Friday, September 9, 2016

"The Recipe Project Cookbook" (recipe by Mario Batali) & "The Hip-Hop Cookbook" (recipe by Hip Hop artist, Pexter) - more Minnesota State Fair

Date I made these recipes:  September 1, 2016 – a homage to the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand acts and my (coveted) Golden Decibel Award

The Hip Hop Cookbook - Four Elements Cooking by Cutmaster GB
Published by From Here to Fame Publishing
ISBN: 978-2-927946-38-2; © 2012
Purchased at Magers and Quinn Independent Booksellers (used) – Minneapolis, MN
Recipe:  Pexter's Angel Hair Parmesan Chicken – p. 60  (Pexter is Hip Hop artist Powerful Pex)

The Recipe Project– A Delectable Extravaganza of Food and Music – Songs by One Ring Zero, Words by Mario Batali; Tom Colicchio; David Chang; Isa Chandra Moskowitz; Michael Symon, Chris Cosentino and more (includes a CD of songs)
Published by Black Balloon Publishing
ISBN: 13: 978-1-936787-00-5; © 2011
Purchased at Powell's Chicago
Recipe:  Spaghetti with Sweet 100 Tomatoes courtesy of Mario Batali – p. 10

As mentioned in my last post, it's State Fair time here in Minnesota and in addition to all the things you'd expect to find at a state fair (animals, creative arts, lots of food, tractors, etc.), in these parts you also get The Grandstand.  The venerable Grandstand, only a few miles away from our house, books out many great bands during its 12-day run and given how sound travels, we practically have front-row seats to each and every concert!  For 12 nights, we hear each and every guitar lick, and each and every bass note, and each and every drum beat.   

So several years ago, after being "treated" to concert after concert, I created the (coveted) Golden Decibel Award for the person or group who blasts us out of house and home during the fair.  And by "blast," I mean that we cannot hear ourselves think and any TV show we are watching is drowned out by the music.  It's fun for the whole family!

Although I reserve the final vote (my contest, my vote—but with consultation from Andy), I always ask my Facebook friends to play along and vote for who they think will take the award. Then the Wednesday before opening day (always on a Thursday), I post the schedule with a link to The Grandstand acts and then people reply with their (initial) choices.  Here were this year's contenders:

  • Don Henley (formerly of the Eagles)
  • Charlie Wilson with special guest, Fantasia
  • Dixie Chicks (two nights)
  • Happy Together (music from the 60's and 70's)
  • G-Eazy
  • Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas
  • Alabama
  • Garrison Keillor (from A Prairie Home Companion)
  • Weezer
  • Bonnie Raitt

I always find it interesting that people tend to vote for the larger groups, like Dixie Chicks, or Alabama, thinking they have the firepower to be heard from a couple of miles away.  They are not wrong but I always caution voters that anything can happen and that weather plays an important part in determining the winner.  If it is hot and humid (as it usually is at this time of year), no amount of sound gets through Nature's "Wall of Water," and we've had some years where we wondered if anybody would prevail.  Such was not the case this year but more on that later.  Let's talk cookbooks!

Since the Golden Decibel Award is theoretically about music (but more like "Quien es mas macho?" when it comes to making noise), I thought it would be fun to make something from these two band and music-related cookbooks and to make it easiest on myself, I tried out two different pasta dishes rather than do different and more complicated courses.

And so from the shelf, I pulled The Recipe Project Cookbook, a book with 12 (and only 12) recipes, a CD of songs by One Ring Zero as well as musical and cooking discussions, and The Hip Hop Cookbook, filled with 40 recipes from 40 Hip Hop artists but alas, no music CD.  Let's review!

I must say that The Recipe Project Cookbook, while intriguing, was sadly lacking in what I consider to be edible fare.  One recipe was for "Raw Peach."  Now I ask you, how does a "raw" peach "recipe" end up in a cookbook?  File that under "Nothing to see here, folks."

Also eliminated:  "Creamless Creamed Corn," "Pickled Pumpkin," "Octopus with Black Eyed Peas," and my favorite (not really) "Brains and Eggs." Ugh. 

So just like the Golden Decibel Award, this left me with few contenders out of the 12 and so I went with the one that seemed easiest: Spaghetti with Sweet 100 Tomatoes courtesy Mario Batali.

Mario's recipe would have been a home run save for the trouble I had finding these two very important ingredients:  lemon basil and garlic chives.  I checked three of the more upscale grocery stores in town and struck out, and the Seward Co-Op near my house had only garlic chives (by the pound!) and not the lemon basil.  I must say that I was surprised as I can usually source almost anything I want in the Twin Cities.  Except for today, of course.

