6 cannabis cookbooks with recipes from basic to gourmet
As cannabis is legalized — although it remains illegal under federal law —and goes mainstream in California and other states, the cookbook industry has churned into high gear with books on what ways to use jazz cabbage beyond the bong. What to look for? A lot depends on your level of expertise — not just in the kitchen but with cannabis itself. If you’ve been making batches of pot brownies and want to expand your repertoire to, say, French macarons, there are cookbooks to help you out. Many books have lengthy introductions that outline the specifics of cooking with cannabis, so find one that fits with what you know — or don’t know.
“Bong Appetit: Mastering the Art of Cooking With Weed” by the editors of Munchies (Ten Speed Press, $30)
This book, based on the Munchies and Viceland television series “Bong Appétit,” was published in October by Ten Speed Press. (This is in itself notable, as Ten Speed is one of the best cookbook publishers around, and continues the legitimate trajectory of the cannabis cooking genre.) The book has a comprehensive introduction that includes topics such as dosing, techniques, methods of decarboxylation and infusion, cannabis pairing tips, questions to ask your dispensary, tips on equipment and more. The recipes are sourced from the Munchies test kitchen and from many well-known chefs, whose recipes are recalibrated to add cannabis. Thus: Korean fried chicken from Deuki Hong of San Francisco’s Sunday Bird; fried soft-shell crab with shishito pepper mole from Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme and Atla; and (my favorite) Joan Nathan’s preserved lemons. The Munchies test kitchen also has some fun ones, including herb focaccia with, well, herb; and confit octopus, in which a whole octopus is poached in cannabis-infused olive oil. If that sounds too aspirational, there are instructions for making an apple bong — a hollowed-out apple filled with weed-infused mezcal — at the end of the drinks chapter.
“Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen” by Stephanie Hua with Coreen Carroll (Chronicle Books, $19.95)
“Edibles” is a just-published, user-friendly cookbook in a few notable ways: There is a lengthy and well-defined introductory section that discusses dosage, potency, effects, terminology and techniques. The 30 recipes that follow are purposefully low-dose (5 milligrams per serving), which is very helpful for beginning cooks, as well as those with a potentially problematic sweet tooth (Stephanie Hua is a confectioner at a marshmallow company; she and Coreen Carroll met at culinary school in San Francisco). The recipes are also a lot more appealing than those in many cannabis cookbooks, which can tend to run a little toward dorm food. Hua and Carroll instead give well-written recipes for cardamom caramels, gruyère and green garlic gougères, strawberry jam Pavlovas and roasted grape crostini. The blueberry lemon French macarons are a serious improvement on pot brownies.
“The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook” by Elise McDonough and the editors of High Times Magazine (Chronicle Books, $18.95)
This 6-year-old cookbook is from High Times magazine, the pot-championing publication founded in 1974. The book collects recipes from various sources (cooks who’ve contributed to the magazine, a “dude from Texas”) and begins with a workmanlike introduction that covers some of the basics of working with and consuming cannabis. But those basics are minimal; strains of cannabis, relative potency and issues of temperature and decarboxylation aren’t covered. Dosing in the recipes is also vague: a recipe, for example, says it “stones 4,” and there’s no mention of how many mgs are in the servings. The recipes are fun, and hardly technically difficult: the chocolate layer cake calls for Betty Crocker cake mix and frosting. If the Munchies book is for hipster stoners, this one is for people who’ve been listening to their Cheech and Chong records on vinyl since the last time it was cool.
Andrea Drummer is a Los Angeles-based culinary school grad and private chef specializing in cannabis cooking. Maybe because of her culinary training, the book is short on the science of cooking with cannabis and long on recipes, including some fun ones such as kimchi fried rice and escargot in puff pastry. This is both good and bad, as the recipes for infused stock, pasta dough and mayonnaise are comforting for home cooks, but the book doesn’t give much information about how to work with or use cannabis. (There’s also no index, which is frustrating.) Although Drummer gives bud pairings, as if she’s talking about a good Cabernet, decarboxylation isn’t even mentioned; recipes simply call for grams of “cannabis product.” This assumes a lot, and unless you’re already versed in this kind of cooking, you’ll need outside reference in order to use this one properly.
“Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking With Cannabis” by Melissa Parks and Laurie Wolf (Inkshares, $24.99)
This 3-year-old cookbook from two classically trained chefs — the pair have degrees from the Culinary Institute of America, Le Cordon Bleu and Johnson and Wales between them — is one of the better books about cannabis cooking. It’s both pragmatic and culinary-minded, and avoids the stoner language that can obfuscate the prose of the genre. The concise “cannabis 101” intro section concludes with good recipes for canna-oil, canna-butter and compound butters made with it — a great and nicely cheffy touch. The recipes focus on well-sourced ingredients and give techniques for components in such a way that you could easily use the book for non-pot cooking. I’d switch out the cannabutter for regular butter and make the triple-chocolate espresso cookies on a regular rotation, and the matcha sugar cookies too.
Published in 2015 by a Colorado writer and photographer, this cookbook collects recipes from a dozen chefs and one bartender who specialize in cannabis-infused food. Before the recipes, there’s a 100-plus-page section that provides biographies of the chefs and discusses many aspects of buying, identifying and cooking with cannabis, covering cooking cultivars, details on infusions and extractions, plus dosing tips. There’s a longer section on how to make the oils and butters and tinctures than in many books; it also includes recipes for infused milk, cream, honey and simple syrup, all of which makes the recipes that follow succinct. The dosage per serving is clearly stated, and the recipe headnotes often include nicely geeky bits, such as how mangoes are reputed to heighten the effects of cannabis because they’re high (ha-ha) in myrcene molecules. Thus a recipe for rice pudding with green cardamom, mango and pistachios.
