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Cooking the Book, Vol. 4: Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes by Alison Roman

 

In classic Kat fashion, I'm a few years behind the rest of the food-blogosphere in reviewing this wonderful, highly readable cookbook. The struggle has been finding a way to incorporate the recipes into my everyday meal plan, as they can be a bit fussy and involve looking for ingredients that your mainstream grocery chains may not stock. 

The book is just a delight to read though. If you're a bit of a food snob, you'll like this book. If you're a bit of a hipster, you'll like this book. If you like to challenge yourself to try new flavors, then this is for you. I happen to be all of these things, so I was super excited when I read it for the first time. I know Alison Roman has become a bit of a controversial figure, with accusations of cultural appropriation and shade thrown at Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo coming back to bite her in the ass. I'll just leave it at this--some of the recipes in here are quite good, and you don't have to like Alison Roman to like the recipes. 

Moving on...

Here's my standard recipe breakdown with my thoughts on everything I tried.

Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower and Dates with Tahini and Pine Nuts: 4/5 stars. My husband hated the tahini in this, and didn't have more than a bite or two. I thought it was decent when warm, but it was really tasty the second day when I ate it cold out of the fridge, especially the roasted dates. I substituted basil for the mint and cilantro, as my local grocery store was curiously out of both. This was a bad idea--I learned that cumin seeds and basil do not go together. We ended up picking the basil out. I also left out the pine nuts because small quantities of nuts are hard to come by where I live, and the big bags are hard for me to store in our tiny freezer. I imagine with the mint and cilantro, this would be much better, so I gave it a 4 rather than a 3. For the amount of effort this involved, however, I wouldn't make it again. I've made a lot of roasted cauliflower dishes and have enjoyed easier recipes more. 

Raw and Roasted Carrots and Fennel with Feta and Pistachios: 5/5 stars. This was my first time working with fennel, and I was nervous because I typically dislike the flavor of anise. This was delicious though! A salad full of different flavors and textures--creamy, bright, and crunchy. I did leave out the pistachios (once again, a small amount of nuts is hard for us to find), but I don't really think it needs them since the raw veggies are crunchy enough, and the feta adds enough fat. Recipe here.

Split Pea Salad: 2/5 stars. I followed her instructions exactly, even draining my split peas a few minutes early, but they still turned out mushy. There is a lot of bacon grease in this, which muddles the flavors. The roasted potatoes don't add any flavor, only mushiness. I added a lot of vinegar to cut through the bacon grease, but even that didn't save this dish. 

Spelt with Crispy Sausage, Flowering Broccoli, and Green Garlic: 5/5 stars. Brilliant! Like an Italian fried rice, but somehow better because every grain becomes both crispy and chewy. I used her suggested substitution of farro for the spelt, and it worked beautifully. We've made this a couple of times now, and my husband always enjoys it. Recipe here.

Olive Oil-Fried Lentils with Cherry Tomatoes and a Chile-Fried Egg: 3/5 stars. I used brown lentils, and unfortunately they got too mushy when I cooked them according to the low end of her suggested cooking time. The rest of the dish never came together as a result. The flavors were otherwise decent, though nothing amazing considering how much oil goes into this. 

Kinda-Sweet Granola with Coconut and Turmeric: 4/5 stars. I loved the level of sweetness in this granola. It was perfect for sprinkling on yogurt. I ended up increasing the amount of cinnamon and leaving out the turmeric. The suggested amount of sesame seeds was way too much, however. I would lower it to 1/4 cup. 

Clam Pasta with Chorizo and Walnuts: 3/5 stars. This was the rare recipe from this book that my husband liked more than I did. I thought it was just okay. The amount of chorizo left the dish too heavy for me. I left out the walnuts (see above for why), but I can't imagine it would solve that problem. 

Roasted Tomato and Anchovy Bucatini: 5/5 stars. My favorite recipe in the book! This is the best spaghetti with tomato sauce I've ever had. The umami flavor is off the charts. After I made it the first time, I immediately made it 3 or 4 more times--it's that good. This went in my heirloom recipe notebook. Recipe here.

Slow Salmon with Citrus and Herb Salad: 4/5 stars. I've made a few slow-roasted salmon dishes, and this one was good, but not the best. The salmon was very tender and had a nice citrus aroma, but not as much as I had hoped. Covering and cooking it in oil did not add a whole lot, and I could do without it next time. 

