My Cookbook Project – Books 18, 19, and 20

book 18 19 20 plate

In 1977, Mollie Katzen wrote what was for me the first vegetarian cookbook.  I don’t recall knowing much about vegetarian food back then but I do remember getting her Moosewood Cookbook (hand written with pen and ink pictures all in black and white) and loving it.  I have 3 of Mollie’s books and here are the recipes I selected from them to share with you.

It was a very hot day in Chicago when I embarked on my quest for a 3 course meatless Monday meal so I started with a cold soup from Moosewood Cookbook.  (mine is the original but I suspect this recipe is in the 40th anniversary version too).  The Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup (page 30) was simple, quick, and the flavor was crisp and sweet.  Since we like our food with some spice I used Chili Honey from Williams-Sonoma (sorry…it appears they no longer sell it online) which added the right amount of heat to a non-spicy dish.  After the soup sat in the fridge for a while it separated but a quick shake and it was back to normal.  For texture I added some sliced green onion as a garnish when I served it.  A small amount of chopped cucumber would do the same.

The salad course came from Mollie’s 1982 book, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, which is a little more sophisticated (still black and white, and hand written) than Moosewood and still a charming book of recipes and pictures. The soup made me think of raita, one of my favorite Indian dips so I was thinking of going down an Indian path for the remainder of the dishes.  In paging through I found some eggplant salad (scroll down once on the linked page) recipes and chose the Indian version (page 64) which I was glad to find.  It went very well with the soup as it was another cold dish and had a lot of flavor.  Cooking the spices made a huge difference in the texture and taste of the dish.  I watched it very carefully to be sure I ended with chunks and not mush. Eggplant turns to mush very quickly if you are not keeping a watchful eye!


The Golden Rice Pie with Spinach Filling (page 126) from Mollie’s Vegetable Heaven was gorgeous and had a lot of flavor although it was very dry. I made it a point to not let the spinach mixture get too “evaporated” so as to not make the dish dry but apparently it wasn’t wet enough. There will be a next time and I will add another egg and more yogurt to the rice mixture to make the top and bottom not so dry. It is interesting how I work in a cookware store and couldn’t find a covered 10 inch casserole dish in my house so I cooked it in my 3 1/2 quart Le Creuset Braiser which although bigger than 10 inches was a good choice as the pie came out and left very little to clean up in the pan. To easily get it out of the pan I used a narrow spatula and pushed from the edge all the way around to the middle. It was heavy to flip over, due to the pan, but it came out perfectly.

Being a meat eater it is always nice to find vegetarian recipes I like enough to make them again and this adventure in Mollie Katzen land did not disappoint.  In fact, I may need to look into getting another of her many books!


My Cookbook Project – Book 17

You know how you have something in the fridge, pantry, or cabinet and you are not quite sure what to do with it…well this is the book for you!  I love this book as it tells you what pairs well with what.  For example, you have some mushrooms and the dishes you usually prepare with them are getting stale so you want something new and you want to make it up. You open this book and look up mushrooms and you get a list of ingredients you can be sure will go well with those shrooms you have.  Bacon, barley, Gruyere and Parmesan, cream, garlic, grapes, pistachios, sausage, shallots, spinach, tomatoes, and so many more options.  Many of which you may also have in the house.  There aren’t a lot of recipes in the book but I found a couple starting with mushrooms!

Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page is a must have in your culinary world.  As is their other book, The Flavor Bible which goes into the beauty of food as well as the excellent combos.

The recipes I made from this book were not cooked.  Both were raw and so good.  The leftovers were too!  Mushroom, Walnut, and Spinach salad with Mustard Vinaigrette by Joyce Goldstein (page 340) was so fresh and the dressing so light it was a great dish on a hot summer night.  With the salad we had Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup with Pepper Relish by Bradley Ogden (page 349). This soup is now going to be a go-to in the summer for a light supper.  So quick and easy it makes sense when tomatoes are in season and so flavorful to eat it regularly.  The recipe did state “a food processor or blender should not be used as too much air is incorporated” but I used my Vitamix on low speed and it worked fine.  I tried the food mill I have had and disliked for years first then went with the blender as it was faster and easier.  The food mill ended up in the garbage.  I will use my Vitamix for those types of tasks from now on.  Both of these recipes were quick to prepare and without having to turn the stove or oven on in July they were a pleasure to prepare and eat.


