Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day One - Ingrid Hoffmann Simply Deliciouso - Dad's Absolutley Amazing Brandied Shrimp

As you know I usually blog from Monday to Friday.  But this weekend was so busy that I really needed a break from food and cooking.

We hosted a meet and greet for my grandmother on Sunday.  I spent Saturday cleaning, shopping and cooking and Sunday (the day of the event) cooking and cleaning and entertaining. So I took a few days to recoup. 

Today I was stumped on what to make for dinner so I figured might as well start testing another book for the week. 

My girlfriend Joanne and her husband introduced me to Ingrid Hoffmann Simply Delicioso cookbook.  Ingrid Hoffmann had a show on the Food Network introducing amazing Latin food.  When Joanne came into work she would tell me about what her husband made for dinner the night before from Ingrid's show and how delicious it was.  So I decided to buy the book.  The pictures are so vivid and delicious looking that you just have to try the recipes.

Today I made the "dad's absolutely amazing brandied shrimp".  My husband couldn't stop complimenting how delicious it was.  I thought it was quite tasty and let me say it didn't take any time at all to make.  I even cheated and made the dish with precooked frozen shrimp.  I just simmered the dish on low so I wouldn't over cook the shrimp.  The dish came out perfectly.  I've posted the recipe on my blog under Shrimp, give it a try.

The Cookbook Addict

Dad's Absolutely Amazing Brandied Shrimp



  1. Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until it is fragrant one to two minutes
  3. Stir in the shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, oregano, and some salt and pepper and let the mixture simmer until the shrimp are partially cooked through and beginning to curl, about 2 minutes
  4. Stir in ketchup and simmer until the shrimp are opaque and just cooked through, two more minutes
  5. Add the brandy and parsley. Stir to combine, remove from heat and serve.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day Five - Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking - Shrimp Boil!!! Yahoo

Friday I was really in the mood to spoil myself.  I wanted something decadent and something for two.  I was looking to bring in a little Friday romance.  I made the Shrimp Boil form Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking and Steamed Mussels with Fennel from the Food and Drink Magazine Compliments from the LCBO.  We had the Mussels as an appetizer and they were so delicious we almost fainted.  The shrimp boil was the same...FANTASTIC.  Both recipes took minutes to prepare and we were stuffed and in heaven after our meal.  Unfortunately my husband and I didn't get to eat together until the end of the meal, since the baby was pretty cranky for a good part of the evening which was okay.

The Shrimp Boil was easy, a few spices and then dump your veggies (potatoes, garlic, onions and artichoke) until they are cooked then add your shrimp.   I dumped it on newspaper and we ate like little piggy's.  Michael suggests fennel salt, unsalted butter or salt for dipping.  But I made a mayo and garlic dip that hit the spot. (Sorry - no pictures of this recipe. The camera died, but I did add the recipe to my blog.  Click shrimp boil underlined on this page or check under categories for shrimp.)\

The mussels?  I'm never disappointed when I make a recipe from the Food and Drink Magazine.  When you follow their recipes you can't go wrong.  I don't even test out a recipe from their book before making it for a special dinner party.  That's how sure I am about these Magazines.  If you have the time and money, you can even pair the recommended wines with the recipes.

Anyway, I'm not here to review the LCBO Food and Drink.  Again, why would I they are perfect every time.  But, getting back to the Casual Cooking cookbook.  It was a fun week trying out this book.  I was even able to keep the most finicky people happy.  The meals are perfect for make during the week.  Little time and little effort with big success.  

This book really gives you a taste of Italy but still not taking you too far away from everyday home cooking.  During the workweeks, or even for dinner parties, I'll revert back to this book.  YOU GO MICHAEL!

VERDICTMichael Chiarello's Casual Cooking -Passed the Test!

The Cookbook Addict

Michael Chiarello Shrimp Boil Recipe

Michael's Shrimp Boil
NapaStyle : Episode FLNST-104

Click here to view a larger image.

A seafood boil has been a Fourth of July tradition for host Michael Chiarello for the last 15 years. It is a crowd pleaser, and it is as easy to do for 20 as for two. Spread butcher paper on the tables, put a variety of hot sauces out (Michael's favorite is Crystal brand), plus bowls of melted butter, sea salt, and Fennel Spice. When the shrimp and vegetables are ready, dump them directly onto the table. And when everyone has finished, roll up the butcher paper and dive into the pool to rinse off.