Perfect Steak with Buttered Radish Toast: 2/5 stars. I made this as described, and my steak ended up well-done and leathery. I even checked to make sure I had the right thickness and everything, but 6-8 minutes on each side is too much (we usually do 4 minutes on one side, 3 minutes on the other). The flavor was fine, but we could barely cut into our steaks. I didn't make the buttered radish toast, so I can't comment on that. 

Vinegar-Braised Chicken with Farro and Watercress: 1/5 stars. The chicken was tender, but we found the vinegar flavor really off-putting. The farro also got mushy in the braise, and the watercress felt out of place. We ended up throwing the leftovers away.

Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemon: 4/5 stars. This was pretty tasty, but again, there were issues with the cooking time in the recipe. I tested the chicken 5 minutes before it was supposed to come out, and it was already overcooked. The flavor was solid though, and it ended up being really nice on top of pizza with kale. 

Anchovy-Butter Chicken with Chicken Fat Croutons: 5/5 stars. One of the best roast chickens I've ever made. Super moist and flavorful. I unfortunately didn't do the chicken fat croutons because I didn't have bread around, but will have to do that next time.

Cocoa Banana Bread: 1/5 stars. This was such a failure for me. I'm not sure if it's because the amount of batter was more than my standard-size loaf pan could take or if the weight of the sliced bananas on top had something to do with it, but the middle never ended up rising or even baking all the way even after I baked it a full 30 minutes longer than the recipe called for. The banana bread ended up an unsightly, gelatinous mess. The flavor was nice, but this was one of the biggest baking fails I've had in my kitchen. And I make banana bread all the time! 

Average Recipe Rating: 3.4/5 stars

This was a tough one. While there were some shining stars in this cookbook (that roasted tomato and anchovy pasta is just unfff so good), a lot of these were misses, and I didn't find the recipes as a whole all that reliable. The cooking times for a lot of the recipes were too long and ended up ruining what could have been good meals. I also had to leave out a lot of ingredients here and there, mostly nuts and herbs, because I can't always keep my pantry stocked like that. I have a feeling if I lived closer to a Whole Foods or at least a grocery store with a bulk bin and a better herb supply, it would have been a lot easier to cook from this. 

Overall, I applaud Alison Roman for her creativity and her fresh, modern take on cooking, but I'll have to approach her recipes with a more judicious eye, especially regarding the cooking times. 

I'll update this as I continue to cook from it. 

Recipes I'm Excited to Make Next: 

  • Blistered Green Beans with Creamy Tahini and Fresh Hot Sauce
  • Crispy Kimchi and Cheddar Omelette
  • Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt
  • Baked Pasta with Artichokes, Greens, and Too Much Cheese
  • Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Citrus and Garlic
  • Chocolate Tahini Tart

Did you enjoy this review? Here are my other previous Cooking the Book reviews:

52 Weeks of Cookies (Week 9): Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

 


I've made a lot of cookies in my life, and I have to say these are my favorite. They're also my husband's favorite, and he actually gets upset when I bring them to work, because it means he doesn't get to eat all of them. I don't blame him though. They're addictive, and they have the melt-in-your-mouth quality of all the best peanut butter cookies, but with both chocolate and peanut butter chips for texture. They truly celebrate the awesomeness of peanut butter. 

This recipe makes a ton of cookies, so feel free to cut it in half. I doubt anyone will complain about having extra of these cookies lying around though. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I'm not sure if this works with the natural kind)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 oz (1/2 package) chocolate chips
  • 6 oz (1/2 package) peanut butter chips (you can also use 1 full package of peanut butter chips instead of the chocolate chips, which I sometimes prefer)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or leave ungreased.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. 
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. 
  4. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Gradually add to creamed mixture and beat until combined. 
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. 
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks. 

Salmon Salad

 


One of my favorite things to get from the prepared food buffet at Whole Foods (pre-COVID-19, of course) is the salmon salad. The salmon is tender and flaky, and the red onions and capers add just the right touch of piquancy. I could eat it all day. 

Now that the prepared food buffet is gone, I really miss that salmon salad. This Ina Garten recipe comes close, with the addition of celery and fresh dill, which added some nice freshness. She calls for raspberry vinegar, which she says is crucial, but I unfortunately couldn't find it at my local supermarket. I used white wine vinegar instead, but I'm sure with raspberry vinegar this is even better. 

