In case you hadn't heard, Kelis has written a cookbook: My Life On A Plate! According to the book's intro, after years of success in the music industry Kelis found herself falling out of love with her previous existence and increasingly finding her passion for food surpassing everything else. In fact, she talks about waking up one morning ten years into a successful music career feeling the need to step back and explore something else. That something else turned out to be her love of food. So, she signed up to Le Cordon Bleu, retraining as a chef and the rest is history.
This cookbook is, as the title suggests, Kelis's favourite recipes, the ones she cooks for friends and fam. There are dishes from all over the world with a heavy Puerto Rican influence thanks to her heritage. The book is, as you'd expect, peppered with anecdotes of her travels as she toured the world during the height of her music career and the food she explored along the way. I'd heard about this cookbook and I had kept meaning to look out for it but simply kept forgetting. That was until I was hoovering up some amazing pulled pork and BBQ sauce my friend Hannah (who just also happens to be a chef) had cooked. When I, reaching for my third helping, was waxing lyrical about how amazing it was, Hannah revealed the recipe was, in fact, Kelis's. It was Kelis's legendary BBQ sauce! Say no more my friend, say no more. I was sold. I went and bought the book the very next day.
Once in my hands, I leafed through it as I always do. Pouring over the pages working out what I wanted to cook first and then mentally figuring out where it rated on my 'cookbook usability scale'. Was it a go-to everyday life saver or more of a once in a blue moon special occasion job? Torn about what to cook first, I settled on two recipes that would allow me to really come to a well-informed conclusion/indulge in both something sweet and something savoury....Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt Potato Crisps and Swedish Meatballs and Gravy.
Both recipes were easy to follow and the results speak for themselves (see photos). The Swedish Meatballs were unbelievably indulgent, a perfect mix of savoury and sweet thanks, in part, to a big dollop of blackcurrant jam plonked on top (I couldn't find Loganberry jelly anywhere) and a generous side of creamy mash - neither of which were called for in the recipe but are essential bedfellows to this dish in my opinion. The cream laced gravy was so good I had to stop myself eating it by the ladelfull straight from the pan. Who am I kidding. I did eat almost half of if direct from the pan, burning my tongue several times as I did because I just couldn't wait for it to cool down enough it was that moorish. The meatballs were incredibly tasty and seasoned perfectly. A winning dish all round but, having eaten at least 10 meatballs myself, cream laced gravy and a pile of buttery mash I could barely move from my sofa for a good hour and though I wanted more for dinner felt a salad maybe best if I was to give my arteries a chance to recover (mostly so I could justify eating another decent portion the next day).
The chocolate cookies required a list of pretty pricey ingredients, Kelis insists upon proper posh crisps in this recipe so I went with Kettle Chips but in retrospect I think standard ready salted would've been fine. The end result were cookies the size of my head and, although the flavours were good, for me the end product was a bit too sweet and too far on the crunchy end of the cookie spectrum (I'm more a fan of a chewy cookie). However, everyone that tried them loved them and I was declared bonkers for my anaysis that they lacked 'chew'.
Now, I live in a mostly meat free household and this cookbook is a carnivore's dream. I struggled to find mains rather than sides that I could feed the fish eating veggie and that didn't require a lot of seasonings and ingredients I didn't already have. 'My Life On A Plate' also isn't for those watching their waistline! All the recipes yield enough for 4-6 people and even when I halved the ingredients I still ended up with more food than a household of three could manage in one sitting. There's rarely something that isn't deep fried, glazed in something deliciously sticky or laced with sugar. Too much of this indulgent, goodness and your Milkshake won't be bringing anyone to the yard, in fact, you may well end up not being able to get your milkshake out of your yard!
I love this book, it's inspiring me to want to cook things I've never eaten let alone cooked before thanks to the direct influence Kelis's experiences globetrotting has had on her cooking. For me, it's not an everyday cookbook. This is a great cookbook if you're entertaining and looking for something indulgent and different to feed your guests. I for one will be finding any excuse to invite lots of meat eaters over just so I can make those glorious meatballs again and eat spoonfuls of gravy when no one's watching!
You can check out Kelis's website and order some of her famous sauces here
You can order her book here