413 of 432 people found the following review helpful
, January 3, 2010
I stumbled across Stephanie's cooking blog and ordered myself her book for Christmas (as a gift from my husband!) I was really excited about trying out her recipes--and especially thought it was cool that she writes a verdict after many of the recipes stating her opinion. I found her writing to be witty and appreciated her sense of humor. On Christmas day I scoured through the book, selecting some recipes to try--I chose recipes based off of my taste preferences as well as her positive reviews of them.
I tried the Brown Sugar Chicken (pg. 244) which she raves about. My family ate it, but didn't particularly enjoy it. It was very sweet (which she says it is)--but there wasn't really any depth of flavor (maybe it needed a couple bay leaves or some other herbs?) it tasted just like sugary chicken. I realize that taste is very subjective and many people may enjoy this dish, we however did not.
Next up I tried the Breakfast Risotto (pg. 48). She also raves about this dish. I will agree that the aroma was delectable. The spices were a very good combination, my complaint was that the texture was goopy. I made the recipe exactly as printed and I also got a little curdling (from the 2% milk???) which looked unappealing. This dish may actually work out if cooked on the stove top, but I don't think the recipe fared well in the crock pot.
Then I decided to try out the Hot and Spicy Artichoke Dip (pg. 30) to bring to a New Year's Eve party. Again, her verdict on the recipe is very positive. I made the recipe exactly as printed (there's only 4 ingredients!)--when it was done and I give it a taste it was BLAND. Blah. I attempted to salvage the dip by adding some black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. But it still wasn't right, way too thick and still a little bitter tasting. Well, we take it to the party anyways (maybe it's just us who thinks it tastes gross?)--and at the end of the party (30-40 people in attendance), the dip has barely been touched. It really was not good. At this point the recipes are 0 for 3. I decide to check out her blog to see what others thought of this particular recipe. To my annoyance her rave review written in the book was not the same as the one written on her blog. The review written in her book is actually in reference to the artichoke dip sold at Costco, NOT the one I just made. I felt that this is incredibly misleading, which is why I am only rating the book 2 stars.
The only recipe which has been a "keeper" for me is the Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup (pg. 206) It's very very good (didn't add the mushrooms and didn't thicken it).
If you purchase this book, know that you are purchasing a book full of recipes which have been TRIED by the author. I do not believe that the author fine-tuned/tweaked/perfected the recipes. Not all of the recipes have a verdict, and I wonder if those are even worth making since the author didn't rave about them. There are a whole lot of recipes and I am sure there are some "keepers" amongst them that will make it into your meal rotation. If you have the patience and resources to test out the various recipes then this is a book for you. If you are like me (a busy wife and mother of 3 young children) and are looking for good recipes without all the trial and error, then this is probably not the book for you (seeing as only 1 out of the 4 I tried was a "keeper"). And if you are on the fence, check out her blog, try a few recipes for yourself and see how you like them before making the purchase.