The Cookbook Club - second meeting
Inviting people for dinner at home has become a real challenge. Chances that one or many of our friends are either celiac, vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, lactose-intolerant; suffer from allergies or a medical condition; or, have decided to follow one of the myriad of diets -are quite high. Setting up a menu for a home-cooked meal can be at times overwhelming – if not impossible. Going to a restaurant often seems to be the only reasonable solution.
Ali Maffucci’s “Inspiralized”- our book choice for the second meeting, may offer a few options for such eventualities. Now the title was confusing to me, too. It derives from a little gadget called spiralizer –the magician behind the crafting of the dishes. Basically a series of blades, the spiralizer cuts vegetables and fruits in different eye-catching and eye-tricking forms that “disguised” as noodles, shoestrings, rice, strips, become the base for pasta al pesto, paella, frittata, muffins, or even sushi.
Lured by a cooking-style that none of us –but one- knew about, we prepared our menu for the day. Three appetizers: Balsamic Glazed Peaches with Prosciutto and Roquefort; Pickled Onion, Watermelon salad with Ricotta Salata; and, Mediterranean Beet and Feta Skillet Bake. We continued our meal with two main courses: Pesto Spaghetti with Heirloom Grape Tomatoes (with real wheat pasta -a last minute solution) and Albóndigas and Chayote with Tomato-Serrano Sauce. Last but not least, we finished our meal with Apple and Pear Ricotta Parfaits with Pistachio.
Six simple dishes. Nothing presumptuous or exaggeratedly elaborated. Nothing involving time-consuming cooking techniques or glamorous ingredients. Anything can taste nice with truffles and foie gras, but it is transforming modest ingredients in great dishes what can be most challenging.
We were happy with what we had created for the day. No discussion, the book arouse interest, encouraged us to try something new and, most important of all, delivered multi-colored and tasty dishes with bright and contrasting flavors. We all agreed the recipes were rather uncomplicated and easy to follow and that we would try them out once in a while, but mostly for light summer dinners or outside picnics. The author did a good job at introducing the basics of the spirilizing procedure, explaining the pros of switching to a spiralized diet and detailing the nutritional benefits of doing so.
And it was the word diet that kept coming back over and over again to my mind when thinking about this cookbook. As intriguing as creating the “fake carbs” with the help of the new device was, I don’t think this would be a style of cooking that I would adopt on a daily basis. Not that I wouldn’t benefit of it (I could probably loose a few pounds), but personally, I would rather try to stay healthy by keeping a balanced diet and doing regular exercise. Besides, I doubt re-creating some of the old-favorites using vegetables or fruit –only- is feasible. Plantain will not substitute flour, and carrots will not substitute rice.
We gave the cookbook 7 out of 10 points.