With a gin and juice in one hand and a joint in the other, I was ready to start cooking like Snoop Dogg.
Okay, I'm totally kidding about the weed part — the only pot I needed to focus on was the one containing melted milk chocolate on the stove in front of me. I was not going to burn the house down while trying recipes from the rapper's new cookbook, From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg's Kitchen.
It might seem off-brand for Snoop to release a cookbook, but for those of you not keeping up with his every move, he has a show with Martha Stewart, Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party. Stewart clearly thinks he's legit, as she wrote the foreword to his book (Snoop writes that he considers her his "homegirl").
Intrigued by the whole thing, I decided to test out a few of the recipes. From Crook to Cook offers a mix of low-brow and five-star cuisine, with punny names like Baby Got Back Ribs and Mack and Cheese. The filet mignon looked delicious, as did the lobster thermidor, but since Snoop wasn't paying for my groceries, I settled on making Bow Wow Brownies (described as Snoop's greatest recipe), Mack and Cheese ("just like Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, it's cheesy as a mofo"), and Gin and Juice (yes, it's a recipe in the book, and it's suggested you use Tanqueray).
I wanted honest opinions on the food, so I decided to cook for my family. My parents are way too supportive of all of my endeavors and would never tell me if what I served tasted like hot garbage, but I knew my two older sisters, niece, and nephew would (kindly) tell me the truth.
None of the recipes I chose called for any exotic ingredients, so my trip to the grocery store was short and sweet. I soon had everything spread out in front of me on the kitchen counter, and as I got started preparing the brownies, I glanced up at the microwave to check the time. It was 4:20 exactly, which I decided to take as a good sign. (I should note here that despite Snoop Dogg being the global ambassador for cannabis, From Crook to Cook does not contain any recipes where weed is an ingredient.)
The brownies were incredibly easy to make. Sometimes, it can feel like you've spent 100 years stirring brownie batter, only to still have lumps in it, but that wasn't the case here. The batter was very smooth, and after pouring it into the greased pan, you top it with even more milk chocolate morsels. I had a very good feeling about this one.
The macaroni and cheese wasn't difficult, either. Can you boil water? Do you know how to whisk? Are you able to sprinkle cheddar cheese? If you answered yes, you can tackle Mack and Cheese.
But as simple as that recipe is, nothing tops the Gin and Juice.
There are two ingredients: gin and orange juice. The instructions are as follows: "Take some gin, take some juice, mix it up. That's it." Some might argue (rightfully) that this is not a recipe. But guess what? After hearing the song "Gin and Juice" who knows how many times, I had no idea the juice in question was orange. It could have been grapefruit or cranberry or apple — it was a mystery as far as I was concerned. I finally have the answer, making From Crook to Cook an important educational tool.
After the final ding of the timer, it was time to serve my guests. Everyone received a heaping portion of Mack and Cheese. It really was cheesy as a mofo, which is honestly the highest of compliments in the culinary world. The highlight of the meal, however, came at dessert. The Bow Wow Brownies were fantastic. They were light, yet still decadent, and the bits of milk chocolate that you sprinkle on top added an extra oomph. I am a brownie purist, so I chose not to serve the brownies with ice cream and chocolate sauce like Snoop suggests, but that would definitely bring this dessert to another level. Everyone was in agreement that these recipes were keepers.
As for the booze: I was pretty sure I'd never had gin before, with or without juice, so I was pretty heavy-handed with the orange juice. It tasted ... fine. Five stars for simplicity. I didn't finish my glass, and I won't be going out of my way to order this the next time I'm out, but orange juice contains Vitamin C and this made me feel like I was putting my health first.
I don't mind cooking, and I really don't mind when recipes are simple and I'm not spending hours in the kitchen, dirtying every spoon, pot, and pan. From Crook to Cook has straightforward recipes, as well as menus for special events like Thanksgiving or Game Day, and little asides about different kinds of chips and what Snoop Dogg has in his pantry.
There have been times when I've looked at cookbooks, scanned the recipe titles and ingredients, and then had to double check to make sure it was written in English. This is not one of those cookbooks. My eyes never glazed over, and while cooking, I didn't feel the need to give up and order a pizza in defeat. We all knew Snoop Dogg could rap, and now we know he can cook, too.