Here's Why Marcus Off Duty Is Destined to Grow Old With Me

Here's Why Marcus Off Duty Is Destined to Grow Old With Me

(Image credit: Michelle Peters-Jones)

Cookbook: Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home by Marcus Samuelsson
Overall Impression: A collection of simple, elegant and flavor packed recipes that are perfect for everyday suppers or relaxed dinner parties alike.

You know those cookbooks. Those that make you smile and reach for your sticky notes, the ones that draw you in with brilliant illustrations and cozy family pictures? Those that make you feel like you can make every single recipe without any stress? Well, meet your new cookbook best friend, Marcus Off Duty.

(Image credit: Michelle Peters-Jones)

Recipes I Tried

  • Red Shrimp with Grits
  • Pea Soup with Scallops
  • Fish Sticks (with Miso)
  • Quinoa with Broccoli, Cauliflower and Coconut
  • Orange Fennel Salad
  • Spiced Butter
  • I also adapted a few meat based recipes for my seafood and vegetarian family.

Cooking From Marcus Off Duty

It's a well known fact that I love my cookbooks — I would even go as far as to call it an addiction. I make an attempt to cook from them at least once a week, and my successful books are ones that are permanently on my kitchen table. As soon as I opened Marcus Samuelsson's new book, I knew that this was one of my "kitchen table" books.

From the very first page, I was drawn in by the cheerful photography and the easy-going, relaxed vibe of this book. I liked the conversational nature of the recipes and headnotes, and I love the personal stories that draw them all together. I am always a sucker for recipes that start with the names of the people who inspired them, and this book has a wonderful collection of them. It feels intimate — like we're being afforded a look into Samuelsson's home and family (which, to some extent we are).

(Image credit: Michelle Peters-Jones)

The book is divided into some conventional categories (Street Food, Soups) and some nonconventional categories (Playing with Fire, Friends and Family, Special Days). The recipes are simple and accessible, and the ones I tried taste fantastic. I whipped up a whole bunch of recipes, and none of them were fussy or crazily expensive. They all lent themselves to easy adaptations and substitutions, and the exotic flavors were spot on — you could visualise yourself eating this or that dish on the beach, near a food cart, remembering every memory that the dish brings with it.

Pea Soup with Scallops
(Image credit: Michelle Peters-Jones)

Being a mom, I gratefully fell on the Cooking with Kids section. My daughter and I looked over the recipes and she pointed out the ones she liked and wanted to make with me. I am not the biggest fan of cooking with kids, but Samuelsson's words encouraged me to let go of my inner OCD-aaah-look-mess mom and embrace the experience. We made the fish sticks together, and they were delicious.

In an interview with The Philadelphia Tribune, Samuelsson himself said that, “Learning how to cook is the most liberating thing you can do... If you know how to cook, it’s really like dancing — once you have the basic rhythm you know where to go from that..." I love this quote. It completely encapsulates my own cooking philosophy. One of the more unique aspects of this book is Samuelsson's inclusion of a playlist for every section. The inner geek in me loved that he included some of my favorite bands. (Blondie? Yay!)

Red Shrimp with Grits
(Image credit: Michelle Peters-Jones)

What Could Be Better

While I loved the layout and intimate feel of the way recipes were organized, some people might struggle with the slightly cluttered feel of the book. There is a lot to take in, and Samuelsson skips easily from one cuisine to another.

In terms of sourcing ingredients, the majority are easily available in most cities, but there may be a few that people have difficulty sourcing.

Final Takeaway

I can already tell that this is one of those books that will grow old with me, and one that my daughter will probably steal off me in the near future. It is very different from some of Samuelsson's older books, but for me, its accessibility is what makes it appealing. This is the kind of book that is equally at home on the beach or a city kitchen. Just add the music and cook.

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home by Marcus Samuelsson

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.

Created with Sketch.