Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Cookbook Project-Prosciutto and Parmesan Rolled Chicken

Let me offer this piece of advice. If you've had a shitty day at work, cook something that calls for beating the crap out of a piece of meat.

It helps. I swear.

Every couple of weeks, my friend D. and I trade off cooking for each other. Last time I was at her place, she upped the ante with a fabulous sweet potato gnocchi, so I wanted to try something a little more challenging today. Instead I did something really, really easy that looked complicated.

The recipe is from this cookbook.

I picked this up a couple of months ago at Daedalus Books. If you live in the Baltimore-Washington area and you don't know about this place, you should. You'll never leave without spending a bunch of money-but you'll walk out with so many books you won't believe it. They sell remainders, books that were sent back to the publisher, and most of their books are $5 or less. I've had to seriously limit the number of times I go there, because I have no more space on my bookshelves.

The cookbook was written by the authors of the blog Two Fat Als, and the whole idea is that people who are living on a tight budget can still afford to cook amazing food. Each recipe is broken down by cost for the entire recipe and cost per serving.

The recipe I decided to try is called Prosciutto and Parmesan Rolled Chicken, which is more or less exactly what it sounds like. It was extremely easy and extremely tasty. According to the recipe it's $5 per serving, but that doesn't take into account that I had to buy an entire package of prosciutto that I have no idea what to do with now...

I served it with roasted potatoes and acorn squash, and bread. Side note: how awesome is it that Harris Teeter sells teeny tiny loaves of bread? It's like the best thing ever for single cooks.

Two cookbooks down, 48 to go.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Veggie Pasta

When I left the house, I had every intention of ordering takeout for dinner tonight. I ran up the street to the organic market to grab a few things for tomorrow night, because my lovely friend D. is coming over for dinner. My plan was to run in, pick up two or three things, and run back out, but I saw spinach fettucini and got inspired. What I really wanted was fettucini alfredo, but milk and milk products have not been agreeing with me for some time and I wasn't really willing to suffer tonight. So, I backtracked to the produce department and picked up a couple of things.

This is my mother's recipe--I've made it several times, and it's a little different every time. It's so incredibly easy that it's not really a recipe at all.

Cut up some vegetables, put them on a cookie sheet, and spray them with Pam. I usually use a squash, a couple of peppers and a red onion.

Toss the vegetables in the oven until they're tender and brownish. While they're cooking, boil the pasta. I usually use angel hair but the spinach fettucini is what inspired this little endeavor, so I used that instead.

Drain the pasta. Add a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes (they've got jalapeno peppers in them, so they're spicy) the vegetables and whatever seasonings you want. I usually use oregano, because when I don't know what to use oregano is almost always the answer. You can be a little more creative, obviously. What you should NOT do is add red pepper flakes, because combining those with the Ro-Tel tomatoes makes you wish your tongue were detachable. I only made that mistake once.

Toss it all with olive oil. That's it. Voila-dinner.

With the pasta, I had a slice of the Brown Rice Bread I made a couple of days ago. It wasn't really the right kind of bread to serve with pasta, but it's what I had around and it actually tasted quite good with it.

In other news, this is actually the third time I've cooked this week, and I'm doing it again tomorrow. I don't really intend to turn this into a cooking blog-God knows there are other people more qualified for that-but it's making me cook more and write more, so we'll see. I am planning to blog about my cookbook project, since that will make it (slightly) more likely that I'll actually, you know, do it. Slightly.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Cookbook Project

This is my cookbook shelf.

I counted them today, and I have 50 of them, plus a couple of years worth of Everyday Food and random other recipe magazines. I bought two of them yesterday. Out of the 50, I've cooked a recipe out of six.

Yeah, six. I buy cookbooks-I don't cook from them.

Until now.

This is my project for the summer: cook one thing from every cookbook I own. Correction: one good thing from every cookbook I own. If the recipe sucks, I have to try again. After all, if I can't find one decent recipe in a cookbook, it probably deserves to go.

My first attempt was from this book.

I haven't got a clue why I bought this in the first place. I assume that I bought it at a yard sale back when I was in the habit of buying every single cookbook I could possibly find. It was published in 1984, and it hasn't necessarily aged well. It's full of recipes for congealed salads and many other things that I have absolutely no interest in making. Because it's a cookbook written for family gatherings, all of the recipes are scaled to serve between 12 and 20 people, and I never cook for that big a crowd.

I was a little skeptical, I'll admit, but there are some really interesting recipes here. I've found several that I'd like to try, even though I'm going to have to pull out a calculator to scale them down to more reasonable quantities. The book is organized by different types of gatherings: a wedding breakfast, a bar mitzvah, a Greek New Year's dinner. One of the gatherings is for a (University of) Arkansas Tailgate Picnic. This gathering had a recipe called Razorback Roast Sandwiches, including a recipe for Brown Rice Bread. I wasn't particularly interested in making a pork roast, but the bread looked pretty good, so that's what I decided to try.

I've been looking for a good sandwich bread recipe for quite some time. The lovely Jenni sent me one that I've used quite a bit, but I've been having trouble getting it to rise the way it's supposed to (user error, I'm sure) so I wanted to try a different one.

This recipe was fantastic. The original one was for three loaves, so I cut it in half and made one slightly larger loaf.

I couldn't be happier. It was easy, it looks good, it tastes good...a perfect Sunday project.

I want to reprint the recipe here, but my little librarian heart won't let me break copyright. I've actually emailed Southern Living, who published the cookbook, to ask for permission. If they give it, I'll post an update.