Cookbook Review: The Minimalist Kitchen by Melissa Coleman

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read a lot of food blogs, but I had never had the pleasure of reading the Faux Martha, which is Melissa Coleman's beautiful ode to minimalist cooking and lifestyle. I was lucky enough to be given access to her beautiful cookbook, which carries forward her efficient yet family-oriented approach to living, and I was impressed, with her philosophy, aesthetic, and wonderful-looking food.

Minimalism, from what I gathered, means setting up and planning one's surroundings and life to be brilliantly simple and streamlined, but not sacrificing quality. There's no frills for the sake of frills, just practical solutions to make life easier. Her recipes are a reflection of that. They aren't fancy, gourmet meals. They're go-to dishes that the reader can credibly believe Coleman and her busy family enjoy on a regular basis.

For experienced cooks, many of these recipes won't seem novel, but Coleman finds a way to streamline the execution and suggest a few twists to make them uniquely her own. Case in point, her recipe for Berry Bakery Muffins. She starts off the recipe with the cook taking the butter out of the fridge to soften so it is the perfect temperature come time to make the streusel on top. She also suggests adding some thyme, which I have never seen before in a muffin recipe but am eager to try. With her recipes as deceptively simple as they are, the reader never questions whether thyme really needs to be there. If she includes it, it must be for good reason. She does a similar thing with soy sauce hidden in a traditional recipe that you'll have to buy the book to discover.

Many of her recipes involve using the same pot or pan to perform several steps, or preparing a big hunk of meat ahead of time and using it strategically throughout the week to make meal prep a cinch. Recipes are written with the modern on-the-go family in mind, while still emphasizing the magic of a sit-down meal with everyone at the table. Her recipes may sound simple, but that's part of their appeal. Some have only four or five ingredients and basic techniques, which make them suitable for all skill levels. I personally have her entire Breakfast section bookmarked (it is our favorite meal of the day in my house), since everything sounds so delicious and so doable.

For vegetarians, this cookbook is a must-buy. While Coleman isn't a vegetarian, she does abide by a rule of eating meat sparingly and only buying high-quality meat when her family can afford it. She also notes that leaving meat out or substituting it with pantry staples like canned chickpeas makes most recipes faster. As a result, the majority of her recipes are vegetarian, though she does add tips for how to add back the meat. I especially enjoyed her salad recipes, which all sound easy, healthy, and just special enough to serve to guests.

Organization and layout is predictably savvy and intuitive, making finding recipes in the book easy. The photography is gorgeous as well, with a perfectly styled photo of every recipe (thank you!!) as well as bright, light-filled pictures of Coleman's stunning white farmhouse in Minnesota, which is a picture-perfect advertisement for her credo.

This book makes you enthusiastic about getting into the kitchen and putting her kitchen know-how to work. I'd recommend it for minimalists and non-minimalists alike, new moms, vegetarians, and people who are just trying to get food on the table faster or healthier. They're guaranteed to find something to learn from this great cookbook.

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars.

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