This cookbook was a recent birthday gift from my wife (does anyone else have an Amazon wish list packed with cookbooks?) We were so excited to feature this on our food blog and wasted no time getting started. Here are the dishes we chose:
•Granola Biscotti - A fun recipe that got us thinking about all the possible flavors we could incorporate. We'll definitely be experimenting in the future. Pepperoni biscotti anyone? (just kidding!)
•Potatoes and Asparagus Gribiche - Asparagus is probably the most commonly used ingredient for our Cooking The Books project. There is a window of time in the Spring when the pencil-thin asparagus arrives in grocery stores and is just screaming for a dish to be included in. Now that we are entering Summer, the current asparagus offerings resemble a small child's arm. Since this dish called for thin, bias-cut asparagus (which we also peeled slightly), it all worked out. However, I think we are taking a break from asparagus for a while. See you next Spring, buddy!
•Mango Apple Ceviche with Sunflower Seeds - What better way to celebrate summer than this fresh, vibrant salad! Unfortunately, it wasn't all unicorns and rainbows - as my wife sliced the tip of her finger while cutting the mango (they are slippery little guys, aren't they?)
•Charred Corn Succotash with Lime and Crispy Shallots - This dish checks all the flavor boxes - sweet, funky, sharp, hot, earthy. The textures from the fried shallots, tomatoes and green beans are great too.
•Manhattan-Style Clams with Fregola - Oh boy, where to begin? We were so excited to make this dish. In our quest to remain as true to the recipe as possible, we began what turned into an entire afternoon hunt for littleneck clams in Chicago. Our tomato-based sauce was on point - with the right amount of zing and heat. Upon adding the clams and simmering 10 minutes, we were devastated to discover that only two of the fifteen had opened up (thanks Mariano's!) Clearly, they were bad, and those two clams that opened? They had the taste and texture of a pencil eraser. The whole dish was a comedy of errors - including dropping a gin & tonic on the floor, sending shards of glass all over the kitchen and spilling a bowl of mint yogurt sauce as a farewell 'screw you' to what became one of the biggest dinner disasters since we started this project nearly six months ago. I'm sure eventually we'll look back on this and laugh about it but, for now, it's just too painful.
•Grilled Yogurt Flatbreads - We were honestly expecting this to have more flavor. We made this to accompany the infamous clam dish above. We added parsley, thyme, basil and mint but you wouldn't have noticed. We grilled these on a sandwich press rather than the recommended grill. Much easier! Perhaps it was appropriate these did not meet our expectations since they were served with the ill-fated clam dish. Next!
•Parmesan Dutch Baby with Creamed Mushrooms - The unanimous standout dish from this book. There's something very satisfying about watching this bake in the cast-iron skillet through the oven window. Whether it's waffles, cookies or these Dutch babies, we are suckers for taking a traditionally sweet item and making it savory.
•Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Mega-Cookies - Victoria made these and they definitely take the award for largest cookie ever! In fact, the recipe is for just two cookies but Victoria tripled it because, well, six cookies! Just as the recipe promises, they are thick, chewy and oh-so-good!
•Garden Gin and Tonic with Cucumber, Lime and Mint - We are nuts for a good gin & tonic. Our go-to gin lately has been Roku from Japan. However, for these classic gin & tonics, we decided to use our favorite old standby - Hendrick's. No fancy tinctures, essences or fussy nonsense. There's a reason folks have been enjoying these for decades.