newlywed would love some of your tried and trues
Hello Chowhounders! I have been married for 1 month and realize that I was raised by wolves! I love good food, I am willing to do the work but I can't find any great recipes(or is it me...lol)
I find a book-a few things are spectacular then YUCK!
Everyone on this board seems to know their stuff.Would you help out a buding foodie?
I have no restrictions whatsoever. I would love some great everyday recipes and hopefully a few killer party ones. Thank you!
He has his detractors, but I love love love all of Nigel Slater's cookbooks. Got a copy of "Appetite" shortly after we got married and then rather quickly bought the rest of his books. Lots of appealing common sense recipes and ideas.
I also like the big yellow Gourmet cookbook that came out a couple of years ago, it's got a nice variety of stuff.
The other cookbook I use an awful lot is a 1947 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook because, despite my mother being rather proper, I somehow never really learned the niceties of setting a table, etc. and the Good Housekeeping book has tons of that kind of information.
After 16 years of cooking for the two of us, I've realized that less is more and good ingredients are essential. If I was stranded on a desert island, I'd want my Olio Santo olive oil, tellicherry peppercorns, and kosher salt. Everything, everything, tastes good grilled or roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Always buy Bell & Evans chicken, beef from the butcher, and seafood from the fish monger. I love the Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks because the recipes are simple. Cooksillustrated.com is worth the price because the recipes are tried and true and they review cooking equipment and food items.
Yes, yes, yes....I agree, lean grilled/roasted meats/seafood, lots of fresh vegetables...add some quality olive oil, a little salt.....mmmmmm, perfect. Stay with basics and flavors that you and your significant other enjoy. I also agree with Cooks Illustrated Mag. If you enjoy preparing food and are patient everything will come together. Good luck and have fun!
This recipe is so easy. My husband never fails to compliment me when I make it. Serve with broccoli or asparagus roasted w/EVOO, s and p. (wink)
Sweet and Crunchy Mustard Chicken
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs (panko would be fine)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried tarragon or dried basil (tarragon is much better)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 chicken breast halves, with skin-on bone-in (I prefer thighs, more flavorful)
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, light brown sugar, tarragon or basil, kosher salt, and pepper.
3. Spread the mustard all over the chicken breast and sprinkle with the crumb mixture.
4. Set the breasts, skin side up, in a 9 x 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish and roast in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until they are cooked through and crisp.
I just made a salmon dish similar to this tonight - from the Balthazar cookbook. Very simple - preheat oven to 500 degrees, salt & pepper salmon fillets, coat with Dijon mustard (maybe 2 tsps), pat in a tsp or so of bread crumbs - I used panko tonight for the first time and it was wonderful. Heat a nonstick pan that can go into the oven (I use my Swiss Diamond) on high, add 2T of vegetable oil, when the oil starts to smoke, put the fish in the pan mustard side down, turn heat down to medium and leave it for 2 minutes. Then turn over and cook for one minute on skin side and place in oven 3-4 minutes.
I whipped up a quick sauce of mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil and chopped chives, and served the salmon with cooked fennel and an arugula salad.
question....will this chicken hold up if I make it & bring to a family for dinner, or does it have to be eaten right from the oven? If I cover it will the steam/condensation ruin it?
Also, I cook with skin, but usually don't eat it- does the chicken still have all the flavor or is the skin meant to be eaten? thanks
Don't forget those tried & true comfort foods. Most are easy to prepare, make great leftovers and freeze beautifully.
Using CH's search engine, type "comfort foods" for a decent list of suggestions/recipes.
I would recommend any of Donna Hay's cookbooks. Her recipes are simple, the flavors are excellent, the pictures are inspirational, and everything of hers that I've made has consistently come out well. I own "New Food Fast", "Cooking Off the Shelf", "Flavours" and "Modern Classics".
I also really like Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Again, inspirational pictures, easy-to-follow instructions and not terribly ingredient intensive recipes are a staple of hers.
Congratulations on your recent marriage and good luck!
I would try to buy
- Bittman's How to Cook Everything
- The Joy of Cooking
- A subscription to Cook's Illustrated
I have a 21 year old who is about to graduate and one of her requests is for me to write her a cookbook for her first apartment. I feel you pain. These books will be a great way to start.
Agree 100%...everything I needed to learn about basic cooking skills, I learned from How to Cook Everything and Joy of Cooking. I read both of them just like books and still do! For midweek meals, pick up a copy of - or subscribe to - Everyday Food. Everything I've ever made has turned out stellar. Good luck!
I think one of the most satisfying things in the world is a perfectly roasted chicken. I've use Jacques Pepin's recipe over the years and tried just about every other famous chef's recipe, too. Pepin's is still the best. It's quite simple and very satisfying. Here's how:
Get a chicken that is no larger than 4 lbs.(3.5 is perfect). Rinse it and dry it well. Salt and pepper it very generously. Use a cast iron 10 inch or so skillet (this is important for heat retention). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt three tablespoons of butter in the skillet on the stove. (It's a bit better if you know how to truss the chicken but this is not vital).
Roll the chicken in the butter so that it is nicely coated, then place in the oven on its side. After 15 minutes, put it on its other side. After another 15 minutes, place it breast side up, then cook for another 30 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Your total cooking time will be 1 hour. If the bird is larger than 3.5 lbs., you'll need to cook it slightly longer. Let it rest at least ten minutes before carving. This will be a perfect roast chicken. I can think of nothing that adds a more satisfying or more easily mounted basic item to your regular menu. Enjoy!
