Day 57: Why use pizza dough when turkey will do?

February 26, 2007


This evening we spent around 45 minutes making Turkey Cutlet Parmigiano with Warm, Fresh Grape Tomato Topping, Pesto, and Mozzarella. Our dirty dish count stands at two skillets, one wooden spoon, one pair of tongs, two plates, three shallow dishes, one chopping board, one cookie sheet, one knife, one spoon, and our serving dishes and cutlery. In all honesty, this seemed like far too much time and trouble for the end result.

The turkey cutlets were dipped in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs with Parmigiano cheese and chopped parsley. Pan-fried in olive oil, they ended up tasting not dissimilar to cheesy cardboard. Not necessarily in a bad way, after all I’d rather eat pizza base than turkey cutlets most days of the week. The cutlets were topped with the grape tomato/ onion/ garlic/ wine mixture, which in all honesty could have been easily substituted with a good jarred pasta sauce. Let’s not be food snobs about this; whilst the topping was both warm and fresh, it was not particularly tangy or rich or flavoursome. On top of the tomato mixture went the pesto (which was store bought as directed). As an uninteresting observation, this would have been much easier to apply directly to the cutlet, rather than over the tomato sauce. Fresh mozzarella completed the dish and the whole lot went under the broiler for a few minutes.

We used half a pound of turkey for two people. We made five cutlets and three are left over. The recipe calls for half a pound of turkey per person, presumably to keep fighting the good fight against any national poultry surplus. Overall, this dinner was pleasant enough but certainly not worth the trouble after a long, long day. It honestly was a bit like a rather bland pizza. The spinach as side-dish was our prerogative, given that there were no directions to supplement the meal. The one high point in the whole preparation was the fact that one of our cats tried to get into the dishes full of flour, egg and breadcrumbs. They must really hate their food; eating flour is a new all time low, even for that particular cat. They very rarely jump up on the countertop, and are immediately chased away if they do, but it’s normally at least for something worthwhile like tuna fish. But for flour? That’s almost tragic.

Tomorrow, back to chicken, of course. I don’t think we’ll be disappointed with Chicken with Sweet Raisins and Apricots on Toasted Almond Couscous, because our high hopes have already plummeted to rock-bottom. Sometimes it’s good to have ridiculously low expectations.

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  • Reply rachel February 26, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    That is odd the recipe called for so much turkey! Her recipes tend to the enormous, esp. the burgers. They must take forever to cook through!

    As for the dishes, that does sound like a lot when you didn’t even make the pesto, but not an opressive amount for cooking. We easily generate twice that every night for only the 2 of us!

  • Reply AddE February 27, 2007 at 9:17 am

    I’ve been reading through this blog and your previous posts and I have to comment that you seem extremely bitter about this whole endeavor you are trying to take on. RR’s cookbook was not designed to be cooked straight through so in doing so you are going to have some of the same things night after night with her variations on the master recipe.

    If you wish to take this on as a project it would be better served if you had an open mind going into each dish…unlike “Tomorrow, back to chicken, of course. I don’t think we’ll be disappointed with Chicken with Sweet Raisins and Apricots on Toasted Almond Couscous, because our high hopes have already plummeted to rock-bottom. Sometimes it’s good to have ridiculously low expectations.”

    Did I mention that you are only on Day 57? I think you would be much happier for the remaining 308 days if you act like you want to do this – not like you are being forced into eating 10 chicken dishes in a row. Keep in mind, you chose to do this in this manner so do the rest of us a favor and either go along with it in good spirits or abort the mission. The spirit of the cookbook is to not force you to eat foods you clearly hate (i.e. egg baskets) – its to pick and choose ones you would enjoy…much like any other cookbook.

    When I heard of the concept of trying every dish in the cookbook I was intrigued to think that I would be able to read reviews on some of the dishes I have tried and look to try. What I found was an overly critical and mean-spirited commentary on the dishes.

    I am sorry to have to write all this but in the spirit of moving forward, I thought it might be beneficial to hear from someone on this matter.