This tastes good on Day 1, but amazing on Day 2, so I would definitely make it ahead of time and give it some time for all the flavors to mingle in the fridge. 

Salmon Salad

(Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 2 lbs cooked salmon, chilled
  • 1 cup (3 stalks) small-diced celery
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh dill
  • 3 tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp raspberry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Break the salmon into very large flakes, removing any skin and bones, and place the salmon in a medium bowl. 
  2. Add the celery, red onion, dill, capers, raspberry vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss together and season to taste. Serve warm if you prefer or chill until ready to serve (better). 


Drunken Noodles with Shrimp

 


For a long time, pad kee mao was my benchmark for new Thai restaurants. There's something about those chewy wide rice noodles and addictive basil flavor that is so good and hard to mess up, though every restaurant seems to make it slightly differently. I recently found fresh wide rice noodles sold at my local Asian market, and we've since made this Jet Tila recipe three or four times. We've enjoyed it every time, though we've found all the added sugar unnecessary and have been cutting it down more and more each time. Here's the current recipe we use. 

Drunken Noodles

(Recipe adapted from Jet Tila)

For the sauce:

  • 4 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 14 Thai basil leaves, chiffonaded
For the noodles:
  • 3-4 tbsp canola oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2-3 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 12-14 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 cups fresh wide rice noodles, separated (I use ho fun noodles)
  • 2 cups Thai basil leaves, loosely packed

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Set aside. 
  2. In a wok or large pan, heat the oil over high heat. When you see a wisp of white smoke, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until light brown. 
  3. Add the eggs and Serrano chilies and cook, stirring, until the eggs are lightly scrambled and barely set, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add the onion and cook, stirring with a spatula, until onions are softened, about 1-2 minutes. 
  5. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring with a spatula, until shrimp have just turned pink, about 1-2 minutes. 
  6. Add the noodles, basil leaves, and sauce, and toss to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the noodles are soft and coated well with sauce. Serve hot. 

Three Cup Chicken

 


Okay, this isn't the prettiest picture, but this was genuinely delicious and I wanted to share it before I made it again (and had the presence of mind to take nicer pictures). 

I love three cup chicken, but a lot of the recipes involve tons of oil or cutting the chicken across the bone into irregular pieces. This recipe from the Omnivore's Cookbook did a great job of making use of readily available chicken wings and a flavorful braise without too much oil. My husband gave it two thumbs up. 

Three Cup Chicken

  • 2 lbs chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 3-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 16 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
  • 6 dried chili peppers
  • 1/3 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1 bunch Thai basil, stems removed

  1. In a 12-inch heavy bottomed wide skillet, heat the sesame oil over low heat and add the ginger, slowly frying until it begins to brown and curl up, about 10 minutes. 
  2. Add the garlic and dried chilis, cooking until the garlic turns golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-low. Move the aromatics to the side of the pan and add the chicken in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until chicken is lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook another 5-7 minutes on other side. If the aromatics start to burn, you can remove them from the pan. 
  4. Add the Shaoxing wine and use a spatula to get any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add any aromatics you removed previously. 
  5. Add the soy sauce and sugar and stir to coat all the chicken pieces. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low or medium-low. Simmer covered for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Remove lid and cook uncovered for a few more minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy. Transfer to a serving plate and eat with rice. 

Lima Bean and Basil Dip

 


For Thanksgiving, I made this trio of dips from Indian-ish that were as easy as tossing things into a blender and turning it on. We took them to my in-laws' (we had both been quarantining) where they went down a treat with my mother-in-law's freshly baked rosemary bread. 

My favorite dip out of the three was the lima bean and basil dip, which intrigued me as soon as I read that frozen lima beans were involved. I have never bought frozen lima beans in my life, but in they went in my shopping cart as soon as I saw the recipe. The dip is soooo delicious--like a thick creamy pesto. The next day I put it on a turkey and cheese sandwich, and it made the sandwich amazing. I can think of a million uses for this dip and will definitely be making it again. 

