Simon and Schuster sent me a copy of the new cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld, who is famous for her Deceptively Delicious cookbook, as well as for being Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld. The Can’t Cook Book is aimed at people who are inexperienced in the kitchen and are, in Seinfeld’s words “Absolutely Terrified.”.
I wish this book had been in existence when I moved into my first apartment, because I was someone who didn’t know a roasting pan from a bundt pan. I lived on popcorn and broccoli for a year, no word of a lie. I wish I had a book like this to talk me through all the steps of a recipe, to anticipate the parts of a recipe that an inexperienced cook might have trouble with, and to provide delicious ideas to boot. This book is excellent for beginner cooks: not only does it include sections describing measurements and kitchen tools, but there is also a how-to section with step-by-step photos detailing skills like zesting lemons and chopping garlic.
In short, this is an excellent book — but not just for beginners. Since the book is aimed at the inexperienced cook, the recipes are simple and quick to throw together, even on a busy weeknight. The photos are beautiful AND instructive, and the book itself is spiral bound, which is my favourite — it stays open for easy reference. I really cannot say enough about The Can't Cook Book, and I plan to use the meat section when cooking for my family — something I am not altogether confident about, being a longtime vegetarian.
Some of the recipes I’m looking forward to trying are the Sweet Cherry Tomato Pasta, the Roasted Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes, and the Chocolate Chia Drops. There are also three different kinds of kale salads, and anyone who knows me personally will realize how exciting that is. All hail kale!
The recipe I chose to share with you is the Slow Cooker Lasagna, which worked out great even though I a) do not have a slow cooker, and b) I substituted the cheese for non-dairy alternatives. I was a little nervous (proving that even experienced cooks get nervous) putting this in the oven when it called for a slow cooker, but on low heat the oven worked just fine. I chose this recipe primarily because it looked delicious, and also because of the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine and Puddy refer to a passenger on a plane as “Vegetable Lasagna.” I may have said VEGETABLE LASAGNA in that manner continuously throughout the day, whenever some unsuspecting soul in my house asked “What's for dinner? What smells so good?”
Tools needed: 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, 2 medium bowls, cutting board, chef’s knife, cheese grater, salad spinner, measuring cups and spoons, 2 spoons, paring knife
Finely chop the garlic (Nicole Note: I used my garlic press) and add to a medium bowl along with the tomatoes, oregano, salt, red pepper, and black pepper (about 12 turns on a pepper mill). In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, and the Parmesan. Put the spinach in a salad spinner, wash, and spin dry. Now you’re ready to assemble.
In the bottom of a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, spread a thin layer of the sauce. (Nicole Note: I used a 9x13 inch pan). Top with 4 of the noodles (breaking to fit as necessary). Spread 1 1/2 cups of the sauce over the noodles (be sure to cover completely with sauce so the noodles don’t dry out). Layer with 2 cups of the spinach and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture.
Repeat twice more with the noodles, sauce, spinach, and cheese mixture. Top with the remaining 4 noodles, sauce, and 1 cup mozzarella.
Cover and cook on low until the noodles are tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. (Nicole Note: I baked this in the oven at 200 degrees F for 3 hours and it was perfectly done). Test the noodles for doneness by inserting a paring knife in the centre of the lasagna (if it goes in easily, it’s ready). (Nicole’s Note: That’s what she said).
Copyright Jessica Seinfeld
*Look for The Can't Cook Book, published by Simon and Schuster Canada, in bookstores near you! No really, do it! It's a great book!
And we're giving away FIVE hardcover copies of Jessica Seinfeld's "The Can't Cook Book" thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada so you too can conquer all your kitchen fears! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me what makes you nervous in the kitchen! You have until November 15, 2013 to enter. You must be a YMC member and please be sure you've registered your email address in our commenting system so we can contact you if you win. Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a YummyMummyClub.ca member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until November 15, 2013. Contest open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec). Winners will be picked using www.random.org. See full contest rules here.