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Cooking the Book, Vol. 6: Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook by Kristen Miglore

 

I'm a big fan of Food52 and can still remember when I discovered their Genius Recipes column when I was in med school. It's fun, inspiring, and always makes you think of your food in a different way. I was thrilled to discover this cookbook that compiles a bunch of the genius recipes together. Flipping through it, I realized that I actually have made and enjoyed quite a few recipes from it already. But how do they hold up as a whole? 

Chocolate Muscovado Banana Cake: 2/5 stars. I had such high hopes for this since we love banana bread and chocolate, but this was surprisingly not good. The texture in the center was stodgy, and the dark chocolate was too bitter. Flour Bakery's banana bread is still the GOAT in my book (and should replace this genius recipe!). 

English Porridge: 5/5 stars. I loved this. It was so creamy and indulgent despite a lack of butter or cream. I didn't have Maldon salt, but even with the recommended 1/2 tsp of kosher salt, the salty-sweet balance was perfect. Will make again.

Crepes: 4/5 stars. As someone who loves Shopsin's (RIP Kenny Shopsin) but also makes crepes the regular way, I was torn. These do not taste like crepes. They are much thicker, chewier, and eggier. They would never fool a crepe lover. That said, this is a pretty cool hack, and an excellent use of that spare tortilla or two that we all have lying around. Out of all the recipes in this book, I've probably returned to it the most as it's pretty darn easy. 

Raised Waffles: 5/5 stars. This is probably my favorite waffle recipe, and I blogged about it here. The yeasted flavor you get from that overnight rise is unbeatable, and it's wonderfully easy. However, my husband was put off by how buttery they are and thought it was too much (I say he's crazy). Because of that, we have not repeated these. I do want to try cutting the butter by a couple of tablespoons to see what effect that would have (similar to the King Arthur Belgian waffle recipe). 

No-Knead Bread: 5/5 stars. I have only made this once (5 years ago), but it was superb. I remember it as the most perfect little artisan loaf with a remarkably crackly crust and great flavor. There's a reason why this recipe took the Internet by storm 10 years ago (long before Alison Roman made viral recipes). My mother-in-law makes a variation of this bread all the time, and it's always a delight. 

Mushroom Bourguignon: 4/5 stars. Okay, I already reviewed this when I reviewed the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It's a rich, deep vegetarian wonder, but I do question whether egg noodles are the appropriate medium to serve this on (in fact, this killed the dish for us). Will have to try again over mashed potatoes instead. 

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion: 5/5 stars. Such a classic and for good reason! The amount of flavor you get with just three ingredients is unbelievable. This reminds me that it's been too long since I've made this...

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese: 3/5 stars. Everyone goes nuts for this in the Food52 Cookbook Club, but I thought it was just okay. The whipped goat cheese is a winner on its own, but I didn't find the cauliflower that remarkable. I still prefer roasting florets rather than the whole head. I further deducted a star because this dish wrecked the inside of my oven (oil splattered everywhere), and the ensuing smoke set off my fire alarm. Maybe I'm just bitter, but I feel like this recipe was clearly not designed for home cooks. 

Garlic Green Beans: 4/5 stars. A tasty albeit not that memorable preparation of green beans. I've never been one to blanch green beans (the Chinese never do), so this wasn't remarkable for me, but they did get very sweet, and the garlic flavor was nice. It almost reminded me of my mom's. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette: 4/5 stars. I was obsessed with these brussels for a year in med school. I still think it's remarkable, but maybe my palate has changed because now I find the vinaigrette to be a little too potent. Definitely worth a try if you've never made them before. 

Ratatouille: 3/5 stars. It's hard to give such a low rating to a classic Alice Waters recipe, but I was not impressed. I actually found it rather bland and suspect it was due to my inferior East Coast produce. I recently fell in love with ratatouille in Spain of all places, so this is a recipe that I want to try again with top quality ingredients. 

New Classic Coconut Macaroons: 5/5 stars. This is one of my favorite ways to use up spare egg whites. I don't love coconut macaroons, but I love these. I actually prefer them without chocolate so you can focus on the wonderfully toasted edges of the coconut chips. Even better--there's no added fat.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake: 3/5 stars. This was very moist, but I left out the rum since we never have any in our house (we're not big drinkers), and that was a big mistake. Without it, it becomes very one-note, as I find many apple desserts to be. I actually think it would've benefited from the American treatment with a bit of cinnamon. My husband didn't eat more than a slice and doesn't think he would've liked it any better with rum. 

