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Review: The “Cooking With the Caps” Cookbook is Awesome
Last week, I got my hands on a copy of the Caps’ new “Cooking With the Caps” cookbook and decided to spend the week trying different recipes. First, a little background on the cookbook. The Washington Capitals teamed up with SuperFd Catering to create the cookbook to benefit DC Central Kitchen. According to the Caps’ news release, DC Central Kitchen “provides nutritious meals for 80 nearby nonprofit partners and 11 District schools, equips unemployed men and women to begin culinary careers and engineers successful social enterprises that advance its mission and creates good jobs for those served by the program.” One hundred percent of the proceeds of the cookbooks will go to the organization.
The cookbook not only features some of the players’ favorite SuperFD recipes, but some from their own personal stores. The cookbook also includes fitness and nutritional tips. Recipes are also organized by hockey-themed seasons: Preseason for fall, Regular-Season for winter, Playoffs for spring and Offseason for summer. For this review, I made Nate Schmidt‘s favorite Belgian waffles (recipe courtesy of his mom, Joann Schmidt), Karl Alzner‘s favorite skirt steak with chimicurri sauce (recipe provided by his wife, Mandy Alzner), SuperFD’s Caps Crab Cake, Assistant Equipment Manager Craig Leydig‘s favorite The Woody sandwich (recipe courtesy of SuperFd’s Chef Robbie), and finished the week with Kathy Cosgrove‘s, SuperFD co-founder John Cosgrove’s mom, chocolate chip banana bread.
Let me start by saying that I am by no means a master chef. In fact, this past week, I’ve probably cooked more than I ever have before. I’m more of a pasta-with-store-bought-sauce kind of girl. Especially mostly cooking for one, I’ve found full meals intimidating. I’ve also never washed so many dishes in such a short amount of time or had my apartment smell like so many different foods at once. Seriously, I cannot begin to count how many scented candles I’ve burned this week trying to get the smell of steak and fishy crab out of the place. I mean, uh, no, apartment complex, I just sprayed Febreeze.
All that being said, I enjoyed trying these recipes. This cookbook is a lot of fun and, even for the extremely inexperienced chef, they were quite easy to follow. Especially the players’ own recipes. Not to mention the extra insights, such as the recipe for the Caps’ weekly Fajita Friday tradition. If you’ve ever wondered what the players eat, you should buy this cookbook.
Now for the recipes.
My mom gave me a waffle iron for Christmas and I have been dying to give it a try. What better time than with Nate Schmidt’s mom’s recipe? Overall, I liked these. A lot. The recipe was easy to throw together and tasted just like waffles should. Especially considering I’ve never made them from scratch before. In fact, these were so easy, I started my week with them as a little breakfast-for-dinner treat. The recipe calls for regular milk, so if you like your waffles extra fluffy, you could try swapping in buttermilk. I wanted to stay true to these recipes. You’ll obviously also need a waffle iron. Other than that, I can definitely see these becoming a weekend staple. Or a dinner staple. Also, I’d just like to put it out there that I would not be opposed to being adopted by the Schmidt family if this is what they’re eating all the time. Sorry, Mom and Dad.
Strip Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
The next day of my cooking adventure, I tried Karl Alzner’s strip steak with chimichurri sauce. While the recipe says to use strip steaks, I used a slimmer cut because they were on sale and I don’t make professional hockey player money. I know, shocker. However, the cut of meat made absolutely no difference because this sauce is beyond amazing. It calls for red pepper flakes to add some heat, but I didn’t find it that spicy. So for those who want an extra kick, you’ll probably want to add more than the recipe suggests.
Since I live in an apartment, I didn’t have a real grill handy, so I used a Cuisinart griddler. A little background, I work nights at a newspaper, so I made these before I left, wrapped them up and heated the steak up at the office. It was just as good as being fresh, so this is a meal that’s easy to pack up and that could be used as office food. Plus, if you’re cooking for one as I usually am, it makes plenty of leftovers that taste just as amazing later down the road. I’m also trying to find more foods to pour this sauce over. I’ve never been more jealous of Karl Alzner’s life.
