Scene Dining Editor Teams up with Michael Symon on Third Cookbook

When he isn’t reviewing restaurants, pilfering menus, or defending the merits of a wedge salad as Dining Editor of this here magazine, Douglas Trattner co-authors cookbooks with famed celebrity chef and daytime personality Michael Symon.

This week, Symon and Trattner’s third cookbook – the chef’s fourth overall – was released: “5 in 5 for Every Season: 165 Quick Dinners, Sides, Holiday Dishes, and More” (Clarkson Potter). Like the last one, “5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners,” the latest book is based on the popular speed-cooking segment that Symon regularly performs as co-host of ABC’s The Chew. On that show, Symon cooks a from-scratch dish in under five minutes using just five fresh ingredients and items pulled from a well-stocked pantry.

In the book’s Introduction, Symon writes, “This new book delivers on the ‘5 in 5’ promise I made from the start: you can get a from-scratch meal on the table for you, your family, and your friends in very little time, for not a lot of money, and without a lot of fuss. This book gives you the tools to reclaim the weeknight family supper.”

Unlike the last “5 in 5,” which was New York Times bestseller, this latest cookbook of all-new recipes is organized by season, with an additional chapter devoted to the holidays. Springy recipes like Grilled Bread with Pea “Guacamole” and Grilled Salmon with Shaved Asparagus Salad transition into summertime recipes like Fried Eggplant Sandwiches with Harissa and Pork Schnitzel with Peach Salad. Dishes like Kielbasa with Apples & Onions scream fall, while Rigatoni with Ham & Broccoli Rabe is ideally suited to winter. In the Holiday chapter, Symon not only provides recipes for easy sides like Cauliflower & Goat Cheese Gratin or Glazed Parsnips with Coriander, but also dishes that utilize leftover meats like Mashed Potato Cakes with Parmesan or Ham or Turkey Frittatas.

Of the cookbook-writing process, Trattner says that practice makes perfect.

“This being the third cookbook we’ve collaborated on,” says Trattner, noting that “Carnivore,” also a NYT bestseller, was the pair’s first, “we’ve really been able to establish a rhythm, routine and system that works really well for all the major players. We each have our roles – from Symon’s recipe creation and Katie Pickens’ testing and refinement to Jennifer May’s brilliant photography and our editor’s unceasing leadership and supervision – and together we make what I hope are beautiful, useful cookbooks.”

“What do I do?” Trattner says. “I take all of Symon’s words and thoughts, and Katie’s recipes and cooking directions, and mold them into something a little more refined and in keeping with our publisher’s pretty rigid guidelines.”

Here’s a recipe from the latest cookbook, courtesy of Symon and Clarkson Potter.

Grilled Salmon with Moroccan Spices and Cucumber
Serves 4

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ras el hanout spice blend
4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon
4 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups thinly sliced cucumber
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

1. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

2. In a small bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon salt and the ras el hanout. Season the salmon on both sides with this spice mixture. Drizzle the salmon with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and put on the grill. Cook until nicely charred and the fish releases from the grill, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until medium-rare, about 2 minutes (For more well-done fish, cook covered)

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Add the cucumber, onion, and mint and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.

4. Put the salmon on plates, top with the cucumber salad, and serve.