Out of all the cookbooks that have been published in the last year, I have fallen utterly in love with Gjelina. I mean… I live for this book. After writing my own, I fully understand the work and thought behind creating a cookbook. It’s time and mind consuming. You have to look at the book as a whole and then nit pick every single recipe before sending the manuscript to the publisher. You think, test, re-think, re-test, shoot, re-shoot, write, edit, re-write… it never, ever ends. Even now that my book has been published and is out for the world, I continue to go back and wish I could tweak recipes and photos. As a creative, you’re never happy with your finished project because you feel like you can always do it better. But this book is perfect. It’s literally my everything right now.
There are more and more restaurants that can only exist in the place they were built. A restaurant like Gjelina uses its surroundings to make it what it is. As often as possible, utilizing ingredients and products that can be found in California, it would not exist in a different place as it is today in Venice. Chef Travis Lett talks about “only apply[ing] the minimal amount of process so that those who eat [his] food can experience what is intrinsically nearly perfect.” He keeps things simple really allowing the products and food to shine as opposed to the effort put behind cooking a dish. He writes, “As a cook, I try not to stand in the way of what is beautiful and delicious. I try to capture the fleeting moment when well-cultivated ingredients are at their peak. I have always struggled to balance my desire to bring personality and to leave well enough alone.” Above all else in food, I respect this. Because of these ideas, Gjelina is an incredible place to eat.
This isn’t your classic, pretentious restaurant cookbook that you flip through ooh-ing and ah-ing but try to read through a recipe and give up half way through saying, “Nah! Too much work.” They’re straight forward and simple in the best way possible. I do not mean for that to be an insult at all. That is praise. Be respectful to the dishes and be sure to buy the best possible ingredients you can find getting them locally when you can. I’m dying over some of these recipes… Charred Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Dates, Rustic Corn Grits with Mushroom Sugo & Poached Egg, Guajillo-Glazed Lamb Ribs, Grilled Kale with Shallot-Yogurt Dressing & Toasted Hazelnuts, and this….
Roasted Yams with Honey, Espelette & Lime Yogurt. Where is that emoji of the two hands held up in praise when you need it! Dead. Yams are sliced tossed in olive oil, honey, and espelette, a pepper similar to aleppo, then roasted in a hot oven. Afterwards the yams are drizzled with a super tangy lime yogurt sauce that balances out the sweetness of the yams. Tas hovered over me to get his fork in as I was trying to finish photographing this dish. Needless to say, we took. it. down. I had grand plans of making a quick hash for breakfast the next day with these yams, but they didn’t stand a chance.
ROASTED YAMS WITH HONEY, ESPELETTE & LIME YOGURT
FROM GJELINA COOKBOOK
WITH PERMISSION TO PUBLISH FROM CHRONICLE BOOKS
SERVES 4 TO 6 AS A SIDE DISH
juice of 2 limes
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 medium to large yams
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp espelette pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
flaky sea salt
2 green onions (white and green parts), sliced thinly on bias
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime juice and 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cut the yams lengthwise in eight wedges (about 1 in [2.5 cm] in diameter). In a medium bowl, toss the yams with the honey, 1/2 tbsp of the espelette pepper, and the remaining olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Marinate for 10 minutes, tossing once or twice to coat.
Transfer the yams to a rimmed baking sheet and roast until they are nicely caramelized around the edges and soft when pierced with a knife at the thickest part, 25 to 35 minutes.
Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle yogurt over all, and garnish with the green onions and remaining espelette pepper. Season with flaky salt. Serve warm.