Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook, a book review

Did you know the average rotisserie chicken has 4 cups of meat on it?  This is a thing I learned from “The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook” by Toby Amidor.  I think it’s a fun cookbook.  The whole premise is focused on buying a rotisserie chicken, breaking it down, and using it for a variety of recipes.  Some of the recipes seem obvious, while others are recipes I would have never thought of.

Every recipe has a key for less than 5 ingredients, 15 min or less, freezer friendly, meal prep, and/or or one pot/pan.  Depending on your cooking style, this is really handy information.  The breakfast, appetizers, and snack recipes come in a variety of serving sizes, but it seems like all of the entree recipes are made to serve 4, so it’s fairly easy to reduce the serving size to 2 if need be.

The chapter breakdown is:

  • Breakfast
  • Appetizers and snacks
  • Soups and sandwiches
  • Salads
  • Easy Mains
  • Even easier mains
  • Everyday sides
  • Dressings, sauces, and condiments

 

Things to I want to try:

  • Not Your Mama’s Chicken and Waffles
  • Simple Cassoulet Soup
  • Mulligatawny soup
  • Grilled apple, gouda, and chicken panini
  • Cajun chicken melt
  • Loaded chicken pasta salad
  • Brussels sprouts salad with chicken, cranberries, and pecans
  • Chicken parmesan casserole
  • Chicken and mushroom baked risotto
  • Easy chicken and sausage paella
  • Garlic smothered chicken
  • Chicken loaf
  • White bean and chicken chili
  • Herbed chicken meatballs
  • Skillet balsamic chicken
  • Cranberry almond farro (from the sides chapter)

 

The biggest challenges I had with this book?  I only had about a cup of chicken with which I could use for recipe testing, and I had to cook from my pantry.  (My location is under quarantine advisory at the time of working on this post.)  That’s pretty much it.  The recipes themselves all seem friendly for everyday cooking, and nothing looks intimidating.

 

There were a handful of recipes that fit my ingredient restrictions, but in the end, I kept coming back to Amidor’s recipe for chicken almond soup.  The published recipe calls for slivered almonds, chicken broth, almond butter, oil, leek, butter, flour, rotisserie chicken, frozen peas, unseasoned rice vinegar, dried tarragon, dried thyme, salt, and pepper.  I had to forgo the slivered almonds.  Then, I made two minor substitutions.  I used onion instead of leek.  I technically ran out of thyme and tarragon, so I used an equal amount of herbs de Provence, since it has both thyme and tarragon in the blend. 

I loved how easily this came together.  It also smelled really good while cooking.  The almond flavor is subtle but complements the herbs.  I imagine that if you didn’t want to use chicken, you can easily use cannellini beans instead.  Button mushrooms might work well too, but I think cremini or portobello might be too distinctive for this recipe.

Oooh, this might work lovely as a side dish if you omit the chicken completely and add something like butter lettuce.  (Yes, I cook my lettuce sometimes.  In the right applications, it’s delicious.)

But even as I’m pondering chicken substitutions, I love the recipe as is.  The chicken almond soup is going into my cooking repertoire.  I just want to let you know that even if you’re not a fan of eating chicken, you don’t need to disregard this book.  The recipes all sound flexible.

I’m already looking forward to getting my hands on more chicken.  It doesn’t have to be rotisserie chicken from the store either.  Honestly, I’m in a mood where I want to roast whole chickens at home.  And as the weather gets warmer in New England, I’ll probably pull out my slow cooker instead.  But as I’m a regular meal prepper, I expect to get a lot of use out of this book.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Previously, I was unfamiliar with Toby Amidor, but she’s written five cookbooks already, two of which are meal prep books.  “The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook” is her sixth.  I guess I have more reading to do in the near future!

 

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

With COVID-19 self-quarantine in effect, my scope of recipe-testing was limited.  Some modifications may have been made.  I apologize that I could not recipe-test better.  

