Cooking the Book, Vol. 3: Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen

 


What can I say about this cookbook that every pop culture news site hasn't already said? In the end, it's wicked fun to read, and every recipe looks and sounds delicious. I know I technically reviewed it years ago, but over times my tastes and opinions on these recipes have changed, and I thought it might be helpful to others to do a full breakdown of what I've made--hits, misses, and all. 

Chunky Creamy Mushroom Soup: 5/5 stars. Oh this was gooood. I've never tasted a soup with this kind of earthy, deep complexity of flavor, but it was delicious. I also love that it's creamy without containing cream. Will definitely make this again. Recipe here. 

Split Pea Soup with Crispy Hot Dogs: 5/5 stars. I left out the hot dogs and the croutons, which I recognize are the whole point of this dish, but even without them, this is a really solid split pea soup recipe. I'm interested in trying this again with the hot dogs which I imagine would take this over the top. 

Vegetable Tortilla Soup: 2/5 stars. Sorry, Chrissy. This was too heavy on chili powder for me. I also felt like it was missing something (maybe meat), and it never came together as a result. Even my husband, who loves vegetable soups, didn't like this.  

Roasted Cauliflower, Feta, and Orzo Salad: 3/5 stars. This was a little bland and boring for me, despite containing all of my favorite ingredients. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't memorable enough for me to make again. 

Chinese Chicken Salad with Crispy Wonton Skins: 5/5 stars. This salad is wonderful. It's light and refreshing, but doesn't feel like boring health food. There's a delightful mix of textures, and the dressing is the perfect balance between tangy and sweet. I've made this a few times since, and have also substituted baked wonton skins and store-bought crispy chow mein noodles in place of the fried wonton skins that Chrissy has you make.

Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Ranch Dressing: 5/5 stars. Best. Salad. Ever. I've only made this once because it was a lot of work and my husband does not like creamy salad dressings, but I remember it fondly as pure salad bliss. This is a salad for people who are convinced they do not like salads. The rub on the chicken is amazing, and the honey mustard ranch dressing is brilliant. Wow wow wow. 

Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe: 4/5 stars. My husband actually made this to surprise me once after I came home from a long hospital shift. It was pretty tasty albeit not very memorable. I remember my main complaint being that it was dry. 

Sweet and Salty Coconut Rice: 4/5 stars. This was really indulgent for a side dish. It was a little too heavy for a casual weeknight meal for me, but I have to admit it tasted good. My husband couldn't get enough of this, and I had to take it away from him. 

Actual Drunken Noodles: 5/5 stars. This a really tasty noodle dish, even if it doesn't taste like the drunken noodles you get from Thai restaurants (it's missing the fish sauce and Thai basil). For Americanized Thai, it's pretty damn good. We left out the whiskey because we don't have any in the house and to be honest, I don't feel like adding liquor to my Thai food. 

Sesame Chicken Noodles: 3/5 stars. Meh, I've made a lot of sesame noodle recipes, and they always disappoint me, including this one. Maybe I just don't like sesame noodles as much as I think I do? 

Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread: 1/5 stars. This was the biggest disappointment. We couldn't believe that so many ingredients we love could taste so stodgy and bland combined together. However, our friend also made this and loved it, so maybe it's just not to our personal taste.  

Pounded Thai Papaya Salad: 5/5 stars. Papaya salad is one of my favorite things to order at Thai restaurants, and this tasted pretty authentic. I had trouble grating the papaya, and it ended up a little too fine, but the flavor of this was great! 

Pepper's Pork-Stuffed Cucumber Soup: 3/5 stars. I was really excited for this because it reminds me of the types of soups my Chinese mom would make growing up, but I felt like this was a bit too virtuous, to the point where it was bland. Maybe it would be improved with a homemade stock rather than using chicken bouillon cubes. 

Pad Grapow Chicken: 4/5 stars. This was pretty good, especially for such a simple dish. The chicken breast turned out surprisingly tender despite looking dry. Would make again for a quick weeknight meal. 

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce: 5/5 stars. I don't have a lot of experience with chicken satay, but I really enjoyed this. The chicken turned out moist and flavorful enough to stand on its own, and the sauce went well with it. I used the leftover marinade on boneless skinless chicken thighs that I grilled the next day, and it was just as good. Recipe here. 

Chicken Lettuce Wraps: 4/5 stars. I've made a lot of different variations of this recipe, and this was a pretty good one, although it was a little too sweet for both my husband and me. I would cut the sweet chili sauce down next time, but this is otherwise a solid dish. 

Buttery Glazed Green Beans: 2/5 stars. I followed the recipe exactly, and the green beans turned out undercooked and too sweet. Oof. Sorry Chrissy, but we weren't fans of this. 

Chile-Ginger Paper-Baked Fish: 5/5 stars. I deviated from this recipe quite a bit, but kept the basic flavors the same (scallion, garlic, ginger, mirin, soy, and sesame). It was perfect! Healthy, delicious, and hard to mess up. This is still one of my favorite ways to use tilapia and incorporate more seafood into our diet. 

Pineapple-Grilled Short Ribs: 5/5 stars. Mmm, this was sticky-sweet, perfectly charred meat candy. I mean this in the best way. If you like kalbi or Korean barbecue, you will enjoy this. This is where Chrissy's sweet tooth really works out. I wished I had made twice the amount of this because it disappeared that quickly. 

Better Than Ina's Roast Chicken and Veggies: 2/5 stars. Having made both Ina Garten's roast chicken and Chrissy's roast chicken, Ina is the hands-down winner. There is such a thing as too much butter, and that is this recipe. The chicken ended up unappetizingly wet and fatty, and when it cooled, the butter solidified into quite a mess. The carrots and onions that were supposed to roast in the drippings ended up basically stewing in the butter mixture, and while that sounds good, they never got the chance to caramelize. I prefer Deb Perelman's spatchcocked roast chicken if I'm going to roast a chicken. 

Average Recipe Rating: 3.9/5 stars

Overall, I really enjoyed this cookbook! While there were some misses, we also broadened our horizons with her Thai recipes, and our girl knows how to make a salad for sure. It's an impressive collection of fun and creative recipes with broad appeal. Chrissy's writing makes it a blast to read as well, even if you don't intend to make anything from the book. What would make this better is a dessert section (come on, Chrissy! I can tell you have a sweet tooth), but I guess that speaks to her personality as more of a cook than a baker. I know most everyone has cooked from this already, but I recommend giving it a look if you haven't as it's definitely worth the hype. 

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

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