Cooking with Neighbors and Friends


By Kristina Sepetys


As the weather warms and we spend more time outside and in our gardens, a chat over the garden fence becomes an impromptu bring-what-you-have dinner around the barbecue. Or a bounty of tender new produce discovered in the garden becomes an excuse to assemble a bowl of fresh-clipped greens and invite the neighbors to come by and break bread over a pot of something warm. Below are some new titles to inspire your community building. Happy spring!


Soup-NightSoup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup
by Maggie Stuckey
(Storey Publishing, 2013).

Cookbook author Maggie Stuckey explains the history of the wildly successful soup night she started in her Portland neighborhood and shares practical tips and nearly 100 recipes for starting your own soup night. On a regular, fixed night of the week, the host provides two or three pots of soup. Guests bring their own dishes and silverware, and perhaps a salad or some bread. Neighbors get to know each other by name, people of all ages connect and socialize, and the neighborhood becomes friendlier and safer.


Soup's On!The 30-Minute Vegan: Soup’s On! More than 100
Quick and Easy Recipes for Every Season

by Mark Reinfeld
(De Capo Lifelong Books, 2013).

If your gatherings cater to vegans or others looking for flavorful plant-based soups that can be cooked up quickly, you’ll like this guide. Find delicious recipes for French Onion Soup, Thai Coconut Soup with Lemongrass, Mayan Tomato and Corn, Himalayan Dahl, Brazilian Black Bean with Baked Plantains, New England Chowder, Creamy Fire-Roasted Tomato and Dill, and Cheesy Cauliflower Soup. Reinfeld also includes recipes for dessert potages like Spicy Strawberry Soup, Golden Gazpacho with Saffron, and Raw Chocolate Mint Soup with Raspberries.


Bold FlavorsBold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors
by Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise
(Workman Publishing Company, 2013).

Two Chez Panisse alumnae and prolific cookbook authors present 250 big, flavorful recipes designed to be served in plate-filling portions. This is updated comfort food: slow-cooked roasts and braises, generous steaks, filling soups, heaping platters of salads and vegetables, hearty pastas and grains, wild game, and rich desserts. Feed a hungry gathering with recipes like these: Stuffed California Pork Rolls; Buffalo Chili with Black Bean and Corn Salsa; Leg of Lamb with Spicy Pecan Pesto; Corn Chowder with Cod, Shrimp, and Corn; and finish with Lime Curd Coconut Meringue Pie with a Macadamia Nut Crust.


Afro-VeganAfro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed
by Bryant Terry
(Ten Speed Press, 2014).

The chef, food justice activist, and author of Vegan Soul Kitchen and The Inspired Vegan reworks and remixes some favorite ingredients and classic dishes of the African Diaspora to present more than 100 delicious new recipes. Notes include Terry’s insights about building community around food and suggest world music tracks and books to enhance the cooking and eating experience. Find recipes like Smashed Potatoes, Peas, and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil, a recipe inspired by the Kenyan dish irio; Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad with dried apricots, carrots, and almonds, based on a Moroccan tagine; and Crispy Teff and Grit Cakes with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Peanuts, combining the Ethiopian grain teff with stone-ground corn grits from the Deep South and North African zalook dip.  Finish meals with desserts like a Caribbean-inspired Cocoa Spice Cake with Crystallized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache.


Farm FreshFarm-Fresh and Fast: Easy Recipes and Tips for Making the Most of Fresh, Seasonal Foods
(Fairshare CSA Coalition, July 2013).

This volume blends culinary know-how with practical recipes to make the most of fresh, seasonal produce. Each chapter is organized by plant anatomy (leafy greens, root vegetables, etc.) to highlight similarities in cooking and preparation among ingredients. Master recipes help home cooks adapt to fit the ingredients they have on hand, and come with four seasonal variations so the recipes can be changed up as the harvest unfolds.


Fresh Food NationFresh Food Nation: Simple, Seasonal Recipes from America’s Farmers
by Martha Holmberg
(Taunton Press, 2013)

This is another great book to turn to when you have fresh produce and are looking for recipes to keep the preparation simple and flavorful.