Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Review of The Chopped Cookbook by Food Network

Nutshell: Have you ever seen Chopped on the Food Network? This book revolves around the show, pairing items together to make a meal. Items that you will most likely find in your pantry. But think of your pantry like the baskets the chef's open on the tv show. Sometimes quirky items, like on the show, but mostly normal, every day items.

Pro's: I loved this cookbook. Many pages are ear-marked of recipes I would like to try. Each chapter also has pages of suggestions of quick put-together's, based on the subject of the chapter. Like different pan sauces, playing with pasta, and different types of grains and how to cook them, just to give a few examples. I also really liked the bright, colorful pictures and easy to follow steps.

Con's: Some recipes were a bit "out there" and I wouldn't necessarily make for my family. Some items I can't find here in Michigan (like flat iron steak), so learning what to substitute made it a bit challenging, but a good learning experience.

Here are two recipes I tried from this book:

Shrimp Ramen 

8 ounces bacon, chopped
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups slices stemmed shiitake mushrooms (about 6 ounces)
7 cups chicken broth
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 (3 ounce) packages ramen noodles, flavor packets discarded
12 ounces peeled and deveined medium shrimp halved lengthwise (about 20)
2 Tbs 1-inch-long pieces chives

Cook the aromatics: Put the bacon in a cold medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Stir in the garlic and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the shiitakes and cook until well browned, about 6 minutes more.

Make the broth: Stir in the chicken broth, soy sauce, and Worcestershire and bring to a boil. Stir in the ramen noodles and boil until tender, about 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp and serve: Remove the broth from the heat and stir in the shrimp. Let stand until the shrimp are cooked, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve topped with chives.

Serves 4

What I did different: I halved the recipe and it made one bowl for each of us, which turned out to be enough (as the kids were not huge fans of this). I also used white mushrooms as the store didn't have shiitake mushrooms. Still tasted pretty good.

Butter Basted Flat Iron Steak with 
Tomato Butter Sauce and Parsley Noodles

Kosher salt
2 Tbs vegetable oil
4 (1/2 inch thick) top blade chuck steaks (flat iron steaks), 1 1/2 pounds total *
Freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 ounces egg noodles
2 Tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Start the water: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Sear the steaks: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, pour in the oil. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper and sear 2 steaks until browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Remove the steaks from the skillet. Add the other 2 steaks and sear until browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Flip these steaks and return the first 2 steaks to the skillet, raw-side down. Add 2 Tbs of the butter and the thyme. Once the butter melts, tilt the skillet slightly to pool the liquid, then constantly spoon the butter over the steaks until the meat is medium-rare, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the steaks to a rimmed plate to rest. Keep the skillet handy.

Cook the noodles: Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water and drain. Return the noodles to the pot and toss with 2 Tbs of the butter and parsley.

Blister the tomatoes (I did this while the noodles were cooking): Put the tomatoes in the same skillet and blister over medium heat until blackened in spots and softened, about 4 minutes. When the tomatoes are very soft, remove the thyme sprigs and carefully mash the tomatoes with a slotted spoon or potato masher. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs of butter and the vinegar until incorporated, thinning out with the reserved cooking water if necessary to make a smooth sauce. Season with 1/2 tsp salt.

Serve: Slice the steaks thinly against the grain and add any juices that accumulate to the tomato sauce. Divide the noodles among 4 plates, set the sliced steak on top, and finish with the tomato butter sauce.

Serves 4

Vegify It: Instead of egg noodles, use strips of raw zucchini (shave them with a vegetable peeler) to get a double dose of veggies in.

*I could not find flat iron steak, but the butcher suggester sizzler steaks. I used 2 thicker ones and they turned out amazing.

All of us were huge fans of this recipe (my kids love steak), so I will definitely be making this one again! The sauce was delish and this was a fast meal to make!

Waterbrook Multnomah sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions are my own, as are the food pictures used in this post.