Gather – Where has this cookbook been my whole life?

Bill and Hayley, known throughout the paleo community for their delectable cookbook, Make it Paleo, are it again. They are releasing their sophomore endeavor, Gather, the Art of Paleo Entertaining, in just a few days and as luck would have it, I was the lucky recipient of an advanced copy.  Lucky me!

Normally you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but Gather is just as beautiful and delectable as the cover would lead you to believe. The premise of the book is also rather brilliant.  Bill and Hayley didn’t just paleo-ify a bunch of typical meals, they busted out some serious culinary creativity and planned out full spreads that range from Casual Sunday Brunch to Thanksgiving Feast and everything in between.

I’ve been salivating over sneak peak shots of recipes for months now, so when the book arrived we immediately planned a lunch date with a fellow paleo fam and took to the kitchen.  (Full disclosure, I was busy working from home while Sima and Aimee did the cooking… but I was there for moral support, clean-handed page-flipping and taste-testing).

sweet potato souffle coming out of the over

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard the rave reviews for the General Tso’s Chicken recipe in this book.  I know, paleo chinese food is just too good to be true.  *wipes drool from face*  However, it seems like every review of the book thus far has made this wondrous recipe, so we tabled it for another day and instead looked for other recipes that were equally kid-friendly.  Enter the paleo chicken nuggets (from the Birthday Celebration spread) and sweet potato souffle (from the Easter Brunch spread)!  Yes, we cherry-picked recipes from two different spreads, but such is the beauty of the book’s layout.

paleo chicken nuggets frying in oil

The kiddos in attendance, although technically paleo, are admittedly not the easiest to please, so this was a test for super-picky tastebuds.  The chicken nuggets were simple to make (I won’t divulge recipes, pre-order the book!) and came out crispy on the outside and juicy within.  You can’t say the same for those rubbery Chicken McNuggets, can you?  We opted to skip the additional homemade honey mustard sauce once we taste-tasted the first few since they were delicious without, though I’m sure it would have been a great addition had we taken the extra few minutes to make it.

For the sweet potato souffle, I’ll admit that cooking souffle is a bit intimidating since the consistency is so dependent on cooking temperature, time and methodology, but the recipe here was simple, quick and lick-the-plate delicious (just ask the kiddos!).  This souffle recipe differs from most in that there are no eggs for you to whip into peaks (Why? Probably to simplify the recipe) but we still got a good 2-3″ of rise in our souffle dish and everything was firm yet moist in the end.  Overall verdict: another A+

Since I tend to get a bit wordy, I’ll switch to a bulleted list for the remainder of the book review. You’re welcome ;-)

  • There is a ton of variety in the recipes, including Cuban, Chinese takeout, all the major holidays usually associated with entertaining guests… and even a paleo French bread recipe.
  • This book doesn’t just give recipes for food, it discusses all necessary components of proper entertaining.  From centerpieces and tableware to shopping prep and meal timing, they make sure you know how to please not just a fellow paleo but anyone who comes looking for a meal.  From what I’ve tasted and read, these recipes will surely win over anyone you cook for (except maybe vegans… sorry, vegans!)
  • Arrowroot flour is used in a good number of recipes, and I suspect this will catch on BIG in the paleo community. Arrowroot, if you don’t know, is a starchy powder made from root tubers like cassava and has a neautral/non-existent taste and a variety of uses.  It is a great thickening agent and a perfect flour for baking and frying. Stock up and pre-order this book!
  • Yes, I will continue to remind you to pre-order the book.  It is that good.  Seriously.
  • We had the privilege of attending one of the book’s photoshoot/dinners, hosted by Stacy and Matt of PaleoParents and attended by Aimee (photographer for the new Beyond Bacon book) and Russ of TheDomesticMan.com.  “Spooky Supper” is the Halloween feast and featured dishes like beef heart stew, spaghetti and “eyeballs” and “bleeding” cupcakes.  Although the kiddos were the real guests for this party, the adults did our fair share of scarfing down, too.  It’s not every day you get a meal cooked by Bill and Hayley, so you dive in when given the opportunity!
  • I was surprised and honored to see a photo credit when I opened the front cover. Bill’s epic photography skills blow mine out of the water, so having a photo of mine included in such a beautiful and professional book is a true honor.  Thanks for that little surprise, Bill and Hay.  For the rest of you, you’ll have to check page 201 to see what magic my paltry photo skills were able to cover!

All in all, I can’t recommend this book enough.  It is beautiful, it is well thought out, the food is delicious and brilliant.  Bill and Hayley… my hat is off to you!

book collage