“I don’t have any strict rules about what constitutes dinner,” writes Molly Stevens in her latest book, All About Dinner. “And there are times when a plate of spicy wings on a rainy night is just what the doctor ordered.”
That’s the kind of candid, friendly tone that sets All About Dinner apart from the crowd. Molly Stevens is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, teacher, and recipe developer; she has been named Cooking Teacher of the Year by both Bon Appétit and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Yet she always remains down-to-earth. In her world, food is delicious, uncomplicated, and fun.
Cooking your way through All About Dinner is like cooking alongside your warm, knowledgeable friend (hanging out in the kitchen and encouraging each other along the way!) The 150 recipes range from celebration-worthy roasts and risottos, to casual soups, salads, and sandwiches meant to be enjoyed on a weeknight. It really is all about dinner, in all its forms.
Each recipe is written to anticipate your questions and inspire you to improvise. For example, the recipe for Sautéed Corn with Scallion, Jalapeno and Cilantro includes a note about how to repurpose stripped corn cobs into a sweet broth; the recipe for Seared Scallops in Coconut-Curry Sauce includes a primer on curry pastes, and how to use them more frequently in everyday cooking.
It’s all designed to make you a better, more conﬁdent cook. ”My hope,” she writes, “is that you’ll ﬁnd inspiration throughout these pages to use as a jumping oﬀ point to enlarge your own personal repertoire.”
With her warm writing style, clear instructions, and plenty of encouragement, Molly gives us more than just a glimpse inside her kitchen. She opens the door, pulls up a chair, and welcomes us in.
Here are ﬁve great cooking lessons we learned while reading All About Dinner.
Cook what you love to eat.
What’s the dish that you’re always happy to eat? Roast chicken, veggie lasagna, pad thai? Pick a dish you love, and commit yourself to learning how to make it exactly as you like it. Make it as many times as you need to learn. As Molly says, you’ve now not only mastered a recipe—you’ve developed and mastered a set of skills and cooking instincts that you can apply to other recipes.
Think outside the box
Leftovers, a meal of small plates and side dishes, a sandwich and cup of your favorite soup…dinner can take many forms! Sometimes, “I want something fun or indulgent instead of a more traditional dinner,” says Molly. Let yourself cook and eat the things you love, even if they look a little unconventional on the dinner table.
Embrace heritage diet ﬂavors.
Molly employs a variety of culinary inﬂuences in her recipes. From chickpea socca crepes inspired by southern France to Tunisian chickpea stew, Molly shows us that there’s room for many traditions on your dinner table. Embrace techniques and ﬂavors that may be new-to-you, and you’ll learn a lot as you cook your way through them.
For weeknight meals, turn to whole grains
Quinoa, brown rice, and sorghum are an excellent base for hearty vegetarian dinners. Molly provides advice for mix-and-match grain bowls with cooked vegetables, greens, and proteins.
Put a fresh spin on standard ingredients
Toast your quinoa to create a crunchy, protein-rich salad topping. Or, pop a batch of popcorn and grind it up to create popcorn ﬂour for the most ﬂavorful cornbread you’ve ever had. All About Dinner is ﬁlled with tips for using your pantry staples in creative ways. Pretty soon, you’ll be cooking up creative techniques of your own!
When the Oldways team ﬁrst met Molly more than twenty years ago, Oldways’ Founder Dun Giﬀord said about her, “If we ever had an Oldways Chef, it would certainly be Molly Stevens!” After you start cooking your way through her fabulous new book, we’re sure you will also come to appreciate Molly and her wise (and delicious) ways.