It’s a new year, and it’s also been a long time since I’ve covered any of the Cooking School portion of the back of the Simply Delicious cookbook. One of the featured topics is 18-3: Good Kitchen Knives, essential tools for any cook. I’ve had a lot of terrible knives, and I’ve got a long way to go until I make jaws drop with my knife collection, but I’ve got a few that are not too shabby. 🔪
I’m going to try NOT to make this a “look at all my cool knives” kind-of-a-thing, because honestly, my collection isn’t all that Internet-impressive–I don’t have a ton of trendy Japanese pieces or massive cleavers, because I just don’t cook that way too often. Plus, I feel about knives like I feel about cars–give me a broken-in cheap old workhorse over a shiny speedster you’re afraid to scratch up any day of the week. 🚙
13-14: Wok-Fried Veggies with Pasta is yet another dish where the preparation requires too much chopping. One of my specialties happens to be stir fry. I can make stir fry with the best of them.
I’ve made wok fried dishes similar to this on my own, but with chicken or beef. Usually, I think vegetarian food is best left to the rabbits. 🐰
This recipe card gave me an excuse to cook up a big ol’ batch of 9-14: Chili Con Carne, not that I needed an excuse. I’ve made a few pots of chili in my day, but not one quite like this. My favorite episode of the Simpsons, entitled El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer), features a chili cook-off as a vital plot point. The infamous space coyote scene still cracks me up to this day. 😹
With the peppers featured prominently on the front of the recipe card, Simply Delicious has pointed out the one major issue I had with this dish. WHO PUTS BELL PEPPER IN CHILI? 🌶 Jamie and I enjoy a little spice in our chili. I’ve always wanted to try adding a pepper akin to the “Merciless Pepper of Quetzalacatenango … grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum.” 🌶
This recipe, 11-14: Tempura tastes great, but the amount of prep is so arduous that I would rather pay a chef at a restaurant to make it for me.
Mixed tempura is my favorite starter dish whenever Jamie and I go out to a sushi restaurant. 🍣
This recipe is already setting high expectations with the title 11-25: Best Ever Sole Au Gratin, and I’m not here to completely dash those hopes. This is a pretty decent fish recipe, as those go (I’m usually wary of home-cooked fish recipes), but it’s nothing spectacular, despite Simply Delicious’ assertions. 🐟
This one gets fancy with the piping bag and tips for the potatoes. I still haven’t replaced my piping/pastry bag set-up since it all failed during the making of 17-52: Apricot Macaroons for the holidays last year (2015). Since I’ve yet to replace it, I’ll have to get creative again.
I’ve done over 100 recipes at this point (closing in on 150 in the next few weeks), and this is the FIRST recipe from Group 10: Lamb & Veal. This is probably due to the fact that neither of those have ever featured heavily in my diet or culinary rotation. However, in the interest of science everything must be covered. So here we go–the first lamb recipe: 10-12: Basil-Baked Lamb.
Um, yeah. In the very first entry (where I explained what this whole project is about), I had mentioned that these books got a bit trashed when I had a bad roach infestation in my first apartment after college. This section was one of the casualties from overzealous roach spray distribution and poor post-massacre clean-up. A lot of the pages got stuck together, and due to their lack of regular use, stayed that way for far too long. Luckily for this one, the recipe part of the card is still somewhat legible.
This one’s short and sweet. I’ve made 4-34: Italian Roasted Vegetables a few times before, once as part of a big dinner party I cooked for when I was about 13 (6-22: Crispy Chicken Drumsticks and 9-20: Meat Roly-Poly were part of that as well) and Thanksgiving 2000 based on my mother’s notations on the back of the card. I know I’ve used the concept multiple times in other instances, even if I wasn’t following this exact recipe.
This is more a method than a particular recipe–you can use pretty much whatever vegetables you want with this one. Now’s a perfect time for this recipe–farmer’s markets are open and there’s lots of good stuff out there to roast. 🔥
Here’s one I’ve made before. In one of my previous entries (6-22: Crispy Chicken Drumsticks), I mentioned doing all the cooking for a family dinner party when I was 12-13 years old with a similarly-aged family friend of mine. 9-20: Meat Roly-Poly is another one of the recipes I remember making for that party.
Another memory from this dinner party: I had just gotten a new CD (Version 2.0 by Garbage) and we were listening to it on my parents’ GIANT stereo system over and over as we spent the day cooking. Gives you an idea of how old I am, and how long I’ve been cooking from this book.
Here’s another mushroom recipe for you. 1-16: Mushrooms Escargot is similar to the last recipe I did, 2-2: Mushrooms à la Grecque, in that it’s a fancy name for a pretty well-known dish. Simply Delicious does that a LOT. This one is essentially stuffed mushrooms, something most everyone’s familiar with.
This recipe in-and-of itself doesn’t contain or use actual snails, but it’s suggested you can add them if you want. I didn’t go quite that far (although I’m not opposed to the idea), but the mushrooms provide a similar experience that’s not quite as…exotic. 🐌
It’s been a while since I’ve covered something out of Group 03: Soups on here–the last one was 3-14: Creamy Corn Chowder back in January. 3-20: Italian Tomato Soup is pretty simple when it comes to ingredients…and flavor. I ended up inadvertently turning my batch into what was essentially Spaghetti-Os, but even that wasn’t terrible.
This soup is pretty basic–Simply Delicious has you add a bit of cream to make it more of a bisque-type tomato soup. If it’s not tomato season, no worries–you can make this with canned tomatoes too. 🍅