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies: 5/5 stars. Wow, I had no idea whole wheat flour could do such magical things to chocolate chip cookies. The resulting cookies have a wonderful crunch and a nutty, almost malty flavor. A real winner of a recipe.  

Average Recipe Rating: 4.1/5 stars

As you can see, there are lots of winners here. Most of the recipes are reliably good, and they come with the assurance that they've been tested and loved by not only Kristen Miglore, but countless Food52 readers. While some of the recipes are a little out there and less suitable for home cooks, there are still plenty of interesting ideas to explore.

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

Recipes I'm Excited to Make Next: 

  • Roasted Applesauce
  • Yogurt with Toasted Quinoa, Dates, and Almonds
  • Potato Scallion Cakes
  • Currant Cottage Cheese Pancakes
  • Red Salad
  • Black Pepper Tofu

My Favorite Chicken and Dumplings

 


I've shared a chicken and dumpling recipe from King Arthur on this website before, but when I want to go all out and make our favorite chicken and dumplings from scratch, this is the one I use. It's adapted from a more complicated recipe from Simply Recipes, but I altered the chicken cooking technique to save some time and make it easier to cook on a weeknight.

Of note, this is a New England-style chicken and dumplings, the kind where the dumplings are really more like a drop biscuit. They are not the Southern-style chicken and dumplings where the dough is rolled out almost like thick pasta. While I do have a lot of nostalgia for that style, this is the kind that we typically make. 

Kat's Favorite Chicken and Dumplings

(Adapted from Simply Recipes)

For the chicken and vegetables:

  • 1 quart chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 3 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (depending on how thick you want your stew)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dumplings:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, or tarragon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk

  1. Heat the chicken stock to a gentle simmer in a medium pot or large saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes (I pull it off when the internal temp registers 160 degrees). I usually use this time to prep my veggies or make my dumplings. When ready, remove the chicken breasts and cut into 1-inch chunks. Set aside. Reserve the stock. 
  2. In a large 8-quart thick-bottomed pot, heat the butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and thyme, and cook until soft, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. 
  3. Add the flour, reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes. Do not let it burn.
  4. Add a ladleful of reserved stock to the vegetables and stir well. It will sputter and be goopy. Add another ladle of stock and stir again. Keep adding stock by ladlefuls until the broth comes together. Add the rest of the chicken stock and the reserved chicken meat. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer while you make the dumplings if you haven't done them already. 
  5. To make the dumplings, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and minced herbs together in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and milk to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. 
  6. Drop the dumpling batter into the simmering stew by rounded teaspoonfuls. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Do not take the lid off to peek as letting the steam escape will lead to tough dumplings. If the dumplings are not cooked through after 15 minutes, cover the pot and cook for another 5-10 minutes. 
  7. Gently stir in the peas and season the stew to taste. (It will continue to get thicker as it cools). Enjoy!

Cranberry Pecan Muffins

 


Oh, Ina. Your recipes never let me down. With these muffins, you managed to turn my extremely skeptical cranberry-hating husband into a believer. He ate four in a row and proceeded to call them "really good muffins." It made 2 dozen, so I froze half and brought them to my parents a few weeks later, both of whom also proclaimed them to be excellent. 

I've changed Ina's original recipe a bit because I didn't want to buy dried figs or hazelnuts. I upped the cranberries and swapped out hazelnuts with pecans. Turns out pecans go super well with cranberries, and I'm going to continue making it this way from now on. 

Cranberry Pecan Muffins

(Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. 
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger. 
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Stir just to combine. 
  4. Add the cranberries, pecans, and both sugars, and stir just to distribute evenly throughout the batter. 
  5. Spoon or scoop the batter into the paper liners, filling nearly to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned on the top and a toothpick comes out clean. 

Blueberry Schlumpf

 


This is the kind of dish that you have to make because of the name alone. But you also have to make it because it's certifiably delicious. It's like a blueberry crisp without the oats, and it makes a decadent dessert with vanilla ice cream (you can't serve it without ice cream!). In case you need any more reason to make it, this five-ingredient wonder comes together in about 5 minutes, and most of the magic happens in the oven. If, like me, you are obsessed with blueberry pie, you will be scraping your bowl to get every last drop.

