There’s a good reason why Alison Roman’s Dining In has so much buzz. It’s because it’s really good. As she writes in the forward, you’ll find dishes that are neither obnoxiously aspiration nor so obvious that you’ll question needing a recipe. These are the sort of things that you’ll cook, either for yourselves or a few friends coming over, when you choose to eat at home instead of heading to a restaurant. They’re a treat, but not burdensome. ⠀
There are some nice savoury breakfast recipes, grain salads that would also be perfect for your al desko lunch, and a solid collection of interesting desserts (including those salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbreads that you’ve seen littering Instagram). Roman’s favoured flavour profile seems to combine the best of classic British cooking with its love of anchovies, butter and sticky meaty bits, and the bright, citrusy Middle Eastern-influenced recipes that you see in a lot of Australian cookbooks (and of course, Ottolenghi’s books). We literally flicked through the book saying that we would make anything in it.
Each recipe comes with an entertaining preamble, often almost as good as the dish. They set the tone for a relaxed approach, where you don’t need to be too hung up on everything being perfect. There are also tips on making things ahead, and a lot of the dishes include hacks for boosting flavour and getting better results, either with less effort or less time. ⠀
The results were mostly fantastic. Occasionally the relaxed approach and lack of thorough direction left us wondering if we had got things right. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend it for those who are new to the kitchen. And while there are lots of vegetarian-friendly dishes, it’s probably a better fit if you at least eat fish. But for the rest of us, this is a real treasure trove of inspiring things you’re going to want to put in your eatin’ hole. ⠀
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