The problem is, for everyone it's trial and error. A cookbook recipe that some like others won't. You're bound to get some dogs until you have a file of the ones you like. After a while, you'll be able to tell by reading a recipe if you're apt to like it or not. And if you have dinner with friends and love the fare, by all means get the recipes. This is a great source of information.
Just for the heck of it, here's a simple recipe for oven-fried chicken that's my favorite. Put some flour in a paper bag and add a little bit of several spices -- salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, sage, thyme. Shake the cut-up fowl with the flour mix. If you like a thick crust, moisten it under barely running water from the faucet and flour again.
Lightly brown in a frying pan, and put on a rack over a baking pan (a foil-lined pan if you want to minimize clean-up; this method cooks out some of the fat). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (and let cool a few minutes, because chicken holds its heat).
Starting this week, once a week, roast a chicken until you find a method that works for you. Don't fret about Zuni. There was a thread recently about roasting chickens and there were dozens of us who contributed our fool-proof methods, all slightly different, that each of us had developed over the years that worked perfectly for us. I can come home, get that chicken ready in 5 minutes, pop it in the oven and it's ready in about an hour which gives me time to do other things. A simple salad, a few potatoes stuck in the oven with the bird to roast, a veggie to quickly steam, and you're done. You have leftover chicken for another night's meal. If that chicken isn't perfect, adjust the recipe the next week. Your house still smelled wonderful and it was an easy home-cooked inexpensive meal. Soon you'll learn to use the bones to make a simple broth for a soup for another night's meal.
Have steaks one night. A few sautéed mushrooms on the side are great. Pick up some fish filets. No need for any fancy sauces. Simply sautéd in a little olive oil and garlic. Or in butter and deglaze the pan with a little wine. Keep it simple until you suddenly realize that you can actually cook! And everything tastes good. You sprinkle with parsley and squeeze on a little lemon. Good simple weeknight meals. Nobody expects you to turn out restaurant style fare every evening after a long day at the office. Who told you that?
Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is probably the best all around cookbook you can buy. It has just enough European/ethnic dishes to get you started. You can get others from the internet, newspapers and chowhound until you find that you really want to explore a particular cuisine in depth - then buy specialty cookbooks.
The best "cooking course in a book" I can think of is still Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking which is like having the wonderful old gal at your elbow helping you through the process of learning technique. You will never regret learning the basics.
Get the basics down, learn to do the simple things well, you'll be able to take off and fly.
congrats... i would suggest borrowing searching a variety of websites for recipes... i have had great luck with recommendations and recipes here as well as allrecipes.com and the splendid table. i enjoy that i can read others comments. with allrecipes i signed up for their daily recipe to be sent to me... some are better than others, but it at least sparks an idea
funny how everyone agrees about roasting a chicken!
I do too, and I personally recommend starting with the very easiest technique, which requires no butterflying, no butter compounds, no turning or flipping or maneuvering or heat changes: look on epicurious.com for Keller's "favorite simple roast chicken"
This is exactly how my mother always did it, and I swear by its simplicity. As far as I'm concerned, a perfect roasted chicken is not about prepping; it's all about buying a flavorful good quality chicken, and getting a sense for when it is done and not dried out. Buying a kosher chicken will help on both scores, if it's available...
Then again, you can't eat roast chicken every day... :) You might try searching the boards for some popular simple foods that seem to get discussed a lot (macaroni and cheese; chili; pasta with lemon sauce; and for some reason salmon patties have gotten a lot of chatter lately, they're simple)
Try Giada DeLaurentis' cookbook, "Giada's Family Dinners" - they're delicious & no fail! Especially the pasta dishes. :)
Since the weather's still cold, I thought I'd include a favorite soup recipe. When I was married 2 years ago, this was one of the first things I made for my husband & me. He still asks for this soup a couple of times a month! Enjoy & much happiness to you both!
AVGOLEMONO (Greek lemon soup)
3 cans of College Inn Chicken Broth
1/4 cup long grain rice
1/3 to 1/2 lemon or lime juice (depending
on how much you like your lemon!)
cooked chicken, chopped (optional)
In a large pot, boil the chicken broth. Pour in the
rice. Bring to a good boil again. As the rice is
cooking, whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in a
bowl until mixture is nice and frothy. Test the rice
and see if it's tender (makes sure it's not too soft!)
When the rice is al dente, and the broth is still
boiling, ladle about 1 and 1/2 cups of the hot broth &
rice into the lemon-egg mixture. Whisk with a fork.
Then, slowly pour the whole lemon-egg-broth mixture
back into the pot, stirring constantly. Lower the
heat. The hot broth cooks the eggs. You should see a
cloudy white-yellow soup. Continue stirring for a few
more minutes until soup is hot and steamy. Do not let
it reach a boil. Stir in a pinch of salt & pepper and add the cooked chicken (if you like) and heat through.
Serve with hot pita bread. Enjoy!!
(Makes 1 quart)
I've made this Pasta Fagioli Soup several times recently and love it (recipe below). I freeze some and then it's awesome another time. It doesn't call for any meat (aside from the bacon or pancetta) so I like to add a good herbed sauage (just to add more depth to the soup). I will saute it up seperately and add it in when the pasta is just about done. I also add the herbs themself rather than a sachet (but remove the bay leave of course when serving).
It's really awesome, doesn't take long and although I stay away from carbs - it really is excellent with a great piece of bread or froccia.
