When it comes to books, Oprah Winfrey has the magic touch. At least for those authors she’s promoted with her book club. Now the media mogul has a book of her own, a cookbook: “Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life” (Flatiron, $35).
We’ve checked out cookbooks by Chrissy Teigen, Gwyneth Paltrow and Freddie Prinze Jr., so we couldn’t skip testing Oprah’s.
“Food, Health and Happiness” is not just a cookbook but a meditation on Winfrey’s lifelong relationship with food. (She is a Weight Watchers’ spokeswoman and investor, and while there are SmartPoints listed for each recipe, this is not a Weight Watchers book.)
Here we discover a mindful Winfrey, who’s recently lost 40 pounds and says she no longer adheres to a life of strict dieting. She writes, “Now that I’ve finally internalized the rules of clean eating (food that’s minimally processed), I let myself break those rules! I don’t do it often, and I never do it mindlessly; the goal is to make my indulgences intentional. I aim for deliberate. I plan for decadence.”
Back in 1994, Winfrey’s personal chef, Rosie Daley, had a huge hit with the cookbook “In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes.”
Winfrey says the recipes in “Food, Health and Happiness” are “from the wonderful chefs I’ve been blessed to know and work with over the years.”
Here are some we tried:
Basic Tomato Soup
Winfrey titles her first chapter “Soup Is Love” and says she’s never met a tomato soup she didn’t like. Her version is easy to execute. The quality of the soup is really dependent on the quality of tomatoes used. We love the creamy texture (thanks to a blender) without any cream included. And while it is delicious on its own, we think it would be a perfect accompaniment to grilled cheese.
Art Smith’s Unfried Chicken
When you see “unfried” in a recipe, you can almost taste the dryness. At least that is our experience. And then we made this recipe. The key here is that the chicken is soaked overnight in buttermilk with just a hint of hot sauce (if you’re short on time, an hour’s soaking will do). Everything about this chicken is perfection.
According to Winfrey, this shortbread was a hit with both President and Michelle Obama. What intrigued us about this recipe was the lavender in the dough. But perhaps our taste is not as refined as that of the first couple. The basic shortbread recipe is simple and sweet. The lavender is interesting, but we think the vanilla and orange zest would suffice.
Pasta Cacio e Pepe
The shortbread isn’t the only indulgent recipe. Winfrey first tasted this pasta dish at an Umbrian castle after a truffle hunt. With just five ingredients (including a cup of Pecorino Romano cheese, but no butter or oil), it’s uncomplicated and satisfying. And it contains one of Winfrey’s favorite things, truffle zest. To avoid making a trip to an out-of-the-way store, we omitted the zest and sea salt and subbed the recommended truffle salt instead.
Our final thoughts?
We love that the recipes are accessible and that most ingredients can be found in your local grocery store. “Food, Health and Happiness may become one of our favorite things.”
Mary Cadden, USA TODAY