What’s better than eating your weight in candy corn and chasing it down with pumpkin beer tonight? How about getting your hands on the punniest cookbook around?
In their new book, DARK SIDE OF THE SPOON, the Rock Cookbook, Joseph Inniss, Ralph Miller, and Peter Stadden create a cooking experience unlike any other. They analogize great recipes to great rock bands — they have to be crowd pleasers. With more than thirty dishes and accompanying add-ons (like how to make your own pho spice mix, spicy fajita seasoning, and pie dough), a reader’s sure to find something for everyone at a dinner party.
The book is organized in the order of: an equipment matrix (an inclusive breakdown of kitchen appliances and items you’ll need to prepare dishes, specified by recipe), appetizers, mains, supporting acts (aka sides), and extended play (the aforementioned add-ons.
Two things I really like about the recipes specifically, is that each one has a measure of difficulty, as well as an estimation of prep and cooking time (found under the B.P.M. aka beats per minute for ya non-music people). For this review, I tried recipes that varied in difficulty, and honestly, the Smashing Pumpkin Pie at a 7 was only difficult because it required making pie dough (and if you want to simplify the recipe, you could buy this pre-made at the store).
Keeping with the theme of puns, not only are the recipes cleverly named, but each one has an individually commissioned piece of art that brings together the humor of the dish with the rock band that inspired it. For example, in Fleetwood Mac & Cheese, artist, Eve Lloyd Knight created a woman with flowing yellow macaroni hair (fitting, right?). Each recipe has a similar pun-related feature, like Dim Sum 41 with caricature potstickers and Def Sheppard with lamb and mashed potatoes in a boxing ring.
I should also note that in addition to easy-to-follow recipes, prep/cook times, and suggestions for pairing dishes together, this cookbook is also very thoughtful about dietary concerns. Since we’re talking about this on Halloween, if you see a teal pumpkin out tonight, that’s an indicator that someone in that household has a food allergy. Related to that, at the back of this book, the authors have kindly indicated which recipes are: vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, and vegan. So if you have any concerns, flip to the back of the book to double-check a dish before preparing it.
Last, but certainly not least, it would not be a rock music cookbook without music! If you flip to the last page (95, if we’re being specific), there’s a QR code that you can scan with a phone…of if you’re less tech-savvy, there’s a website URL. This code or website, however you choose to access it, will give you a rock-approved playlist that you can use while cooking or entertaining! How freaking cool is that?
And now for the fun part, the recipe tests!
Fleetwood Mac & Cheese — This hails from the appetizer genre, is a difficulty of four, and is estimated to take a little less than an hour from prep to finish. I should preface that this is a “healthier” verison of mac & cheese, in that it has cauliflower. Typically I avoid recipes with cauliflower because I’m not a fan of their texture, but after making this recipe, I might be more adventurous with the little white vegetable. This recipe was really easy to make and I’d recommend if you’re not too fond of cauliflower, you could break it up while it’s cooking with the pasta (so it’s not so noticeable), you could substitute broccoli or another veggie, or even add sausage or meat to make it heartier. I’d give this recipe a big thumbs up and the quantity of ingredients made for some delicious leftovers.
Ramenstein — This is one of the main dishes that has a difficulty of nine and an estimated prep/cook time of a little more than four hours. I think the cooking time is why this recipe has a high level of difficulty, but if you’ve ever had ramen out and enjoyed it, I’d suggest making it at home (because 1. it’s cheaper, and 2. you know 100% that it has no artificial ingredients many restaurants might toss in). This is a riff on a Japanese pork ramen; if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you could sub out the pork base and make it with something else, but if you like/can eat meat, I’d definitely recommend trying this recipe. It’s got a ton of flavor and you can customize it however you like. For mine, I added an over easy egg and lots of bok choy!
Smashing Pumpkin Pie — In the spirit of Halloween, I thought it’d be fitting to try and make my own pumpkin pie. Let’s just say after this experience, I will never take it for granted when I see one at the store, because damn, these things are work (but so, so worth it). This is a classic pumpkin pie recipe, but you could certainly mix it up by adding nuts, other fruits, or different toppings to it. The pie has a difficulty of seven and about an hour and a half in prep/cook time. I’d say that the most complicated thing about this recipe is making your own dough, but as mentioned earlier in this review, you could sub that out with a pre-made variety and probably save a good 20 minutes or more.
All in all, this is a really fun cookbook. I’d recommend it to music lovers for the puns and included soundtrack, chefs young and old looking to try a fun dish, as well as any art or vinyl aficionados for the creative interpretations of album art included with each recipe.
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Score Card: Cover Art 5/5 | Content 5/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
Book Stats: Title- Dark Side of the Spoon: The Rocker Cookbook by Joseph Inniss, Ralph Miller, & Peter Stadden
Page Count- 96
Binding- Paperback with color illustrations