It's called "Everyday Food: Great Food Fast" and it's from Martha Stewart Living. If you're starting out with cooking and don't have a lot of intuition in the kitchen, and if you're trying to cook simple, healthy stuff for yourself and your family, then this book is a perfect investment. I bought it at a Saraiva bookstore in the Rio Sul Mall in Rio de Janeiro, so it's here in Brazil! It was 50 reais, which is a steep markup from its 12-dollar price (5 bucks used!) in the US, but it's still worth every penny (or centavo, as it were). Not only does it have delicious, doable recipes (no crazy, hard-to-find ingredients or advanced cooking methods), it also comes with a guide to cooking the basics at the back of the book, with tips on how to fry rice, or roast a chicken, or make marinades, stuff like that (you know, stuff your mom was supposed to teach you but may not have known herself).
I looked into a few Rachel Ray books, but a lot of the recipes were (a) really unhealthy; (b) heavy on the American ingredients (like cheddar, asparagus, and turkey); or not quite meals (things that couldn't stand alone). Her books are popular, but not what I was looking for.
I also researched some of the new fresh food movement cookbooks, stuff from foodie authors like Mark Bittman who are focusing on going organic and eating more vegetables and things like that, but a lot of the recipes were so unfamiliar and included really unique ingredients that I wouldn't even know how to find in the US, let alone in Brazil (gorp with seaweed and walnuts? What?!?!).
So this Martha Stewart cookbook has revolutionized our kitchen, our diets, and our routine. I know that sounds dramatic, but almost every recipe looks tasty and, more importantly, accessible. I started out making a few things and every one was successful, and it built up my confidence to keep trying stuff out. We hardly eat out at all anymore. We've made 15 of the recipes! Here are some pictures of my successes:
Mediterranean Chicken Stew with Polenta, page 287
(it teaches you how to make polenta on page 360, and even Alexandre admitted that it was better than his traditional Brazilian-Italian version)
Garlic-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Broccoli, page 275
Vegetarian Lentil-Walnut Burgers, page 153
(this pic is actually from dear Lindsey's house, because we made it together. But then Alexandre and I made it, and it's his favorite from the book so far.)
Salmon and Lentils, page 228
(my first time cooking fish! I just used the George Foreman -- nothing fancy)
Another great thing about these recipes is that they're easy to modify -- I tend to add more vegetables to the recipes to increase the vegetable:meat ratio. The book will also suggest specific types of a given vegetable, like broccoli rabe (typical broccoli in Brazil) rather than what Americans consider typical broccoli (called "broccoli ninja" in Brazil), but these ingredients are rarely set in stone. Basically, it's not important if you buy the broccoli rabe vs. the traditional broccoli, or if you buy green olives instead of red ones, things like that.
OK? Is that enough raving? Have I convinced you to buy the book yet?
Are there any cookbooks that you swear by?