I’m not a seven-nights-a-week home cook, not by far, so Food 52’s new Cook In the Blank absolutely intrigued me. I’m down for all the motivation I can find for homemade dinners, and a cookbook that’s subtitled The Fun, Freewheeling Game Plan That Takes You From Zero to Dinner sounds like it could do the trick.
See, I’m often at zero. As in, Seamless. And that’s where this book comes in.
It’s described as for all those nights between take-out and feasts, nights when you’re eager to use up whatever you have on hand, nights when you just want to ad-lib either through inspiration or necessity.
Related: Our weekly meal plan: 5 easy meals for the week ahead
Essentially the pages look like MadLibs, giving you the essential ingredients and instructions, and letting you fill in the rest. Like “[NAME]’s [ADJECTIVE] Roast Chicken Dinner,” “[PROTEIN] Burgers With [BELLS & WHISTLES].” or “Fried [RICE OR GRAINS] with [VEG] & [PROTEIN].”
You simply fill in the proper blanks throughout the recipe (“Garnish with a flourish of chopped [SOMETHING FRESH]”) and if you’re stuck, you can turn over the tear-out page. That’s where you’ll find comprehensive “Hints and Winks” for all of the blanks you’ll need to fill out, right down to fanciful garnishes, aromatics, even inspiring adjectives for your recipe’s title.
I mean, obviously you won’t have all of their suggestions on hand (shrimp heads…not really a fridge staple for me) but it could end up inspiring a new variation on the “[WORD THAT’LL MAKE YOU FEEL WARM & FUZZY] Noodle Soup” recipe for the next time you make it.
Related: 7 of the best new summer cookbooks for families
Such a clever, simple premise to help you realize that not only do you likely have something on hand that will work for dinner — but if you write it down, you can remember to make it again the next time you’re struggling over that night’s dinner.
For some of us, that’s quite often.
Find Food52’s Cook in the Blank: The Fun, Freewheeling Game Plan That Takes You from Zero to Dinner from our affiliate Amazon or your local bookstore