Natalie Slater has appeared on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars as a judge and on the Cooking Channel’s The Perfect 3. She also blogs at bakeanddestroy.net. Yet, somehow, despite my love of cooking shows and food blogs, I had no idea who Slater was until her cookbook came out. Then, because the internet told me to, I dutifully ordered a copy. I have not been disappointed.
Bake and Destroy is an adorable 192-page paperback featuring lay-flat binding, funky illustrations and color photos throughout. Slater has her priorities in order, so the book begins with desserts, but it also includes breakfast items, main dishes and sides. Most of the recipes are baked (as the title suggests), but there are also a few stove-top and crock pot recipes.
The recipes are wildly unique (whoopie pies that look like hamburgers, falafel waffles, green bean casserole pizza . . . ) and have fun recipes notes describing the inspiration for each. After my first read-through, I wanted to make pretty much everything, but I restrained myself because many of the recipes are decadent special occasion only food (deep-fried cream corn, Samoa Joe cupcakes . . .).
So far I’ve made:
Samosa Pot Pie (p. 121)
Although it contains potatoes and peas, “samosa” didn’t come to mind when I had my first bite of this pie. This is really more of a curried vegetable pot pie. It was pleasant enough to eat, but not knock your socks off good. I served it with store-bought chutney, which provided a little extra ooompf. Recipe notes: I had to add more water than called for to get my crust to come together. I also had some difficulty getting the top crust to attach to the par-baked bottom crust. However, the end result was a crunchy, flaky, golden-brown crust.
Chicago Style Sammich (p. 111)
According to the recipe, this sandwich has all of the flavors of a Chicago-style hot dog. It features mushrooms, onions, spinach, cheezy sauce and pickle relish on a toasted roll. I thought it was easy to make, fairly healthy and tasty. I’d definitely make it again. I was especially happy with Slater’s cheezy sauce, which was pantry friendly, tasted good and thickened up nicely. Recipe note: I did not need to refrigerate my sauce as stated in the recipe notes. It thickened up just fine sitting on the stove while my veggies were cooking.
Black Metal Forest Brownies (p. 41)
Super fudgy brownies with a cherry swirl. Make these now and top them with ice cream. You’re welcome. Recipe note: Mine took longer than 35 minutes to cook. At 35 minutes, my sides were set up and the middle was wet but not “crackly.” After 40 minutes, the middle was still pretty wet, but I had brownies instead of molten chocolate cake. I’m not sure if I ever achieved crackly-ness.
Verdict: This is a unique addition to my cookbook collection filled with fun special-occasion recipes. Invite some people over to share your creations. Don’t be like Veggie Husband and me, who polished off a whole pan of brownies by ourselves in three-days’ time.