Lima Bean and Basil Dip

(Recipe from Indian-ish)

  • 10 oz frozen or cooked lima beans (1 1/4 cups)
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (from about half a lime)

  1. If using frozen lima beans, put them in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 5 minutes, until all the beans are thawed and warmed. Let cool to room temperature. 
  2. Add the lima beans to a blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend to a chunky hummus-like consistency, scraping down the sides as you go to make sure everything is thoroughly combined. If the mixture gets too thick, add a little extra olive oil. Season to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

 


Is there anyone in this world who doesn't like butter chicken? Okay, maybe my husband. He had it once at a restaurant, wasn't a fan, and now won't touch it again. I may or may not have told him this was just an Indian chicken curry, and he ate it without complaints and got seconds. (If he's reading this: sorry, hon!)

This is a really nice recipe from MyHeartBeets, which is my favorite Indian food blog. I've since gotten her excellent cookbook, Indian Food Under Pressure, which also includes this easy Instant Pot recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

(Recipe very slightly adapted from Indian Food Under Pressure)

  •  2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into quarters
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped in large pieces (I left this out)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
  • Pinch of dried fenugreek leaves (I left this out)

  1. Press the saute button on your Instant Pot and, when heated, add the ghee and onions to the pot. Stir-fry the onions for 6-7 min, or until the onions begin to brown. 
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and chicken. Stir-fry the chicken for 6-7 minutes or until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink. While this is cooking, combine the coriander, garam masala, paprika, salt, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne, and cumin in a small bowl. 
  3. Add the spices to the pot and stir to combine. Stir in the tomato sauce. 
  4. Close the lid, make sure the pressure valve is set to seal, and cook for 8 minutes at high pressure. 
  5. Open the valve to quick release. 
  6. Remove the lid and press the saute button. Add the bell peppers and cook until they soften to your liking. Stir in the cream and fenugreek leaves. Serve over basmati rice.

52 Weeks of Cookies (Week 8): Cardamom Currant Snickerdoodles

 


As classic and comforting as snickerdoodles are, I often get bored with them. Enter these cardamom currant snickerdoodles from Food52, which are fragrant with just the right amount of cardamom and just the right amount of tang because of the currants. I don't even really like soft cookies, but I love these. Last Christmas, I brought them into work and my attending was skeptical, but after one bite, quickly grabbed three more. This year my mother-in-law and I included them in our joint cookie boxes that we sent to family. They really are so good!

Cardamom Currant Snickerdoodles

(Recipe from Food52 Baking)

  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 3 tbsp (235 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom (make sure it's fragrant and not too old)
  • 1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) dried currants

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment. 
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, 1 cup (200 grams) of the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp of the cardamom to combine. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter and eggs. Stir in the vanilla. 
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the currants, and stir just until everything comes together to form a dough. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. 
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons (35 grams) granulated sugar and 1 tsp cardamom. Roll the chilled dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, then roll each ball in the sugar mixture. Place the balls on baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading. 
  6. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until golden and cracked on top but still a bit doughy in the middle. Immediately transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. 

Pear and Brie Galette

 


For Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law and I teamed up to create two pies--a pumpkin pie and a Dutch apple pie. With one remaining small pie crust, 3 pears that happened to be lying around, and a little wedge of Brie that she dug out of her freezer, I threw together this little galette. It was a delicious little appetizer, but could also double as a dessert and cheese course, as it's both sweet and savory. I recommend brushing the galette at the end with some warmed up apricot jam, which I did not do as my mother-in-law didn't have any at her house, but would have really made this even better. 

Pear and Brie Galette

(Loosely adapted from Baking with the Good Hair)

  • 1 prepared pie crust
  • About 1.5 oz brie cheese, thinly sliced
  • 3 Bartlett pears, thinly sliced
  • Sparkling or demerara sugar
  • Apricot jam (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Roll out pie crust on parchment paper into approximately a 10" disc.
  3. Scatter brie slices evenly across the middle, leaving about a 1.5" rim around the outside. 
  4. Arrange sliced pears across the top, fanning out slightly to create a pretty pattern.
  5. Fold over exposed pie crust to create a galette appearance (this doesn't have to be perfect--it's supposed to look rustic!). Sprinkle sparkling sugar over top. 
  6. Carefully transfer parchment with galette onto a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden and pears are soft.
  7. Let cool slightly, and brush with warmed apricot jam if you want a slightly sweeter galette and a nice finish. 

