Read this cookbook: “The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule” by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion (Abrams, $29.99)
By Wendell Brock
Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion had cool careers back in the day. They were editors at Saveur magazine, “arguably one of the dreamiest jobs in the food world,” as they write in their new book.
Later, as busy mothers, they encountered a less dreamy life, and one that prompted them to write a book of practical recipes: “Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen” (Abrams, $26.99). Released in 2013, their first effort won an IACP cookbook award.
Now the tag-team duo is back with a follow-up.
I have to admit, “The Dinner Plan” got a little lost in my stack these recent months, what with all the fancy chef volumes, the technical manuals and the pretty picture books, many of which I’ll never cook from.
My bad! “The Dinner Plan” stands out as a real and reliable source, especially for the time-pressed.
The authors are strategists, and they organize their recipes in categories: Make-Ahead; Staggered (dishes that can be left at the back of the stove and eaten as desired); One-Dish; Pantry (food that can be made without a special trip to buy ingredients); and Extra-Fast (I like the sound of that!). Many of the recipes fall into multiple categories.
I sure wish my mom had made me Mexican Skillet Lasagna (constructed from tortillas), Corn With Miso Butter, Rotisserie Chicken Bahn Mi, or Curried Coconut Noodle Soup (with sweet potatoes and tofu).
Based on the notion that every cook, no matter how accomplished, needs a few recipes he or she can turn to in a pinch, Brennan and Campion suggest five “back-pocket” gems: Shrimp Scampi, Skillet Chicken Parm, Go-To Frittatas, Bacon and Egg Fried Rice and Fast Bolognese.
They also share their “life-saver” condiments, tips on how to pamper yourself when you have dinner alone, and thoughts on “The Forgotten Meal” — that extra, after-school mini-meal most growing kids seem to crave.
With five strategies and 135 recipes, this is home cooking designed to give families more time together or to pursue life outside the kitchen. Sounds like a plan!
Wendell Brock is an Atlanta-based food and culture writer, frequent AJC contributor and winner of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for journalism. Follow him on Twitter (@MrBrock) and Instagram (@WendellDavidBrock).