This is a departure from the usual nightstand novels and nonfiction, but I just can’t resist sharing the charms of this goofy new cookbook by La Cañada gal Cherie Mercer Twohy. The cover and design are pretty dreadful, but they’re dreadful in the homespun spirit of Trader Joe’s, so I can forgive that. Her writing style is über-perky (“Trader Joe’s rocks,” proclaims the back cover), which normally would annoy me. But her enthusiasm becomes infectious, and, like it or not, most of us are slaves to Trader Joe’s. Most importantly, her recipes sound terrific.
Twohy has built a loyal following over the last eight years for her cooking classes at Chez Cherie in La Cañada — the most popular class being the one devoted to cooking with Trader Joe’s products. This led, naturally, to a book, which has just hit the shelves, and I’m predicting success. It’s not for the serious cook, and don’t think you’ll recover from your Post Gourmet Stress Syndrome by reading it. But it’s a cheerful, accessible resource for parents trying to get a decent, affordable dinner on the table, as well as overworked single people and college students (my first-apartment college girl is getting one for Christmas).
The gimmick is that every single ingredient in each of the 150-plus recipes comes from Trader Joe’s (unless they’re out of them, which happens a lot). They’re almost all easy, one-paragraph, whip-it-up dishes: Asparagus Tart, Potsticker Soup, Sausage and Spuds Salad, Thai Ginger Carrots with Shrimp and Green Beans, Best Pasta Kevin Ever Had (her son’s favorite, a hearty dish with sausage and greens), Cherry-Berry Crisp… in short, simple flavorful comfort food. Most have a prep time of a mere five to ten minutes, with cooking times of five to thirty minutes. Bring your own $4 bottle of Malbec.
I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook, by Cherie Mercer Twohy ($17.95).