Catching up | Recipe report cards

30 Jan

I have been sick for the past 2+ weeks, which has put a serious damper on my Dinner: The Playbook plan! This cold has really wiped out my energy, plus getting word that my iron levels are low with this pregnancy, has led us to eat a lot of hamburgers and other quick or store-bought meals. But here are a few updates on what I did cook.

Roasted broccoli and cauliflower, Dinner: The Playbook

Note: I served this with a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

  • Meal: dinner, sometime last week
  • Kid tried?: Yes
  • Keeper?: Yes
  • Cook’s grade: A. Easy peasy. Dave likes broccoli but not cauliflower, and I like both but my stomach isn’t a big fan of broccoli. This was the perfect “meet in the middle” side, and the red pepper flakes gave it just enough punch. Another good side for when you’re roasting anything else in the oven.
  • Kid’s grade: B+. The Bug does not like spicy food at all. She liked eating the little trees until she bit into a piece with a red pepper flake. “Hot! Hot! Hot! Hot! Hot!” We got her to drink some milk to cool her tongue down, and I picked out some pieces without pepper on them for her. But other than that, this would be an A+ for her.

Vegetable Tempura (with shrimp), Dinner: The Playbook p. 178

Note: This was a second attempt at the veggie termpura, making a few changes, as noted below.

  • Meal: dinner, sometime last week
  • Kid tried?: Yes
  • Keeper?: Yes
  • Cook’s grade: A-. This isn’t hard to make, but frying anything is labor-intensive and creates a fair bit of stovetop cleanup (even with a splatter shield). I tried a few things to speed up the frying, none of which I would recommend. First, I dumped the veggies and frozen (cooked) shrimp into the batter, then pulled them out one by one. Then I slid the contents of my battered veggie plate into the oil. This, as one can really guess, created a giant veggie tempura pancake, which worked OK, but it prevented the batter from crisping all the way around each vegetable. It was faster, but not by much, and I wouldn’t say the results were worth it. To add some protein, I also used frozen cooked shrimp, which ended up being a little tough. I can’t quite tell if I used the wrong brand or if I should use raw shrimp (I wasn’t sure if 6 minutes frying time was enough to cook shrimp). I want more from the sauce, though. Plain soy sauce just isn’t quite tasty enough for the yummy tempura.
  • Kid’s grade: A-. Bug likes anything with rice and anything she can dip. She ate the veggies but not the shrimp.

Cooking tips for busy parents:

  • As Rosenstrach concedes, this is a good recipe for when you have a little more time (it’s in her “keep the spark alive” recipe section). It’s great for a slightly special meal that doesn’t require too much time in the kitchen.
  • Use up your end-of-week veggies, and it becomes a fridge-cleaner recipe PLUS a fancy meal.
  • To save time:
    • Cut the veggies beforehand
    • Don’t skimp on the batter and frying process
    • Use a rice cooker. Even better, use a rice cooker with a timer and literally set it and forget it. You could probably add the rice vinegar to the cooking water.
  • We bought a SodaStream for ourselves for an early Christmas gift, and that makes this recipe so much more accessible. I drink a lot of fizzy water and Dave drinks a lot of soda, but keeping single-serving portions on hand created so much recycling. Since the recipe requires club soda (i.e., unflavored fizzy water), I just use it as an excuse to make a bottle of fizzy water to drink, saving a cup for the recipe.

Knockwurst with braised cabbage and apples, Martha Stewart Living, October 2004

  • Meal: dinner, sometime last week
  • Kid tried?: Sort of. She had a modified version.
  • Keeper?: Yes for parents, try again for the kiddo
  • Cook’s grade: A-. About a year and a half ago, when I made sauerkraut from scratch (soooooo tasty), I made a crock pot version of this dish, but I can’t find the recipe. I stumbled across this one while going through some old magazines and decided to try it. Cooking-wise, it’s fairly simple. It takes about 1 hour 40 minutes to cook, but you need to tend to it only a few times during that time. A crock pot version would be still easier. Since our local grocery had house-made bratwurst, I used that instead of knockwurst. The apple chunks get integrated pretty thoroughly in with the cabbage, which initially disappointed me, but I really enjoyed the flavor and texture. Dave said, “This is the best version that you’ve made of this dish.”
  • Kid’s grade: D. She had one bite of “hot dog,” and enjoyed putting her fingers in the mustard, but she mostly ate the buttered peas and corn that I gave her with it.

Cooking tips for busy parents:

  • Use a mandoline or–even faster–a food processor to cut the cabbage and onions, and prep is sooooo simple.
  • For extra flavor, I would brown the sausages before then. You’ll be at the stove periodically while the onions are softening, so although it adds another pan for cleanup, it doesn’t really add time to the recipe.



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2 Responses to “Catching up | Recipe report cards”


  1. Actually, there is quite a lot of room for failure | Seamripper - February 17, 2015

    […] in Rosenstrach’s book. Or rather, my entire family doesn’t like them (except for the veggie tempura, which is a winner). Almost all of our misses were recipes from her book–although the rest of […]

  2. My new approach to cooking: Filling in the holes | Seamripper - March 15, 2015

    […] Shrimp and vegetable tempura […]

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