America's Test Kitchen Comes to Europa

A couple of months ago, we were surprised with a lovely brown paper package on our doorstep.

Contents:
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My brother and his wife ordered this cookbook off of Amazon for us and had it sent all the way over here. Knowing my older brother likes to cook, I had asked him via e-mail where he finds his recipes.

I had been using recipezaar.com and supercook.com (where you type in your ingredients to get recipes...handy) a lot and was wondering what sites he used. He said that they have some great cookbooks, but said his best was a book called America's Test Kitchen. "It has recipes for any meal you can think of." And that was that.

Little did I know that by asking a simple question I would receive a gift!

Of course you can probably find any recipe imaginable on the internet, but there's something nice about actually having the cookbook in your hands. I don't have to lug my laptop to the kitchen and worry about spills or accidental drops off the windowsill. Whoops.

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And this one comes with lots of great pictures, step-by-step guides and useful tips on almost every recipe on how exactly to cook a certain dish, why buttermilk is better than eggs in this dressing or why you should chunk your wok. (It's not meant for household stoves and the heat mostly stays on the bottom...a skillet works better on home stoves, silly.)

And, one of the biggest reasons I love it:

Because most of it you make yourself and it relies very little on store bought dressings or sauces...things I can't get here!

And guess what? Homemade stuff tastes better. And most of the time it's not even that much extra work. I will never use a store bought dressing again. Enchilada sauce? Easy peasy. Garlic croutons? Crank up the oven lover! Tortillas? Ok, so we buy those even though the book says they're easy.

I thought I'd share some simple recipes that we've found delish.

These are probably the least exciting ones we've made..but classic and enjoyed by most. (And the ones we happened to photograph.)

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I love a good caesar and you can't get them over here. Add some grilled chicken and you've got yourself a healthy dinner - easy caesey that's nice and pleasey..and quite cheesy.
Caesar Salad
Serves 6
Parmesan cheese is a main ingredient in this salad, so be sure to use authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano and grate it yourself. Since this dressing is so flavorful, mild olive oil (or even vegetable oil), rather than extra-virgin olive oil, works well.

DRESSING
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry (i leave these out)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

SALAD
3 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
1 recipe Garlic Croutons (below)

GARLIC CROUTONS (crucial for your life)
Makes 4 cups
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups (1/2-inch) bread cubes

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{some of these were a bit too browned, but devoured nonetheless}

Crouton directions:

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the oil, garlic and salt together in a large bowl. Add the bread cubes and toss until thoroughly coated. Spread the bread onto a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 mins. Allow the croutons to cool to room temp. before serving. Eat a handful before Art comes into the kitchen.

Salad directions:
Blend all of the dressing ingredients except the oil in a blender (or food processor) (or with whisk in a bowl if you live in Graz and own no kitchen gadgets) until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, add the oil in a steady stream. Toss the salad ingredients with about 1/2 cup of the dressing. Serve, passing the extra dressing separately. Bossy about how to disperse dressing apparently.

-I added some grilled chicky to mine.
(Season with salt and pep, throw in shimmering hot veggie oiled (1 tbsp.) skillet. Cook until that chick is lightly browned on both sides. Cut and throw in salad.)
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No-Cook Tomato Sauce (w/ pasta)
Makes 4 cups
Called "salsa cruda" in Italy, this raw sauce depends solely on the sweet, ripe flavor of good summer tomatoes. When serving, toss the sauce with the hot drained pasta and let the tomatoes wilt slightly for a minute or two. This sauce works well with short, stubby pastas (or women) such as penne, farfalle and fusilli.


4 large ripe tomatoes (2 lbs.), halved, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
(I threw some freshly grated Parmesan into the mix)
Salt and pepper

Combine the tomatoes, oil, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When tossing the sauce with pasta, add some of the pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the consistency of the sauce.
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And, if you are still reading, #3:

Another salad because well, while the salads here are good, they are always THE SAME Styrian style with lettuce, tomatoes, potato salad at the bottom, possibly some carrot slivers or big Styrian beans and pumpkin seed oil dressing. Variety is seriously lacking. And, our American salads are better. There..I said it.

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{I need to work on my 'food styling'..this looks like a big mush of lettuce and ingredients, which it mostly is. The kitchen lighting is horrific and I usually call to Art when the meal's done, "Come and get dinner..and take a picture, honey!" He is usually snap happy and hungry and takes a picture far too soon... before the dressing has been poured or the croutons are placed ever-so-gingerly on top...oh, just terri.}

Arugula, Grapefruit & Feta Salad w/ Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

DRESSING
Makes about 1 cup
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional) (not optional in this household)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Shake all of the ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temp., then shake vigorously to recombine before using.

Why Shallots?
Shallots look and are used much like onions, but have a more delicate, almost sweet flavor. The mild flavor of shallots is perfect for vinaigrettes and sauces, where the pungency of yellow onions would be over powering. And, most importantly, they are called "Schalotten" in Austria, which makes it an easy item to find (and translate) for Carolyn.

SALAD
2 bunches arugula
1 red grapefruit, peeled with a knife, sectioned and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil
1/2 cup Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 cup)

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And there you have it. Thanks Chris and Linds. We LOVE our book.
Maybe I'll post some more exciting (Mexican!) dishes soon.

No, America's Test Kitchen isn't paying me to write this. But, you know that I don't have enough readers for that kinda thing anyways. About 15,000 more per day and we'd be good to go. Now, each of you tell 1,000 of your friends about 'ole LIG, you hear?

6 comments:

Molly said...

that pasta looked really good! mom cooks out of this cook book almost every night now. dad, andy, and i are reaping the benefits from that. we've done the chicken piccatta, stuffed tomatoes, and a few different pastas. looks like art gets fed well over there!
and hey..at least you have over 15,000 views of your blog. BOD is put to shame by LIG...

Rachel n Graz said...

When can I come to dinner?! I'll bring the wine :p I am making Mexican this week with a friend, we'd planned to do that last week but it took us over a week to track down tortillas & CORIANDER! I wouldn't attempt making my own tortillas without genuine Mexican instruction!

ansley said...

i just bought the cookbook on amazon. thanks, luva!

love, angie

Kimberly said...

Yum!

Anonymous said...

Hey, can I have the butternut squash souop recipe? My dad grows these. I used to make homemade butternut squash baby food for Miss Saige back in the day!

Lori Sowa said...

P.S. It is me (Lori) with the recipe request. Still a rookie at posting my comments!

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Thanks for leaving me a comment! You know I love it so.
- Carolyn