The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

I thought I’d bring Cookbooks on Trial back from hiatus by featuring a book that I love, Jaden Hair’s The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

Jaden is a popular food blogger/recipe developer/photographer who runs a culinary empire over at I’ve enjoyed her blog for years and so I decided to try out her cookbook.

A little background about me: I’m not a great cook and I don’t cook dinner from scratch every night (or if we’re being completely honest, most nights) but when I do want to cook something for dinner I usually turn to Asian recipes. One of the reasons why is that I grew up eating a lot of Korean food and so I’m familiar with the flavors, but the main reason is E’s food allergies.

With milk/cheese/butter/cream/eggs/nuts/shrimp off the table I find it easier to cook dishes that don’t include these ingredients in the first place rather than jury rig workarounds that don’t quite taste like the real thing. (Or course, dessert is the exception–I have aspirations to become an capable vegan baker.)

I made a number of things from the book: Baked Garlic Chilli Wings (spicy and perfect for a Superbowl party), Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho (surprising easy and delicious), Chinese Beef Broccoli (healthy and fast enough for a weeknight meal) and Hoisin and Honey Glazed Baby Back Ribs (tender and delicious). Even after I had tried out a few recipes for the purpose of reviewing the book I found myself going back to it again and again just because it’s fun to read and cook from.

I’m giving this book 5 (out of 5) stars. The instructions are clear, it contains a wide variety of dishes, it’s written in a pleasant conversational voice, it’s lovely to flip through (practically every recipe is accompanied by a well-shot photo), and most importantly, every recipe I’ve tried has turned out deliciously. The only adjustment I’ve had to make is cutting back a little on the five spice powder because N and I aren’t big fans of anise. Also, I wish the recipes included nutritional information, but it’s not an huge issue for me.

Out of all the (many) Asian cookbooks I own, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook is hands-down the most helpful for cooking quick flavorful dinners that you can actually put together on a weeknight. I love flipping through an esoteric super-authentic specialized cookbook as much as the next gal but this book actually gets used at our house.

Jaden writes in such a friendly voice that cooks new to Asian food can get as much out of it as those more familiar with Asian flavors. If you’d like to branch out and try some Asian recipes this would be a good book to start with. And if you want to try out some of her recipes before committing to the book, check them out here.

I’ve enjoyed this book so much that I volunteered to recipe-test Jaden’s second cookbook. N’s excited because it means that he gets a tasty fresh-cooked dinner every night this week. (Tonight it’s Teriyaki Salmon with Miso Asparagus) I just hope he doesn’t get too used to it 🙂

Hoisin and Honey Glazed Baby Back Ribs
from Jaden Hair’s The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.
(Serves 6 as part of a multi-course meal)


  • 5 lbs baby back ribs
  • salt and freshly ground balck pepper

Hoisin Honey Glaze
(Makes one cup)

  • 1 teaspoon high-heat cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon face spice powder
  • 1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
  2. With a knife or sharp kitchen shears, cut the ribs into sections with 5 or 6 ribs each (enough for a serving). Season the ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the ribs in a large Dutch oven or roasting pan (do not use a sheet pan–it’s too shallow to hold in all the juices during roasting). You can stack ribs on top of each other , but try to crisscross them. Cover tightly with a lid or double layer of aluminum foil and slow roast for 3 hours (or up to 6) Remove the ribs to a large sheet pan.
  3. To make the Hoisin Honey Glaze, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Just when the oil starts to get hot, add the garlic and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and summer over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened and it coasts the back of a spoon.
  4. When the glaze is ready, turn the over to broil and set the oven rack in the upper one-third position. Arranged the ribs in one layer on the sheet pan, meat side up. Spoon or brush the glaze on top of the ribs and broil for 3 min, until the glaze begins to bubble and caramelize. Keep an eye on the ribs to make sure you don’t burn the glaze! Brush on more glaze if you want before serving.

Seriously guys, make these doughnuts.

