by Kristina Sepetys

Beautiful springtime weather inspires planned and impromptu gatherings for brunch, teatime, happy hours, picnics, and potlucks. A pantry stocked with specialty ingredients helps with quick assembly of a snack or meal. Grate a flavorful hard cheese from The Cheese Board or Country Cheese over a salad or fresh pasta, or spread a soft French-style cheese on crusty bread with a bit of artisan jam. Desserts like chocolate chip cookies or brownies will taste a little different with a sprinkling of vanilla sea salt or other fresh, deeply aromatic spices from the Oaktown Spice Shop. Specialty nut oils like roasted pistachio, hazelnut, and walnut from La Tourangelle are delicious in salads, soups, or over ice cream. The possibilities are endless!

Food with Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings
by Leela Cyd
(Clarkson Potter, 2016)

“You never know who’s going to stop by or what last-minute friend fete you may be invited to,” writes California-based food photographer, stylist, and cook Leela Cyd. Drawing on her travels and love of international cuisine, Cyd uses unexpected ingredients to make a simple snack or meal special: a few slices of French toast doused in lavender syrup; rainbow chard empanadas served with pistachio crema; chocolate chip cookies made with whole-grain flours, olive oil, salt, and large slabs of bittersweet chocolate; a vibrant purple cauliflower hummus. Cyd created, styled, and photographed all 85 sweet and savory recipes, including some that are gluten- and sugar-free. Sunny, pastel colors make dishes like Lemon-Poppy-Seed Dutch Baby, Smoky Delicata Squash with Pecorino, Chocolate-Orange Challah with Saffron, and Almond Honey Financiers look especially charming and appealing. The book includes tips for creating an inviting table, stocking a pantry, and preparing delicious gifts for hosts and departing guests. Cyd writes for the popular website TheKitchn.com and chronicles her adventures and travels in food at LeelaCyd.com.