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Cook This Book: "Pretty Delicious" by Candice Kumai

February 17 2012 - 1:41 PM

Pretty Delicious CookbookI really wanted to hate Candice Kumai's cookbook, "Pretty Delicious." It's adorned with Pinterest-worthy designs of flowers and swirls. Its author refers to herself as "The Stiletto Chef." It contains the word "brekkie" in place of breakfast.

Really, I was opposed to it. But it was given to me as a gift, and because of its healthful premise, I found myself thumbing through it for a new Swiss chard recipe to replace my standard. I cooked this "Sexy Swiss Chard," and much to my chagrin, I (and my dinner guests) loved it. Surely, I thought, this was a fluke; no way was this Lily Pulitzer of cookbooks going in my regular rotation.

Then, I made the flavorful and easy miso-glazed salmon. Then I baked the cranberry and lemon scones…twice. Then I fell in love with the easy soba noodle stir-fry. Finally, I had to admit it: This was a damn good cookbook.

The cover promises "Lean and Lovely New Recipes for a Health, Happy New You," and the pages actually offer a solid amount of nutritional tips without coming off as preachy or health-crazed. Kumai selects healthful foods, and then offers multiple recipes using those ingredients, meaning you make the most of the fresh produce you buy instead of just using a portion of it.

The recipes are also easily mixed and matched. I've swapped the udon noodles in with the miso soup recipe, and have rotated mains and sides with great success. The nutritional breakdown is also helpful if you're trying to count calories or if you're trying to add more of a certain nutrient to your diet.

So all of this amounts to one big, public apology to Ms. Kumai. Not only did you write a cookbook that has quickly become one of my weeknight go-tos, but you won over a skeptic. Just don't expect me to start saying "brekkie" any time soon.

–Kate Bernot