The Natural Food Kitchen: Delicious, Globally Inspired Recipes Using only the Best Natural and Seasonal Produce by Jordan Bourke
This book will make you want to cook healthy dishes with all natural ingredients. It makes simple dishes with fresh ingredients look so delicious that you'll want to put in the effort and head to a farmers market or ethnic super market to buy the ingredients. I love that the book is centered around making globally inspired dishes with fresh and wholefood ingredients. The recipes are creative and interesting, but still simple enough fares that they can be enjoyed as every day meals.
The introduction of the book is a must-read. Although many cookbooks start out with a section on pantry essentials, I found Jordan's list particularly interesting. It contained many global ingredients that I would love to start using regularly in my cooking, including camargue rice, tamarind and bonito fish flakes. Jordan also discusses alternatives to sugar, dairy and wheat. For example, he never uses cane or beet sugar or golden syrup, but will instead sweeten his recipes using ingredients such as maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, xylitol and Medjool dates. While the introduction is only a short 8 pages (full-page pictures included), it's very informative and inspires you to use natural ingredients while cooking.
Design and Photography:
It is a beautiful book with mouthwatering food photography and styling. Each dish is carefully prepared and presented, and the photograph is carefully styled with beautiful textured backgrounds and props. While the dishes look beautiful and professional, the homey and rustic props makes it feel like any of the dishes can be replicated in a home kitchen.
The recipes are very easy to follow. They are divided into the following categories:
- Small Bites
- Soups & Sandwiches
- Salads & Lighter Dishes
- Meat & Poultry
- Fish & Seafood
- Vegetarian Plates
- Cakes & Desserts
Measurements of ingredients are given in both grams and ounces, or grams and teaspoons / tablespoons / cups. Oven temperatures are given both in Celsius and Fahrenheit.
There is a short index at the end of the book which makes it possible to find recipes based on ingredients.
Cooking from the Natural Food Kitchen:
Cooking from the book is pretty simple, but it takes a bit of intuition.
I made the Coconut Rice Pudding from the book. It was a very easy and straightforward recipe to follow, but I would have been helpful if there were a bit more details in the directions. When I first added the coconut milk and almond milk to the rice, it seemed extremely watery and I would have liked the recipe to warn me that it would be that way. The recipe also did not mention if I should cover the pot while the rice pudding simmered. At the end, I decided to cover it for the first half of the cooking time, but uncovered it for last 15 minutes. Also, the recipe provides a cooking time of 20 - 35 minutes, and there is no explanation why the cooking time might vary so widely.
I do love that Jordan suggests multiple methods to serve his dishes. For the coconut rice pudding, he gives the option of either using rice milk or almond milk, and serving it with either Medjool dates, a nut butter or blueberries. By giving those suggestions, I felt like I could turn one recipe into several different ones.
Here is my post with pictures and an adapted recipe for Almond Milk Rice Pudding.
Jordan discusses in his introduction that readers need to use one's senses and intuitions when following his recipes. He mentions that cooking times and measurements may need to be adjusted based on ones's own cooking conditions and ingredients. The example he uses is that home ovens may vary in temperature, so if you find that a cake is cooked on the outside but uncooked on the inside, you should trust your instincts and cover the cake with a foil, turn down the oven temperature, and increase the cooking time. I appreciate that he advises his readers to use their own judgments because home ovens very well may vary in temperature, or ingredients sourced from different regions can vary. However, because many of his recipes are new dishes that many home cooks might not have ever made, it would have been more helpful if he gave more detailed instructions on making the dishes.
It is a very inspirational book about using natural and wholefood ingredients, and has very useful information cooking with healthy alternatives to refined ingredients. The book is beautiful and the recipes are interesting.