My name’s Shannon Muir, and you can find me partnering with Gina Ruiz over on the book review site AmoXcalli; Gina of course also runs Dona Lupe’s Kitchen. Recently one of the books I managed to get for review was Weeknights With Giada by cooking show host Giada De Laurentiis. Gina knew that I planned to try several recipes before writing my review, though AmoXcalli focuses more on readability and usability of a book versus the details of it – especially since that site primarily reviews fiction, but is open to any good books. In talking with Gina, it seemed like a good fit to document the details of the various recipes I tried and my thoughts about them specifically here at Dona Lupe’s Kitchen as a guest blog.
WEEKNIGHTS WITH GIADA
Author: Giada De Laurentiis
Publisher: Random House
Bear in mind that I am a very novice cook compared to Gina’s wealth of experience and her great ability to cook by instinct – I had the opportunity to see this firsthand when she cooked for me while I had to be off my feet. I’ve told her I could use some cooking lessons from her.
So here’s my insight about the three dishes I personally tried from Weeknights with Giada:
1) CREPES WITH PEANUT BUTTER AND JAM
It’s actually of Giada’s “Breakfast for Dinner” portion of the book but due to my time constraints to try recipes I really did have this one for a breakfast meal. I’d never made crepes before, and her method of getting the batter ready really proved stress free and simple without a lot of utensils. The crepe fillings are peanut butter, fresh blueberries, and strawberry or raspberry jam. For some reason I could only find raspberry preserves, and decided to go with a reduced sugar version at that. Overall I don’t think that mattered much, because these tasted great though I couldn’t really eat more than four at a sitting… two is really what’s recommended but I had so many. This was my first time making crepes and I found it even more challenging than pancakes because of the thin nature of a crepe; out of the eight I tried to make, only seven came out solid, as the first one better resembled scrambled eggs and the second split in half. Given the insides I figured these would get gooey if I cut them and dusted any sugar before I took a picture, so I took a picture of the final results with the filled crepes still whole. I really enjoyed making these and would do it again.
2) SPICED PORK CHOPS WITH SWEET AND SOUR GLAZE
I’ll immediately fess up to a small alteration here. Giada recommends boneless pork chops, but I forgot to write boneless down and when I got to the market, the center cut was on sale – so this recipe was actually done with center cut. It didn’t affect the flavor, but it did mean cooking two sets of chops at a time and then starting the sauce when the second set of chops cooked. My fiance’ was over visiting for the day and we actually cooked these together. The rub for the chops finds its kick in crushed red pepper which I usually stay away from and the flavor did stay with me even after I finished eating the chop. Initially the stove was a bit hot and we slightly burned the first two chops, but the second two turned out far better. The glaze that goes with these proved the highlight of the meal with the balsamic honey taste that dominates until that red pepper takes over. Also with the other two pork chops, it made a great marinade overnight for me to have tender leftovers for lunch the next day. Despite the red pepper, I would eat these again for sure.
3) CRISPY CHICKEN WITH ROSEMARY-LEMON SALT
Essentially, these are fancy chicken nuggets (made by cutting chicken tenders in pieces) coated in cornmeal and herbs and then dipped in marinara sauce. I really liked them plain and thought they had good flavor just that way. Honestly, I found it hard to understand what the flavored salt brought to the dish because lemon zest and rosemary already were in it as part of the chicken coating. Also, personally, I’m trying to cut back on sodium so I was glad the ones I tried without it tasted good too. Probably eat my leftovers tomorrow without the salt. I’d definitely make the coated tenders again though.
See my review at AmoXcalli for my overall thoughts of the cookbook… and perhaps I’ll be back again with more behind the scenes from other cookbooks or getting some cooking lessons from Gina!