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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekend Cooking: A Flash in the Pan review

A Flash in the Pan: Fast, Fabulous Recipes in a Single Skillet by Brooke Dojny and Melanie Barnard was an impulse grab at the library last weekend. They had a display of cookbooks and the recipe on the cover grabbed my attention. (Why, I don't know, we don't eat shrimp.) I brought it home and looked through it and picked out five recipes to try over the course of the week.  (I don't know about you, but cooking is always so much more fun with a plan than it is to just wing it every night.) Of the five recipes we tried, three of them are things I wrote down to make again. The other two weren't bad, they just weren't keepers.

Some general thoughts on the cookbook- Most of the cooking times seemed short to me. It almost always took a bit longer than they suggested, or perhaps I don't turn my burner hot enough. A lot of the recipes include red or white wine, which I enjoy but some people don't.  None of them had crazy hard to find ingredients (and I live in the middle-of-nowhere-South Dakota, so I can speak to this.) While the recipes themselves only used one pan (plus chopping board and often a plate to remove the meat to while making sauce), they aren't all complete meals on their own. I always made a side of rice or potatoes or veggies or something. The cookbook is terrific in that it suggests the perfect sides to round out the meal. I'm really happy that I checked it out.

The first thing I made out of it was Thai Style Beef and Lettuce Wraps. This is hardly a new idea, I'm pretty sure I have a version pinned on Pinterest, but the cookbook pushed me into making them myself. I had to find my own recipe for peanut sauce (the recipe calls for premade) because my grocery store didn't have any, but the sauce I made was terrific.  We were surprised to find a cucumber chopped up into the beef, but it really worked and added a nice crunch. Mike and I both enjoyed them a lot, the kids wouldn't even try them. We will definitely make these again.

The next keeper was Red Curry Chicken Saute with Coconut and Lime.  The flavors in this were terrific, if very lime-y.  I pretty much always love coconut, but it was much more subtle than the lime. The curry flavor comes from red curry paste, which was simple and easy. I admit to not measuring well on this one and it still turned out great. My only complaint is that they have you barely cook the snow peas at all, they are very very crisp, which none of us liked. The Bug said, "Mommy, these taste like leaves!" The snow peas were much better the second day when the sauce had soaked in and softened them a bit.

The last one we tried, and the tiebreaker, was Salt and Pepper Cube Steak with Smoky Red Onions. This was a very basic recipe, almost more of a technique than a formal recipe, but the resulting sauce (onions, garlic, red wine, dijon mustard) was really terrific. We served it with red skinned mashed potatoes and everyone loved it.

The two recipes we didn't love were Balsamic Chicken with sweet peppers and Tunisian Eggplant and Chickpea Ragout. The chicken was way too vinegary and the Ragout was just ok. I intended to save the leftovers of the Ragout and see if it improved overnight, but I accidentally left it out when I went to bed.

Overall, I'd recommend the book, and I'll probably try a few more things out of it before I return it.


  1. I love recipes that only require one skillet or pot - they're generally easy and cleanup is quicker. I'll have to check this cookbook out.

  2. I too like one-pot main dishes because of all the reasons Kathy mentioned. I'll have to check this out. Sounds like it has a variety of flavors.

  3. Dont you hate when you leave something out and it goes bad? There have been several times when I've left something on the counter to cool and then woken up the next morning to realize I never put it in the fridge. HATE THAT.

    I think I'm going to start using my library for cookbooks. Don't know why I didn't think about this before. Will see if my library has this one. LOVE the idea of a one pot dinner (minus sides).

  4. We used to do New Recipe Week every season when my boys were younger. I would try five new seasonal recipes and I generally had the same result as you- three were keepers, two were not. The Cube Steak one sounds pretty good to me.

  5. I love cooking from just one pot. The three winning recipes sound like things I would make. I have a tofu peanut recipe that uses lettuce leaves to wrap as well. I should check our library for this title.

  6. I'll have to keep an eye out for this one. The Red Curry Chicken sounds delicious.

  7. Your family is much more adventurous than mine was - and really I was trying! Sounds like there were enough good recipes in here to check it out again...and again..

  8. Those recipes sound good. We are adventurous / eclectic eaters in my family so these would be welcomed at our table.

    Interesting that The Bug knows what leaves taste like!!!! :O)


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