3 Times a Day immediately went on my Christmas list as soon as I saw it and, lucky for me, my best friend decided to oblige my cookbook obsession. I spent many hours of my holiday flipping through the beautiful pictures and reading through the vast amount of recipes. Picking out a couple of dishes to do for my review, I dove into the book stomach first.
The author of the cookbook said that her inspiration was “…try to improve people’s relationship with food in an unpretentious and accessible way.” As my own relationship with food is changing, I found this to be very comforting.
In order to properly review the cookbook, I tried out 4 different recipes to get a feel for the quality of the recipes, instructions and end results. The recipes I tried include the following:
- Homemade Pizza Dough
- Ricotta Gnocchi
- Gnocchi Pan-Fried in Butter with Pancetta and Peas (made with Ricotta Gnocci)
- French Canadian Sugar Pie
Homemade Pizza Dough
I have made lots of homemade pizzas over the past 2-3 years so I was pretty confident going into this recipe. I did change one thing by using “00” flour instead of All Purpose, my preferred flour when making pizza dough or homemade pasta. Overall the ingredients were very simple and could be found in most people’s cupboards and the instructions were well laid out and easy to follow. I did find the dough to be quite sticky and needed to add a little more flour. I’m not sure if this was because I used “00” or if the recipe was a bit off, but either way it was an easy fix. It’s a good recipe, but nothing particularly special. The book has a couple of pizza ideas, but I used my own toppings (roasted garlic, olive oil, kale, shitake mushrooms and mozzarella cheese).
This was another simple recipe that has a short list of ingredients and easy instructions to follow. I did find that my portions seemed to be much larger than hers. The recipe stated the yield as 30-35 pieces of gnocchi, but despite me leaving the ropes thicker than she suggested (1.5″ instead of 1″ diameter) I still ended up with closer to 40-45 pieces. They did end up tasting great and came out beautiful in the dish I made with them (see below). If you are intimidated by making your own gnocchi, this is a great recipe to start with. The author also lets you know that the gnocchi can be put in the fridge or frozen if you are not planning on using them right away (good idea for making ahead when hosting a dinner party).
Gnocchi Pan-Fried in Butter with Pancetta and Peas
I was drawn to the beauty and simplicity of this particular recipe and decided it would be perfect to really showcase the flavour and quality of the gnocchi I made in the recipe above. As I am a vegetarian, I decided to replace the pancetta with something that would give the dish a different texture and salty flavour like I imagine the pancetta was originally intended to do. I ended up taking dried chanetrelle mushrooms and frying them in vegetable oil until they turned crispy and then quickly drained them on a paper towel and salted them. It turned out be be a great substitute for me, but my husband said it was nothing like pancetta (he said it was perhaps more like bacon). Overall I really liked the dish, although it was a bit dry, but the flavours and textures were great and it was easy to make.
French Canadian Sugar Pie
All I can say about this pie is YUM! My husband, who has very little cooking experience, was the one to actually make this recipe as I was a bit under the weather. Again, very easy to find ingredients and simple instructions. The taste of this pie could best be compared to a giant butter tart…and boy do I love butter tarts! The homemade crust was flaky and buttery and the filling just oozed out. Also a great ratio on filling to crust which is very important. The only problem I found was that the pie required a much longer cooking time. In fairness, I know my oven’s temperature is off (which I adjust for), but it still took a good 15-20 mins longer. Knowing this and how it is suppose to look at the end, I will be better prepared for next time and there will most definitely be a next time with this recipe.
Organization of Book
The book starts with a few good tips and tricks to use in the kitchen or when entertaining that the author found personally helpful. Then it defines each category in detail, assigning each recipe to the relevant categories. For example the French Canadian Sugar Pie recipe was assigned to the categories of “entertaining”, “gift”, “indulgent” and “vegetarian”. The rest of the book is organized into basic chapters such as Breakfast & Brunch, Soups & Stews, Desserts, etc. Very well laid out.
Ingredients – Obscure or Common?
For the recipes I tried, I found the ingredients to be extremely common and easy to find. And, in most cases, they didn’t require me to make a special trip to the grocery store.
Ultimately, the instructions for the recipes I tried were very simple to follow and, for the most part, very good. My husband who is a very novice cook was able to execute the pie very well (with minimal extra help from me).
I love that one of the categories for the book was vegetarian and I found there to be plenty of recipes for me to either use ‘as is’ or only have to modify slightly (like the gnocchi dish I made). Absolutely a vegetarian friendly book, but plenty of non-vegetarian recipes as well.
As you might have determined already, the ingredients and instructions are simple and therefore you don’t need a high skill level really to complete these recipes. That being said, I did have to make a few adjustments in order to make the recipes work (adding a little more flour to pizza dough, putting pie back in for oven), which would perhaps call for someone at least a step above a novice chef. In conclusion I would say that as long as you have some skills in the kitchen, you should be more than fine with these recipes. Key is knowing what to look for in terms of texture and colour.
Buy or Leave on the Shelf?
This book has beautiful pictures, tons of delicious recipes and uses everyday ingredients and straightforward instructions so therefore I would have to give this an absolute BUY! Perfect on your own shelf or as a gift to a foodie friend or family member 🙂