Minestrone soup has a few specific memories for me: I remember there always being cans of it in our pantry when I was a kid, and all of my favorite Italian restaurants growing up still have it on the menu. My dad was a big minestrone fan–both of those memories are tied pretty closely to him.
3-6: Minestrone comes from the new book, and it’s not surprising that Simply Delicious had a recipe for it–they tend to have their own versions of most of the “classics”.
I’m not sure I’d suggest serving this in what look like miniature barrels in the picture above (imagine trying to clean those). However, the colder weather is coming soon, and this recipe is a good (and cheap) way to meal-prep, eat your veggies, and stay warm all at the same time.
Usually, I give Simply Delicious a hard time for their attempts at “cultural cuisine”–I had gone into 8-13: Japanese Beef Casserole with the same expectations. I even cooked the recipe with that thought in mind–that this was just another lame attempt at something “exotic” for the 1980s housewife crowd to try to excite their disaffected family about. I mean, read that description below and try to imagine how that would go in real life.
However, while researching for the write-up (the last part of this multi-step process), I found some interesting “similar” recipes. I’m still not sure if I’m right or wrong about this one.
Here’s my thoughts on the two things this recipe could be (given my new findings):
They might be trying to attempt nikujaga (Japanese “beef stew”), but it’s missing potatoes which are a crucial (and easy to obtain) part of that dish.
They’re attempting some sort of pan-Asian sautéed beef/Asian veggies dish that you’d be more likely to find in a dead mall’s food court and just calling it Japanese casserole.
I’m guessing it’s the latter, but if you’d like to decide for yourself, keep reading.
Oh, and that dead mall link above? That’s another one of our projects…
If you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s a bit of a lag between when I make these recipes and when I actually post about them. It helps me to reread the recipe to figure out what I’m doing in a lot of these photos. While rereading the recipe for 12-28: Tri-Color Risotto, I realized I didn’t even make it right.
That’s my first explanation for what happened here. My second is that I don’t like cooking rice in a pan–I’m spoiled by rice cookers.
Chinese cuisine is a lot more prevalent today in the United States than it was 30-40 years ago when Simply Delicious was being written & printed. I suppose we have cookbooks like this to thank in some small part for introducing many 1980s American families to a more global palate.
Speaking of a global palate–I made this dish vegan. Yes, that picture above is vegan–keep reading to find out how. #clickbait
Pasta with a thin sauce didn’t seem super appropriate for dinner, so I made 12-15: Pasta with Salami and dished it out for lunch as part of a meal prep. While there are a few differences between the recipe card photo and my final product photo, my creation was similar in spirit to the beautifully shot photo below. The place settings are so retro–such a great scene they set.
The exquisite setup showcases the raw ingredients along with the wonderful cutlery and plating of the dish. How magnificent!
Cabbage is probably my least favorite cruciferous vegetable. Although cabbage is present in most Chinese food dishes and it doesn’t bother me in that format, however, just the thought of eating plain cabbage is not very appetizing to me. The meatloaf-like mixture inside 9-7: Cabbage Rolls was the most edible part of the dish. I like that they served it with a blurred out Heineken.
Anything that involves a stuffing and rolling procedure is usually best done in a big batch because they are a pain to put together.
Over the years I’ve made plenty of steaks, but I don’t have a lot of experience cooking flank steaks. Jamie grew up eating carne asada–but on the East Coast, we were eating Steak-Ums sandwiches. Not quite the same, but it got the job done. 8-29: Marinated Flank Steaks was a fun opportunity to cook this recipe and get familiar with cooking a different cut of beef that I’m used to.
I have some experience with marinades so this dish wasn’t too difficult for me to attempt. It is ranked Fairly Easy after all.
If you had told me as a kid that I would eat meat and bananas together in a dish, I would have called you, “crazy”! Some cuckoo chef over at Simply Delicious is playing a weird joke on people with 9-27: West Indian Meat Casserole, but this dish is rated mostly edible. Jamie wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. 🍌
I don’t really see how this dish is festive. It also isn’t very attractive, at least, not in the way I prepared it.
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.” 🌶