“The Gastrokid Cookbook” (2009)

I heard about this book before it hit the bookshelves through a blurb on awebsite.  It sounded like a fun and practical book — one that would help me feed my child well.  the concept of “raising passionate, adventurous eaters” was very appealing to me.  I waited a few months before I gave in to my cookbook addiction and ordered it online.  When it arrived, I was so excited, but soon thought that this cookbook was a little more gourmet than I had expected it to be.  I flipped through it quickly and shelved it for several months.  I recently remembered I had it and decided to look through it again.  I realized that although some of the dishes have fancy names, the ingredients are rather simple.  The recipes in this book make me want to head down to the local farmer’s market and splurge on food like organic chicken and heirloom tomatoes.  There’s actually a local organic chicken farm a few miles from where I live and they sell at the farmer’s market. 

I did happen to catch a sale a few weeks ago at Target, of all places, on frozen wild salmon fillets, so I had those in my freezer.  I was very happy to stumble upon a recipe using frozen wild salmon in this book that also uses fresh sage; I also have a thriving sage plant in the garden that I haven’t used much of yet.  The recipe is called “Salmon Saltimbocca” and it’s very simple but absolutely delicious.  It’s only salmon wrapped in sage leaves and prosciutto and cooked in a little bit of canola oil for five minutes on each side.  That’s it — that’s the entire recipe and I thought there wouldn’t be enough flavor in the fish, but I was wrong.  The prosciutto and sage was enough to make it very flavorful.

I also made a recipe called “Meet the Meatballs”, which the authors commented on being better than the traditional Italian meatball.  I couldn’t imagine how good until I tasted them!  They were absolutely scrumptious!  It was the whole cup of chopped fresh herbs that made the difference.  I used sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley; the first three came from my backyard but I had to buy parsley at the market because mine isn’t growing so well now.  I’ve only made meatballs in the past that were cooked in the oven.  These are browned in a skillet and cooked with tomato sauce on the stovetop.  The sauce was simply a can of whole peeled tomatoes that you crush with your hands and pour over the meatballs.  These were so good I could probably eat them at least once a week, if I had time to make them.  Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t even want to try a single bite — so she’s not much of a “gastrokid” but I hope she’ll come around one day.  At least she enjoys looking at cookbooks; she flipped through this one saying “Oooh…lot of things.” 

Whether I have a gastrokid or not, I will definitely be cooking a lot out of this book because so far it has exceeded my tastebuds’ expectations.  I can’t wait to try “Roasted Chickpea Bruschetta” or “Sausage with Sagey White Beans” or anything from the “Pizza” chapter — yes, there’s a whole chapter on pizza in this book and they all look easy and delightful.

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Published in: on June 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm  Comments (2)  

“Feeding the Whole Family” by Cynthia Lair (2008)

I’ve begun to buy cookbooks again.  I tried to restrain myself for a while, but there are some family/kids cookbooks that have recently caught my eye.  This is one of them.  I randomly found out about this book’s website while on an online forum.   It is at www.cookusinterruptus.com and their mission is “to educate viewers about how to prepare high-quality wholesome food within the context of busy family life”.  They do this by presenting funny cooking videos on their website.  I bought this cookbook on a whim because I thought it sounded pretty good.  I always try to read customer reviews before buying books.  Some reviewers of this book said that ingredients for the recipes could be hard to obtain — especially if you live in the Midwest.  Fortunately, I live in Los Angeles, where these ingredients are plentiful.  The problem I have with this book is that I haven’t been using it because I haven’t had time to look through it yet!

Our family ended up buying an annual membership to the zoo, so I needed to make another cold lunch item so that we wouldn’t have to buy lunch there.  “Asian Noodle Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing” was very easy and quick to make.  I added some cooked chicken for protein.  I also added cilantro; a recipe similar to this one in the same book calls for cilantro so I thought it was a good idea. 

The cilantro was from my backyard and I had grown it from seed.  This cilantro was so fragrant, tender and unblemished — so much better than what I had been buying at the supermarket.  I went without an herb garden for a few years, but this year I realized how much I missed having one.  In February (one of the joys of living in Los Angeles is the mild weather) my toddler daughter and I planted several different herbs that are still mostly healthy (I get lazy about pruning them).

Some of the recipes in this book require the use of a pressure cooker — one of the few appliances I don’t own.  I’ve had an uneducated fear of pressure cookers (I don’t know much about them), since I first saw the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” many years ago.  The scene where Holly Golightly’s pressure cooker’s lid blows off is enough to scare me away from this contraption.  This means that I can’t make “Rice Balls Rolled in Sesame Salt” which sound very tasty, but requires the use of a pressure cooker.

I do plan to try the other recipes that don’t require a pressure cooker:  “Indian Rice and Lentils with Caramelized Onions”, “Three Sisters Stew” (corn, beans, squash — which grow well together), “Thai Coconut Chicken Soup” to name a few.

Published in: on June 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment