As someone prone to obsessing about recipes, I take heart in seeing friends and family members discovering their inner chef in the midst of the pandemic. Rarely does a Zoom chat end before everyone’s had a chance to report on what they’ve been up to in the kitchen. We’re all hungry for variety in our home menus to tide us over until we feel safe enough to dine out.
To inspire us, several dozen big names in the culinary industry have shared their favorite recipes for sheltering in place in “Family Meal: Recipes From Our Community: A Charitable Cookbook to Support COVID-19 Worker Relief” (Penguin Random House, $5.99).
All proceeds from this digital-only cookbook will benefit restaurant workers whose livelihoods have been devastated by the economic shutdown. Contributors — all with past or upcoming books within the publishing house — bring a hodgepodge of cooking styles to the table. That’s what makes it fun to swipe through on my Kindle app.
Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, kicks off the breakfast chapter with instructions for making Fresh Ricotta, Butter, and Milk Jam and encouragement to “support your local grass-fed dairy farmer.” Ina Garten procured the recipe for Penne alla Vecchia Bettola from one of her favorite East Hampton restaurants. Bobby Flay takes comfort in Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta and Cremini Mushrooms, which “makes my house smell like good, slow cooking all day long.” And for dessert, New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark suggests slathering toast or pound cake with Lemon Curd with Poppy Seeds.
Recipes run the gamut from quick-cooking to slow-simmering, thrifty to indulgent. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options abound. One recent balmy evening, I whipped up Atlanta chef Hugh Acheson’s 20-minute Spaghetti with Shrimp and Leeks, enriched with crème fraiche or sour cream (my choice) and spiked with lemon zest and red pepper flakes. I tossed together a salad, and plated the pasta to serve on the patio under the stars with a nice sauvignon blanc.
It wasn’t a night out on the town, but it tasted like one.
Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.