It promised to be full of historical recipes published across the history of what may be America’s most famous newspaper, and that was good enough for me. I preordered the tome of knowledge right after watching Amanda’s video, and it arrived in a thicker box than I ever received for a single cookbook. That’s because its like four cookbooks stacked on top of each other, page after page of recipes with very little illustration or photography. It’s in the style of those old cookbooks that I love so much, and I loved it.
A relieving aspect of these bigger recipes is that Weissman does provide options for some of the stranger ingredients he calls for. An example of this comes in his mojo braised pork recipe that mentions seville oranges, but he also allows for limes. Nobody is getting seville oranges in their neighborhood grocery store. You’re a lucky person if you do. This lowered my concerns about the accessibility of the book a lot. Thank you, Weissman.
That Sounds So Good - Nov 2021
I was pleased to see that one of the ways that she writes recipes that I enjoyed so much, the Spin It sections in the ingredients, remained. They no longer appear beside the initial ingredient list but now at the bottom of the recipe. That’s okay. It’s still there, and it was a relief to find it again in her second outing. It’s perhaps the most identifiable Carla Lalli Music Thing in a cookbook, and it makes her style so accessible to everyone. No extra grocery store trips for one ingredient you forgot. Chances are, you’ve got something in your pantry to spin with when you’re cooking.
Starches from Scratch
If you thought the from scratch cooking of An Unapologetic cookbook ended with the staples, you don’t know Joshua Weissman. Nearly every episode of his youtube show includes some kind of bread or pasta making from scratch to level up whatever kind of meal he’s showing you how to replicate. As an amatuer bread baker, this is more interesting to me than the Staples from Scratch portion that opened up the book.
Right toward the front of this section is his own sourdough starter method which includes rye flour. Rye flour can be hard to find in a traditional grocery store as well. I had intended to replicate his method for his own sourdough, but I’m ressurecting my sourdough baking habit through the Tartine Bread method using the organic, artisan bread flour I get from Produce with Purpose every few weeks. I have no doubt that the rye flour makes a difference on sourdough production, but it’s another barrier to cooking in most small US cities that we don’t need if we’re going to test this book in earnest.
The bagel bread is a special thing I won’t do all the time. His sandwich loaf, however, is such a simple bread recipe that I would recommend it to anyone who’s just putting their toes into the bread baking water for the first time. It comes together quickly. There are two separate proofing periods, but you get an excellent result out of it. I mean, just look at this loaf. This sucker will be the best for its intended purpose: sandwiches. I did a poor job rolling it up so that little hole going through the dough is more user error than recipe error.
There are many options in this portion of the cookbook-- too many for me to try them all. I do, however, trust Weissman’s baking recipes implicitly after so many successful creations from his milkbread multipurpose dough. You can whip that fucker into all kinds of shapes to fulfill the roll that you need it to fill, as we mentioned earlier. Know your limitations in skill, and I believe you can bake out of this section with ease.
His pasta dough recipe that gets a lot of work in his videos is also in this part of the book, and it’s suitable for any cut pasta. It’s too wet for extruding in my opinion, but you can easily repurpose this dough into any shape you cut or fill. It’s fundamental to some of the later recipes just like it is for his videos. Familiarize yourself-- but be warned. You’ll need the fancy pasta roller gear. If this is beyond your price point as a starting home cook, no one will judge you for buying premade pasta for his later recipes. Not even Papa himself will judge you for that one.
As with the staples from scratch portion of the book, utilizing these recipes for later on in the book will simply be up to the amount of time you’re willing to spend to get to a final result. Papa will tell you that it’s more satisfying if you start from scratch. I don’t agree that that holds up all the time. Sometimes you just want a tasty dinner, and shortcuts are okay when you can make them. There are fewer pleasures as great as fresh bread, however, so weigh that expense of time and energy against convenience a little heavier.
Next week, we’ll dive into the other recipes in the book and utilize what we can from these earlier sections. I will be sure to note where these staples come in and may need replacement of store bought ingredients if you’re in a hurry. Thanks for sticking with us this October. We’ll announce our November book soon too!
Staples from Scratch
Beyond Weissman’s introduction to his book lies the first segment, Staples from Scratch-- and let me tell you, there’s a lot here to try to make from scratch rather than buy in your local grocery store. Some of these are things you see in most higher end cookbooks, such as homemade mayo methods and making cheeses by hand. Some of these processes include intense labor and time management, but I’m down for that now that I’m working from home with most of my time.
Right out of the gate, I know that making the cheeses may be out of the reach of some of us. The milk requirements are a little steep and hard to find at a normal grocery store. Raw milks aren’t sold in most grocery stores, and ultra-pasteurized is out of the question for these processes. You may get lucky and find a normal pasteurized milk, which is good enough. You probably won’t find goat milk for chevre, though. I’d have to find an actual goat farmer for that even in the great state of Wisconsin.
An Unapologetic Cookbook: October
And now I ask the question, how much of his cookbook is achievable for the typical home chef? He often employs kitchen equipment that is out of reach for most home cooks in his videos, so I expect to find this issue present in the cookbook as well. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to give it a shot, however. His voice as a chef on youtube is present in the early writing of the cookbook so far, and that’s one of the things that makes his work attractive in the first place
Cook This Book: Final Review
Woops. Here we are again at the end of a month with another cookbook and I didn’t write a single article about a single dinner I made out of the book. The god’s honest truth? The simplicity of the dishes I tested made it difficult to write about. I have a few paragraphs about each, so what better way to discuss the book at the end of the month than to string them all together? Cook this Book from Molly Baz, I have found, is an exercise in simplicity, accessibility, and fun.
