Discussion in 'The Iron Chef' started by py3ak, Nov 10, 2011.

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  1. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I hate most flavors/textures.

    Heidi wants a cookbook for her anniversary.

    Being a good wife, she does not want this for the purpose of inflicting misery, but for the purpose of improved knowledge of how to manipulate food so as to make it acceptable.

    I am from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, but consider scrapple, beets, and sauerkraut about all equally abominable. Also I don't like casseroles. Or vegetables. Or fruit. Or spices. Or herbs. Or intestines.

    With that in mind - cookbook recommendations anyone?
  2. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I don't think we need an all-around cookbook. More like "The Hyper-picky Eater's Guide to Plain Food."
  3. Laura

    Laura Puritan Board Junior

    Elizabeth, I am a Cook's Illustrated slave and would also recommend their stuff to almost anybody, but I don't think you fully understand the extent of Ruben's...uniqueness. :) I am at a loss as to what to recommend, other than maybe Cook's Country--a branch of Cook's Illustrated but more down-home, simple, non-fussy recipes that might just someday yield something Ruben would like.
    Edit: then again, that book does have a lot of casseroles. This might be fitting, and you can look at some of the recipes in detail if you scroll down. (I can't do a link properly for some reason: )
  4. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Ruben, steam some chicken breast, shred it, and put it on a gluten-free tortilla. No toppings. Wash it down with some prune juice.

    It's straightforward and the ordeal is over quickly.

    If you need vegetables, zucchini squash microwaved does the job. Bland enough, too.

    If you want to get fancy, you can pressure cook the chicken with the squash. Cook it until it is mush and pour into a mug. Let it cool some and swig it down in a gulp or two. That gets the job done even quicker.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  5. Quatchu

    Quatchu Puritan Board Sophomore

  6. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    God has graced you with a remarkably long-suffering wife, Ruben. There is no way I'd suffer that type of hyper pickiness when it comes to eating.
  7. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Thank you, Laura: I appreciate your understanding.

    Ben, I knew there was a reason things would never work between us.

    Thanks, Justin!

    Vic, prune juice and zucchini squash? Apparently I failed to make myself clear.
  8. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Sadly, bats also need nourishment.
  9. GulfCoast Presbyterian

    GulfCoast Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

  10. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Not normally: it is goopy and often contains many pointless ingredients. I regard it as a migraine medicine rather than as a food.
  11. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

  12. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I don't think Heidi will know what to do with some Rhino Beetle Larvae or insect blood unless we get the cookbook first.

    She expands:

  13. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Forgive me. I certainly was off the mark. May I suggest boiled turnips and a mid-priced Columbia Valley Riesling?
  14. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Must not be using enough salted pork fat with the vegetables.
  15. JoannaV

    JoannaV Puritan Board Sophomore

    Oh I do love Heidi! Whenever she writes she makes me smile!
  16. Laura

    Laura Puritan Board Junior

    Heidi, the wonderful thing about Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country is that, rather than being primers on cooking in general, they have different topical books (there is a "Best Chicken Recipe" for instance) that teach you to cook dishes of varying difficulty as you go. It's much more than just individual recipes thrown at you with the assumption that you have a certain amount of cooking knowledge. Besides lots of helpful sidebars featuring particular ingredients, techniques (e.g. what on earth to do to fennel to get it into the thin slices the recipe calls for), they basically assume, every time they develop and write a recipe, that you know next to nothing about cooking/baking, or about any slightly atypical ingredients (that part is probably not applicable to you, but they will go into detail about what the ingredient is/isn't, whether or not you can make substitutions, etc.). They head off any substitution disasters from the start, by emphasizing, for example, that you want pearl barley rather than regular hulled barley. Anyway, since neither of you would be eating barley, let me give you an example. This may be something Ruben would actually like so I will include the whole recipe verbatim.

    Chicken cordon bleu
    Serves 2
    To help prevent the filling from leaking, use large (8 oz) chicken breasts and thoroughly chill the stuffed breasts before breading. We like Black Forest ham in this recipe.

    4 thin slices deli ham (about 4 oz.)
    4 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
    2 (8-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
    12 Ritz crackers, finely crumbled
    3/4 c. panko bread crumbs
    3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
    1/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (they always use unbleached by default, but the world won't end if you use bleached)
    1 large egg
    1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (which of course you could leave out or substitute regular mustard if that is inoffensive)

    1. Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450. Following photos (there are 3 photos that show you how to prepare the chicken in detail), top each ham slice with 1/4 cup cheese and roll up tightly. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Cut deep pocket in thickest part of breast and stuff each breast with 2 ham-and-cheese rolls. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, toss cracker crumbs and panko with the melted butter and bake on rimmed baking sheet on middle rack, stirring occasionally, until light brown,a about 3-5 minutes. Let crumbs cool slightly.
    3. Place flour in shallow dish. Beat egg and mustard together in second shallow dish/plate. Spread cooled crumb mixture in third shallow dish/plate. Dredge one stuffed chicken breast lightly in flour, shaking off excess. Coat in egg mixture, allowing excess to drop off, then dredge in crumbs, pressing to adhere. Transfer to a clean baking sheet. Repeat with remaining stuffed chicken breast. Uncooked stuffed and breaded chicken may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.
    4. Bake on the lowest oven rack until the bottom of chicken is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Move baking sheet to middle rack, reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees, and bake until chicken is golden brown and registers 160-165 on an instant-read thermometer, 18-24 minutes. Transfer to platter and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

    That is from one of their Cooking for Two books, which present the obvious advantage of already having the recipes scaled down to serve two; so if the dish wasn't a hit, you don't have tons of leftovers to reckon with by yourself. This particular book features many recipes Ruben would not be interested in, but like I said, just reading through the recipes you will learn about cooking. On a recipe for Thai red curry with shrimp, there is a large box with information on shrimp sizing (what "21-25 per pound" means), how to efficiently cut carrots into matchsticks, and how to devein shrimp.