My Cookbook Project – Book 16

"Those blue eyes.  That Spanish accent.  His sweet demeanor.  Oh wait, I was getting caught up in the few times I have had the opportunity to look into Jose Andres eyes and chat with him.  Such a pleasant man who happens to know how to cook interesting and flavorful Spanish cuisine.

For this installment Ross picked out the book and I got excited about his choice as I had perused this book but never cooked from it.  He chose Jose’s recipe for Marmitako a traditional Basque stew of tuna, potatoes, pepper, and onions from Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen.

I did the initial prep of cubing the tuna, roasting the peppers, grating the tomato (something I had never done before and found it so easy I will make up reasons to do it again), and boiling the potato (which oddly the book didn’t say to do but the Denver Post article does) earlier in the day which made dinner prep at cooking time much faster.  Instead of frying the bread I toasted it in the oven during my early prep.  All of these steps can be done in advance, even the day before, and put away until it is time to complete the dish.

I am not a big fan of the flavor of green pepper but now I like them as much as any other color pepper when they are roasted.  They have more sweetness than when just cooked or eaten raw.

"As for the final product…the flavor and texture was really good.  The fish was cooked perfectly, the potatoes were the right amount of done, a little al dente which kept them from falling apart, the sweetness of the pepper, all around the stew was a success. We slurped it with a bottle of Spanish wine to make the experience feel like Jose was with us…if only!

The only thing I didn’t like was we had leftovers as the recipe is for 4-6 servings.  Reheating fish can be disastrous and rather than find out, the stew has been sitting in the fridge since the night we made it. I am sure it’s still fresh enough to eat but am concerned I won’t like it as much reheated so I keep ignoring it.  I guess I should just take it out, heat it up, and see.  Maybe tomorrow!


My Cookbook Project – Book 15

Why is it I keep posting dinner?  Why not try out a breakfast recipe from a book I have no idea where I got it from but glad I found it in my collection.

I was looking through my library of books and found Peace Meals by The Junior League of Houston.  In looking through this beautiful book I found a frittata recipe and thought “sure, why not” I love a good frittata and make them often…what I call my “clean out the fridge” breakfast.  Oddly, I had all the ingredients in the house with the exception of arugula so it was an easy recipe to pick for post #15.

This particular recipe, Arugula and Asparagus Frittata, makes the dish differently than I usually do but is still a method I know well.  My usual method is to saute the veg and meat (this recipe doesn’t have meat) then put them in a baking dish and dump the beaten eggs and milk on top.  I then put it in the oven and bake them.  However, this time I made it on the stove top to follow the directions and then under the broiler to melt the Parmesan on top.  I recently purchased a new non-stick pan set from Williams-Sonoma to use for egg dishes and it was the perfect pan to make the frittata in.  Non-stick is right.  The eggs slid right out of the pan.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the pan or the resulting breakfast.  Frittatas in my house will be made in this way going forward as it had one less item to clean-up and I am all about saving time in the morning.
The recipe is not available online but here is an idea of what it includes. Whisk together eggs, milk, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute asparagus in butter then remove it and mix it with Gruyere cheese. Wilt the arugula in the same pan and pour the egg mixture on top. Cook until the bottom is set then top with the asparagus and cheese mixture. Put it under the broiler to finish it, take it out and top with some Parmesan cheese. If you would like a picture of the real recipe, please comment below or like me on Facebook and ask for it there.

A beautiful book giving the ability to create a beautifully soft yet finished top frittata. This one is a new addition to the morning repertoire.  Next time I will try to whisk the whites until fluffy then fold in the yolks to get a fluffy frittata and see what we think about that!

My Cookbook Project – Book 11 and 12

You never know when you attempt a recipe for the first time if it is going to be a success. Finding cookbook authors you can depend on is the key. Both of these fall into that category for me.

Twice I have seen Michael Ruhlman speak and both times I was impressed with his style and wit. His cooking is clean and concise, easy to follow, and pretty darn tasty. His recipes are too! For this installment I chose a recipe of his from Ruhlman’s 20, and another from my favorite go-to book, The Joy of Cooking.


