Weekend Cooking: ‘High Flavor, Low Labor’

Posted 1 February, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

I’m Weekend Cooking with Beth Fish Reads! This weekend I want to spread the good news about one of my all-time favorite cookbooks.

While it’s not a classic like The Joy of Cooking (which belongs in every kitchen), I have confidence that as more people ‘go foodie’ and eschew easy solutions like Hamburger Helper or that old standby the tuna casserole the more kitchens that this cookbook belongs in as well. Just because it’s a weekday doesn’t mean you have to eat slop! This cookbook shows you exactly how to avoid that.

I bought this cookbook after hearing an NPR piece on it a few years ago. Ever since then, it’s been dog-eared, bookmarked, spilled on, and written it. I keep coming back to it over and over again.

Why? Because unlike the series of Rachel Ray cookbooks promising 30-minute meals, (but that instead when you factor in prep work, take more like an hour and a half) this book actually delivers.

While I haven’t cooked every recipe in the book I haven’t encountered any that I absolutely will not cook again. In fact, this cookbook has several recipes that are on standby for me. Every recipe that I have cooked has taken no longer than about 30 minutes and cook and prep times are accurately represented.

Hirsch maintains a conversational tone throughout the book. In the first four chapters (which are short), his premise is easily understood:

There are recipes that hail from Asian, Hispanic, Indian, African, European, and American traditions. Despite this amazing variety most of the recipes use fairly common ingredients so you won’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to find that strange, essential ingredient.

Courses represented in High Flavor, Low Labor are the following:

  • First Up (Appetizers)
  • Tossed Around (Salads)
  • Souped Up
  • Mainly Speaking (Entrées)
  • Punched Up Pasta
  • Sandwiched
  • To the Side (Sides)
  • Sugar Rush (Desserts)
Here’s one of our favorites from the book.
Spicy Black Bean, Sausage, and Rice Burrito
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 precooked chicken sausages, cut into rounds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 (15oz) can of black beans, drained
1 cup jarred tomatillo salsa
Salt and ground pepper, to taste
4 burrito size flour tortillas
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon for two minutes, or until it lightly coats the pan with fat. Add the onion, garlic, sausages, and smoked paprika. Sauté for 3 minutes.
Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds. Ad the broth and beans, stir well, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Mix in the salsa, then season with salt and pepper.
Microwave the tortillas for about 15 seconds to soften them. Divide the rice and beans mixture among the tortillas, then top each with chopped cilantro, cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

April @ The Steadfast Reader


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