Cooking by the books

Pamela Salzman in her home kitchen. Photo by Goli Judge

Cooking coach Pamela Salzmen reveals the sources of her inspiration.

Pamela Salzman has turned her passion for food, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle into a business. Her popular, in-home cooking classes fill up as soon as the email goes out.  Take her Thanksgiving Class where you can learn to prepare butternut squash salad with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds; brined roasted herbed turkey breast; farro with kale, roasted pears and turkey bacon; a brussels sprouts leaf salad with dried cherries and almonds; and upside-down pear cranberry cake. Her style of cooking — with an emphasis on organic, unrefined nutrient-dense foods that are in season and locally grown – is always healthy and delicious.

As a bookstore owner/foodie/health nut, I had to find out what cooking-related books Pamela loves and refers to.  Pamela said she uses the books to learn, get inspired, find recipes and sometimes just to relax.  She has a huge collection of spilling out of her kitchen, into her pantry and even into her bedroom.

A few highlights from her collection

Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. This favorite features stunning photography and great recipes for incorporating whole and natural foods into the diet.  Heidi has a new book coming out in April 2011 that Pamela is looking forward to getting her hands on. Swanson’s book offers Pamela an abundance of creative inspiration.

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters is “a great resource – a book that I turn to now the way I used to refer to “The Joy of Cooking” .  Waters’ approach to food, cooking and her lifestyle is all in sync with Pamela. She says “I have been a fan since I was a teenager.”  In case you didn’t know, Waters is proprietor of very well known Chez Panisse restaurant and she is a huge advocate for cooking with the finest and freshest, seasonal ingredients that are produced locally.  Waters also established The Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr., Middle School:  a one-acre garden, kitchen-classroom and a curriculum educating the kids on cooking, sustainable farming and healthy eating.

Coincidentally, Grand View School in Manhattan Beach, where one of Salzman’s kids go – has a beautiful garden in the middle of the school that the children help to maintain.  Salzman is one of the docents that tend to the garden.  At the end of the growing cycle, the kids harvest the crop and have a Farmer’s Market at the school.

“The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen”, by Peter Berley is the latest book Pamela has acquired.  “Whether you are vegetarian or not”, Pamela says “this book provides a good introduction to a way of cooking that is both delicious and healthful.”  Pamela explains, “if I have an idea that I would like to make a risotto, she may refer to this or other books as a starting point for the idea she has to make it.”  If she has some fresh peas and mint, she may take a basic recipe and alter it according to these fresh, seasonal ingredients she may have on hand in her pantry.

“Sunday Suppers at Lucques”, by Suzanne Goin who was a protege of Alice Waters is a great book for preparing something fancy, time permitting.  Goin has a sensibility towards locally grown, seasonable produce.  Many of Pamela’s favorite recipes from this book are quite involved and ones that she would save for creating special dinner parties and for weekend cooking.  “I love the way Goin arranges the recipes seasonally”, this can help someone discover recipes for which the fresh ingredients are readily available.

“Ottolenghi:  The Cookbook”, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Tamimi Sami is Pamela’s new off the beaten path favorite.  A product of the scrumptious Ottolenghi takeout restaurants dotting the London, UK area – this book is a foodie’s eye candy with the recipes to match.  So for someone like Pamela, this book offers a combination of enjoyable reading and inspiration.

Originally from Long Island, Pamela loves “The Union Square Cafe Cookbook” and of course the first “Silver Palate Cookbook”.  She adores Ina Garten (who doesn’t?), of “The Barefoot Contessa” but she looks to her books when it’s time for an occasional treat as she goes heavy on the butter, white flour and sugar.

Some reference books Pamela likes to use include “The Healthiest Kids in the Neighborhood”, by William Sears; her bible “Healing with Whole Foods”, by Paul Pitchford; anything by Michael Pollan; the witty and informative “Animal Vegetable Miracle” by Barbara Kingslover and a good source of information is “Nourishing Traditions”, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.

Salzman is totally self-taught.  She is at the moment taking an intense nutrition class through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which when she has completed, will give her Certified Wellness Coach credentials.  Pamela makes no apologies for having a lack of professional cooking training as when her clients see that she can make a beautiful meal for her family and entertain guests effortlessly, that they can learn to do this too!  For more information about Pamela’s cooking classes, email pamelasalzman@yahoo.com.

All of the above books can be purchased at {pages} in Manhattan Beach.  310-318-0900.

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