I’m a cookbook junkie. I have around 40 cookbooks on my kitchen shelf, and I subscribe to a cooking magazine as well. I am the proud owner of more recipes than I could possibly ever make. And yet, I still want more. I’m always on the lookout for new cookbooks, especially those that are a little out of the ordinary. On a recent trip to the library, I came across this cool little gem, “They Draw and Cook,” a collection of recipes illustrated by artists from around the world. Being an artist who likes to cook, my little heart went pitter pat and I snatched it up.
The illustrations are wonderful, ranging from simple, whimsical, hilarious, to downright beautiful. The recipes trended toward the very basic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, they only had a 2-page spread to illustrate and explain the recipe. And a basic recipe from Sweden or Russia is still new to me. I enjoyed seeing favorite recipes from different parts of the world. And some of them just made me laugh. For instance, one that I can identify with: “Starving Artist Goo-lash – for when you just can’t eat another ramen noodle.” By the way, there is also a companion website: theydrawandcook.com.
Or this unfamiliar, yet somehow intriguing concoction – “Palt”. It has potatoes in it, could it be bad? I must find someone Swedish to ask about this.
And this one just sounds yummy, plus I LOVE the illustrative style.
I chose to make a French dish called Pissaladiere. It’s basically a French onion tart. Who can resist puff pastry? Mine turned out gorgeous, just like the picture in the book. I thought it tasted good too. The onions are cooked slowly, very much how you would make them for French Onion soup, bringing out their natural sweetness. If I make this again, I would do a few things differently. I’m sure a French person would be mad at me for messing with their old fashioned comfort food, but I would probably add some additional toppings – tomatoes would be yummy, and maybe zucchini? And I would cut the amount of anchovies at least in half, and chop them up so you didn’t get so much in one bite. They made a beautiful design, but they are very salty, so leaving them whole made for a very concentrated salty bite here and there. I think with anchovies, at least for me, a little goes a long way. Another name for this recipe could be “Date Repellent.” Luckily, I wasn’t dining with anyone I wanted to breathe on later.
“Pissaladiere” – French Onion Tart
(from They Draw & Cook, by Nate Padavick & Salli Swindell)
Puff Pastry, thawed
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cans anchovies, drained
Olives – the recipe calls for Nicoise olives, I used Kalamata – I think any kind would work fine
Place the puff pastry sheets on a cookie sheet – I used both sheets of puff pastry to fill up the whole tray. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pan. Add onions. Cook over very low heat until golden and soft (this takes 45 -60 minutes). Cool. Spread over pastry. Arrange anchovies in a criss cross pattern like the picture. Put an olive in the middle of each shape. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350˚. Cool 10 minutes. Cut into squares and eat.