Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gourmet Today: this marriage can't be saved

I'm feeling no passion for Gourmet Today. Last week I was happily cheating on Ruth Reichl with Todd Wilbur who is so completely sleazy he uses margarine in some of his recipes. I bought margarine, which is simply wrong and just goes to show how bored I am in my primary relationship.

Wilbur's longtime schtick is to try to "clone" brand-name recipes -- Popeye's biscuits, Pepperidge Farm cookies, McDonalds' shakes, et cetera -- and I was messing around with his latest book, Top Secret Recipes Unlocked, for a review that is presumably going to appear in another venue shortly. (After that, all details about onion rings, donuts, and more will be revealed) The project was extremely fun and funny and surprisingly delicious. 
The other morning, on my own time, I made Wilbur's version of Starbucks' pumpkin scones. He calls them "orange triangles of goodness," which is typical of his prose. They really were orange triangles of goodness -- soft, sufficiently pumpkiny (rare), like a muffin married to a scone. We didn't bother cross-tasting them with the store product as I have recently sampled enough Starbucks baked goods to know that they are all substandard and overpriced. These were like the Platonic ideal of a Starbucks scone. 
As for Gourmet Today. Sigh. I keep fishing out the recipes with the lowest "active time" which is a bad sign. To wit, the other last night: hoisin turkey cutlets (active time: 15 minutes), panfried Romaine (active time: 20 minutes) chocolate sorbet (active time: 15  minutes.)  

Writing about this drab weeknight convenience food feels like a sad joke. Plus, just look at it. 

The turkey was fine.

The sorbet  was fine.

The panfried Romaine was better than fine. You buy packaged hearts of Romaine , cut them in half lengthwise, wash well and dry. Heat olive oil, put the Romaine hearts face down, salt, sear for a minute, flip, cover, cook for two minutes more. I loved this and will make it again.

The next night I made a Gascon white bean soup (active time: 30 minutes) that was fine, and baked apples with candied walnuts, (active time: 15 minutes) also fine. 

It's all fine. But this whole book feels like fine leftovers someone has turned into a casserole by topping with a little cheese and reheating.


  1. Can you share the orange scone recipe?

    Is there a chicken saltimbocca recipe in there, or a veggie soup pistou? Those have been some of my favorite recipes from the magazine.

  2. Tipsy Baker, you slay me!

  3. Mmmm... on our honeymoon I had grilled Romaine, and that was awesome. I'm going to have to try sauted Romaine, though I suspect it won't quite live up to the grilled stuff.

    Does Wilbur's recipe book have a recipe for Starbucks' Cranberry Orange Muffins? That's one of the few foods there I liked, and they've stopped selling them.

  4. I have all of Todd Wilbur's books-I love them! They're kooky and silly, and most of the recipes aren't rocket science or anything you couldn't figure out on your own. But I'm hooked on the tid bits of informaton about the restaurants, and I love making multiple servings of something for $5 total, that you pay three times as much for one serving of at a restaurant.

  5. Before you divorce, you should update the "currently cooking through" section. You don't want to make it seem as though you never gave this relationship your all.

  6. Girl Detective -- I feel that Todd Wilbur might be a stickler for copyrights. In GT I see no veggie soup pistou or saltimbocca, unfortunately.

    Melanie: cranberry muffins -- not in this book

    Anonymous 1: I agree. Almost everything is so much cheaper, it's amazing.

    Anonymous 2: I have been neglectful and I will update

  7. I have bought Gourmet magazine over the years, much like I buy lots of cooking magazines....honestly can't tell you if I have ever actually cooked anything out of them. This week I bought the "last" issue and i guess I was looking at it with a more critical eye because I think I identified only 1 recipe worth trying. I am so discouraged.

  8. subpar and expensive, that is my mantra for SB pastries and the excuse I give my 10yo for not purchasing them despite the begging :) although I will admit to buying their macaroons here in Seoul, they are actually quite good!

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