Blueberry Schlumpf

(Recipe from Food52 Baking by the Editors of Food52)

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (140 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 cups (about 600 grams) fresh blueberries, preferably wild
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) salted butter, at room temperature but not yet soft, cut into small pieces

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of flour and the granulated sugar over the blueberries and stir gently until evenly coated. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking pan (I greased mine, but I don't think it's necessary).
  3. Put the brown sugar, butter, and remaining 1 cup of flour in a medium bowl and stir with a fork or mix with your fingers just until the ingredients come together and form lumps. Sprinkle evenly over the blueberries. 
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden, caramel brown and beginning to sink and melt into the bubbling filling below. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream. 

Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli with Ginger

 


I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to stir-fry Chinese greens, as they're so tasty and make such a quick easy side dish. This rendition of a Chinese broccoli (gai lan) stir-fry tastes more like a restaurant dish than anything I've made in my kitchen before. It captures that intense flavor of ginger perfectly, while still being light and almost refreshing. Thanks to Lee Wan Ching and Grace Young for sharing it. 

Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) with Ginger

(Recipe from Breath of a Wok by Grace Young)

  • 6 medium stalks Chinese broccoli (aka gai lan), about 12 oz
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp ginger juice (to make this, grate a small amount of ginger and then squeeze with your fingers to extract the juice)
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 slices ginger

  1. Cut the broccoli stalks in half lengthwise if more than 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut the stalks and leaves into 2-inch long pieces, keeping the stalk ends separate from the leaves.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the broth, rice wine, ginger juice, cornstarch, salt, and sugar. 
  3. Heat a seasoned wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1-2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add the ginger slices, and stir-fry 10 seconds.
  4. Add only the broccoli stalks and stir-fry 1 to 1/2 minutes until the stalks are bright green. 
  5. Add the leaves and stir-fry 1 minute until the leaves are just limp. 
  6. Stir the broth mixture and swirl it into the wok. Stir-fry 1 minute or until the sauce has thickened slightly and lightly coats the vegetables. 

Braised Chicken with Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

 


This is one of my favorite things that my mom makes--and yet this isn't her recipe. She doesn't have a recipe! She just makes it up as she goes every time, and I've yet to reverse-engineer it. It's frustrating, but until then, the great Fuschia Dunlop has an excellent dish that gets me similar results. 

If you've never used dried shiitake mushrooms, they are intensely flavorful and savory. They may smell a little funky, but once cooked, they are a delight. They are one of my husband's favorite things ever. This dead simple chicken dish takes advantage of that flavor and uses it to perfume tender chicken. The only thing I do differently is leave out the sesame oil, because my mom never uses that in her version, and I like it more that way. Thanks, Fuschia, for supplying a recipe that reminds me of home.

Braised Chicken with Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

(Recipe from Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop)

  • 8-10 dried shiitake mushrooms (depending on size)
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 3/4 lb)
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 oz ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • About 3/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional, I leave this out)

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water in a small bowl for at least 30 minutes, or until they are no longer hard to the touch. Cut the soaked mushrooms into quarters (or thirds if they are small), reserving their soaking water. 
  2. Cut the chicken into pieces that are a similar size to the mushrooms. 
  3. Cut the scallions into 2-inch sections, separating the whites from the greens. Crush the white parts slightly with the side of your knife or cleaver.
  4. Add the oil to a seasoned wok over high heat, swirl it around, then add the chicken and stir-fry for a few minutes until the pieces are lightly browned. When the chicken is nearly done, add the ginger and scallion whites and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. 
  5. Add the Shaoxing wine, stirring a few times, then add the mushrooms, mushroom soaking water, and enough stock or water to make up about 1 cup plus 2 tbsp of liquid. Add the sugar, soy sauce, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover the wok. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time (if you need to cook other dishes using the wok, you can transfer the mixture to a saucepan for this step). 
  6. Remove the lid, increase the heat, and reduce the liquid to thicken the sauce. Adjust the seasoning, add the scallion greens and sesame oil (if using), and serve. 

Cheddar Dill Scones

 


These cheddar dill scones are heavenly, even if they look a bit exploded. Dill has proven to be an acquired taste for me, but I remember the first time I had it paired with cheddar. It was in a crepe in Portland, and I fell in love with the assertive herb. These scones from Ina Garten brought me right back to that moment. 

