Part 1 of The Super Awesome Cover-to-Cover Project
Cover-to-Cover, here we go!
Earlier this month we challenged our readers to make every dish in the October issues of six food magazines. You guys more than rose to the challenge. We were blown away by the responses we got, and by all your fun stories of cooking dishes from the mags.
In all, more than 500 people signed up to participate! Amazing! We wish we could have included everyone, but we just had to cap the number, mostly for our own sanity. In the end, we wound up with more than 350 participants, from Bali, Brazil, London, Paris, Hungary, and all over the U.S. and Canada. How cool is that?!
For Part 1, we're starting off easy, with Martha Stewart Living. Well, not easy on those who participated in the project -- the recipes are nothing to sniff at. We're starting here because it's easy on us -- there are only 25 dishes.
Team Martha faced some interesting dishes (lots of Halloween party food), some classics (fried chicken, handmade pasta) and some things that we're just dying to eat (the desserts here all sound amazing).
With that, let's see what Team Martha cooked up over the last few weeks! Here are the dishes, in our readers' own words and photography.
SOUPS AND SIDES
Wild Rice with Balsamic Mushrooms
"I got lucky with being given the wild rice with balsamic mushrooms because a) I'm not a huge fan of meat and b) I had wild rice sitting in my cupboard just waiting to be used. The ingredients are pretty simple and easy to get, and the recipe was easy to follow. You can comfortably make other items (such as a main dish) while you are cooking the rice...but that doesn't matter if it doesn't taste good right? So, in my humble opinion, it was good -- RICH -- but good. My suggestion to anyone who would like to try preparing this dish is that you don't need a full 2 tablespoons of butter and add the balsamic vinegar to your taste. I ended up adding a couple splashes more, and it the balsamic flavor was still a little weak to me."
Quinton and Lane
"This dish was a take on a classic French onion. We made the recipe pretty much exactly as called for, with the only substitution being hazelnuts for chestnuts (due to availability). The soup was tasty and definitely enjoyable but I think most people will enjoy it more if they take a few steps closer to the classic concept (which my fiance and I did with leftovers). Adding some sort of bread, either croutons or a slice gives some much needed substance and improves the texture. Also, adding a slice of cheese (provolone is what we had but I'm sure plenty would work) instead of shredded made for an overall better soup experience. We enjoyed it but I doubt we'd make it again."
"Don't throw away your chili powder yet. This dish is more of a Mexican beef stew than chili. Yummy, but a fair amount of work for the result. Maybe the leftovers improve with age?"
Beef Chili Recipe
"This was super easy and was great for a group (I served it with wild rice). It was my first time cooking with persimmons which was simpler than I would have imagined! I probably will not make the recipe again though as it was nothing to write home about. The entire dish was just a little bland. I will definitely roast pork loin in a cast iron skillet from now on though. It was great to make the sauce in the pan after it was done roasting and only have to wash one dish!"
Pulled Pork Sliders
Kelly and Austin
"Adaptations: We made a much smaller quantity since it was just two of us. We were unable to find a bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder due to downsizing and we also were unable to find brioche slider buns so we just used regular buns. Other than that, we stayed true to the recipe.
The Verdict: This dish smelled heavenly all day long. Ultimately, however, the taste just did not match up with the delicious aroma and, given the amount of work to baste hourly, it was disappointing. We felt a similar dish prepared in a slow cooker came out the same if not better than this recipe and with much less effort. Our grade: C-."
"In a word -- delicious! The sauce for this chicken would make a terrific base for a chicken and wild rice soup. In fact, that may be my lunch plan for tomorrow. The recipe was very clearly written and offered good time estimates and visual clues, and except for the tarragon all the ingredients were things I normally have on hand. It did take about two hours from start to finish, but at least 30-40 minutes of that time was hands off and I was able to make other dishes while this one was simmering. Will be a nice addition to my file of chicken recipes -- and just saying fricassee de poulet l'ancienne makes me feel like Julia Child. Just before typing this I opened an email from America's Test Kitchen and what did they feature? A quicker Chicken Fricassee. The recipe is almost the same, but uses boneless chicken pieces to speed things up. I'll have to try that version next."
Chicken Fricassee Recipe
Salted Fried Chicken
"Very easy and good. My only complaint was I had to finish it in the oven. But, maybe my pieces were too big. (My photo isn't gorgeous because I had to cut into the pieces to see if they were done.) The online version is missing the size of the chickens. They should be 3 1/2 pounds. We ate the leftovers at room temperature last night. And they were better than the night before. Chicken stayed moist and the skin stayed crispy."
Salted Fried Chicken Recipe
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Tomatoes
"We loved this dish, but it was certainly in part to the fresh pasta that we made. This dish might not have been as tasty if made with a dried pasta, so follow Martha's orders and use fresh orecchiette [see recipe for fresh orecchiette below]. Don't skimp on the breadcrumbs either -- they added essential texture. We also loved the taste of the anchovy fillets dissolved in the olive oil and will use them in future pasta sauces."
