Friday, January 05, 2007

My first Rachael Ray recipe

Hamburger and Onion Stuffed Bread
Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats Copyright 2005

1 baguette (day-old is fine)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dijon or spicy brown mustard, to dress the bread
4 slices deli Swiss cheese, folded to cover the bread or 6 ounces Gouda or smoked Gouda, sliced to fit the bread I used Swiss
Chopped fresh chives or flat-leaf parsely, for garnish I omitted this

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Crisp the bread in the low oven, split lengthwise, then cut in half again to make 4 bread boats and hollow out the bread. I used 1 1/2 baguettes and made 6 boats. Switch the broiler on.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO. Add the meat, season liberally with salt and pepper, and brown and crumble it, 3 minutes. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. Add the Worcestershire and remove from the heat.

Spread a little Dijon or spicy brown mustard across the bottoms of the breads. Fill with the meat and onions and top the filled breads with the cheese. Melt the cheese under the broiler and garnish with the chives or parsley.

Yes, this is what I needed the baguettes for. I'd have to say it was worth baking my own baguettes. I really liked these stuffed breads, as simple as they seem. I loved the toasted, crunchy, chewy bread and the simple toppings enhanced it without overpowering it. The mustard was pretty key - if you don't like mustard, I put something else with a bit of zip on the bread. This recipe is very basic but she offers more involved versions of stuffed bread too. I just love the concept. I thought they were a nice change of pace from hamburgers or sloppy joes.

I picked this recipe because it was the simplest one in the book. I don't know what it is about Rachael Ray's recipes but they seem complicated to me. It's one thing to watch her whip something up on her show - it looks simple. But when I see the recipes printed out, my head starts spinning. Maybe it's all the fresh and sometimes unique ingredients (which is great but sometimes pricey) or the fact that her recipes are usually for entire meals and designed to be cooked as a meal (the directions jump from one thing to the next and back so it's hard to separate the elements of the meal if you don't want to make the entire meal).

The recipes are all designed with her usual 30-minute constraint and the methods aren't complicated so it's perplexing why so many of them seem like a lot of trouble to me. I really don't think they are - this is just my initial perception when flipping through this book (and also her other books in the local library). When I'm faced with a cookbook like this, I find it helps to go through the book page by page and list every recipe that I would ever possibly want to make. That forces me to look at the recipes more closely and I usually come up with a good list of recipes that I can refer to without wading through the entire book again.

I have to say this about Rachael Ray - her recipes, at least the ones in this cookbook (I can't vouch for the others), are somewhat unique. I love Paula Deen but her recipes are not exactly original. A good percentage of them probably appeared on a product package at one time or another. Giada DeLaurentis is wonderful too but her cooking is pretty standard fare for the most part. RR manages to offer recipes that are different, yet still very appealing. I want to eat most of her recipes, I'm just a bit overwhelmed by the thought of gathering all of the ingredients and preparing them myself.

One thing that bugs me is that many of the recipes are variations of a main recipe and she will just tell you to omit this, add that, etc. My brain is too scattered to absorb that kind of information. She doesn't include many pictures either but otherwise, I'm happy to own my first Rachael Ray cookbook.

Blast From The Past: Sour Cream Cake from my son's birthday a year ago. I think I'm going to use the same recipe this year. We're having a family party next weekend.

Question of the Day: Rachael Ray - Yay or nay?


Heather said...

I have only made one of her recipes and I have to agree, too many ingredients. I do like to watch her cooking show.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say but you are wrong about PD and the originality of her recipes; I work with PD magazine and just want you all to know that the majority of her recipes are developed either in our test kitchen or were developed in her own kitchen.

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I'm sure Paula Deen is coming up with new recipes now since everyone needs new material to keep things fresh but my opinion is based on the recipes in the PD cookbook that I own, which I believe was her first one, and the recipes that she made early on, on her cooking show.