Achari Fish

 


A couple of months ago (I know, I'm really behind), I cooked my way through Indian-ish (cookbook review to follow!), and this dish was one of our favorites. It's as simple as can be--you throw the fish in an Indian pickle mixture to marinate, and then pan-fry it a couple of hours later. It did require a trip to the Indian store to buy mango achar, but it was so worth it. The pan-fried fish was tender and flavorful with beautiful caramelized, crispy edges. The caramelized onions on top were a brilliant idea as well. I imagine this would be amazing as part of a fish taco/burrito or in a sandwich. Will make again next time we have tilapia!

Achari Fish 

(Recipe from Indian-ish by Priya Krishna)

  • 1/2 cup mango achar packed in oil (I used Mother's Recipe brand, which Priya recommends)
  • 4 tilapia fillets (1/2 lb each)
  • 4 tsp and 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large red onion, sliced into thin rings

  1. Pour the achar (making sure to get some of the oil) into a large resealable bag. Add the fish fillets, seal the bag tightly, and use your hands to gently massage the achar onto the fish, fully coating each fillet. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes, or up to 2 hours. 
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 4 tsp of the oil. Add the fish fillets (as many as you can fit comfortably) and sprinkle the top of each with a small pinch of salt. Cook the fish for 3-5 minutes, then flip when golden and the top is starting to flake. Sprinkle the second side with a pinch of salt and cook 2-3 minutes, or until you see flaking on top. 
  3. Transfer the fish to the plate and cook rest of fillets if you couldn't fit all four in the pan at once. 
  4. Once you're finished cooking the fish, warm the remaining 1/4 cup oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion rings and cook until soft and translucent, 5-8 minutes, or longer if you like them more caramelized. Top the fish with the caramelized onions and serve.

Cooking the Book, Vol. 4: Cravings: Hungry for More: A Cookbook by Chrissy Teigen

 


I know, I know, the last installment of Cooking the Book featured Chrissy Teigen's first cookbook. And here we go again with her second. At the risk of sounding repetitive, it was just too much fun cooking from Cravings 1. Cravings 2 has the same charm, and before I knew it, I had cooked my way through quite a few recipes. But how do they stack up compared to the recipes from the first book? 

Pepper's Garlicky Bacon Scramble: 4/5 stars. Chrissy claims to have eaten this her whole life. Well this is proof that she must be blessed with a metabolism from the gods, because this sure is a decadent way to start the morning. I guess I'm not used to cooking my eggs with this much bacon fat, since I felt like the flavors were a bit muted as a result, but the garlic was a great addition. Overall, a decent recipe for eggs.

Cheesy Spicy Breakfast Hash: 3/5 stars. This was a total gutbomb. Very greasy, cheesy, and sinful. The potatoes never really crisped up, and the finished dish was literally dripping in oil. After I ate it, I could actually feel the acid reflux coming on. Cut down the amount of oil by half, and this would be much better. 

Salted Maple Granola: 5/5 stars. I've written about my love for this granola and shared the recipe on this blog already. This is the best granola my husband and I have ever had. If you make one recipe from this book, it has to be this one. This went in my heirloom recipe notebook. 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad with Garlicky Honey-Dijon Dressing: 5/5 stars. Even though I deviated quite a bit from the recipe, I can still say this is such a good salad. Chrissy really knows how to make salads you actually want to eat. The honey dijon dressing recipe is brilliant, and is my go-to salad dressing now. The dressing went in my heirloom recipe notebook. 

Tangy Herb and Sesame Slaw: 4/5 stars. While this isn't something I would necessarily make again in a hurry, it was good for what it was--a light, refreshing, crunchy slaw. Since my husband hates mayo, I always appreciate a non-mayo-based slaw. This one won't weigh you down, and it pairs well with the BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches in this same book.

Pulled BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Pineapple Slaw: 5/5 stars. Sweet, tender, barbecuey chicken. I mean, how can this be bad? This is a nice alternative to pulled pork, and we'd definitely make it again. I did not make the pineapple slaw. 

Kung Pao Roasted Broccoli: 3/5 stars. As someone who makes roasted broccoli on the regular, I was excited to try this, but I found it too aggressively salty to be a side dish. My husband didn't hate it, but I wasn't really a fan and would not make it again. 

Pad Thai Carbonara: 2/5 stars. I was so excited about this dish that I actually made it right when the cookbook came out. I can't even describe what made us hate it besides that we found the overall taste unpleasant. My husband refused to eat more than a few bites. I mustered up the effort to finish two bowls, but most of it ended up going in the trash. Sorry, Chrissy. 