Caps Crab Cakes
Remember that time Michael Latta and Tom Wilson faced off against John Carlson and Justin Peters to see who could make the best crab cakes? (Side note: it’s a miracle Wilson and Latta are still alive. Must be because the Caps have a catering service.) Well these are those crab cakes. This is probably the recipe I improvised the most on. For starters, because I don’t live in the DMV area (</3), I had no access to Maryland blue crabs, so I had to use regular lump crab meat. The second improvisation was using already separated egg whites. As in, I did not even attempt to (most likely fail at) separating an egg myself. Hard pass. The third substitution was just using dried onions instead of freshly chopped ones. Mostly because I already had those in my pantry and forgot to add onions to my grocery list. Shhhh. The fourth and final substitution was using Old Bay seasoning instead of the instructed salt and cayenne pepper. I also bought a remoulade sauce for dipping because I wasn’t about to test my luck trying to make sauce, too.
Overall, I wouldn’t say making these was as challenging as I thought it would be, but it certainly was as intense and hands-on. As an on-the-fly tip I figured out, once both sides of the crab cakes are cooked, I pressed them into the side of the pan so the sides got nicely cooked and bound together. I have every intention of making these again (and certainly keeping Wilson and Latta far away from them). The biggest challenge was getting the fishy smell out of my apartment. Hence the uptick in sales my local Bath and Body Works likely enjoyed this week. As another plus, These made a great second-day meal as a sandwich. Just to mix it up a bit.
After the whole steak and crab cakes adventure, I needed something easier, and it really doesn’t get any easier than this sandwich. You’re literally just putting chicken, bacon and cheddar cheese on sourdough bread and toasting it. (Sorry for freely giving away the recipe.) This was another recipe I sort of cheating on. I used pre-cooked bacon and chicken. It made this recipe even easier to follow and just as delicious. If it wasn’t for the need to be, you know, actually athletically inclined, I would totally become a hockey player so Chef Robbie could make these for me every day. Alas, looks like I’m on my own.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
I decided to finish off my week eating what the Caps do in the most un-athletic way possible: with chocolate chip banana bread. This recipe comes to us from Kathy Cosgrove, the mother of SuperFD Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer John Cosgrove. With a recipe like this, it’s no wonder he got into the food industry. This banana bread was absolute heaven. And I’m not just saying that because it got rid of the underlying fishy smell that had been hanging around since crab cake day. I guess I’ve never actually had banana bread with chocolate chips in it, but the combination seemed like it could work. Boy did it ever. I ended up making two loaves, one for myself and one to take to work since I’ve been talking this cookbook up to my coworkers all week. Everyone loved it. So now we’re all healthy hockey players. That’s how it works, right? The recipe says to bake the bread for 50-60 minutes. I found that the aluminum pan I used only needed the 50 minutes, while the darker metal pan needed the full 60.
Overall, I’d say this was a great week of recipe-testing and I’m now in love with this cookbook. While it has some recipes I certainly won’t be trying (sorry, Mitch Korn, but I am not about to try chicken liver), it has plenty more that I want to have a go at, including John Carlson‘s chocolate chip pancakes and the Caps’ fajitas. If they’re that good that they have them EVERY week, I’ve gotta try them. Thanks to this cookbook, I have a renewed sense of faith in my cooking abilities and the desire to broaden my horizons and try new things. So thanks, Caps.
As mentioned earlier, the cookbook is also full of nutritional tips to make your meals healthier, and suggested pairings based on the seasons. There are also some general cooking tips from Chef Robbie, so you can even cook like the Caps. Well, the ones that actually can cook, at least.
Cookbooks can be purchased at the Team Store at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, at the MSE Foundation table and the Team Store at Verizon Center during Caps home games or online. Remember that there are only a limited number of these cookbooks, so get yours before they run out.