Friday, January 29, 2010

Day Five - Roast Rack of Lamb with Hoisin-Orange Glaze and Red Onions & Bistro Oven Fries with Parsley and Garlic

Today is day five with the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook.  I had planned that today would be more of a liquid test, since I was planning on testing the drink section of this book.  I did try one drink, the Dark and Stormy Cocktail.  Needless to say after a drink with that title, I switched to wine and I'm now feeling noooo pain.  The rum in the drink almost took me out!

The Rack of Lamb was outstanding. I held back putting all of the hoisin-orange glaze on the lamb and the onions, because I thought it might be a bit too over powering and too spicy.  But I now regret that decision.   The sauce was bloody yummy once it was cooked.  I would be crazy not to make this dish again.  But I think I would enjoy it more if I was making it for a dinner party.  You have to share the love!

The Bistro Fries were easy and fast.  I'm not much for oven fries, but these were excellent.  Deep fried fries.....bye bye!

The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook, is true to its word.  The recipes are fast and easy and down right delicious.

There are so many recipes in this book, it will have your head spinning.  But on those days when you look in the fridge and your asking yourself, what should I make for dinner, this book will quickly lead you to a dish that will fit the ingredients in your fridge. 

The layout of the book if fantastic.  You can't get lost and you can find a recipe for a key ingredient faster than I can say Key Lime.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day Four - Fettuccine with Asparagus, Morels, and Tarragon; Key Lime Sorbet and Fudgy Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

As I mentioned yesterday, my goal was to make two desserts.  The Key Lime Sorbet and the Fudgy Chocolate Mint Cupcakes.  I was still obligated to make dinner so I chose the Fettuccine with Asparagus, Morels and Tarragon.  I figured since I had all the ingredients except the fettuccine, that this would be a quick and easy recipe.  Then I realized I had to make the pasta from scratch.  I seem to make pasta so often, that it doesn't take much time anymore.

All three recipes were very quick and easy.  Since I still had Key Limes left in the fridge, I figured this should be quick and painless, until I figured out that I was 2oz shy of Key Lime juice.  So back out to the store to by more Key Limes.  Once again, I just slapped the ingredients together, and put in the ice cream maker and voila!  Sorbet.  Very refreshing, and very rich.  With a little sprinkle of graham crackers and whip cream, it's like eating key lime pie.  I didn't take a picture of this dessert since it still needs time to set. But sure tasted great!

Now!!!!! the Fudgy Chocolate Mint Cupcakes,  this recipe lets you cheat a bit, since it calls for a box of devil's food cake mix.  Once I added the other ingredients, 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips etc.  I could hardly get the cupcakes in the pan.  I couldn't stop eating the batter.  Then the frosting Hmmmmmmm.  Well, lets put it this way, by the time I finished tasting the frosting I had just enough for the cupcakes I made with the left over batter.  Yummmmmm is all I got to say.  This dessert is outrageous.

 The Fettuccine with Asparagus, Morels, and Tarragon was very good.   It was a simple dish and perfect for a mid-week dinner, no fuss, no muss.  The Morles really absorbed the sauce and their texture melted in your mouth.


Although all the recipes were fast and easy, It did make for a long day of cooking, but so worth it.

Another amazing section of this book is the Drinks Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic chapter.  I think after a crazy week I'll be trying out a few of the recipes from this section tomorrow.  So we may end up eating pizza depending when I start mixing . :-)

The Cookbook Addict

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day Three - Beef Medallions with Cognac Sauce, Garlic and Olive Oil Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes & Wild Mushrooms with Shallots

Today was one of those days I wouldn't want to re-live except for the dinner.  It must have had something to do with the almost full moon looking down on us tonight.  LOL!

Mark worked late today, so I had to pick up my oldest son from daycare.  My youngest son was just not in a good mood, and neither was his stomach which eagerly showed it's contents all over my cloths and his.  After changing our cloths, mopping the floor, feeding both kids, going over homework and putting them both to bed, I was able to finish making dinner.  The best part was, Mark came home just when I put the beef on.  We had a nice peaceful and warm dinner together

The food was excellent.  Mark and I thought the Cognac Sauce was amazing.  The Mushrooms and Potatoes were a brilliant combination.

 I hope to make the Fudgy Chocolate Mint Cupcakes and Key Lime Pie Sorbet tomorrow.

The Cookbook Addict

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day Two - Bon Appetit Fast easy Fresh Cookbook Roast Chicken with Artichokes and Gremolata butter with Broccoli with Garlic & Parmesan Cheese

I had one of those days, you know when you get up in the morning and look at the clock and it's 9:00 am and when you look at the clock again it's 4:00 pm.  Where did the day go?  I felt like a chicken with it's head cut off.  Which leads me to dinner.  I decided to go with a simple.....chicken dish.

