Monday, July 20, 2015

The Big Book of Sides: More Than 450 Recipes for the Best Vegetables, Grains, Salads, Breads, Sauces, and More by Rick Rodgers | Book Review

The Big Book of Sides: More than 450 Recipes for the Best Vegetables, Grains, Salads, Breads, Sauces, and More

This cookbook, as the subtitle states, is CHOCK FULL of recipes.  Over 450!  So I found quite a few to try.

The good:  most recipes called for 10 or less ingredients.  I don't want to sink a lot of time & money into sides, and this cookbook fit that profile.  Also, each recipe has a few sentences about the provenance and what dishes it might pair well with, whether or not it can be prepped ahead of time, and also how long it should expect to keep in the fridge as leftovers.  Also, the author does a lot of holiday/special occasion catering (according to his short bio in the front of the book), so he offers sample menus for major events like Christmas or New Years at the beginning.

The downers:  a few of the recipes called for ingredients I don't usually stock in my pantry, like anchovy paste.  But hey- it could be me.  Maybe I should be stocking anchovy paste.  And it was only about 10-15%, not a majority.  Also, a major deficit in pictures.  While my food never looks as awesome as the pictures in cookbooks, I like to have something to aim for!  This cookbook only has a select few of the recipes photographed, and all the photographs are concentrated in two glossy sections near the middle of the book.  Last little downside:  the book is quite thick, with standard blinding.  So it doesn't want to lay open flatly unless you break the spine.  I checked out my copy from the library, so I wasn't about to go breaking the spine!  For a small charge, FedEx will turn any standard binding into a spiral binding, so this isn't a make-or-break factor (for me).

Here are some of the recipes I tried:

Boiled Corn with BBQ Butter:  Super easy and super delicious.

Sweet Potato & Pecan Dinner Rolls:  Super labor intensive and super super super delicious.  I think the hubby ate 4 in a day.

Jalapeno, Bacon, and Corn Muffins:  Delicious, not too hard, BACON.

Couscous With Garbanzos and Herbs:  Delicious and easy.

Irish Soda Bread:  Ok.  Pretty easy.  Too dense for our taste.

Green Beans With Hot-and-Sweet Almonds:  Delicious, not too hard, DEFINITELY making again!

Broccoli With Easy Lemon-Butter Sauce:  Easy & tasty- my sorta-picky hubby enjoyed it.

Whole Wheat, Cheddar, and Sage Drop Biscuits:  Easy, delicious, will make again.  However, recipe calls for a mixture of all-purpose and whole-wheat flours; I subbed in whole-wheat for the all-purpose.  Still worked, but was maybe a little denser.

Tomato-Stuffed Bell Peppers:  Tasty, but the level of enjoyment didn't match the level of prep time.  Could be a good "impress" piece.

Sauteed Mushrooms With Garlic and Rosemary:  Loved it!  As did the hubby.  Came together quickly, too.  I used the optional tbsp of butter and the sauce was approaching decadent; prob would leave it out in the future and let the mushrooms "speak" for themselves.

Boiled Baby Potatoes With Green Beans and Pesto:  Delicious & not very labor intensive, but we're trying to only eat "real" food, and pre-prepared pesto has additives.  Also expensive.  And I don't have enough recipes calling for pesto to justify the time & energy to make it myself.

Tomato, Grilled Corn, and Basil Salad:  Delicious and perfect for summer.

Sweet Potato and Pear Casserole With Bourbon, Bacon, and Maple Syrup:  Pretty labor-intensive, but so worth it.  Absolutely delicious!  But what recipe containing bacon isn't?  Hubby doesn't care for cooked fruit, but he ate the sweet potato part with gusto.

Italian Rice, Cherry Tomato, and Basil Salad:  Simple and delicious; cold salad, so perfect for summer.

Overall, I'm wavering around 4 out of 5 stars on this cookbook.  Especially since I was able to look at it for free through my library.

*I checked out my copy of The Big Book of Sides from my local library.

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