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Review: “365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking”

My friend and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Meike Peters recently released her latest cookbook “365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking” and graciously sent a copy to me here in Japan, where I eagerly pored over the gorgeous food photography with its tantalizing, jewel-like salads.

Meike’s cooking is very much guided by the seasonal calendar, and in “365”, you’ll find a year’s worth of complete menus (including salads, soups, pasta, sandwiches, vegetables, seafood, meat and sweets) that make the most of seasonal produce, marrying them with a range of international influences including hearty German fare, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean flavors and inspirations.

With the falling of the leaves and the arrivals of colder weather and flurries, the recipes featuring bright, sunny citrus are a welcome respite. Dishes like Winter Caprese with Blood Orange, Beet and Mozzarella di Bufala, Spaghetti with Ricotta, Orange and Crispy Sage Chocolate and Orange Pannetone, and Sicilian Orange Salad with Olive Oil, Marjoram, and Flaky Sea Salt are sure to stave off winter colds and chase the winter blahs away with the generous amount of vitamin C.

Others like Potato and apple-stuffed cabbage rolls with Walnut Butter and Gruyere, German beef, beet and potato stew, and Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Shallots and Apple, provide stick-to-your-ribs comfort.

The salads are a particular delight, including the rainbow potato salad with radishes, shallot vinaigrette and poached eggs, beet and apple carpaccio with pomegranate, raw asparagus and peach salad with orange blossom water and pecorino, and rainbow potato and cucumber salad with dill-pistachio pesto that will bring a splash of color (and flavor!) to overcast days.

Seasonal ingredients are given light-handed treatments that allow their individual textures and delicate flavors to shine, like fresh strawberries with saffron-vanilla sugar, watermelon caprese with mozzarella di bufala, basil and mint,  and squash pasta with orange, maple and sage.

If you are someone who, like me, can never seem to come up with a complete menu, that’s one of the beauties of 365: You can also use the weekly menu planner to come up with a seasonal balanced meal by combining the various options for a given week.

I was absolutely intrigued by the idea of candied cherry tomatoes; slow roasted and tossed with olive oil, confectioner’s sugar, and herbs, they dissolve into a silky confit that is the perfect complement for fresh pasta and tiny basil. Plus the leftover oil and tomatoes make a fantastic dipping sauce!

Measurements and temperatures are provided in both US / Imperial and metric.

This has become one of my favorite cookbooks of the last several years; highly recommended.

Sicilian candy cherry tomatoes

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