Chef Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 (Raving Review)

The Next Cookbook You'll Want to Buy is Looking You in the Face

Chef Michael Symon's 5 in 5

Every now and then (quite often, actually), my husband does something super cool.  His recent act of coolness involved ordering me a new cookbook from Amazon. Not just any cookbook, mind you. This was the newest cookbook by our favorite Food Network Chef, Michael Symon.

Major bonus points racked up right there.

Like any good Food Network groupie, I knew Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners was about to hit stores (online and off) and like any good Food Network groupie, my plans were in place to grab a copy asap. I was beaten to the punch, but the only thing that matters is that 5 in 5 is in my grubby hands and it’s even better than I’d expected.

From the Back Cover:

With his boisterous laugh and Midwestern charm, Michael Symon has become one of the most beloved cooking personalities on television. For ABC’s The Chew, he developed a brilliant, simple formula to help home cooks pull together fresh, from-scratch meals on weeknights: a maximum of five fresh ingredients that cook in five minutes. This cookbook ties into the segment, featuring dazzlingly quick, satisfying dinners that the whole family will love.

Michael first teaches readers how to set up their pantries with essentials that make whipping up dinner easy. Then he shares 120 recipes for pastas, skillet dinners, egg dishes, grilled mains, kebabs, foil packets, and sandwiches illustrated in 75 photographs. This is streamlined cooking for busy families and firmly solves the “what’s for dinner?” conundrum for home cooks everywhere. With a 5 in 5 recipe, there’s always time for a home-cooked meal.

Unless you don’t own a television, never heard of Twitter, and just really don’t get out much – you know who Chef Michael Symon is.  He’s the co-host of ABC’s The Chew, he’s an Iron Chef on Food Network’s wonderful Iron Chef America and he has his own – equally wonderful – show on the Cooking Channel called Symon’s Suppers.

He has also served as a judge on Food Network’s Next Iron Chef. It’s the consensus in our household that he may just be the most knowledgeable, colorful and fair judge to ever sit on a cooking show panel.

Chef Symon is also the chef and co-owner of Cleveland, Ohio restaurants Lola and Lolita, the B Spot burger restaurants outside Cleveland, and Roast in Detroit, Michigan.

How he has found time to write cookbooks is beyond me but I’m thrilled he has. His cookbooks (to date!) are: Michael Symon’s Live to Cook, Michael Symon’s Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers, and his newest must have collection, 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners.

The only exception I take with the description is this: I’ve made two of these dinners, so far, and Fantastic doesn’t even begin to cover it. These. Recipes. Will. Blow. Your. Mind.

The First Recipe I Tried: Orecchiette With Sausage and Kale

 Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale

When I was scouring through the newest addition to my cookbook collection, trying to figure out which recipe to make first, I came across one titled, “Orecchiette with Sausage & Kale.” The picture looked fantastic and the ingredients sounded full of promise, but the thing that sealed the deal for me was the fact that Chef Symon said it was his and his wife’s favorite pasta.

Good enough for me!

I was THRILLED to find that my favorite grocery store carried Orecchiette Pasta. I totally had my doubts. My celebration was short-lived, though, when I found that they were out of fresh blocks of Parmesan Cheese. I went with the next best thing:  Buitoni Shredded Parmesan Cheese. It’s excellent.

Ingredients for Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale Orecchiette Pasta

I’ve never used Orecchiette Pasta before, but I’m a raging fan now. People often describe it as being shaped like little “ears” but, personally it remind me of little Samurai Warrior helmets.  As a matter of fact, yes, my imagination is a fruit loop in a  world full of Cherrios.

The pasta is deliciously fun and I can’t wait to use it again.

As you can see in the picture on the left, this recipe is true to form – there are only 5 ingredients. How in the world SO MUCH FLAVOR and deliciousness can be achieved with just 5 ingredients is a mystery – one that can only be answered with one name: Michael Symon.

These 5 ingredients produce (in an incredibly short amount of time) one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever made or eaten.  I might just call it THE best because, truth be told, I can’t think of one that tops it.  Again, the flavors are beyond amazing. If you use spicy Italian Sausage, however, be warned – it isn’t called spicy for nothing. There’s a great deal of heat involved. If you aren’t a big fan of fiery food, go with mild Italian Sausage or even 1/2 of each.

Spicy Sausage and Kale

When I added the kale to the spicy Italian Sausage in the pan, it turned such a beautifully vibrant color of green that I had to take a picture (above). If only I could’ve “captured” the aroma that filled the kitchen!

Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale

This recipe is simply unbelievably delicious and went immediately into my family’s Favorite Recipe Hall of Fame. Instant classic.

The Second Recipe I Tried: Salisbury Steak

 Salisbury Steak (Recipe from 5 in 5)

Normally, when I get a new cookbook, I’ll try one of the recipes right away (can you say kid with a new toy?). However, I usually wait a week or two before I try the next recipe from the book.

With 5 in 5, I waited a really, really long time. The next day. I don’t know how I showed such restraint.

As soon as I tasted the Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale, I immediately reached for my copy of 5 in 5 to plot my next creation. Yes, it would mean another trip to the store. Yes, it would mean getting back out when I’d rather stay in – but, what can I say, I don’t mind suffering for my craft.

Fortunately, the next recipe I chose to make (Salisbury Steak) proved to be more than worth it. I knew it would be.

I chose Salisbury Steak because, to me, it’s a comfort food of the highest order. Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes was one of my mom’s favorite meals to make while I was growing up. As I made this one, I knew she was looking down from Heaven, as intrigued by the process as I was.

I decided to make the Salisbury Steak recipe on Football Sunday – the first one of the season no less. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that every Football Sunday is a holiday in our house. The meal to kick of the string of holidays always has to be extra special and this year it was BEYOND special. I put the potatoes on to boil before the start of the first game and challenged myself to make the Salisbury Steak during halftime. I lined up the ingredients I’d need, but didn’t do any prep work.

When halftime arrived, I shot off for the kitchen. This was the simplest, most beautiful, and most delicious Salisbury Steak of all time. Not only was the meat, itself, mouth-watering and delicious, the sauce was a culinary experience for the ages all by itself.

And, again, with very few ingredients and a very short amount of time.

Mind, blown.

As the teams ran back onto the field for the second half, I marched triumphantly into the family room with Salisbury Steak and Mashed potatoes.  I took the picture below before I did the only thing that made sense at the time – I poured the delicious sauce all over the mashed potatoes. Man oh man, is it ever good.

Salisbury Steak and Mashed Potatoes

Why You’ll Want to Buy 5 in 5 Before the End of the Day

I am completely infatuated with this cookbook and wish there was a way I could put a copy in everyone’s hands. When I think of words to describe 5 in 5,  the first to pop to mind are exciting, fun, and delicious.  Delicious is a given – with it being Chef Symon and all – but exciting and fun aren’t often words that come to mind with cookbooks. Yet, look at the evidence:  Here I am – Exhibit A – someone who has been a food blogger for YEARS and an avid cook/cookbook collector for twice as long as that. … and yet, here I am, running for a camera because of “extra vibrant colors” and having fun with a new little pasta.

I may or may not have held one up and pictured a little Samurai Warrior underneath it.

And, there I was challenging myself to cook a recipe within a set amount of time. I sort of had my own little cooking competition with myself.  Of course I won. Yay, me!

The recipes in this collection are, obviously, ideal for game days – they’ll get you in and out of the kitchen in no time at all. The Lazy Meatball Kebabs with Yogurt are lined up to be my meal next Football Sunday.

Below are a few of the other recipes from 5 in 5:

  • Cavatelli with Cauliflower and Red Pepper Flakes
  • Lazy Meatball Kebabs with Yogurt
  • Fried Bologna & Egg
  • Spicy 50/50 Burger
  • Chicken Marsala
  • Garlic Chicken with Asparagus
  • Pork Schnitzel
  • Swiss Steak
  • Bricked Grilled Chicken with White Bean Salad
  • Grilled Skirt Steak with Chickpea Salad
  • Caramelized Banana Sundae
  • Salted Caramel Sundae
  • Ultimate BLT
  • Philly Cheesesteak with Provolone
  • Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic
  • Turkey and Avocado Melt
  • Poached Eggs Parmesan
  • Sloppy Mikes
  • Eggs in Hell
  • Plus Many more!

In the front of the book, you’ll find timesaving tips, Chef Symon’s favorite flavor combinations, and great pantry advice.  The book’s filled with gorgeous photos, including photos of Michael Symon and his ridiculously beautiful wife.

If you love great food and love looking like a superhero to your family, you’ll want to order your own copy of Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners today. This cookbook would also make an IDEAL gift for just about everyone on your Christmas list.

As for me, I have to end now. I’m still undecided on the next recipe I’m going to make.  Will it be Sloppy Mikes, Ultimate BLTs, Salted Caramel Sundaes....



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