As you can see our little town is all a-buzz about a new cookbook from a local boy made good! James Briscione is from Pensacola, has paid his dues in kitchens both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line, and is becoming well-known as a not only a great chef but also a cookbook author. The Great Cook is Jamie's latest work, and he was recently home for a book signing/tasting, which I was lucky enough to attend.
The format of the cookbook is unique and very informative about the technique of cooking. Jamie takes an ingredient, such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and educates you about how to prepare them, then follows that with several different flavorful recipes using that ingredient. For example, the Chicken Piccata (so good!!) is the "master recipe" while Chicken With Honey-Beer Sauce and Balsamic and Shallot Chicken Breasts are "variations." Whether you're intuitive in the kitchen or a strict recipe-follower, The Great Cook will guide you with ease through the preparation of a delicious meal that the whole family will enjoy.
This brings me to why I obsessed with The Great Cook...I absolutely love to cook! I love to plan a menu, spend time in the kitchen preparing the meal, and then carefully plate the food for the perfect presentation. One thing I do not like is being a short-order cook. When my kids first started joining us at the dinner table, I made the decision that they would eat whatever we were eating. They're not always happy about this, and there have been nights when they have gone to bed without eating their dinner (I'm pretty relentless about not backing down), but usually they give in and sometimes they even learn to like something new. The Great Cook is a perfect tool in my effort to expose my kids to interesting, exciting food without shocking and scaring their taste buds. Jamie put it best when he said, "It's all about making ONE meal for the family and that is what everyone eats. The recipe in this book really lend themselves well to that approach- the flavors are simple but interesting and a great way to introduce new ingredients to kids!" This is exactly what I try to do (most) night with dinner, and I always happy to have a little help along the way.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I must let you know my connection with Jamie. His beautiful wife, Brooke, and I went to school together in middle school, and his mom, Jane, taught both my boys in Kindergarten. Those ties might have been what initially drew me to this cookbook, but the incredible recipes and easy to follow instructions are what keep me coming back!
|James Briscione, author of The Great Cook|
|A tasting of some of the cookbook's recipes|
|Parmesan Corn Muffins|
|Mac & Cheese|
|Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños|
|With Jamie and his precious daughter|