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Cookbook recipe challenge thread

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apicius9

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I am one of these people who read cookbooks like novels and then put them on the shelf, but I hardly ever take them out and follow a recipe. I kind of absorb ideas and then improvise. But sometimes I think it would expand my horizon to take a good-looking recipe and follow it as good as it can. After all, I am an amateur, and I may be in for surprises or just learn a few things on the way. Right now I have a shelf filled with a few hundred cook books, most of which I haven't looked at in years.

So, here is the challenge: about once a week I want to pick one of my cookbooks, follow one of the recipes as closely as possible, and then report the original recipe here and my impressions of how well it turned out. I will try taking pictures but may not always be consistent with that. Anybody want to join me? I am sure that many of you have a lot of cookbooks that you never really use... I hope that this will be a fun experience, not only to learn things from doing them myself but also from seeing what others pick and what cookbooks they like or don't like. Maybe we can add a short 'review' on the cookbooks we chose. But I don't want to add too many rules, this should be fun. I am sure, some of the contributors here are experienced enough to write their own cookbooks, but I would love to see a mix of pros and enthusiatic amateurs doing this. Let me know what you think, and let's just start posting whenever we get to it.

Stefan
 

DwarvenChef

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I'm game :) I lost cound after the mid 300's and that was a couple years ago.

My cookbook shelf when I lived in the bay area, I have 3 of these now :p and boxes of older books that people have started giving me lol
 

echerub

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Hey, I certainly could use a prod to use my cookbooks more. One new recipe a week? I think I can do that, though I might miss a week here and there. Sure, I'll join Cookbook Collectors' Anonymous :) ... rrr... I mean the Cookbook Challenge :)
 

obtuse

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I'm game :) I've got atleast 60 cookbooks and more on the way.
 

mr drinky

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I'll try it too, but there will be some weeks I just won't be around to cook, so I need several bye weeks. I also don't have enough cookbooks, so I might not have the variety that some of you have.

k.
 

bprescot

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I'm game! I'll work one up this weekend, even. But no pics mid process. Maybe of the end results.
 

mr drinky

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Anyhow, I'm game and going to the store in about an hour. My first cookbook is The Geometry of Pasta. I'll probably choose a few recipes form this one before moving on to another.

k.
 

mr drinky

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Ok, I am starting this off it seems. Today I cooked from the Geometry of Pasta Cookbook, Farfalle Con Ceci e Vongole (Chickpeas and Clams).

I must admit that I have never cooked clams at home and don't really care for clam past that much, but my wife is of the opposite opinion. I didn't have the ditali pasta the recipe called for, so I substituted it with farfalle as suggested.

I will say that out of all the clam pastas I have had, this was one of my favorites, but I did feel the sauce was a bit light on flavor. In the end I added a splash of really good olive oil and a light dusting of pecorino. I know cheese and seafood don't always go together well, but I think it worked with this light sauce and it added some saltiness.

For my knives, I used my new Del Ealy blade and my Carter.

As for adjustments, I used canned chick peas, doubled the amount of clams (littleneck), and used farfalle instead.

Would I make it again? Yes, but I would consider adjusting the sauce a bit. I might add some white wine, a little mustard, maybe lemon zest, and then when combining everything at the end, I would put in a couple slabs of butter to finish. I think that would give it some zing and richness that the sauce lacked.

Here are some pictures.

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k.
 

echerub

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Sounds much better than the hotel buffet fare I had earlier tonight :)
 

apicius9

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Nice, thanks for moving this. I had been thinking about this for a while but I am not yet prepared, gotta go shopping first. I am also not sure that once a week will be realistic, but I will try.

Stefan
 

DwarvenChef

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Got my first recipe up and gathered, now to get pics and all...

I like the pic of the recipe, I'm also going to add a link to the books I choose for those interested in looking up the book themselves.