    So that is my plug for this style of learning to cook. I have a Julia Child compendium (Julia's Kitchen Wisdom) which I thought would be a good starter book. It does have some useful charts for times and methods of preparing lots of different vegetables, but the problem is that she doesn't get specific enough for me, like she tends to assume I know more than I do about French food. As a novice I want the most specific directions, visual cues, etc. Cook's Illustrated will give you that. If they don't answer any questions that arise when I want to take on one of their recipes, I just google it and eventually will find the answer. is a nice reference for when you want to know the difference between cuts of meat (which are often bewilderingly named different things in different parts of the country), for example.
  17. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

  18. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Recently, I secretly placed some boiled chayote in a ziploc bag to avoid having to consume it; turnips would be no better.

    You can add "fat" to the list of things I don't like.

    Sorry, afraid not. I don't like Swiss cheese, I don't like mustard, and I don't like things that are this elaborate. I had it once and it wasn't as unacceptable as some other things, though.

    James, I threated Kevin with an infraction when he had the gall to make one of those his avatar one time.
  19. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Joy of Cooking. It gives clear explanations regarding different ingredients and methods of cooking. It covers the gamut from plain and simple to snooty. I taught myself to cook with it at about age 14 and it has been the backbone of my cookbook library ever since. Get the 75th Anniversary edition. The other newer editions are way out of line with the historical mindset of "Joy."
  20. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Laura, what a wonderful post, just what I would expect from my awe-inspiringly kitchen savvy friend :); thank you so much. I have the most accomplished and helpful friends. It offsets the despair over my own cluelessness :)

    Joanna, I'm glad my ignorance makes someone smile besides just myself (I'm afraid if I didn't laugh over it, I would end up in tears: I have actually been cooking whole meals ever since I could read my mom's instructions and stand on a chair at the stove, pretending to be a sea cook in a dingy place below deck, boiling octopus for the wretched crew -- but I never learned anything much beyond the recipes I used. I still only possess about four spices, and only understand the use of two of them :).

    I think I may, in keeping with Jean's suggestion and after poking around a bit this morning, request The Joy of Cooking. Jean, would you suggest the anniversary edition over the facsimile of the original? It sounds like it is a very enjoyable read, at the least, and a good place to begin, in being so. Perhaps next year I will be more comfortable asking for the massive Encyclopedia of cooking Ruben linked me to, which is probably more to the purpose, and yet, I find the eclectic restaurant image it assumes one is striving to imitate not only intimidating but somewhat of a dubious element for my own purposes. As Cheryl Mendelson says, home is supposed to be a safe place, tailor made for the people in it, and someone I love would never feel safe in that place :).
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2011
  21. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Since you don't enjoy food, get the cookbook without regard to your requirements. No reason for her to not make good meals for herself and others. And whatever you do, don't move to Louisiana where food is part of the culture.

    You've ruled out
    Looks like grilled or broiled meat, microwave baked potatoes, and vitamin supplements would take care of you. And you don't need a cookbook for that.

    For everyone else

    Paula's Fried Butter Balls Recipe : Paula Deen : Food Network

    or the Junior League cookbooks - Junior League Cookbooks
  22. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Finally, someone who understands!

    Incidentally, Heidi has won a pie-baking competition and her meals have always proved quite acceptable to others, even the ones that I will eat.
  23. Mindaboo

    Mindaboo Puritan Board Graduate

    I second The Joy of Cooking. I think it would be helpful.
  24. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Thanks so much, Mindy :)

    You have such a kind memory. There was that traumatised looking vegetable dish which not even I would eat when we had company in the trailer. And the Chocolate Gob.

    Edward, he also eats salad. (no tomatoes, no cucumbers, no avocado, no red onions . . . )

    But yes, buy her the cookbook by all means ! ! ! ! :)
  25. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Why the qualifier?

    But there is also your Aztec cake that others have consumed in large quantities, and people fighting over who got to take home the scalloped potatoes.
  26. Mindaboo

    Mindaboo Puritan Board Graduate

    Just so you know, Brad is a lot like that. So, feel free to invite us over for dinner :) Or we could invite you.
  27. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Well that puts us in some of our favorite company, Mindy :).
  28. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    But I'm guessing he wouldn't like my home-made vinaigrette - even my family won't touch it, and they usually go for my recipes.

    Back on topic - Something along the lines of an old Better Homes and Gardens (my wife's basic pre-marriage cookbook) or the Good Housekeeping (my old basic book) would be good for a comprehensive book. The Good Housekeeping has a chart of spices and their uses, and a dictionary of terms. While I have some specialty cookbooks, most of the time now I get recipes off the internet and adapt them.

    You'd be better with older cookbooks, a lot of the modern ones are 'healthy' and take the flavor out.
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