That Zero Review: Recipe Taste Test

What’s a review of a cookbook without actually trying a few things from it? As I said before, I made the orange liqueur recipe within days of receiving the book (and enjoyed it) but I’ve just made the following, as well. The two main flavors are very prominant so I’d recommend this only if you really enjoy them. Based upon my system, this is an A for equipment, C for ingredients (citric acid is rarely available in stores), and A for technique for a B+ overall. If you can get your hands on the ingredients, though, it’s worth it.

Self-Carbonating Cinnamon Passionfruit Fizz

(based upon recipe from Zero by the Alinea Group)

Black Rice Stock

175 g Chinese black rice
1 L water
12.5g baking soda

Combine the water and black rice and sit overnight. The next day, strain the rice off and combine 500g of the liquid with the baking soda.

Cinnamon Stock

17g cinnamon sticks, coarsely crushed
170 g water

Toast cinnamon in a saucepan, add water, and boil for 20 minutes.

Passionfruit Cocktail

80g sugar
70g cinnamon stock
50 g passionfruit puree
7.5 g citric acid

Combine ingredients together well.

The Drink

Pour one part of the passionfruit cocktail into a glass. Slowly add one part of the rice stock. The acid of the citric acid and citrus will react with the basic baking soda and foam satisfyingly.

Nine hundred and ninety-five

Nine hundred and ninety-five. We have made 995 different recipes since January, 2012. I know this because we use Eat Your Books, a service that is sort of the Ravelry of cookbooks.

It’s actually a really cool idea. People volunteer to index cookbooks, listing each recipe and its ingredients (without the amounts, of course). You can add books and even magazines or blogs that you own and add it to your bookshelf then, when you’re looking for something, search their database for an ingredient or only Thai main dishes. There’s also a bookmarking tool which we use for things we want to make, things we’ve made, what we’ll make this week and next week, and even have lists for my and Squirms’s favorites. Once we make something, we add a star rating out of 5 – a 4 is required to go on the make again list and a 5 means we’re still talking about it a few days later – and add comments about modifications made or how we think it could be better. (You pay $25 bucks a year for unlimited adding of recipe sources and bookmark lists which is really cheap for the quality of service, especially if you own…268 cookbooks like us.)

Like I said before, we use it for meal planning. Usually on Friday nights, we (ok, usually just Matt) sit down and think about what sort of thing we want for dinner the next week. Sometimes, it’s very specific like pork schnitzel or maybe a focus on one ethnicity like last week where we almost exclusively had Southeast Asian fare. Then we start to look through recipes like the things we’re thinking of and, after consulting the cookbooks themselves to make sure a planned weeknight dinner won’t take three hours or require trips to more than two different grocery stores. Eventually, we tag five or six dinners worth of dishes to the “This Week” bookmark group and make a list of what we have to buy to make those meals in a combination of Matt’s little ruled notebook and the Wegmans app (if you shop at Wegmans, use their app – it is AMAZING, even telling you prices, aisle, and nutritional information for each item). We hit the farmer’s market most Saturday mornings for veggies and meat, then fill in the holes at some combination of Wegmans, the part-Asian part-Latino grocery store, and sometimes other stores for more specialty ingredients.

Anyway, I have this crazy dream of being the one to make the 1,000th recipe which will probably be in the next couple days or so, with our tendency to make about half old recipes and half new recipes each week. I’m not going to try to engineer this – our meal planning often goes awry at least once a week, especially ones like this one when we’ve got stuff going on two days after work and planning a trip – but it would be cool to have it be me, She Who Rarely Cooks be the one to make that 1,000th dish. Stayed tuned, because I plan to ramble about what that 1,000th recipe is – and am hoping it’s not something super boring or embarrassing.

(The folks at Eat Your Books didn’t pay me anything to write about them. Like everything I’ve ever written about on here, I’m just rambling about something I’ve enjoyed. Though I would take free stuff that a brand owner would think I’m interested in.)