Cookbook

Status
Not open for further replies.

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I hate most flavors/textures.

Heidi wants a cookbook for her anniversary.

Being a good wife, she does not want this for the purpose of inflicting misery, but for the purpose of improved knowledge of how to manipulate food so as to make it acceptable.

I am from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, but consider scrapple, beets, and sauerkraut about all equally abominable. Also I don't like casseroles. Or vegetables. Or fruit. Or spices. Or herbs. Or intestines.

With that in mind - cookbook recommendations anyone?
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I don't think we need an all-around cookbook. More like "The Hyper-picky Eater's Guide to Plain Food."
 

Laura

Puritan Board Junior
Elizabeth, I am a Cook's Illustrated slave and would also recommend their stuff to almost anybody, but I don't think you fully understand the extent of Ruben's...uniqueness. :) I am at a loss as to what to recommend, other than maybe Cook's Country--a branch of Cook's Illustrated but more down-home, simple, non-fussy recipes that might just someday yield something Ruben would like.
Edit: then again, that book does have a lot of casseroles. This might be fitting, and you can look at some of the recipes in detail if you scroll down. (I can't do a link properly for some reason: http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Test-Kitchen-Family-Cookbook/dp/1933615486/ref=pd_sim_b_13 )
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Ruben, steam some chicken breast, shred it, and put it on a gluten-free tortilla. No toppings. Wash it down with some prune juice.

It's straightforward and the ordeal is over quickly.

If you need vegetables, zucchini squash microwaved does the job. Bland enough, too.

If you want to get fancy, you can pressure cook the chicken with the squash. Cook it until it is mush and pour into a mug. Let it cool some and swig it down in a gulp or two. That gets the job done even quicker.
 
Last edited:

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
God has graced you with a remarkably long-suffering wife, Ruben. There is no way I'd suffer that type of hyper pickiness when it comes to eating.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Thank you, Laura: I appreciate your understanding.

Ben, I knew there was a reason things would never work between us.

Thanks, Justin!

Vic, prune juice and zucchini squash? Apparently I failed to make myself clear.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Not normally: it is goopy and often contains many pointless ingredients. I regard it as a migraine medicine rather than as a food.
 

Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
[video=youtube;Uj9CysSSsps]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj9CysSSsps&feature=related[/video]
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I don't think Heidi will know what to do with some Rhino Beetle Larvae or insect blood unless we get the cookbook first.

She expands:

I should clarify: it's not so much that I want a cookbook that specialises only in meat and potatoes: that would be nice, but I doubt it exists. I am more interested in a cookbook that teaches one how to cook: what different knives and spices are for. For instance I have been given a knife block but I have no idea what I am supposed to do with each of the knives: I have always had one or two dull knives from the dollar store and credit the vast number of my years to their exceeding dullness (I'm a little terrified of having somewhat sharper ones: this is still Walmart brand though, so I am not as terrified as I could be). I am currently reading through Home Comforts (thank you Laura for the recommendation and Jessica S for the book itself) and there is significantly more useful information than I can find in my Betty Crocker cookbook on dubious points, and enough vital information that I can at least intelligibly google some more (for instance, I found out that something on the block I assumed was used to prod clams at a distance or some such is actually the knife sharpener. Giggles.) but it isn't really enough. I have a meat pounder but I don't understand the logic of pounding meat: I would do it for sheer joy but am afraid it will ruin something. Recipes are fine and I do want more recipes: I inherited a few from Ruben's mom and mostly discarded those I grew up with (large inexpensive casserole dishes, mostly): but I don't really want just a collection of recipes. Nor do I want a nostalgic journey through Amish country and the history of local businesses and traditions with some nice illustrations of food my husband mostly won't eat. I want to learn how to cook. Whether or not I use all the information is irrelevant. Elizabeth and Laura, would you say the cookbooks you recommend do that or is there something else you would recommend, in this case?

My own diet is also necessarily finicky with being gluten and other allergens free. I can always look recipes up online: I just have no idea how to begin organising the information into some sort of useful approach to cooking on my own. (Remember the Chocolate Gob . . . And the spur of the moment decision to use up the old maple syrup in the polenta . . .)
 