This meal was so quick to put together, I even had time to do the laundry, wash baby bottles and take five on the sofa.  The final result was pretty good.  It wasn't an OMG! meal, but it was very tasty for a Tuesday.

Although the recipe suggested creamy polenta or orzo as a side, I decided to go with rice.  No regrets with that choice.

The book provides an explanation on types of chicken (Roasters vs. Fryers) and savory butters. I found the tidbits very informative. 

The desserts in this book look very tempting.  I think I'll try something tomorrow, for after dinner or I may just  get my husband to take it to work and share it with the staff.

The Cookbook Addict

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Week in the Kitchen with The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook byBarbara Fairchild

So, do you remember when I first started my blog and I went out in the freezing cold with a five month old and spent more money than I should have on cookbooks.  Yes...well one of the books I purchased was The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook

The above noted cookbook has 1,100 recipes.  Almost each recipe provides meal suggestions to go with the specified dish.  Every recipe provides a serving amount (how many people the dish feeds).  The book even has an index that categorizes the recipes by serving size, as well as by alphabetical order and by main ingredient.  If you have something in your fridge you want to cook, and you can't think what to do with it, just look it up in the book and you'll get a few recipes to choose from.

Today I had a head of cauliflower in my fridge.  I should say, I've had a head of cauliflower in my fridge for sometime now.  I really needed to use it up.  So I checked the book and wouldn't you know there were six ways to cook it.  I went with the Cauliflower with Mustard-Lemon Butter. 

I have to say, I was having a problem getting behind mustard and cauliflower combined together.  But once you add butter and lemon anything can come together.  The dish was very good.  I would probably serve this dish as a side in a formal dinner or a trendy lunch.  It looks great and taste equally as good.  Heck it worked great with our left overs.

The Cookbook Addict

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Dinner with Old Friends

 I invited two friends I've grown up with since I was less than 4 years old.  They are actually more like family.  Kim and Kathy and Kathy's daughter Jade came for dinner and I wanted to make something that was memorable.  So I made something from my own repertoire.  I made a Caramelized Onion Pizza with Brie and Gorgenzola Cheese and a Spinach Rotolo. 

The Spinach Rotolo evolved when I started eating these great meals from a banquet hall in Vaughn.  I couldn't wrap my brain around how they could make this dish so light that it would actually melt in your mouth.  The unknown became my challenge.  After a few interesting efforts, I think I came up with something that may actually beat out the banquet hall.  I first make the pasta from scratch. A smooth dough from a simple recipe.  You can make the pasta dough a bit more rich by adding 3 - 9 eggs, but I only use two.  The pasta still melts in your mouth.  The trick is to insure that you roll the dough out very thin.  I roll it out until I can see the wood grain in my butcher block table.  I could use a pasta maker, but your limited to how wide you can make your pasta so you have to patch the strips of pasta together to make a wide enough sheet to create your rotolo. Rolling it out by hand is a labor of love, but it's well worth the end result.   

The filling.  I kept the filing as light as I could.  I used ricotta cheese, chopped frozen spinach and parmesan cheese.  I also used marscaponi cheese to balance out the flavors. I think the marscaponi cheese helps the product come together and it provided an extra element to the dish. Since I use the marscaponi cheese I omit eggs from this dish.  I find that the eggs make the filling to pasty and dry. I then add a  touch of nutmeg, salt and pepper, once combined the  rotolo is ready to roll.  I steam the roll , slice and bake it with a white sauce.

I tell you, it's pretty good. When ever I've made this dish, the first thing out of my guests mouths is Mmmmmmm.  And I was happy that  Kim and Kathy also gave it their stamp of approval.  It's worth the work, just to see your guests faces.

It's a memorable dish for all the right reasons and you can make it a head and freeze it for another day.

I also made the Caramelized Onion Pizza.  My friend Joanne gave me this recipe.  It makes for a great appetizer. It's  yummy.  It's fast to make and it taste fantastic.  You can't go wrong with this one.

Once I get some sleep, I'll post the recipes to my blog.

Good food and wine and great friends.  That's what dinner is made of

The Cookbook Addict

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day Five - Dean & DeLuca Gratin Dauphingis & Sauteed Veal Scallops with Creamy Brown Butter Sauce with Capers and Pimientos

 OMG!!!! Yesterday I blogged that I wanted to eat something decedent, well I got my wish.  Dinner tonight was beyond amazing.  The Gratin Dauphinois is a creamy potato gratin from eastern France.  The potatoes are first sliced very thin and boiled in milk, garlic and nutmeg.  Then the potatoes are drained transferred to a gratin dish and dressed with salt more nutmeg, gruyere cheese and 35% cream.  Now how could all those ingredients be bad.   It couldn't.  If I could hug this dish I would.
Then the Sauteed Veal Scallops, with the Creamy Brown Butter Sauce with Capers and Pimentos, I'm in love.  Everything was delicious, rich and amazing.  I truly believe, if we went out to dinner and ordered this meal, it would of cost us a small fortune.  Not to mention, I would have to go out in the cold to get the meal.  These recipes were rich, and perfect.

