Thursday, July 24, 2008

Project Cook-Along: My Selections

After some review, I have picked my books to cook through. At least for now. I am choosing to use three books, each with a different style, so that I won't get bored of one type of food. So, to start this project, I am selecting "Molto Italiano" by Mario Batali, "Boy Meets Grill" by Bobby Flay, and "Express Lane Meals" by Rachael Ray. I figure these three books should give me something for any occasion, from a quick after-work meal to a nice, sit-down affair with friends.

Making this selection was actually a lot harder than I had thought it would be. First, I have about three or four Bobby Flay books, all of which are untouched by me and each look wonderful. "Boy Meets Grill" was one of his first, if memory serves me, so I will start my "Bobby Flay experience" from his beginnings and we will grow together - even if only figuratively. I love the grill, and plan to use this book for weekend barbeques, whether just for me or for a group.

I chose Rachael Ray's book with simplicity in mind. I want a cookbook that is less intimidating, less detailed, than others, and more about the ease of quick meals, something Ms. Ray has become famous for. This book will come in real handy on those busy week nights when time is short and appetites are dangerously high.

Mario Batali has been a long-time idol of mine, from his whimsical attire to his fabulous creations in the kitchen. Admittedly, I absolutely love watching him on Iron Chef America. I plan to make his book the backbone to my cooking, using it for family meals, parties and anything where a more formal meal is required. But I wonder if I need the orange Crocks to be able to cook like him...

These three books could change. I selected them based on certain criteria, but if that criteria changes, or if my situation changes, I might have to revise the list. For now, I will start with these, and only these. That's not to say I won't be cooking anything BUT recipes from them, but I won't go off and start mass-cooking from a different book. I plan to keep track of the money spent on each recipe, the ease of cooking it, the taste factor (of course), and hopefully a critique on the author's presentation of the recipe in the book - namely, if the description matches, if the instructions are clear and easy to understand, etc. I will post each review here, but I will refrain from retyping the recipe itself. After all, I wouldn't want to give away each chef's recipes for free and take away from their book sales!

So, until the cooking begins...keep those knives sharp.