A while ago I ran across this recipe for doughnuts made using canned biscuit dough. E is allergic to dairy (among other things) but I found a type of dough that was dairy-free (although it contains beef tallow so sorry, vegans) and it was game-on.

It was only 15 minutes from E and I deciding some fresh doughnuts would be lovely to us holding these treats in our hot little hands.

All you do is

  1. Heat up some vegetable oil (about 1/2 inch) on med to med-high heat
  2. Pull apart the canned biscuits and cut out holes
  3. When the oil’s ready (I like to test it by dropping in a doughnut hole) add the doughnuts, getting each side golden brown.
  4. Pull them out and then dip each side in melted butter (vegan margarine for us) and then toss in cinnamon sugar.
  5. Devour.

Because of E’s food allergies it can be hard to find baked goods he can have, let alone ones that are delicious and quick to make. This is the most excited I’ve been about a recipe in a long time. They are sooo good when they’re fresh and hot.

The Indian Slow Cooker

We’ve just received word that the powers-that-be have green-lit Cookbooks on Trial for a second season! I’m going to kick off this round of reviews with one of The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla, or as I like to call it: “Lentils, Lentils, Lentils!”

I first read about this book at CityMama and since Stefania is a fantastic cook and she liked the book I put it on my wishlist. I’m really glad I picked it up.

Aloo Gobi is one of my favorite Indian dishes and so it was the first recipe I tried from the book. We liked it so much that I made it again a week later but decreased the amount of red pepper a bit. I love really spicy food but the first time around my mouth was ON FIRE.

Aloo Gobi on the right with some curry shrimp and rice

Aloo Gobi (Spiced Cauliflower and potatoes)
from The Indian Slow Cooker

Yield 7 cups


  • 1 large cauliflower, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 1 large potato (russet or yellow), peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (optional)
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, minced, or grated
  • 3-4 green Thai, Serrano, or cayenne chilies, stems removed, chopped or sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon red chili powder (Too much for me–decreased it to a heaping teaspoon)
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Put all the ingredients except the cilantro in the slow cooker. Mix well.
  2. Cook on low for 3 hours. Mix once or twice during cooking, especially in the beginning. Eventually the cauliflower will release enough liquid to prevent anything from sticking to the sides of the slow cooker
  3. Add cilantro. Mix well but gently so as not to break up the cauliflower. Serve with roti or naan and a side of onion and cucumber salad.

The Verdict
4 1/2 (out of 5) stars. If you want to learn to cook Indian food this slim volume (130 pages) is surprisingly useful. Cooking Indian food can be pretty time-intensive but the recipes in this book enable you to dump everything in your slow cooker and go along your merry way. The book focuses on healthy recipes and leans heavily towards the vegetarian (the breakdown is 27 recipes for lentils and beans/peas, 11 for vegetables, 8 for meat dishes, and a few for sides/desserts) so if you’re looking for a book to help you recreate heavy Indian restaurant food, this is not it.

This book is useful for cooking vegetable sides to go along with other dishes. I can get flustered when I have too many dishes going on at once so when I want to make Indian food for dinner I like being able to have a side bubbling away in the slow cooker so I can focus all my attention on a more demanding main dish. The list price of $19.95 seems a little high but it’s under $12 at Amazon which is a good deal and where I got mine.

Easy Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Brownies

I lost my pregnancy weight from Mimi (37 pounds) much quicker than I did with E. One thing that helped was having a giant baby that was almost a third of the weight and the rest I chalk up to not eating dairy, eggs, peanuts, or nuts since Mimi was born.

E is allergic to all of those things and his allergist said that it might help Mimi avoid having similar food allergies if I eliminate E’s allergens from my diet while I’m nursing her. It might not have any effect but if there’s anything I can do to help Mimi avoid food allergies I’m going to do it.