Brown bacon that you’ve cut into small bites. Boom. Snap peas in the bacon fat. Boom. Orecchiette done boiling? Drop it in the pan with the bacon and the snap peas and a few spoonfuls of ricotta. Boom, dinner done. Hit it with some pepper. Eat good tonight.
Cook This Book: CBOM Intro
Homestyle Cookery: March CBoM
September of 2020 was the release of Matty Matheson’s Homestyle Cookery, which he debuted alongside several cooking videos with recipes from his book. I watched every single one. I love that guy. I guess it has as much to do with his cooking as it does that he’s a loud and occasionally obnoxious dude. My husband was a loud and occasionally obnoxious man when I met him. He still can be, sometimes, but the professionalism of news broadcast has toned him down a bit. Matty Matheson is never toned down.
I ordered Homestyle Cookery shortly after it’s release, but I haven’t really sat down with it and cooked yet to decide how I feel about its contents. Prior to writing this article, the only recipe I tried was his Chicken Fried Steak, which we’ll discuss in another article later on. The recipes Matty selected for his youtube channel all looked amazing, but some of them were a little labor intense or the ingredients difficult to get in Northeast Wisconsin. I don’t know any hunters yet that can get me rabbit. I don’t see rabbit in the store. I wish I did, but I don’t. I wondered if this was a common problem throughout the whole book, and that was enough for me to order it.
So March will be our month to decipher the secrets of Matty Matheson’s Homestyle Cookery. As usual, I’ll try to do one recipe a week to discuss on our website. If you’re a fan of Matty and want me to try one of the recipes from his videos, let me know. You can order Homestyle Cookery from Amazon or find it at your local bookstore where cookbooks are sold. It’s done pretty well in sales and was out of stock for a bit there through Amazon. Let’s support a loud weirdo.
If his youtube persona is sometimes hard for you to get behind, know that his actual cooking is pretty awesome. There are a variety of recipes available in this cookbook that aren’t going to have the ingredient trouble like I described with his rabbit dish above. The book is broken down into sections such as bread, stock, vegetables, etc. You’ll be able to find something to try, and we found many somethings to try. Below is a list of recipes you might see us cover this month.
Recipes we’re looking at:
Amboy: Final Review
January ended a long ass time ago, and that means it’s time to review Amboy in its entirety. I’ll start by saying that my journey with the cookbook has been so much fun. The recipes in it bring me back to good memories sharing the food of my friends and their families. That’s an experience I could really use during the pandemic, so I may be looking at this book through some rose colored glasses as a result.
We all know Alvin Cailan for his role on First We Feast’s Burger Show. He’s famous for his restaurant Eggslut. He’s started a fine meat purveyor with the same name as his cookbook. He’s done very well for himself, and there’s much to learn about the several stages of his career through the pages of Amboy. Wether it is a short article to begin a new section or the recipe itself, I find it to be very telling of the chef behind the food.
I took serious interest in his many lumpia recipes in the cookbook due to my own fond memories of the dish, and I find them to be the best look into the chef. A Filipino-American with a foot on either side of the line, and he’s finding middle ground to create tasty food that honors both sides of him. The cheeseburger lumpia will always be in my mind, and I’ll probably make them for my friends the next time they get their asses up north.
There are so many delicious things in this book to cook that I had absolutely no hope of getting to everything that I wanted to with the time that I had available to work on the book, and for that reason it’s going to be highly recommended to foodie friends of mine looking to change things up in the kitchen. The fact remains that it sometimes runs into the wall that we’ve experienced previously with Asian cornerstones: some ingredients may simply not be available without turning to our good friend Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
Eating Normal Recommends these recipes from Amboy:
And finally: Our ratings.
Accessibilit: 3 out of 5
Amboy suffers from the same problem that any Asian inspired cookbook suffers when you’re part of a more rural community: some ingredients just won’t be available without the use of Amazon. Even then, if you want to make lumpia, you’ll have to make your own wrappers if you don’t live near an Asian grocer that carries the frozen packages of lumpia wrappers. Standard egg roll wrappers that are sometimes available at basic supermarkets are not large enough. Very specific brands of soy sauce are called for to promote the flavor he’s going for: kikkoman won’t cut it according to his writing.
Difficulty: 4 out of 5
Amboy contains a variety of recipes for various levels of cooking experience, some of which are as simple as dressing a whole chicken in a packet of tamarind soup mix and roasting it to perfection. Some recipes are as hold as roasting a whole pig for lechon, which requires building your roasting pit as well as actually roasting the damn pig. That’s the beauty of the thing. There are things to aspire to as a cook, but there are also things you can achieve at any level.
Originality: 4 out of 5
Lucky Peach sits on my shelf filled with some recipes that I may have to pit against Alvin Cailan’s versions one day, but Amboy is not just a cookbook about adobo. This is a cookbook of his experiences spending summers in the Philippines and living an American life the rest of the year. There are things in here I can’t get anywhere else, and frankly, I’m not sure I’d trust anybody else to teach me how to make them. You can’t get someone else’s memories from another cookbook, and many of these recipes are built on fond memories.
Amboy is available now wherever cookbooks are sold. It is currently in stock on Amazon if you’re in a hurry. January was a great month for cooking. What’s next in March? Check back tomorrow.