  • Reply Helen | One Year Project February 27, 2007 at 10:24 am

    The reason that we are doing this project with this book is precisely because “365: No Repeats A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners” is designed to be followed from start to finish, in theory at least. As Rachael Ray says in the introduction, “You’ll notice that this book is not arranged in the conventional way, with chapters on chicken, meat, and pasta. I’ve mixed things up for a reason: I intended that you could just cook your way through this whole book (maybe marking one here and there that didn’t grab you that particular night but you want to come back to) and never get bored. No more leftovers for you- every night can be full of new flavors! Of course I hope you won’t be able to help yourself from returning to a few fast favorites now and again. And at least once, try one of the master recipes and one of its variations on two consecutive nights so you can taste for yourself how changing up even one ingredient can totally transform a dish and leave it unrecognizable.”
    Some of the meals we’ve cooked have been really, really good and we’ve given them 4 or 5 stars, most have been fine, one or two have been dreadful. This is the nature of a cookbook, although presumably most people don’t cook the meals that they don’t feel like eating, so you never actually review all the recipes in one volume. Nigella Lawson writes some fabulous cookery books, but we’ve never cooked the meals with ingredients we don’t like. Why would we? This way at least we get some happy surprises, like the Halibut Soup.
    We don’t feel any urge to lie about how we find the recipes and the process. We aim to be as honest and straight-forward as we can. We’re not going to fake enthusiasm for a whole year as a favor for someone. Obviously we are aware that we are now on Day 58, even the recipes are numbered. We knew this was not going to always be an easy process or a fun one, but it is certainly interesting and challenging. And there is a lot of chicken in this book.

  • Reply VP February 27, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    I love Rachael Ray and her cookbooks. That said, I have really enjoyed reading your blog and have taken your sometimes less-than-flattering commentary with a good pinch of salt. Some have been LOL funny, so I say keep the commentary coming. (I especially enjoy the photos you post- it’s frustrating that RR’s books hardly have any).

    Also, I appreciated learning how long it took you to make this meal tonight. My husband and I are always saying that in reality, her meals are at least 45 minute ones.

  • Reply Di February 27, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    I appreciate honesty in your comments. Most of the Food Network shows, have the hosts rolling their eyes back in ectasy with every bite they take. I know that is not the case in reality. My friend and I only got through Recipe #30 and we skipped some along the way. So, I think y’all are putting a great deal of effort into your project and readers like me appreciate it.

  • Reply kelly February 27, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    I too appreciate the honesty. This is YOUR blog, and YOUR journey. No one has forced anyone to read this everyday. I find it interesting because it is such a crazy concept and I applaud the fact that you are trying this!

  • Reply GM February 27, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    I’m a big fan of your blog and always find your comments entertaining and useful. Keep it up! Do it your way. Like Kelly said…”this is your blog”. B e as sarcastic or as sincere as you choose, but I love the sarcasm. Happy chicken!

  • Reply Isla February 28, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Yes, this is YOUR blog and I greatly appreciate that you’re giving both honest criticism and compliments to RR’s 365 recipes. It would be disappointing and transparent if you were fake. You clearly write that you don’t like eggs so anyone reading your egg reviews, for example, knows to take that into consideration. On a side note, I would suggest that you try feeding Baby A eggs in the future and be sure not to make faces or bad comments. She may end up liking them after a few (or more) tries.

  • Reply Helen | One Year Project March 1, 2007 at 8:54 am

    Isla- we’re sure to give Baby A egg pretty regularly, and she really likes it. She just wasn’t into the egg baskets, but she loves scrambled eggs, omelettes etc. We try to stay neutral when offering her all food, and let her come to her own conclusions, and of course we keep trying the things she doesn’t take to at first.

  • Reply Helen | One Year Project March 1, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Di- I am intrigued that you started this crazy project too. What made you abandon the plan? (I can totally understand that option!)

  • Reply Di March 1, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    My friend and I took turns with the recipes, but even so, our significant others and families weren’t willing to put up with a year of them. Unlike you, my spouse isn’t that much of a Rachael fan. Anyway, it was fun while it lasted. I still enjoy trying things from the cookbook.

  • Reply Scott March 3, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks for doing this blog and being honest about the recipes you’ve tried. The ones you’re enjoying, I’m marking in my copy fo the book for future sampling! And the ones you’re not enjoying…well…those are being marked as well…just differently.

    Please keep on the way you’ve been going! And if you need a break from chicken for a day…I won’t tell anyone!

  • Reply Helen | One Year Project March 23, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Scott, if our Photoshop skills were any good, we may well consider skipping chicken for the day! Also, don’t you think the cookery book should have another box to check off, like “not in a million years” perhaps!

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