 The Dean & Deluca cookbook is truly a book for everyone,  This book takes you around the world with menus from various countries. The instructions are simple and direct.  The only down side to this book is there are no pictures and no desserts.  Which was probably the reason why it took me so long to crack the spine, which I now regret.

I truly believe that if your the kind of person that wants to try new foods, but afraid of the intensity of flavors this book would be for you.  The food is great and not too intimidating. It's a good introduction to foods around the world.  Don't get me wrong. The flavors are there but not with the same authentic concentration  you would get from members from the various cultures noted in this book.

After a week trying the Dean & DeLuca Cookbook the


The Cookbook Addict

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day Four - The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook - Falafel and Mujadarah

As I mentioned in my previous blogs, the Dean & DeLuca cookbook takes you around the world.  Today I opted for Lebanese food.

I have to admit, I was moving a bit slow today so I didn't complete as many recipes as I had hoped. I decided to try the falafel recipe.  Blending the ingredients was the easy part......frying....not so much.  I've made falafel's before so everything seemed straight forward, but once I put them in the oil for frying the oil became falafel soup.  Not impressed. I fried the last batch with minimal oil and the mixture still fell apart.  The falafel's tasted great, but didn't hold together.

The Mujadarah (Lebanese Rice and Lentils with Caramelized Onions) was amazingly tasty.  The recipe gives you the option to use basmati or long-grain white rice. I went with brown basmati.  The rice created a nice nutty flavor and the onions provided a mild sweetness. Another good one for D & D.

One thing I noticed after I finished reading the book was there are no dessert recipes.  It took me a bit of time to notice, since I'm not a dessert freak.  I like dessert, but I don't offer them after dinner during the week. We don't need the extra calories in this house.  But if I'm having a dinner party, I try to make an effort to make something.

Tomorrow is the last test day for this book and I'm feeling the urge to eat something rich and elegant.  I'll leaf through the book again and see what I can find. So far the recipes are a conservative take on authentic food.  So if you haven't had Lebanese food before, the flavors in this book are delicate enough for newbies.

The Cookbook Addict

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day Three - Dean & DeLuca - Perfect Soft and Moist Meat Loaf

For the past few weeks I've been dragging myself out of bed early for appointments, and taking the baby with me as well.  After each appointment, I find myself in the grocery stores looking for ingredients for the recipes that I'm going to tackle for the day.

Today I gave myself a bit of a break.  Yes, had to hustle out of the house this morning for another appointment with the baby and yes, I had to grocery shop again.  So I kept the menu very simple today.  I made meat loaf.  Every home cooks quick and economical meal.

There must be a thousand variations of meat loaf.   Meat loaf with bread filler, bread crumbs, crackers, soups, eggs etc.  I currently use a very detailed recipe for my version of a smooth moist meat loaf which has a secret ingredient that ensures that the loaf comes out moist (gelatin).  If I do say so myself, it's fantastic. So I had to try Dean & DeLuca version which they call the Perfect Soft and Moist Meat Loaf.

The best thing about D & D's Meat Loaf was that it didn't take long to put together and it didn't call for any outrageous ingredients.  It was an effortless recipe. My 5 year old loves my sweet sticky loaf so this would be a good test for the D & D version.

So I put a slice of the loaf in front of my son and husband.  They ate quietly and contently which is rare, until I heard the true results from my son "Hmmmmmm this is good Mama"  I thought it was very good.  It was moist with mild sophisticated  flavors which brought out the beefy taste of the meat loaf.

D & D did it again.  The recipe was great.

The Cookbook Addict

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day Two - Dean & DeLuca - Pad Thai Noodles with Shrimp

I have had my fair share of Pad Thai Noodles, in restaurants, mall franchises, I even made it a few times with instant packages and from recipes from various cookbooks. 

The Pad Thia Noodles with Shrimp in this book was far from daring.  The Noodles were very tasty, but not saucy, or spicy enough for me.  The sauce was very light.  It was a good recipe, using all the authentic ingredients required.  I just felt it needed a little more zing.  Maybe more tamarind or vinegar would have helped.  I think if you never had Pad Thai Noodles, this version would be a good introduction to the dish.

What I like about this book so far, is the recipes are so easy to follow. Your directed smoothly from step one through to step 4 etc. No room for error.  The other thing about this book is it takes you around the world.  Italian, Chinese Thai, French, Indian and the list goes on.

Tonight I'll journey through the cookbook and see which country I land in for tomorrows dinner.

The Cookbook Addict.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day One - Dean & Deluca - Perfect Crab Cakes

Lets start by saying that Dean & Deluca to a foodie is what Dolce and Gabbana is to a fashionista.

