Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Food memories can evoke some of the strongest emotional reactions in us. I grew up in a small town in Indiana that had a ketchup factory, and every year during the early fall, the entire town would smell like roasting tomatoes. I no longer live in that town, but every once in a while, I’ll catch a whiff of that aroma and it takes me right back to my childhood. Rachael Ray is able to appeal to those sensory emotions in her latest cookbook Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life. I always love when a cookbook has a strong personal connection to the author (it is actually one of the first points in my rating system). Rachael’s entire cookbook revolves around her personal life, and how particular recipes correlate to those aspects of her life. While most cookbooks usually are divided into more generic sections (Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts, etc), Rachael divides her book into the three most important aspects of her life…Family, Friends, and Work. Although not all of the recipes that I have tested really meshed with my personal tastes, I have to give her high credit for creating such a strong connection to the collection of recipes she’s compiled for all of us to share. 

Portabella Salad with Celery

Cookbookie Note: This salad is definitely for lemon lovers. Although I like the flavor of lemon, the amount of the lemon juice in this recipe was almost too much for my tastebuds to handle. Proceed with caution. I love the thought behind the recipe, and I’m sure it would taste better if adjusted to your lemon-level-liking. Next time I will try it with the juice of 1/2 a lemon.

Portabella Salad with Celery
  • 6 large portabella mushroom caps
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 8 fat ribs celery with big, leafy tops, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 chuck of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino, for shaving

Italian Roast Chicken and Potatoes

Cookbookie Note: I both hate and love when I start a recipe that tells me something has to sit in the fridge overnight to marinate. I hate that I have all the ingredients to make it now, but I love the fact that it is going to taste so much better with patience. This recipe did not disappoint. I had never used fennel seeds on roast chicken before and really enjoyed the unexpected flavor element that it added to the dish. The potatoes were delicious…is there ever a recipe where they aren’t delicious though?

Italian Roast Chicken with Potatoes
  • 12 to 16 pieces of cut bone-in, skin-on chicken, breasts, legs and thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons (1/2 palmful) each: crushed red pepper flakes, granulated onion, fennel seeds and/or pollen combined, and dried oregano
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons granulated
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup hot red chili pepper rings, chopped, and their brine

5-Minute Fudge

Cookbookie Note: I was surprised at how easy this recipe was to make. I was a little hesitant about adding currants to fudge, but they actually added a great texture to the final product. This is a simple and fairly cheap solution to avoid the baking hassle during the holiday season. I tried to take a good photo of the final product, but I kept eating the fudge out of the pan every time the photo didn’t look right. Just trust me…it tastes yummy!

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 bag (about 1.5 cups) butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup shelled walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (a generous handful)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Butter, for greasing the pan

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