Here’s another “traditional” recipe from Simply Delicious: 6-12: Chicken à la King. I’ve heard of this one before (you probably have too), but never ate it much as a kid despite it being chicken-based (the mushrooms were probably the dealbreaker for my mom). This is from the “new book“, so I didn’t even know Simply Delicious HAD a Chicken à la King recipe until recently.
Chicken à la King has been around for a while, but enjoyed a resurgence in mid-to-late 20th century America (probably due to all the Baby Boomers and a need to feed them cheaply/quickly). It seems “dated” to me at this point (and not necessarily in a good way), but probably was still pretty popular in some parts of the country at the time these books were published.
Combine this with 8-12: Beef Stroganoff, and you’ve got a pretty good handle on mediocre American cuisine from the 1980s.
Many moons ago when I first began this project, I wrote about Simply Delicious‘ use of adjectives to spice up the descriptions of their dishes. 3-7: Snappy Crab Soup reminds me of 3-13: Velvety Carrot Soup in its use of flashy words to get you interested in something hard to get excited about.
This is essentially a crab bisque, without the extra steps of simmering shells. The “hot pepper seasoning” they refer to in the blurb above is Tabasco sauce, so this is a mildly Cajun-influenced recipe as well. I remember thinking Tabasco sauce was the HOTTEST thing ever when I was a kid…I’ve learned so much since then. 🦀🌶
Cajun and Creole cooking are not something I’ve had a ton of experience with, so 7-21: Jambalaya is somewhat unfamiliar territory. I didn’t grow up eating a lot of New Orleans cuisine, other than my mother’s ill-fated attempt at making gumbo once.
It’s not a difficult recipe (quite the opposite, actually), but I don’t feel like I have a solid understanding of the difference between what makes it good and what makes it great. That’s something that comes with experience, both as a taster and as a creator.
I couldn’t have even told you that there are two types of jambalaya, Creole and Cajun. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the difference between the two is the absence or presence of tomatoes. Simply Delicious identifies this version as Creole, which is correct–that’s the version that has the tomatoes in it, which this one does. 🎺🍅
Looking for a quick, healthy breakfast option from Simply Delicious? 5-10: Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes is from the 1980s, but actually holds up really well 30+ years later. Consider this the predecessor to avocado toast.
This version uses cottage cheese in the scrambled eggs (instead of milk, I assume). If you’re looking to cut calories (and fat) even further, skip the milk and butter altogether–according to the late Anthony Bourdain, you don’t need either for good scrambled eggs.
12-25: Parmesan Rice with Shrimp is a great weeknight dinner option or even perhaps a side dish for a potluck or party. It has similarities to paella and risotto, but isn’t as time or skill-intensive as either of those. And as you can tell by the frequency of how much I’ve been posting lately (not much), anything quick is much appreciated.
I feel like they were trying to roughly capture the essence of Shrimp Etouffee with the flavors used in this recipe, but with much less work involved. Cajun/creole-inspired isn’t new for Simply Delicious, but it’s rarely executed faithfully.
Oooh-la-la! What a fancy recipe 8-22: Beef Tenderloin with Whole Garlic is!. I have never attempted a dish like this before, but I approached it with confidence because I’ve watched Jamie make both a spiced butter and oven roasted garlic. She makes it look easy, but making this dish was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I don’t have plates with fancy fluted edges and I was out of red wine to serve with my dish, but I served it as best I could.
This dish is definitely gourmet. With spiced butter and roasted garlic, this dish contains a lot more elements than my usual go-to dishes.
Not every Simply Delicious recipe is a home run. With 9-39: Zesty Meat Casserole, perhaps unsuccessfully, tries to break the mold. By not forming the beef into a patty, meatball, or kebab, this casserole tries to do something different. To cook this recipe, I had to prepare a parsnip, something I’m not accustomed to. I made this dish before a trip out of town and brought it with me to have something homemade to eat.
I cut my vegetables in a manner similar to the photograph, but my substitution of milk for half-and-half made the sauce come out runny.
Who doesn’t love a simple salad? The editors of Simply Delicious knocked one out of the park with 2-23: Grilled Chicken Salad. Combining fresh vegetables with nicely cooked chicken is an easy method for creating a killer salad. My final product didn’t look much like the photo below, but the flavor is totally on point.
I love the bowl of strawberries and fresh baked biscuits behind the salad in the product photo.
We’re over 3 years into this project, and I’m only now covering the very first recipe in the book, 1-1: Orange-Glazed Chicken Wings. I don’t think I’ve ever made these wings before, but the memory of coming up with this project and starting to put it into motion (by sitting down and actually scanning the cards) features this recipe very prominently. Since this was the very first one, that might explain why the edges of the card pictures are strangely cropped.
While this would probably make a decent appetizer, I feel like as a society we’ve come pretty far in wing technology and distribution methods in the last 30 years–these are a lot of work for something that are pretty easy and cheap to just buy in, especially in more interesting flavor/spice combinations. There’s entire restaurants dedicated to wings at this point (even ones that don’t feature an owl and scantily-clad women).
We did make wings in-house during my restaurant tenure, but people are awfully finicky about the preferred style (fried vs baked, breaded vs non-breaded, vinegar-based sauce or not, etc.) of their wings, especially when craft beer and other hipster-y stuff like chalkboards and cornhole are involved. 🍻