The Chopped Cookbook from Food Network
I'm a long time fan of the show Chopped on the Food Network as well as a lover of cookbooks. When I heard that those had been combined I was curious. How could a cookbook possibly come from Chopped? Are they recipes that were used by contestants on the show? Do they ship baskets to you? Would I have to make something that contained an ostrich egg? Like I said, I was curious.
Then I got the cookbook in my hot little hands and I was no longer curious. However, I was impressed. While the recipes don't call for the odd and sometimes scary ingredients that come out of the baskets each contestant gets the book does stress the overall feel of the show. Work with what you have and do it fast.
The book itself is broken into 10 segments covering things like Pasta Night, Eggs After Breakfast, Big Salads Hearty and Fresh, and Short and Sweet Easy Desserts. There is a vegetarian chapter as well as proteins broken down by type. Each recipe contains serving size, active time and total time as well as little hints and tips in the margin. Some relate to the recipes and others are tips and tricks from some of the judges. With very few exceptions most of the recipes can be made in about half an hour.
On the first flip through I tagged about 20 recipes I wanted to try but the one that really caught my eye was Pretzel-Mustard-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Sliders.
The recipes says the Active time is 45 minutes but I found it to be more like 30 or so. I made the sauce earlier that day and then toasted the slider buns (because you should ALWAYS toast hamburger or slider buns) while the pork was frying. What took the most time was crushing up all the pretzels. The instructions were very clear and well laid out. I did have to make a substitution because I didn't have any Bread&Butter pickles and I wanted these NOW! While I normally prefer to follow the directions exactly if I'm reviewing a cookbook I figured that the whole idea of Chopped is to work with what you have. Plus, as a whole my family doesn't care for Bread&Butter pickles. So I left out the pickles and substituted a little extra horseradish and lemon juice to supply the acid that the pickle juice would have brought. Results? AMAZING! Everyone raved about these and ate every bite and it has been requested that these make a return visit very soon.
So for the cookbook as a whole:
Clear instructions and great pictures for every recipe.
Fabulous charts for pan sauces and vinaigrettes that are creative and can be paired with anything.
A wide variety of main dishes made from mostly fresh ingredients and no processed food
Easy weeknight food that's different but not too different for my relatively picky family
Most of the ingredients are easy to find and inexpensive
No breads, appetizers, drinks and a very small dessert section
May be a little too adventurous for the chicken nugget only eater
I love this cookbook! It's great for someone like me who is an experienced cook but likes to mix it up a bit and has all the schedule issues that come from having a busy family. I also think it'd be great for someone who is relatively new to the kitchen but wants to learn how to make great dishes. This would be the kind of cookbook I'd give my kids when they find places of their own but at the same time I expect to be using it regularly.
*This book was provided by Blogging for Books for review purposes. However, all opinions offered are completely my own *