Recently I’ve been thinking about my cookbooks. I have quite a few. I’m sure not as many as some people, but probably at least 25. A few are sentimental: the cookbook my mom made of all my Great Grandma’s recipes after her death and the Texas cookbook given to me by a dear friend who later passed away from ALS.
Others though, well…they’re just there. You know how it is; there’s probably one recipe in a book that I might need once a year. Some cookbooks I really wanted at the time and then I looked through them, marked some recipes and put them back on the shelf. I do the same thing with cooking magazines.
Well NO LONGER. Yesterday I decided that if I was going to have these cookbooks then I would use them. I grabbed 2 off the shelf to flip through during the “Colbert Report” last night and all I can say is that I’m sorry I didn’t do this sooner. So every few weeks I’ll focus on a different cookbook from my cupboard so that you can see what’s been hiding in there all these years.
First up: Rachel Ray’s Express Lane Meals.
(um, thanks Amazon…)
I used to love love love watching Rachel Ray. She’s cute, perky and has some interesting ideas on getting good food on the table fast. But after several cookbooks I began to tire of her and so, this one got ignored. After flipping through it last night and again at lunch I can tell you it’s made me rethink some things.
1. The “stocked pantry”: Now, I’ve always made sure to keep pasta, chicken broth and a few other staples on hand. Still, after looking over the very specific Master List at the front of this book I realized I have room for improvement. So I sat here on my lunch break and made a list of items I needed to purchase in order to have everything on the “master list.” It’s nothing bizarre unless you don’t like anchovies (they are fabulous in pasta sauce) or canned salmon. Let’s face it though: with those two, some parmesan and a box of pasta you’ve just made a great dinner. I’ll be keep my pantry fully stocked from now on.
2. The book is divided into 3 sections: the first for folks who are so tired a box of mac-n-cheese sounds great for dinner, a second section for when you’ve at least got enough energy to lean on the stove, and a third for nights when you can multi-task. This is great. For super fast dinner nights I can flip right to the beginning and for nights like tonight, when I’ve got more time, I can head to the back of the book.
3. For every recipe she has a little list of what you’ll need to pick up at the store. Never more than 10 items (express lane) and then she reminds you to have ingredients from your master list/stocked pantry on hand. Some recipes are made completely from master list ingredients so there’s NO shopping involved at all. I have a tendency to shop on my lunch break though, so running in to grab 1 or 2 items is ok with me.
4. So over the next few weeks I plan to make the following from Rachel’s book:
Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta) and Spinach with White beans
Spinach Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini
Smoked Paprika Chicken with Egg Noodles
Turkey Sausage Burgers with Peppers and Onions
Fish Tacos with Avocado Dressing (we make fish tacos quite often, but I’m intrigued by her avocado dressing)
Double Dipped Buttermilk Chicken Fingers with Spinach Salad and Blue Cheese Dressing
Smoky Chipotle Chicken Corn Chowder
My plan is to keep you posted on how these go and then move on to the other cookbook I grabbed last night: Tyler Florence’s Tyler’s Ultimate.