I’d like to lose another 30-40 lbs which is the weight I gained the first couple of years after I got married. But my weight loss has stalled out a bit these last few weeks, mainly because E and I have been making a batch of these brownies at least once a week. Many thanks to my friend and neighbor Jenn for sharing this recipe with me.

Recipe: Adapted Duncan Hines Brownies
(If you have food allergies please check the brownie mix ingredients carefully and make your own decision about using this recipe. E is fine with this recipe, but I can’t be responsible for any adverse reactions you may have!)


  • 1 box Ducan Hines Chewy Fudge brownie mix
  • ¼ c flour
  • ¾ c sugar soda, Coke or Sprite
  • ¼ oil


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Grease your pan of choice with dairy-free shortening. (FYI, when I used a 9×13 pan they came out too thin. I like using a muffin tin, the recipe will make 12 good-sized individual brownies. )
  • Mix flour into brownie mix until incorporated
  • Add soda and oil, mix until blended
  • Pour into pan and bake according to directions on box. (When I use a muffin tin I usually bake them for about 23 minutes.

That’s it–dangerously easy! These brownies are pretty good (i.e. they taste like normal brownies, not like a consolation prize) and they never last very long around our house.

The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook

This week I decided to make something from The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook since it was kind of a hectic week with the last day of photo class. (By the way, thanks for the feedback on my photos!)

What should have been an easy dump-it-in-and-forget-it-experience went awry when on Wednesday morning I pulled out the roast I had just bought on Tuesday afternoon only to discover that it had turned rancid. N smelled it himself and confirmed it so it wasn’t just my wacky pregnant sense of smell. By the time I bought a new roast and returned the bad one to the store it was already after 2pm. And it was supposed to cook for at least 8 hours.

Add to that E had been in rare form all day due to teething and I was ready to call it a day. So I stubbornly popped the roast in at 2:30 pm and informed N that I thought we should order pizza for dinner after E went to bed and that we’d have the beef the following night. So last night after I got home from class we had the sandwiches which were pretty good (if a little heavy on the liquid smoke.) And E LOVED the meat and ate a whole bowl of it for dinner which is awesome.

Texas Barbecued Beef Sandwiches


  • 4-pound chuck roast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 10 oz cola
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T prepared mustard
  • 1 T liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce


  1. Cover and cook the roast with the water in the slow cooker on high setting for 8 hours, or until tender
  2. Remove the roast. Shred the meat, trimming off the fat and discarding it in the process. Place the shredded meat in the slow cooker along with ketchup, cola, Worcestershire sauce. Mustard, liquid smoke, and hot sauce. Cook covered on high setting for 1 hour. Ladle over buns to serve.

The Verdict
3 (out of 5 stars). If you’re looking for a book containing the slow cooker dishes you remember your mom making when you were a kid this will do nicely. It covers main dishes, appetizers, soups, etc… More puzzlingly it also includes a chapter on bread(apparently you bake it inside a #2 coffee can inside the cooker). Recipes heavily rely on pre-prepared ingredients such as ketchup and canned goods but for me part of the joy of slow cooking is just being able to dump everything in. However, it seemed like many of the recipes are variations of the same.

It seems like many of the recipes aren’t that great, health-wise (high in sodium and fat) but nutritional info isn’t included. Photos are also missing but that probably helped keep the list price down. If you don’t have a slow cooker cookbook you can probably find most of the usable recipes at or someplace else online.

Takashi’s Noodles

Cookbooks on Trial: Back with a Vengeance! I know that I haven’t been posting every day lately but I’ve just been swamped–swamped and reeeeally tired. I think I might go back to posting M/W/F so I can focus more on each post. I might post more often than that but telling myself I only need to post on M/W/F makes me feel less stressed. Anyway, I actually got my crap together this week and cooked a new recipe!

I don’t think I necessarily picked the best recipe out of Takashi’s Noodles to try, though. My basic thought process was something along the lines of “It’s so hot today, cold soba noodles would be really good for dinner. But wait!–I have to do something for Cookbooks on Trial today…” So I made the cold soba recipe from Takashi’s Noodles.

