How Cookbook Recipes Are Born

Michelle Dudash's Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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People ask me, “Where did you get the recipes for your book?” I suppose that’s a reasonable question. Not every RD is a chef and some authors partner with chefs or professional recipe developers, or both, to create recipes. For people like me: “Well, I developed them.” The inspiration behind each dish comes from many places. It could be an indulgent classic that I made healthier. Or a dish that I tasted at a restaurant or press event and then replicated in a healthier, simplified way for the home cook. Sometimes inspiration even comes from something I ate from a box out of the freezer. And often when playing around in the kitchen, I toss something together for dinner with whatever I have on hand, and behold, a new dish is born.

Also there must be variety in a cookbook, with a rainbow of vegetables from different seasons. Appetizers, dinners, soups and desserts. Take, for example, the varied pork recipes in my book. Since I’m a pork lover–and work with the National Pork Board–I developed clean eating recipes that celebrate this versatile, lean, protein-packed ingredient. Here are a few:

 

Braised Pork Buns with Quick Pickled Cucumbers & Bean Sprouts

Braised Pork Buns with Quick Pickled Cucumbers & Bean Sprouts

This dish is on my husband’s “Top 5” list of recipes from my book and I’ve prepared it many times, even since completing the book. I wanted to work with trimmed braised pork shoulder, but in a new way that was really easy to prepare. The pork practically melts in your mouth, and after a couple days of eating sandwiches, you can fill soft tortillas with it for Korean Tacos.

Sizzling Sesame Noodles with Pork, Cabbage & Scallions

Lo mein is a fan favorite Chinese takeout item in my house, but I wish it contained more vegetables so I could call it a balanced meal. I made it happen with my version, brimming with seared slices of pork tenderloin, red bell peppers, green cabbage, onions, and scallions. Leftovers taste even better the next day.

Grilled Rosemary Dijon Pork Chop & Vegetable Skewers

We love whole pan-fried or grilled pork chops, but for a cookbook, a recipe must be new and offer a different spin (this was something drilled into my head by my agent and book editor—in a very good way—and forever changed how I develop recipes). I did just that by cubing the pork chop, marinating it in my go-to apple cider, Dijon and herb concoction, and skewering on several vegetables for a complete meal.

Herbed Pork Medallions with Sage Apple Compote

My husband is not a fan of sweet and savory dishes, so my original pork and apple recipe presented a dilemma. I tested it multiple times until there were enough layers of flavor so that the apples didn’t need to be sweetened and were in perfect harmony with sage, apple cider vinegar, white wine and ginger.

There you have it. The method behind my madness. Anything surprising? Do you think you’d ever write a cookbook? What kind of recipes would you include?

Disclosure: I am a spokesperson for the National Pork Board. They compensated me to include them in this post. Words and thoughts are 100% my own.

 

You might also enjoy:

Philly Cheeseloin Recipe

Your Go-To Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe

Brat-Style Pork Burgers

Grilled Orange-Ponzu Pork Tenderloin with Napa Cabbage and Carrot Stir-Fry

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  1. [...] MELISSA: It’s so good to hear that the “sexy” title the publisher wants is sometimes just what you would have come up with yourself! The book is absolutely gorgeous with tons of colorful photos!  Tell us about developing all of those recipes and your vision for showing them in the book. MICHELLE: It’s such a coincidence that you ask that. I recently wrote a post about how my cookbook recipes are born. [...]

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