I wanted to prepare a fish I had not cooked before so Ruhlman’s Pan Roasted Cod w/Chorizo Vinaigrette (page 254) recipe was selected.  In deciding what to serve it with I knew I wanted something simple and green. Spinach, quickly sauteed with garlic is a staple in our house but in keeping with my cookbook project I dug up a like recipe to prepare from The Joy of Cooking called Panned (Sicilian) Spinach (page 306).  When I got to the grocery store, Mariano’s, cod was on sale.  Dinner was not only going to be something new but less expensive too!

All ingredients assembled, let the cooking commence.

I started with making the vinaigrette which took the longest of the components in the meal.  Red onion, red bell pepper, and a jalapeno were sauteed in oil.  The mixture added some heat and the spice and smokiness of the chorizo topped it off.  The recipe made more than needed so the leftovers were a salad dressing the next day.  The cod was seasoned with salt and pepper then pan fried, drained on paper towels and served with the vinaigrette on top.  The fish had a great mouth feel and slightly spicy flavor.  Spinach and garlic, how can it be bad. So simple yet so flavorful.

As an add-on I wanted a starch so I added some smashed potatoes from no recipe, just my mind.  I boiled some baby reds, heated some olive oil in a skillet and turned the taters into the pan.  A quick saute and then smashed them with a spatula.  I added some roasted garlic powder, toasted onion powder (2 of my go-to’s for quick and easy seasoning), salt and pepper.  The result was just as I wanted, soft with a little crust, flavorful, and a perfect match with the cod and spinach.


My Cookbook Project – Book 10

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo so Mexican food it had to be for my cookbook project #10 post!

Living in Chicago when I think of really good Mexican food I think of Rick Bayless. I have a few of his books and chose Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday for a complete meal. Ross wanted tacos so I reviewed a few options and decided to go with Green Chili Chicken Soft Tacos (page 198 or click on the recipe title for the online recipe) for our main dish. One of the recipe options was to use Yucatecan Garlic-Spice Marinade (page 142) which turned out to be a great option and the leftovers will be brushed on some roasted vegetables this weekend. I then perused additional recipes looking for side dishes. The Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf (page 88) sounded like a good one along with the optional Poblano Rice with Herbs add-ins.  Cowboy Beans (page 86) were right on target with how I make beans often without a recipe so I chose to try something written instead of winging it. We used pinto and great northern beans as that is what we had in the house and I cut the bacon in half which was a perfect idea to lessen the fat content.

The result was an amazing plate of flavor! " We used corn tortillas (I didn’t have time to make them from scratch so used El Milagro which are my favorites. Added some sour cream and jarred salsa on top with the chicken, onions, and peppers to make juicy tacos. The rice was perfectly cooked with a little crunch from the bottom of the pot and full of flavor. We added some corn which gave it texture. It was so easy to make there will be more creativity coming with baking rice. The cowboy beans were my favorite part of the meal. They were smoky, spicy, and full of flavor better even after squeezing some lime on them. I had never used canned (actually jarred) pickled jalapenos before and will use them again since I have the better part of the jar left over and really liked the heat they added.

Earlier in the day, while the poblanos were roasting, I made the marinade. I did not marinate the chicken just brushed it on during the cooking. Next time I will marinate the chicken to see if the flavor is more prevalent although it was pretty good with just two brushings. Once we began cooking it took about 45 minutes to get it all done. We got the rice started and into the oven then made the beans and finally the chicken. The onions and peppers were left out of the oven as the rice was in there at 350. We did not add the chicken to the vegetables so the leftover onions and peppers are now with the rice in a container waiting for me to take some for lunch tomorrow. I am sure I will enjoy it just the same!


My Cookbook Project – Book 9

As a fan of the ABC TV show The Chew and in light of my entry for book 7 being by Carla Hall, I decided to opt for another Chew host for book 9.

I have been a fan of chef Michael Symon since 2000 when I read about him in Michael Ruhlman’s “The Soul of a Chef” which lead to a visit to Lola, Michael’s restaurant in Cleveland in October 2001. I have since met/seen Michael on a few occasions and he is always pleasant, personable, and laughing his infectious laugh. As a host of The Chew he is my entry for book 9, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook.  I wanted something simple and perfect for a week night so Lizzie’s (his wife) Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde (page 238 or click on the recipe title for the online recipe) was chosen.


The recipe in the book is slightly different in that there was no dressed arugula on top but the recipe proved to be easy, and the results well worth the advance time. I have brined chicken before in salt water but never just in salt.  I had it in the fridge for about 24 hours and it made a huge difference in the juiciness of the bird.  I did rinse and dry it before cooking even though the recipe did not say to do so.  I figured it would oil up better without it being wet and I didn’t want the remaining salt on the skin after the brine.

