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Cookbook Review: Great Food! From Great News! Cooking School

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Great Food! cookbook

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It all started when Ron and Carol Eisenberg left the harsh winter life in Cleveland, OH to sunny San Diego, CA with their three kids and two dogs in tow. Ron, a pharmacist by trade, and Carol, greeting card department buyer, decided to open their own retail store called Great News! selling functional housewares and alternative greeting cards. In the 1990s, based on the trends and interest from his customers, Ron decided to focus on cookware and kitchen items. Around the same time, Carol was diagnosed with stage-4 terminal breast cancer. Ron began to research and learned to cook macrobiotic diets to help his wife fight the cancer. In May 1996, Carol passed away. Ron threw himself into the business to build his first cooking school, which is part of what Great News! is all about. During construction, he met Devora Safran. Devora is an artist, designer, and great home cook who loves to entertain. In 2002, Ron and Devon tied the knot. Together, along with a healthy list of contributors, they put together, Great Food! From Great News! Cooking School cookbook. One well known contributor is executive chef for SOL (Newport Beach, CA and Scottsdale, AZ) and Solita (Huntington Beach, CA), Chef Deborah Schneider.

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The introduction is chocked full of information for the novice to the seasoned cooked – A Well-Stocked Pantry, Basic Cooking Methods, Useful Terms & Tips, and Measurement Equivalents. The book is broken up by season and then by menus.

In the Summer – Cooking with Beer section, Guinness Chocolate Brownies sounded scrumptious! From seeing sweet recipes and decadent concoctions made with Guinness, I definitely had to give this recipe a try. This recipe was created by Chef Phillis Carey. The recipe was fairly easy. If you don’t have a standing mixer, you’ll definitely need a helper in the kitchen with you when incorporating the wet and dry ingredients together. Helpful hint for the chopped chocolate, put your chocolate bars in a Ziploc bag and use a meat tenderizer or mallet to break into smaller pieces for the melting process. The brownies were a little crumbly, but had the texture of a chocolate truffle. The beer flavor was very subtle, but actually enhanced the dark chocolate flavor. The semisweet chocolate chips were a great touch, not too sweet. Vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect pairing adding cold creaminess to the mix. Whipped cream would also be a good choice too. Thumbs up!

In the Autumn – Party in a Pot (for slow cookers and crock pots) section, Slow Cooker Brisket with Fruits sounded fun and easy. This recipe was created by Chef Diane Phillips, also known as the “Diva of Do-Ahead”. I love cooking with my crock pot. Put a bunch of great food in a pot in the morning, set it on low for the whole day, come home from work and dinner is ready. Nothing better than that! I love that the recipe calls to sear and caramelize the outside of the brisket before it goes into the crock pot. You might wonder why you have to do that, but once you see the final result, you’ll know why. It has the look of slow-smoked BBQ when it’s done. The only thing I did not do in this recipe was trim as much fat off of the brisket as called for. I personally like the flavor the fat layer imparts on brisket so I left it on. The brisket, when done, will almost fall apart so if you want to have the brisket sliced, let the meat rest for a while in a foil lined pan. The things I would add: more salt to the braising liquid to enhance the beef flavor and counteract the sweetness of the fruit and red potatoes into the crock pot as a ready-made starch side. If you don’t like brisket, you could also use pork loin roast. The fruit flavors would pair nicely. Thumbs up, way up!

In the Autumn – Do-Ahead Appetizers Party section, Baked Brie with Apricots and Dried Cranberries sounded fancy and elegant. This recipe was also created by Chef Diane Phillips. I’ve always wanted to try making a recipe like this. You’ll sometimes see this as an appetizer at a fancy restaurant. Remember to thaw your puff pastry dough in the refrigerator the night before. Once the dough is thawed, the prep is very simple and easy. Hopefully, your brie doesn’t escape your puff pastry while baking and you’ll end up with a golden brown crust and cheesy goodness inside. The creamy cheese and slightly bitter rind matched perfectly with the apricot preserves and dried cranberries. I would probably cut the amount of apricot preserves and dried cranberries in half next time. It was a little too sweet for me and made it seem dessert-like instead of savory. Adding pine nuts, sliced almonds, or some cinnamon would make wonderful additions. Thumbs up!

There are so many recipes suited for so many occasions, Great Food! will be a keeper in your cookbook collection.

For more information:
Great Food! From Great News! Cooking School

Great News! Cookware & Cooking School
1788 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
888.478.2433
Store Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 9:00pm, Saturday & Sunday from 9:30am to 6:00pm
Check their calendar for cooking school classes

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