ingredients difficult to find? No, mostly not. Sometimes, if they are tough to source, there will also be some explanation of why and also good replacement ideas.
- Can I use ingredient substitutions? Yes! Meal plan but then work with what you have. As Ms. Greenspan says in the introduction, “Since I’m an exceedingly practical cook and like to use what I’ve got on hand, I often change a dish on the spur of the moment” (p. 1). There you go.
- Are the recipes complicated? No, but no matter how simple a recipe is, it’s best to read it through once before grocery shopping and again before starting to cook, get your ingredients out on the table, and make sure you have any necessary equipment.
- Can I feed kids from this book? Yes, though this is a book that loves veggies, so it kind of depends on your kids.
- Is this book on my side, trying to help? Yes! Absolutely love how easy it is to use this book, and the very very helpful sections on storage, working ahead and playing around (i.e. substitutions).
- Is the text of the book helpful and/or interesting? Yes. It is useful, mostly about the taste of the dish itself and why it works or how Ms. Greenspan came across it.
- Are recipes on one page or do I have to keep flipping back and forth while cooking? There is a lot of flipping back and forth, which is pretty annoying. This book puts so much effort in to making things simple for us, with just this one issue, darn it!
- Is this book beautiful and would it belong on a coffee table? No. It is a pretty book with gorgeous photos, it’s just not a coffee table book. It’s a recipe book. A really good one.
- Did I learn and grow as a cook while using this book? Yes, absolutely. I had never made Rillettes before, never made a potato tourte before. I also learned from the way that she uses spices and herbs. Her dishes are so flavorful but also not over the top—just elegant and lovely.
- Are ingredients given in weight? Yes, mostly.
- Is there advice on how to make ahead/store/reheat food? Yes. So practical.
- Can these recipes be adapted for different dietary needs? It’s not designed for it, but I think you could potentially make a lot of these recipes gluten free. .
- Can kids help with these recipes? Yes! There are simple recipes that kids could help with.
- How delicious is the food? Amazing, delicious, wonderful.
- Are the recipes healthful? Can they fit in to a balanced diet? Yes!
- Is there a set of values underpinning the book? This book is all about helping home cooks make the best food we can.
- Good gift? Yes. I think this would be a great gift for foodie friends and cooking newbies alike. Someone who doesn’t want to learn from Dorie Greenspan? Bonkers.
TLDR: Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook by Dorie Greenspan is such a marvel of a cookbook. These recipes are so good, and they work, and they encourage experimentation. You can’t get better for home cooking. A++.
Find Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook, published in the U.S. by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, wherever you buy books, or order it from Amazon! If you love this book, but wish it had more cookies, check out Dorie’s Cookies. And, if you love this book, but wish it had more je ne sais quoi, check out Around My French Table.