Over the past few years, I’ve accumulated quite a few cookbooks—close to 100, in fact, ranging from Chinese takeout-inspired recipes and one-pot wonders to celebrity cookbooks (hello, Antoni Porowski) and handmade pasta guides. I don’t often use the word “favorite” when it comes to my cookbooks, but when Alex Snodgrass’ latest publication, The Comfortable Kitchen: 105 Laid-Back, Healthy, and Wholesome Recipes, arrived on my doorstep in early January of this year I knew right away that it was something special.
Right out of the gates, Dallas-based Snodgrass reminds readers that she’s “just a home cook who loves sharing recipes,” but you’d never know it from the drool-inducing dishes that fill the pages of her latest book. Though this is only her second cookbook, Snodgrass is well-known in the food blogging world thanks to her wildly popular website, The Defined Dish. As someone who often falls into the belief that for a recipe to be good, it must be complicated, I was drawn to this book by the ease of the recipes in The Comfortable Kitchen, as well as its unique take on Texas food culture (think: salmon al pastor and green chile pork medallions).
Describing the purpose behind the cookbook, Snodgrass notes, “All I wanted was for people to actually cook and enjoy the recipes with the ones they love most—not just a little memento that collects dust on a shelf.” This is exactly what she’s done, and if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to stop making (and eating) the plethora of distinct recipes that make up The Comfortable Kitchen.
Creature Comforts from Alex Snodgrass
Creamy Cajun Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
This was the first dish that I tackled after receiving the cookbook in the mail, and it did not disappoint. I was apprehensive, at first, to make a creamy soup—after all, it is the beginning of a new year and we’re all trying to eat a little healthier. Rather than the usual heavy cream, though, the recipe calls for dairy-free creamer, or full-fat coconut milk, and arrowroot flour, making it both gluten and dairy free. I used coconut milk, and the result blew me away. The broth was smooth, buttery, and decadent, perfectly complementing this Cajun take on a classic chicken and rice soup. This is the type of recipe I’ll cook over and over again.
Crispy Chicken Milanese with Arugula Salad
I was raised with the belief that everything is better with a squeeze of lemon. If there’s any dish that embodies this, it’s Snodgrass’ recipe for crispy chicken milanese with arugula salad. It’s simple, sure, but the way the flavors in this dish seamlessly blend makes chicken milanese one of my all-time favorite meals. The recipe employs gluten-free panko breadcrumbs, which, as it turns out, are just as good as the regular kind. An egg and dijon mixture binds the breadcrumbs to the ¼-inch-thick chicken cutlets, which are then fried and paired with a super lemony arugula salad.
It’s January and the weather is less than desirable for a beach-dwelling South Carolinian like myself, so it should come as no surprise that I was, once again, drawn to the soup chapter of The Comfortable Kitchen. Inspired by the avgolemono soup at Snodgrass’ favorite Greek restaurant, Platia Greek Kouzina in Frisco, Texas, this warming dish comes together in about thirty minutes including prep.
Pearled couscous is the star of the show, soaking up the bright, fresh flavors from fresh herbs and lemon juice. My fiancé, a self-proclaimed food critic, could not stop talking about how good this soup was—he even gave it a 10/10 rating which, while not unheard of, isn’t an everyday occurrence either.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Jennifer Stewart Kornegay
- by Emily Havener
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Beth D’Addono