Probably the best cooking wine (meaning wine to drink while cooking, not wine to pour into things you're cooking—save that for the junk stuff) is Gamay. So when diving into a new cookbook that's as gorgeous as it is helpful and a treat to read, get yourself a bottle of equally fun jammy red wine that will make you smack your lips with joy.
When I learned to cook, my most successful early recipes were roasted veggies or simple simmered dishes—things that involved being over a stove, things that you eat in winter. And before I really got into wine, jammy French wines were an easy go-to. I didn't know much, but I know I loved those bottles of young Beaujolais that came out around the holidays; easy-drinking but full of fruity flavor, light, not cost prohibitive (you can get some pretty great bottles for $20 or under). They were my speed.
Now, they 1000% still are. It's hard not to love Gamay, and it's really hard not to love THIS Gamay. Admittedly, I was drawn in by the label (doesn't he kind of look like the Little Ceasar's guy?), but this strawberry-jammy vin de France really blew me away. Ringing in at only $16, it's your perfect weeknight dinner wine, something you can drink without thinking about it while prepping food (or waiting for Seamless). And because it's light, it's great for chilling, which is key for light winter reds for me. I mean, the oven is probably on, maybe the heat is too if you live in New York and can't control the hissing volcanic-hot radiators in your apartment, you don't need a heavy red that's going to make you even more rosy-cheeked. This is not a full bodied snowstorm red. This is a throw-it-back red—like the little label guy is indicating—which you will do, over and over until the bottle is suddenly somehow empty.
You will also return, over and over, to Dining In, the cookbook of the year (imho) by Alison Roman. Roman is a former test kitchen chef at Bon Appetit whose recipes are like everything really delicious and unpretentious that you love from your slightly cooler neighborhood restaurant. "Highly cookable", she calls them, and I have to agree. Think new ingredients—tahini, yogurt sauces, za'atar—on old staples—clams and linguine, kitchen sink salads, roasted veggies. Her salted butter chocolate chip shortbread cookies went kind of viral, but that's definitely not the only reason to buy the book. I've been loving poring over the gorgeous photos and planning meals, mostly because everything in the book feels aspirational but is actually not that hard. Sourcing certain spices might be tricky for those outside a metro area, but most everything in this book—unlike a lot of pro chef cookbooks—can be made with stuff you get at your regular degular grocery store. (Or at least a Whole Foods.) And because this is a writing blog, I must note that Roman is a great writer. Her recipes are summed up neatly and with wit, and her stories dedicated to standout items or meals are warm, relatable, and personal. The perfect gift book, I've been giving it to everyone because I want to spread the Dining In gospel.
These two are your next night-in plan, and will set you on the path to easy deliciousness the likes of which you never thought you could be personally responsible for. Cheers to that!