Do people still buy cookbooks? With all the recipes floating around the internet (including on this blog), why would people fork over their hard-earned cash for something they could easily get for free?
This whole “free-internet-recipes vs. cookbooks-you-buy” scenario reminded me of the (relatively) recent changes in the music industry. Before things like iTunes or spotify, if you liked a song you heard on the radio you would go out and buy the album/tape/CD (depending on which decade you grew up in). If you were from Rochester, like me, that usually meant sorting through the unmarked boxes at “The House of Guitars.” (Or you could hope that one of the super-cool, and thus not-that-helpful, employees took pity on you and found the CD you were looking for.) Most of the time you would discover that you really only liked one (maybe two) songs from the whole thing, probably the song you heard on the radio that prompted you to buy it in the first place.
Cookbooks can be like that too. You buy a cookbook because you’ve heard good things about a particular chef (or food blogger) and you can’t wait to see all the glorious food that they will help you create. Nine times out of ten, I usually only find one (maybe two) recipes out of an entire cookbook that are worth making more than once. (Unless of course you buy a compilation cookbook, like this one. That’s sort of the equivalent of buying a “best of” album.)
I was intrigued when I heard about the Keepers cookbook. The idea behind this book is that the recipes compiled inside are all ones that the authors make on a regular basis–in effect, they are the “keepers” that they have sorted out through all of the cookbooks they have tried. (If we were going to take the music analogy further, it would be like a mixed tape that your friend made you–unless you’re too young to know what a mixed tape is, and in that case never mind.)
I took a less committed approach to the Keepers cookbook–I borrowed it from the library. Since it was new (and apparently popular), I had to place a copy on hold, which cost me $1. I did really enjoy the book, but so far I have only found one “keeper” out of the whole thing. But it is an awesome keeper, one that is simple but has so many variations. Definitely worth the buck I spent to get it. But you can have it for free.
Thai Chicken with Green Beans (adapted from the Keepers cookbook)
- 1/2 Tablespoon peanut oil
- 2 Tablespoons jarred Thai green curry paste
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 boneless & skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 pound green beans, stems removed
- 1 bell pepper, seeds removed & thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced (white & green parts separated)
- juice from 1/2 lime
- chopped cilantro (optional)
- kosher salt
- cooked rice & Sriracha for serving
- Season the chicken with salt. Cut into thin slices.
- Put the green beans in a microwave-safe bowl with a splash of water. Cover and microwave for 2 1/2 minutes. Add the bell pepper slices, stir & re-cover, and microwave for an additional 2 1/2 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat the peanut oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the chicken slices and saute until lightly browned. Push the chicken to one side of the dish and add the curry paste, anchovy paste and the white part of the scallions to the Dutch oven. Saute for 30 seconds (until fragrant). Add the coconut milk, brown sugar, and pre-cooked green beans/bell pepper. Stir to combine. Let simmer until sauce is thickened (about 3 minutes). Add the lime juice. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
- Serve with rice, green parts of the scallions, cilantro (if using) and Sriracha.
Time: 30 minutes
Notes: There are many variations to this. First of all, you could swap the chicken for another type of protein. If you use tofu, don’t skip the browning step. If you use shrimp, don’t brown them (they will overcook), just dump them in raw when you add the pre-cooked veggies. Speaking of which, you can definitely switch up the vegetables you use. Snow peas, sugar snap peas, bamboo shoots, & bean sprouts would all be good. Lastly, you could switch the green curry paste for red curry paste.