If You Have to Spike Your PB&J, You Might Have a Problem

May 21, 2012

No, make that you definitely have a problem.

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But before I get into that, first we have a giveaway winner to announce! Drumroll, please…

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The winner of the OXO Good Grips Salad Dressing Shaker is Sara P. who left a comment on the Circle of Food post.

Congratulations, Sara, I’ll be emailing you for your mailing address (please respond within 24 hours or I’ll have to send the shaker to someone else).

Now, on with our post!

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A while back I requested a review copy of a new, fun-sounding cookbook: Never Cook Sober by Stacy Laabs & Sherri Field. I enjoy using alcohol in my recipes when the situation calls for it, and thought this book would give me some good ideas in that department.

I think I got a hangover just reading through the recipes. And I hate hangovers.

While I recognize the tried-and-true hangover remedy of “hair of the dog,” and I’ve had a mimosa to start a holiday morning more than once, I’m not sure dipping your morning fruit plate in 6 different spirits (Three Sheets to the Wind Vodka and Run Fruit Plate, the first recipe of the book) is a great way to start the day. Nor is it all that inventive, really. And Jell-O shots (Jiggling Vodka Shots, p. 25) for breakfast? Apparently I’m just not this book’s target audience.

Moving on to lunch and, yes, truly, there is a “recipe” for Peanut Butter and Vodka Jelly Sandwich which has all the finesse of mixing flavored vodka into your jelly before spreading it on bread. At least in this recipe the peanut butter will create a little balance to the booze, but if that’s too much for you, you can go back to the breakfast chapter and have Caribbean Cocktail Run Jelly and Toast.

Still, I was determined to make something out of this book for dinner one night, to give it a fair shot (ba dum bum!). The first thing that sounded almost appetizing was the Wobbly Chicken Tequila Fettuccine (page 34, still in the Lunch chapter), though wobbly and chicken doesn’t make the latter sound all that appetizing.

Wobbly Chicken Tequila Fettuccine from Never Drink Sober

I quibbled with wasting almost 2 quarts of chicken stock to boil my fettuccine in, so used about a cup diluted with tap water for the rest. The flavor was just fine without the wasting of $6 worth of stock. I also took issue with creating a sauce in one pan and letting it sit while you started the veggies in another, only to add the sauce in when you add the chicken–it would make much more sense to saute all the veggies, add the chicken and brown, then make the sauce in the same pan at that time, finishing with the heavy cream instead of adding the cream with the raw chicken and boiling until the chicken is done. I dislike inefficiency in recipes, and this is a prime example of it.

Nonetheless, the end result was tasty. The tequila was understated enough that I didn’t have to worry about bringing leftovers to work for lunch the next day, and the use of whole-wheat fettuccine assuaged my guilt over the heavy cream.

Though why they suggest pairing a Chardonnay with this meal instead of sticking with a classic tequila-based cocktail escapes me.

Recipes aside, the other thing that bugged me, was they completely ignored the myth that so many people have of when you cook with alcohol it all burns off. The introduction would have been a great place to discuss this, but they completely ignored it. And, for the record, it takes quite a bit of cooking to eliminate the alcohol from a dish and anything that’s not cooked (PB&J, I’m looking at you) isn’t losing one drop of alcohol between the plate and your lips.

That said, there are reasons to buy this book that have nothing to do with cooking with alcohol. On each recipe page are quotes from famous folk about alcohol. There are also bits of booze trivia, cocktail recipes as “pairings” and enough classic toasts to get you through a summer of weddings without coming close to repeating one.

While I doubt I’ll use this as any sort of go-to cookbook going forward, the “extras” make it worth a flipping though from time to time. I’d definitely shelve it with Humor rather than Cooking.

To see what I have to say about an alcohol-infused cookbook I did enjoy, make sure to check out my review of Slushed! on Sips & Shots.

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of Never Cook Sober by the publisher for purpose of review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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