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Cookbook review: ‘Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook' is like a friend who always has a good recipe up her sleeve

Cherry Bombe is a biannual indie magazine, weekly radio show/podcast and annual conference that celebrates women and food. And this month's release is a cookbook, a compilation of tried-and-true recipes from women who are famous both in the food world and other industries. Think model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen, author and former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, and Milk Bar's Christina Tosi, all familiar female faces that have graced the cover of the magazine.

The Cherry Bombe team has collected favorite recipes and stories from 100 influential and creative women; it reminds me of those shared journals I passed around with friends in school to collect and record our favorite anythings. Chefs, writers, food stylists, bakers, bloggers, farmers and others contributed to the collection. The authors describe the recipes as being "the equivalent of a sweater borrowed from a girlfriend, a dog-eared book your sister lent you, or the weird knickknack that belonged to your grandmother."

With a bold cover in a shade of bubblegum pink and pages that continue the hue in a millennial pink stand mixer, a grocery list on a notepad and beet-flavored ricotta dumplings in a shocking matte fuschia, the book is trendy while maintaining its fun appeal. It's striking and looks great on a coffee table or shelf, but it's a cookbook to bring into the kitchen, too. The recipes are varied and mostly approachable, many of them great for cozy nights.

A sampling of the recipes: Sweet and Sour Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes, Three-Cheese Cauliflower Gratin, Rosé Sangria, Candied Grapefruit Pops, Filipino Vinegar Chicken, Caesar Brussels Salad, Lemony Lentil Stew With Ginger and Turmeric, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies With Toasted Walnuts, Ramp Fried Rice, Best Friend Cheesecake.

There are great meals to make for myself and my family, as well as recipes for smaller bites when I'm having people over: extra cheesy gougères to serve with Champagne, grilled oysters, roti pizza (inspired by one contributor's immigrant mother who resourcefully satisfied her kids' desire for an American pizza night by combining it with more familiar Indian ingredients). There are also more adventurous recipes I want to try, like making my own fortune cookies and flavoring them with matcha or black sesame, a version of the takeout staple I'd actually want to eat.

A pipérade, or French bell pepper stew, is an easy recipe that feels like a cousin of shakshuka, which I've made many times for brunch at home. This recipe is simpler in its ingredients and cooks much longer, rendering a dish no less flavorful than the more spiced shakshuka. It's no wonder this recipe contributor asked her godmother for thirds.

The chapter organization may be a bit surprising in this book; with no breakfast or brunch section, this stew ends up in the "Sides" chapter despite being a satisfying meal with the suggested serving of poached eggs and toast. Two chapters at the end of the cookbook cover desserts, separating cookies, cakes and pies from the rest. I suspect everyone is cool with two dessert chapters.

Whether or not you're already a fan of Cherry Bombe magazine, this is a sweet cookbook to have around and turn to — like a friend who always has a good recipe up her sleeve.

Contact Ileana Morales Valentine at [email protected]


>>MODERATE

Pink Spaghetti With Beet and Ricotta Sauce

Kosher salt

2 red beets, the size of tennis balls

2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil

½ cup boiling water

2 cups part-skim ricotta

1 pound dried spaghetti

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

½ cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts

Zest of 2 lemons

Fill a large pot with water and several large pinches of salt and bring to a boil.

Peel the beets, then shred them in a food processor, using a shredding blade, or on the large holes of a box grater. You'll have about 4 cups shredded beets.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the grated beets and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes. Once the beets have softened, add the ½ cup boiling water and cook for
3 minutes more.

Transfer the beets to a food processor, add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil, and puree into a smooth paste. Add the ricotta and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Puree again until very smooth. Set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in the pot of boiling water according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti.

In a large bowl, quickly combine the hot pasta with three-quarters of the beet-ricotta sauce and mix together well. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time. Add more sauce and/or water if necessary. Any extra sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. (Extra sauce can be used as a dip for vegetables, sandwich spread or crostini topping.)

Twirl a serving of pasta onto a plate or into a bowl and sprinkle with some Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, walnuts, and lemon zest. Repeat with the remaining pasta. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Elettra Wiedemann from Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu

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