Time to tuck in, people…
Thanksgiving is on the horizon (unless you’re Canadian, in which case you’ve already had it), and food is on everyone’s mind. Even fictional food.
Anyone who’s spent any time watching Gilmore Girls knows Lorelai and Rory like to eat. A lot. Stuff that would make the rest of us gain weight just to look at, like canned frosting right from the container, they can inhale. Ah, Hollywood.
But the Girls don’t live on canned frosting. Over the course of the show, the characters ate or hinted at eating some delectable foods, which has set more than a few fans’ mouths to watering. One, Kristi Carlson decided to take matters into her own hands and thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and about a dozen contributing chefs, has published a fun, fabulous cookbook, Eat Like A Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook For Fans of Gilmore Girls. Since the cookbook is unofficial, there aren’t any pictures of the cast or episode stills, but there are plenty of recreations of Gilmore-esque settings, with inviting photos of every recipe.
I figured it would be easier to properly review this cookbook if I actually cooked out of it, so I picked a selection of offerings and went to town over the course of several months. Not all at once, though–that would be too much of a good thing. Without further ado…
Chicken and Noodle Casserole (Johnny Machete) (Season 3, “Happy Birthday, Baby”)
For some reason, the book doesn’t put the name to this dish that Richard Gilmore gave to it. Maybe it’s to avoid confusion with its real name, Johnny Marzetti, which is pretty common in Ohio. It’s also the name of a famous restaurant and a brand of salad dressing, so it could be a trademark issue. Who knows. In any case, there are tons of versions of Johnny Machete (Marzetti) out there, like this one, which I’ve made (and it’s yummy). Eat’s has three cans of cream of mushroom soup (not to mention butter, whole milk, half-and-half, sour cream, and cheese), so if you’re not into that sort of thing, you might want to skip this meal. It is delish, though–my son loved it. My husband didn’t, but he’s not a fan of zucchini or broccoli, even when they’re smothered in copious amounts of dairy fat. Oh well.
Rocky Road Cookies (Season 1, “Love and War and Snow”)
I tried using marshmallows in cookies one time, and it was a disaster, but when I made these, I was pleasantly surprised to see that marshmallow fluff is a different story. Oh, these cookies are decadent, and they should be, since the recipe calls for a cup of butter. Speaking of which, the recipe also calls for the butter to be room temperature, and to use an electric mixer to make the dough. I’ve always found it’s better to keep the butter only soft enough to cut, then cube it and use a pastry cutter to cream it with the sugar. Plus, the recipe doesn’t say to keep the extra dough in the fridge while the current batch is baking. I don’t know about those of you who bake, but in my experience butter cookies don’t seem to spread as much if the dough is cold when they go into the oven. Anyway, these cookies were fabulous.
Mushroom Soup (Season 2, “Dead Uncles and Vegetables” )
Butter is very popular in Stars Hollow–this soup calls for a stick and a half. Plus a pint of half-and-half. It’s also got shallot, fresh thyme, dry white wine, and smells fantastic while it cooks. In the end, it’s just a very fancy mushroom soup, and seems to work better as an appetizer than as a meal. I think what would really take it over the top would be a sprinkle of crumbled bacon or French’s onions along with the parsley, but as is, it’s quite tasty.
Open-face Hot Turkey Sandwich (Season 1, “Cinnamon’s Wake”)
Open-face sandwiches always make me think of hofbraus and I don’t know why, because diners get in on the action, too. Anyway, this sandwich has plenty of tender, tangy, chewy, silky goodness. Took me right back to the now-demolished Sam’s Hof Brau in Auburn, California. I can’t think of a single thing that needs changing, except that I sauteed the mushrooms with fresh minced garlic instead of granulated as the recipe calls for, and I doubled the gravy recipe so I could top some chicken with it on another day. Yum!
