Monday, March 7, 2011

First Attempts

I have to admit that I was somewhat skeptical....ok no that’s a lie, let me try again. I was definitely skeptical when the cookbook club voted on the new book. I have no idea why, I had never tried Cooks Illustrated before so I really had no legitimate reasons for my biases. But here are the words I rarely say, unless they are completely true: I WAS WRONG! This book is amazing! Thank you Cooks Illustrated! Here are the first dishes I attempted:

Skillet Chili Mac- For my first recipe, I was so overwhelmed by the number of recipes that I just opened the book & where ever it opened that is what I cooked. I made the sub-recipe: Skillet Chili Mac with Corn & Green Chiles. I also added ½ tsp red pepper flakes & used habanero cheese. The only thing I would suggest for this recipe is to decrease step 3; 1 cup of cheese is plenty- there is no need to add a 2nd cup. I would put a bowl of cheese on the table & if someone really wants to add a little more they can, but I think a single cup of cheese was way more than enough. But the recipe was really fast, and I finished within 30 minutes & even had time to unload & reload the dishwasher! Quick Maple-Glazed Pork Chops- I thought the pork chops were very tasty, though a little on the sweet side. They had a gourmet & ritzy flavor. I paired the pork chops with rice pilaf & peas. Very quick & easy! Skillet Tamale Pie- This was beyond delicious! Phil & I both agreed that this was our favorite recipe thus far. The seasonings melted together for an extraordinary burst of flavor with a delicious aroma. The cornbread topping was the easiest way to get that traditional tamale taste without killing yourself for it. For the cheese, I substituted 1 cup of cheddar for ½ cup cheddar & ½ cup habanero cheddar. I didn’t want to waste my left over cilantro from another dish, so I served the extra on top with the sour cream. I am 100% sure that I will make this dinner again. Spanish-Style Chicken & Rice- This was another quick favorite in our house. Some variations that I made to the recipe were: hot Italian sausage instead of chorizo, tumerick instead of saffron, & added 1 ½ cups of water to step 3 (when cooking the chicken & rice.) Phil also suggested adding some mushrooms, which I think I will do next time. This was really delicious & I’m still shocked at how fast it was to make. Salmon & Couscous Skillet Supper- This was ok, but I don’t think I will make it again. I used salmon steaks, omitted the lemon zest (which I’m glad that I did because it was already a little too citrusy<-- is that a word?), & added a cup of frozen peas. I will say that step 4 (toasting the fish) is the most important & really adds a lot of flavor to the fish. And as a precautionary tip, on step 5 really be careful to stir the couscous frequently (I don’t think high heat is really needed, but if you do use high heat be sure to stir) I also made some Baked Cup Custard from my new book by Mrs Foose (not associated with the cookbook club). Never having had custard like this before I have nothing really to compare it to, but I thought it was pretty good. It was a little bland, & I don’t think I would make it again, but it was decent.Alright that’s all I tackled this week, now onto a new week of recipes. Have a great week y’all!

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