Recently, My foodie friend Colleen from Souffle Bombay was thinking about which cookbook made her fall in love with cooking. She then decided to ask the same question to a number of her foodie friends, including me, and #CookbooksandCalphalon was born!
Here’s my story, homies…
Mr. M.O.B. and I met one hot summer night. I was 19 and he was 26. He lived across the street my entire life, yet we’d never, ever met. The night him and I crossed paths he was on my side of the street. I was on my way to the grocery store and he stopped me. After some conversation (where he pointedly called me rude), he offered to drive me to the store.
Right… This meant going completely out of my way and getting in a car with a stranger. He could have been an ax murderer. Or a slave trader. I declined (rudely) and went on my way. A few minutes later he saunters into the store. And I thought, “Yeah – This dude is psycho. Who the hell drives around the block JUST to talk to a chick?
Him, that’s who.
I turned him down – Apparently a first for him, so he felt I was worthy of chase. He talked to me a bit, then handed me his phone number. I never called. He saw me again about a month later – And when he asked me why I never called, I answered, “I wasn’t interested”.
And I wasn’t interested.
He wasn’t my type.
He pursued me saying he just wanted to “be friends”. He didn’t. We spent every single night on my stoop, where he made me laugh till my sides hurt. A month later I attacked and made him kiss me.
Ugh. Despite myself I fell in love with that mofo. And falling in love means you do things you swore you would never, ever, ever, ever do.
– Like learning to cook. Early on I decided I was never getting married, so learning to cook was at the very bottom of my list. I could live off sandwiches.
Mr. M.O.B. changed all that. He tugged at my heart strings until I went up to my mama and asked her to teach me. Until that point my culinary expertise was limited to tostones, mangu, lumpy oatmeal, fried eggs, and doughnuts made from pillsbury biscuits.
Slowly but surely I learned. For him. Because I fell in love with him. I almost killed him a couple of times in the process (allergies). But he survived.
And my repertoire expanded, somewhat.
When I learned to bake (again, for him) I purchased loads of cookbooks, trying to perfect my baking skillz. I naturally baked waay better than I cooked. I needed to change that. Fast. My cookbook purchases began to take a more holistic approach to cooking.
One of the first cookbooks I ever owned and fell in love with was the Henry Hill Cookbook. You guys know who Henry Hill is, right?
The Lufthansa Heist?
Ray Liotta? – A Hot, young Ray Liotta?
Yea… That guy.
Yes, I bought a cookbook published by a dude who ran with the mob. And it is STILL one of my favorites, and one of the reasons I truly fell in love with cooking.
You see, cooking didn’t come natural to me, baking did. Cooking took longer to master. I failed a lot. I burned a lot of meals. I almost killed my husband in the process. Buying a cookbook published by a mobster restored faith in my kitchen abilities. It made me feel like, well – If a mobster can cook, so can I.
Here’s the thing about the mob – Mob movies, I mean (I know nothing of the real mob) – Mobsters are always portrayed as family men. And wherever there is family, there is food. There isn’t a mob movie where a mobster isn’t breaking bread with a large group of family members, or friends who are now “family”. Food, family, and loyalty are embedded in their identity. These traits are as natural as strangling someone with chicken wire.
Remember The Godfather? Leave the gun, take the cannoli?
Yea… That sealed it for me.
The mob’s love of food and family.
This cookbook is peppered with anecdotes of Henry Hill’s time running with the mob, prison, and living in witness protection. He’s a funny guy and the recipes are legit. Really – They’re legit. They’re also simple. Simple yet FULLA flavor.
One of my favorites is the “How much time you got” Lemon Basil Chicken. A quick marinade is whisked together. You toss the chicken and marinate it for “As long as you want”. That’s how he rolls. The chicken is baked for a bit – And out comes the most succulent and flavorful piece-a-bird you’ll have in a while.
I changed the recipe a bit – Making chicken thighs instead – Adding more basil, garlic, and a bit of celery salt. The results are the same. A succulent, fall off the bone situation sure to titillate the senses and make you wanna join the mob.
OK – You won’t want to join the mob. Rather, you’ll want to create your own mob, a dinner mob appointing yourself The Godfather of your table.
Enjoy stories and recipes from these 16 fabulous food bloggers as we celebrate our love of cooking and the perfect pairing of Cookbooks & Calphalon!
Set aside 2 large Ziploc bags. Wash the chicken thighs and pat them dry. Place the chicken thighs inside 1 Ziploc bag.
In a medium bowl combine chopped basil leaves, lemon juice, zest, olive oil, garlic, celery salt, salt, paprika, and dried parsley. Whisk to combine. Pour the marinade mixture inside Ziploc bag with chicken thighs. Close the Ziploc bag and shake it around to distribute the marinade on the chicken thighs.
Open second Ziploc bag and place closed Ziploc bag with the chicken thighs inside. You don't really have to do this, but I like to make sure my chicken is sealed. Place the bag in the refrigerator with a plate underneath. Marinate chicken thighs for "as long as you want".
I marinated this overnight, but you can marinate anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours. - Depends on "How much time you got". Give the Ziploc bag an occasional shake to distribute that marinade.
When you've marinated that jammy long enough, preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chicken thighs in a roasting pan. Very LIGHTLY sprinkle salt over surface of the thighs and cover with aluminum foil. Alternatively, you can use a Dutch oven with a lid, which is how I cooked my chicken thighs.
Cook, covered for about 55 minutes, basting occasionally. Baste more often if your marinate time was short. Remove lid (or aluminum foil) and cook uncovered for another 30 minutes until the skin has somewhat browned. Remove from oven and allow chicken to cool for a few minutes.
Serve garnished with basil leaves and lemon slices. Or don't garnish it. It's your jam.
This jammy wouldn’t be complete without a fun giveaway for you to enter! You can’t cook without cookware and you can’t use cookware unless you can cook, right? So take a moment to enter our awesome Cookbooks & Calphalon Giveaway!
First prize wins 6 amazing cookbooks PLUS a gorgeous Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 14×16 Roaster set!
Also, now through September 1st, Calphalon is celebrating couples! From the first meal they create together in their new home to the meal they share on their 25th anniversary, couple cook up memories! The cookware they choose serves as the foundation for which these “Couples Cooking” memories are made.
Calphalon wants to recognize these #CouplesCooking moments by asking couples to share pictures of the meals they cook together for a chance to win $1,000 in Calphalon cookware!
Calphalon is inviting couples to post photos of the meals they prepare with their significant other on Calphalon’s Facebook page. To enter, couples will be asked to share why the dish is unique or special to them and use the hashtag #CouplesCooking. How fun is THAT??
Follow the #Cookbooks&Calphalon fun on social media for great recipes, tips and more and good luck in BOTH giveaways!
What. Are. You. Waiting. For?
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