A lot of cookbooks these days feature celebrities that also are chefs. This is not one of those kind of books. Host of “In The Kitchen With David” on QVC, David Venable is not a chef. He is a guy who likes to eat and knows a thing or two about cooking. The result is this 254 page cookbook with the same title of as his TV show. It features 150 recipes to make food and company fun. It is worth noting up front that pictures of finished dishes are few and far between, the text is small and light in shading which can make it difficult to read, and no nutritional information is included.
After a brief forward and introduction it is on to the recipes. First up is “Appetizers: Party Starters” beginning on page 2. There is a brief introduction to the section followed by 15 recipes. This is where you go for “White Bean and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip” (page 5), “Chicken Nachos” (page 9), or “Crispy Potato Skins” (page 15) and many others. Pictures of finished dishes are few and far between, text is small and light in shading, and no nutritional information is included. Directions, ingredient lists, and servings are included as are small highlighted tip style boxes using the logo “Dishin’ With David” containing various information. The information in these boxes is not throwaway information, but actual quality information well worth your time to read.
“Biscuits, Muffins and Quick Breads: Our Daily Bread” comes next on pages 26-43. “Southern Buttermilk Biscuits” (pages 28-29), “Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping” (pages 34-35) and “Sour Cream Coffee Cake” (Page 38) are here. A number of the recipes in this chapter would easily fir in the next chapter devoted to breakfast and brunch.
“Breakfast and Brunch: Rise and Shine!” features 13 recipes that should hit the spot. “Spinach-Tomato Frittata” (pages 48-49), “Amaretto Brioche French Toast with Cinnamon Butter” (page 53) and “Christmas-Morning French Toast Casserole” (pages 56-57) are just three of the delectable choices here.
I never was much of a fan of soup though Mom made a good vegetable and beef one. So did David’s mom. That love of soup caused “Soups: Big Bowls of Happiness” to come next with choices such as “Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar and Bacon" (page 67) and “Loaded Baked Potato Soup” ( pages 74-75) among others. Besides his advice to go beyond a normal bowl and use a bowl carved out into bread, David suggests heating your regular soup bowls up for better soup taste. He also suggests keeping soup hot in a crockpot for larger gatherings.
Starting on page 80, it is all about “Salads: Green Goodness.” 10 recipes are here including ones for “Creamy Potato Salad with Bacon” (pages 90-91) and “Tangy Coleslaw” (page 91).
Side dishes get their due here in the next section titled “Sides: Supporting Players.” These include “Scrumptious Hush Puppies” (page 101), “Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes” (page 107), “Beer-Battered Onion Rings with Horseradish-Dill Dipping Sauce” (pages 110-111) --- for me just hold the sauce and keep the rings coming --- and “New England Baked Beans” (pages 116-117). Mac n’ Cheese lovers do not despair as that recipe comes later.
David Venable loves pork and makes that clear in the next section titled “Pork: The Devine Swine.” From pages 120-139 he proclaims his love of pork with “BLT Mini Cups” (pages 122-123), “Breaded Pork Cutlets” (page 130) and “Smoked Gouda-Bacon Cheeseburgers” (page 135) among others. One would expect a ham recipe and here is one with “Holiday Ham with Honey-Mustard Glaze” recipe on page 126. He also teaches you how to properly cook bacon in a variety of ways on page 137 in “Makin Bacon.” The first tip is – “Whichever one you choose, always remove the bacon from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a good 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.”
The neat thing about casseroles is they can be a one dish deal. Starting on pages 140-141 the section titled “Casseroles and One-Pot Meals: Dinner In One Dish” is all about them. It opens with “My Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese” on pages142-143 (includes bacon), before moving on to the “Ultimate Game Day Chili” (pages 146-147), “Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Bake” (page 149) and “Day-After Roast Turkey and Stuffing Casserole” (page 155) among others. While this section does contain the recipe for “Chicken Enchilada Casserole” on page 159 as well as other chicken ones, the next section is devoted specifically to chicken.
“Chicken: Birds of a Feather” has recipes for “Down Home Southern Fried Chicken” (pages 164-165) and “Southern Barbecued Chicken” (pages 166-167) among others. Not just traditional dishes, but things like “Chicken Parmesan” (page 170) and “Chicken Cordon Bleu” (pages 174-175) are also included here.
“Beef: Mighty Meaty” comes next and opens with “Sage and Rosemary-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin” on page 178-179. Among other choices, there is “Meatloaf with Mashed Potato Topping” (pages 182-183) “Chicken-Fried Steak with Country Gravy” (page 184), “Beef Stroganoff with Buttered Noodles” (page 190) and “Sloppy Joes” (page 194).
“Seafood: Jump Right in” follows beef and features a lot of variety. “Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce” (page 198) and “Herb-Encrusted Tilapia” (page 199) are just two choices here. “Crab Cakes” (page 206-207) and “Shrimp Po’boy” (page 208) are also here.
Maybe what really you want is a “Deep-Dish Apple Pie.” You can find that on page 212 along with other choices in “Desserts: Sweet, Sweet Gratification.” Along with several pie variations that are also recipes for “Burnzie’s Coconut Layer Cake” (pages 218-219), “Peach Cobbler” (pages 232-233) and “Bananas Foster Bread Pudding on page 240. The only dessert that really truly matters is chocolate cake. That is represented here with “Flourless Chocolate Cake” on page 225 for those who need gluten free and “Three-Layer Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting” (pages 226-227) which includes coffee as a secret ingredient.
The 260 book closes with a two-page acknowledgement and a ten page index.
While lacking in nutritional information this 254 page book is a gastronomical treat. In The Kitchen With David: QVC’S Resident Foodie Presents Comfort Foods That Take You Home is aimed at kitchen cooks everywhere who do amazing things with regular stuff from the grocery store. This is a cookbook designed to use ingredients you should be able to easily get, no matter where you live, so that you can have fun cooking in the kitchen. With 150 recipes you should be able to find something that works no matter the number of guests or the situations.
In The Kitchen With David: QVC’S Resident Foodie Presents Comfort Foods That Take You Home
Ballantine Books (Random House)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2012