From the time she was old enough to hold a fork, Ava has been at Alex’s side in the kitchen, whether eating lusciously cheesy gnocchi at Alex’s New York City restaurant, Butter, or making classic French omelets with her famous Iron Chef mom. While Alex turns to treasured cookbooks for inspiration, Ava scrolls through TikTok—and now as a teenager, Ava is teaching Alex a thing or two.
Through seventy-five witty and informative recipes, Alex and Ava share a repertoire of dishes that define their modern family meals: bold flavored, comforting, satisfying, and always supremely delicious. Side by side, they cook their way through family favorites like Blueberry Pie from Alex’s mom, a legendary cookbook editor, and Nanny Ida’s Crisp Potato Latkes. Tips and notes offer great cooking advice for achieving the fluffiest frittatas (add water, never milk) and how to season and mix meatballs so they always stay juicy (spread the mixture up around the sides of the bowl and then season). There’s even a bonus recipe for dog biscuits, inspired by Alex and Ava’s family dog, Leon!
Cooking with authority is learned and earned in this smart and joyous cookbook that celebrates a mother-daughter bond that’s stronger than the even the most garlicky garlic bread (the secret is—surprise—lots of shallots!).
|Publisher:||Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed|
|Product dimensions:||7.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Ava’s relationship to food fascinates me. I know she is my daughter, but she’s actually somewhat of an enigma to me. Whereas I learned to cook in school and via the work-your-way-up-the-ranks classic French brigade system, Ava just cooks—always with curiosity and with so much confidence. I think the biggest (and most exciting) surprise for me as her mom has been watching her slowly turn into a home cook. As a chef who grew up in a house with two parents who constantly cooked, my relationship to food is loaded with meaning. I have food memories with my parents, decades of repetitive cooking in restaurants, and years of judging and cooking on television under my belt. I almost can’t pick up an egg without considering twenty-five dishes I’ve tasted or the twelve ways I want to cook it. Ava comes to the table far less inhibited; she adds small touches that seem obvious and natural to her—things she didn’t learn from me, by the way. TikTok, TV, and restaurants have been her cooking schools. For example, she’ll go into the kitchen and cook up scrambled eggs, fry some capers on the side, then gently mix them in. She’ll cook bacon for a BLT carefully, strip by strip, and then smear homemade herb butter on the toasted bread before sandwiching it together. By comparison, I didn’t even know how to cook bacon when I was a young teenager.
Ava and I share a compulsion to cook—we love to do it—and it comes naturally to us. Cooking is in our DNA. And our followers on social media like to watch us cook together—and are always asking Ava (and asking me about Ava) what she’s cooking and how she’s cooking it. When we were approached about collaborating on a cookbook, she was sitting at the kitchen counter eating a burger with a small makeshift batch of jalapeño and roasted pepper jam on top. It smelled so good. “How did you make that, Ava?” I asked. She stared at me for a second and smiled. “I don’t know, Mom. You’re the Iron Chef around here. Aren’t you supposed to be answering my questions about food?” Truth is, from a dragon fruit salad with a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of honey (page 42) to kimchi pancakes made from scratch (page 103), Ava represents the next generation of cooks who will explore the kitchen with great curiosity. On the contrary, I think I represent my family’s history (experiences that are not limited to parents—cousins, family friends, stepparents, and neighbors also count in this equation).
Ava and I talked a lot about how this book should be. We tossed around the idea of how cool it would be to make it an ode to the fundamentals of cooking, so that any kid could get started developing their own repertoire of dishes in the kitchen. But the truth is that we just want kids and adults to cook together and share their ideas with one another. Ave told me, “I don’t want kids to think they have to just cook kid food, Mom, okay?” We obviously encourage parents and friends to participate and help in the process. There are some recipes that even require or recommend a little adult assistance, and we call out those moments. (Adults can be good for moments where safety comes into play.) Ava has cooked with some of my friends, boyfriends, and other family members. Influences and support can come in many forms, and we always recommend it. Cooking is even more fun when done with and for the people you love.
You just need to start. Somewhere. And Ava and I both hope you begin here, with us. Let’s cook—and better yet, let’s eat.
Alex + Ava