I have been cooking a lot lately. Maybe it is due to being home to avoid COVID, or maybe it is because I am just too tired to get out. Whatever the reason, I have a good excuse for my COVID weight gain!
To pass the time, I thought it might be fun to work my way through some cookbooks. I am not doing the Julie and Julia thing (cooking every recipe in a cookbook as Julie did with Julia Child’s cookbook), but I am testing some of the recipes that I have had my eye on!
I hope I am not alone in my enjoyment of reading recipes. Many a good cookbook has been my late night reading, but not necessarily my kitchen cooking companion. I tend to just search online for a recipe with great ratings. Then I quickly lose the recipe, never to be made again. Or mostly, I just make-up a recipe with what I have on hand.
My sister gave the cookbook, The Gathering of Friends, Volume 1, to me a few months ago. It had some really interesting recipes that I wanted to try. I also liked that it provided menus for meals or events, such as a cookie party, holiday dinner, dinner with friends, etc. It also has great photography, so since we eat with our eyes as much as our mouths, I had to try out this book.
The recipes I tried were couscous shrimp; carrots and green beans; carrot puffs; chicken Angelina; wedge salad; mashed potatoes; and crab stuffed beef tenderloin.
We really enjoyed all the recipes. And it did inspire me to try some different menus. The only constructive feedback for improvement that I might provide would be to watch for typos, such as page 106: “coat chicken in flower….” Or using a comma instead of a period, spacing issues, etc. I found it odd to go to all the trouble to produce a beautiful, high quality book, but to overlook the detail of proofing.
The other issue is that, in some recipes, you need to fill in some details. For example, the Carrot Puff recipe says to sauté the carrots in a saucepan, but it doesn’t state what type of fat to use, nor is there an indication in the ingredients listing. For most of us, we would just sauté the carrots in whatever fat we want, but for a new cook or one that tries to follow recipes exactly, it might be a problem.
In the Crab Stuffed Beef Tenderloin recipe, the ingredients list is brief: beef tenderloin, fresh crab, and olive oil. However, the directions say to brush the rolls with olive oil and sea salt and, once cooked, to garnish with rosemary.
None of these issues are likely to send a cook screaming from the kitchen, but they are details that seem incongruous to the lovely photos and well-planned menus.
I did order Volume 2, but I haven’t cooked any of the recipes yet. I will let you know if there were improvements in the details.