Serves 4
1/4 cup fennel seed
2 Tbs. black peppercorns
2 Tbs. coriander seed
1 Tbs. red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
6 quarts water
2 lemons, halved
1 head garlic, sliced through the equator but not all the way through
1 cup dry white wine
1/2-cup sea salt, preferably gray salt
8 small boiling potatoes
2 onions, unpeeled, ends removed
4 medium artichokes (no need to trim)
1 lb. jumbo shrimp in the shell
melted unsalted butter
sea salt, preferably Gray salt
fennel spice
hot-pepper sauce
  1. Combine the fennel seed, peppercorns, coriander, pepper flakes, and bay leaves and tie in a cheesecloth bag.
  2. Put the bag in a large pot with the water, the lemon halves, the garlic, the wine, and the salt. Cover and bring to a simmer, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes, onions, and artichokes and simmer gently, covered, until they are tender.
  4. As they are done, remove them to a serving platter. The potatoes may take 20 minutes or more; the onions and artichokes will take 30-40 minutes.
  5. After you have removed all the vegetables, add the shrimp. Cook just until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon to the serving platter.
  6. Cut the onions in half. Cut the artichokes in half and scoop out and discard the chokes.
  7. Serve the shrimp, potatoes, onions, and artichokes with shallow bowls of melted butter, sea salt, and Fennel Spice for dipping, and with jars of hot sauce.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day Four - Michael Chirarello's Casaul Cooking

It's been a bit crazy around here with my parents visiting, plus I kept my five-year-old home from school so he could spend some quality time with his grandparents. 

I don't think I mentioned it yesterday, but my parents are really fussy eaters.  My mother was always a fussy eater.  She likes to wash everything twice or three times, soak it with lemon then cook it to death.  She's lightened up a bit over the years and she seems to be more adventuresome, but if you are making rice or Spaghetti your guaranteed she'll finish everything on her plate. My father on the other hand.... He use to eat everything!  Any kind of meat, fish, poultry anything.  He even hunted and fished.  Now not so much, actually not at all.  Fish, pasta, cheese and bread not to mention coffee and fruit seem to be the only thing in his diet.  Let's be clear now!  He only eats certain fish, only spaghetti and macaroni, white and orange cheddar cheese, crusty bread, black coffee, and a few varieties of fruit.  Where am I going with this?  It's really hard to entertain people who have selective eating choices.

My parents really loved the sauce from the Long-Cooked Hen in Tomato Sauce.  The problem was they wanted the same sauce on pasta the next day.  My mother understood that I needed to try a new recipe, but my Dad couldn't get his brain around it. LOL!  After lots of conveniencing and explaining, I was able to compromise and make the Spaghetti All'Amatriciana.  It was quick to cook; thank god....my father eats really early and can be a bit demanding when he's waiting for his food.  So this was the perfect recipe.  One catch!  It calls for 1/3 lb. of pancetta.  Yessssss I made two different versions of the dish, one vegetarian and the other with the pancetta.  Both tasted fantastic and everyone had two large servings.  My husband and Mother don't fancy Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese.  The recipe called for the cheese, so I just mixed it in their dish and grated more on top of my pasta. No one was the wiser.  I used Spaghetti instead of Bucatini, which are the thick long noodles that I prefer, but my guests don’t.  The book called for either one.  The dish has a great bite because of the red pepper flakes and a subtle sweetness from the reduced red wine vinegar.  It's truly an amazing dish to make when you come home from work, simple and really delicious.

Sorry I didn’t get to blog about this last night, but as I mentioned, things are a bit crazy around here.

I’m still trying to decide what to make tonight.  My parents have left to catch the train home, so it’s just the four of us.  Something light, simple and cheap sounds good to me.

The Cookbook Addict

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day Three - Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking

Today I had to do some strategic planning when it came to choosing a meal out of the Casual Cooking cookbook.  My parents were coming to visit from Montreal, the house needed cleaning and I had 6 loads of laundry to do. So I went with a meal that could pretty much cook it's self Long-Cooked Hen in Tomato Sauce. 