Thai Fishcakes with Spicy Peanut Sauce: 3/5 stars. I have always wanted to make Thai fishcakes, and this recipe was really accessible. It ended up being fine, but I would have liked it to have a bit more flavor (more salt and more curry paste). The spicy peanut sauce really saved it

Red Chicken Curry: 4/5 stars. I've made a lot of Thai red curry dishes over the years. This was somewhere in the middle for me--not the best, but not bad either. My husband said this was just alright for him, but I would say it was better than just alright. 

Chicken and Dumplings: 4/5 stars. Similar to the red chicken curry, I've made a lot of renditions of chicken and dumplings. This was somewhere in the middle for me. I do have to say that the chicken was amazingly silky tender, and the technique of making a broth while simultaneously cooking the chicken for the chicken and dumplings is smart. I wanted a little bit more flavor in the end result, and the dumplings didn't have the texture I was looking for, so this was just 4 stars for me. 

Simple Skillet Broken Lasagna: 5/5 stars. This was a lot of work for something labeled as simple. However, the lasagna was very tasty, and the leftovers were even better.

Shake & Bake Chicken with Hot Honey: 3/5 stars. I had such high hopes for this, but the breading and chicken weren't as flavorful as I had hoped. I didn't feel like the hot honey added a whole lot either. This is the rare dish that my husband liked a lot more than I did.

Twitter's (and Uncle Mike's) Banana Bread: 4/5 stars. I made this even before the cookbook came out, when Chrissy's banana escapades were unfolding on Twitter. With the vanilla pudding mix and loads of chocolate chips and shredded coconut inside, it's an extremely decadent, very moist banana cake (I wouldn't even call it banana bread), perfect for people who don't normally like banana bread. It's over-the-top and classic Chrissy. My husband and I prefer regular banana bread, but we wouldn't turn this down either. 

Average Recipe Rating: 3.9/5 stars

Amazingly, this got the exact same average recipe rating as her last cookbook! It's a worthy sequel to the first, full of creative ideas and fun recipes that will make you want to run to your kitchen. There are lots of solid recipes to make in here, and two of the recipes went in my heirloom recipe book. Another great effort by the social media queen.

I'll update this as I continue to cook from it. Here are some recipes I'm looking forward to making next:

  • Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes
  • Popovers with Brie and Blackberry Jam
  • Taters, Shrooms, and Peas with Parmesan Cream
  • Pepper's Grilled Eggplant with Crispy Shallots
  • Spicy Jammy Drummies
  • Skillet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies
Did you enjoy this review? Here are my other previous Cooking the Book reviews:

Salted Maple Granola

 


Out of all of the great recipes in Chrissy Teigen's second cookbook, this one was our clear favorite. I've never had a granola like this before, and I doubt you have either. It's the perfect addictive balance of sweet and salty, and the maple flavor is so pronounced. I've made a couple of granola recipes since this one, and my husband keeps saying none are as good as this, so I guess this is going to be our standby. 

I've made a couple of changes, including cutting down the sugar and salt a tiny bit since we never have the unsweetened kind of shredded coconut. I also left out the dried fruit, since we tried the granola both with and without, and we both liked it without the dried fruit more. 

Salted Maple Granola

(Adapted from Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen)

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup sweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds. 
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add to the oat mixture and toss together. 
  4. Spread the granola on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. 

Mom's Dumplings

 


My family is northern Chinese, so growing up, we had dumplings just about once a week. Throughout the week, I'd heat them up in the microwave, or my mom would pan-fry them. They were a constant in our fridge, and I never got sick of them. 

Every Chinese family has their own dumpling recipe, but I am convinced that my mom's dumplings are the best. They are meaty from the pork, briny from the shrimp, umami from the oyster sauce, and juicy from napa cabbage. Despite this, I've never been able to get my own dumplings just right. Because my mom never measures things and just adds a little bit of this and a little bit of that to taste, it's exceedingly hard to get a recipe out of her. 

Determined to make dumplings that tasted like hers, I wrote down a list of the ingredients she uses and my eyeballed approximate "measurements." Then I looked up dumpling recipes from 10 different Chinese food blogs and made an Excel sheet to more accurately narrow down the real measurements. I'm happy to report that the crowd-sourced reverse-engineered technique worked. The last time I made dumplings, my husband happily declared that these tasted just like my mom's. 