The recipe was more labor intensive than the way I normally make cold soba (i.e. using store-bought concentrated dipping sauce). The homemade dipping sauce tasted a little off but I’m not even sure if I used the right type of kelp for the stock so all bets were off. Overall, it was pretty tasty though.

Left to right: what I hoped was kombu and bonito flakes.

Cold Soba from Takashi’s Noodles


  • 5 cups Dashi (see below)
  • 1 3/4 cups Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 coups mirin
  • 3/4 cup packed katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

14 oz. dried soba noodles


  • 1/2 cup shredded nori (seaweed)
  • 2 tablesppons yuzu peel (can substitute with lemon zest)
  • 2 scallions, both white and green parts, thinkly sliced
  • 4 teaspoons wasabi paste

To prepare the borth, ready an ice bath and set aside. Combine the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin in a stockpot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to a simmer and add the katsuobushi. Simmer for 2 minutes, then turn of the heat and let sit for 3 minutes. Strain througha fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and place the bowl in the ice bath to cool

Once the broth has cooled, place a pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the soba noodles, stirring to prevent them from sticking together. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes, or until the noodles are al dente. Drain into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Wash the noodles with your hands until the water runs clear and the noodles are cold to the touch.

To prepare the garnishes, set up garnish plates by arranging the nori, yuzu peel, scallions an d wasabi in small bunches on each of 4 small plates. Pour the broth into 4 teacups or small dipping bowls. Divide the noodles among 4 large plates. Each person will have a garnish plate, dipping bowl, and cold soba plate.

To eat, top the noodles with the shredding nori and add the yuzu peel, scallions, and wasabi to taste to the broth. Grab some noddles with chopsticks and dip them into the broth to coat the noddles then quickly slurp them down.

Dashi (Makes 2 quarts)

  • 2 large pieces kombu, approximately 10 by 4 inches each, gently wiped with adamp towel
  • 2 quarts plus 1 c water
  • 3 cups packed katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

Place kombu and water in a large stockpot and let it soak at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the kombu and decrease the heat so the liquid is simmering. Add the katsuobushi and gently mix into the liquid–don’t stir vigorously. Simmer for 10 minutes longer, then strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Garnishes, dipping sauce, and soba noodles.

The Verdict
4 (out of 5 stars). If you are serious about learning how to make and cook Japanese noodles this is a wonderful book written by a master of the field. Takashi Yagihashi is a highly respected Japanese chef and the book is blurbed by fellow luminaries like Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, and Susur Lee. For the most part the recipes are pretty straightforward but they do demand commitment to such things as making your own dashi and other stocks. Some details are omitted (as in a recipe calling for 4 oz of beef but not specifying the cut) which might cause confusion for beginners like me. Nutritional info is also omitted.

It’s a gorgeous book with lush photographs and is fun to look through and read. It covers all sorts of Japanese noodles: ramen, soba, udon, somen, plus some fusion dishes. It is for the serious noodle fan. To me it’s more of an aspirational book rather than something that will help you put dinner on the table on a weeknight.

But sometimes it’s nice just to flip through a cookbook and dream.

Complete Comfort Food

Since last week my brother-in-law called me out on being biased toward Asian food (which I guess I am except when it comes to desserts) this week I reviewed a non-Asian cookbook, Complete Comfort Food. And luckily, it was GREAT.

This book is one of the best in this bargain cookbook series AND you can currently get it from Amazon in hardback for $5.20 which is totally worth it.

I made the Spaghetti Bolognese recipe and it turned out quite tasty. I normally prefer a thicker sauce like my mom’s but it was a nice change of paste (har-har).

Spaghetti Bolognese from Complete Comfort Food
(According to the book this recipe will bring back happy memories of flat-sharing and communal eating!)


