Friday, November 11, 2011

Wrapping Up, and Up Next

I feel like I shorted The Family Meal a tad in this past week, with Charlie being sick and us going up to San Antonio for the long weekend, but I'm not too heartbroken about it, because most of the remaining recipes that really catch my eye all include cuts of meat, types of fish, and quality of cured meat and sausage that I don't have ready access to. In the intro to the book, Adria says that he made sure that all of the ingredients were available to a home cook in the US, but I'm guessing he didn't send anyone to scout out the offerings here in Corpus Christi. And, after a month, it still makes me laugh that he thinks a home cook has a foamer.

This is the only book I've cooked from so far that didn't score anything lower than a "Just okay," so I think that's pretty remarkable. Most of the dishes were easy to prepare, and all the ones that I was able to make used just a few ingredients, to maximum effect.

Stand-outs, and those I'll make time and again, are the Roasted Chicken, Cauliflower with Bechamel, Pasta Bolognese (I'm drooling just thinking about it), and the Mexican Chicken.

If you have access to a phenomenal butcher who carries less-popular cuts of meat and an international market that sells spices I've never heard of, this book is a must-have. There are lots of yet-unmade dishes that I would run out and make tomorrow if I could. Unfortunately, I feel like most of the recipes I was able to make weren't particularly unique. Baked apples are good, roast chicken is one of my favorite meals in the world, but if you already have solid recipes for those types of things, you won't miss this book.

For me, this book is a keeper, but it's not one that I would push people to run out and buy before giving it a solid look. Not being able to get my hands on ingredients makes me sad.  Maybe I'll have better luck when I move to Italy next year. God, I love saying that. HA!

There are a few more recipes that I planned on, which got derailed by Charlie being sick all last week, so here's my plan.

I'm going to start on my next book: Perfect Vegetables, once again from the Cook's Illustrated folks. I know I haven't had amazing luck with their recipes so far, but I have high hopes for this one. I say that every time, don't I? But still, I'm not very creative when it comes to veg. If it's not part of a complete meal, I tend to fall back on grilled asparagus or broccoli or spinach with oil and garlic. Charlie will nibble some broccoli, but other than that, I can't get him to eat any of the normal vegetables that kids will accept--carrots, sweet potatoes, any version of white potato (except for french fries, of course.) Long story short, this book will be good for all of us. My diet could use more vegetables. Plus, this one should be easy to keep up with through the holidays.

Since these are mostly side dishes, it gives me the opportunity to cook a few more from The Family Meal and to catch up on some Dorie recipes while I'm at it. Win-win!


  1. I agree, though I'd add also wanting a fish monger that has uncommon varieties of fish too!

    What's on your spices wish list? Since I'm in SF, I have access to well-priced ethnic groceries, I just might be able to pick some up for you :D

  2. When you move to Italy... Will you ever get tired of saying that :-)
    Glad you had a hit with this one & hope all your writing is going well.

  3. Still super jealous at your move to Italy!

  4. Have you tried My Spice Sage online? They have TONS of stuff, maybe you can make these dishes after all!
    Or ... wait until you move to Italy. Lucky!!!

  5. Ei I really hope you like the veg cookbook. I am not a fan of the Cooks Illustrated folks. I like their concept- to a point- and as an artist I love the pics, and the science when they get into that sometimes- but honestly I think they do not deliver where it counts- they are something of a wikipedia of "category recipes" and that bothers me, esp. b/c they are not that great. So, If they fail you- please try Alice Waters Chez Panisse Vegetables she is a goddess for very good reasons and she will never fail you, but I hope this new book works for you b/c it is always so sad to read your "just okay" , or worse those " Charlie spit-it-out-Matt -hated-it-i-just-had-wine-and-takeout" reviews!!!

  6. I don't know how I wound up with so many of their books. Yes I do--I bought a subscription to Cooks Illustrated for a year, and then they had all these great deals after the holidays where the books were only $12, and I went a little crazy. Don't worry--this is the last of them. Okay, that's not exactly true. I also have "Cover and Bake," but there's no way I'm cooking a whole month of casseroles, so that one shall not be represented here.

    Clieu: That's sweet of you. If I really feel motivated (and want to pay the price), I could probably find the spices online. Usually, the off-the-wall spice was paired with a cut of meat I couldn't get, so that dampened my enthusiasm for seeking out the spices. I appreciate the offer, though. I'll have to go back and look at the recipes to remember exactly what spices I couldn't find. I know one was for a slow-cooked Mexican pork thing (mmmm).

    Thanks for the website, Trix! Definitely good to have a resource like that handy.