In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - The Naked Cookbook

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Jan 17, 2017 3:23 PM
The Naked Cookbook

The Naked Cookbook, by Tess Ward, copyright © 2016 by Tess Ward.  Published by Ten Speed Press.

Our Summary:

Tess Ward in her The Naked Cookbook challenges every conventional notion about a diet cookbook, which this book, she says, is not.  Instead, Ward suggests we think of "diet" to mean a sustained way of eating that naturally supports our overall health and happiness.  With that, she dives right into her balanced approach to cooking and recipes, which she says is "food in its most naked form."  Still, you will find that the foods and recipes in The Naked Cookbook are naturally low in carbohydrates, free from processed food and contain no refined sugar, but they are not gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan.  What they are is appealing.  Chicken, salmon, and lamb stand toe to toe with cocktails, fruits, and vegetables, sorbets and smoothies. 

What you need to know:

Get it:  The Naked Cookbook, by Tess Ward. Published by Ten Speed Press, May 17, 2016, $24.99 Hardcover (Amazon $16.98; Kindle $12.99)

See it:  128 pages with rustic color photographs throughout, including most finished recipes.

Make it:  Conservatively, about 200 recipes ranging from basic stocks and broths, and pantry staples such as nut milks to full-on recipes, including sauces and condiments with each.  Two cocktail recipes are offered, as well. 

Our Review:

In today's confounding world of fad diets and eating regimens Tess Ward's The Naked Cookbook is tiny, but a welcome beacon of common sense.  At a manageable 128-pages, Ward invites you to into her balanced world of creative cooking with recipes that are packed with flavor, but still manage to be all the things you think you need in a diet - low carb, packed with protein, naturally low in fat and no refined sugar.  But, as Ward reminds us, most foods in their naked, raw form are just that. 

And, that is precisely where she drops you off into 7 chapters of recipes that if were presented to you without the moniker "healthy," you'd be none the wiser.  Full on gourmet-like presentations in Salmon tartare and wasabi crème fraiche, Hainanese chicken, and Ribboned kale and nectarine salad that she balances with tempting treats such as Mango and coconut ice cream or Plum and amaretto sorbet

The Naked Cookbook doesn't stop there.  Ward achieves the near-perfect balancing act by providing pages on nut milks, juicing, and detox.  And, despite her introductory caveat that The Naked Cookbook is not gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan, she makes certain anyone eating within those parameters can find a home - and balance - in her pages.  For every recipe that includes bread, she offers up a gluten-free bread recipe with Flax and pumpkin gluten-free bread, or Gluten-free chive crepes with avocado and smoked salmon.  Then, for the meat, poultry and fish proteins she uses in such dishes as Molasses and ginger porkballs with bok choy, Chicken breasts, and red cacao sauce or Calamari with chili, lemon and celery salt, she counters with a vegetarian Smoked tofu Panzanella with figs, or Fennel and tarragon quinoa patties she suggests serving with lettuce cups, slivers of avocado, ripe cherry tomatoes, and lots of Cucumber, Radish, and Goat Cheese Raita.

If The Naked Cookbook is short on anything it's the author's story.  After pouring through its pages you'll want to know more about Ward and her cooking adventures around the world.  You'll have to settle for one sentence on the back cover, and a link to her blog.  

The Recipes (Reprinted with permission from The Naked Cookbook, by Tess Ward, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.  Photographs copyright © 2016 by Columbus Leth):

Molasses and Ginger Porkballs with Bok Choy

Ribboned Kale and Nectarine Salad with Tamari Dressing

Smoked Tofu Panzanella with Figs with Basil Yogurt Dressing

Published in Donna Marie Desfor

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