I heartily agree with what a handful of posters said about Cook's Illustrated. I started getting it in the 80's (when exactly? can't remember) when it re-surfaced, and I have found it to be more approachable and reliable than any other source for just about anything basic-- roast chicken to apple pie. Over the years I've gotten more ambitious, but Cook's is still my go-to source for advice on everything (not to mention invaluable buying advice for small appliances, pots & pans and pantry ingredients.) If you get an online subscription-- around $20/yr-- you can search their database of years of recipes every time you want to know the best way to prepare something.
Do not be tempted by the food porn of all the glossy food mags -- they are all extremely tempting to a newly-minted wife and cook, but you will get far better results by starting with Cook's. Once you get your sea-legs, so to speak, you can then bring your good judgement to the recipes in the flashier mags.
2 other great basics-- Bittman's How to Cook Everything (also mentioned above) and his Best Recipes in the World, for a slightly more ambitious and global approach to the same stuff. Great references. Have fun and good luck!
there are some favorites that pop up on here all the time....always worth making, like Prudhomes cajun meatloaf, Zuni chicken, chicken marbella...
here's an easy one that I love, and goes great with homemade mac & cheese or mashed potatoes & a green veggie
Oven fried chicken
Chicken (3lbs boned, skinned) whatever pieces you like
1 ½ sticks melted butter
1 clove garlic minced
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 T chopped parsley
2 T chopped oregano
2 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350
Melt butter in roasting pan. Transfer ¾ butter into shallow dish, stir in garlic.
In another shallow dish, combine rest of ingredients
Coat each piece with butter/garlic mixture then dredge in dry mixture. Put in pan & drizzle remaining butter over chicken. Cook 1 hour or until golden brown.
Poochie, your request is not an easy one, but I too happen to feel that cooking a delicious chicken is not easy. A wonderfully roasted chicken is somewhat of an accomplishment.
Chicken is delicate and can be ruined pretty easily, so perfect the roasted chicken.
And I have found that I can do a whole chicken either in the oven, in the convection oven using a rotisserrie, or the BBQ rotisserrie, and if I pay attention, it will never fail me.
I buy different weights when purchasing chicken, so my thermometer is my bestfriend.
There are so many variations but one of our favorites is to make a stuffing (rosemary garlic bread and veggie) and roast it in the oven then with finely chopped fresh rosemary and olive oil/butter baste, and sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
On the rotisserrie, I love lime & garlic canola oil and butter basting and then stuff with limes and green onions inside the cavity, and then add the garlic and cilantro to the skin at the end.
I can only vouch for myself, and for me the key to my success roasting chickens is to watch the temperature. I use the probe, check it often, and then tent about 5 minutes after removing it from the heat source, I let it rest and finish cooking on the counter. I check the temp on the inner thigh, at 165 degrees it is cooked. But I start the process with a well cleaned, dried bird then set the oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce to 350 degrees for the remainder, andf for how long? It depends depends on the weight of the bird. Also, lemons work beautifully too.
Speaking of, Chicken Picatta with Angel Hair pasta, I'm sure there are many beautiful recipes for this dish out there, and I have one that I will gladly share.
But I have a question, when you go out for a special dinner, what is it that you order, what do you absolutely love? When I love a dish, that is the one that will usually get me started at perfecting a recipe that I can call my own.
Have fun and Best Wishes!
But of course mb!
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts - pounded thin between plastic wrap to 1/4 thickness and cut into 4 inch scallops
3 large garlic cloves - chopped fine
1 small white onion chopped fine
4-5 scallions chopped smallish
Italian Parsley - grab a handful and chop rough
1/4 C capers - I love these little guys
1 cup dry white wine-nothing sweet, chardonnay, pinot grigio...
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
Romano Cheese- grated
Flour to dredge the pounded chicken breast inn
Fill a large pasta pot with water and bring it to a boil add salt. Keep the water simmering and when you are almost ready to plate the chicken, bring the water back to the boil.
Put about a cup of flour on a plate, whisk in about 1 T of kosher salt, and 1tsp white pepper, or black is ok
in a saute pan heat olive oil (save your good olive oil for bread - use a light olive oil)
and 4 T of butter
Saute the white and green onion watch it closely, let it cook for only a few minutes, then add the fresh garlic. It doesn't matter if you chop slice or God forbid, press the garlic, it breaks down. Remove the veggies and place on a seperate plate and cover
Shake off any excess flour from the chicken which is lightly dredged, if the pan needs more butter, add it. On medium heat, place the saute pan and add the dredged chicken making sure that you don't crowd it. Saute to just a medium light gold, you are not going for brown, like the "post my reply" button below, more like the "attach photo" button shade.
When you flip to the next side, add the garlic and onions to the pan. The chicken cooks very quickly so the object is to get it to that light beige color, and not dry the chicken out. Once it is that color, remove to a platter, cover it with foil and and let it rest in a warmed oven that is "off", but still warm.
The saute pan should be hot, add about 1 cup of white wine let it reduce to about a half then add the juice of 1 1/12 lemon to 2 it really depends on the size of the lemons and how much juice they're willing to give up. Add about 1 cup of chicken broth, to the lemon and the wine. Adjust the lemon to your liking, and add the chicken and veggies, simmer until thick, adjust salt and pepper.
For the angel hair pasta.
