The Cookbook Testing Continues

It’s time for an update on the cookbook. I’ve been giving you all a lot of recipes as of late, and I’m not against sharing that, but I think occasionally I need to remind you all of the progress on the cookbook.

Simply put, the manuscript is over 100 recipes, and it is with the editors as we speak. However, that doesn’t mean everything is tested, finished and ready to go! I still have a few recipes that need to be tested, tweaked and perfected before I’m willing to commit them to the ages in my book.

This recipe of orecchiette with porcini mushroom cream sauce with fresh fennel was practically perfect on the first test! I have my mom to thank for this success.

So between family, friends, blog readers, and even other chefs, I have sent out a wide collection of recipes from the book to be tested. I have made them all before, but I wanted to be sure they read properly and tasted OK to the general public. And most of the recipes come back saying just that. Everything was fine, the recipe made sense, we’re good to go.

In fact, many of the testers who write blogs of their own write posts about the experience of being a tester as well. It’s good to know people are having so much fun with this!

Beef in Barolo
Pork Involtini
Bruschetta with Baby Artichokes

But then there are the recipes which are just not working out. And no recipe has given me more trouble than the Risotto Milanese Arancine. The concept of this dish is that you make Risotto Milanese, which is simply a saffron-infused risotto. But you then take balls of the risotto and stuff them (with cheese, or a meat sauce with some tomato), roll them in bread crumbs and deep fry them.

Well, making a great risotto is no problem. I have been making risotto for years, and Milanese is one of the best ones out there – especially as a base for Osso Buco. That I had done, no worries.

No, this is not after a bite has been taken out, this is how it looked coming out of the fryer. Disaster because of my recipe. Thanks for the test Blythe!

It was the making of the balls and having them hold together that proved problematic. My first thought was to get creative, and wrap the fresh mozzarella in a basil leaf for added color and flavor. This proved to be a problem as the desire for the leaf to want to unroll was stronger than the desire of the risotto to hold together. A few of those tests, and that idea was abandoned.

The next tests had to deal with the amount and type of egg I stirred into the risotto. A whole egg made the risotto too runny, so I backed it off to just an egg yolk. But I was also seeing that I had too much cheese for the risotto, so I had to change the amount of risotto that should be made for a single recipe. But then, did I have the right amount of egg again? Or should I go back to the full egg?

You can see how this quickly adds up to many, many tests! And with all this fried food, (fried cheese no less) I doubt my doctor was going to be happy about all this.

Perfect looking arancine – and this is one with a bite taken out of it. Just awesome. Thanks so much Shane!

Well, finally, after several months of testing, one of my testers finally sent back to me a successful test of the arancine! They looked beautiful, and all of his testers gave it two thumbs up. And yes, I think they look just perfect!

So now it’s all about getting all the remaining recipes written and edited, and then all I have to do is work on the layout and publishing! Yes, I still hope to have this book out this year, but every step of the way has been a learning process for me. But a fun learning process at that.

And trying out all the fried food has just been a side treat. Next recipe to test: Fried Zucchini Blossoms! My doctor is really going to be mad at me…

Chef Matt

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