Cheddar Dill Scones

(Recipe halved from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

  • 2 cups plus 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 lb extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese, small-diced
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh dill
  • 1/2 egg beaten with 1/2 tbsp water or milk, for egg wash

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. 
  2. Combine 2 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. 
  3. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine until just blended. 
  4. Toss together the cheddar, dill, and 1/2 tbsp flour. Add them to the dough. Mix until they are almost incorporated. 
  5. Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 minute, until the cheddar and dill are well-distributed. 
  6. Roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares and then in half diagonally to make triangles. Brush the tops with egg wash. 
  7. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the outside is crusty and golden. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 


This is a very basic roasted brussels sprouts recipe, but like all things Ina, it's reliable and fool-proof. I've never really used a recipe for roasted veggies before, but I liked that this one seems to get the timing and salt level just right. This has become a great back-pocket recipe that I've made again and again. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

(Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

  • 1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Trim the ends off the brussels sprouts and remove any yellow external leaves. 
  3. In a bowl or right on a baking sheet, toss the brussels with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Turn out on a baking sheet. 
  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure the brussels cook evenly. The brussels are done when they are crisp outside and tender inside. Sprinkle with more kosher salt to taste and serve. 

Cooking the Book, Vol. 5: 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 cookbook that took the food world by storm when it was published in 2017. And for good reason. 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. Highly cookable they are not, unless you exclusively shop at Whole Foods and farmer's markets. 

Despite my grumblings about the book, it is a delight to read. Misguided comments towards POC aside, Roman happens to be a strong writer with a compelling voice. Every recipe seems to tell a story, and the story makes you want to cook it. I felt super inspired during my first read-through of this book and quickly bookmarked nearly every recipe. I've been cooking out of it for a year now (yes, it's taken that long to make 12 recipes from it--not a great sign), and 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. This is hard to rate because I changed quite a bit when I made it (I've become that kind of recipe reviewer apparently). Due to my Stop and Shop running out of mint and cilantro, I had to sub with basil (turns out basil and cumin do not mix), and I just couldn't justify buying pine nuts for one side dish. The finished dish was okay the day of, but pretty tasty straight out of the fridge a day later. I picked out the basil and happily polished it off. My husband however hated the tahini in this and didn't have more than a bite or two. 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. Recipe here.

Split Pea Salad: 2/5 stars. I followed Alison's instructions as closely as I could, but despite draining my split peas a few minutes earlier than called for, they still turned out overcooked and quite mushy which ruined the dish for me. The roasted potatoes further contributed to the mushiness when tossed with the split peas. Even all that bacon couldn't save it. I found the amount of bacon grease overwhelming, and it actually muddled the flavors. 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: 2/5 stars. I used brown lentils (which she suggested as a possibility), and unfortunately they got too mushy even at the low end of her suggested cooking time. Another dish ruined. The flavors were otherwise decent, though nothing amazing. My husband hated this.

Kinda-Sweet Granola with Coconut and Turmeric: 4/5 stars. A good, but not great granola recipe. I did enjoy that it was not very sweet, which made it perfect for sprinkling on yogurt. I didn't have millet, so I used her suggested substitution of sesame seeds, which unfortunately ended up being way too much. I would lower it to 1/4 cup next time. 

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 overwhelmed the flavor of the clams. Would not make again. 

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: 3/5 stars. Just okay. The salmon was very tender and had a nice citrus aroma, but not as much flavor as I had hoped. I didn't feel that the oil confit did anything for the salmon, as I've made other slow-roasted salmon dishes without this that tasted comparable and didn't leave a pool of oil on my plate.

Perfect Steak with Buttered Radish Toast: 2/5 stars. I made this following the instructions exactly, 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. A waste of good beef. 

Vinegar-Braised Chicken with Farro and Watercress: 1/5 stars. I can't emphasize enough how much we hated this. The chicken was tender, but the vinegar flavor was really off-putting. The farro also got mushy when cooked according to her suggested cooking time, and the watercress felt out of place. We ended up throwing the (substantial) leftovers away. I'm still puzzled by this dish as everyone on the Food52 Cookbook Club seems to love it.

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. You can't go wrong with paprika and fennel seed. 

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 good 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 through 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: 3.3/5 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. She would have benefited from more recipe testing. 

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
  • 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.