Week 1: The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

In a complete and utter coincidence, Chris chose the first cookbook in the upper left hand side of our cookbook shelf, The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day by America’s Test Kitchen Editors.

Click here to find this book on Amazon.

I (Virginia) chose the Spicy Moroccan-style chicken and lentil soup (page 60) as it’s winter, and I was definitely in the mood for a spicy soup. And, after approximately five days of thinking that tonight was the night that we agreed that I would cook, and forgetting that it wasn’t, I was finally on deck.

As recipes go, it was…ok. I had an existential crisis about the lack of garlic in the recipe, and the amount of spices that it called for were dangerously low. I threw in five or six cloves of garlic at the end of the onions cooking, managed to burn the onions, the garlic, and when I was supposed to be toasting the spices, managed to singe those too. UNDETERRED, I pressed on.

After cooking the onions and spices, I deglazed the dutch oven with some wine before proceeding onto the rest of the steps. No noticeable wine taste in the final recipe, I probably burned off the wine pretty quickly. Ah well. But all the lovely burndy onion bits came up, and flavored the rest of the soup. I threw in the lentils, and hoped that they’d cook in the recipe’s allotted 30 minutes, and waited for approximately 1.5 hours before giving up and eating the soup with the rather crunchy beans. Ah well.

All in all, the soup was okish. Its saving grace was the harissa. I should probably not use the power burner with my dutch oven, and maybe also just avoid using the power burner for anything that does not involve boiling water, as the stupid burner has a definite hot spot and I am constantly burning stuff on the back right side of my pans. Even with ramping up the spices, the final product was not as good as the tagine that I usually make, which has very similar ingredients and techniques. We served it on rice to have a small amount of carbs with the meal, as otherwise, I was fairly certain it wouldn’t be filling enough.

Chris chose the Grilled chicken alla diavola (page 299) as his recipe, which I was quite excited about. He served it with steamed and roasted cauliflower. The chicken was spicy, tasted great, and Chris learned a new technique: spatchcocking (or butterflying) a chicken. Bonus, all of the kids liked this recipe, so I’m definitely calling this one a win.

All in all, I’ll likely try another recipe or two from this book, although I wasn’t exactly thrilled with mine. As it is from America’s Test Kitchen, the recipes are well written, clear, and easy to make. I just find them a bit more prescriptive than I generally like, although I suppose that is a good thing for cooks who are more unsure of what they’re doing, or for cooks who actually prefer to follow a recipe.


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