Cook following the directions be sure to salt the water, when the water is boiling, add the angel hair - please do not break it up it will melt quickly so no need to do that! Cook according to directions only test it about 2 minutes sooner for al dente. It cooks very quickly.
When it is cooked, drain the water, and put the pasta into a large pasta bowl. Top with the Chicken Picatta, grated romano cheese, parsley and a few thinly sliced lemon slices.
Serve with more grated romano cheese.
These are 2 really easy starters.
If ( and only if!) you have an excellent tomato, chop and mix with a small log of herb coated goat cheese, also chopped finely. Taste for s and p... use any crackers or toasted french bread.
Toast thins slices of french bread , sprinkle with gorgonzola and drizzle with honey. Outstanding!
Another great cookbook which I have recently found is Lauren Groveman's Kitchen - Nurturing Food for Family and Friends. Everything I have tried in this gem has been outstanding. Lots of tips and instructions. A few of my favs - the best pancakes ever! The Honey Roast Chicken is to die for as well as the marinated grilled chix beasts. I am experienced in the kitchen for many years and find little tidbits every time I open this cookbook. Enjoy!
I'm also recently married -- This is my hands down favorite recipe ever(also my new husband's) -- It's an old naked chef recipe and is a crowd pleaser. It's quite easy to prepare, and always yields delicious results.
This is the first thing I made for him, and he still requests it all the time!
SALMON FILET WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO WITH HERBY LENTILS AND SEASONED YOGURT
9 ounces lentils
4 (8-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned and pin-boned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices of prosciutto
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 good handfuls mixed herbs (flat-leaf parsley, basil, and mint), chopped
3 large handfuls spinach, chopped
7 ounces plain yogurt, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the lentils into a pan, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender. Season the salmon fillets with a little pepper before wrapping them in the prosciutto slices. Leave some of the flesh exposed. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for around 10 minutes until the prosciutto is golden. Feel free to cook the salmon for less time if pinker is to your liking. Drain away most of the water from the lentils and season carefully with salt, pepper, the lemon juice and olive oil. Just before serving, stir the herbs and spinach into the lentils on a high heat, until wilted. Place on plates with the salmon and finish with a drizzle of lightly seasoned yogurt.
My mother swears by the "Better Crocker New Picture Cookbook" for people looking to get some basic skills and confidence in the kitchen, and has given it as a gift many many times. Good go-to volume for some classic standards, though It has a kind of retro feel in a lot of ways. (It's not as updated as Joy of Cooking-- though I myself am still using a JOC edition with instructions for dressing squirrels...)
I think the most recent edition has gone back to simply "Better Crocker's Picture Cookbook"
I would definitely recommend a Betty Crocker cookbook. What I heard about this book is that the recipes in it have been tested and re-tested, as written and with just about every possible way a person can misread, mismeasure, or otherwise mess up a recipe, so they're pretty much foolproof.
The Bittman that's been recommended upstream is also an essential.
If you have access to friends and relatives who are good cooks, have them share their best recipes with you. Put them in your computer and make a book, or write them on cards.
In the meantime here's one of my favorites, a wonderful way to cook the ubiquitous boneless skinless chicken breast--something that appeals even to picky eaters.
Cheese-Baked Chicken Breasts
1 c. cheese crackers (about half a 6 1/4 oz. box)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1 tbsp. water
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c. melted butter
Crush crackers to very fine crumbs. Add salt, garlic salt & marjoram (use oregano if marjoram isn’t available). Beat egg and water together. Dip chicken in egg mixture, drain a bit and coat well in crumb mixture. Place in greased shallow pan about an inch apart (sheet cake pan). Drizzle with remaining butter. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.
You can decrease the fat content considerably by greasing the pan with nonstick spray instead of butter and cutting the amount of butter drizzled over chicken in half. You won’t miss the extra fat. You can also get by with the reduced-fat cheese crackers.
I've made this dish 20+ times. It is sooooo easy and the results are beyond belief. As newlyweds I would use this as a Fri/Sat dinnner with candle light, flowers and wine. Finish with something chocolate.
Sole With Leeks And Tomatoes
Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or noodles.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; from 2 medium)
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
1 cup canned vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
4 5- to 6-ounce sole fillets
1. Heat the oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat.
2. Add leeks, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Sauté until leeks are tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add vegetable broth and wine; boil 5 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes with juices. Boil until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Meanwhile, sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Fold each fillet in half; secure with toothpick..
6. Add fish and “braise” about 8 minutes.
7. Transfer fish to plates; remove toothpicks. Top fish with sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
jfood, this recipe really looks like one that we would love, I don't want to change it around but I must use halibut that I have on hand and think that it will work nicely. They are nice little filets that aren't too thick, And I also love mashed potatoes as a bed for a lovely fish with light brothy sauce. I am no too big of a fan of the bay leaf, and will probably use thyme only. The white wine will more than likely be a sauvignon blanc, so I'm going to run pretty true to your recipe and serve with fresh green beans.I like the way you think, chocolate sounds perfect, and I'll make a truffle tart.
I'm anxiously looking forward to a lovely dinner tomorrow night!
Thanks for sharing what looks to be a healthy and tasty dinner and I'll try to remember to post a picture as well...
re: chef chicklet
Go for it. I made changes to the recipe I received as well. I like the thyme idea a lot. I grow it in my spice garden when the ice melts. I think Halibut would do very nicely.
As far as chocolate is concern, it is the universal dessert, and a truffle tart sounds outstanding.