The Dean & DeLuca on line store is amazingly dangerous.  They even have virtual catalogs. You need to check out their web site:

After reviewing the web page, I ask myself  "WHY IS THIS PLACE NOT AVAILABLE IN TORONTO!!!" I guess it's a good thing, I would probably use my whole pay in the Dean & DeLuca store.  

So I guess your wondering where I'm going with this obsession with Dean and DeLuca.   I purchased their cookbook a while back, but never took the time to every use it.  Shocking I know.  So here is my chance.

Today I made the Perfect Crab Cakes.  The Crab Cakes were amazing!!! The secret to these bad boys is there is NO filler.  No bread crumbs, crackers, panko nothing.  Nothing to take away from the fresh subtle taste of the crab.  The secret is they are baked.  I was a bit worried that this recipe wouldn't come together, but it delivered more than I expected.  A little squeeze of lemon and my mouth felt like I was eating dinner by the beach at Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.  Amazing hmmmmmmm :-)

I wonder if the rest of this book can live up to the Crab Cakes.  I'll keep you posted.

The Cookbook Addict.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bamboo Restuarant

The Bamboo Restaurant. A little tropical hide away on Queen Street in Toronto. The bands were fantastic and sitting on the patio with the tropical decor and the smell of Island food made you feel like you were on vacation. Even in the winter, it was a quick cheap tropical getaway.  When you walked through the doors you felt like you landed in an oasis.

The Bamboo's food was a combination of West Indian and Bankok which made the food very eclectic. The combined cultures made the food jump off the plate.  Not to mention, they made the food with love.  You could always taste the love in the food.

One of the smartest things I ever did while I was dinning there with my Aunt and Uncle was request the Bamboo's cookbook as an engagement present.

The Bamboo has now closed and the chance to relive the memories of the food has passed, except for those who purchased the book.

What I love best about this book is the West Indian Thia influence like the Thai Spicy Noodles, Caribbean Curry Chicken, Orange Cashew Chicken, the Shrimp Rolls, Hot and Sour Soup, and Calaloo Soup.
Let me be clear!!! the complete book is fantastic. Follow the recipes and put a little love in your cooking and you are eating at the Bamboo all over again.

This is my go to book, when I cook for people that feel like theY need a bit of soul in their food.  Or,  I just want a to re-live a bit of the party days of the Bamboo in my own home.

I'll be honest.  I've searched the net this book my be available at the Cookbook Store  I provided a link so you can see what the book looks like and the possibility of purchasing it.  I'm not sure if it's still available. 

One thing I've learned since I received this book is, when you go to a restaurant where you are truly in love with their food, ask the manager if they have a cookbook.  I've acquired a few of my best cookbooks that way.


The Cookbook Addict

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day Five - Verdict on A Matter of Taste

Well I've completed testing this book.  I feel like I was on a bit of a journey.  A Matter of Taste provided a great selection of meals that takes you around the would.  Jewish, Greek, Thai and the list goes on.  Although the book does divide the menus up by season which is very helpful in purchasing the freshest produce available for a specific time of year, you are not forced to abide by it.  The meals are very interchangeable.

What caught me off guard with most of the recipes was the low calorie aspect.  Some of the recipes do have their share of butter, and cream.  But most of the menu courses are very healthy.  I didn't have the urge to have my arteries irrigated for any of the meals I cooked from this book, and I didn't feel like I was missing any taste at all.

Today we had the:
  • Artichokes Vinaigrette
  • Roasted Veal Chops with Mushroom Sauce and Truffle Oil
  • Potato Galette

Once again, the meal was amazing, and pretty fast to pull together.  I followed the books suggestion and purchased the wine that best fit the meal, Burgundy from the Cote d'Or.  I didn't buy the top of the line wine, but the one I purchased was a nice match.

A Matter of Taste is a good cookbook.  It's informative, comprehensive on the beverage pairing and just clean cooking without to much fuss and bother. Lucy Waverman really uses some amazing seasonings.  Considering I'm a salt lover, there was little call for it in her recipes.  The flavors in the key elements in the dish were complemented with fresh herbs and surprising ingredients.

Lucy Waverman did not let me down regarding following her recipes and directions.  As usual, the meals came together as promised.
VERDICT - A Matter Of Taste - PASS THE TEST!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day Four - A Matter of Taste - Duck Breast with Dried Cherries and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Duck....I've eaten duck before.  My mother used to cook it around the Christmas Holidays.  I remember she would curse under her breath because there was so much fat, that it would spill over in the oven and smoke the house and set the fire alarm off.  I think she's master the technique of cooking duck, but it's usually a full duck from the grocery store.  I've also have had duck in a few restaurants and never been disappointed

Today my goal was to make the duck breast equally or better than what I've tasted in the past.  Only one catch....I don't like cherries.  But I figured, I would suck it up and follow the recipe, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

When I purchased the duck breast, I was shocked at the cost of $10.00 a piece.   I realized later that it would have been more economical to buy a full duck and boned it myself. I'll surely take that approach next time.

