As good as it looks?

July 31, 2018

This month’s gathering, hosted by MaryLou, featured recipes by young food blogger Tieghan Gerard. Tieghan’s blog, Half Baked Harvest, and her new cookbook of the same name, feature beautiful photography and some interesting, genre-bending recipes, many of which promise to be ready in twenty minutes or less. But can these recipes hold up to Cookbook Club scrutiny?  As they say in clickbait, “the answer will shock you!”  


As we arrived, MaryLou offered a selection of props, backdrops, utensils and placemats to help “dress up” our dishes in their Instagram-friendly best. Many of us took advantage and posted photos to Instagram (#sdcookbookclub) – this was a glamorous batch of dishes, both sweet and savory! There seems to be no dish that Tieghan cannot somehow make a little prettier, spicier and fancier: Greek cheese on a Thai dish! Jalapeno *and* chipotle peppers *and* Anaheim chiles! Candied lemons!    


As always, we compared notes and shared stories about the process of cooking our dishes, and any challenges we encountered along the way. Many of us noted that the time estimates for our dishes were wildly inaccurate: 20 minutes in “Tieghan time” is more like 45 minutes, once you account for all the prep work. Tieghan also uses some standard cooking terms of art incorrectly, such as a “vinaigrette” containing neither lemon juice nor vinegar, and some of the gorgeous photographs of her recipes, while they are appealing, do not accurately reflect what happens when you follow these instructions. 


Overall, these recipes did not seem as thoroughly tested as one might expect from a standard cookbook; certain bake temperatures were too hot, while other recipes were vague as to quantities and weights of produce, and most of the baked goods were surprisingly un-sweet.  


Overall, we ended up with a delicious meal, as always, despite some of the frustration we experienced in following Tieghan’s instructions. Our group favorites, each of which ended up somehow “not as advertised,” were MaryLou’s Lemon Feta Dip with Garlic Tomato Vinaigrette (containing no actual vinaigrette),


followed by Michele’s Better than Takeout 20 Minute Peanut Noodles with Sesame Halloumi (taking longer than 20 minutes)


and Amy’s Skillet Roasted Moroccan Chicken & Olive Tagine (not made in a tagine). 



The top vote-getters in the dessert category were Linda’s Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars with Candied Lemon,


Becky’s epic Chocolate Layered Zebra Mousse Cake,


and MaryLou’s Vanilla Glazed Blackberry Peach Coffee Cake.  


Thanks for another fun afternoon filled with great conversation and a colorful feast! See you next month as we travel, culinarily speaking, to the Sandwich Isles!

 Click here for photo gallery and recipes


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