This past week I picked up 3 cookbooks from the library, all that I had been excited to try. But the one my co-workers recommended stood apart from the rest: The Chef Next Door by Amanda Freitag. Amanda is a professionally trained chef, most known for her job as a judge on Chopped. She should be most known for this cookbook – and everyone who wants to become more confident in the kitchen should own it.
In the introduction, Amanda discusses how while she is a professional chef, cooking at home is absolutely terrifying. During her successful effort to hone her own at-home cooking skills, this cookbook came to life. She describes is as a collection of her “most helpful and reliable tips and tricks.” It really is that and some more. After flipping through the whole thing I that I can expand my cooking foundation and take on some intimidating recipes such as marinated artichokes and corn soufflé. I am moving it to the top of my must-own cookbooks list.
For my first recipe from the cookbook, I decided to try a root vegetable puree. Her cookbook includes an entire section on sides, recipes that are creative, easy, and would enhance any meal where the “main” part is a simple protein. I served the puree alongside roasted chicken breasts.
I was excited to try this recipe, not only was it simple and I felt confident about my abilities to make it, but it encouraged me to include a vegetable I had never tried before: a turnip. When I cut into the turnip, its aroma was similar to horseradish. It added a bitterness to the butternut squash and parsnips, giving the dish a unique but delicious flavor. I did have to make a minor adjustment – I could not find celery root. Fortunately Amanda included a note about what can be substituted for what, so I was able to use parsnip instead. Best of all, her recipe was very easy to follow. It made me feel relaxed when trying a recipe that added a depth of flavor to a typical meal I make for myself.
The recipe was truly delicious and easy, and the ingredients were easy to handle. I look forward to making this again (and eating the left overs) and trying additional recipes in her book.