It’s not surprising that the good things naturally rise to the top.
I like to eat out. But, I like cooking for myself just about as much. Another thing. I’ve got a pretty giant cookbook collection. Maybe, not by library standards. But, certainly by any reasonable measure.
These days, it’s just me and my full time dining companion (and wife) sharing our kitchen table. Cooking that family meal seems to be a lot tougher when there is only the two of you. Is it just me or does it feel like most recipes are targeted for the 4-5 person household? That’s not us. Even at our peak we were only three full time diners. Not including pets.
Here’s part of my problem I guess. I HATE throwing good food away. I don’t obsess about it. Still, it makes me sad to do it. No, I didn’t have that “starving children on the other side of the world” thing beaten into my brain when I was young. But, it just seems like a big waste.
Just when I’m getting ready to freeze another 4 pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts, the folks at America’s Test Kitchen (aka Cook’s Illustrated) come to the rescue. Enter The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook. And, just in time
It’s subtitled, 650 Recipes For EVERYTHING You’ll Ever Want To Make. I am happy to report that the reality of what’s inside lives up to the self-proclamation on the cover. Nice for a change.
Here’s a great example.
That was my first crack at one of these recipes. Oven-Roasted Salmon with Fresh Tomato Relish (P.180). In all honesty this plate is actually a combo of two recipes. The asparagus in the background comes from, Salmon with Asparagus and Herb Dressing (P.178). They both seemed so great that I decided I didn’t need to choose.
The main problem with my newfound cookbook love is that I’m mildly obsessed with it. Not in a ugly way. More in a, “what can I make out of this thing next” way. I’ve picked some great ones already. Add to the salmon above, Fennel, Apple and Chicken Chopped Salad (P.71), Cucumber Salad with Olives, Oregano and Almonds (P.68), Foolproof Vinaigrette (P.64) and Pot-Roasted Steaks with Root Vegetables (P.139). When you add it all up, I’ve taken this thing for a pretty decent spin around the block.
Here’s what I’ve come to expect from America’s Test Kitchen. Recipes that work every time! I mean it. Sure some of these may not suit your individual tastes. But, if properly executed they turn out as good or better than anticipated. That’s saying a lot. The last thing you really want is a big investment of your time, money and energy and then have to hunt for a carry out menu. No Good.
** BOOK NOTES **
There is tons of great and useful info up front. Substitutions, utensils, pantry lists, prep lessons and a bunch more. This book is highlighted with instructive images and smart explanations of many f the recipes. I love the breakdown of ingredients between the main part of the recipe and it’s accompaniments (i.e. sauces, relishes and the like). Plenty of recipe variations. Enough to please most. All bases covered, from soups to cakes and most everything in between. Enough recipe variety to please most. Even veg/vegan.
Should you own this cookbook? Take this simple quiz. Do you have two people in your house? Do you like making delicious recipes that are pretty much idiot proof? If you’ve answered YES to either of these questions then this one is a no-brainer. You need it!