Dinner : Changing the Game, written by Melissa Clark. This is a large hardbound book filled with many recipes – all about dinner! Main course meat dishes, eggs, pasta dishes, beans and vegetable dinners, rice and grains, pizzas, soups, “salads that mean it”, plus dips and “go-withs”. As stated in the author’s introduction “each recipe in this book is meant to be your dinner – one fantastic dish that shines bright on the table”. The book includes a few recipes for go-withs (mostly veggie side dishes), but mainly focuses on single dinner dishes based around an international cuisine. Now, for me, I don’t feel that most of the recipes in this book are actually what I think of as a one-dish dinner. I feel that most need a side dish of some sort and, indeed, the author sometimes mentions another recipe that could be served on the side. At least half of the recipes include a beautiful full-page photograph of the completed recipe – I would have loved there to be a photo for every recipe as the photography of the food in this is quite lovely/yummy-looking. But, that does seem to leave more room for an extra amount of recipes (this book has lots!). A little complaint (and pet peeve of mine for cookbooks in general) : the printing in this book is fairly light and small, so I found it a bit hard to read. The small print does make it that each recipe fits entirely on one page, which is good.
The book includes many very interesting sounding recipes, some with rather long lists of ingredients and instructions – perhaps best suited for experienced home cooks. Each recipe includes an introductory paragraph, adding the author’s opinion and a personal touch to each dish – I like that!
I tried out a few of the recipes to see how well they were written, how well they worked, and how they tasted. Here’s the scoop on what I made, with opinions about each recipe’s preparation and completed dish, plus rating (from 1 to 4 stars):
Ratings: 4 stars = Super Yummy; 3 stars = Yummy; 2 stars = Meh; 1 star = Yucky
FISH TACOS with Red Cabbage, Jalapeno, and Lime Slaw
— This dish was very easy to prepare. The recipe called for a simple sauce to be made by mixing sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (I used sour cream) with minced garlic and lime zest. There was also a very easy to make slaw. This recipes calls for a flaky white fish and I used Cod. Assembly of these Fish Tacos was easy enough, though the recipe doesn’t actually say how many Tacos this makes (it just says “serves 4”, and simply says “corn tortillas” without an amount). I guess it is up to the individual as to how much of the toppings to use on each Taco – the toppings being the sauce, the slaw, avocado slices, and fresh cilantro leaves. These are served using corn tortillas, and the tortillas we had were very small (6-inch), so we made six tacos which served two people. The tacos came out quite good, though rather messy to eat. The flavor of the fish decent, though not really exciting or mouth-watering (the fish is rubbed with a spice mixture, then broiled in the oven to make these more healthy). Quite a bit of the red cabbage slaw leftover — and it was pretty bland tasting by itself as a side salad. This recipe was easy to follow. – ***
— This recipe is a take-off on a Tandoori-style chicken, roasted in your regular oven (rather than a clay oven, typically used for a Tandoori dish). The recipe called for a 14-ingredient marinade to be blended into a purée, which is then poured over the chicken pieces – then refrigerated for at least 6 hours or overnight. I made this in the morning so that it marinated for about 9-plus hours before cooking – and let me tell you, the fresh marinade smelled SO terrific after just being blended, the intoxicating aroma of all the various spices drifting all the way upstairs in my house! This chicken tasted really delicious and so easy to cook for dinner as the majority of the work (the marinade) was already done. Just roasted in a hot oven and served. Finger lickin’ good (literally, a bit messy – but so good). We served this with basmati rice, as suggested in the book, and some yogurt and mango chutney on the side for extra flavors. I will make this recipe again, I really liked it. – ****
SPINACH SALAD with CHICKPEAS AND SWEET POTATOES
— This recipe created a large spinach salad that was topped with roasted sweet potatoes and carrots, a little sliced shallot, and spiced chickpeas roasted in the oven until crispy and golden. The chickpeas were described in the recipe as acting sort of like “croutons” for this salad and, in a way, they did – they definitely gave a bit of a nice crunch in there. The salad dressing for this was a simple dressing of plain Greek yogurt mixed with a little lemon juice and garlic (plus salt and pepper) – rather bland tasting (and I used WAY extra minced garlic). Maybe needed more lemon? Seemed to need a little somethin’ extra to pep it up. This salad ended up looking very visually attractive with all the golden brown and orange colors of the roasted veggies and chickpeas. But – the taste didn’t quite live up to the appealing look of this dish, the main reason being that I thought that the texture of the well-roasted sweet potatoes came out too “mushy”, which made that part of the dish rather yucky (not really sure if I just didn’t get these cooked quite right or that’s just the way it’s meant to be. The potatoes described as roasted until “tender and sweet”, these seemed quite a bit too tender!). The instructions/steps to this recipe were well written and easy to follow. – ** ½
FROGS AND TOADS IN A HOLE
— I was interested in this recipe as I sometimes like to make myself a simple grilled “Toad-in-the-Hole” egg sandwich – a sandwich which is basically a grilled cheese with an egg fried in the middle. I thought this recipe was an interesting twist on that old classic. This version includes a bottom layer of breakfast sausage with four egg-in-a-hole sandwiches baked on top. Oh yes, there’s also some grated Gruyère cheese baked on top for extra flavor – yum! This was pretty good, but struck me as much more complicated in preparation than it needed to be to achieve a similar taste. Also – this recipe only cuts the hole in half the bread slices and I think it would work better to have the holes in all the bread slices so that when you break each egg into the hole, it fits inside the bread better (as it was, lots of the egg spilled over the top of each hole and spread around on the bread slices before baking). – ***
A Few Final Thoughts and “Most Wanted List” of Recipes to Try Next:
I found this to be a nicely done, high-quality book that includes a large number of interesting, tasty-looking dishes including many that have a different twist or take on standard/classic recipes. I really like the chapter of chicken recipes which features twenty-six main dish recipes showcasing chicken (“Pizza Chicken” anyone?) Every one of these chicken recipes looks like something I would like to make. This chapter also includes tips on roasting a chicken. There are several interesting looking meatball recipes I would like to try (“Marmalade Meatballs with Cider Vinegar Glaze” – sounds yummy). There is also a nice selection of hearty-looking soup recipes that look quite tasty (“Crispy Chicken-Skin Pho” is calling my name). The “Skillet Brown-Butter Cornbread” recipe at the end of the book looks really good!
Visit the Penguin Random House website for more information about the cook book “Dinner : Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark, published by Clarkson Potter.
About the Author, Penguin Random House author bio.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review. Review and all opinions are my own.