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 14oz can chopped Italian plum tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 3/4 cups beef or vegetable stock
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine
  • 1 lb dried spaghetti
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a medium pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes until softened. Stire in the mixed herbs and cayenne and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add the ground beef and cook gently for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently and breaking up any lumps in the meat with a wooden spoon.
  2. Stir in the canned tomatoes, ketchup, sun-dried tomato pasted, Worcestershire sauce, oregano and plenty of black pepper. Pour in the stock and red wine and bring to the boil, stirring. Cover the pan, lower the heat and leave the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain well and divide among warmed bowls. Taste the sauce and add a little salt if necessary, then spoon it on top of the pasta and sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

The Verdict
4 1/2 (out of 5) stars. This book is a fantastic deal. For under $6 you get a wide collection of comforty-type dishes ranging from pot pie to soups to crepes. A few ethnic dishes like Chinese Fried Rice and Vegetable Korma are thrown in for good measure. It also includes a dessert section that with drool-inducing dishes like Sticky Toffee Pudding and Marble Chocolate Cheesecake. Each recipes includes a photo of the finished dish as well as several photos of the steps involved. Nutritional information isn’t included but for the price it’s not a big deal to me.

The Noodle Shop Cookbook

This week’s dish was one of my favorites so far. Granted, I love noodles so it’s not unexpected. The Noodle Shop Cookbook by Jackie Passmore covers a wide range of Asian noodles from countries like Thailand, Singapore, China, and Japan.

I hadn’t had udon in a while so I decided to make this simple recipe. It’s kind of like a cold soba dish where you dip each mouthful of noodles into a sauce before you eat them. There’s not much to it other than sauce and noodles so we had some crunchy radish kimchi along with it which turned it was a perfect light summer dinner. I’m definitely going to make it again.

Sama Age Udon from The Noodle Shop Cookbook by Jackie Passmore


  • 1 1/4 pounds dried udon, or 1 3/4 pounds fresh udon
  • 1/4 cup minced whole scallion
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons wasabi paste or powder

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant dashi stock granules or powder
  • 2/3 cup tamari or light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add the noodles, and bring the water back to a boil. Add 1 cup of cold water, return to a boil, and add another cup of cold water. Return again to a boil, then cook until the noodles are tender, testing frequently after 2 1/2 minutes to ensure they are done just right; they should be just slightly chewy. Drain and divide among four large bowls. Place each of these on its own tray.

Best each bowl place a small dish containing some of the minced scallion and a knob of wasabi paste. (If using wasabi powder, mix to a paste with a little sake or water).

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat almost to boiling. Remove from heat.

Bring a large kettle of water to a boil. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of boiling water into each of the bowls of noodles (I didn’t see the point of this and just poured some of the hot water left over from boiling the noodles into the bowls). Pour the warm sauce into four other bowls, place on the serving trays and take immediately to the table.

To eat, sprinkle scallion onto the sauce (I added mine directly to the noodles instead), add wasabi paste to taste, and stir with chopsticks to dissolve. Life the noodles from the hot water, hold them over the bowl a few seconds to drain, dip into the sauce, and eat with the noisy, splattering slurp of a noddle professional.

The Verdict
4 (out of 5) stars. I get the impression that this book was pretty ground breaking for it’s time (first published in 1994). The recipes seem authentic and cover noodles from a sizable swath of Asian countries. The main flaws of the book are the total lack of photos (there are some line drawings to illustrate various techniques) and the directions that can seem long-winded or overly complicated.

Overall it’s a good book that covers almost every Asian noodle dish you could wish to eat. However, more recent cookbooks with photos and more explanatory material might be better suited to the novice noodle cook.

Best-Ever Chicken

Things were kind of crazy around here this week so I picked an easy recipe from another one of my bargain cookbooks,Best-Ever Chicken by Linda Fraser. But by the time N got home from golf class (he has realized that it’s kind of a career requirement for a lawyer to know how to swing a club) and I started on dinner it was nine o’clock. N graciously agreed to chop all the vegetables for the salsa (which was the tastiest part of the meal) and so I repaid his kindness but serving him still-raw-in-the-middle chicken. Le sigh.