Laura

Puritan Board Junior
Heidi, the wonderful thing about Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country is that, rather than being primers on cooking in general, they have different topical books (there is a "Best Chicken Recipe" for instance) that teach you to cook dishes of varying difficulty as you go. It's much more than just individual recipes thrown at you with the assumption that you have a certain amount of cooking knowledge. Besides lots of helpful sidebars featuring particular ingredients, techniques (e.g. what on earth to do to fennel to get it into the thin slices the recipe calls for), they basically assume, every time they develop and write a recipe, that you know next to nothing about cooking/baking, or about any slightly atypical ingredients (that part is probably not applicable to you, but they will go into detail about what the ingredient is/isn't, whether or not you can make substitutions, etc.). They head off any substitution disasters from the start, by emphasizing, for example, that you want pearl barley rather than regular hulled barley. Anyway, since neither of you would be eating barley, let me give you an example. This may be something Ruben would actually like so I will include the whole recipe verbatim.

Chicken cordon bleu
Serves 2
To help prevent the filling from leaking, use large (8 oz) chicken breasts and thoroughly chill the stuffed breasts before breading. We like Black Forest ham in this recipe.

4 thin slices deli ham (about 4 oz.)
4 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 (8-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
12 Ritz crackers, finely crumbled
3/4 c. panko bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (they always use unbleached by default, but the world won't end if you use bleached)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (which of course you could leave out or substitute regular mustard if that is inoffensive)

1. Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450. Following photos (there are 3 photos that show you how to prepare the chicken in detail), top each ham slice with 1/4 cup cheese and roll up tightly. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Cut deep pocket in thickest part of breast and stuff each breast with 2 ham-and-cheese rolls. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toss cracker crumbs and panko with the melted butter and bake on rimmed baking sheet on middle rack, stirring occasionally, until light brown,a about 3-5 minutes. Let crumbs cool slightly.
3. Place flour in shallow dish. Beat egg and mustard together in second shallow dish/plate. Spread cooled crumb mixture in third shallow dish/plate. Dredge one stuffed chicken breast lightly in flour, shaking off excess. Coat in egg mixture, allowing excess to drop off, then dredge in crumbs, pressing to adhere. Transfer to a clean baking sheet. Repeat with remaining stuffed chicken breast. Uncooked stuffed and breaded chicken may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.
4. Bake on the lowest oven rack until the bottom of chicken is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Move baking sheet to middle rack, reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees, and bake until chicken is golden brown and registers 160-165 on an instant-read thermometer, 18-24 minutes. Transfer to platter and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

That is from one of their Cooking for Two books, which present the obvious advantage of already having the recipes scaled down to serve two; so if the dish wasn't a hit, you don't have tons of leftovers to reckon with by yourself. This particular book features many recipes Ruben would not be interested in, but like I said, just reading through the recipes you will learn about cooking. On a recipe for Thai red curry with shrimp, there is a large box with information on shrimp sizing (what "21-25 per pound" means), how to efficiently cut carrots into matchsticks, and how to devein shrimp.

So that is my plug for this style of learning to cook. I have a Julia Child compendium (Julia's Kitchen Wisdom) which I thought would be a good starter book. It does have some useful charts for times and methods of preparing lots of different vegetables, but the problem is that she doesn't get specific enough for me, like she tends to assume I know more than I do about French food. As a novice I want the most specific directions, visual cues, etc. Cook's Illustrated will give you that. If they don't answer any questions that arise when I want to take on one of their recipes, I just google it and eventually will find the answer. Foodsubs.com is a nice reference for when you want to know the difference between cuts of meat (which are often bewilderingly named different things in different parts of the country), for example.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Vic, prune juice and zucchini squash? Apparently I failed to make myself clear.
Forgive me. I certainly was off the mark. May I suggest boiled turnips and a mid-priced Columbia Valley Riesling?
Recently, I secretly placed some boiled chayote in a ziploc bag to avoid having to consume it; turnips would be no better.

