My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes From 50 Essential Ingredients
I’m all about pantries and being prepared. I preach it often and try to help people understand the benefit of having a three-month supply in their pantry. It’s essential to a self-reliant home.
A stocked pantry is like having your own home store. You should be able to reach into it and create a meal in a pinch. A stocked pantry saves you money from running to the store every day for common ingredients and a stocked pantry allows you to easily cook from scratch with a trusted set of items that you have carefully stored.
This book, My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients, seems to be right up my alley. I would love to have 150 more recipes that I can create from the staples I always store and use.
The author, Geoffrey Zakarian, has some pretty hefty chef credentials – having won season 4 of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chef. He is also a judge on the Food Network shop Chopped. I confess I didn’t know who he was until I read this book. Given his credentials, I expected wonderful pantry magic to happen.
The premise of the book is simple. The author defines 50 pantry items that he feels every household should have. I agree with 95% of it. These are all shelf stable items that will last for at least one year. There were a few items that were “out there” – who stores anchovies as an essential ingredient?
He also gives us a comprehensive list of 19 herbs, spices, and extracts to keep in the cupboard. No surprises here, these are all items that I store and use daily.
Each pantry item then has three recipes that showcase how to use it, but they are not what I expected to find in basic recipes. This is where I thought the book deviated from its title because the 50 essential items are almost an afterthought to the recipes. There is not one recipe that helps you take your essential items and make a meal.
From the back cover, “Chef Geoffrey Zacharian shows you how you can easily and spontaneously create a delicious meal, simple or special, just by reaching into your well-stocked pantry”
Case in point – Steel cut oats. Everyone has oats in their pantry, just waiting to be a quick and delicious meal. The three recipes highlighted are Ultimate Porridge, Oatmeal, Walnut and Sweet Garlic Spread and Oatmeal Coconut Crumble.
Unfortunately, you are going to need several additional ingredients, not on the 50 essentials list, in order to make them. Things like whole milk, orange zest, dried cherries, fresh parsley and garlic. Oh, and don’t forget the walnuts and coconut. Off to the store I go.
Every recipe is this way. They sound great and the pictures look fantastic, but when you get down to the ingredients, the promise on the cover does not come through. You will not create a delicious meal, simple or special, just by reaching into Mr. Zacharian’s idea of a well-stocked pantry. At least not on its own.
I wanted to love this book. I really did. It’s about pantries, after all. I’ve had it here to review for almost two months – hoping I would come to love it. I just don’t.
It doesn’t fit into my idea of a cookbook for a self-reliant pantry.
I’m going to donate it to the local library, where I’m sure it will find readers who are eager to cook delicious sounding recipes from a beautiful cookbook. Just not from their pantry.
I was given a copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. These opinions are entirely my own.