Cookbook Review: Perfect Flavors
As I was developing this section of my site, the book Perfect Flavors was released. I immediately put it on the list to review. It boasts “creative, easy-to-prepare recipes” and that is right up my alley! The author, Naomi Nachman, is well known for her work in radio and magazines in addition to a social media following for her cooking and recipes. When Perfect Flavors arrived, the first thing I noticed was the bright, clean imagery on the cover. It’s an attractive book and I couldn’t wait to dig into it!
WHAT’S INSIDE Perfect Flavors has 10 chapters of recipes and includes tips for problem ingredients like yeast and different types of salt. Many recipes include ingredients you expect in traditional Jewish cooking, such as salmon, flanken, brisket, hummus, tahina, and eggplant. This cookbook also includes inspiration from other cultures and cuisines. In particular, nearly every chapter includes dishes from Asian cuisine. There is clearly a heavy influence from there in Naomi’s cooking. I personally love Asian flavors, so this was a win with me.
EASE OF USE Each chapter is color-coded for quick flipping through. The back of the book has an index by ingredient. If you have something you want to use up, that’s a great reference. Each individual recipe indicates if it is freezer-friendly. This feature is invaluable for meal planning and time management. Each recipe includes a bright and clear full-page photo of the dish, taken by the talented Miriam Pascal. Helpful tips are added with many of the recipes as well in a sidebar titled “Cook’s Tip.” This is a fully kosher cookbook with separate sections for meat and dairy dishes. Parve dishes are noted at the top of the recipe.
For this review, I prepared the Crockpot Onion and Flanken Soup from page 90 as well as the Lotus Butter Cookie Bars from page 256. In both cases, the instructions were clear. The ingredients were accessible with one exception, I had a hard time finding the red miso paste for the soup. The Lotus Butter Cookie Bars, I prepared exactly as instructed. I then froze them for a few days and served them to my Shabbos guests for dessert. This recipe received rave reviews! I couldn’t resist making the cookie butter recipe because we all know I’m the queen of cookie butter. My addiction has filled the pages of social media. For the Crockpot Onion and Flanken Soup, I must give full disclosure. I did NOT follow the directions. I dumped all the ingredients into my instant pot an hour before dinner and put it on 25 minutes of pressure cooking. Can this recipe Instant Pot? Yes! The difference is that my onions were not as caramelized. The soup was developed in flavor, the meat was tender and easy to pull apart with your spoon. (yes I meant spoon) And, it was all done in an hour, from prep to eating. My family loved this recipe, and we devoured the entire pot of it.
WHAT I LIKE The ingredients are in clear steps that are easy-to-follow. The large photos give you a true feel of what you are going to be making. From what I cooked, I would say that the recipes are reliable in flavor as well. I love the variety of recipe options in Perfect Flavors. I’m also a big fan of Asian-inspired cuisine, so I enjoyed the variety of recipes from that genre. Flipping through this book, I could easily see a Shabbat or simcha menu coming together. A few of the chapters started off with food boards, which is such a trendy and fun thing. It’s a great way to start off the chapter.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE Honestly, I would have liked to see more of the classics featured here. There are a lot of inspired or modernized dishes. I know that’s great and popular. But I would like to see at least one simply traditional recipe in each chapter. There is nary a kugel to be found.
CONCLUSION I highly recommend this cookbook. Naomi Nachman’s work is reliable, the photography is amazing, and the dishes are easy to understand. There is a variety of foods to choose from and lots of room for you to be inspired by what you cook from Perfect Flavors. Check out this link to purchase Perfect Flavors. Also be sure to check out Naomi Nachman@naominachman and Miriam Pascal@overtimecook on Instagram! If you like my content, please subscribe and follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.