Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WFMW - Following Recipes

This week's suggested theme for We Are THAT Family's 'Works for Me Wednesday' was to describe something that does NOT work for you. This past week, something that does not seem to work for me is following recipes to the 't'.

I am obsessed with corn. It's kind of strange, but one of my favorite summer foods and summer flavors is good old corn on the cob. I came across this really great recipe from Bon Appetit (I do read other magazines... I swear!) called Roasted Corn with Manchego and Lime

This recipe is truly fabulous in every aspect that isn't actually written in the recipe itself. While I was lucky enough to have corn in the refrigerator, I was unsure where exactly I was going to get Manchego cheese, aside from taking a long trip up to the cheese shop where my boyfriend lives. And... They closed at 6:00. Oops.

As I googled substitutions for Manchego cheese, I had found that Manchego is actually a spanish sheep's milk cheese. If there was nothing else I learned from watching Rachael Ray daily at 10:00 everyday this spring, it was that anything with the word 'Pecorino' is a sheep's cheese. Pecorino Romano would be a perfect substitute and, even better, I knew I had it in the fridge.

When I came home from the store with my two limes, I got cooking. It went something like this..

'Oven preheated, check.'
'Corn ready to go, check.'
'Limes zested, check.'
'Now let me get out that cheese! UGHHHHH. Parmigiano reggiano???'

It would have to work.

As I worked further and further through the recipe, already substituting 1/2 green bell pepper sliced really, super thin for the two jalapenos the recipe called for (my boyfriend HATES peppers), I noticed one other thing I did not seem to have. Chives. How could I not remember the chives?

My only reasonable substitution was mint! Straight out of the garden! And while I know the sweeter flavor profile I have created was not exactly what Bon Appetit had in mind for this recipe, the out come for me personally was nothing short of fabulous.

So did we get all that?

1/2 green bell pepper in place of 2 jalapenos

Parmigiano reggiano in place of manchego

mint instead of chives

While I did enjoy my own incidental version of this recipe, I know I would love to try making the real version just to compare. If I were you, I would do the same. Not to mention... you might consider actually reading the recipe before making it unlike this doofus here (points finger at herself).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What makes a good cook book?

I stood in Barnes and Noble at 7:00 pm, Americano in hand (hot with one pump of classic syrup and enough half and half to make it caramel colored - if you must know), STARING at the large wall of cook books and baking guides tucked right into the corner where the music section used to be. I picked up a few books, namely due to my attraction to their cover image, font, or title. But then I began to think... If I personally didn't know what I looked for in a cook book, where exactly would I begin?

Do you start with the whole 'judge a book by its cover' thing? Do you block out the cover and just read the title on the binding? Or are you drawn to a certain font or shade of colors?

I know personally, I do tend to judge a book by it's cover. But! Only a book! And maybe a bottle of wine... but that's it. The next big thing is the title. It has to grab my attention and stand out from the rest. Finally, the book absolutely must have photos of each recipe. While I do admit I own books where not every recipe has a picture, the ones that do have the photos are even better. After all, how can we make it if we have no idea what it really should look like?

A blog post from 'A Slice of Cherry Pie' says that a good cook book has :
good photography
clear instructions
a theme &
recipes that work

I couldn't agree more with Julia from 'A Slice of Cherry Pie'. How about you? What do you look for?

No that you know my cook book preferences, I will share something funny with you... The book that I purchased from Barnes and Noble, even though it does have a nice picture on the front cover, has a mundane sounding title and no pictures with the recipes! You heard me.. no pictures. Weird right?

The book is called The River Cottage Bread Handbook (which can be found on the Barnes and Noble website) and is... can you guess? A bread hand book. - Now that was too easy...

What intrigued me most is that instead of facing with the binding out, the book was actually flushed against the wall, displaying the front cover. When flipping front to back (what a strange habit) I saw a 'how to' instruction guide on building your own oven. I had to have this book.

I will keep you posted on what I think of my new book as well as what I might have learned. Oh, and in case I decide to build my own oven this week, you'll be the first to know.