June 25th, 2012
In my line of work, you read a lot of cookbooks. The funny thing is that you don’t cook from them so much. Instead, cookbooks serve as a source of inspiration. It’s hard not to look at one without getting lost in my own thoughts of new flavor combinations or techniques to adapt. It’s rare that I end up making something straight out of a new cookbook, no matter how good it is. And so I guess you can call Alice Currah’s new book Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion a rare find.
Alice’s book instantly drew me in. The recipes are fabulous and the photos are gorgeous, but there’s more to this book than just that. What really grabbed me was Alice’s joyful approach to family meals. Her book is organized by occasions—”life happenings”—in a way that makes you look forward to kiddo’s next tea party, has you counting the days until the next birthday, and makes you eager for the holidays (even in June!). Alice’s book is a celebration of family life and the moments that make every stressful day, every battle with a picky eater, and every rushed meal worth it.
How could you not want to cook from a book like that?
My aunt’s birthday just passed. It was the same weekend as my brother’s birthday. If he were alive, he would have turned 44-years-old. My family gathered to celebrate and remember. I cooked for everyone from Savory Sweet Life. The afternoon was a “life happening,” indeed, and Alice’s Tomato Pesto Tart kept us well fed. Slightly adapted (I can’t help myself!) and paired with grilled steak and a beet, beet green & Feta Salad, we were nourished.
Alice’s recipes are super simple. (Pretty genius, actually, given that meals for special occasions are the most important ones to keep simple.) Still, you can’t help but be drawn in by this warm and personal cookbook. Flipping through the pages fills you with a longing to cook for family and friends. And isn’t that why we buy cookbooks in the first place?
Yes, I’m pretty sure that you’ll want Alice’s cookbook, and even more sure that you’ll cook out of it. Even I did.
Zucchini, Tomato & Pesto Tart
adapted from the Tomato Pesto Olive Tart in Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion by Alice Currah
(can be shared with kids 8+ mos)*
Serves 6 t o 8 as an appetizer
2 small-medium zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick lengthwise
Olive oil, for brushing zucchini
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
¼ cup pesto (Alice calls for basil pesto, a recipe for which is included in the book; I used my Kale Pesto)
3 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In the meantime, brush slices of zucchini with olive oil and grill until marked and just tender.
2. Unfold and roll the puff pastry sheet into a 12-inch square on top of the baking sheet. Make a rim by folding the edges of the pastry square in ½ inch and pressing them down gently. Using a fork, poke holes all over the pastry.
3. Spread the pesto evenly over the pastry (avoiding the rim), using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. Alternately arrange the grilled zucchini and tomato slices in a single layer over the entire square, within the rim. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the chopped olives over them.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Sprinkle with the basil before serving.
*Note: This makes for great finger food! Cut into age appropriate bites and share with any child already safely managing soft finger foods.