I scored the duck, seasoned it, seared it and baked it.  I made the sauce, reduced it, glazed it with butter and added the cherries.  I made the fingerling potatoes with all the fixings.

This meal was the best meal I've had in a longtime.  My husband agreed with me as well. The dried cherry sauce was amazing with the duck.  I even went back for more sauce.  I thought the sauce would be sweet and over powering, but it was mellow and the cherries with the duck melted in your mouth.  The potatoes were simple to make and tasted great.  It was a mindless effort with a fantastic out come.  Although, my husband did ask if he was eating pork.  For $10.00 a duck breast, I wasn't impressed by his comment.  Then he reassured me that it tasted like really great pork.  The duck breast didn't even look like pork.  Go figure. 

Although the book called for a California Pinot Noir to make and pair with the meal.  I used a Malbec wine from Argentina that I had in the house.  I couldn't bring myself to go to the LCBO today.  The Malbec was a nice match. It complemented the dried cherries and brought out the flavors in the duck and the spices that were rubbed into the skin.

This meal was a great treat today.  It took little effort to make and tasted amazing.  You got to like that.

The Cookbook Addict.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day Three - Matter of Taste, Pasta and Salad

Today I picked the spring menu in the Matter of Taste Cookbook, which consisted of :
  • Peppery Lettuce Salad with Hazelnut Parmesan Crisps
  • Pasta with Asparagus, Oyster Mushrooms and Goat Cheese
  • and Instant Coconut Cream Tart
I went with the spring menu since it also indicated that this menu was fast and fresh.  I had a hectic day and time was not on my side, so this selection seemed perfect.  One catch.....I lucked out when I went grocery shopping today.  I FOUND KEY LIMES!!!! Actual Key Limes.  I felt like I had won the lottery.  I never really saw a true key lime.  I couldn't leave the store without buying a bag.  So I changed the dessert to Key Lime Squares of course.  When I cut those limes open....hmmmmmmmmm.  They smelled soooo fresh and tropical, I was beside myself.

The complete meal was quick and easy to make, even the Key Lime Squares.  The pasta with goat cheese was smooth and tasty.  I could have eaten the full pot, but of course I didn't.  The salad was a great match for the main course and it took seconds to make.  Now the Key Lime Squares......... They were delicious.  I had to stop my self at one since they are very rich.  Let me tell you, the taste of those key limes hit my pallet like lobster and butter. (My mouth is watering) I may just have to get another square before bed.

As you can tell.  I loved this meal.  It was light (spring like) and refreshing.  With a bit more effort with the presentation on my part, it could be a real nice meal for your guest.  And as the book suggested, pair this dish with a nice crisp, cold Pinot Grigio and you're in heaven.

I'll be making this dish again soon. For Sure!  The only thing I'll do differently, is start the sauce while guest are at the table enjoying their first course.  Today I combined the sauce with the pasta too early.  I ended up getting a request for sausages from my son, so the pasta and sauce had to sit a bit longer than it should have. It tasted great just the same, but it lost it's creamy consistency.  I added a bit more goat cheese and cream to bring it back to life.

Tomorrow I'm going to attempt the Duck Breasts with Dried Cherries and Crisp-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.  I have had a craving for Duck for sometime.  So I hope this meets my expectations, because I know I'll be dreaming about it all night.

The Cookbook Addict

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day Two - Testing A Matter of Taste - Scallop Ravioli with Blood Orange Sauce

Since the purchase of this book, I've been reviewing the Scallop Ravioli with Blood Orange Sauce.  I'm not sure why.  Well... I do love sea food.  But this recipe had some interesting ingredients, like star anise, Thai basil, green chilies, red wine and of course blood orange juice.

The recipe couldn't have been any easier to put together, and living near china town made the ingredients very accessible.

Once I completed the dish, I was surprised.  The flavors were very original.  This dish is a real East meets West dish.  The blood orange sauce was more familiar, probably because of the wine.  The ravioli and sauce combined was yummy.  I could have drank the sauce.  This dish would make a good appetizer.  I served it as a main course, which was a bit too light for my husband, who was looking for the rest of the meal.

I've posted the picture.  Seriously, it tasted better than I made it look.    Remember, I'm not a food stylist and I had my husband asking where his food was as I was taking a picture of his plate.

The Cookbook Addict

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Matter of Taste by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto

A new week has begun, and I've found a new find.  A Matter of Taste, by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto.

Let me begin by saying that Lucy Waverman is what Julia Child was to Julie on the movie "Julie and Julia".

Lucy is my Julia Child. I have four of her seven cookbooks, and since she has been the food editor for the Food and Drink magazine from the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) I've been collecting them.  I've tried many of her recipes and I have always been amazed and astonished that everyone comes out perfect.  She leaves no room for misunderstanding her recipes.

