Mark your calendars!

Last night, I prepared a Rachael Ray recipe that was supposed to take 60 minutes … and it did! 62 minutes, to be exact. But well within an acceptable margin of error.

The recipe was “Spicy Lentil Stoup”, from Just in Time. It was good, too! A nice, thick soup with plenty of lentils and kale, plus tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic, various spices, and a bit of pancetta, a couple anchovy fillets, and chicken broth to give it flavor.

I think that the 60-minute meals are more likely to be accurate estimates of the time required. They tend to be recipes that require simmering for 25 minutes or so, and where Rachael grossly underestimates the time it will take an average person to sprint through one of her recipes is in prep. I just can’t chop that fast! Not to mention finding the ingredients, mopping up all the liquid that the tomatoes I chopped have released onto the cutting board before I mince the thyme. Etc.

The Spicy Lentil Stoup serves way more than 4, though (and is not really very spicy)! Hopefully Donald will help me to eat lots of it tomorrow night, so that I don’t have to put any of it in the freezer. I’m going to Newport next week for a chemistry conference, so I’m afraid I might not have a chance to finish it (especially since I’m having a dinner party on Saturday night, so I won’t be able to eat it then).

I’ve mentioned America’s Test Kitchen a few times, and how their cooking time estimates are usually more reliable than Rachael Ray’s. On Monday, I prepared Grilled Tuna and Bok Choy with Soy-Ginger Glaze from The Quick Recipe. Estimated time, 45 minutes. Actual time, 52 minutes. But that includes the time it took me to run back into the house and splash water in my eyes when the glaze dripped down onto the coals and turned into some potent tear gas that could have been used as crowd control.

That recipe was also tasty. Though the grilling part gets busy, when you have 4 tuna steaks and 8 pieces of bok choy on the grill all at once. And I couldn’t figure out how to keep the bok choy leaves from turning into charred shreds like the newspaper I used to light the coals. The cookbook said to squirt water on them occasionally “to prevent them from drying out”, but it didn’t really seem to help all that much. Besides, I had to keep glazing the tuna, and flipping it periodically (and chasing the tuna pieces around the grill with the spatula). And splashing water on my eyes.

Whole Foods apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that America’s Test Kitchen recommends grilling tuna steaks at least 1 1/2 inches thick if you want rare tuna, because I couldn’t find anything thicker than about 1 inch.

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2 Responses to Mark your calendars!

  1. Pamela says:

    I can never find any of the meat cuts described in ATK (I get Cook’s Illustrated). I read all the articles about different cuts and different names used for them and I get to the market and nothing resembles anything from the magazine. I’ve even asked the butcher, “My recipe says I need x” and the butcher has no idea what I’m talking about.

  2. Kristin says:

    I can usually find them, but sometimes not in the exact size or thickness that’s specified in the recipe. I think it’s a regional thing, though. America’s Test Kitchen is based in the Boston area, and the products they recommend tend to be chosen from what’s available in Boston-area supermarkets. I often have the problem you’re describing with cookbooks from the West Coast.

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