Friday, August 19, 2011

A Smattering of Ellies

I'm afraid my time with Ellie may be short-lived. Things are not going well. I'll give a handful more recipes a shot, but if they don't start impressing me soon, it's over.

I baked Walnut and Dried Cherry Bars (pg 40), which she describes as "tender, cakey, and perfectly sweetened with a great nutty crunch and fruity chewiness." Sounds like a good breakfast, right? Wrong. They're dense as a protein bar and dry out your mouth. They maintain no crunch or chewiness. When I saw the serving size, I thought there must be a mistake. Then I ate one. No one would ever want to eat more than that teeny little bar.
I put the plum there for comparison's sake. It's teeny.
Conclusion: Hated it.

Last night's dinner of Marinated Flank Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce (pg 177) would have been great if it involved a thick, juicy cut of beef. With good meat, I see no reason to bother with the marinade (balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic and oil). I couldn't find anything labeled flank steak, so I bought some slices of eye round, because I figure Ellie was probably calling for a lean cut. They were quite thin and un-beefy, though. I basically flash-seared each side and got them off the heat as quickly as possible.

The blue cheese sauce was delicious, and I'm locking it away in my brain for future use. Just mash up a bit of blue cheese with an equal bit of buttermilk and a splash of Worcestershire sauce until it's creamy. I would guess that the quality of the cheese will effect the quality of the sauce. Mine tasted bacony. Yum.
Conclusion: Liked it.

Tonight, dinner was Prosciutto-wrapped Cod with Pesto Potatoes and Green Beans (pg 154). The one (only) thing this recipe has going for it is that it is, in fact, easy. Wrap prosciutto around cod. Cook for a few minutes on each side. I, of course, had some kinks, because fate likes to complicate things. The prosciutto I bought seemed to have been sliced on the short side. There was no way to wrap it. I made do. Didn't matter because the prosciutto wasn't potent enough to penetrate the boring old cod. Blech.
Conclusion: Hated it.

For the side, I used asparagus instead of green beans. You just cook the potatoes and asparagus and then mix store-bought pesto in. I made my own, but you get the picture. Ellie says to use 3 tablespoons of pesto for 1.5 pounds of potatoes and 1 pound of green beans. She must be joking. I used everything I made--at least 1/2 cup, but probably more--and it still wasn't enough. Those potatoes just suck it right up.

Conclusion: Just okay.


  1. Ouch - tough one! At least you found the blue cheese sauce.

  2. you can substitute skirt steak for flank steak- which is is a little hard to cook and needs to be prime quality to be tender. Skirt steak is very flavorful on its own and takes marinades particularly well

  3. The bleu cheese sauce looks delicious. Here's hoping more of Ellie's recipes get better!

  4. That blue cheese sauce sounds like the best ever easiest creamy blue cheese dressing- 1/2 sour cream, 1/2 buttermilk, ( 1/2 cup each or more each- to taste) 2 cloves crushed garlic, 3 TB blue cheese, 1/4 tsp worcestershire, some salt, pepper, pinch or two of paprika, 1/2 Tsp lemon juice (to taste )- all shaken up in a jar. Thin with a tsp water if too thick.

  5. I love steak with blue cheese sauce, I think it is just one of those perfect pairings.

    Sorry to hear that the rest of the recipes did not turn out so well, but I guess that's the point of the project, to test to books and find out if they are worth keeping. I keep thinking I need to do the same thing with my cook book collection, there are some which I use all the time and a few with are gathering dust.