The skin was crisp, the meat juicy, and the flavor was perfect.  A little lemony, some thyme hints, and a tad wisp of garlic was sometimes evident.

The salsa verde was not traditional and a bit oily.  When serving we used a slotted spoon to drain some of the oil.  The flavor was rich with a minimal about of heat and complemented the chicken perfectly.  We ate the chicken and sauce with leftovers from book 8’s entry, Cumin Rice, and it actually went very well together.

Sometimes you make something you like and sometimes you make something you don’t.  This time I made something I really liked and will make again!  Thanks Michael for not disappointing.  The other recipe in the book I have been dying to make is his mac and cheese with chicken and rosemary which I ate at the restaurant.  Some day when I am wanting a creamy, high fat, high calorie meal it will be on my menu.

My Cookbook Project – Books 6, 7, and 8!

For this installment, I had a taste for Indian and began perusing one book and decided the Chicken Tikka Masala would have to wait for another time when I had all day to make all the parts for one dish (it had 4!). In an effort to stick with an Indian theme I began my search. I found 3 dishes in 3 different books and therefore you now see 3 books in one post! Surprisingly only one book is an Indian cookbook. The other two are about spices and techniques.
The first dish I based the meal on is from the Alton Brown book I’m Just Here for the Food. I wanted chicken and found “Chicksicles” on page 68 (or click on the recipe title for an online version) which had a wonderful marinade of coriander, cumin, curry, cinnamon, sugar and oddly enough…peanuts! I made the marinade in the morning and let the meat sit in it until it was time to cook, around 6:30. The result was a creamy texture of slightly sweet and very savory grilled chicken breast.
One can’t have an Indian meal without a paneer and knowing Carla’s Comfort Foods by Carla Hall was all about spices I wasn’t surprised to find a recipe for “Palak Paneer: Creamy Spiced Spinach with Fried Cheese” on page 26 (or click on the recipe title and scroll to the bottom of the presented page for an online version). For the cheese she recommended using fresh ricotta you drain and smash to get it dry and sturdy enough to cut into cubes. This worked fine although in the cooking it didn’t hold together as well as the paneer I made from scratch in the past. Next time, and there will be one, I will make it from scratch and hope for better results in the cooking.  The creaminess and flavor (onion, garlic, red chili flakes, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric…) of the spinach made the dish a hit with both of us.

Then it was time to find a rice recipe so I went to a book by Anupy Singla who I always depend on for great Indian recipes.  In her third book, Indian for Everyone, I found “Cumin Rice” on page 48 with cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and onion a perfect fit for the menu.  And it proved me right!  The cooking of the rice was a bit different than most recipes and it came out perfect. I will be using this technique again and again when making basmati rice.

Today for lunch I will be eating leftovers.  I can’t wait to see how these flavors have melded over the last couple days.

My 2015 Cookbook Project – Book 5

For book 5 I started thinking about the foods I love eating most and Korean street food came to mind.  Here in Chicago I eat chicken tenders, bon chon, and kimchee from Crisp at least twice a month and tacos and dumplings from Del Seoul once a month.  So I decided to cook some street food for the 5th installation of my cookbook project.

The recipe for Korean Chopped Salad (page 50) in Susan Feninger’s Street Food struck a fancy with me as it reminded me of an upscale bimimbop which is the first Korean dish I ever tasted and the one making me a lover of Korean food.  When I read the recipe it sounded amazing so off I went to the store to buy all the ingredients and came home to make it.  Wow, what a lot of work.  I started thinking it better be amazing with the amount of time I was spending prepping the Pickled Daikon Radish (page 145) which was part of the recipe along with cooking the rice and making the Sesame Dressing (page 52) for the finishing touch. Ross cooked the cod then the sunny-side-up eggs as I assembled the rice, mushrooms, bean sprouts (recipe called for soy bean, I used mung bean), toasted sesame seeds (recipe called for sunflower), dried seaweed, lettuce, and dressing. In the end, the time and effort were well worth it as the dish was as the books title states, “Irresistibly Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Spicy, Sticky, Sweet Recipes”!
<p>I am unable to locate the recipe online so if you want it I suggest you buy the book.  There are links to it above and from the page you see on the right.</p>
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