After years of running the landmark Rock Cafe, mastering the fine art of managing food budgets, getting the most from ingredients, and creating satisfying comfort food that people love to eat, Dawn Welch shares the recipes and the knowledge she garnered along the way. Budgets matter to Dawn, as does the pleasure of cooking: "Dishing up the same-old stretch-it-on-a-shoestring ground beef and pasta dishes is no fun, and honestly, there's just no way I could survive without a thick and juicy steak every once in a while. My family digs into lots of special meals, and I still manage to keep my food costs in check." Dawn's advice and her recipes use fresh, clean ingredients and her strategies keep family eating free of too many processed foods.
Dawn begins the book with a primary strategy - what she calls "The Big Bang Relay." This explosive strategy means cooking and shopping in bulk. "Cooking big today, whether it's a slow-roasted pork shoulder or a baked ham, means I've already cooked (and paid for) my main-dish protein for another day. When I serve up Chicken and Dumplings or Chicken Udon Soup - both of which are the delectable spin offs of an original roast chicken meal - I get the rush of feeling I've gotten something for nothing." This is an essentially simple strategy that can be followed by any home cook, no matter how pressured by time. As an example, Dawn makes a Roast Pork Shoulder with Salsa Verde. Not only can the salsa be made in advance as well as frozen for later use, but the pork shoulder reappears as Pork, Currant & Pine Nut Ragout over Fettuccine, Roast Pork, Beans & Bangers, Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Barbecue Sauce. We especially like the word homemade.
Sauces are important to Dawn: "I have a rotating collection of sauces that helps me get dinner on the table. Once you have your sauce made and tucked away in the freezer or fridge, adding a protein, veggie, or starch is a snap." As a tip, Dawn recommends storing in Ziploc bags rather than plastic containers. Among the many conveniences of this method,the plastic bags save space in the freezer which will be quite full following Dawn's advice.
Dawn covers the events of family life, such as Eating Out at Home (global recipes), The Doorbell Dash (last minute visitors). She includes a weekly menu maker complete with the cost of a dish, a weekly shopping list so the pantry is ready for action. She places sidebars throughout giving tips on the various dishes and ingredients. At no time does she resort to prepared products. She includes a series of icons that indicate 1) recipes that can be made ahead, 2) recipes that are kid-friendly, 3) recipes that are super-quick and easy to make and finally 4) recipes that are good candidates for freezing.
The recipes range from breakfast to dinner with a classic sweet ending. You will find such delicious recipes as Artichoke, Black Olive & Ricotta Calzone, Sage Biscuits & Mushroom-Sausage Gravy, Barbecued Pineapple Chicken, Country Omelet with Feta, Grits with Eggs, Cheddar & Chives, Paella with Spicy Sausage & Shrimp, Thyme & Spinach, Chocolate & Coconut Snowball Cake, Pink Lemonade Ice Cream Cake, Double Ginger Bundt Cake with Marmalade & Orange Icing.
We delight in this book for its simple strategies and its use of fresh ingredients. This is a workable and delightful book with color photographs throughout by Joseph De Leo.