WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - In This Will Make It Taste Good, Vivian Howard’s new cookbook, the chef and restaurateur promises to change the way you cook.
“I wanted my second book to really appeal to home cooks and people who want to have exciting meals that are a breeze to prepare, so that’s what this book is all about,” Howard said. “I think this book has the potential to really make you enjoy the time you spend in the kitchen more and it’s all about empowering the home cook to think outside the recipe and to add some things to the repertoire.”
Each chapter begins with a flavor hero, what Howard calls the building block of the recipe, which she said will make simple food exciting.
“One is called the Little Green Dress and it’s a chimichurri and a salsa verde if they had a baby in a bag of olives,” she explained. “Another chapter is about kraut and making kraut and then using it one million different ways. Another is this condiment that I called community organizer and it’s basically a chunky barbecue sauce that is amazing added to things to make them more bright.”
For a taste that is “quintessential Vivian,” she recommends the Red Weapons, spicy pickled tomatoes with scallions and jalapeño that can be used on avocado toast, mixed into just-cooked rice or tossed with leftovers to spice them up. The Red Weapons can also be utilized with dishes Howard presents in the book, including Where’s My Medal Chicken & Grits and her Fried Chicken Finally.
Howard, who previously hosted the award-winning series A Chef’s Life and Somewhere South on PBS, owns Chef & the Farmer in Kinston and Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington.
The pandemic forced both of the restaurants to close their doors for a time.
Asked how she is holding up with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, she said, “My family is healthy and happy-ish and we are getting ready to re-open Chef & the Farmer in a couple weeks; Benny’s is re-opened and serving takeout and dining on the weekends and so we’re doing...we’re doing as well as we can expect to.”
She credits Little Green Dress and the book with saving her sanity.
“I just finished writing it when the pandemic hit and because the flavor heroes are so important in my kitchen and these are things I turn to to make dinner, I was like, ‘I so wish this book were out in the world right now because this is a perfect time to use it’ and so I decided to start making some of the flavor heroes and ship them in quarantine kits and that is how we stayed afloat for most of this time and so it’s been a gift in some ways.”
Little Green Dress, alongside another flavor hero, Community Organizer, were what Howard first shipped out when Handy & Hot, the chef’s new mail-order business launched.
The cookbook is available in stores and online starting Oct. 20.
Howard said, due to the pandemic, she will do book signings in a different way.
Two drive-through signings are planned and other events to promote the work will be held virtually.
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