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Amy Scattergood is the former editor of the Los Angeles Times Food section and a former member of the Food reporting team.
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Marijuana Recipes: ‘High Times Cannabis Cookbook’ Author Gives Edible Weed Advice
When most people think of stoner food, they typically think of fatty, greasy items like nachos or chili cheese fries. When most people think of food to get you high, the first thought is usually pot brownies. But there is a whole realm of marijuana cuisine that goes beyond the obvious. Enter “The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook” by Elise McDonough and the editors of High Times magazine. This cookbook might have some familiar favorites, but it also offers interesting riffs on more advanced cannabis cuisine like farmers’ market risotto and potato gnocchi with wild mushroom ragu.
McDonough, a 10-year veteran of High Times magazine, stresses that you can’t just throw some marijuana in food and call it a day. Like all forms of cooking, technique is key. Her version of stoner cuisine isn’t about what to eat once you’re high — it’s about how to create tasty meals that can give you a nice buzz. In the book’s introduction, McDonough explains:
Mention the word “marijuana” or better yet pull out your stash, and the first thought that springs to most stoner’s minds is rolling a joint, packing a pipe, toking a bowl, hitting a bong, or putting a flame to some other smoking accessory. But it wasn’t always that way.
Ancient people throughout the world have use marijuana as a cooking ingredient — pot brownies only became popular in the 1950s. The passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996, effectively legalizing medical marijuana, helped in “opening the door for more and more people to realize the benefits of eating their stash instead of smoking it,” McDonough writes.
HuffPost Food spoke with McDonough to learn more about the book and the finer points of cannabis cookery. Check out the interview below, and scroll down for some recipes from the book — including Bar-B-Cannabis Sauce and Cheeto Fried Chicken.
Are you seeing an uptick in the consumption of edible marijuana?
It’s definitely a growing part of the industry. It’s very similar to what’s going with organic food and farmers’ markets. The cost of cannabis is falling in California because so many people are growing it. People are trying to find other way to use it and make a profit.
What are the reasons a patient or recreational user might prefer to cook and eat the substance over more traditional forms of ingestion?
When you eat the cannabis as opposed to smoking or vaporizing, it lasts longer. if you deal with chronic pain, you are going to get release for four to five hours instead of one to two hours.
It is more discreet, and it saves your lungs. Chronic longterm smoking can lead to bronchitis.
The staple of French cuisine are the mother sauces (hollandaise, bechamel, etc.) Is there an equivalent in cannabis cuisine?
The basic infusion that you are going to have to master is the butter or the oil. The main way you get cannabis into your food is simmering it in a chosen fat. That involves a chemical reaction of a THC molecule binding to the lipid.
What’s the easiest technique for extracting THC from marijuana — butter, oil, tinctures or something else?
The easiest standard way is with butter because it is easy and potent. If you are a vegan or you don’t want that much saturated fat, olive oil and coconut oil works well.
Can you talk about the process of what happens when you apply heat to cannabis? Does cannabis lose any of its potency when you cook it at a high temperature for a prolonged time? (baking, etc.)
Once it is in the butter, you can bake it at a normal temperature. If you cook at a very high temperature, the THC will begin to degrade and it will lose its potency. For butter, keep it on a low simmer — you definitely wouldn’t bring it to boil. One of the best ways to make a good cannabutter is to do it in your Crock Pot.
It is important for people to know that raw cannabis, the fresh plant out of the ground, is not psychoactive at all. There is a process called decarboxylation after you dry the plant that makes it psychoactive.
What is the key to a good cannabis dish?
Don’t overdo it. Especially when people are making stuff and they know you are from High Times. I want to be able to eat a satisfying portion of something without it sending me to the moon.
Theres also such a wide variety of ingredients to start — dried buds, trimmed leaves, sifted kief, unpressed hash (the most expensive, but tastiest). If you’re looking for flavor, you’re going to want to used dried cannabis instead of fresh. Sometimes you can get kind of a unpleasant grassy taste from fresh marijuana.
The flavors of marijuana clearly work better with some foods than others — what are some characteristics of the flavor profile of marijuana and how do you use that to determine good pairings and recipes?
There’s a group of chemicals found in all plants called terpenes and flavonoids. Different marijuana strains also have these chemicals. Some strains are citrusy and others can taste like pine. With the advent of laboratory testing, people are doing analysis which allows people to experiment. For example, in the book, for the Tom Yum Ganja, chef Ashley Boudreaux found a hay strain that paired very favorably with the ingredients.
Are there any foods that don’t work with marijuana?
I haven’t come across things that are unsuccessful, only when there is too much [cannabis] in there. if you do a good infusion, you are going to get a hint of it. It pairs really well with chocolate and peanut butter though.
What are your favorite recipes in the book?
It depends on my mood. I love the cover recipe — pumpkin pie is one of my favorite things. I like the Ganja Granny’s Smoked Mac ‘N’ Cheese. I also like the lighter stuff like the Rasta Pasta and Reggae Rice and Bean Soup.
Do you have any advice for a budding cannabis chef?
Low and slow. That goes for both eating and cooking. When you are eating, you want to start with a low dose and go slow. Wait an hour to see how it effects you. Same with cooking. Simmer low and slow.
Check out some recipes from the High Times Cannabis Cookbook below.
All slideshow text excerpted from the High Times Cannabis Cookbook.
When most people think of stoner food, they typically think of fatty, greasy items like nachos or chili cheese fries. When most people think of food to g…