One of the perks of being a food editor is the constantly rising tower of cookbooks on my desk. Piles of books come in on a daily basis, and I try to look through them all. Some inspire me, some teach me something new, some take me on a trip to an unfamiliar place, and some are just fun to look through. And then there are the books that actually earn a spot on my bookshelf at home—the ones that become dog-eared and spattered from heavy use. Now & Again, by cookbook author and food writer Julia Turshen, is one of those books.
As in her first cookbook, Small Victories, Julia has a way of creating ingenious little twists that make a familiar dish feel entirely new. Her Grilled Beef and Zucchini Meatballs with Tahini Dressing (she uses grated squash in place of breadcrumbs) are already in constant rotation in our house, and her Greek Yogurt with Fried Pistachios and Lemon had my family mopping their plates with pita bread. Now & Again is also filled with smart ways to make the most of leftovers—hence the title. While we didn’t have any leftovers (the downside of a delicious recipe!), the meatballs and yogurt could easily be repurposed into hearty pita sandwiches.
Winning recipes are enough reason to pick up a cookbook, but Julia’s comforting, friendly voice is what won me over. I probably could have have memorized the Caesar salad recipe (“Julia’s Caesar”) from Small Victories by now, but I reach for the book every time I need to make it, because reading the method feels like cooking alongside an old friend.
Although Julia isn’t from the South, her cooking has a Southern sensibility. Food is her favorite way to bring family and friends together, show love, and foster community. She’s also unapologetically thrifty and hates waste, and prefers to cook with the seasons—something any Southerner can appreciate. And her Virginia-born wife Grace, who introduced her to the joys of a good pulled pork sandwich, is one of her biggest inspirations, as you’ll see in these recipes from her new book.