Caramel Chicken heaven: 2500 recipes you have to try

October 3, 2007 in chicken, cookbook, Food Porn, review

If you have come here by way of Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger Birthday Giveaway, you will find details on my prize at this post – “ProBlogger Birthday Bash event: Nikas Peppermint Marshmallow Puff Pastries“.

Caramel chicken, baby carrots, sweet onions, basil flower

(Stir-fried Caramel Chicken, carrots, and sweet onions)

I know I have been reviewing up a storm lately. I do not get anything from the [tag]publisher[/tag] besides the review copy which is the way it should be. I enjoy doing this because it can inspire one out of a [tag]cooking[/tag] rut.

What time of year is the most likely for you to get cooking-rut-itis?

I find that right now is a likely time because there are no [tag]holiday[/tag] [tag]theme[/tag]s and grilling is starting to wear a bit thin and even my [tag]garden[/tag] seems a bit [tag]monochromatic[/tag] with a vast number of cherry [tag]tomato[/tag]es and little else. This is also a tough time for me because my body can tell the waning of daylight and it feels like winter is looming quickly. Its not really, there is little about today that is winterlike. Its delightfully warm outside with [tag]brilliant[/tag] sun but the trees are changing and the days are shorter. This just contributes to my rut-itis.

With new [tag]cookbook[/tag]s to consider and try out, I have been able to step out of the rut a bit. You have seen me try the more exotic [tag]Indian[/tag] [tag]food[/tag]s in the “[tag]Modern Indian Cooking by Hari Nayak and Vikas Khanna[/tag]” post and the “[tag]A Surfeit of Indian Food – spice it up baby[/tag]” post.


I have also been testing a few [tag]recipe[/tag]s from a [tag]cook[/tag]book entitled “[tag]2500 Recipes: Everyday to Extraordinary[/tag]” by [tag]Andrew Schloss[/tag] and [tag]Ken Bookman[/tag].

[tag]2500 recipes[/tag] sounds like a dangerous idea, one that could be overwhelming for the [tag]writer[/tag]s and the [tag]reader[/tag]s.

In reality, what they have done is write a very [tag]organized[/tag] cookbook that gives you 50 recipes per food type that will expand your [tag]repertoire[/tag] and help you [tag]cultivate[/tag] [tag]flexibility[/tag].

They offer a varied array of 50 recipes for foods such as:

  • Chicken (parsed out in recipes for Whole and parts)
  • Leftovers
  • Kid Foods
  • Chili
  • Pizza
  • Fish
  • Health Food
  • Roasts
  • Breakfast
  • And on and on

This is a book about recipes and not [tag]food photography[/tag], you will find no photos here. What you do find is a varied and useful compendium of different options for base ingredients like chicken breasts and pork roasts and beef.

If you are like me and you do not go to the store with a recipe in hand or a list generated from recipes and you simply buy meats and veggies and starches that you will later juggle together into the week’s meals then you will love this cookbook.

You can be dogmatic and follow these recipes, exploring until you find some new [tag]family[/tag] favorites. You could also use them as springboards to create your own variations, something that I do often because I do not have a perfect ingredient match.

My copy is now rather smudged as it has been working in the kitchen, a messy place. I see using it a whole lot more. I also see this as an excellent book for the “new” cook who is looking for a generalist cookbook. I intend on using it for some of our [tag]culinary[/tag] [tag]homeschool[/tag] projects with my almost 11 year old daughter.

[tag]Stir-Fried Caramel Chicken[/tag] (on page 164, print the PDF)


  • 1 lb (500 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1⁄4 C (50 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) [tag]Worcestershire sauce[/tag]


Dredge chicken in cornstarch.
In a wok, heat oil over medium-high heat until smoking.
Stir-fry chicken until browned on all sides and no longer pink inside; remove to a plate.
Add onion and carrot to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; stir-fry until sugar begins to color, about 1 minute.
Return chicken to the wok and stir to coat with sauce.
Serves 4.

Caramel chicken, baby carrots, sweet onions, basil flower

When I prepared this recipe I only had leg quarters on hand so I cut off the meat (took a LONG time, yikes!) and used that instead of breasts. Using breast meat (or those tenders) would make this recipe really zippy. I also added only 1/2 the amount of sugar because I was timid about the sweet aspect. I used baby carrots from our garden.

Our tasting found this recipe VERY flavorful and a wonderful change from the usual around here. Frying the chicken in cornstarch made a fantastic coating once the pieces were stir-fried in the sauce. The sweet garlicky Worcestershire sauce coated the chicken pieces, carrots, and onions to give a delicious savory-sweet flavor.

The family LOVED this and there would have been no leftovers to shoot if I didn’t threaten bodily dismemberment for eating the small portion I set aside to shoot the next day.

After this success, I put this cookbook to a more rigorous test, something I like to call “The Joy Test”. If I am cooking something that I need to find information on technique or variation, I usually open my [tag]Joy of Cooking[/tag]. It almost never fails to have something for me. I did the same with this cookbook over several days.

We had [tag]Southern fried chicken[/tag] from the recipe on page 292 and simply adored it. There was no chance to shoot any of that as there were no leftovers, period (was too dark to shoot fresh from the pan).

I would definitely recommend this book to newer cooks and those of us who have done most of Joy and want further ideas without having to resort to 10 different cookbooks.

If you do give it a try, let me know what you think!

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