Our cookbook of the week is Start Simple by Lukas Volger, creator of the James Beard Award-winning Jarry magazine. To try a recipe from the book, check out: White bean and carrot burgers, Swiss chard enchiladas in red sauce, and cauliflower and herbs salad.
Roasted red Swiss chard stems, soft and silky, were my first made from Luke Volger’s fourth cookbook, Start Simple (Harper Wave, 2020). I put away the days, maybe even a week, before and stoned the bare stalks in the crisper for some uncertain use. Understandably, they were a bit straggly when I pulled them out last Friday night. The effects of the COVID-19 sensation inevitably hit close to home and, feeling vulnerable, I wanted to convey that feeling of being resourceful.
Instead of throwing in the wrong stems, I opened the Volger book and warmed up the oven. Twenty odd minutes later, I had some straight to the baking sheet. They are soft and pleasingly salty. The rest I chopped and added to some leftover brothy beans, which I picked up on top of a slice of rye sourdough toast and distracted with olive oil. This unassuming enchilada ingredient (the following recipe) is what I needed. The other day, I might feel like mourning that I had waited so long and had just thrown the stalks. But being forced to make the most of it all, I ended up having a delicious snack and adding food with very little effort.
In his fourth cookbook, Start Simple, Lukas Volger features a wealth of tools for 11 key ingredients.
Perfectly suited to our times of social travel and self-isolation, at Start Simple, Volger encourages this kind of handy approach to cooking. As health officials recommend that we stay at home as much as possible to flatten the COVID-19 curve, it is neither feasible nor necessary to feel tied to ingredient lists. Looking at recipes as inspiration – adapting them to your own individual circumstances – is the right attitude now than ever before.
Simple bolger structures start around 11 basic ingredients (and a bonus dessert chapter) – including a carton of eggs, hearty vegetables, cauliflower or broccoli, a stack of tortillas and beans, canned and dried – all of this will be kept in the fridge or lender. In contemplating how to make daily, vegetable cooking more accessible, she decided to start at her essential grocery stores.
“I started to notice what I always throw in my grocery basket when I go to the store, and look around and look at other people’s carts,” he said. “I ended up focusing on these 11 ingredients, which happen to be available everywhere throughout the year. They are common, (to the extent) that they probably already have in many people’s fridges and pantries.”
Highlighting the many options for these familiar ingredients, Volger describes ways of embracing a more realistic brand of weekly cooking. As a skilled chef who has worked in restaurants, food and media, he has developed a knack for opening a fridge, taking stock of its contents and creating delicious food. When spending time with his brother and his family, for which he dedicated the book, Volger noticed a disconnect between the way they viewed the food in their fridge and the possibilities he saw.
White bean and carrot burgers from Start Simple.
“With my brother, my sister and my brother, and their crazy life with two dogs and two jobs – nothing unusual but to me, their lives seem completely crazy – they want to eat better. They want to eat more vegetables. They want to cook at home as much as possible, but it’s really difficult, “he said.
By offering creative, fast-paced uses for common ingredients, Volger aims to make everyday cooking more accessible. When readers get to know her recipes, and how the different ingredients work together, she hopes they are confident enough to make their dishes, working on what they have. His concept rests on the fact that the best foods are usually minimized by the book’s title promise – they start out simple.
“One of my favorite types of recipes is where I think, ‘It sounds really good.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god, I have everything I need to do that now,’ “Volger said. “So I tried for this cookbook to create as many opportunities as possible by really using some restraint in terms of throwing harder to find ingredients there, or eliminating any unnecessary progress. . It’s really simple. “