What I love about Lucy is that her recipes are tested to perfection. With Lucy's recipes,  in the Food and Drink magazine and the pairings of wines, beers or spirits, you can have the perfect dinner party.  I've hosted a few dinner parties with many of  her recipes and the wines to match each course.  If  was rich, I would do it more often. Sheer elegance.

So, I  bought this book a while ago.  I was unsure if I would get the same results I've had in the past with her recipes, since this book was written in collaboration with James Chatto and I never heard of him.

I've tried one recipe a while back,  the Spice Shrimp and Corn Boil with Herb Mayonnaise. It was easy and delicious. But lets be real. To give this book a passing grade, I'll have to test out a few more recipes

Today I took it easy.  No point going whole hog.....pardon the pun and no I didn't make pork. I made the Grilled Mushrooms and Potatoes.  It came together so quickly and we were pleasantly surprised with the taste.  I will surely make this again.

 I haven't finished reading the book, but to give you a brief description.  The book discusses the art of paring food and wine.  James Chatto provides recommendations on which wines to try with the dishes and he even matches aperitifs and cocktails as well.  A Matter of Taste categorizes the meals by seasons and then gives a full menu for special occasions or every day meals within the seasons.

Tomorrow I'll tackle a few menu items, but I'll keep them a surprise for now.

The Cookbook Addict

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thomas Keller - Bouchon Cook Book

Today I decided to take a cooking break.  My husband and I went out for dinner.  I regret that decision now.  Do you ever get that feeling, after dinning at a restaurant, that you should have stayed home and cooked because the food and drinks would have been cheaper and much much better.  Well, that's the kind of feeling I got today.  A group of us went out for dinner to celebrate our birthdays.  We selected a restaurant that had beer sampling.....good for the guys, and the menu wasn't that bad.  However,  the beer was warm and the food didn't meet anyone's expectations.  A well, you live and learn.

I have to say, I get very pissed off when I use up precious calories on food that taste like crap.  Today I was lucky.  I stuck with salad after I gave away my unpalatable appetizer....I was pissed but not pissed off.  I figured that if you can't master an appetizer in a restaurant, order a salad with grilled shrimp on the side.  It's hard to mess up salad. At least I was hoping they couldn't mess up salad.  I lucked out,  the salad was great.  The rest of the group went for a main course and didn't walk away very enamored by their meal. You know we won't be going back to West 50 in Mississauga

Any who, the reason I'm blogging after imbibing too much red wine at dinner, is to discuss a cook book that cannot be over looked.  Thomas Keller Bouchon Cook Book.  This book is part of my collections.  I use it often, and never been disappointed in the out come of the product. Although there are not many pictures, the ones provided are informative and beautiful.  The author takes great pride in ensuring that you got back to basics and take your time to make the best product you will be very proud of.  There are clear explanations on what the product is and how to best approach preparing it.

I've made the Bacon and Onion Quiche and Spinach Quiche many times.  The Quiche ends up sitting at 9 by 2 inches high.  The flavors will haunt you for ever and the texture is beyond explanation.  It looks professional and taste out of this world.   Every time I make it, I dream of opening my own restaurant.

The Cauliflower Gratin melts in your mouth.  Even if you hate Cauliflower, I believe that you will become friends with this vegetable if you taste this dish. 

The Roast Chicken....Where do I begin.  If you are stuck on what to make for dinner and you only have a full chicken.  Try the Bouchon's Roast Chicken.  It's fast, easy and yummy.  Admittedly there are not too many ingredients, but that's what makes it.

What I love most about this book is, you can't go wrong.  The recipes are exact and you end up with a professional product at the end.  The discussions in this book are informative and entertaining.

VERDICT - Thomas Keller, Bouchon Cook Book  - PASSED THE TEST!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day Five - The Verdict

I started the day with the Spinach with Eggs (spinaci con uovi).  Maybe I was still half asleep, but I have to say that the instructions were a bit tricky, which isn't the first time nor would it be the last time with this book.  The wording is very subtle when your asked to change directions in the recipe. You never get a clear indication that a sauce is to be separated from the main ingredients  to be reduced.

The Spinach and Eggs had flavor and would probably do okay on a brunch buffet table once you figured out the recipe.

I skipped lunch of course after eating such a rich breakfast.  In the afternoon I prepared the Grilled and Sauteed Mushrooms, Quick Shrimp Stock, Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Chickpea Pasta, Focaccia with Rosemary and the Zabaglione.
I wish I could say that these dishes left me wanting more, but I can't say that they did.

Maxine Clark is clearly a food stylist and indicates this in her book.  This is probably why none of the foods I made looked quite like the pictures.  The recipe, Shrimp in Tomato Sauce called for the shrimp to be peeled and deveined, but the picture shows the shells still on the shrimp.  For the Focaccia recipe, there wasn't even an oven temperature provided. The Rosemary Focaccia needed more flavor. 


