31 October 2009

Weekend Cooking: Review: What to Cook . . . by Arthur Schwartz

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat by Arthur Schwartz is one of the cookbooks that I turn to a lot. I confess that I probably haven't made but one of the recipes exactly as written in the book, but that is not what this book is all about.

The chapters are arranged alphabetically by main ingredient, from anchovies to yogurt. Each one starts by introducing the ingredient, including storage and preparation tips, and concludes with three to four recipes. The first chapter has information on how to use the book and how to stock your pantry.

I usually turn to the book for ideas. It's late, and I think I have nothing for dinner in the house. I rummage around the cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer, and then I look through the cookbook. Oh, I happen to have pasta, olive oil. garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Yay! I can make aglio e olio (found in the oil chapter). Generally, however, I use the book for inspiration, adapting the recipes for what I have on hand.

The book covers all meals plus desserts. The absolute godsend recipe in the book is this:

Microwave Polenta (serves 2)
Combine 1 cup cornmeal and 4 cups cold water in a 3-quart casserole. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir well to smooth out the mixture. Return to the microwave on high for 10 minutes, stir, and repeat two more times or until desired consistency. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. (adapted from p. 111)
My well-used cookbook is from 1992 and has a different cover. I haven't seen the newer edition, but I bet it is just as good or even better.

What to Cook at Powell's
What to Cook at Amazon
These 3 links lead to affiliate programs; if you buy, you support this blog.

Published by Harper Perennial, 2000
ISBN-13: 9780060955595
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Rating: B


bermudaonion 10/31/09, 9:30 AM  

I need this book! I don't know how to throw things together to make a meal.

Margot 10/31/09, 11:13 AM  

I need this book too. I'm always looking for inspiration at the last minute even though I plan my meals a week in advance. I need to get out of my rut.

Sherrie 10/31/09, 11:16 AM  

Hi Beth,
Great idea for a weekly feature. I have joined in this weekend over at my other blog, Sherrie's Stuff. Come on over and take a look. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for this book. Sounds like one I need as I'm always looking for something to cook fast. Have a great day!!

Sherrie's Stuff

Lisa 10/31/09, 12:28 PM  

This is a great idea. I'm going to have to check it out. It probably would help avoid trips to the grocery store and any trip I can avoid is money I can save. For books, of course!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 10/31/09, 1:39 PM  

Fantastic button - so fun!

I'm going to try microwave polenta, that's the way to do it :)

I don't have a foodie post for this weekend, but I'll reserve those for Saturdays going forward. Nice new feature!

Care 10/31/09, 2:10 PM  

LOVE the idea of this book and your review and knowing that you are so adaptable. I love to be daring and not follow recipes - only using them as a guide.

Unknown 10/31/09, 3:43 PM  

What a fantastic book! I could have used this twice this past week when I forgot to defrost anything for dinner!

This is a great idea for a topic Beth! I missed your original post or I would have saved my review that I posted yesterday for today and linked it here. It's a review of the wonderful book, Confections of a Closet Master Baker and every chapter ends with a delicious recipe!

Wendy 10/31/09, 4:32 PM  

I love polenta...and I love this new meme! I've posted about a chicken and apple dish I made last night which was yummy!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 10/31/09, 5:28 PM  

I love Polenta, and this sounds pretty easy. thanks

Sandy Nawrot 11/1/09, 8:04 AM  

Beth, I must have missed your welcome post, but what a great idea! This is a perfect thing for you to do. I'll have to keep this in mind, since I'm always cooking, week and weekend both! Awesome!

caite 11/1/09, 9:16 AM  

awww...my other favorite thing, after books...FOOD! Love the Weekend Cooking idea!

Anonymous,  11/2/09, 6:07 AM  

TNX so much for the polenta tip: I hate the eternal stirring of polento on the stove so... I'm going to try microwave it a.s.a.p.!

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