Friday, November 20, 2009

Cookbook Review: Cookin' with Coolio, 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price

I can take a cow out of Compton and make it taste better than Kobe beef at your favorite steakhouse. There's only one thing I've been doing longer than rapping: cooking. People don't know this about Coolio. I was making thirty-minute meals when I was ten years old and I haven't ever looked back. I'm the ghetto Martha Stewart, the black Rachael Ray. I am the kitchen pimp who won't hesitate to fillet Bobby Flay or send my posse after Emeril Lagasse.

What? Isn't Coolio a rapper? Yes, he is. My kids can attest to that fact. What they didn't know (and neither did I) was that he is also a quite talented cook. We have a large family in common (he has 6 kids, I have 7) and we both came from a not-so-well-to-do background of family cooks who knew how to make something from nothing and do it well.

His new book, Cookin' with Coolio, 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price, (Atria Books) can be brash and abrasive at times with some language that garners it an 'R' rating, but if you read between the lines, it becomes obvious that Coolio is not only talented behind the mic, but behind the stove, as well. His method is sound and his recipes ROCK.

There's nothing overly fancy here, just good food, prepared well and as fresh as possible. Mix in a double-dose of humor with a real passion for food and cooking and you have Cookin' with Coolio. This is a man who feels about food the way I do, there's no reason for budget to be a cause for lackluster or tasteless food.

Each recipe has notes from his Assistant Chef Jarez that help to make the most of the dish. Pay close attention to the beginning of the book - Coolio helps you set up your kitchen and pantry (ahem, 'Pimptry') in the most efficient way with everything you'll need. This book is created for the beginner with a limited budget, but the recipes aren't dumbed-down and certainly don't seem like budget food at all - 5 stars at a 1 star price is right on the money.

You need a sense of humor to read this, though - and if you do, you'll be laughing so hard you'll fall off your chair. I got started reading and couldn't stop - each page is hysterical, but so dead-on as far as cooking goes that I was honestly shocked.

I think the best part about this book is that it speaks to a whole new bunch of folks and bringing the art and love of cooking to them is just awesome. I commend Coolio for reaching out to and teaching the average guy how to cook.

Here's a recipe that's being shared freely, but if you get your hands on this book, make sure to also try the Soul Rolls, Kung Fu Chicken, Coolio's Meatless Grilla and Finger-Lickin'-Rib-Stickin'-Fall-off-the-Bone-and-into-Your-Mouth-Chicken just for starters.

Fresh Pickin' Raspberry Chicken

How long it takes: only 10 minutes to prep, and 25 minutes to cook
How much it makes: 4 people can chow down on this

What you need:

1 cup fresh raspberries
4 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 chicken breast halves (or wings, legs and thighs if you want)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 medium white onion
1 yellow chile pepper
½ cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Self-rising flour
Large Ziploc bag

What to do with it:

1. First, its time to make your homemade raspberry sauce. In a small pot, pour in the raspberries, sugar and salt. Put this over a low flame.

2. Add about 2 tablespoons of water just before it starts to simmer and bring it to a simmer. Let it all reduce down a bit, about 5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to crush up some of the raspberries and bring it all together. This is the coagulation we been talking about. When this really starts to bubble, take the pot off the heat and put it to the side.

3. Take your chicken breasts (or whatever) and massage them a little a bit before tossing them into a bowl. Pour in your balsamic vinegar. Let those luscious breasts sit and soak in the vinegar like a model in a bathhouse.

4. Take that onion and chop that bitch right up.

5. That yellow chile pepper of yours? Chop that bad boy up as well.

6. In a large-ass skillet, pour in the sunflower oil over high heat, along with your minced garlic, your chopped chile pepper, and your onion.

7. Let it all sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take in that amazing scent.

8. While you’re sautéing, take a large Ziploc bag and fill it up with some self-rising flour. Take them wonderful chicken breasts out and toss them into the bag, making sure they get fully and evenly coated with the flour.

9. Now, toss the chicken breasts into your simmering pan, lower the heat to medium, and let it cook for 10 minutes on each side. Givin’ them sexy breast an even tan.

10. Once that’s all done, place your chicken on a nice clean platter. Remember that raspberry sauce you made? Hell, yeah, you better! Drizzle that all over the place and let them chickens know that its time to get saucy. Serve it up!

Get your copy of Cookin' with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price at Amazon and make sure to stop by his official website:

Check out A Thousand Soups for another Coolio recipe.


Mhel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mhel said...

wow!! I dint know Cooli ventured into cooking. Really interesting. I thought twas only Foreman. I'll try to look for that Book lemme see if Coolio's ghetto meals' da shiznits.....

Anonymous said...

Actually Coolio studied in cullanary school before he became a rapper.

You shoudl see the show this is spawned from. BEST cooking show ever... Ok, maybe not as good as good eats but stil a lot of fun.

Anne Coleman said...

Bear - I did see that! I was laughing the whole time - when my jaw wasn't on the floor. Very interesting.