Cheeseburger (All seasons, most episodes)
Can’t have a Gilmore Girls cookbook without Luke’s cheeseburgers–I think there was at least one of them in every episode. It’s hard to recreate a diner burger at home sans flattop, but even from a skillet Luke’s are simple and scrumptious. The only things I changed was that I did quarter pounders instead of the half pounds the recipe called for, and I made a small indentation on the top of each patty with my thumb to keep them flat as they cooked (Thank you, Food Network). Other than that, I did not mess with this classic Stars Hollow standard.
Blueberry Muffins (Season 1, “Kiss and Tell”)
Luke served almost as many muffins as he did burgers and cups of coffee, and Eat‘s recipe for them is unusual. It calls for olive oil, which I’ve never seen in a blueberry muffin recipe, but it’s surprisingly effective at cutting the sweetness and balancing the flavors. Most recipes use lemon or orange zest to get a little bit of acidity, and this method adds whole milk and sour cream instead, which gives more of a cheesecake taste. The only things I changed were that I made twelve regular muffins instead of six jumbo ones as the recipe said to. The recipe also called for sprinkling coarse sugar on top, which I didn’t have, so I used regular sugar. Yum!
Double Chocolate Brownies (Season 2, “Teach Me Tonight” )
Sporting a whopping cup of cocoa powder, they are the Jolt Cola of brownies and taste like all kinds of awesome. Moist, fluffy, and very, very dark. Chocolate lovers may swoon. Or, more likely, bounce off things like Hammy in Over The Hedge. I made this recipe back in July for a road trip to Lynnwood, Washington I took with my husband, son, and in-laws. One week. Five people. Three days of travel round-trip. Placer County to Snohomish County and back. In a Ford Taurus. Trust me, these brownies came in very handy.
Beef-a-roni (Season 2, “Sadie, Sadie”)
Rory and Lorelai ate a lot of Beefaroni on the show, or they at least talked about it. I’m not a huge fan of canned pasta, but Beefaroni is pretty classic. The cookbook claimed their recipe was identical to the real thing, so when I fixed it I couldn’t help buying an actual can of Chef Boyardee just for comparison’s sake. Well, they’re not exactly identical. The homemade version is cheesy, rich, and kicks Chef Boyardee’s butt. My husband and I ate ours with some Parmesan…yas. The only thing that was a bit of a pain was pureeing the beef with the tomatoes and cheese, but then again, I don’t have a blender, just a Magic Bullet. It was no biggy, though–I worked around it. This dish is even better the next day, and I will definitely be making it again.
Caramel Marshmallow Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Season 4, “Afterboom”)
Fried Chicken (Season 6, “Twenty-One Is the Loneliest Number”)
Luke certainly knew the way to Lorelai’s heart. In addition to the terrific burgers, he made soft-shell crab, lasagna, gumbo, cheesecake…and fried chicken. The battering process in this recipe is flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, and flour. Whew. After a couple of drumsticks that looked more like torpedoes than drumsticks, I thought I could afford to stop dipping sooner rather than later. No offense to any Southerners who swear by it, but using buttermilk for fried chicken isn’t my fave, either–it makes things so sour. Fortunately, it’s balanced here by other strong flavors like Tabasco and black pepper. This chicken is toothsome and crunchy, with just a little bit of heat, and my guys went back for seconds. Eat includes a variation, too–fried chicken sushi, which seems like a genius idea, but I’m not that brave. Plus, I don’t have a sushi mat. Yet.
Eat Like A Gilmore is a great collection of recipes. It’s not light fare, but who cares? When it’s time for a treat, it’s time for a treat. I’m looking forward to cooking more out of it, and since Thanksgiving is coming up soon, I’m leaning towards making Sookie’s Roquefort puffs for that day. Or maybe her double chocolate chip muffins on the Friday after. Or both. Who knows, I’ll have to think about it. 🙂
All righty, see you tomorrow with the second of our three Fabulous Food posts, and if you’re in the mood for more Food In Film, Ruth and Kristina will have plenty of courses at their respective blogs. Thanks for reading, and have a good one, all!