Good job on the first entry :)
 

mr drinky

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Ok, I said I would be doing more than one from each cook book so here is the second dish -- I don't have 52 cookbooks. Bucatini Al Coniglio All'ischitana.

That is spicy tomato rabbit bucatini to those who don't speak Italian, and it was again from the Geometry of Pasta cookbook. The pasta turned out to be one of the best pastas I have ever made, but the rabbit second course was not that great. Essentially, I used very expensive rabbit for a great pasta sauce -- but it was also worth it even though the rabbit was so-so. The meat dish was tedious to eat and the cooking times left it overdone. I have better rabbit recipes if I want to maximize a rabbit dish.

I also was working handicapped. A freak glass-breaking injury sent me to the doctor today to remove glass shards from one of my fingers. I knew I was in trouble when I felt the glass hit my bone.

After the doctor, I wrapped cellophane around the bandage and hit the kitchen.

Once again, I used my Ealy 240/265 gyuto, though I still had nerve blocker coursing through my fingers, so it was way awkward. It is one thing to have a cut that hurts and another not to feel a good portion of your hand. With that said, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Washing protein was the biggest PITA.

So if I were to change this recipe, I would buy half the rabbit in order to half the price and treat it as a sauce seasoning. And at some point I would try to shred the meat from the bone and incorporate it into the sauce. The sauce was amazing. Spicy tomato rabbit pasta just sounds good.

Pictures below.

k.

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apicius9

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That looks excellent, and thanks for sacrificing yourself inspite of your handicap! ;) I am not a huge rabbit fan, never had it when I grew up and when I finally tried it, it often was dried out or cooked out in a stew. But I do remember a pasta dish with a rabbit ragout/ sauce in a small Italian place that I really enjoyed, this looks very similar.

Thanks for moving this forward. I wasn't feeling great today, went home early and had McD drive-thu dinner. I admit that I am a bit ashamed...

Stefan
 

ptolemy

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Ok, I said I would be doing more than one from each cook book so here is the second dish -- I don't have 52 cookbooks. Bucatini Al Coniglio All'ischitana.

That is spicy tomato rabbit bucatini to those who don't speak Italian, and it was again from the Geometry of Pasta cookbook. The pasta turned out to be one of the best pastas I have ever made, but the rabbit second course was not that great. Essentially, I used very expensive rabbit for a great pasta sauce -- but it was also worth it even though the rabbit was so-so. The meat dish was tedious to eat and the cooking times left it overdone. I have better rabbit recipes if I want to maximize a rabbit dish.

I also was working handicapped. A freak glass-breaking injury sent me to the doctor today to remove glass shards from one of my fingers. I knew I was in trouble when I felt the glass hit my bone.

After the doctor, I wrapped cellophane around the bandage and hit the kitchen.

Once again, I used my Ealy 240/265 gyuto, though I still had nerve blocker coursing through my fingers, so it was way awkward. It is one thing to have a cut that hurts and another not to feel a good portion of your hand. With that said, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Washing protein was the biggest PITA.

So if I were to change this recipe, I would buy half the rabbit in order to half the price and treat it as a sauce seasoning. And at some point I would try to shred the meat from the bone and incorporate it into the sauce. The sauce was amazing. Spicy tomato rabbit pasta just sounds good.

Pictures below.

k.
Wow, this is great. I think I agree with you about shredding the rabbit. Also, maybe worth just buying thighs, which can take longer cooking. I like rabbit meat, i find it like chicken color/texture just more tender and with flavor.
 

Craig

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I've done a recipe very similar to that except you don't reduce it nearly as much. The Rabbit turned out really nice and tender for me, but the sauce produced probably wouldn't make a great pasta sauce. It goes great on cous-cous though.
 

mano

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I'll be posting soon and this is a challenge for those of us who incessantly tweak recipes as they're written.

Not that I've made it a lot, but over the years I learned it's easy to over cook rabbit, venison and other game meats even when slow braised.
 

