Ten Speed Press
Weeks ago, I was excited to see Baked!: 35 Marijuana Munchies to Make and Bake on a list of upcoming releases. And not because I was looking for 35 things to cook with marijuana, but because Ten Speed Press, a great cookbook publisher, was dedicating a whole book to the subject.
Kim Severson wrote about what she dubbed "haute stoner cuisine" earlier this year for The New York Times. She wasn't referring to food cooked with pot but to food cooked by a community of chefs whose experiences with pot have helped shape the way they cook. Would this be an haute stoner cookbook?
The recipes inside are not geared toward some imagined lazy cook, already stoned, uninterested in technique and quality of ingredients.
Well, not really. The illustrated cookbook, released last week, is pretty gimmicky, as if it were counting on stoner culture to eat whatever space cakes it finds on the counter. Dishes are assigned a number of pot leaves according to drug strength and difficulty. In short, it appears to be kind of cookbook you might flip through while waiting in line at Urban Outfitters.
But the recipes inside are not geared toward some imagined lazy cook, already stoned, uninterested in technique and quality of ingredients. The recipes are actually delightfully simple, straightforward, and smart. Dishes include classic scones, biscuits, and pigs in blankets. The writers suggest frozen puff pastry to cut corners if necessary, and provide a homemade recipe for those who have the time.
The book's major shortcoming is that while it explains the basic principles of how to infuse fat with marijuana and produce bud butter—the mother sauce of cannabis cooking—it does not suggest a variety of fats for a variety of applications. (I suspect Jennifer McLagan's excellent book about how to cook with fat, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, might be more helpful to the ambitious cook.)
But then, this isn't a book for professional cannabis cooks, who produce sweets and savories for medical marijuana card holders. And it isn't for experienced, intuitive home cooks, who might have googled a video here and there to figure out the process of rendering THC in butter.
This is a gateway cookbook. While following the book's recipes will get you high, its most valuable function might be teaching people who don't cook, who have no interest in the kitchen, how to make a decent short crust, the value of roasting whole heads of garlic, and how to tell when a quiche is cooked through.
And who knows, maybe they'll bake that quiche again—without the bud butter—when Mom comes over for brunch? It's a slippery slope.