I made her fudge and the same recipe was right on the can of milk. The rice and sausage casserole is also a classic that I have seen printed in many other places. I don't have the book in front of me but I could go through that book recipe by recipe and probably not find anything very original. I saw her make Velveeta fudge this weekend and that recipe has been around forever.

That's not a bad thing either - I like classic cooking and I really don't want a bookshelf full of RR recipes.

Anonymous said...

I don't watch much RR anymore because she's become a bit high-strung (understatement of the year! ;)) but I love browsing through her recipes on FoodNetwork and subscribe to her magazine. :)

Great post, by the way! It reflects some of the fear I feel w/ the RR recipes. Glad to know that someone else feels the same.

Anonymous said...

I am iffy about her. I got one of her books for my birthday last year and have only cooked a couple of things. I'd rather read her than watch her though.

Jennifer said...

Hmmm...not so much. However, I might make the stuffed bread.

Carina said...

I'm not crazy about Rachael, some of her stuff is a little fussy for a weeknight meal (which is what I'm usually on the hunt for.)

Love the blog and the idea!

I have a cookbook recommendation for you: Paula Peck's book, The Art of Fine Baking. You'll have to find it through a used shop (I got mine through Amazon) but it contains the most jaw-droppingly amazing authentic croissant recipe.

Everything I've tried from the book has turned out spectacularly--and I think it cost me $2.13. Blogged about it here and listed the recipe here.

Thanks for the fun!

Carina said...

p.s. If you decide you want the Peck book, you want the old hardcovers published in the 60s/70s, not the paperback reissues.

But trust me on the croissants.

ThursdayNext said...

Nay on Ray Ray. I have had a long history of loathing her! Her recipes, which I am sure are created by a team, are good. However, her personality is terribly irritating!

Tracy said...

I have one RR cookbook and I agree with you 100%. The recipes are different enough, but they seem overwhelming, with long lists of ingredients.

The bread looks pretty good, though. I may have to try it.

Anonymous said...

This looks really good! I go back and forth on whether I'm in the mood to tolerate RR. Some days I like her talk show and/or cooking shows and some days I don't. She does tend to grate if I watch her too much.

Having said that, I've tried 2 or 3 recipes in the past from the FoodTV site and they've been total successes for me. I don't any of her cookbooks (YET!), but I have flipped through them in bookstores and see what you mean about the ingredients and such.

Great post and wonderful picture, it is making me hungry just looking at it! Congrats on those baguettes!

Wanda said...

I really like Rachael Ray. The talking out of the side of her mouth kinda bugs me, but other than that, I have no problem with her. I have never seen any of her recipes in print, I don't think, but then I am not all that much of a cook. I don't watch her show all that much either. I saw it a lot when I was sick recently, but mostly just catch it when I happen on it.

I did make one of her recipes tonight. It was one I saw a few days ago on her show. ...Heat some good chicken stock (not the wimpy stuff in the cans), add cheese tortillini (I used fresh.) and cook till done. Then ladle over fresh baby spinach in the individual bowls, to wilt it, and sprinkle lemon zest over the top.

YUM-O! ;P I absolutely LOVED it! DH 'liked' it - (no meat in it.).

The Cookbook Junkie said...

It's interesting that so many people agree with me. I don't think her recipes are that complicated for the most part, there's just something about the presentation.

I'm trying very, very hard to put off buying any new cookbooks this year but you're making it very difficult. I want this book! Those croissants look incredible.

Sarah - The Home Cook said...

I like her recipes. I have almost all her books and I can see what you mean about the recipes seeming complicated. For something that's supposed to be a 30-minute meal, there can be a lot of ingredients that all need to be prepped. It can seem very daunting.

When choosing a recipe of her's to make I usually look for ones that use ingredients I usually keep on hand since I hate buying a lot of something and then seeing that the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon. I also do all my prep for the week on Sunday so I can usually get her meals on the table in the 30-minute timeframe.

I tend to tweak her recipes, too, if the prep seems too fussy for me. All in all, I think she has some great recipes. I don't particularly like her, though, since she can grate on my nerves.