DwarvenChef

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The Bacon Cookbook










A version of Coq au vin that sounded good, coq au vin always sounds good to me :) and this did not disapoint. I pretty much followed the recipe except that I didn't have peppered bacon so I made my but rubbing the bacon in some cracked black pepper to start.

The Bacon Cookbook has allot of great info about and of the society of bacon lovers :) Not just a bunch of recipes but good info on the world of bacon from all corners of the globe. If you like bacon or just all out love the stuff, this is a good book to get your hands on. My local library has a copy even :) but they can't have mine...
 
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mr drinky

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That looks fabulous. Bacon is good.

k.
 

DwarvenChef

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Got ahold of my daughters camera :) and these where cropped way down lol... /drool...
 

mano

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Mr. D and DChef you're making some great dishes. Is there anything about those particular cook books that appeal to you?

Chicken cacciatore (hunters chicken), braised fennel (I added some leeks), pasta and red gravy, which I made and froze in August and didn't use a recipe. “Adventures in Italian Cooking” was given to me about 35 years ago when I was learning to cook and I still use it regularly.

No plating pictures because I always forget.


[/URL]






 

WildBoar

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Oh no, I'm catching up on KKF a day too late :( Cooked Pork with 'Salsa Genovase' from Lidia B last night. It's a pork shoulder cooked with a bacon and garlic paste, a little bit of carrot, celery and tomato paste, 7 lbs of onions and some stock. Cooks ~3 hours in dutch oven after initial browning; not much work involved after the initial prep. I took a couple pics of the massive pile of onions, but that was about it. Paired it with cheesy polenta.

DC's chicken w/ bacon looks awesome! And I'd be all over mano's cacciatore.
 

DwarvenChef

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My books have accumulated over many years, some when I moved out of my folks place and many more after I went to culinary school. What I look for also evolved over time, currently I look for books on very focused topics that have as much info (if not more) than just recipes on the topic. Sometimes I fall prey to the catchy title and cover lol but on the most part I want something more from a cookbook than just a recipe guide.

The Bacon Cokbook... I love bacon and this book has some great info about bacon from around the world. So when you read a recipe from another country and it calls for bacon you can find out what they call bacon. Outside the US what we Americans call bacon is called Streaky Bacon and is always smoked to some degree. Other countries have a different spin on bacon and the dish will be different if you use a different bacon.

My next recipe will be from a book called "Fat" by McLagan, all about fat as an ingredient... should be interesting :)
 

mr drinky

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That tasty looking fresh pasta by mano might inspire me this weekend, and I have some pesto that I made before the basil froze that will taste great with it.

I have done two more recipes this last week form Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes.

(1) Pasta with Fast Sausage Ragu
(2) Shrimp in Yellow Curry (recipe on two pages)

I'm going to try a couple other recipes from this book, but overall I am a bit underwhelmed by it. They work great as last-minute meals but the flavors (not surprisingly) are either simple or underdeveloped. Frankly, I would rather spend another 15 minutes to develop some more flavor in each dish. I think it would take playing with each recipe a couple of times to adjust them and find the right balance and adjustments.

Also, for the pasta with ragu I would use a different pasta such as a penne or large/medium shell to hold the sauce better. And on the shrimp recipe I would have upped almost everything (ginger, pepper, curry, onion, and garlic) and added some other spices too.

k.

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DwarvenChef

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So busy up till now that I have not had time to get recipes, pictures, and write up done :( However I have been keeping up on my end lol. Once I get my kids camera back I'll get the pics I just took of a roast I did last night.
 

mr drinky

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Same here. I have done a couple more, but I think I am just going to list which ones I have done and just add pictures to any that I find really good.

On another note, I did register for the free account at eatyourbooks.com, which only lets you shelf 5 of your cookbooks. So I just added 5 and did a search for 'lamb' and 157 recipes came up just in those books. I was pretty slick, and I was able to quickly sort through them and find a good recipe for those lamb stewing chunks I have in the freezer.

k.
 
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