Cookbook Review: Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

Much has already been written about Chrissy Teigen's bestselling first cookbook. And with good reason. This book really does seem like her baby, crafted to be as social-media-savvy as she is. Her voice and personality seem to leap off the pages in a voraciously readable and gorgeous collection of recipes. She's witty, candid, self-deprecating, and so darn relatable that it's impossible not to find yourself falling a little in love with her, or at least hoping to be invited over for Sunday brunch at the Teigen-Legend household. This is one of the rare cookbooks where you want to read each and every recipe blurb if only for the humor and pop culture references.

But how are the recipes themselves? Concept-wise, they are terrific at motivating even non-cooks to run out for ingredients and do a great job of reflecting Teigen's eclectic heritage. They range from re-imagined versions of comfort food to Thai favorites from her mother to recipes that are half Pinterest, half stoner food. It's not at all what one would expect from a Sports Illustrated cover model, though a few of the recipes do reflect her constant battle to stay away from carbs.

The quality of the recipes is similarly variable. After cooking almost exclusively from this book for two weeks, I've made about 16 recipes. They range from mediocre to phenomenal, with the majority falling under "very good". My personal favorite was the Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing, which was a labor of love but was one of the best salads I've ever made. The salad dressing recipe alone is worth the cost of the book. Here's a picture from my Instagram:

My fiance's favorite recipe was the Actual Drunken Noodles, which were a little on the salty side but delicious to the last saucy bite. Another personal Instagram shot:

Other recipes we enjoyed: Pounded Papaya Salad (tasted just like the papaya salad I love at the local Thai restaurant), Pad Grapow Chicken (surprisingly flavorful and tender), Split Pea Soup with Crispy Hot Dogs (we left out the hot dogs for this and made this vegetarian, which still turned out phenomenal), Roasted Cauliflower, Feta, and Orzo Salad (nice light salad), Chinese Chicken Salad with Crispy Wonton Skins (another addictive salad dressing recipe), Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (tasty albeit not too memorable), Sweet and Salty Coconut Rice (my fiance couldn't stop eating this), Pepper's Spicy Clams and Pasta (bright and flavorful pasta dish), Chile Ginger Paper Baked Fish (healthy, delicious, and versatile recipe for fish-lovers and fish-haters alike), Pineapple Grilled Short Ribs (lots of flavor and delicious charred flavor).

Not all of the recipes were winners, but they were in the minority. I found the Vegetable Tortilla Stew to be too heavy on the chili powder, which made it taste like a spice rack to me, while my fiance thought it was just okay. The Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread was disappointing for both of us. For something with so much fat (butter + bacon + cheddar cheese), it didn't seem to have much flavor, and each slice left us feeling bloated. Pepper's Pork-Stuffed Cucumber Soup was a little bland, but it may be more of an acquired taste, as I know from experience as an Asian that our soups tend to be more bland and restorative rather than thick and boldly flavored. The Buttery Glazed Green Beans were also too bland for our palates. If you count the misses, there were only 4 out of 16, which is still not bad, and some are likely just a matter of personal taste.

Photography-wise, the book is a stunner. There is a photo of every recipe in the book in some fashion, whether it be a standalone traditional food shot, or a shot of Chrissy and her famous hubby posing and indulging in her food. The layout of each page is done very well, with just the right balance of text to photo to make it easily readable. The fonts are trendy and fun as well.

The overall layout, however, is a little confusing. I wish she had opted to split the chapters by meal course rather than by theme. For example, when searching for her "Actual Drunken Noodles" dish, I couldn't remember if it was in the "Supper" section or the "Thai Mom" section. It ended up being in the "Noodles and Carbs" section, which luckily, the index was able to direct me to. However, this is not intuitive unless you've read the cookbook multiple times.

Overall, this cookbook is worth the buy. The sheer variety of recipes means there's something for everyone (health nuts, Pinterest ladies, experienced cooks, and newbie cooks, etc.). I dare you to open this book and not find at least one recipe that makes you hungry. While it may not be the first book I reach to on the shelf for meal inspiration, it's a whole lot of fun and makes a great coffee table cookbook. I'm eagerly awaiting Chrissy Teigen's next cookbook, which according to her Instagram, is in the works. And there lies the power of Chrissy Teigen. While I didn't come to her cookbook a fan of hers, I certainly left wanting more glimpses of her life and the food she craves. I'm certain you will too.

Overall Rating: 4/5 

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