I encourage you to forage for many good cookbooks

I encourage you to forage for many good cookbooks

I’ve picked up a cookbook I want to share with you, the genius of which I think you’ll appreciate when I tell you the basis of many of the recipes: cereal milk.

The cookbook is by Christina Tosi, and it’s titled “Momofuku Milk Bar,” which is the name of the dessert arm of Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City. Tosi set up the desserts at the restaurant at Noodle Bar owner David Chang’s insistence from things on hand in the basement after trying and perfecting concoctions at home.

The genius is in the recipes. They use a technique that makes perfect sense and leaves you wondering why you didn’t think of it yourself. The milk used in the cakes, cookies and other sweet treats is first used to soak sweetened cereal.

Remember when you were a kid — or if you’re like me about cereal, yesterday morning — and you ate the cereal and there was all that super sweet milk in the bottom? Tosi is a huge fan of cereal, as all smart people are, and she employs those flavors in her creations. So as soon as you take a bite, you not only get something delicious, but also are instantly transported by taste memory to your childhood, sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of Fruity Pebbles while Mom fussed over dishes in the background.

Chang loved the idea so much he started bottling and selling sweetened cereal milk under the restaurant’s brand name.

There are recipes for sweet corn cereal milk ice cream pie, chocolate-chocolate cookies — which my wife made the day the book arrived in the mail, and they’re incredible — and cereal infused birthday layer cake. The book is chock-full of illustrations and excellent commentary with detailed, reassuring recipes.

There’s also savory genius, like the bagels with a schmear on the go: The bagels get a stuffing of bacon, cream cheese and scallions where the hole should be, so you can eat the thing on the go without the mess or the need for a plate. They’re incredible.

There seem to be a lot of cookbooks suddenly appearing on the radar of which I was unaware, most of them annoyingly in the $45 and up range. There’s one I’d missed by Anthony Bourdain, one from the Momofuku Noodle Bar and another from Masaharu Morimoto, probably the greatest living chef in the world. They’ll have to be procured, somehow.

We also have grabbed another by Tosi, an older one from Morimoto and one from a chef merging Southern U.S. and Indian cuisine by Asha Gomez. You can never have too many cookbooks.

The thing about the recipes, which cooks are so careful to prepare, test and record for us, is that they often give us the road maps to recreate some of the best dishes to be had, which they serve in their own successful eateries.

Some are just too intimidating for most of us, like the gorgeous books from Thomas Keller, but most, if you’re careful about following instructions exactly, will give you a dinner table worth celebrating with friends.

The exception among recently published cookbooks are those by Gordon Ramsay. Follow the instructions exactly, I’ve found, and you’re the butt of some Ramsayan joke. I don’t know why a chef would want readers to fail so miserably. The proportions seem tossed off while preoccupied with something else, and the cooking times are preposterous. There’s no way you can get a Beef Wellington done in 15 minutes.

I encourage you to forage for good cookbooks. There are an awful lot of excellent ones out there, and the cooking adventures they offer will fill your weekends deliciously for the rest of the year.

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