For all the recipe searches I do, I’m always surprised when I come across a cookbook author I don’t recognize and said person has an impressive portfolio. Case in point, Tara Teaspoon is coming out with a new cookbook, “Live Life Deliciously”, in October. She used to work for Martha Stewart, and I either don’t remember her or completely missed her tenure there.
The book has a fair mix between familiar favorites (hello, yogurt marinated grilled chicken), and recipes that seem more refreshing. At first, I wasn’t very impressed because I’m tired of those recipes I’m already familiar with.
The booked is divided into:
- The chapters at work
- New pantry staples
- The right equipment
- Bites, dips, and snacks
- Salads, bowls, and dressings
- Side love
- Weeknight routines
- Flavor-inspired dinners
- Meals for gathering
- Morning glories
- Sweets to share
Here are the recipes that I’m personally interested in:
- Tex-mex queso dip
- Mile high buttermilk biscuits
- Raspberry balsamic vinaigrette
- Tangy tomato vinaigrette
- Grilled pineapple and coconut rice
- Ultimate steak rub
- Jalapeno cornmeal waffles with carnitas and crema
- Patsy’s pepperoni pizza pasta with ricotta
- Savory romesco and almond tart
- Whole wheat pancakes
- Vanilla bean buttermilk syrup
- Slow cooker almond and whole grain cereal
- Pistachio cake with yogurt and citrus
- Walnut cake with maple cream cheese frosting
I wasn’t sure what to cook out of this book. Maybe it’s because when the book showed up at my house, Boston was in the middle of a heatwave so I wasn’t feeling strongly opinionated about anything. I probably mulled over recipes for a good two weeks before I finally put myself to work.
Eventually, I picked out recipes based on what I happened to bring home from the market. I made the New York Focaccia Sandwich which in turn has three recipe components: the Parmesan and Herb White Bean Dip, the Oven-Roasted Plum Tomatoes, and the Ultimate Focaccia recipe. To make this a less insane cooking project, I made the recipes over a few days.
The tomatoes came first, and were pretty straight forward. I cut and seasoned some plum tomatoes with oil, salt, black pepper, and dried oregano. Then I slow roasted in the oven. Easy peasy.
The bean dip was a little more intensive, but still easy to execute. I was instructed to cook some white beans with baking soda to soften. Then I processed the beans with garlic, salt, ground coriander, olive oil, sherry vinegar (it should be lemon juice but I did not have lemons on hand), cheese, and fresh thyme into a puree. It was the first time I’ve ever made a bean dip at home, and it was a bit of a revelation.
I think it was the flavor combo that really sold me. To me, the ground coriander was the strongest flavor, and I never considered using it with white beans and cheese before. I was surprisingly impressed.
Now comes the hiccup. I messed up the focaccia. It was totally me and not the recipe. I scaled it down and then gravely misjudged how well the yeast was rising. (It’s also possible I used the wrong yeast measurement.) When all is said and done, I should have let the final rise go longer, and not use the printed timing. BUT! I want to say that there is one thing about the recipe that I didn’t really understand – the step about oil. When you first mix the dough per the instructions, there’s no oil in it. Maybe Tara is going for an autolyse step without calling it autolyse? I’m not sure. It’s only after the first 30 minutes of rise time have passed that you are instructed to add a tablespoon of oil. As far as I can tell, it basically gets folded in. I’ve made focaccia before, and oil is usually mixed in at the same time as the other ingredients. (Note – I’m talking about oil as an ingredient, and not the oil that you use on the pan during cooking.)
But since I failed spectacularly on the bread, I ended up using some store-bought bread that I had stored in the freezer for sandwich construction.
I loved this sandwich. All I could think was, “why don’t I make sandwiches like this more often?” (Eh, probably because of the amount of time involved.) It’s easy to scale down the bean dip and the roasted tomatoes if you want. Personally, I thought the roasted tomatoes themselves made a good side for other meals, so I wouldn’t scale it down too much. The bean dip, on the other hand, is really easy to cut in half. In fact, I recommend doing so unless you’re making this for company.
I felt so bad about messing up the focaccia that I decided to make the Garlic and Sumac Roasted Broccoli with Sweet Dates to redeem myself.
I also liked this. It reminded me that I should add dried fruit to my roasted vegetables more often.
Honestly, my overall results made me like this cookbook better than I thought I was going to. I thoroughly enjoyed how things turned out. Another thing that I like is that most of the recipes have a reasonable size ingredient list. I think a lot of the recipes will be fun to make when Fall comes around and the temperatures inspire me to be in the kitchen more. 10/10 will make again.
Disclaimer – I kindly received a preview from Shadow Mountain for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.
With COVID-19 still in effect, my scope of recipe-testing might be limited. Even though Massachusetts is doing a great job fighting against COVID-19, I’m still trying to stay home as much as possible. So if I’m missing an ingredient on cooking day, I will substitute it.
(This is not the same recipe as the one in the cook but it is similar.)
(book is set to be released Oct. 6, 2020)