The following excellent review is from Donna Connolly,, https://retirementreflections.com. There are several versions of the Moosewood Cookbook and Donna has chosen to share recipes, and her review from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home with us.
Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Greek Fish in a Packet
The current mission of Cookbook Confidential, our cookbook book club, is to read and review any of the Moosewood Cookbooks. Once again, I can’t believe I missed knowing about these books. This discovery has sent me down numerous rabbit holes.
Moosewood Restaurant was founded in 1973 in Ithaca, New York, by a collective of 19 people. It started as a small vegetarian restaurant in an old gas station. In 1974, members of the original Moosewood staff self-published a handwritten, spiral-bound, paper-covered vegetarian cookbook. That humble beginning has since spiraled significantly. Moosewood Restaurant still operates today, and the Moosewood Collection continues to publish extensively. The Moosewood Cookbook has been listed by the New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbooks in history, inducted into the James Beard Award Cookbook Hall of Fame, and coined a Cookbook Classic by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
Restaurant Cooks at Home, published in 1994. This version includes a fish/seafood section. Ironically, despite my plant-based preference, I made The Greek Fish in a Packet for my official recipe. This is a delicious dish that I have already made twice.
The first time, I served it with rice and a Greek salad. The second time, I plated it over fresh angel hair pasta with a side of green salad. Always the diplomat, my husband swears he liked both versions equally. Although this simple fish dish is lovely on its own, serving it over fresh, delicate pasta truly brought it to another level. This book offers other Fish in a Package variations, including Asian, French, and Caribbean. I greatly appreciated the variety.
Highlights of Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast, Easy Recipes for Any Day:
Ease: The book contains over 250 recipes that are unpretentious, easy to follow, and tend to use simple ingredients.
Health and Nutrition: The recipes are predominantly vegetarian, with some fish/seafood options. Nutritional information is included for most dishes. I especially liked reading that the Moosewood Cookbooks have evolved with the times and now focus on a simpler, lighter and more vital style of food (e.g. bold, fresh salsa replacing many traditional rich, complex sauces.
Flexibility: The cookbook is designed to be flexible, with many recipes offering substitutions or variations that allow readers to adapt the recipe to their tastes and preferences.
Time-Saving: All of the recipes can be made in 45 minutes or less. I found the timings given to be accurate. The cookbook also includes tips and suggestions for greater efficiency in the kitchen.
This cookbook offers no food photos (not even on the cover). While I believe this works for this particular book, I confess that I usually find recipe photos to be very helpful — and motivating!
From this book, I also made the apple version of Muffin Madness. Although the results were simple and satisfying, there truly was nothing unique about this recipe. For 12 regular-sized muffins, it called for 3/4 to 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil without offering healthier alternatives.
Greek Fish in a Packet:
2 5-ounce firm fish fillets
1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
1 small tomato sliced
8 thin slices of red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
Dash of salt and pepper
2 sheets aluminum foil, 12 x 24 inches
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Fold each aluminum sheet to double thickness.
Brush a small amount of olive oil onto the foil.
Rinse the fish.
Layer the fennel slices, tomatoes, and onions on each square. Top with the fish.
Combine olive oil, lemon, and dill, and pour over the fish.
Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
Fold into an airtight packet.
Bake for 20 minutes.
When opening the package, be careful to avoid the steam.
Using a spatula, transfer the fish and vegetables to individual plates.
Serve with rice, couscous, orzo, or noodles.
Top with feta cheese.
Burning Question: “Does the strength of this cookbook justify taking up valuable space on your kitchen shelf (and cash out of your wallet)?”
I am desperately trying to downsize the number of cookbooks that I own (amongst other things)! Thus, I predominantly borrow new cookbooks from our local library or read recipes online. I borrowed my current copy of this cookbook from a friend. Despite all of the above, I plan to purchase my own copy of one of the Moosewood cookbooks. That alone speaks volumes!
Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day
The Moosewood Collective
Softcover 416 pages – no food photos
Also available on Kindle
Simon and Schuster, 1994
My rating: 4.5 Stars (4.6 Amazon, 4.05 Goodreads)
Donna lives on Vancouver Island and blogs at Retirement Reflections. She co-hosts three monthly blog linkups: What’s On Your Plate, What’s On Your Bookshelf and What’s Been On Your Calendar. She has a passion for book clubs!
Thank you, Donna for this honest and enthusiastic review of this cookbook. If you get a chance, visit Donna at https://retirementreflections.com. She writes and publishes an excellent blog on various topics through the lens of retirement. The What’s On monthly series is fun and filled with responses from interesting and talented bloggers.
22 responses to “COOKBOOK CONFIDENTIAL COOKBOOK CLUB – Donna Connolly reviews Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home”
Thanks for this excellent review of yet another version of the Moosewood Cookbook, Donna. The apple muffins look so good (I much prefer brown sugar over white and always substitute vegetable oil for butter) And I will definitely be making the Greek fish packet. Love your photo too!
Thanks, Darlene! If you make the apple muffins, let me know how they turn out!
Thanks for alerting me to a newer version of Moosewood with fish! This recipe looks like fun to make and eat and your write-up is magnificent.
Hi, Amie – Thank you for your positive feedback and your kind words. This is greatly appreciated!
That recipe looks great – I do love a fish in a packet – Mediterranean at its best.
Thanks, Jo – I agree that Fish in a Package is a brilliant idea. Fun, simple and clean up is a breeze! Win-win-win!
That fish recipe sounds wonderful. So simple, yet so tasty.
It does look delicious, doesn’t it Viv. Thanks for stopping by.
Hi, Viv – Thanks so much for stopping by. This fish recipe was super easy and extremely delicious. I will be making it again and again!
Moosewood cookbook is so full of recipes I want to create!
Me too! I don’t how I went so long without knowing about these cookbooks! <3
I love that cover, though I agree that photos inside the book would help. I usually pick a recipe based on the photo! The recipe looks good and I might give it a try since we eat lots of fish. Another fun look at the past, Bernadette. Thanks to Donna for sharing. 🙂
It is hard to appreciate a cookbook with no pictures. But,, in a way, I find that having no perfect picture makes the recipe less intimidating. Have a great week Diana.
Lol. Great point. 🙂
Hi, Diana – Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I, too, have come to rely on recipe photos. In fact, I have made complete dishes just looking at the photos! 😀
HA! I could never do that. Well, maybe a salad. Lol. I used Moosewood for years and it had some sketches as I recall, but no photos. Actually, most of my old recipe books don’t have photos. I still have them because some of the recipes are priceless.
Very thoughtful review! I have made similar dishes in parchment packets before; I don’t know why it never occurred to me to serve the results on pasta. Next time! 🙂
Thanks, Terrie – Serving the fish over fine, fresh pasta definitely elevated this already great dish!
HI Bernadette, mom and hubby would like this recipe. I will give it a try. Another fabulous review.
Thanks, Robbie! I hope your mom and hubby enjoy it. It is a super easy, delicious, flexibie recipe!
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GM Donna, that for the shout out and it is good to have you back.