Cookbook of the Month: September

Since last time I did a seasonal cookbook, I wanted to get into something a little more... worldly. That’s why I chose In The World Kitchen from California Culinary Academy with wine notes from Gina Gallo. I wanted to tackle some recipes I had never made before, and so this cookbook really fit the bill.

Here are my highlights from the cookbook:

Surround your cake with water 
Finished cheesecake
I began working backwards, from the dessert section, with a Raspberry Ricotta Cheesecake. I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe because it was easier than I thought it would be. Also, I learned the truth about citrus zests in desserts: they are like a secret weapon. Citrus zests are to dessert what garlic is to savory foods.

I also learned a thing or two about spring form pans, which I was using for the first time: they don’t hold water. Laughable, I know...perhaps I should have known. But if you want to surround your delicious ricotta cheesecake with water as you are cooking, you must choose a pan other than a spring form pan.

This dessert came out lovely, and impressed my guests. I served it as the punctuation to a great Italian meal of homemade raviolis with a creamy mushroom Alfredo sauce, and it was perfect because it was light and fresh, but sweet.

The best way to mix meatloaf
is with your hands
Two loaves before baking
Meatloaf is a classic American comfort food, and one that I have made many times. The recipe for meatloaf from this cookbook, though, had a litany of ingredients. The recipe looked intimidating because of the long list of ingredients, but really it wasn’t. This was a super moist meatloaf (even with my omission of the bacon on top).

Finished & ready to serve! 
When I started the recipe and realized that it was going to yield two loaves, I was like, wait a second that is way too much for three people! But it wasn’t way too much.... it was actually just enough for three people with leftover for sandwiches! The meatloaf was soft and flavorful, and really surprising in a nice way... but a word to the wise: this recipe is FULL of fat!

Slice them uniformly
'Fried green tomatoes' is one of my favorite movies... but I had never tried fried green tomatoes before,, so when I saw this recipe, I just had to try it. It just so happened to work out that some of my tomatoes had to be picked while still green (because of the hurricane) and didn’t seem to want to ripen. I was amazed at the ease of the recipe, and the taste of the tomatoes? Awesome!

I was also really proud that they came out looking like the picture in the cookbook!!!

After all the culinary steps I was taking with my cookbook, I was ready to take on the big cheese: Coq au Vin (pronounced "co-co van"). It's a classic french dish, and one that I had neither made nor tasted in my life. The recipe was intricate, and included "recipes within recipes"...for instance, I had to quarter my whole chicken, and then make my own chicken stock for this recipe.

This was also my first time in lighting my food on fire; you add brandy to the recipe and then light it with a match, nearly burning down the house. It was really awesome, but could have easily turned dangerous, so you must proceed with caution.

The recipe was delicious, but I have to criticize this recipe for a few inaccuracies. First of all, I reduced the amount of bacon because it was just too much... the same was true for the chicken stock... in fact there was just too much gravy, overall, and I ended up freezing two pints of Coq au Vin gravy. And I have to warn you, the gravy isn't the most appealing color, either.... It was sort of gray due to the wine and stock mixing, but it tasted wonderful and guests didn't seem to notice the off-putting color.

I served the dish with mashed potatoes, salad, and homemade rosemary bread, and it was great. But if you make this specific recipe, you want to have a little more kitchen experience than your average bear....

All in all, I was impressed with this cookbook. I liked the recipes and most of them were easy to use. However, some of the measurements were a little off, and for that reason, I am giving it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. I recommend the book to a seasoned home cook who may have a little more knowledge of a cookbook being off in the measurement department.

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