Call me corny, but I do too. I love all their cute little quotes, and ideas for entertaining. I have used their books over and over, and can't remember ever being disappointed. I agree about the Donna Hays prints also, she is just so talented and creative, I can't wait to try some of her recipes as well.
Poochie, do you and your wife like wine? Wine is a great way to bring flavor to a dish. You don't have to be an expert on wine to bring a dish to life. The next time you want to make steaks pick out a red dry wine, a merlot, it doesn't have to be the most expensive one. Ask around or the liquor store attendent. Get a nice cut of meat for steaks, marinade the steaks for 2 days in a red dry wine. Add garlic, fresh or canned, black pepper, and schallots. After the second day, fire up the grill. I like my steak med-rare. Cook to your liking. Serve the wine you used with the marinade and you have a great steak with a great flavor. Do the same with a dry white and use the marinade for chicken or a white fish. Enjoy and Happy Eating.
Buy a junior league cookbook. Wherever you are from, there is a junior league near you that probably publishes a cookbook. Most feature some regional cuisine as well as tried and true standards. It is a perfect way to start cooking. This way, not only are you learning to cook, you are supporting an organization that puts money back into the community. A double bonus.
I spend a lot of time on food blogs (and writing my own) - have you checked any out? The reason is that they are real people trying and eating real recipes with real ingredients from their local store. Plus, the diary style is helpful - people are pretty honest about results.
My favorite one to start is Simply Recipes. A women named Elise and her parents try many, many recipes or make up recipes on a very regular basis. Great photos, easy to use and plenty of tried-and-true ideas. www.simplyrecipes.com
Plus, she has a great resource of other food bloggers who are posting daily or even more often on their real-life food and cooking adventures.
Good luck and congrats on your recent marriage!
My best overall cookbook is the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It has all the staples and charts on cooking times for vegetables, fish, poultry, beef, etc. Nothing super fancy or gourmet but has all the staples you need to get going. I still go to it on occasion for traditional items like french toast and cole slaw.
If you have access to the Food Network TV shows. Watch some of the stuff Alton Brown does. He is very good about explaining the do's and don'ts of cooking, and he has some great ideas on how to keep things simple. Plus it helps that you can see him make the dish as well.
If I see something that I like from his show, I go online to their website and print out a copy of the recipe and add it to my "binder" of recipes.
The standby cookbooks in my house are:
1) How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (although I always find the oven cooking times are too short -- I think Mr. Bittman has a magical oven)
2) The Joy of Cooking (I have the second most recent addition)
3) Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
4) The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (great for entertaining)
5) Jaques Pepin's Techniques (more techinique than recipes, but great when you have a question on how to do something)
6) Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child et al.
Other cookbooks that I enjoy cooking from, but don't use all the time are:
1) The Minimalist Cooks Dinner by Mark Bittman
2) Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffray
3) Simple to Spectacular by Mark Bittman and Jean-Georges Vongterichtem
4) Aquavit by Marcus Samuelssen
There is also a cookbook from Food & Wine called Quick Weeknight Dinners for Two that is out of print. I used it all the time when I was a kitchen newbie. If you could find a copy, it's worth it. It is full menus for your weeknight meals with directions on what task to tackle first, and it really helped me to figure out how to time meals so everything was ready at about the same time.
Finally, I print out a lot of recipes online, and if they are good, I keep them in a recipe scrapbook.
PEPPERED POT ROAST (serves 6)
1 boneless chuck roast, 3 - 3 1/2 lb.
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp whole cumin seed, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant and then crushed in a small blender
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 bunch green onions, including green tops, cut into 3 in. lengths
1/4 cup dry red wine
In a very small bowl, stir together the pepper, cumin and salt. Rub well into the roast with your hands. Place in zip lock baggie and refrigerate overnight. Remove from baggie and lay roast on very large sheet of foil. Scatter the green onions over the top, pour on red wine. Bring up sides of foil and seal roast tightly so no steam will escape while cooking. Place on baking sheet and bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 4 hours. Unwrap; let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Pour drippings over sliced meat.
1 1/2 lb stew beef or veal
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 4oz can diced green chilies
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1 7oz. can mild green chili salsa
1 can beans (kidney or pinto) drained and not rinsed (optional)
4 oz. cubed Mexican Cotija cheese
In a large skillet, cook beef in oil about 5 minutes. Add onions and continue cooking until meat is brown and onions are soft. Add garlic, green chilies and broth. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2-2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Stir in salsa and drained beans(if using). Bring to boil; remove from heat. Stir in cheese until it is melted. Serve over rice. Serves 4.
These leftovers are very good as taco filling!
Kaisgraham...had to write and thank you for the peppered pot roast recipe. i stumbled upon this post yesterday and it prompted me to pull out a chuck roast i'd had in the freezer. my husband just got home from a week of travel and was thrilled with dinner. i'm not a pot roast fan, but this is the best i've ever had. i've arleady sent my mom the recipe and will be serving it for company. i don't know if it's the overnight rub or the cooking in tinfoil, but it was incredibly moist and juicy, and a different texture to the meat than you get from cooking it on the stovetop.
Better Homes & Gardens is a classic. In fact, everyone in my family gets a copy of it when they first move out on their own.
I usually refrain from buying a cookbook until I've tried a few recipes from the chef (you can use foodnetwork.com for a lot of them).
I use a lot of online recipes (just make sure you bookmark them if you use them so you can find them again - conversely, make sure you delete the bookmark if you hated it). I tend to check out epicurious.com and allrecipes.com. Every once in a while I'll venture over to recipezaar.com or another website. As mpalmer6c said, eventually you'll be able to look at a recipe and know if you'll like it. After a while, you'll be able to look at a recipe and figure out how you want to modify it.
I would recommend keeping your portion sizes regulated (if the recipe says it serves four, serve two portions and store two portions) and look to mix some lower calorie/lower fat recipes in there.
pick up an everyday food magazine next time you are at the grocery store. i really like their recipes and they are mostly idiot- proof.
I guess it's my New England roots, but for me the Fanny Farmer cookbook remains my favorite for the basics!
There are two cookbooks I bought recently that are wonderful...so sue me I for watching too much PBS. "Lidia's Family Table" by Lidia Bastianich and "Fast Food My Way" by Jacques Pepin. Both books emphasize family cooking using good ingredients and quick, simple preparations.
I'm going to chime in with a fifth or sixth resounding recommendation to do a roast chicken. I have never really followed a recipe for it, I just turn the oven on, dig out the roasting pan and rack, and wash the chicken inside and out, pat dry and season inside and out (salt, pepper, rubbed sage, thyme...or whatever herbs and spices appeal to you). I stick a few pats of butter under the skin and fill the cavity of the bird with aromatics (quartered lemon, quartered onion, garlic cloves, a carrot and a celery stalk cut into large pieces, and a few whole sprigs of fresh thyme). Stick the whole thing in the oven and keep an eye on it, basting it occasionally when it starts to give off juices, for about an hour or so.
A fail safe method for checking if your chicken is done, is wiggling a drumstick. If it feels like it'll come off with hardly any tugging, the chicken is done. Double check by pricking the bird in a meaty part (like the breast) and seeing if the juices run clear.
I just recently FELL IN LOVE with roasted asparagus because I've run across some beautiful fresh asparagus in the supermarket, and having never really made it before or liked it before can't get over how ridiculously easy it is to prepare. Rinse it off. Snap a few ends off to use as a guide, and cut the rest in about the same place. Drizzle some good olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper, put on a foil lined baking sheet and put in a hot oven (400) for about 20 minutes. Voila.
funny thing, I've always done it in the oven with a chopped shallot & little lemon juice (in addition to the OO, S & P). If I don't have any, I usually steam it. I decided to try it this simple way last night - so good & perfect texture! interesting though, I usually have it 375, I think it came out much better at 400, thanks!
We frequently turn the roasted asparagus into a light supper/lunch/brunch dish by gathering them side-by-side as they cook, topping them with bread crumbs and Parmesan. When browned and crispy, serve topped with fried or poached eggs.
One of my kids referred to it as "embryonic Hollandaise." The runny yolks are a wonderful sauce with the roasted asparagus.
I would go to the library and check out some cookbooks that are recommended and test them out.
Hey, Poochie - I still consider myself a newlywed (married 2 years) and I love the yellow Gourmet cookbook that's been mentioned, as well as Bittman's "How to Cook Everything". I use "The Minimilast Cooks Dinner" and "The Minimilast Cooks at Home" quite a lot for weeknight meals. He has lots of variations on a basic recipe that I find helpful. I also subscribe to Cooking Light magazine and Cook's Illustrated and Bon Appetit - I make the most recipes from Cooking Light because I'm trying to keep us both healthy! Their recipes can be somewhat hit or miss but I can usually tell by reading the ingredients if I will like them or not.
You can bake chocolate chip cookies in a hurry by 1) leaving the chocolate chips out of the dough 2) putting the dough in a greased 8 x 8 cake pan 3) spreading the chocolate chips on top 4) putting this in the oven for five minutes until the chocolate gets melty 5) running a knife through the dough a few times to spread the gooey chocolate through the dough in streaks 6) continuing to bake until done 7) cutting in squares when cool. Saves time of laying out separate cookies, possible baking multiple pans in oven shifts, and there's only one pan to clean afterwards.
Congrats Poochie! Regarding the Gourmet cookbook that was previously recommended: try the Mac and Cheese. It's very good. Just be sure to use Extra-Sharp cheddar. It makes a difference. Oh and leave off the crumbs (or just use a few for the top) the recipe calls for way too many crumbs for my taste.
Also, try "Fine Cooking" magazine. The recipes aren't too exotic and I've gotten some great ones there. You can check them out online at their website. I'll check my files and see if I can find anything tasty for you. Here's a link to one for now: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/33354...
Notice this recipe came from Fine Cooking. I brown the ribs and cook in a crock pot or in the oven. Hope you like it.
I make two suggestions.
We make pita sandwiches as a staple both for ourselves and as an entertainment. Through experimentation we ended up with:
Lamb-- See recipe below-- Goes further and it tastes better if you slice the cubes smaller. There are aesthetic and unaesthetic ways to do this.
Pocket Bread or Lavash (from middleeaster store-- fresh and/or soft/supple is better)
Hummus Tahini (see Roden's recipe below as I use it)
Arugula<- We find that the mild bitterness complements the flavoring well. We usually get bags from "Trader Joe's" and soak 10min, spin dry.
Shatta Sauce from middleeastern store. I've never tried Harissa sauce as substitute, but I've worked in France quite a bit and if I get a "kebab" there the sauce harissa is far more bland, less vinegary than Shatta.
We don't go easy with any of these ingredients. A strongly flavored Hummus suits this.
Some people will throw some of the veg into the sandwich some will not.
