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Goodcooking.com Cookbook Review

The Fresh 20 Cover

Title: The Fresh 20, 20 Ingredients, 5 Weeknight Meals, Health and Happiness
Author: Melissa Lanz
279 pages; Softcover, $24.95 US
Publisher: William Morrow/Harper Collins New York, 2013
Reviewed by, Chef John Vyhnanek


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The review---

The Fresh 20: 20 ingredients, 5 Weeknight Meals, Health and Happiness by Melissa Lanz is a good looking cookbook! It’s printed on nice glossy, thick paper. It’s a paperback with a good feel, 229 pages, 125 recipes and a fantastic array of pictures for reference.

Each recipe is presented on a single page, this makes for easy reading because you don’t have to turn pages while cooking. As mentioned above, pictures---one on just about every page---really help set the mood for the meal. This is a really nice thing about this book!

Most recipes have substance but wait a moment, this is not a cookbook that a gourmet chef has written. You won’t wow your company showing off the new cooking skills you’ve learned. You will however wow your family and give them a wide variety for nice home cooked meals for their enjoyment.

The meatballs, for example, are made with a store bought meatball mix but the sauce is homemade. The salsa is hand chopped and stirred and has all the necessary ingredients to make it good. Desserts aren’t the focus here, there is not a single one to be found.

Included are seasonal menu suggestions, recipe lists and preparation guides that are practical and useful. There are recommendations for pots and pans, knives and kitchen implements. Gluten-free, low fat and vegetarian dishes hold their own alongside barbecued pork ribs, beef brisket and shepherd's pie!

If you're looking for a cookbook for yourself and need to get out of a cooking rut, then this a good one. It’s also a good one for students going off to college, as a wedding gift or simply a gift for a friend. What the heck, it’s even a good book for looking at pictures!

I tested Aunt Judy's Brisket and followed the recipe exactly. It turn out quite good being tender and moist, the leftovers made for a great brisket sandwich on rye bread!

Recipes Tested!

Beef Brisket Aunt Judy's Brisket with Roasted Potatoes

Serves 6

Prep ahead---
Brisket for Monday and Wednesday

2 tbsp. olive oil
4 pounds beef brisket
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
2. Season the brisket with the salt and pepper and sear on all sides until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the onion and garlic to the oil remaining in the pot and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula to release the tasty bits. Stir in the tomato paste.
4. Place the meat over the onions, add the broth and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook the brisket for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
5. Let cool, then shred 2 pounds for Wednesday's lasagna; store the brisket in an airtight container in the refrigerator for dinner on Monday.

for the roasted potatoes---
2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

for the brisket---
2 pounds Brisket (see prep ahead)

for the roasted potatoes---
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil and salt. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast for a bout 45 minutes, turning once, until tender.
3. Serve alongside the reheated brisket.

for the brisket---
Place the brisket in a saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Cover and heat on medium for about 5 minutes.
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