Rustic Joyful Food – Generations, a cookbook review

Recently I received a copy of Danielle Kartes follow up cookbook, “Rustic Joyful Food – Generations.”  It’s got the same look as the first book, and the recipes sound very homecook friendly. The chapters are a little different this time around:  

  • Supper
  • Soup and Stews
  • Vegetables and Sides
  • Snacks
  • Breakfast
  • Drinks
  • Sweets

 

The first book had an appetizer section that I feel could have doubled as unintentional lunch prep recipes.  Now that I think about it, I did use it as lunch prep.  I forgot that the spiced hominy recipe I made last time was from the appetizer section.  Meanwhile, the second book feels a lot more like dinner and weekend cooking to me (with a breakfast chapter to make up for the fact that the first book didn’t have one).  I say that because “Generations” feels a bit more indulgent to me.  If I counted right, “Generations” has five recipes that involved deep frying.  I couldn’t find one in “My Heart’s Table.” That’s not necessarily good or bad.  It’s just one of the first things I noticed.

Technically the difference between books is that “My Heart’s Table” focuses more on cooking things from scratch – building up your pantry and your repertoire.  “Generations” focuses on the recipes Kartes grew up on.

Here are the recipes in “Generations” that sound most interesting to me:

  • Stuffed shells
  • Homestyle meatloaf sandwich
  • Herby peas
  • Butternut squash polenta
  • Dilly potatoes
  • Pepita caesar dressing
  • Peas and orzo
  • Cream cheese polenta
  • Rosemary and Parmesan popcorn
  • Cinnamon vanilla ricotta pancakes
  • Chocolate chip and rye pancakes
  • Carrot cake
  • Applesauce Bundt cake
  • Coconut cream lemon bars
  • Walnut pie (with shortbread crust)
  • Peanut butter and jam cookie bars
  • White cake with raspberry jam and coconut

The recipe I ended up making was a one pot recipe for mustard chicken thighs and cauliflower.  (Mostly because I wanted to use some of the mustard I made recently.  My DIY mustard was only just ok so I’m not going to bother writing about it.)  It’s a straightforward recipe.  You make a vinaigrette. You mix the vinaigrette with cauliflower florets and chicken thighs.  Arrange this in a pan and then cover with foil, or put everything in a dutch oven, and you bake.  I went with the dutch oven, and cooked 6 instead of 8 thighs. (The market I went to this time around did not have the thighs packaged in 4 or 8.  In the long run, this was to my benefit as my 5.5 quart dutch oven only had enough space to lay out 6 thighs over the cauliflower.)

10 out of 10, would make again.  I liked the ease of cooking, and the end result wasn’t boring.  My critique of the recipe is minor. The recipe lists 8 chicken thighs but doesn’t specify skin-on/bone-in which is what I think Kartes intended based on the cook time.  The cook time was my other and less small quibble. Had I baked for the full 90 minutes per the instructions, the thighs would have been terribly overcooked. I decided to pull them out 10 minutes early, and even that was still a few minutes too long.  (But not necessarily too long for the cauliflower.  I’m not sure if I want to do any adjustments on that but I did wish my cauliflower had some browning on it.)  And now that I’ve made it, I’ll probably try it with other vinaigrettes and other vegetables.

Overall, I still had fun with “Generations.”  (I’m thinking about making the cinnamon vanilla ricotta pancakes this weekend.  But I’ll halve the recipe probably as I get too impatient when it comes to cooking any kind of pancakes.  I have a habit of chucking the batter in an 8×8 and baking it.)  Michael Kartes’ photos are still very drool-worthy, and the book might be worth it for photos alone.  If you liked her first book, then you should definitely pick up her second one. I’m fairly confident that you’ll like it.

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Sourcebooks for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own. 

Reference Links:

http://www.rusticjoyfulfood.com/

https://www.instagram.com/rusticjoyfulfood/

https://www.sourcebooks.com/

Meal prep kit from Purple Carrot and Whole Foods

I heard about Purple Carrot, the vegan meal prep kit, when Mark Bittman left the New York Times to work for them.

I kept my eye on their recipes, but I generally found that I was only interested in *maybe* one recipe a week.  But my interest in Purple Carrot rose when it was announced that they were partnering with Whole Foods in Massachusetts for meal prep kits available in stores.  It was rolled out in Dedham first (I think… or was it Danvers?) which was nowhere near me.  Then last week, a few more stores were announced including the Whole Foods at Alewife/Cambridge.  Finally!  A location that I could get to a little more easily.

So I went on Sunday.  My choices were:

  • a cauliflower/beets/green beans with orange sauce
  • a pesto pasta with brussels sprouts
  • a tofu dish that I would have gotten if I weren’t mildly allergic to soy (sadly, I don’t remember which tofu recipe it was exactly)

I decided on the cauliflower/beets/green beans recipe because it wasn’t something that I’d normally picked from a cookbook.

In hindsight, I wish I had picked the pesto pasta.

Now, some quick disclaimers:

  • I am specifically commenting on the in-store pick up kit.  I have no experience with the online, full-service meal kits.
  • I was not paid to do this.  I paid for this out of pocket because I was really curious.
  • I am not vegan.  However, I think one can never had enough vegetable recipes in their repertoire.  (Maybe because I know it’s something I need to work on?)

Got it?  Good.

The cost was $20 for the kit (which like many kits is only 2 servings).  This seemed a little high to me since there are no at-home delivery costs.  My only consolation was that there was a $2 Whole Foods coupon on the box to encourage the sale of a new product.

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Ok let's try this

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Unboxing

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The kit I picked up had a moldy beet in it.  ONE MISERABLE MOLDY BEET.  The actual recipe on the website says 6oz of beets, and I’m pretty confident that one moldy beet (which was smaller than my fist) was not 6oz.  I tossed it.

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Well… that's disappointing

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Luckily, I had my own beets…

… which I proceeded to not even use out of laziness more than anything.

Then to add insult to injury, the mildly cheap looking instruction card mentioned parsley in the recipe.  There was no parsley in my kit, just a ton of thyme.  Said instruction card also did not have an ingredient list.  I was just smart enough to google it (which I will link to at the bottom on this post).

Overall impression of the recipe?  Tasty but required too much equipment for a meal prep kit.  Technically, it needed a pan to roast the cauliflower, a pot to boil the beets, and a pan to cook the beans.  Oh, and a small pot for the sauce.

I liked the sauce better than I want to admit.  The sauce was just orange juice, water, cornstarch, brown sugar, and ketchup.  I think that it’s the addition of ketchup rubs me the wrong way.  At any rate, I have more sauce than I need for the cauliflower and the green beans so I’m going to serve with with some baked pieces of chicken.

I am aware that adding chicken will void the vegan-ness of the meal.

Maybe I’ll even throw in the beets by then.

Will I try this again?  Well, I’ll be open minded about it but it’s not the only game in town.**

Oh!  And, fair warning, you might want to measure the ingredients against the original published recipes.  The meal kit gave me almost twice the amount of apple cider vinegar than I needed.

Reference Links:

https://www.purplecarrot.com/plant-based-recipes/cauliflower-l-orange-with-beets-and-fresh-herbs

https://www.purplecarrot.com/plant-based-recipes/kale-pesto-cavatelli-with-crispy-brussels-and-sundried-tomatoes

** = hint, hint… I have another meal prep kit post coming.  Maybe as soon as tomorrow.