Other authentic ingredients can be incorporated, or onions can be added, but this is our basic approach.
We use recipe for lamb shish kebab and hummus tahini from Claudia Roden's cookbook.
2 lb lamb (can reserve the marinade and reuse a second time but I don't typically do that).
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium onions chopped and pureed in food processor
Juice of 1 lemon (we use fresh lemon in california)
2 teaspoons dried rigani
decent amount of salt+pepper
We marinade overnight where possible.
We throw green pepper, onion, tomato into the marinade chopped and place on separate skewers for grilling. These can be done not much in advance since not really marinading in the onion/oil.
Grill it to your taste. Just don't overcook, dry it out.
Make sure you don't have too much onion from marinade left on the meat and veg
1 can chickpeas (S&W brand can)-- drain and reserve liquid
Lemon juice to taste (how much to add depends on the lemons)
3 cloves garlic or more to taste
1/2 cup tahini (if it's been in fridge it may be dense and stronger)
Normally I put little less than these quantities into food processor and adjust each quantity upwards to get the right flavor balance at end (not let the hummus or chickpea overpower; get enough lemon, garlic to give a tang and strong kick). Then I add the reserved juice from chickpeas until get right texture keeping in mind the flavor will become more mild and chickpea-ish as I do so. I use a food processor-- With blender, you have to add some of the chickpea juice earlier to get the right viscosity, avoid burning your motor.
Another good recipe if you are inept at cooking and you are cooking for yourself+1 is the recipe for Greek scampi from one of the Moosewood Cookbooks. You sautee shrimp in garlic+olive oil with little salt not until pink, just short time each side (you should look up cookbook for correct quantities or I can if you need). Cooking that and serving with orzo is very easy as the feta, canned tomato, shrimp, and dill will turn correct pink color and liquidy texture when it is ready, so the things to avoid screwing up are in:
1. selecting ingredients (use a relatively sweet canned diced tomato rather than a very tart one, if recipe says fresh dill, don't substitute a dried) and
2. making sure orzo doesn't over cook (get Barilla and follow the instructions and time on box if you don't know how to cook pasta).
You are mainly enjoying the pasta with the sauce, so the quantity of shrimp is not as significant, you should have enough per plate but not make too much. This is a recipe meant for a standard sized non-stick fry pan. Based on this and experimentation, I don't think this recipe can be scaled to larger volumes easily (would make 2 batches if cooking for 2x the people-- e.g. 2 fry pans same size).
Serve with a Salad. Get Newman's Own dressing if you don't want to experiment with dressings or do a simple vinegrette.
I have always been convinced that this served with a decent Australian Bubbly or Spanish Cava (e.g. Segura Viudas)) or expensive Champagne (Veuve Cliquot) is great for impressing a date. Since my wife is allergic to shrimp we will substitute marinated artichoke hearts, but it's not I think as impressive. When my son goes to college I will teach him to cook this.
Don't know where this came from (my mom sent it to me) but it was an outstanding lentil soup, very tasty and healthy to boot. Makes enough to freeze as well. And if it's as cold where you are as it is here . . .
MOROCCAN LENTIL SOUP
1 cup lentils
6 cups cold water
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced, about 2 cups
1 small carrot, diced, about ½ cup
1 celery stalk, diced, about ½ cup
1 small red or yellow bell pepper, diced, about ½ cup
1 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground (toast it in a small dry pan, constantly stirring or shaking, for a couple of minutes, then put it in a clean coffee grinder or a mortar & pestle. Just don't leave it in the pan, or it'll continue to cook)
½ tsp ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
½ pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1 8 oz can tomatoes with juice, chopped
2 TBSP cilantro, chopped
Sort and rinse lentils and place in a soup pot with the cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium-sized sauté pan and add the onion, ½ tsp salt, and a few pinches of cayenne. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft, 7 to 8 minutes, then add the vegetables, another ½ tsp salt, and the spices. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two. Add the vegetables and tomatoes to the lentils and their broth. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend & deepen. Season to taste with salt & cayenne. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of cilantro.
After cooking for over 40 years for my family, I will add my 2 cents : ) .
I also started my cooking carreer with Joy and Better Homes, so all of the above cooks/chefs offered great suggestions. Just another tidbit, that I didn't take right away. Have fun!!! You will learn tons from lots of sources, and this is one of the best!
1. From Giada:
Penne with asparagus & roasted mozzarella
2. Silver Palate:
3. Ina Garten:
Chicken Stew/w biscuits
Chinese chicken salad
Chicken w/ goat cheese
Roasted veggies w/orzo
And there is a little magazine that I recommend, called Everyday Food.
They even give shopping list, and step by step instructions.
2. Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten's for lovely, expensive dinners.
poochie, here's my favorite pork recipe:
Honey, Mustard and Rosemary Pork Roast
3/4 cup beer (a lager or a pilsner) (could use a good quality chicken stock)
1/2 cup dijon mustard
6 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or sub with 1 Tbsp dried rosemary, crumbled)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 pkg pork tenderloin (2 tenderloins in pkg, I believe it's around 2-3 lbs)
1/2 cup whipping cream
Whisk first 6 ingredients in a 9x13 glass baking dish. Add pork and turn to coat. Marinate at least 4 hours in fridge, preferably overnight. Turn occasionally if possible.
Preheat oven to 350F. Transfer pork to rack set in roasting pan, reserve marinade. Roast until center of meat is 150 F, about one hour. Let stand at room temp 15 minutes.
