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I love watching shows on tv with fancy food. Like Top Chef, or Iron Chef America. I’m intrigued by the food, even though I’m sure I’ve never had many of the ingredients that they use. But they make all of the food look so delicious and interesting!

That being said, my husband and I rarely go out to “fancy” restaurants. Given unlimited funds and unlimited babysitters, we would probably take advantage of restaurant food more often, but really, it’s pretty rare that we go out. Before we had kids, we went to Vegas a few times, strictly for the food. We enjoyed going to different restaurants, where we would eat one of the best steaks I’ve ever had, truffled spinach, and the most amazing mashed potatoes. I wish that we had the chance to go out more often, but for now, we settle for eating at home.

Today’s cookbook review is perfect for people like me. People that want to bring the restaurant into their kitchens. The book is filled with recipes from some of the nation’s top chefs, with some of their signature recipes. But the recipes are reinvented, making them easier for the home cook to make in their kitchens. You get recipes from chefs like Daniel Boulud, Lidia Bastianich, Jose Garces, and Tom Colicchio, just to name a few. This cookbook contains all kinds of recipes that would be perfect for a date night at home!

All three recipes that I made weren’t total successes, but 2 of the 3 were amazing. That being said, there are still a ton of recipes from this book that I would love to try, and I’m not letting the one recipe that I didn’t love deter me from trying more!

In the book:

Starters and Soups: includes recipes like Summer Squash and Tomato Tart, Cambodian Chicken and Rice Soup with Shrimp, Roasted Cauliflower and Sesame Spread (featured below)
Salads: includes recipes like Asian Pea Salad with Honeyed Bacon, Kale and Apple Salad with Candied Pecans, Crab Salad with Caesar Vinaigrette
Pasta: includes recipes like Orecchiette Bolognese with Chestnuts, Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms, Stir-Fried Noodles with Chanterelles
Fish: includes recipes like Chile-Honey-Glazed Salmon with Two Sauces, Seared Tuna with Tuna-Caper Sauce, Indian-Spiced Halibut Curry
Shellfish: includes recipes like Spicy Shrimp in Chile Sauce, Crab Cakes and Curry Mayonnaise with Apple Salad, Sizzled Clams with Udon and Watercress
Poultry: includes recipes like Chicken Saltimbocca, Green Chicken Masala, Stir-Fried Chicken in Lettuce Leaves (featured below)
Meat: includes recipes like Skirt Steak with Creamed Corn and Poblanos, Spicy and Sticky Baby Back Ribs, Wasabi Flank Steak and Miso-Glazed Potatoes
Vegetables and Sides: Includes recipes like Three-Bean Dal, Fresh Vegetable Curry, Farro with Artichokes and Herb Salad
Desserts:includes recipes like Strawberry Scones with Almonds, Banana Tart with Caramel Sauce (featured below), Chocolate-Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars

Number of Photos: lots

A photo of each recipe! And in typical Food & Wine fashion, they are all gorgeous photos.

Difficulty Level of Recipes: medium

The recipes are supposed to be simplified so a home cook can make them, but sometimes it’s just changes as simple as using a pre-ground spice instead of grinding your own. That being said, I was surprised that really, the majority of the recipes are not that intimidating. There still are a few that I are a little bit higher of a difficulty recipe, but not so much that I wouldn’t recommend this book for an average home cook.

Availability of Ingredients: easy to medium

Most ingredients are pretty common, and you should be able to find most of them in any well-stocked grocery store. The biggest changes made to the recipes to make them “home cook” friendly is changing up to ingredients that are easier for people to find.

Here’s what I made:

Roasted Cauliflower and Sesame Spread
Roasted Cauliflower and Sesame Spread (recipe below)

Loved this. It was so easy to make, and it was a great snack. I do have to mention that something turned a little bit bitter on me, (maybe from roasting the ginger??) but I didn’t even care – I couldn’t stop eating it! I had some pitas that I threw into the oven to make pita chips with, and they went perfectly. I could probably make this on a weekly basis and not get sick of it.

