Cookbook of the month - for February, of course!

February was a short month, with lots of little obstacles in this way of good cooking and baking, and March is turning into a very busy month, hence I am very late in my post about February's cookbook. Sticking to the theme of celebrity chef's, last month I went with Giada De Laurentiis' Everyday Pasta.

This is my first book by Ms. Everyday Italian, though I have watched the show on a number of occasions. Seeing as my boys all very much like pasta, this looked like a good choice of cookbooks to invest in for a bit more variety.

So far, not so much though. Sure, lots of pasta recipes in this book, alot of them looking quite good to me, but not so much so to the boys, who are a bit more fussy than I am. I like seafood in my pasta, I like variety and different flavors and textures. They like spaghetti with meat sauce.
I decided to start this book out with a big leap into the unknown, with Fried ravioli, page 33. Yes, I deep fried pasta and it was great! This was actually my initial jump into deep frying, and was such a success that it lead to donuts shortly afterwards.

This recipe is very simple and would be great as a starter for company. It is actually listed as a starter, but I doubled it and made it dinner on a Friday night, when we tend to go a bit more casual for dinner. It requires store bought ravioli, buttermilk, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and oil. Heat up a bit of sauce for dipping and you are set!

These little puffs of crispiness were very, very good. And still good reheated the next day.

With the success of the ravioli, I moved on to something a bit more adventurous, Italian Vegetable Soup, page 70, and Parmesan Popovers, found on page31.

I don't know now what I was thinking when I saw this soup recipe and thought it might go over well with the boys. Sure, it has pasta in it, but it also has sliced zucchini and artichokes. Adventurous, yes, disaster at dinner? Also a big yes. Actually, none of us liked it. We did the hands in the table in a fist, one, two, three, thumbs up or thumbs down vote, and every one of us gave it a thumbs down. I gave the entire pot to my neighbor and never did hear back from her on it.

The Parmesan Popovers I think I will need to remake though, just to see if I undercooked them or something. They were a bit denser than I expected, and though they tasted alright flavor wise, they didn't really grab anyone either. My 5 year old liked them dipped in the broth of the soup, and ate two of them. These got three thumbs sideways for iffy, and one thumb down.

It was just not Giada's night.

Oh somewhere in between those two recipes, I made the Spinach Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette on page 49, though I didn't make the Parmesan Frico from page 229 that went with it. And I forgot to take a picture, so very unlike me, because I was busy eating it and enjoying it. My kids aren't big salad fans, but did enjoy the flavors of the dressing and the oranges. They also like raw spinach because they like the shape of it, looking like leaves.

So not having had a major success with my last attempt, I decided to move on to something a bit simpler and try the recipe for Basic Marinara Sauce on page 224. Yup, it's basic. Plain, simple, basic sauce. A bit sweet, sweeter than I like, but then it really is a basic sauce with not very many ingredients and no extra seasoning. The 5 year old loved it though, asking for more sauce on his pasta, something he has never done before.

Unfortunately I did not have time to try the Arrabbiata Sauce (page 225) that used this basic sauce as part of it's base, but I will have to go back and try it.

My final attempt at the book, before the month ran out, was very adventurous for my guys: Pork and Lemon Orzotto (page 198), with Sauteed Spinach with Red Onion, page 58. A bit too adventurous. I'd forgotten that they didn't like orzo, to start. Nor do they really like risotto, which this orzo was imitating. So two strikes against it before I even started. This dinner was obviously not going to go down as one that everyone liked.

The pork was moist and flavorful, with a nice citrus tang from the dressing. The orzotto, it was okay, though I found the same dressing that worked well with the pork was over kill on the orzo. And it made way too much for me, seeing as I was the only one eating it.

The sauteed spinach with red onion, well it was just spinach and red onion, something I like and my husband tolerates from time to time, but nothing special. Maybe Giada gets better spinach than I do? I dunno, but she and her husband must eat alot of it, as I halved the recipe and there was plenty for us.

As expected after my January try at this, I'm never going to find one cookbook that has nothing but recipes that everyone likes. Heck, even Dorie makes recipes that I know the family won't eat (and that is almost heresy to say!) So I was a bit disappointed in the failures, but also happy with the successes. And I still have at least two more recipes to try, one of which was on my menu plan at least 4 times during February, Rigatoni with Sausage, Peppers and Onions, page 95, but was never made because sometimes life sucks! And sometimes, despite a meal plan and grocery list built together, you still miss an important ingredient or two.

One thing this experience of trying a new book each month is doing is allowing me to explore the cookbooks I own for actual cooking, instead of just pleasurable reading material. It is letting me test the boundries of what the boys will and will not eat, though they have all been very cooperative to try anything out that I am testing for this. Not as cooperative as Freddy from The Great Big Vegetable Challenge, but still cooperative.

It is part way through March now, where I am having more opportunities to cook from this months book of the month, but still owing a post or two about the life of Marvin, my friendly sour dough starter. In the meantime, my little guy is about to ask for breakfast, and Bob is on standby for making a cake to go with dinner tonight.

Btw, on a totally different bent, and speaking of Bob, I have found that Bob has a face. My lovely little 300W KA Standmixer, in his black jacket, has been a fixture on my counter since he came into my home, but recently I discovered the face that goes with him. Yes, Bob is also a wizard. He just doesn't live in a skull.


Thistlemoon said...

Nothin' like fried ravioli! yeah, Giada's tastes are a littl more adventurous than what people are normally acquanited with when it comes to Italian food - especially small children! But at least you are introducing them to new flavors - even if they don't quite like them yet! :)

Cakespy said...

Oh my, that ravioli looks FANTASTIC! Have to try this cookbook I think.

Peabody said...

I own this book. I like what I have made so far. Though I must say I now really want to make the ravioli.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Fried ravioli!! Oh I have to try that. I had the book in my hands a while back but put in down for something else instead. Now I am wishing I had bought it.