Pasta, food of the masses. Delightful, buttery, easy to share (sometimes). Diving into Scott Conant’s most recent book Peace, Love, and Pasta (from Abrams Books) made one thing clear: he values family above all else. This got me thinking about all types of family, chosen and biological. It also made me think of the perfect pairing for this cookbook: How to Greet a Grandma (published by Quarto earlier this year).
I don’t know about you, but I personally love reading the personal blurbs in cookbooks. It gives a sense of how recipes connect us to our memories and our families. Working in the restaurant industry, the BOH (back of house) staff are generally the people that sling pots and yell at each other for 12 hours and then all go out for a beer. For many years, I was in this family. Heck, we even call scarfing down pasta and chicken thighs together before dinner service “Family Meal”. Being in the pastry and bread department always made me pretty popular; it definitely wasn’t the never-ending supply of cake scraps, it was my dazzling personality.
One of the stories that Conant shared was about this phenomenon, being unable to turn down grabbing a cake scrap (usually the edges or tops when we have to shape and level them) when walking past the pastry station. Of course, I had to make this recipe where he shared this story: brown butter hazelnut cake! This recipe was way easier than I anticipated, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous (like I always am) I added a sprinkle of milk powder to my butter to make it extra toasty when browning. I loved the chewy crust!
The second recipe I couldn’t resist making is a New England (where my family emigrated to from Ireland & Canada) classic: whoopee pies. If you’ve never had one, picture two cupcake tops with buttercream making a sandwich of sorts. The filling Scott included was a fluff buttercream (which if you don’t know what marshmallow fluff is, get thee to a store!) so I sandwiched half of them with that and the other half I added a tipple of pomegranate molasses for those of us who like an extra tang with our chocolate!
Another piece of Conant’s book I really loved and can’t wait to explore more of is the integration of Turkish recipes! His wife is Turkish (she’s teaching their daughters to speak Turkish!), and they regularly visit her family there. It was lovely to read more about Conant’s memories of visiting his in-laws and learning to cook these recipes that he’s now passed onto his readers.
Now, onto the corresponding story, How to Greet a Grandma (by Donna Amey Bhatt & Aura Lewis). It’s not so much of a narrative story per se, but a humorous field guide that studies how to say hello to a grandmother around the world. I was actually hoping that Turkey would be included, but alas I had to get to Google for that. For those of you wondering, grandmothers are called büyükanne (among other things)!
This is a really creative take on a global tour of grandmas. The reader is introduced to different languages, facts about grandmas, and different artifacts like love spoons and musical instruments that have sentimental value to some grandmothers in various cultures.
This pairing of a non-fiction book and a cookbook that both focus on the importance of family would be a good pair to bring to your next gathering. There’s beautiful pictures, delicious recipes, and you can impress other family members with your Nana knowledge!
These books were kindly sent by the publishers, but all opinions, decision to pair, and recipe choices are my own! I’m thrilled to be a member of the #AbramsDinnerParty this year and will be sharing more cookbooks paired with books in the coming weeks.