 

 

Reference Links:

http://www.robertrose.ca/

https://tobyamidornutrition.com/ 

http://www.robertrose.ca/book/best-rotisserie-chicken-cookbook-over-100-tasty-recipes-using-store-bought-bird 

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/

Atsuko’s Japanese Kitchen, a cookbook review

If I had to name a cookbook that both embodied home cooking and simple elegance, it would be Atsuko’s Japanese Kitchen by Atsuko Ikeda.  It’s the reason why I was looking forward to this review.

Back when I first started to cook, I was drawn to Japanese cuisine.  Shabu shabu, Japanese curry, miso soup with a proper dashi, etc. were the things I was trying to make in my home kitchen.  Somewhere, I stopped cooking Japanese food (with the exception of the occasional nabe). I’m not sure why. Maybe because it stopped feeling new to me?

But Ms. Ikeda does an excellent job of taking those familiar Japanese dishes and adding a modern flair, taking a familiar homemade dish and giving it a breath of newness.  Some examples are:

  • Smoked mackerel and dill onigiri
  • Mushrooms with blue cheese, yuzu ponzu, and truffle
  • Molten eggs with lightly seared marinated steak (molten eggs seem to be jammy eggs)
  • Mushroom and soy milk soup

 

That isn’t to say that there are no traditional recipes in this book.  For a few days, I couldn’t decide whether to test out her chicken and eggs on rice (oyakodon) recipe, or her beef and potato stew (nikujaga) recipe.  (And then I chose neither for this review.)

The book is divided into fairly standard chapters:

  • My Japanese kitchen
  • Regional Dishes
  • The secrets of Japanese cuisine
  • Small dishes for sharing
  • Soups and Noodles
  • Easy one-plate meals
  • Special occasion meals
  • Sides and Dressings
  • Desserts

 

The recipes I’m interested in making that I haven’t named already:

Glazed lotus root and chicken meatballs – I was introduced to this recipe years ago, and I may have lost the recipe.  I love renkon (lotus root) and you don’t see this stuffed renkon recipe in English written cookbooks often.

  • Ceviche-style scallops with citrus sauce – On paper, it reminds me of a dish from Tyler Kinnett, Executive Chef at Harvest (one of my favorite restaurants in the Greater Boston area).
  • Chicken in nanban seasonings with tartar sauce – Somehow, I never heard chicken nanban until recently.  It’s apparently the Japanese version of sweet and sour chicken.
  • Fried and steamed salmon in miso garlic sauce – The photo for this recipe really appeals to me.  It’s listed in the special occasion meals chapter but the ingredient list isn’t daunting, nor are the instructions.
  • Pumpkin salad – Kabocha squash, Japanese mayo, Greek yogurt, raisins, and almonds.  It sounds intriguing.
  • Azuki bean paste pancake sandwiches – It never occurred to me to make my own dorayaki.  I love red bean desserts!

 

And a shout out to the photographer, Yuki Sugiura.  Every recipe is accompanied was a gorgeous photo to inspire!

For my review recipe, I ultimately picked the chicken teriyaki with lime.  (The recipe serves it over quinoa rice, but it’s been hot here in the Greater Boston area so I chose not to cook another dish.  I ate it with store bought naan, and salad. I’ll make the rice next time.) I like Japanese teriyaki but I just never make it at home, but I was really curious how the lime matched the dish.

Aside from the chicken and the lime, I had all of the ingredients in the recipe.  (Full disclosure, I swapped the leeks with onion.) It was easy to make, so I can vouch that it’s a perfect dish to make at home.  Ms. Ikeda claims “after trying this recipe, you might never purchase ready-made teriyaki sauce again.” I’m inclined to agree! I thought this was delicious!  And the touch of lime elevated the recipe from being boring and ordinary.

If you’re interested in Japanese food, or if you’re looking for some new ideas that can be used for everyday cooking, I highly recommend this book.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I wasn’t. In fact, I think I’ll make the fried ginger pork for dinner this weekend.

