December 9, 2010

Deviation: Review of Recipes Every Man Should Know

What's better than a little black dress? A little black book - OF RECIPES!

Well, that's probably a debatable point (it really depends on the dress - and the recipes ;-)

The essence of Recipes Every Man Should Know, the latest publication from Food Blogga author Susan Russo and Brett Cohen (author of Stuff Every Man Should Know), is embodied in its title. This little book is chock-full of uncomplicated, low-prep, sure-to-satisfy recipes, ranging from great breakfasts (for one...or two); bacon in greens, margaritas, and brownies; and romantic dinners that will impress that special lady (and then all her friends when she gushes to them later)!

The book makes a great first impression with it's sleek black cover, and a quick flip through reveals a clean and well-organized layout throughout the recipe pages. Inside, they begin with an easy-to-read table of contents and an amusing introduction ("So, why should men cook? 1. Women think men who cook are sexy, 2. It involves fire, sharp instruments, and meat, 3. Women think men who cook are sexy, and it involves fire, sharp instruments, and meat."). Next comes a graphic list of basic utensils every kitchen needs and a nice break-down of kitchen terms before launching into the recipes - they do a great job providing a good synopsis of "basically" everything without being overwhelming. It's a good way to start the book and set the tone: don't be intimidated, you're cool, you've got this.

So, to offer a thorough review of this Recipes Every Man Should Know, I tried out three recipes: a breakfast, a dinner, and a snack - plus a small bonus at the end!

BREAKFAST: Better-Than-IHOP Pancakes

This is a recipe that's simple and doesn't take a lot of time (spoiler alert: all the recipes in this book are like that!!). But this is a handy one to have on hand because while the basic pancake recipe holds up on its own, it also provides a great foundation for creative toppings and fillings. And if me suggesting "creative toppings and fillings" makes you want to run for the hills, fear not! Because Russo and Cohen have already been creative for you: listed right after the basic recipe are a few variations to spice things up a bit (chocolate chip, maple apples, rum bananas with nuts anyone?).

DINNER: Shrimp Fettuccine

I love pasta, and I love shrimp - but for some reason the thought of preparing seafood has always intimidated me a little. So this was new territory for me. And guess what?? The meal was great! I don't know what I was ever so worried about! Oh, the ingredients that you toss into the cream sauce just make the shrimp POP with flavor - I went back for a second, then a third helping. The best part was the timing: while the pasta is cooking, you can make the sauce and prepare the shrimp - it's really no more than 15 minutes to the table once the pasta water boils. It looks complex, it tastes complex, but it's a very approachable meal to make. This is the recipe that really sold me. I would be thoroughly impressed if someone - of any gender - whipped this up for dinner, especially in so short a time.

SNACK: Sweet-Potato Fries (Plain and also the Parmesan-and-Herb variation!)

While I consider myself a good cook, before Recipes Every Man Should Know, I only once ventured into the world of making fries. It didn't turn out so well (imagine eating a potato that's in a cute french-fries shape and warm...but kind of very raw). So I was excited to give a slightly more instructed try with Russo and Cohen's Sweet-Potato Fries. And what a turn out! This is a great example of why it's important to have a little easy-reference book on hand to guide you from one side of the kitchen - where fries turn out hard and raw and inedible - to the other side, where after a VERY few short steps you get soft and silky snacks worth passing around.


Though I didn't have this book on hand during Thanksgiving, in later reading through the "Turkey Carving" how-to, I realized the method described in Recipes Every Man Should Know was the same as ours this year. So here's a great example of the method they describe - look how beautifully it came out!! Have you ever seen such a gorgeous carving??

Obviously, this book is great for men AND women; I think it's important for everyone to know how to cook at least a little. Especially if you like bacon (and who doesn't?!), this is a great little book to have on hand no matter what your gender. I love that they point out in the intro, "It's small enough to fit in your back pocket, so you will never ever need to write a grocery list again." (Men, showing up at a grocery store with a recipe book as your shopping list is probably the ONLY way to pick up chicks at the supermarket. Just FYI.)

So not only is this a great little book to stick on your bookshelf, or slip in your back pocket - but can't you see it fitting just perfectly inside a Christmas stocking, too?? Check out Food Blogga here (where she even posts some of the recipes from the book!), or order a copy - modestly priced at $9.95! - from here.

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