Because Hens are not readily available Michael suggests a 4lb chicken.  This is a one-pot meal.  All you have to do is chop a few veggies, onions and garlic. Add your tomatoes, wine and chicken and put it in the oven for two hours.  The chicken comes out tender with lots of flavor.  I served it with polenta and garlic bread to sop up the sauce.  It was delicious.  The great thing about this recipe is that you have enough sauce to freeze and serve with pasta on a later date.  It's the perfect recipe for a weekend dinner and weekend sauce making all in one.  I love it.

My father doesn't eat meat so before I added the chicken to the tomato sauce I ladled some of the sauce in a separate saucepan and simmered it down with shrimp Yummmmm  Again, a very versatile meal.

The Cookbook Addict

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking - Veal Milanese with Salsa Rosa and Potatoes "Da Delfina"

"Michael Chiarello's style embraces the rich traditions of Italian Culinary heritage and casual style and fresh flavor of the wine country" from Casual Cooking. I have to agree with the book. 

Today I made the Veal Milanese with Potatoes "Da Delfina".  I was tight on time so I didn't make the Salsa Rosa.  One thing about Italian sauces is that you really have to devote your time, patience and passion to them, and I wasn't feeling much of that today.  So I devoted what I had to offer to the Veal and Potatoes. 

The veal was simple and let me say damn good with a squeeze lemon.  I used an Italian salad mix instead of just arugula for some variety.  The meat melted in my mouth and the taste was light but very memorable.   The potatoes were great too.  I've never had this style of potatoes.  If you are a garlic lover you'll like this recipe because there is a 1/4 cup of garlic.....tasty tasty.  Michael Chiarello tells you to press the cooked potatoes gently with the heal of your hand, the potato is then fried and then seasoned.  This technique really allows the potatoes to absorb the flavor.

The Cookbook Addict

Monday, March 22, 2010

Casual Cooking by, Michael Chiarello's - Lucca-Style Roasted Olives and Asparagus with Leeks and Pancetta

Michael Chiarello's Casual CookingThis week I decided to go with Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking cookbook.  I was really trying to find a book that looked like it had a bit more variety and had a homey feeling about it.  Michael Chiarello describes at the beginning of each recipe his personal connection to the dish.  Most people would probably say who cares.  But for me it's important that the Chef/Cook love the food they are cooking and that they are closely connected to the dishes. 

What I'm starting to realize after months of doing this blog is that no matter how simple a dish is to make, you really need to put the love in.  Which means to me, when you go out to buy your ingredients, you choose them by smelling, feeling and respecting what you are purchasing.  Great ingredients a good recipe and love will give you a great meal.

So to go back to the Weeknight William and Sonoma cookbook, the recipes were okay, but I could tell there wasn't anyone behind the book who really loved and designed each recipe with care.

Back to Casual Cooking.  I tried the Lucca-Style Roasted Olives and the Asparagus with Leeks and Pancetta.  Both recipes were really good.  I had a strong sensitivity to the orange rind.  The smell was a bit much, but the taste was excellent.  I will certainly try this recipe again, but I'm going to use lemon next time.  I love the smell of lemon Hmmmmmm.  Now the Asparagus dish was great, crisp and flavorful. I would really recommend this side dish with chicken even though we had pasta. 

Looking though the book has me really excited.  I'm looking forward to some of the mouth-watering meals that keep staring back in the glossy photos.  My fingers are crossed since my mother is coming to visit for a few days and she's the hardest judge of them all.  If she cleans her plate then we've got a winner.

The Cookbook Addict

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day Five - The Weeknight Cook - Tomato-Basil Sauce

Spending a week with this book has been very challenging. I usually give the verdict of a cookbook on a Friday, but this Friday I couldn't bring myself to eating anything from the book.  It wasn't because the recipes were bad. The recipes just weren't very exciting. As I said throughout the week, the recipes will do in a pinch.  The flavors are okay, but there was definitely no WOW factor.  I think when I go back to work, that I may refer to this book when I need to cook something quick and easy, but I'll be honest, I usually cook day to day meals without a cookbook.  I suspect if I need a bit of inspiration, I'll crack the spine.

