Go ahead and ask my authors — they’ll tell you. Professionally speaking, I’m not a fan of seasonal cookbooks, and I’m always trying to talk writers out of organizing their books that way. I say things like, “that’s now how real people cook,” “seasons vary depending on where you live,” and “the average person shops in the supermarket where they can get anything, any time of the year.” They argue back about how farmer’s markets are growing in popularity, and in-season ingredients are fresher, better-tasting, and more affordable. I’ve heard it all before, and unless you’re a professional chef, I rarely back down. Knowing that about me makes it all the more amusing how much I love Cook This Now by Melissa Clark. It’s not just organized seasonally, it’s organized by month. Now that’s getting really specific. The latest recipe I tried from Melissa’s book is the Chile-Coconut Braised Beef Short Ribs (great with rice, so it’s perfect for my gluten-free lifestyle).
Coconut milk makes it creamy, while chile powder, garlic, jalapenos, fresh ginger, shallots, and cumin spice things up. But as you can see, when you first start the cooking, it’s still thin and light.
Fast forward about 2 1/2 hours, and the dish is transformed. Dark and luscious, this is rich food, perfectly suited to the winter season. The meat is so tender, it falls apart at your touch. Once you start thinking about how you’ll look in your new bathing suit come summertime, dishes like this will be a distant memory. But when there is a chill in the air, this kind of cooking is sure to warm you right up, great for a lazy Sunday when you’ve got time to spare.