Monday, November 3, 2008

Review: Take This Dish and Twist It

Take This Dish and Twist It

Author: George Duran

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Pop Cuisine Publishing

MSRP: $19.95

They say that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Take This Dish and Twist It goes a long way towards furthering that belief. This book is replete with examples of a completely insane recipe being followed almost immediately by one that is pure ingenuity. The scary thing is that both the insane and ingenious look like they work. Both the bizarre and the original appear to be ‘doable’ for the average home cook and well worth the effort.

Half the time you are thinking ‘what crazed mind came up with this’ and the rest of the time you are enjoying the culinary twists and turns that seem to stem from a superior knowledge base that has met a strong creative influence. In the example of George Duran’s cookbook, insanity and genius are not mutually exclusive and they are both delicious.

If you are a fan of George’s show Ham on the Street on the Food Network, you will be pleased to hear that this book captures the same joi de vivre that was evident there. The whimsy paired with a true culinary passion makes for a potent combination. You can sit down and read this book cover to cover and be entertained all the way through. You will hopefully learn something about cooking (including out of the box flavor pairings) and you will certainly learn about George (this is a man that truly loves bacon).

We have reviewed a number of books here that were quality efforts, but presented themselves as something other than what they were. Their review suffered because of that. You have no need to fear that Take This Dish and Twist It offers a similar problem. Looking at the cover and reading the title tells you exactly what you need to know. If you are looking for creative takes on old standards and just some plain bizarreness that would have never entered your mind, this is the book for you.

I have a slight problem with the recipe for the Rosemary-Lemon Baby Back Ribs. They are not advertised as BBQ, so I can’t complain too much, but a brief discussion about banking coals or a smoke pouch would have ameliorated the queasiness of BBQ fans reading about grilled ribs. I have to admit that I’m also having a hard time getting over the broccoli in the chili recipe. With those two minor caveats, this book is a clear winner. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed Take This Dish and Twist It far more than most of the pure BBQ cookbooks I have reviewed, and those are clearly in my wheelhouse.

A few of my favorites:

Honey banana breakfast cereal pops

Pepperoni pizza soup

Coffee marshmallow crispy treats

Bleu cheese bacon burgers

Granny apple salsa

and the entire grilling section

The book features beautiful pictures that capture both the aesthetics of the food and the character of the book. Most recipes offer a suggested list of things that can be added on or substituted. You will also find tips from George on cool gadgets (I love the brownie pan with extra corners so everyone gets a brownie from the edge) and techniques.

I know that it may seem anachronistic, but my sister hosts an annual holiday caroling party. Along with the obligatory hot chocolate, there are appetizers, desserts, and main dishes. I usually prepare a few things for the party. This year I’m thinking about going whole hog and preparing ‘DuranaPallooza’, using all recipes from Take This Dish and Twist It.

And let’s face it, how can I not recommend a cookbook that has a section devoted to hotdogs?

You can find sample recipes and more at



Pigtrip said...

So you're a hot dog fan, eh? Do tell...

BP said...

It has a section devoted to hot dogs? I'm sold.

Eric Devlin said...

I like hot dogs. Not a big deal. I guess people have to draw a line in the sand. Hot dogs or spam. I chose hot dogs.


snarky said...

Wow! Bacon Blue Cheese Bugers!!! Sounds yummy! George seems like a really nice guy. Cant wait to make something from this cookbook and I hope to see a new TV show soon!