Stir-Fried Chicken in Lettuce Leaves

I know this is a favorite for many when eating out – it seems like a lot of restaurants have their own versions. This one was very delicious. I loved that it uses green lettuce leaves instead of iceberg, because no matter how hard I try, I can never get the whole iceberg leaves off like they have at some restaurants!

Banana Tart with Caramel Sauce

So, I didn’t like this one at all. Just keeping it real here, but I ended up pretty much throwing the whole thing out. There was something strange taste wise – maybe the combination of bananas and lemon juice? And I felt like it needed some sort of pastry cream, or something else to bring it all together. But it was pretty, so I wish that it would have worked out better for me.

Roasted Cauliflower and Sesame Spread Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Roasted cauliflower and ginger are combined with spice and tahini to make a delicious and easy appetizer or snack.
Serves: 2 cups
  • 1 (2 lb) head of cauliflower, halved crosswise and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • sesame seeds
  • pita bread or chips, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, oil, ginger, coriander and salt. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned in spots, about 40 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the tahini and the lemon juice and pulse to a coarse puree. Season with salt. Add the cilantro and pulse to incorporate. Transfer to a bowl, top with sesame seeds, and serve with pita bread or chips.
  4. ---------------------
  5. from FOOD & WINE Chef Recipes Made Easy


**Disclosure – I received a copy of this book for review, but all opinions are 100% mine.**

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13 Responses to Roasted Cauliflower and Sesame Spread {Chef Recipes Made Easy | A Review}

  1. Rosa says:

    That is a marvelous dish! I am addicted to tahini.

    A lovely book.



  2. Bev Weidner says:

    Even if you didn’t like the ‘nanas, it still looks like it could wear a freaking sash. Beaut!

  3. I love healthier dips/spreads like this cauliflower one! It looks sooo good. Too bad about the banana tart. I agree – it does look pretty though!!

  4. Cassie says:

    Great review, Deborah. I love these because I can never have too many cookbooks. And this spread, oh my goodness, sounds so amazing!

  5. Ambika says:

    A wonderful review. I am also always looking for bringing restaurant quality food to my table. This spread sounds and looks delicious!

  6. Aggie says:

    Oh I’m so intrigued by this book! I would love to eat my way through Vegas 🙂

    That dip is making my mouth water and so are those lettuce wraps!!

    Too bad about the banana dessert, it sure is pretty !

  7. “I wish that we had the chance to go out more often, but for now, we settle for eating at home.” — Til people have kids, they don’t understand this but trust me, I do. It’s just so much easier on every level!

    And that banana tart..I want!

  8. Kristy says:

    Bummer! When I was reading what was in the book the banana tart stood out to me. And the picture is gorgeous. I wonder if it could be adapted to taste a bit better because it sure sounds like it would be a winner. The other dishes look fantastic too! Looks like a fun book. 🙂

  9. Kalyn says:

    I have to make this cauliflower spread to eat with celery! Saved for the Phase One round-up.

  10. Chels R. says:

    This cookbook sounds like something my husband and I would really like. We rarely ever go out either, but we kind of like it that way. Anymore we feel like we can do a better job like some of the restaurants. One of the last places we went to was Applebee’s while we were on vacation because we had a gift card. I ordered a pasta dish and it was full of grease and didn’t taste or look good. I know I could do a better job than they did. I should of just stuck with what they do best, a burger, lol!

  11. Monet says:

    Wow! That spread looks and sounds so good. I’m a sucker for all things cauliflower though. Thank you for sharing your review with me. I would love to peruse this book on my own!

  12. Joanne says:

    I don’t get to go out to fancy restaurants as often as I’d like either, so this book sounds ideal for creating a fancy atmosphere at home! It really is too bad that banana tart didn’t turn out…but bananas and lemon? That’s just odd.

  13. Cara says:

    That dip sounds fantastic! I love love love cauliflower, and the spices you’ve used. It sounds like a kicked-up, bean-free hummus. I can’t remember if people on the paleo diet eat sesame , but if so, this would be perfect for people avoiding legumes.

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