VERDICTMaxine Clark's Italian Kitchen Flunked the Test!

The pictures are great, but the food was so so. This book didn't bring Italy to my kitchenThe flavors where a miss, and the directions leave you lost

The Cookbook Addict

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day Four - Squid Sauteed with Potatoes and Chile

So I decided to try this recipe instead of the Roman Gnocchi with Herbs and Semolina.  The only bag of Semolina I could find was 10kg.  Which was a bit too much.

The Squid Sauteed with Potatoes and Chile was a simple dish with very few ingredients.  It did, however, have the most important ingredients, squid, garlic and wine.  I have to say, I'm a bit of a garlic whore and any body that knows me knows I love my wines.  I'm allergic to fish, even though I still make it for my guest.  But I can eat shell fish. YAHOO!!!!  Lobster, shrimp, scallops calamari, escargots etc. and I'm in heaven.  Sometimes, I think it's just the butter and the garlic I'm in love with.  Without garlic or butter the world would be a very very dark place.

I attempted this recipe and ran into a few issues.  The author indicates that once the ingredients are put together in the order specified, water may need to be added to top up the liquid to prevent sticking.  Let's just say, I had to remove the liquid from the casserole instead.  The dish was looking more like squid soup.  To correct this problem, I drained the liquid into a skillet and reduce it to a rich, mouth watering sauce which I drizzled over the potatoes and squid just before serving.  Once again, the dish looked nothing like the picture in the book.  But my husband and I felt it was the most tastiest dish in the book.  With a little squirt of lemon it was perfect.  You have the option to add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried hot red pepper flakes.  I went for 1 teaspoon.  I thought it was perfect.  At my husbands request I'll go a little lighter on the pepper next time.  Yes next time.  I would make this dish again, but alter the recipe a bit.

Tomorrow is the last test day for this book.  My goal is to try to Focaccia with Rosemary, Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Chickpea Pasta and Zabaglione which I've made before.  Lets see if it beats my recipe.

The Cook Book Addict

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day Three - Pasta from scratch for Pasta alla Norma

After a long night of soothing my son's nightmares and feeding a hungry baby.  I had to get up for a Dr.'s appointment for 9:20 am.  I'm sure I only slept for 2 hours.

I made it to my appointment on time, but was too tired and cold to run around hunting for new ingredients.  However, I was determined to get a least one recipe completed from Maxine Clark's Italian Kitchen. 

My genius plan was to make do with what I had. Which meant making my own pasta for the spaghetti with eggplant and tomato sauce (pasta alla norma) since we didn't have spaghetti in the house.  Can you believe spaghetti.  I have 50 different pasta's in the house and no spaghetti.  At least I was able to complete two recipes instead of just one.

After feeling a bit defeated, I tried the recipe for basic pasta dough.  I've made fresh pasta many times.  Do you know there are as many, if not more pasta dough recipes as there are ways to leave your lover.   Some with oil, some with water.  Others with as many as 9 eggs (called rich mans pasta) to as little as 2 eggs (poor mans pasta).  The recipe in this book had me very worried.  After mixing and kneading the dough, the dough was very dry,  unlike the silky smooth product that feels like a babies butt, which I'm use to.  But I kept my hopes up and let the dough rest for the 30 minutes the book called for.  The dough was smoother, but still dry.  I'm use to rolling the dough out by hand instead of dragging out my pasta maker.  This dough wasn't having any of that.  It wanted to be messaged from position 1 to 9 in the pasta maker.  So I dusted my machine off and you know what.  It worked like a charm.  I finally ran my pampered dough through the spaghetti attachment and et voila there it was SPAGHETTI!!!!

I completed the pasta alla norma which turned out nicely.  Again, it was tasty, but I felt like it needed something more.  Black Olives, hot red peppers, anything to pump up the flavor just a bit more.  My husband liked it, but I wasn't hearing any Hmmmmmm  from his side of the table.

The Spaghetti it self was nice!.  I could have eaten it with just butter and parmesan cheese.

A few notes for the cooking novice.
  • When the recipe calls for you to dip the tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds. You'll need to cut a small shallow X at the bottom of the tomato, otherwise it will take forever to get the skin off.
  • Ensure that your oil is nice and hot when you are cooking the eggplant otherwise the eggplant ends up swimming in oil.

The Cook Book Addict

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day Two - Testing Maxine Clark's Italian Kitchen Cook Book

Today I probably bit off a bit more than I could chew.  I mean that literally. My husband and I were stuffed after sampling these meals.