So without further ado, here is my interpretation of my mom's dumpling recipe. My only word of caution is to adjust the amount of salt to your taste. I like my food on the saltier side, so I tend towards 1 tsp of salt, but start out at 3/4 tsp and try it before stuffing your dumplings. I take a tiny bit of the filling, microwave it for 15 seconds on a plate, then taste it. Keep in mind that even if the filling is a bit too salty now, after being wrapped in dough and boiled, it will be just right. 

My Mom's Dumplings

  • 1 to 1 1/4 lbs ground pork
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, finely chopped
  • 4 leaves Napa cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 large scallions, chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1/4 tsp brown pepper
  • 4 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 - 1 tsp salt
  • 2 packs dumplings wrappers
  • Water, for moistening wrappers

  1. Mix ground pork, shrimp, cabbage, scallions, ginger, brown pepper, Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and salt in a large bowl. Season to taste (microwave small amount of filling to taste it). 
  2. Holding a dumpling wrapper in your palm, scoop about 1 tbsp of filling into the center. Moisten the edge with water using your finger and pinch the edges together, pleating the edges as you go. Repeat with the rest of the dumpling filling and dumplings wrappers until you run out of filling. 
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully add about 20-25 dumplings to the pot, two at a time, being careful not to splash yourself. As soon as you add them to the pot, stir the water gently with a large spoon/ladle to prevent dumplings from sticking to the bottom of the pot (I usually have my husband help me with this part).
  4. Cook the dumplings until they float to the top and puff up, about 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked dumplings to a plate and eat immediately. I like eating them plain, while my parents enjoy them with soy sauce and rice vinegar. 
  5. Continue cooking the rest of the dumplings until all are boiled. 

Marty's Dutch Apple Pie

 


My mother-in-law is an amazing pie baker (and just an overall domestic queen in general). When we come over for dinner, we always save room for dessert, because we know she has a pie waiting on the counter. This is the pie she makes most often, and it's turned me into an apple pie convert. I usually find apple pies to be boring, but that heavenly sweet and crunchy streusel on top of this ensures it is anything but boring. 

Marty's Dutch Apple Pie

For the pie:

  • 1 prepared pie crust
  • 4-5 medium-large apples or 8 small apples (choose apples that are good for baking like Granny Smith, Cortland, or Fuji)
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
For the streusel:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fit prepared pie crust in a pie plate and set pie plate on a sheet pan (to catch drips in case the pie bubbles over).
  2. Peel and slice apples 1/4-inch thick. Add to a large bowl and toss with 3 tbsp flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Heap into prepared pie crust. 
  3. In a medium bowl, using your hands, mix together butter, 1/2 cup flour, and brown sugar until it forms a shaggy streusel. Crumble mixture on top of pie. 
  4. Bake pie for 30-40 minutes, or until streusel is golden brown on top and filling is bubbling. 

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

 


We love pulled pork (we use Tyler Florence's recipe, which I will share next time we make it), but sometimes it's nice to have something healthier. I was sold on these barbecue chicken sandwiches as soon as I saw them in Chrissy Teigen's second cookbook. They're delicious, though I will warn you that the barbecue sauce is a sweeter tomato-based sauce, not the vinegar and mustard sauces that we typically like. 

The recipe calls for a pineapple slaw to be served on top, but we don't like cole slaw on top of our pulled meat sandwiches, and I thought the Tangy Herb and Sesame Slaw that is also in this cookbook would make a good match for the sweetness of this barbecue sauce. For once, I was right ;)

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

(Recipe from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen)

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped canned chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 6 potato buns

  1. Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper. In a medium Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the chicken in one layer and brown it until golden all over, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. 
  2. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 9-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. 
  3. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for 2 more minutes. Add the ketchup, tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, chipotles, mustard powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered until the sauce is thick, about 4-5 minutes. 
  4. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan, cover, and simmer until the chicken is very tender, about 1 hour. Add a few splashes of water if necessary to keep it from getting too dry. Remove from the heat and let cool. 
  5. Shred the chicken with two forks right in the sauce (it should fall apart easily). Lightly toast the potato buns and sandwich the chicken inside.