January 3, 2015

sunday suppers

Not so long ago, I purged my book collection and opted to donate all of the cookbooks I owned. I mean, who uses cookbooks anymore- right? I don't know about you, but I don't feel the need for cookbooks to inspire my meal choices anymore, what with the wealth of amazing food bloggers in my feed to inspire my kitchen experiments.

When Karen Mordechai, founder of Sunday Suppers, penned a cookbook by the same name last fall, I knew I'd have to change my tune and snag a copy. I'm so glad I did!

I received Sunday Suppers the week before Thanksgiving, and happily consumed the whole text in a matter of hours. Everything about the book is divine: the mock-linen texture of the cover, the weight of the pages and beautiful, classic typography, and Mordechai's ethereal food photography leaps from the page, begging to be experienced.

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The contents of the text are organized by times of day: morning, noon, afternoon and evening. Under each heading, Mordechai suggests 4-5 mealtime scenarios and a corresponding menu. She's lovingly photographed each scenario and the full-color images invite the reader to experience each meal. The written descriptions are lovely, and you can easily imagine yourself at the table with your loved ones, enjoying the meal at hand.

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Among my favorite meals are the take-along breakfast (pp. 22-31), including a hearty breakfast bread served with granola and yogurt and finished by cinnamon iced coffee and cream, as well as the campfire-prepared lunch (pp. 54-69: Shakshuka, lemon hummus, naan with rosemary and thyme, charred asparagus, braised rapini and a dessert of cinnamon-sugar popcorn). She's considered every palate: including simple recipes that could be used everyday, fun finger foods suitable for childrens' parties, and more hearty, rustic fare for adult gatherings.

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Many modern cookbooks seem to stretch too far for unique ingredients and obscure techniques. I was pleased to note that most of the ingredients for the recipes in Sunday Suppers could be obtained from my local grocery store- only a few recipes contained ingredients that might have to come from a specialty store. I was pleasantly surprised that many of the recipes are quite down-to-earth.

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A review of any cookbook can't be complete without testing at least one of the recipes! I opted to try the apple and olive oil cake on page 195. I had no trouble following the clear, concise directions to prepare my batter, though the baking time for my cake did vary considerably from the author's suggestion (to her credit, she noted that it may).

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The only other snag worthing report was that (gasp!) I actually don't own the mandoline slicer that's required to get the apples garnishing the cake to look as beautiful as the ones in book... Drat. The resulting cake was quite robust: just lightly sweet, with a hefty texture and Old-World inspired flavor. I will definitely try it again one day!

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Perhaps the most important thing I took from this book was the reminder that gathering with loved ones over a shared meal is an important custom- and one we tend to overlook in our hectic, modern lives. I was inspired to bring the phrase "Sunday Suppers" into our family lexicon, and so I announced (over Christmas dinner with my parents), "We are going to start doing this more often, I promise!"

And so, we made a family pact- in 2015, we will gather. We will break bread together, and not just for birthdays and holidays. We will be intentional about planning time together each month, each person contributing something to the meal, and sharing our lives with one another over the dinner table. I can't think of a more lovely way to spend a Sunday evening than with the people I love!

I received a review copy of Sunday Suppers by Karen Mordechai from the kind folks at Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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