Dun-dun, DUN–beneath the oregano crust lurks the rawness!

Chicken Breasts with Tomato-Corn Salsa
from Best Ever Chicken by Linda Fraser

Chicken Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breast halves, about 6 oz each, boned and skinned
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
  • salt

Salsa Ingredients

  • 1 fresh hot green chili pepper
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups corn, freshly cooked or thawed (I roasted some fresh corn in the oven and it was delicious!)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. With a mallet, pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap until thin.
  2. In a shallow dish, combine the lemon juice, oil, cumin, oregano and pepper
  3. Add the chicken and turn to coast. Cover and let stand for at least 2 hours, or chill overnight
  4. To make the salsa, char the chili skin over a gas flame (or under the broiler.) Let cool for 5 minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, carefully rub off the charred skin. For a less hot flavor, discard the seeds.
  5. Chop the chili very finely and place in a bowl. Add the rest of the salsa ingredients and mix well.
  6. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Season lightly.
  7. Heat a ridged broiler pan. Add the chicken breasts and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook the meat on the other side for 3-4 minutes more. Serve the chicken with the salsa.

The Verdict
2 1/2 (out of 5) stars. I think this book executes it’s goal pretty well (providing a wide range of dishes based on chicken) but for some reason I wasn’t really feeling it. (Maybe I’m just embarrassed that I didn’t cook the chicken correctly?) Each recipe comes with photos and the directions are written very clearly. I just don’t think it will be a book I’ll go back to again and again.

So dear readers, I have a question for you. One of the reasons I wanted to do this cookbook series was to thin out my cookbook collection. I’ve amassed too many over the years and need to pare it down. I was thinking that I’d give away books that aren’t really for me by letting people leave a comment and then picking a winner at random and mailing said book to them. But is it weird to give a book a lukewarm review and then offer it as a giveaway? I don’t want to offend anyone but I like it when books go to a good home.

What do you think?

Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals 2

On the spectrum of Rachael Ray haters/fans I find myself feeling mostly vague admiration for her. Like a lot of people I’m a sucker for a good Horatio Alger-esque rags-to-riches story and there is no denying the woman’s impressive drive and ambition.

I’ve made some of the recipes from her first book and liked them okay and so I was pleased when I received this book, her second, as a gift. But when I actually sat down and looked through it all I felt was ambivalence.

I made the Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad recipe and it turned out fine. It’s a decent pasta salad that kids might enjoy since it does, true to it’s name, taste vaguely like pizza. I myself prefer a little lighter-tasting pasta salad.

Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad from Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals 2

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 8 fresh white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 stick pepperoni, casing removed and cut into small dice
  • 1 pound frewsh mozzarella cheese
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
  • 1 pound wagon whell pasta, cooked all dente, cooled under cold water, then drained

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 gteaspoon dried oregano leaves of Italian dried seasoning
  • 1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (eyeball it)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (eyeball it)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


Combine tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, pepperoni, mozzarella, basil, and pasta in a big bowl. Whisk garlic salt, oregano or Italian seasoning, tomato paste and vinegar together. Stream in olive oil while continuing to whisk. When oil is incorporated, pour dressing over pasta salad, add a few grinds of black pepper, then toss to coat evenly. Adjust your seasonings and serve. Left overs make a great lunch or snack the next day!

The Verdict
2 (out of 5 stars). In general I find the book a touch too hokey and chipper. Meals are organized according to categories such as “Make Your Own Take-Out, Family-Style Suppers, Passport Meals, etc…” when I prefer books organized by protein or dish category. A lack of pictures (except for 8 color pages in the middle of the book) and any nutritional information were big minuses for me. It wouldn’t be such an issue except that the book’s list price is $16.95 which seems too high to me. It feels like her publisher wanted to take advantage of Ray’s new-found popularity and jacked the price up without adding a lot of value of content.