Cookbook Review: Without Reservations.
I know I'm not alone here. Getting a new cookbook is like receiving an un-birthday present.
I get the book, and I grab a pack of sticky tabs. I run through the recipes, affixing a tab to each page that catches my fancy. I have hundreds of cookbooks that are sprouting neon colored rectangles.
I have noticed, lately, that I've become a bit more discerning with tabs. I still get that 'thrill', but it's possible I've seen one recipe too many. So these days, I have to really like it, really be impressed, to pull off that pink or green piece of self-adhesive.
When I got my hands on a copy of Without Reservations by Joey Altman, I prepared for the usual routine.
New pack of sticky tabs, a little 'me' time, and off we go.
This is a well laid-out book. Easy to read, easy to find things...and while not every recipe has a photo, there are plenty.
I went through every recipe, yet only found about a dozen or so that jumped up and down and yelled 'look at me'.
Like Chinese Chicken Salad and Grilled Steak Texarkana Hand Rolls, or Sweet & Spicy Watermelon Salad.
In the book's defense, there are a fair number of seafood recipes, which we simply do not do. Matt eats salmon, a little tuna now and then, but that's it. Until they come out with meatless fish sticks, no seafood for me.
I made three dishes. One was a big hit. The other two were really good. While I liked his style, I felt a bit of frustration at the recipe-within-a-recipe format. You know, you see a recipe you want to make, glance at the ingredients only to see that to make it, you need to first make at least two separate recipes. Second only to 'meanwhile' in annoying cooking instructions.
That aside, the results were pretty good.
Spicy Lamb Sliders with Cilantro-Cumin Yogurt Sauce
I get kind of icked out by dealing with lamb, so since this was for Matt anyway, it was all his to make.
I can't say much about this. I didn't make it, and certainly didn't eat it. But Matt? Really liked it. A lot. I mean, really a lot. The recipe makes about 20 tiny burgers, and he ate...oh, six or seven that first night. They were a happy left-over for lunch that week, too.
Onions, pine nuts, garlic (our usual replacement for cilantro) parsley are cooked up. Mint, oregano, cumin, chili powder and cayenne are added in.
Ground lamb, pork and feta are mixed up, the onion mixture is added, formed into patties and baked. Yeah, baked. Save some calories there.
Serve on small pitas with a sauce of yogurt, cumin, garlic & (see above) parsley. Marinated onions are part of it, but he wasn't interested.
Hugely successful, in Matt's opinion.
Joey's Huevos Rancheros
Matt is immensely fond of huevos rancheros, so this was an obvious choice for us.
Deceptively simple. I say that because this is one of those recipes-within-a-recipes.
Refried beans, tortillas, shredded cheese, eggs. However, it also called for a Ranchero Sauce and a Cumin-Lime Cream.
They, themselves, weren't difficult. It was just a case of 'one more thing...'.
Spread one tortilla with refried beans, another with cheese. Grill till cheese melts, top one with another, grill till crunchy (grill marks). Cut into wedges, top with the ranchero sauce, the eggs (calls for poached but I prefer them fried), and finally the cumin-lime cream.
Good stuff. Filling. Oh, man. Seriously. I could barely finish it. Interesting flavor combinations. Rich beans and cheese, spice from the sauce, tang from the cream.
Pimento Chicken (or Veat) with Piquillo Pepper Sauce
This is one I'd been looking forward to.
Chicken (or some meat substitute) marinates in a spice mixture of olive oil, garlic, paprika, salt, cumin and pepper. Bake (the recipe calls for bone- and skin-on thighs, which we have the worst time finding), serve with a nice sauce of garlic, paprika, piquillo peppers, toasted almonds, lemon juice and crackers ground up in a food processor.
It was a good sauce, but it was a quite a bit of effort.
Served with roasted potatoes and a simple salad, it was a good meal.
Without Reservations is a nice book. There's some really interesting options; some 'basic', others more exotic. I can't say it'll become my favorite, my go-to book. But there's still a good number of recipes with sticky tabs marking them...
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Tagged with: Food and Drink + Lamb + Burgers + Tortillas + Legumes + Eggs + Cookbooks + Chicken + Sauce + Cheese + Pita + Sliders