Category Archives: Reviews

A Meatloaf in Every Oven: Cookbook Review

Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Life & Style (February 7, 2017)
Available via Amazon

Summary from Amazon:

[With] 50 killer recipes, from the best classic takes to riffs by world-famous chefs like Bobby Flay and Mario Batali; from Italian polpettone to Middle Eastern kibbe to curried bobotie; from the authors’ own favorites to those of prominent politicians. Bruni and Steinhauer address all the controversies (Ketchup, or no? Sauté the veggies?) surrounding a dish that has legions of enthusiastic disciples and help you to troubleshoot so you never have to suffer a dry loaf again.


*This post may contain affiliate links- see my full disclosure page.

Seriously? A whole book about meatloaf?

Meatloaf seems so straightforward, but in this book, you realize it is anything but boring! The variations on this humble meal, from Alex Guareselli’s mom’s meatloaf to Rep. Paul Ryan’s venison version, will inspire you to make meatloaf a regular mainstay at your table. I just love that I can pick out a recipe depending on whether I want an indulgent (cheeseburger meatloaf) or weekday meal (chicken with sriracha).

The authors are two friends, who have apparently been emailing, texting, and discussing their shared love of meatloaf for years. There is a little dialogue throughout the book between them, bantering about the “best” recipe or an exchange of a recipe for this shared obsession. I love the natural language and humorous play between chapters, and more importantly, I love all the stories behind the recipes; Each is presented with an accompanying little explanation of why the recipe is included in the book.

We are especially fond of the Buffalo-style chicken wing-so fiery, so tangy. And we were determined to reproduce its magic in a meatloaf (Buffalo-Style Chicken Loaf with Blue Cheese).

Aside from a great story for each recipe, my favorite component of a good cookbook is the index or the contents. This book did not disappoint. The contents includes a clear list of recipes broken down in a very useful manner:

  • Chapter 1: Classics
  • Two: Around the World
  • Three: Lamb
  • Four: CluckCluck Gobble Gobble (a bit of humor like this runs throughout the book)
  • Five: Meatless
  • Six: Guilty Pleasures
  • Seven: Political Postscript (Politician recipes!)
  • Eight: Sides
  • *Index

There was some discussion in the book on whether or not to include “sides” or recipes that were not only meatloaf recipes. I am glad they decided to keep these. I am always looking for great new sides, and these are accompaniments from some of the greatest chefs like Alex Guarnascelli or Bobby Flay.

But all the recipes look great-I of course have to try making a recipe or two, and I did. I made the Spicy Turkey Meatloaf. Although since I don’t like ground turkey, I made it will ground chicken. It was spicy for sure, but not too much so, and the sriacha glaze on top was SO good! So good, a couple of my kids ate it- Whoohoot! (they don’t usually eat meatloaf, so this was big).

spicy meatloaf

Main Take:

Excellent cookbook! I made a chicken meatloaf with sriracha glaze that was super delicious and my kids loved it.  There are lots of offerings from chefs like Alex Guarnaschelli to Paul Ryan (the politician!) mixed in here- but all of the recipes are easy enough for a home cook- plus they added some great side dish offerings so it’s not all meat…you get the potato part and some veg too! Highly Recommend.

As a book reviewer, I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher or author to facilitate this review. I received no other compensation and as always my review and opinion is 100% my own. This post may contain affiliate links- see my full disclosure page.

Cookbook Review: Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites

I love cookbooks. Old ones, out of date ones, full of pictures, or no pictures at all. I love them. I love especially, cookbooks that tell a story like these:

old cookbooks, review of Anthony Bourdain's Appetites

Yes, they are spiral bound. Yes, they may only have 1 or 2 recipes that I love. But they introduce most recipes or at least the chapters with a story.

Here are two newer ones that are particularly chatty:

old cookbooks, review of Anthony Bourdain's Appetites

These two, pictured above, are not only dog-eared for all the recipes that are so unique, and have turned out awesome, they also create a story around the food that makes me just want to make it.

That is why I LOVE Anthony Bourdain’s newest cookbook. Surprisingly, he’s kind of chatty.

I received a free e-copy to review, but I will be getting a print version on my own for sure. He is a master story-teller besides being an awesome cook. While Bourdain can be abrasive in his personality, his food is masterful. He spent 28 years as a professional chef, and then wrote Kitchen Confidential (2000) a tell-all about the “back of the house” in the restaurants we all adored. His shows on CNN, both No Reservations and Parts Unknown, which take viewers on an awesome foodie-ride across food cultures around the world show us his personality. And as we have seen it change all these years on TV, his manner has become less “drugs and rock & roll” and more “dysfunctional family-guy.”

Enter this newest cookbook, Appetites. In it, Bourdain gives us story after story, often about his family life, with each dish he creates. From macaroni and cheese or meatloaf, to a masterful Thanksgiving plan from A-Z, and ranging to Korean specialties like Budae Jigae. He is doing it all, and although he knows chef-techniques, this is a home-cookbook. He is clear in the instruction, and minimal in the necessary ingredients lists. I love that. I love that he is no-nonsense and gives it to us straight. He says in the book about making Thanksgiving:

“Preparing a holiday meal can be a stressful affair. It’s not mystery why murder rates spike between November and late December…No need…the key to a relatively easy, smooth-running, violence-free Thanksgiving is to adopt the following three-day strategy…” (p.185)

And then he does. He lays out a three day prep-ahead plan for a stress-free holiday meal. I love it. Seriously, love this.  There is so much packed in this book full of narrative, fun, clearly instructed meals along with more involved recipes: Examples of the “Poultry” chapter are Chicken Pot Pie, Korean Fried Chicken, Cast-Iron Grilled Chicken, Roasted Quail with Polenta, or Thanksgiving as I mentioned). All of it is easy to find with a great table of contents (not to be underrated) and index (always underrated, but super important in a cookbook!).

He is quirky and irreverant in his story telling, but also a superb chef and cookbook author. I may not always agree with his opinions on life, but in cooking, I am totally a fan.

Appetites: A Cookbook

By: Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever
Synopsis: Recommend Highly
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 304 including illustrations, index
Sale Date: October 25, 2016

 

Book Review of Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market

We all know how to make food, right? I mean, I think I know how to cook a carrot, or peel a potato. This latest book for my reviewing put to question whether or not I know much of anything about food. Turns out I do know some things, but also learned some new things that will probably make my cooking so much better.

Have you ever come upon a recipe or cookbook that made you rethink how you cook by simplifying it down from a process and taste, to the ingredients themselves. The only book that I’ve read like this, was by Alice Waters, in The Art of Simple Food. Amazing in its simplicity, it showed the best ways to cook something is often the simplest. Now, thanks to the publishers at Scribner I received an Advanced Reader Copy of Marcella and Victor Hazan’s Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market.

If any of you are not already familiar with Marcella Hazan, she is known in the cooking world as the queen of cooking Italian food when you are not Italian! Her recipes are simple and focused on the ingredients.Marcella Hazan died in 2013, but her husband collected papers and notes from Marcella’s collection of writings and compiled them into this book as a posthumously published work of her masterful thoughts on using ingredients in best way possible to bring out their natural flavors. It is arranged as an A-Z reference book covering each ingredient in a most thorough way: Produce, The Essential Pantry, Salumi, and finally a little section at the end that serves as a buying guide on where to find the best ingredients from purveyors that will ship to you!

Her focus on ingredients is so simple and direct, focusing on how to choose the sweetest vegetable, or the crispest leaves; continuing the coverage of the ingredient, to say how to store it and for how long it will last once you get it home and before cooking it. Amazing. No recipes per se, but here’s an example:

Blanch spinach, sauté it in garlic and olive oil, and you have a dish that summarizes the simplicity, directness, and satisfaction of vegetables cooked the Italian way.

One of my favorite recipes of hers that isn’t in the book is a classic simple red sauce that takes just minutes to make and has  but tastes amazing with just butter, salt, onion and tomatoes.

If you love to cook, and read about the finer points of the ingredients that you choose, then this is a great book for you. If you love pictures and actual recipes, this is not your guy. None here. This would be a good reference book to have, since Marcella Hazan was such an authority on choosing Italian ingredients and creating easy, beautiful food.

INFO:

Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market
By Marcella Hazan and Victor Hazan
Publisher: Scribner
256 pages, Hardcover, $20.US