Must not be using enough salted pork fat with the vegetables.
You can add "fat" to the list of things I don't like.

This may be something Ruben would actually like
Sorry, afraid not. I don't like Swiss cheese, I don't like mustard, and I don't like things that are this elaborate. I had it once and it wasn't as unacceptable as some other things, though.

James, I threated Kevin with an infraction when he had the gall to make one of those his avatar one time.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Joy of Cooking. It gives clear explanations regarding different ingredients and methods of cooking. It covers the gamut from plain and simple to snooty. I taught myself to cook with it at about age 14 and it has been the backbone of my cookbook library ever since. Get the 75th Anniversary edition. The other newer editions are way out of line with the historical mindset of "Joy."
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Laura, what a wonderful post, just what I would expect from my awe-inspiringly kitchen savvy friend :); thank you so much. I have the most accomplished and helpful friends. It offsets the despair over my own cluelessness :)

Joanna, I'm glad my ignorance makes someone smile besides just myself (I'm afraid if I didn't laugh over it, I would end up in tears: I have actually been cooking whole meals ever since I could read my mom's instructions and stand on a chair at the stove, pretending to be a sea cook in a dingy place below deck, boiling octopus for the wretched crew -- but I never learned anything much beyond the recipes I used. I still only possess about four spices, and only understand the use of two of them :).

I think I may, in keeping with Jean's suggestion and after poking around a bit this morning, request The Joy of Cooking. Jean, would you suggest the anniversary edition over the facsimile of the original? It sounds like it is a very enjoyable read, at the least, and a good place to begin, in being so. Perhaps next year I will be more comfortable asking for the massive Encyclopedia of cooking Ruben linked me to, which is probably more to the purpose, and yet, I find the eclectic restaurant image it assumes one is striving to imitate not only intimidating but somewhat of a dubious element for my own purposes. As Cheryl Mendelson says, home is supposed to be a safe place, tailor made for the people in it, and someone I love would never feel safe in that place :).
 
Last edited:

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Since you don't enjoy food, get the cookbook without regard to your requirements. No reason for her to not make good meals for herself and others. And whatever you do, don't move to Louisiana where food is part of the culture.

You've ruled out
I don't like casseroles. Or vegetables. Or fruit. Or spices. Or herbs. Or intestines....You can add "fat" to the list of things I don't like...I don't like Swiss cheese, I don't like mustard, and I don't like things that are this elaborate.
Looks like grilled or broiled meat, microwave baked potatoes, and vitamin supplements would take care of you. And you don't need a cookbook for that.

For everyone else

Paula's Fried Butter Balls Recipe : Paula Deen : Food Network

or the Junior League cookbooks - Junior League Cookbooks
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Looks like grilled or broiled meat, microwave baked potatoes, and vitamin supplements would take care of you.
Finally, someone who understands!

Incidentally, Heidi has won a pie-baking competition and her meals have always proved quite acceptable to others, even the ones that I will eat.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Thanks so much, Mindy :)

her meals have always proved quite acceptable to others, even the ones that I will eat.
You have such a kind memory. There was that traumatised looking vegetable dish which not even I would eat when we had company in the trailer. And the Chocolate Gob.

Edward, he also eats salad. (no tomatoes, no cucumbers, no avocado, no red onions . . . )

But yes, buy her the cookbook by all means ! ! ! ! :)
 

Mindaboo

Puritan Board Graduate
Just so you know, Brad is a lot like that. So, feel free to invite us over for dinner :) Or we could invite you.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Edward, he also eats salad.
But I'm guessing he wouldn't like my home-made vinaigrette - even my family won't touch it, and they usually go for my recipes.

Back on topic - Something along the lines of an old Better Homes and Gardens (my wife's basic pre-marriage cookbook) or the Good Housekeeping (my old basic book) would be good for a comprehensive book. The Good Housekeeping has a chart of spices and their uses, and a dictionary of terms. While I have some specialty cookbooks, most of the time now I get recipes off the internet and adapt them.

You'd be better with older cookbooks, a lot of the modern ones are 'healthy' and take the flavor out.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top