Glazed Citrus Poppy Seed Cake
"My heart sank when I realised my assignment was a cake. Living in Paris, while fantastic for most culinary endeavors, can have its downsides when sourcing ingredients for American baking recipes (particularly when I forget to google the French for 'poppy seed' before I get to the the marche). But armed with 'levure chimique' (baking powder) and 'pavot bleu' (poppy seeds) I followed Martha's instructions and came out with a soft and deliciously glazed cake. The texture was moist and crumbly, but personally I would have liked a bit more citrus zing. Two tablespoons of lemon juice in a cake this size is a bit measly. I would at least double that if I made this again."
"This was a quick and easy recipe as stated, but the apple flavor did not shine through because there was way too much sugar. It was very moist and delicate, with a nice crunch on top, but unfortunately the sweet, candy-like taste was overpowering. If there was a next time I would use less sugar and try it in the 8" x 8" pan. It called for a 9" x 11", my choices were 8" x 8" or 9" x 12". Also, during the prep, the recipe called for mixing in the dry ingredients last. I would definitely mix the apples and walnuts in after the dry ingredients were incorporated. I really wanted to like this recipe, since apple desserts are very high on my list of favorites and I would rather have written a positive review!"
"With a little frosting adjustment this cake turned out to be a hit. I took it to a friends' house for tasting. It was devoured in only a few moments. They all loved it. I was pretty happy with the final cake, flavors blended together nicely and I will definitely make this again. Perhaps next time I'll throw in some espresso powder or pour dark chocolate ganache over the cake to balance the sweetness.
I halved the cake recipe to get 2 6-inch cake layers.
Cake Recipe Adjustment: I ended up using less sugar for the cake than original recipe, decreasing sugar content in the cake by 1/2 cup.
1 3/4 cup light brown sugar ( I also optioned for light brown, as I didn't have dark brown, original recipe uses 2cups)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (Original recipe uses 1 cup)
Frosting Recipe Adjustment:
Recipe for the icing that came with the cake recipe was a disaster. I didn't believe the reviews so I tried it myself and something just didn't work. I wasn't able to use it so instead I made Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting. It was really easy to make and tasted delicious.
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting (enough to fill and frost 2-6 inch cake layers) has only 3 ingredients : butter (2 sticks), cream cheese (2-8 oz packages) and Thick Caramel (1 cup). I didn't use any additional sugar in the frosting. Thick Caramel Recipe."
Panna Cotta with Roasted Grapes
"I had never had Panna Cotta and to tell you the truth, wasn't even sure what it was. Although I grew up eating a lot of homemade Italian foods and desserts, this was not one that I had been introduced to. This dish was incredibly easy and quick to prepare. The recipe states 15 minutes of active time and I think that's pretty accurate once you have all your ingredients ready. Once assembled, I refrigerated the panna cotta overnight. The recipe suggests refrigerating at least 4 hours or overnight. I think leaving it set overnight may also help enhance the flavors. I say this because it seemed to taste even better on day two.The verdict: The panna cotta itself was very tasty. It was rich in flavor with a very tangy taste. The flavor that stood out the most was the buttermilk followed by the vanilla. It was incredibly smooth. As for the roasted grapes, my family (husband and two kids - 12 & 14 year olds) and I were all a little disappointed. None of us particularly liked the taste of roasted grapes, nor did we think they offered much to the panna cotta. They tasted off, but this could be a function of the grapes we used (regular organic red grapes). Perhaps a tastier grape (like Concord) might make a difference. I had to roast mine for a couple of minutes longer than the 10 minutes the recipe suggested. We ended up ignoring the grapes.Conclusion: I would make this panna cotta again, but would consider trying a different topping. Something with a little more sauce might be good. Martha Stewart has a Concord Grape and Dried-Cranberry Compote that looks like it might be a good alternative."
Bob and Mike
"I have to say I was initially apprehensive about an apple pie (and particularly making my own crust), along with the rumors I'd heard somewhere that Martha tends to leave out ingredients in her recipes so they're not quite as good as she makes herself, but the whole process went really well.
First, the crust took the longest but I followed Martha's directions keeping the butter very cold, along with the water, and although I'd never made a crust before and wasn't sure if it was too dry the consistency seemed ok. I separated into two disks per the directions and stuck them in the refrigerator.
My partner Michael and I had just come back from West VA over Columbus Day weekend so I was able to pick up some Golden Delicious and Gala apples at a roadside place on the way back to DC. The apple cutter was key in coring and cutting the apples quickly. Seemed like a lot of apples in the pie but I kept following Martha's directions and hoped for the best.
Full disclosure, the recipe called for 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground cloves which I did not have at home and didn't feel like going to the store for so I left that out. I also messed up at the last minute and I was supposed to put in the remaining 1/2 stick of unsalted butter in chunks on top of the apples before covering it with the dough and I spaced and forgot that part.
The pie seemed to take a little longer than was called for. I had it in for about 5-10 minutes longer than the recipe called for because the top didn't seem to be browning up.
I took the pie out and it LOOKED pretty good, but I wasn't sure about the taste yet, and honestly I'm not a huge fruit pie fan, but luckily Michael loves apple pie.
