From the team behind the popular indie magazine of the same name, Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook continues the company’s celebration of women and food through an artfully curated collection of recipes and stories.
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Gathering up contributions from a hundred women chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, and culinary celebrities across the food industry, Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook is an eclectic collection of favorite recipes, signature dishes, and personal stories. Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu founded Cherry Bombe Magazine as a celebration of women in the food industry, and their first cookbook continues that tradition in a lovely, pastel pink package.
Aside from a few short but sweet introductory pages, the main focus of the cookbook is the recipes. Difficulty levels range from surprisingly easy (Sweet & Sour Shrimp) to stunning and complex (Cherry Bombe Cake Balls). There really is a little something for everyone. Aside from a few show stoppers for the ambitious among us, the contents are largely approachable and friendly for the home cook.
Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook
While I’d heard wonderful things about Cherry Bombe Magazine over the years, Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook is my first hands-on experience with the company’s work. Their first magazine was fundraised through Kickstarter in 2013, and over the years the company has grown a huge, supportive fanbase and social media presence. They produce a biannual magazine, a weekly podcast called Radio Cherry Bombe, and hold a Jubilee Conference annually. The new cookbook is the latest feather in their prolific cap.
At first glance, Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook stands out as a perfectly pretty object in itself. As much at home on a coffee table as the kitchen counter, it’s pretty pink clothbound cover, stylized detail, and gold foil lettering give it an elevated and classy appearance. Unlike many restaurant and coffee table cookbooks, however, it’s full of practical recipes good for everyday meals.
While the photography of the cookbook is not my preferred style (I usually like bright, glossy food photography with high contrast), the pastel backdrops and muted colors give off a truly vintage vibe. The images are soothing, set in their own colorful abstract world of ambient light and perfect portions.
Contents & Recipe Review
Contributions to Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook come from women making waves in the food world, such as Melissa Clark, Vivian Howard, Padma Lakshmi, Heidi Swanson, and Chrissy Teigen. For purposes of this review, I tested a main course, a dessert, and two cocktails.
The first thing I made was the Sweet and Sour Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes, contributed by Padma Lakshmi (p. 34). What an excellent, easy dinner recipe! Sour from the preserved lemons, sweet from the diced dried apricots, and completely well-balanced. The combination of flavors is complex, but it’s also a light meal when served over a little brown rice. My only note is to keep an eye on the recipe as you cook – I personally found the timing to be a little less than what was listed. Overall, a very solid recipe to be added to my usual repertoire.
The Salted Caramel Brownies, contributed by Ovenly’s Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin, (p. 232) were another story. I have to admit I might have had a bit of a kitchen fail. The flavors are excellent and the salted caramel sauce recipe is the easiest I’ve ever made. It will, in fact, be the recipe I go to from now on. The brownie recipe doesn’t exactly list how much of the caramel sauce to swirl into the brownies though, and I fear I used far too much by using the full amount. My resulting batch didn’t completely cook through (even after increasing the baking time), leaving me with something more like fudge than brownies. I will note that despite this, the delicious little squares did not go to waste, being delicious in their own right.
Of the two cocktails I tried, I much preferred Gail Simmons’s Charred Pineapple Margarita (p. 158) over Yvette Leeper-Bueno’s The Sinsear (p. 164), even if it was a bit more work. The Sinsear was very easy to make, but so ginger forward I felt it masked the bourbon too much for my tastes (which might be a bonus to some). The scent of the rosemary garnish adds a nice touch, and is more profound the fresher the herb. The Charred Pineapple Margarita is deceptively strong – be warned. Prepping a whole pineapple and charring the slices can take a bit of work, but it’s totally worthwhile if you can plan another meal that needs the rest of the fruit (like my Pineapple Fried Rice, perhaps?). Not too sweet and with a fresh green hint from the cilantro, it’s a great addition to a spicy meal.
Other recipes I look forward to making include the Vindaloo BBQ Baby Back Ribs from Chef Preeti Mistry (p. 58), Vegan Pumpkin-Swirled Mashed Potatoes from Chloe Coscarelli (p. 124), cool little Matcha and Black Sesame Fortune Cookies from Diana Yen (p. 172), and the adorable Funfetti Cake with Cherry Filling from Molly Yeh (p. 180).
I was especially tempted to make the absolutely show-stopping Cherry Bombe Cake Balls (p. 204) which are a vibrant pink with hand-pulled green sugar stems. These little beauties are a bit time-intensive though, so regrettably I haven’t had a chance to test them out yet. If you make a batch, I’d love to hear how they come out for you!
Ultimately, I really enjoy Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook. I found myself smiling as I flipped through the pages for the first time, recognizing the names of chefs and restaurants in the head notes of the recipes. More than just a cookbook, it’s full of inspiration for lady chefs and home cooks. If you are already part of the Cherry Bombe fanbase (lovingly called the “Bombe Squad”), this cookbook is a must for your collection. I wouldn’t say the cookbook is for everyone, but it’s a beautiful compilation perfect for women in or interested in the food industry and for lovers of stylized food photography. I admire the business Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu continue to build, and the message they stand for. Next step: catch up on the Radio Cherry Bombe podcast!
Further Reading (with sample recipes!):
- A Preview of Cherry Bombe’s Upcoming Cookbook, Vogue
- Cherry Bombe’s War on Food Bros, Taste
- How to Live the Cherry Bombe Life from Breakfast to Happy Hour, Well and Good
Previous Cookbook Reviews:
- Peppers of the Americas by Maricel E. Presilla
- Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark
- Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard
- The Dumpling Galaxy by Helen You
Disclaimer: I received Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook from Blogging for Books for this review.