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

 

Reference Links:

https://rylandpeters.com/products/atsukos-japanese-kitchen?_pos=2&_sid=d98f195e2&_ss=r

https://www.atsukoskitchen.com/

The Easy Asian Cookbook, a cookbook review

True story:  Despite my love for all kinds of Asian food, I rarely cook any at home.  Also a true story: I love using my slow cooker.

(No, I haven’t jumped on the Instant Pot train yet, and I’m not sure if I ever will.  In the meantime, I really want to experiment with an air fryer. I will take sponsors.  lol!)

But if I can cook Asian food in a slow cooker, will I make it more often?  

If I’m to go by the recipe offerings in The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers by Nancy Cho, the answer might very well be a resounding yes.

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There are so many pros about this book in general.  The author hasn’t confined herself to just Japanese, Chinese, or Korean dishes.  Sri Lanka, India, and the Philippines are also represented. There’s per serving nutritional information listed.  It’s pretty basic information, but if you just want the calories, total fat, protein, carbs, fiber, sugar, and salt info (which is what most people want), it’s there!  There’s also general allergy information at the top of each page like nut-free and gluten-free.

The book is divided into these chapters:

  • Asian Slow Cooker 101
  • Rice and Noodles
  • Soups and Stews
  • Curries
  • Vegetables and Tofu
  • Chicken
  • Meat
  • Dessert
  • Side Dishes and Salads

 

The recipes I want to try most:

  • Mushroom jook (kudos to the author for using the word “jook” as it appeals to my Cantonese heritage)
  • Black bean sauce noodles
  • Pumpkin soup (has ginger, curry, and cream in it)
  • Lentil soup (Indian inspired)
  • Red lentil curry (Sri Lankan inspired)
  • Filipino chicken curry
  • Simmer pumpkin

 

The recipe I decided to start with was chicken lo mein because I was missing my mom’s version, and the book’s version sounded like it might be close.  It’s got chicken thighs, chicken stock, garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, white pepper, bok choy, shallots, red bell pepper, scallions, cornstarch, and store bought lo mein noodles.

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Mess in place

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I made the recipe as closely as possible.  Ultimately, I had to cut back on the shallots and scallions, and replace the bok choy with napa cabbage.  I also had to make the noodles separately the day after making the sauce and chicken, because of time (but also because someone… aka me… forgot to pick up noodles earlier that day).

Overall impressions, the sauce is really good.  It’s a bit salty on its own, but once mixed with the noodles, it’s perfect.  It does remind me of something my mother might make. The chicken was also really good.  I’ve made some Asian inspired sesame and garlic chicken in the slow cooker before that I wasn’t totally won over by.  This one? I’m happy to make it again in the future.

But!!! There’s a lot of sauce and noodles in this recipe!  I think I could scale down both and up the amount of veggies.  That’s just me nitpicking, and me trying to cut down on the amount of simple carbs I eat.  For other people, the sauce-chicken-veggie ratio might be perfect. I’m not that person though.  I ended up adding more veggies as I needed to when I ate a serving. And because it made a lot, it was a good meal prep option for dinner this past week.

I am definitely recommending this book if you want to make more Asian flavored dishes and/or want to experiment with your slow cooker.  I was more than satisfied with my first recipe attempt.

(Sorry I don’t have a flip through video of this cookbook – the copy I have is a .pdf file, not a hard copy.)

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

shiso/wine/soy sauce chicken with steamed veggies

As for last week’s CSA, I steamed my baby turnips and kohlrabi. I peeled the skin off the kohlrabi but I should have peeled a little deeper. It was quite fibrous and hard to chew. Flavor-wise, the two veggies are very similar: very clean tasting and a sweet. I preferred the turnips over the kohlrabi. The turnips were very delicate in texture, while the kohlrabi probably could have steamed a minute or two longer. In addition to being more fibrous, the flavor of kohlrabi seemed duller to me.

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