The big moment arrived once Michael got home from work and we warmed up a couple of slices in the oven for dessert. It was a big hit! Tasted really good and the pie crust was light and flaky and the filling was really good even with the missing ingredients ... would probably be even better with the 1/2 stick of butter in there!
So overall it was a success, and I have to say I'd make it again. It really wasn't that hard at all."
"My assignment was for Blood Orange Soda, which requires absolutely no cooking and very few ingredients so one might assume that it was a piece of cake -- which it was, except for one thing. I couldn’t find blood orange syrup.
I considered keeping that to myself but since The Bitten Word always discloses the obstacles that crop up when making recipes, I felt I should do the same. World Market stocks just about every flavor of syrup except blood orange, but they did have blood orange soda.
So, yeah, you might be thinking that blood orange soda was my assignment and I just poured this into a glass of ice and took a picture of it. But no, I did do some work. I froze maraschino cherries in ice cubes. The recipe says to put the cherry cubes into the glass and top with syrup and seltzer but I thought about the fact that you’d have to wait for the cubes to melt in order to incorporate the cherry taste into the drink so I tossed a few uncubed cherries in too. Also, since I haven’t had a Shirley Temple since I was ten years old and am not restricted to virgin drinks, I threw in a few ounces of vodka.
The result was a refreshing and lovely, sunset-colored cocktail, but I wouldn’t bother with freezing the cherries into cubes unless I had guests and wanted them to see that I put forth a little extra effort."
DIY Instant Oatmeal
"I had Martha's DIY instant oatmeal. The recipe could not have been easier (seriously, you just toast the oats, mix in whatever you want to add, boil and eat). I actually eat a lot of instant oatmeal (when I'm not sleeping til the last minute and skipping breakfast), so this was a perfect recipe for me.
The recipe calls for additions to the oatmeal after its mixed, but before it's made. I switched it around and just made the basic recipe, then added whatever I wanted to each individual serving -- that way I could mix it up more. I had one version with blueberries, one with a dollop of Greek yogurt, and my personal favorite: a pinch of pumpkin spice and a drop of Trader Joe's pumpkin butter. The recipe was cheap (I had all ingredients except oats, and I bought a huge bag at Trader Joe's for $3.99), beyond quick and easy, and overall much better than the packaged instant Quaker version I'm used to. I recommend!"
Sweet Potato Rounds
"A bit skeptical about the combination of spicy black beans on sweet potato rounds, I proceeded with making the recipe in four variations: Spicy black beans with cotija cheese; cheddar cheese and salsa; cheddar and Major Greys Chutney; and Pecorino Romano, pesto and pine nuts.My husband and I really enjoyed the taste of the chutney and cheddar and pesto versions. The spicy beans and salsa versions? Not so much. The flavors of the beans and salsa were just too overpowering for the sweet potato. I would definitely make the chutney and pesto versions again and it will be fun to experiment with some other savory toppings like guacamole or bacon and cheddar."
"Keeping it short, this was time-consuming and I'm a mom with 2 kids under 6, and while it was good (my son called them baby dumplings), I probably won't be making it again. The funny thing is that our new guinea pig liked them! I'm including a picture of him eating them."
Apple Peel Twigs
"When I read my recipe I had to smile: It almost sounded like a parody it was so simple. I felt slightly ridiculous as I assembled my three ingredients and piled them onto the parchment paper. But the end result was a delightful, crunchy snack and if you ever end up with lots of apple peels and plenty of time to roast them, this is both delicious and fun. The recipe called for moistening the apple peels, but our apples, from our niece's organic farm, were fresh picked and had plenty of moisture."
"I have made my caramel apples! It was fun. Actually quite easy, but the cleanup is harder. My caramel turned out great and mighty tasty. It is not hard; soft and easy to bite. My suggestions: I would at least double the caramel, I did three apples with 3/4 of the original recipe. And it gave me some room to be more relaxed about slathering it on; I also used white chocolate chips and used them whole, since it cut out some of the work."
"This was really a non-recipe recipe. I basically sprayed peanuts with diluted food coloring. (I think maybe Martha is getting a little low on material.) But, nonetheless, I rose to occasion, spray-painted my peanuts, put them in a hollowed out pumpkin & spent the next hour trying to figure out how to make them look interesting. Don't think I'll be dying peanuts in the future but still had fun."
White Chocolate Caramel Corn with Cashews
"I love caramel but I am never quite brave enough to make it. Bubbling, hot caramel is scary business. Which is why I forgot to add the baking soda to the mix before pouring it on the popcorn. So, I sprinkled it on afterwards hoping for the best. Does it make the outside even crunchier? I’ll have to try it again. The popcorn is quite tasty, harking to the days of Cracker Jack, only better! Adding the white chocolate made it less pedestrian fare but it honestly wasn’t worth the extra work."
"I ended up making two batches of this, with and without cinnamon. We actually liked it better without cinnamon. At first, my foodie family thought it was a little too sweet, too rich, and too buttery. Ten minutes later, it was gone, and I had to make more."
Not pictured: Black Cherry Zombies, Black Candy Apples and Spicy Sesame Popcorn.
So that's it -- the October 2012 Martha Stewart Living. What do you think?
And more importantly, which are you going to cook?
Kudos, Team Martha!