I started with the  Baked Tomatoes and Melting Mozzarella, fonduta di pomodori.   I stayed away from Mozzarella since I couldn't get my hands on fresh buffalo Mozzarella.  So I figured that I would use bocconcini.  The problem was, the book never indicated what size.  Unless you are using mini or pearl size bocconcini, 25 bocconcini is way too much cheese for this dish.  The picture in the book looked like large size bocconcini was used.  I used 17 golf ball size bocconcini and cut them in half.    Worked great.  I had to cook the tomatoes for an extra 45 minutes though.  And I have a pretty powerful gas stove.  I think the tomatoes should have been cooked at higher temp and  for a bit longer to get more of a caramelized effect.  All in all the dish was tasty and easy to put together. But a bit too watery.  Seeding the tomatoes would have prevented this.

The Warm Lentil, Mushroom, Tomato and Arugula Salad, insalata di lenticchie, porcini, pomodori e rucola was a bit of work for not much WOW factor. My husband loved it.  Which was a shock since it was salad and it had lentils.  Go figure.  The salad tasted good, but I don't think I would serve it at a dinner party.  Its a good weekend lunch dish.

Zucchini and Mint Fritters, frittelle di zucchini e menta.  Well first I had to go under cover to snatch one of my husbands beers for this recipe. But let me tell you... it was worth it.  The fritters were great.  I'm not a lover of mint.  I don't even drink mojito's because of the mint.  The combination of lemon zest and mint in these fritters was subtle and yummy.  This recipe came together with little effort. Just remember to use a cheaper Olive Oil  for frying. I get mine at Costco.  Save your best olive oil for drizzling on foods going straight to the table.  This way your guest will appreciate the great taste of a high quality olive oil.

The Devilled Grilled Chicken, pollo alla diavola.  This basic recipe is fast, easy and perfect for pulling together after work.  I do recommend marinating the chicken over night to get more taste for your bite.

So, as you can tell I added a few recipes to my testing list.  It wasn't easy with a teething baby hanging off my hip and a five year old having tantrums, but it was well worth the effort.  My husband enjoyed the meal and he didn't even realize that potatoes, pasta or rice where not on the menu.

For an after dinner treat, we had the  Lemon Sorbet I made yesterday.  I served it in a martini glass with a splash of lemon vodka.  YUMMMM.  I don't think that's what Maxine Clark had in mind.  But I sure recommend it!

Tomorrow I'll test a few more recipes and will give you the high lights and the low lights.

The Cook Book Addict

Monday, January 4, 2010

Maxine Clark's Italian Kitchen - Sorbetto Al Limone

So today I ventured out in the drifting snow and ice cold weather with a 5 month old to go to the book store.  Once I got to the store, I have to say I warmed up pretty fast.  My plan was to spend only an hour.  Three hours later I left with a few cookbooks.  I'll reveal the name of one for now.
My first pick is Italian Kitchen Simple Steps to Great Tasting Italian Food, by Maxine Clark.

I love Italian food and I had many the Zia and Nonna's (Italian Aunts and Grandmothers) teach me a few things.  And yes, I have a few Italian books amongst my collection.  But I wanted one that was more authentic.  Italian Kitchen seems to fit the bill.  The pictures look yummy and the recipes look basic but rich in flavor.

Tonight I made the the Sorbetto Al Limone (Lemon Sorbet).  The recipe was very easy to follow and even easier to pull together.  The sorbet was refreshing and smooth.  The taste of lemon hits your tongue first but the sweetness mellows the acidity.  It's a refreshing dessert or a pallet cleanser between dishes.  Or you can just have it with a shot of lemon vodka drizzled over it.  Yummmmm.

This week I'll be making the following:
fonduta di pomodori (Baked Tomatoes and melting Mozzarella)
gnocchi alla romana con le erbe (Roman Gnocchi with Herbs and Semolina)
gamberi con pasta di farina di ceci (Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Chickpea Pasta)
focaccia al rosmarino (Foccaccia with Rosemary)
funghi trifolati (Grilled and Sauteed Mushrooms)
spinaci con uovi (Spinach with Eggs)
pollo alla diavola (Devilled Grilled Chicken)

Wish me luck.  I'll give you the day to day updates.

The Cookbook Addict

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why Did I Create This Blog?

This blog is for those of you who have an addiction to Gastroporn.... Yes Gastroporn.  You know who you are. Those of you who drool over the mouth watering pictures in a cookbook. You can almost smell the flavors jumping off the page. You can image the meals sitting on your plates at your table, and your guests saying..." This is sooo amazing.

The catch is finding that cookbook that delivers the perfect dishes.  The last thing you want to do is travel around the city looking for obscure ingredients and spending your hard earned dollars and spending hours in the kitchen only to find that the recipes are duds.

So my goal is to test cookbook recipes to find great cookbooks that have been well tested and provide variety, great tasting recipes and last but not least, gives me an excuse to add more cookbooks to my already 400 cookbook collection.  I's a bit of an addiction.  So you're not alone.

Tomorrow I'll select my first pick of cookbooks.  Wish me luck... looking for some comfort food to get me through the winter.

The Cook Book Addict