If there’s anybody breaking the cookbook mold in a more creative way than Michelle Tam and Henry Fong, I’ve yet to find them.
The creators of Nom Nom Paleo have published several comic book-inspired cookbooks that are bursting with energy and enthusiasm for the craft of everyday weeknight cooking. They aren’t the only ones to use the comic book look, but I think they do it the best with the cartoons of themselves depicting their weekly routines and brainstorming sessions and action shots of the food prep.
The recipes in their new book, “Ready or Not!: 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo,” (Andrews McMeel, $35) have step-by-step photos with lots of notes about the cooking techniques they employ and the use of fats, herbs and spices that will help you even when you’re not making the exact dish in the book. Readers will quickly pick up that with a busy family, they, too, are eager to knock out a killer meal on some days, but on others, dread the task.
Tam, who is the only cookbook author I know who has an action figure, will be in Austin for a book release event at 7 p.m. August 25 at BookPeople with Edible Austin, where she will sign copies of the book and answer questions from readers. They’ll have snacks from 44 Farms and Lox and Box & Barrel on hand, as well as butter coffee from Picnik.
A note: If you don’t have room for any more cookbooks, check out the companion 12-month calendar they made that features a dozen dishes from the book.
Tex-Mex Beef and Rice Casserole
You’re gonna get a big, spicy kick out of this beefy, one-skillet casserole. Eat it now, or slice it up and toss it in the fridge for the coming week’s pack-and-go lunches. Got riced cauliflower? If not, cut up a small cauliflower into uniform-size pieces, and pulse ’em in a food processor until the size of rice grains.
1 pound riced cauliflower
1 pound ground beef
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups store-bought roasted tomato salsa
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs, whisked
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, thinly sliced crosswise (optional)
¼ cup fresh cilantro, lightly packed
Heat the oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the middle. Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef when the pan is hot. Break up the meat with a spatula. Cook, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes or until it’s no longer pink.
Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the riced cauliflower and stir to combine. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour in the salsa, and add the oregano and chili powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove the skillet from the heat, and pour in the whisked eggs. Gently stir to incorporate, and smooth the top of the casserole with a spatula. Top with the sliced tomatoes (cut-side up) and hot pepper, if using. Put the skillet in the oven.
Cook for 40 to 45 minutes or until the eggs are set and browned on the edges. Rest for 5 minutes, and top with cilantro. Slice and serve. Extras can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 4 months. Serves 4.
— From “Ready or Not!: 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo” by Melody Tam and Henry Fong