I adore the person and the output that is Nom Nom Paleo (a.k.a. Michelle Tam) and her delightful family. As I explained in my Q&A with her a few days ago, after a somewhat inauspicious beginning, we’ve become good friends. And not just because we’re both paleo cooks. It’s because she’s talented, thoughtful, funny, and a damn good writer with excellent taste buds and technique — all of which, ironically, has made it difficult for me to review her fantastic new cookbook Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans.
It’s so obvious that you should have this book in your cookbook collection, I just want to say, Go buy this thing already and start cooking!
But both you and she deserve more than that.
So here are Five Cool Things About Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans, plus photos and stories about the recipes I took for a test drive.
But really, you could just skip all of it and go buy it now, and you would be happy. For sure.
1. The vibrant photography and illustrations.
If you’re a fan of NomNomPaleo.com, you’re familiar with the mouthwatering photography and charming comics of the family created by Henry, Michelle’s husband and creative partner. Like their app, this book is packed with glamour shots of sexy food — step-by-step process photos, full-page shots of the finished recipe, and in-between pages that grab you by the taste buds. Throughout the book, comic-style illustrations are like a Greek chorus, narrating the experience with jokes and other important info.
2. Michelle’s writing.
Nom Nom is a gifted storyteller, and her ability to spin a yarn shows up not only in her excellent essays — don’t miss “I’m Michelle and I’m a foodaholic” — but in her recipe headnotes and how-to information, as well. This isn’t merely a collection of recipes; although the recipes are excellent. It’s a love letter to food and family.
3. Expert advice.
A comprehensive list of kitchen tools, how to stock a paleo cook’s pantry, a primer on fats, an ode to the pressure cooker — Michelle shares how she created a paleo kitchen that works for a busy mom/pharmacist/cookbook author/dynamo. The recipes are also sprinkled with helpful tricks and cooking wisdom, including Tweak It! tips that show you how to modify the recipes.
4. Recipes for everyday and special occasions.
The content of the book is broad and deep, which means there are recipes for every cooking occasion. There are “staples” that will be in your weekly cookup, like bone broth, sauces, and cauliflower rice. And then there are fun recipes — like creative deviled egg variations and a few treats for sweet endings to your meals — as well as main dish recipes for meat, seafood, poultry… soups… veggies. Everything you need is covered.
This might be the best reason of all to buy this book: love and family. It’s evident on every page. Michelle and Henry love food, and they love their family. The best moments of my life have been enjoyed with my near and dear and something delicious on the table in front of us. This book celebrates moments like that.
Recipe Test Drive
I’ve made recipes from NomNomPaleo.com and the Nom Nom Paleo app plenty of times, so I knew that Michelle’s recipes are well-written, reliable, and delicious. I didn’t need to test them to be sure, but man! I wanted to. The table of contents is filled with luscious things that want to go into my belly.
Dave and I picked Macadamia Nut “Ricotta” because I was curious and he was skeptical; Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs because I wanted something “hands-off easy” and Dave loves succulent short ribs; and Slow Cooker Kalua Pig because… pork! (There’s no photo of the Kalua Pig because, well… pork. (There’s no photo of the Kalua Pig because we forgot to take one. But Michelle has photos on her site with the original recipe. It’s luscious and easy and should be a staple in your kitchen.)
Macadamia Nut “Ricotta”
This was a huge hit! It’s shocking how quickly a pile of macadamia nuts can be transformed into something that is close enough to ricotta cheese to make even the Italian in me feel satisfied. I added minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and fresh basil to the “ricotta,” then served it with my Old School Italian Meat Sauce. It was like deconstructed lasagna, and it was heavenly.
Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs
Tender, flavorful, silky, and super easy to make, I can definitely see this short ribs recipe going into my regular rotation (when I want a change from my more traditional Thyme-Braised Short Ribs). When they came out of the slow cooker, I removed the bones and shredded the meat, then refrigerated the meat and sauce overnight. The next day, I removed the solidified fat from the surface, simmered the whole shebang, then served the meat on cauliflower rice. We happily ate leftovers for a few days on various vegetable beds.
Here’s a thing I love about Michelle’s recipes: They’re excellent on their own, but they also mesh well with the things I already make on a regular basis. Her recipes inspire me to play You Know How You Could Do That? with her recipes and mine. If you know me, you know that’s the highest compliment I can give to another chef. She inspires me, and I think she’ll inspire you, too.
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