Strain marinade into heavy saucepan. Add cream and juices from roasting pan. Boil sauce 15 minutes (be careful, it wants to boil over the first few minutes, due to beer and cream). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
And my family's hand-me-down PA Dutch chicken pot pie:
PA Dutch Chicken Pot Pie (I've modified from great-grandma's recipe)
1 chicken (3-4 lbs)
12 cups water
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 Tbsp dried tarragon (or parsley, if you don't like tarragon)
1 stalk celery
1 sliced carrot
1 onion, roughly chopped
Wash chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and tarragon. Place in stock pot with celery, carrot and onion. Add water (should just cover chicken). Bring to boil. Simmer for one hour. Remove chicken from broth and set aside to cool.
When chicken is cool, remove meat from bones and roughly chop.
Combine 2 cups flour and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl. Cut in 2 Tbsp shortening, until the consistency of cornmeal. Add 3/4 cup hot water, stirring to make a soft, but not sticky, dough. Place dough on floured surface, dust with flour and roll very thin. Cut into squares (I usually make mine 2"x3", but cut to whatever size you prefer).
Bring the broth you cooked the chicken in (along with the veggies) back to a boil. Drop dumpling squares into boiling broth and cook for 15 minutes at a rolling boil. Turn off heat, add chopped chicken back to broth and dumplings, let set for five minutes, or just to let the chicken cook through. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.
This soup is always better on the second day, but darn good on day one too. Sorry if the directions are kind of willy-nilly. I cook this from memory...it's one of those recipes that have been passed down without ever writing it down. It's very simple and only takes about two hours, with minimal work.
If you don't want to take the time to make the dumpling noodles, you can substitute in a package of wide egg noodles. It makes it more of a soup, rather than a thick stew, but it's still good as a shortcut.
Another cookbook recommendation I just thought of, one I've made many times before on other threads. This is especially a good one if you're on a budget or just trying to eat simply: the Mennonite Central Committee's More-with-Less Cookbook.
Another thought -- i've been experimenting a lot lately with salad recipes, as I'm trying to eat lighter, and I've been pretty surprised at the inventive salads I'm finding on either epicurious or cooks illustrated. I usually have one ingredient I search for (pomegranates, for instance) and have found some really tasty, impressive things that I would never, ever think of throwing together. It's also pretty easy to add a nice cheese (just added a nice goat bleu to the pomegranate, arugula, toasted pecan one, for instance) or add some grilled chicken to any of them for a main dish. And they are pretty easy to modify.
OH! Two other tried and true meat recipes that are super easy and very very impressive (and nearly interchangeable recipes), pork or beef tenderloins. The biggest difference will be in cooking time because pork tenderloins are generally much smaller, although pork needs to be cooked all the way through, and beef I like a little rare. For pork I usually buy two, because they are smallish, but one is perfectly fine for a dinner for two with no leftovers. That cut of beef is expensive, so it's a special occasion meal.
First step, trim the fat off the loin, and try to remove as much of the silver skin as possible. I usually pinch the silver skin and prick with with a sharp boning or paring knife. Then I try to tear it off, just be careful not to rip the meat.
Rub your prepared tenderloin with crushed garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever herb or spice you like (sometimes I use a little balsamic or citrus - lemon, lime, orange - juice mixed with the oil, rosemary would be great, I like an exotic chili powder blend sometimes, but this is the flexible personal taste portion of the recipe, or even just roll the whole thing in a lot of cracked peppercorns). Be generous with your seasoning so that when cooked it will make a crust, the meat will also brown better. Take a fork and prick the tenderloin all over thoroughly and let sit; you can either refrigerate and leave overnight (be sure to bring to room temp before you cook), or you can let it sit for an hour or so if you're cooking the same day.
When you're ready to cook, first pre-heat your oven at about 375. Put a large, oven proof sautee pan or skillet over medium high heat on the stovetop. The skillet needs to be large enough for two pork tenderloins not to crowd if you're using pork, and large enough that a beef tenderloin isn't hanging over the sides. Add some oil (olive oil if you can move quickly enough before it starts to burn, vegetable oil with a higher smoking point if you're afraid you're not fast enough) and add your meat to a really hot pan. Don't move it at this point even though you'll be really really tempted! Let it sit and caramelize. It'll be smoky and splatter some, but it's supposed to do that. When one side is nicely browned (you can peak after 5 minutes or so), flip it over and brown the other side, it won't splatter as much this time. An absolutely essential kitchen item for this is kitchen TONGS! If you get your tongs along the length of the tenderloin, you can flip with a gentle wrist motion. If you have a really round loin cut (as opposed to a more flat oval) try to brown the "right" and "left" sides of the meat a little too. But if the loin is small, top and bottom should be more than enough. Once the meat is nicely browned, take the skillet and put it in the hot oven.
I do these so often I can tell when the meat is done just by poking it a little with the tongs. I usually don't start checking until after 20 minutes or so. The meat should be firm but with a little give. For pork, the juices should run clear when the loin is pricked with a skewer or a sharp knife. For beef, you'll have to determine how rare you like it, but the clear juice trick won't work if you like it rare! Squeeze the roast gently with your tongs, you really can tell when the meat is done from the give in the meat.
When it's done, let it sit for 10-15 minutes so the juices can redistribute. You can either slice it thinly, or into thick medallions.
These would be great with the roasted asparagus! (And some delicious "smashed," skin on, russet potatoes with buttermilk!)