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A Decent Cookbook
on January 13, 2015
I am a total foodie. I have a food blog. I've been a recipe tester. I'm all about searching high and low for the perfect recipe. I was very excited when my husband gave me this book for Christmas, but I'm now a little disappointed after making several of the dishes.
We started with the Swedish pancakes on Christmas morning. I admit, my husband made them and did not mix the ingredients in the order specified, which may be where every thing went wrong. They were a runny mess. Neither one of us could get them to hold a circular shape. However, the flavor was decent. We haven't tried it again to see if it was really our error or the book's.
Next was the buttermilk breakfast scones with dried currants (of which I had none, so I used dried blueberries) recipe. I have a pretty good electric mixer, but it could not mix chilled butter into the flour even after adding the buttermilk. The mix was extremely dry. I don't see how anyone's mixer could make this work. I finally mixed the ingredients by hand into a dough ball, worried that this recipe too might go awry. It actually turned out great! I would make these again for sure, but I think I'll try melting the butter next time.
The lamb chops with pomegranate glaze were not good. I thought maybe we just weren't lamb chop fans, so I tried the marinade on some beef later in the week. That wasn't good either. The flavor of this marinade is just not for me, which is unfortunate because pomegranate molasses isn't the easiest thing to acquire and is a bit pricey. Maybe I can figure out something else to do with it.
The skillet-roasted chicken with rosemary, garlic, and maple-balsamic glaze was delicious! The potatoes were amazing! I'm now cooking my potatoes like this with other meat dishes. I'm in love with this idea! I did have to adjust the cooking temperature. 400 degrees is far too high to roast chicken, especially in my convection oven. I turned it down to 375, but it still made it far too black for my taste. I will roast at 350 degrees next time.
Grandpa don's picnic fried chicken was dull. I like the methodology behind it, as the chicken turned out very juicy and moist. Unfortunately, the flavor was lacking. Salt and pepper just doesn't cut it in my house when it comes to frying chicken. I usually have to fuss at my husband to leave some chicken for tomorrow. He didn't even finish one piece using this recipe. I will definitely use their technique next time, but I will use my own seasoning method.
The dungeness crab cakes with tarragon aioli had a nice flavor but needed more binder. I usually put an egg in crab cakes. This recipe did not call for an egg, so we went with the book. They would not hold together very well at all. It's disappointing to spend to much money on crab and then have your cakes fall all apart. We didn't have fresh lemon juice or fresh tarragon on hand for the aioli, and I think that may have been the problem here because the aioli was awful. I would like to try this recipe again adding an egg to the cakes and making sure I have fresh (not dried or bottled) ingredients for the aioli.
The roasted root vegetables were tragic. Truly tragic. I can eat most veggie dishes with a smile on my face, even if they aren't the greatest. This recipe made me feel like a child holding her nose so she can swallow the icky veggies her mom is making her eat for dinner. It could be good if it had different seasoning. Orange does NOT work for this dish. I don't know that I've ever had a veggie dish this bad. It actually made me angry that it was existing in my kitchen. I know...it sounds childish. But like I said, it made me feel like a little girl holding her nose to get those veggies down. I didn't even want to feed it to my chickens.
The winter squash with cranberries, hazelnuts, and fried sage was AMAZING! We've made it twice so far. The second time I reduced the cooking time by 10 minutes and reduced the dried cranberries and toasted hazelnuts to 1/4 C each, which made the dish absolutely perfect for us. This will be in our regular rotation.
The roasted carrots and fennel with fresh dill was okay. I forgot to put the dill in. It was one of those days. I probably won't make it again even though I didn't do it exactly right. Somehow I don't think the dill is going to add any kind of wow factor.
The last thing I've made so far is the apple cake with caramel frosting and chopped pecans. It was pretty good. I would make it again. I did add 1/4 Cup of sour cream to it before baking because the recipe looked so dry. It was barely holding together, which was making me nervous. I'm curious to try it now without the sour cream. I also reduced the sugar in the icing to 1 Cup. I don't like things to be overly sweet. I will probably skip the icing all together next time. My neighbor felt the same, that it would be better without the icing.
Overall it's a decent cookbook and I'm glad my husband got it for me. It has inspired me to use my cast iron skillet a lot more, and food truly cooks beautifully in it. I like that there are tips for caring for your cast iron and some science as to why cast iron is superior to cook in; it produces a dry, even heat.
I do, however, feel like there are either some typos or some recipes that weren't really tested before being added to the book. There are too many imperfections for me to believe it's just a matter of taste. To better familiarize you with my taste, I highly recommend Molly Wizenburg's "A Homemade Life," which reads like a journal with some absolutely brilliant recipes in between her life stories. Her cookbook has nothing to do with cast iron, but everything to do with deliciousness. I can't wait to start applying some of her recipes to my cast iron skillet.