Oldschool Recipes In Hot New Cookbook
The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart
Did Alex Guarnaschelli grow up in my house? I didn’t think so but I was scratching my head metaphorically when I read this book. Clearly written by a Generation-Xer raised in a metropolitan city, leafing through this book was a bit of “this is your life”. An accomplished chef and TV personality, Guarnaschelli’s articulate voice and enthusiasm for food shines in this cookbook which includes family recipes, updated classics and some thoroughly modern ones to boot.
From the 80’s you’ve got a 1984 Portobello Sandwich filled with goat cheese and tomatoes, updated Chicken Marbella (the famous Silver Palate chicken with prunes and olives) and Veal Osso Buco. From the 70’s you’ve got Sticky Baked Chicken Wings, fried Chinese Lemon Chicken and Super Vanilla Angel Food Cake. There are classics like Grandma Guarnaschelli’s Lasagna, Grandpa Guarnaschelli’s Sweet-and-Sour Onions and Crème Caramel. And yet – it’s not the same as looking at an old cookbook. The flavours are global. Everything is at least a little bit updated and there are recipes that are definitely new. I’m pretty sure that I’ve eaten something like the Dry-Roasted Scallions with Romesco Sauce at Bar Isabel. I would not have found, or eaten, Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad back in the day. Spicy Rye Berry and Eggplant Salad is a perfect example of modern plant-based eating. The Bourbon Sour Cherry Slush is calling my name.
So I had fun looking through this book and cooking from it too. Note this is not light fare. Chef Alex really likes her heavy cream. Some recipes needed a little tweaking, which I find happens with recipes written by restaurant chefs. On a wintery night I made Beef and Carrot Stew with short ribs and potatoes. This takes time to cook, but it wasn’t hard and it had rich flavour, even better the next day. For dessert I made Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Pink Peppercorn Caramel. This was delicious, particularly the addition of the pink peppercorns, which added a floral note. I would recommend using a cored pineapple instead of leaving in the core.
Roasted Shrimp with Chile and Almonds was a fast dinner but the guajillo pepper didn’t add enough spice for me and the shrimp took longer to cook than the recipe indicated. Our favourite was the Spicy Baked Chicken Wings with Honey Vinegar Glaze. It looks like the wings would be super spicy but they were a great mix of sweet, salty and spicy and not heavy at all. My only note is that I baked the wings for 40 minutes, not 15 minutes as indicated.
So, take a trip down memory lane and end up in 2018. It’s fun and if you are a fan of Guarnaschelli’s, you will definitely hear her voice come through when you read it.