Saturday, February 07, 2009

Cookbook Casting Call: Report Card for The New Basics and A New Week's Book and Menu

When last we saw our intrepid hero she was buried under several tons of blueprints...And basically she still is but decided all work and no play makes Jill a very dull girl so she's taking the weekend off before jumping back into fray.

Since we took a small break last week from the Cookbook Casting Call, let me refresh your memory about the book we were looking at two weeks ago. Our cookbook that week was The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

Cookbook Casting Call Week 3 Book: The New Basics Cookbook

This is the follow up cookbook to their highly successful Silver Palate series. This was our proposed menu for that week:

Menu for 1/25 - 1/31: Week Three of the Cookbook Casting Call and Winter Pantry Plan

Sunday 1/25:
Dinner: Tuscan Pork Chops* with Savory Mashed Turnips (From McCall's Coast-To-Coast Cooking )
Dessert: Kay's Cookies* with Vanilla Ice Cream

Monday 1/26:
Lunch: Tuna Salad with Grapes & Eggs*
Dinner: Cream of Tomato Risotto* with Garlic Toast

Tuesday 1/27:
Lunch: Leftover Risotto with leftover rotisserie chicken (in freezer)
Dinner: Market Street Meat Loaf*
Dessert: Blueberry, Raspberry, and Strawberry Cobbler*

Wednesday 1/28:
Lunch: Leftover Tuna Salad with Grapes & Eggs on a bed of spinach
Dinner: Tuscan Chicken* with Marinated Mushroom Salad (From McCall's Family-Style Cookbook ) and Wartime Wednesday Oatmeal Bread.

Thursday 1/29:
Lunch: Leftovers - Meat Loaf Sandwich with Marinated Mushroom Salad
Dinner: Thrifty Thursday - Oven Baked Chicken Hash (From 1959 Good Housekeeping Cookbook) with Stracciatella*

Friday 1/30:
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Movie Night Out with Friends

Saturday 1/31:
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Baked Winter Squash Soup* with Julia's baguette

There were a few changes mid-week as my work schedule ramped up. Tuesday's Market Street Meat Loaf became the Not So Sloppy Joe

Not So Sloppy Joes from The New Basics

mostly because I only remembered to pull the ground pork out of the freezer and not the ground beef. I have to say, I was quite impressed with the taste of these and the use of ground pork. I'm a sucker for sloppy joes. I can't wait to try this recipe with ground turkey or chicken.

Another change was the Tuscan Chicken became an adaption Bobbie's Chicken

Bobbie's Chicken from The New Basics

with a boneless chicken breast instead of a whole chicken.

Part of this change was after having the Tuscan Pork Chops earlier in the week, I wasn't ready for a return to the same flavors. A huge part of this change was getting home from the office after 7pm that evening and wanting something quick to make versus a bit more involved.

All in all, I would rate my week with the two ladies from the Silver Palate as a B.

A few dishes were solid A's: the aforementioned Bobbie's Chicken and Not So Sloppy Joe along with the really fantastic Blueberry, Raspberry, and Strawberry Cobbler.

Blueberry, Raspberry, and Strawberry Cobbler from The New Basics

But I found a lot of the recipes I tried and looked at to be pretty single note with a heavy emphasis on the use of rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and thyme and of Tuscan this and that. Maybe that is because the book is a snapshot of it's time, the late 80's and early 90's, when American cooks were discovering there was more to Italy than pasta and sauce and there were other vinegars besides white and cider. I don't know but I know that I would like a bit more variety when it comes to flavors than these and that was the main reason I gave the book a B.

I did pretty good that week on the Winter Pantry Plan; spending a little more than I would have liked to get some fresh herbs and some frozen raspberries and strawberries for the cobbler (I thought I had some in the freezer but found I had used them already.) My grocery total for that week was $23.61.

Which brings the grand total so far since I started both the Cookbook Casting Call and the Winter Pantry Plan to $56.25 spent on groceries since January 11, 2009. That means, on average, I'm spending about $14.00 a week on groceries. A bit higher than the Summer Pantry Plan average but I'm not upset seeing how I'm not able to take advantage of the summer garden. Now, on to this week's cookbook!

This week we are cooking from Mark Bittman's original How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food.

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

I've already previewed this cookbook earlier in the Cookbook Casting Call with those fantastic roasted root veggies which you can see the left overs of in the picture of the adapted Bobbie's Chicken.

So, I'm really looking forward to this week's menu!

Menu for 2/8 - 2/13 - Week Four of the Cookbook Casting Call and Winter Pantry Plan: How to Cook Everything

Like always, item's marked with "*" are from this week's cookbook

Sunday 2/8:

Dinner: Movie night in NYC with Friends
Dessert: Bread Pudding* with Vanilla Ice Cream

Monday 2/9:
Lunch: Simple Greek Salad*
Dinner: Smoky Slow Cooker Chili (from Jan/Feb 2009 Cooking Light) with Corn Bread*

Tuesday 2/10:
Lunch: Chili and corn bread
Dinner: Pan Seared Steak with Red Wine Sauce* and Fastest Yeast Bread* (I'll be the judge of that!)
Dessert: left over bread pudding

Wednesday 2/11:
Lunch: Chili and corn bread
Dinner: Cumin Scented Rice*, Crab Cakes*, and Wartime Wednesday Honey Gingerbread

Thursday 2/12:
Lunch: Leftover rice mixed with crab cake and salad
Dinner: Pasta with Porcini*

Friday 2/13:
Lunch: Leftover pasta
Dinner: Out of town for the weekend!

Baked Ginger Mustard Boneless Chicken Breast
adapated from Bobbie's Chicken from The New Basics Cookbook

Serves 2

2 boneless chicken breasts, with tenderloin and excess fat removed
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 lemon, wedged
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock

Pre-heat oven on 375 degrees and lightly grease a square baking pan with 1 tsp olive oil.

Rise chicken breast and pat dry with paper towel and set aside. In quart size sealing plastic bag, combine dry mustard, ginger, thyme, salt and pepper. Place chicken breasts into bag, seal and shake to coat the chicken breasts.

Layer the bottom of the prepared baking pan with the onions. Place the seasoned chicken breasts on top of the onions. Squeeze one wedge of lemon on top of each chicken breast. Add chicken stock to pan and cover pan with foil.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and let bake for another 5 minutes or until chicken breast is done.