Reality television. You don't love it. You don't hate it. You either love to hate it or hate to love it. And, sometimes, it makes you want to cook. Many reality TV personalities have created their own signature food and beverages and some show even have entire theme cookbooks. (I know, hard to believe, since it seems the only thing anyone consumes on reality television is booze.) Here are my top 5 favorites.
5. The Biggest Loser Cookbook. A compendium of nutritious, low-calorie recipes inspired by dishes seen on NBC's The Biggest Loser and designed by professional chef and food consultant Devin Alexander Many of the recipes are healthful spins on less healthful classics (e.g. Not So Fried Rice, Turkey Nachos, Chicken Lettuce Wraps) and for each main course, soup, dessert, snack, etc. a detailed nutritional breakdown (fats, carbs, sugars, protein grams) is included.
4. Top Chef: The Cookbook. Many of the judges, contestants, and winners from Top Chef have their own cookbooks that are worth checking out; this volume is great for the way it organizes and assembles winning/standout recipes from multiple seasons and geographical locations. Containing chef bios, show anecdotes, and behind-the-scenes tidbits, this book is unsurprisingly popular with (and a good gift for) Top Chef megafans.
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3. Catch! Dangerous Tales and Manly Recipes from the Bering Sea. Fun fact: Tom Hanks once named Deadliest Catch one of his favorite programs on television. The nail-biting show that covers the perilous work of crab fisherman in Alaska primarily involves a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally) but occasionally shows some appetizing grub. In this cookbook are instructions for "Soups and Manwiches", "Lose-the-Beer-Belly Salads," and "Tuck in Your Shirt But Don't Bother With a Necktie Entrees," i.e., recipes for "manly" deck fare such as High Seas Stroganoff, Seafaring Shepherd's Pie, Burrito In A Cup, and Mariner's Meatloaf.
2. Miss Kay's Duck Commander Kitchen. For the record, I no way endorse Phil Robertson's racist, homophobic sentiments nor am I a fan of some of his relatives' unapologetic tolerance of these statements. I do enjoy the show in large part because of the shot's of Miss Kay's bountiful Sunday suppers and no-frills cookery. The cookbook is quaint, sweet, with easy-to-follow recipes for Southern staples such as macaroni and cheese, banana pudding, meatloaf plus some nice regional game meat dishes.
1. Baking With the Cake Boss. If you've seen Cake Boss, you're likely to have been charmed by how Buddy Valastro's Hoboken roughness of speech belies an incredible creative sensitivity when it comes to cake decoration and construction. I like this book not only for its mouth-watering, straight-forward recipes, but also for the extreme detail Buddy provides with regards to equipment, prep, and general in-kitchen strategies.