Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cooking With Sam Zien / 2 Recipes Down

I just picked up two cookbooks by Sam Zien (Sam the Cooking Guy): Awesome Recipes & Kitchen Shortcuts and Just a Bunch of Recipes. I enjoy watching the reruns of Sam the Cooking Guy on one of the local cable channels here. He's down to earth, and both simple/relaxed and frantic all at the same time. Hell, it's a cooking show that my husband will even watch!


While I was reading this, I saw the "Fast Food" chapter of the book, and I had an inspiration. Remember the movie, Julie and Julia? "Julie & Julia is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Nora Ephron starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Messina. The film contrasts the life of chef Julia Child in the early years of her culinary career with the life of young New Yorker Julie Powell, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes in Child's cookbook in 365 days, a challenge she described on her popular blog that made her a published author."

Well, I'm not trying to make a name for myself with my writing here in this blog (anymore), but I wouldn't want to turn this into some shameless stunt.

"Child was reported to have been unimpressed with Powell's blog, believing her determination to cook every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year to be a stunt. Child's editor, Judith Jones, said in an interview:

"Flinging around four-letter words when cooking isn't attractive, to me or Julia. She didn't want to endorse it. What came through on the blog was somebody who was doing it almost for the sake of a stunt. She would never really describe the end results, how delicious it was, and what she learned. Julia didn't like what she called 'the flimsies.' She didn't suffer fools, if you know what I mean."

But I got to thinking...why couldn't I create my own Amy and Sam kind of situation here? I had read somewhere that Julia Child didn't like the blog because she thought that Julie didn't learn anything from it.

I'm setting out to learn some new recipes and ways to be a better cook. There's always something to be learned. So, for the next year, I will only cook new recipes from these two cookbooks by Sam Zien.

I started thumbing through his cookbooks and have already made a few changes to my kitchen. In going through the books, I made a list of some of the things that Sam considers the essentials to pick up the next time I go to the grocery store. "How many times have you stood in front of an open cupboard or fridge wondering what you could make with the seemingly random collection of items in front of you?" Point well taken!

I've already got a few good knives, tongs and a wooden cutting board. As it turns out, Sam is not a fan of synthetic cutting boards. I also had a plastic one, but I've since sent that one to the "things to keep in a camper" pile, if we get a camper.  He quote a study on "Disease Determinants of Sporadic Salmonellosis" and it said that wooden cutting boards are less likely to contract salmonellosis, even compared to the synthetic (glass or plastic boards).

So, taken from that "Fast Food" chapter of Just a Bunch of Recipes, here are the first two recipes I made:

Chili Corn Chip Bags (page 89) and Grilled PB and Jelly Sandwich (page 92)

What have I learned from this recipes?
 I've learned that Sam doesn't discriminate against ingredients. He seems to be about the easy and convenient ingredients.

The Chili Corn Chip Bags are are ANY kind of chili you want, mixed into a bag of Fritos and shredded cheddar cheese. And you know what? For as simple this recipe it, it was wildly good. This was my lunch earlier today. Now, in full disclosure, I didn't mix the chili into the bag of Fritos, because I had a big bag of corn chips so it was easier to  throw them into a bowl and toss the cooked chili on top.

My supper last night was the Grilled PB and Jelly Sandwich. Sam recommended raspberry jelly on whole wheat bread. I hate whole wheat, and for jelly, I had corn cob jelly that I bought on the way home from Cleveland, as we passed through West Virginia.

Holy shit, y'all, this recipe may have changed my life! 

I don't like cold PB and J sandwiches, because I've always thought the jelly makes the sandwich soggy. But even this simple of a recipe made me cook outside of my comfort zone and it was FANTASTIC! I had chunky peanut butter, and this will be a go-to recipe for the rest of my life!

And my change of jelly goes right in line with what Sam wrote in Awesome Recipes & Kitchen Shortcuts wrote. "Don't freak out about not having an ingredient. Recipes should be viewed as as a guide, that's it. Substitute, change switch, add more, add less--just do whatever the hell you need to do to make it." He also mentioned a grocery store "game" to play. Pick your recipe and and then get the stuff to make it, but pretend that one ingredient isn't available anymore. What are you going to substitute?

So here I am, going on a cooking adventure with Sam the Cooking Guy. Normally, I share the recipes I try out, but since these are in books for purchase, you'll have to get the book(s) yourself if you want to follow along. :)

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