This is a guest post from KatieRose McEneely, a fellow culinary experimenting friend from college. She is a fantastic artist who created the paper cuts of a cow, sheep, and pig that currently hang above our couch. Thanks for joining in the challenge, KatieRose!
If you want to join the Cooking the Books challenge, see the details at the bottom of this post.
1. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman
Recipe: Caramelized Squash with vinegar
- Butternut squash, cubed
- balsamic vinegar
- onion, minced
- garlic (omitted)
- salt and pepper
- rosemary, fresh and minced
I made the balsamic and rosemary variation–the original recipe uses sherry vinegar and chili powder. I didn’t take a photo, but it looks like cubed squash in a dark sauce, so.
Why I tried it: I had all of the ingredients and the cooking method was unfamiliar to me (it’s Vietnamese in origin). Plus, I thought I’d have a fighting chance of more than one member of the household giving it a taste.
It is technically not a one-pot meal, so I served it with a green salad and risotto, per Bittman’s recommendation.
Result: Real talk: would never make this again. The first step consists of making caramel, then adding vinegar and water to dissolve the caramel (and perfume your kitchen with the scent of hot vinegar, which was met with protests from other members of the household). Then, add the onion and cook until softened; add cubed squash, cover and steam for three minutes, then cook uncovered until squash is tender. Finish with the spices and cook a bit longer, until the sauce thickens.
I really liked the texture of the squash–I usually default to roasting it–but the flavor was much too sweet, and the rosemary was not discernable, despite adding a full tablespoon. Also, I question the nutritional value of a vegetable dish that contains more sugar than the following recipe, which is a dessert.
2. Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-hearted Bakery in Detroit, Lisa Ludwinski
Recipe: Coconut Sweet Potato Pie
Why I tried it: I love pie (and I’m a huge fan of the Sister Pie cookbook), but I generally don’t enjoy custard or squash pies, possibly because I am lactose intolerant. This recipe has a very small amount of dairy, and uses full-fat coconut milk for the bulk of the liquid.
The recipe is available in full in many places, but here’s a link to it on Wisconsin Public Radio.
Result: Well, I’m converted. The pie is delicious; a faint coconut flavor, a smooth texture accented by the toasted unsweetened coconut garnish, and it’s not milky at all. It also baked in the time given in the recipe, but I attribute that less to the recipe and more to the fact that I finally bought an oven thermometer.
3. The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie, Paula Haney
I’ll note that I did make an additional new-to-me recipe on Jan. 30; it was Hoosier Mama’s apple pie, from the eponymous cookbook, which I also own. (If you like pecan pie, her recipe is superlative.)
Look, I’ve made a lot of apple pies in my time, and this was the taskiest of them all (and the first to omit cinnamon!). Never have I pre-cooked the drained liquid from the apples, let it cool, chilled it further, and then incorporated it to the rest of the pie filling. I’ve eaten this recipe before, because it’s delicious, and the result was great.
I’m of two minds: I make pie because I have things lying around that can go into a crust, and most of the time I’m winging it. But the final product here is very consistent, and my dad really likes it. It might be a game-time decision (and on the plus side, it baked more quickly than my usual method, which involves piling apples into a shell and baking until the filling reaches the set temperature for jam).
All told: this was fun! My sister and I have an agreement to try at least two new recipes per month, so it was a good jump-start. I’m fortunate in that my cookbook selection is small and I’m pretty good about using them, but I’m a librarian, so I have a lot of access to new titles without committing to a purchase.
Thanks for the invite!
If you want to join us in the Cooking the Books challenge, send your posts to email@example.com! I’ll guest post them here on Cook Like Chuck. Here are some guidelines:
- Send me a decent photo of the book to use as the featured image
- Send me photos of the meal you cooked
- Write a little bit about the book, why you chose it, and how the meal turned out
- Send me a photo of the recipe
Let’s dust off those cookbooks and put them to use this year.