Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wrap Up and Up Next: The Best International Recipe

I've spent a lovely month with Giada. Only a few recipes were exceptionally delicious, but the majority produced good, easy meals. The stand-outs were the Sweet Basil Smoothie, Pasta Ponza, and the Ricotta (/Mascarpone) and Berry Syrup. This would be a great gift for someone with a teeny kitchen and few pots and pans, because the recipes rely so heavily on the grill pan.

Giada at Home is definitely a keeper.

I told Matt to select the next book I cook from, since he's been a good sport with this whole endeavor. He picked the mammoth The Best International Recipe from the America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated people.
I'm skeered.
I have to admit, I would not have chosen to do this one yet. I haven't recovered from the horrid ATK Healthy Family Cookbook before starting another one made by the same people. Plus, it's an intimidating book. It's 562 pages long and covers the entire globe, except the US and Canada. Poor Canada. If Mexico has its own section, shouldn't Canada be in there somewhere? They must have some unique recipes up North. Oh well.

I feel a glimmer of hope in that the one and only time we cooked from this book--and by we, I mean Matt--he made a German feast of spaetzle, weiner schnitzel, and red cabbage, and it was awesome. Matt studied in Berlin for a year in college, and he said this spaetzle was the closest thing he's had to authentic spaetzle since leaving Germany. I had no idea, from eating in restaurants here, that spaetzle could have so much flavor. YUM. It's ruined restaurant-spaetzle for me forever. Hopefully the other sections live up to this promise.

Another reason that I feel uneasy about this book is that there don't seem to be many simple, whip-it-up for lunch type of recipes. Most recipes are quite involved. Apart from the scones in the British Isles section, none of it is breakfast-appropriate. This puts a whoooole lot of pressure on dinner.

Tell me to quit my whining and move on. Okay. To the task at hand...

In this book, the globe is divided into 14 chapters. My strategy will be to cook at least one recipe from each chapter, and then loop back around to runner-up recipes that caught my eye along the way.

We're flying back to NY to visit fam for a week, so there will be a brief hiatus until we return. I'll start my month with The Best International Recipes when I come back. I planned to get a head start this weekend by cooking Indian food. I went to the store and bought all the ingredients, except for garam masala. Couldn't find it anywhere. Grrrr. I'll have to look for it in Brooklyn and start when we get back.

Update: My friend just brought it to my attention that the South Pacific (ie, her homeland of New Zealand) is also not represented. I would say that English-speaking countries (Canada, NZ, Australia) didn't make the cut, except that The British Isles make up an entire chapter.  Beats me.


  1. Hey Good luck with this tome- it looks like a massive undertaking!!I hope it yields good eats,also do yourself a favor Ei and order cooking ingredients mail order-Amazon is easy, and there are many otheres, its the only way to go with what you are taking on here, it will take ALL the hassle out of finding the ingredients.

  2. Three cheers for Amazon Prime! Amazon is the best thing ever.

  3. Hmm, I may have to pick up Giada's book then because I love my grill pan. Can't wait to see what's up for The Best International Recipes.

  4. Well I'm glad Giada got the seal of approve :) Can't wait to see what you bang out of this new one

  5. Pretty curious to see what this book has to offer!

  6. The new book sounds very exciting and I look forward to reading about your progress. And I tip my hat to your husband for taking on spätzle, I have lived in Germany for 4 years now and I have not yet attempted it at home. Mostly because my husband inexplicably doesn't like it and it seems like a lot of effort for something that only I will eat.