I am such a review nerd. I will waste hours reading every review before I try out a recipe or purchase a product. But what I hate most in this world (that was a little extreme...maybe not most but a LOT) is stupid reviews. Like when someone gives a recipe 2 stars on AllRecipes.com but they changed 90% of the ingredients. That's not fair! You can't review something you didn't even try! Or when someone reviews a shop vac (do you even know what that is? I didn't...it's a vaccuum cleaner men use in the garage.) and takes off two stars because it isn't cordless. The shop vac never claimed to be cordless! Some people, such as Levi Pope, want a corded shop vac because it won't run out of battery and you just mislead his wife into thinking it was bad and now his surprise gift isn't nearly as awesome as it would have been! If you are going to take the time to leave a review then do it right! Review the product for what it is.
Whew...I had some major pent up feelings over that I guess. Well, anyways....I said all that to lead into my very first book review of Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan.
I would consider myself an expert reviewer of cookbooks despite my total lack of experience in ever writing a review. I own over 50 and give them away often so I am constantly getting new ones. I LOVE cookbooks. I read them from cover to cover. I love to feel like I know the person that devoted so much of their time and taste buds into this book. If I feel a clash of personality I will most likely not like their book nor will I be willing to try their recipes. I feel very bonded to my cookbooks and they look well loved. I use them repeatedly and make notes in them of how I will do it differently next time. The corners are bent and sometime smudged with a listed ingredient. So now that you know I have a weird cookbook fetish I will move on.
Well Fed has made its way to the top of my favorites list. I usually lean toward thick hardback cookbooks but despite its small and flimsy shell it is packed with so much to love. I honestly feel like Melissa Joulwan and I are best friends now. I read her blog, The Clothes Make the Girl, regularly but she also does a great job of letting her personality shine through her book's pages. My new best friend Melissa grew up in family-owned restaurants and surrounded by family members that had a love for cooking. She talks about how the process of cooking...the visualizing, shopping, chopping are all sources of joy. Throughout the books she reminds you to smell the combination of spices or to be creative and find a way to make her recipes your recipes. She encourages you to do it differently, play around with the flavors, use different combinations of ingredients. I honestly adore that. It is the way I cook and it doesn't always turn out perfect but it is fun along the way and I learn something new in the process.
My bestie is a real person with real health issues and she goes into detail about why she chooses to eat paleo and also gives a quick and dirty lesson on paleo basics. One really cool section I liked was "The Weekly Cookup." I really hate the idea of giving up an entire day of cooking but after reading this section I realized I could do all that I needed to do in 1 hour! She is awesome at breaking it all down and explaining how you can make paleo be creative and not just a set of rules. The first 30 pages of this skinny little book are packed full of cooking tips and hints. If you are the type of person that can watch the Food Network for hours without moving and are awed by the way Giada cuts open an avocado then this is the book for you!
The recipes are very intriguing. I get stuck in my American, Mexican, Italian rut and forget that there is amazing food in all nationalities. Mel (I call her that sometimes) is great at mixing it up. In a turn of a page you go from Greek Beef Stew with Orange Gremolota to Waldorf Tuna Salad. I had to add quite a few spices to my collection because she uses so many! And all of the recipes seem so fancy but when you actually make them you realize they are so simple and for the most part use very few ingredients. She packs each recipe with other creative options and bits of her personality and heritage. And even though this shouldn't matter but it is actually a deal breaker for me...her pictures rock. There is a picture with every recipe and they all make my mouth water....except for the Scotch Eggs recipe. That one looks like an eyeball wrapped in meat.
The one and ONLY negative I have to tell about this lovely cookbook is it is falling apart at the seams! I know I love it a lot but I had barely turned the first page and it was already turning into the Velveteen Rabbit. So far 26 pages have fallen out. Boo. But you know what? It was going to look like that eventually because I L-O-V-E the snot out of it...and apparently the binding.
I have made a few recipes from it so far and all have been excellent! Earlier in the week I made the Shepherds Pie which rocked because I needed to make it ahead of time because we now have to fit in the joy of abusing our bodies at CrossFit. I was able to throw this hearty meal together, store in the fridge and then drag my aching tired body over to the oven and heat it up for 20 minutes after our workout.
Shepherd's Pie---Except I think mine was technically a Cottage Pie because I used ground beef and not lamb.
1 batch Mashed Cauliflower (basically steam and blend in the processor a bag of frozen cauliflower and add coconut milk, garlic, salt and pepper.
1 1/2 TBSP coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 pounds ground lamb or beef
salt and pepper
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 tsp coconut aminos
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 egg whites
paprika for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt coconut oil in large skillet and saute onion and carrots until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add meat and brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Add tomato paste, broth, coconut aminos, rosemary, and thyme to pan and let simmer for 10 minutes. Set pan aside and let cool. Meanwhile scramble egg whites and blend into meat mixture. (hmmm...I'm pretty sure I left that little part out when I made it. Oh well. It was still yummy and it saved me some eggs.)
Pour your meaty mixture into a baking dish and cover with mashed cauliflower. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
I made her recipe on pg 69 called "The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat" tonight except not really. The whole point of this recipe is to use some brining method which I had absolutely no time or patience for despite spending an extra $15 on spices so that I had the stuff to do it. But the chicken turned out okay. But then when I added the amazing Moroccan Dipping Sauce it turned these little chicky breast into a vacation in my mouth. (Sometimes adjectives are hard for my brain to find.)
The Best Okay Chicken You will Ever Eat Because You Left Out the Brining Method
Mix the following spices together:
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP curry powder-I usually leave curry out of recipes because it smells like stinky armpits but it was good in this recipe.
1 TBSP chili powder
1/2 TBSP ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 TBSP pepper
Melt 2 TBSP coconut oil and mix with spices. Then rub all over your chicken breasts. Pop in the over at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
The Moroccan Dipping Sauce That Totally Makes Okay Chicken AWESOME!
Mix the following together and wisk:
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped super small
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped super small
Pour all over Okay Chicken. Now that's yummy!
I hope you all go check out Melissa's book, Well Fed. It seems pricey, $29.95 for its small size but it is packed full of great recipes and awesome tips. Plus it will make you fall in love with cooking for the first time or all over again.