So I tweaked this dish as follows:  I added a bit more garlic to the recipe and then grated some lemon zest into the sauté pan and it worked out fine.  It was only after I "ta-da'ed" the dish to Andy that he reminded me that he wasn't that fond of tomatoes.  Oops.

In addition to the recipes, you'll also get nine "Musings" by various writers and five "Interviews" with "celebrity" chefs and other foodies. My favorite "musing" is "The Beatles' White Album: I'm Just Here For the Food," by cookbook author and food columnist, Melissa Clark.  And in the "Interview" category, I like Andrea Reusing expounding on "Bruce Springsteen, Egg Haters, and Giant Clams."  You've got to love an interview with that mash-up in the title!

Then from The Hip Hop Cookbook, you get 40 bios and 40 recipes from various Hip Hop artists. I have to confess that the only artist I recognize from this list is Kurtis Blow and the only song I know is his "The Breaks:" "Clap your hands everybody/If you got what it takes/'Cause I'm Kurtis Blow and I want you to know/That these are the breaks." (And how cosmic was this:  our local radio station, The Current, played this song yesterday afternoon.  Awesome!)

Other hip hop artists featured in this book (random sampling here) are:  Katmando; Blade TC5; Funkmaster Ozone; Cutmaster GB and Pyestar.  Today's recipe was from the previously-mentioned Powerful Pexter, a/k/a Tony Lopez.  When I Googled this guy, he came up under "Old-School Hip Hop."  I love it—"Old School" – as if I know who the "New School" hip hop artists are (I don't). 

Happily, this cookbook contained more recipes than The Recipe Project and while there were several pasta dishes that sounded interesting, I decided to make it as easy as possible and cook for chicken with parmesan.

You should know though folks, that this chicken parmesan is not the chicken parm you may be used to or expecting.  The chicken is not coated, there's no red sauce and no mozzarella cheese.  Instead, it's pretty much as labeled:  Parmesan + chicken to which you add garlic, ½ fresh chili and parsley.  That's it. 

While I liked both recipes, Andy was a little underwhelmed. I thought both were tasty even if they were a bit on the boring side.  But again, as between brains and eggs, and pasta with tomatoes, I know which one he wouldn't have chosen and so that made that choice easy. 

So I made these dishes and then on Labor Day, the 2016 Golden Decibel Award contest wrapped up and our winner was...drum roll...Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas! (Applause!  Applause!)  Not one single person on Facebook, picked them! I didn't pick them!  Seems like nobody but nobody excepted them to prevail.  But let me tell you folks, they earned it by blasting us out of our house for almost 3 solid hours.  By the time they finished, it took me and Andy another hour just to realize that the show was over.  That is some kind of fire power!

So.  That concludes the (coveted) Golden Decibel Award and the Minnesota State Fair and this recipe blog!  These recipes, while not award-winning, are easy to make, leaving you plenty of time to relax and listen to your own favorite musical selections, and hopefully not because they were "beamed" into your living room from a couple miles away!

Mario Batali's Spaghetti with Sweet 100 Tomatoes – serves 4 – from The Recipe Project Cookbook
Kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pint sweet 100 tomatoes, or other tiny tomatoes
½ bunch garlic chives, cut into 1-inch lengths*
12 fresh lemon basil leaves, finely shredded*
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound spaghetti
Lemon zest*

*If you can't find garlic chives, substitute regular chives.  Same with the lemon basil but then add some lemon zest to the dish to approximate the lemon basil flavor.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking.  Lower the heat to medium-high and add garlic cloves.  Cook for 2 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned.  Add the tomatoes, chives, and basil, and cook over high heat until the tomatoes are just beginning to burst.  Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water according to package directions until it is tender, yet al dente.  Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the tomatoes.  Toss over high heat for 1 minute, then divide evenly among four warmed pasta bowls and serve immediately.

Pexter's Angel Hair Parmesan Chicken – serving size not given (4?)- from The Hip Hop Cookbook
14 oz angel hair or other pasta
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
½ fresh chili*
2 stalks of fresh, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
9 oz chicken breast
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

 *I used red pepper flakes instead of chili

Finely chop the garlic and chili, then cut the chicken into small pieces. Heat a bit of oil in a pan, add the garlic and chili and sauté on low heat for several minutes.  Add the chicken and sauté until thoroughly cooked.  Remove from the stove and add the parsley.

Cook the pasta in a large pot with salted water until al dente, drain and mix with the chicken/garlic/chili mixture.  Immediately add Parmesan and serve.

1 comment:

the vanilla bean blog said...

It was so nice to meet you last night! I'm excited to read through your blog and get a peek at your amazing cookbook collection. :)