Check out these two new cookbooks written by a couple of our favorite local cooks. One entices us to enjoy intentional leftovers while the other takes seasonal plant-based meal planning and eating to the next level. While recipes from both books suggest we have a serious obsession with tacos, what could be more San Diegan than reducing food waste and eating more veg? 

Sam the Cooking Guy: Recipes with Intentional Leftovers

You know you’re in for a creative read when a cookbook is dedicated to leftovers.

Sam Zien, the San Diego-based Emmy award-winning television host, chef, and restaurateur, has a new cookbook. Sam the Cooking Guy: Recipes with Intentional Leftovers (2020, Countryman Press) is here in time for Thanksgiving, or what the author calls, “the Superbowl of leftovers.”

The book, while perfect for the current Covid-driven stay at home cooking era, was in the works pre-virus.

Courtesy of Countryman Press

“The idea started when I was sick of eating something as its original intention,” Zien says. “I didn’t like the idea of throwing food out just because I was bored with it. Now everybody is in the same position.”

For example, after going into detail on how to reverse sear a steak, Zien provides five recipes to make use of that leftover steak. 

Thanksgiving Benedict /Photo by Lucas Barbieri
Stuffing Balls /Photo by Lucas Barbieri
Thanksgiving Benedict /Photo by Lucas Barbieri
Stuffing Balls /Photo by Lucas Barbieri

“Much like when I started my TV show and saw that people needed to be shown how to cook, now I feel like people are looking for interesting ways to do things with the food they have in their fridge,” says Zien. 

The book has a comprehensive chapter on how to use leftover Thanksgiving favorites and even tips for deconstructing and using leftover pizza elements as ingredients.

“You will never grow in your cooking ability if you always cook the same thing,” Zien says. “You have to push yourself, test yourself, get creative—that’s the fun of cooking."

Kitchen Contentment

Another new cookbook dedicated to eliminating food waste by Oceanside nutrition coach and vegan chef Liz Murphy is called Kitchen Contentment (2020, Santosha Nutrition).

As the owner of Santosha Nutrition, the book is a collection of recipes Murphy developed as part of her plant-based sustainable eating practice.

Divided into chapters named for each of the four seasons, Murphy guides readers through seasonal cooking and finding staple alternatives such as a milk section that breaks down milk alternatives based on taste, texture, nutrition, and environmental impact.

“There is an element of teaching in the book,” says Murphy. “It’s not just recipes, it’s also tips and techniques for the plant-based cook.”

For example, the zero-waste cooking section includes a recipe for carrot top pesto and provides additional ways the whole vegetable may be used root to stem. There is also a list of San Diego farms for area readers who want to shop local.

 “I’ve bought a book for five recipes out of 100 and I didn’t want to do that,” Murphy says. “I want people to use the whole book.”

The self-published book was printed using sustainable practices approved by the US Forestry Services, and Murphy adds that no new trees were used.

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