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Need to Have: Single-Minded Cookbooks

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I have a thing for cookbooks. My shelves run the gamut, from a tattered copy of Peg Bracken’s 1960 I Hate to Cook Book to more recent acquisitions like Yotam Ottolenghi’s PlentyI read them like novels, absorbing each author’s particular voice and idiosyncrasies, and file away recipes as inspiration. 

Now I’ve got my eye on three new additions for my collection. My friend Nick Fauchald recently launched Short Stack Editions, a series of gorgeous, delightfully compact, single-ingredient books. For each of the volumes (first up: Strawberries, Tomatoes, and Eggs), he tapped amazing chefs like Susan Spungen, the founding food editor at Martha Stewart Living, to Ian Knauer, a former Gourmet editor and author of The Farm.

I love the books because they remind me, in size and usability, of the vintage pamphlets that brands like Pillsbury and Betty Crocker distributed during the 1950s—only with a modern, seasonal update. Focusing on just one ingredient is also a fun way to think beyond traditional uses for, say, strawberries—just witness Spungen’s sweet-and-savory salsa recipe below.

The catch? I’ll only get my cookbooks if Short Stack’s Kickstarter campaign is fully funded by the end of the month. In the meantime, I’m consoling myself with this Strawberry Salsa recipe from Vol. 3—it’s perfect for a Memorial Day grillfest.

Strawberry Salsa
Recipe by Susan Spungen, Short Stack, Vol. 3 (Strawberries)
Makes 5½ cups

Almost anywhere tomatoes go, strawberries can go, too. Salsa makes a good home for them, where their juicy, bright flavor mixes well with chilies, lime, avocado, and cilantro.

This recipe makes enough for a party, but it can easily be halved. It also makes a refreshing accompaniment for fish tacos and grilled shrimp or scallops.

1 pound strawberries, hulled and diced in ½-inch pieces (3¼ cups)

1 avocado, diced in ½-inch pieces

1 habanero pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 large beefsteak tomato, diced in ½-inch pieces (2 cups)

1 teaspoon lime zest

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

½ medium red onion, finely diced and rinsed 3 times

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently stir to mix.

—Mollie

Learn more about Short Stack Editions and their Kickstarter campaign here and tell me about your favorite cookbooks!

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