Intro to Cooking: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

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When I was offered a copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, I couldn’t say no. I had watched the show a few times, but was more connected to the style of the characters and the nostalgia of an era (that I admittedly have never experienced) rather than the show itself. This cookbook takes episodes and features recipes based on what the characters ate or did. The attention to detail is kind of amazing.

I was delighted to find that the book had an impressive cocktail section. I didn’t drink much in college, but have recently gotten very interested in making fancy drinks. My favorite so far is the Sidecar, adapted from episode 8 of season 1. It includes cognac, Cointreau, and lemon and orange juice. It’s as strong as it sounds, but strangely appealing.

The only problem with some of the drinks is the recipes sometimes call for specific types of alcohol that I would say most college students would be unable to afford.

The recipes for food are at once familiar and unfamiliar. I recognize a lot of them as adaptations from cookbooks of my great-grandmother’s, but aren’t anything I’ve ever made before. Beef Wellington? Chicken Kiev? Pineapple-Glazed Ham? I guess the alien feeling of the recipes is a benefit; it makes me realize how long ago the 50s and 60s were! The recipe I attempted from this section, Miss Farrell’s Fettuccine Alfredo, was unlike any fettuccine Alfredo I’ve had before.

Miss Farrell’s Fettuccine Alfredo¬†

1/2 pound fettuccine

1 teaspoon of butter

8 ounces of heavy cream

1 egg yolk, slightly beaten

2 teaspoon Parmesan cheese

Black pepper

Boil fettuccine. Strain and place in skillet. All other ingredients and saute over low heat until thick. Add black pepper.

The egg was a little confusing, as was the low amount of cheese. It was good, but not was I was expecting at all.

The one thing about the recipes in this book is that the often require a lot of ingredients…and a lot of work. Some recipes have simple steps, but lots of ingredients; other have lots of steps and lots of ingredients, which isn’t great for making a quick, healthy dinner! The recipes are great and the book is fun and quirky. I love the Mad Men¬†spin on a book of classic 1950s and 60s recipes.

For me, however, there are certain recipes I won’t try, at least for a while, because they’re too daunting! I’ve never cooked a whole ham before and I don’t plan on it anytime soon; and I can’t imagine anyone cooking a whole ham in their dorm!

So who is this book perfect for? If you have your own apartment and want to get fancy for some friends coming over (may I recommend a pot of Irish Coffee?), it’s a great cookbook to have for some go-to fancy recipes. It’s also great if you’re someone to loves to cook and has a lot of time to do so. If you’re a fan of Mad Men, it’s a great book to just sit and read. However, if you’re living in a dorm or just learning to cook, it’s not the easiest cookbook to follow, nor are the recipes appealing to those with limited budgets. I did thoroughly enjoy reading through it and testing out recipes.

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