The recipe from this book that I chose to test on the last day was the Tomato-Basil Sauce.  I made it on Saturday while I prepped appetizers for a party I was going to later in the evening (Smoked Salmon Pinwheels and Smoked Salmon with capered Cream Cheese on Chips).  Anyway, back to the Sauce.  As per usual the recipe was easy and fast.  I found the sauce lacked a bit of flavor, and I had to add a bit of sugar to tame the acidity of the sauce.  I think the recipe should have called for more than 10-12 leaves of basil.  When I make my sauce I usually put a fist full of Basil leaves and stalk in the sauce.  As I said before the sauce will work in a pinch, but it doesn't leave much of an impact on your taste buds.

I would probably buy this book as a house-warming gift for someone that doesn't really cook but wants to learn. This cookbook is informative with it's shopping lists, ideas of what to stock in your pantry, how to host a get together and it's basic recipes like stocks, dough’s, and sauces come in handy.  The flavors are there, but they are a bit subtle.  So again, good for someone who eats to live and not lives to eat.

VERDICTThe Weeknight Cook -Passed the Test!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day Four - The Weeknight Cook - Lobster Roll for Lunch and Crab Salad Bites for Dinner

The Lobster Roll........

I had my first lobster roll about 6 years ago in Nova Scotia and the second one in PEI.  I LOVE lobster as much as I love garlic and butter.  Put all three ingredients together and you have heaven.  I could never be tired of Lobster and garlic butter.  I love the rich meaty taste and the texture.  I've embraced most shellfish, mainly because I'm allergic to fish with scales.  So, out of all the shellfish out there, Lobster is my favorite.  I figured that since we were in the Lobster capital of Canada, I would try my true love in all available preparations.  Of course the Lobster Roll was the first on the list, mainly because it was advertised everywhere throughout Nova Scotia to PEI.

When I made the Roll from The Weeknight Cook book, it took me back to the ones I had in the past, rich, filling and a waste of a good lobster.  Yep, you read right...lobster rolls as far as I'm concerned are a total waste of a good lobster.  The flavors of the lobster are lost in the dressing and bread.  I keep trying out various lobster roll recipes in hope that I will find one that accentuates the fine meat of the crustacean.  I haven't been successful as of yet.  There are a thousand and one ways to make a lobster roll.  Everyone seems to have his or her own version, with melted butter, or with mayonnaise, with celery or with red pepper. The recipe in this book nailed the flavors I remember out East.  The problem still stands...why waste a good lobster.

We had the Crab Salad Bites as a starter for dinner.  All I can say was they were okay. They tasted a bit plain.  A jalapeno pepper or chili pepper would have given it a bit more kick, but the dish will do in a pinch.  Just so we are clear, I wouldn't serve it to guest unless I jazzed the flavors up a bit.
The Cookbook Addict

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day Three- The Weeknight Cook - Greek Bulgar Salad and Moroccan Lamb Burgers

The weather was fantastic today! Perfect BBQ weather. So I made a nice light dinner.  I made the Greek Bulgar Salad and the Moroccan Lamb Burgers.  It felt like summer.

Of course I am not telling you anything new here regarding cooking time.  It was quick and easy.  I substituded the bulgar for Quinoa (which is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a grass. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited. Wikipedia)
 The salad turned out great although my son wasn't having any of it.  Too much green for his liking.  I added a good handful of chopped parsley because I like the fresh taste. When you combine parsley and cucumber it adds a great refreshing aroma and crisp flavor to a dish.  The combination made me want to plant my herb garden for the summer. 

The Moroccan Lamb Burgers and Yogurt Dressing
tasted better than I thought.  I cooked the burgers on the outdoor BBQ and they were divine.  The Yogurt Dressing was superb, I think mainly because I used a plain Greek yogurt which is a bit sweeter and richer that most yogurts.  You don't get that strong acidic bite from Greek yogurt.  The Greek yogurt would also be amazing with fresh fruit and nuts. It's very delicious.

So far The Weeknight Cook doesn't seem like a difficult book and the meals are quick to pull together.  But I have to be honest!  I'm really craving a rich flavorful meal.  I'm going to hit the pages of The Weeknight Cook and see if I can come up with something that can come close to satisfying my taste buds.

The Cookbook Addict

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day Two - The Weeknight Cook - Cashew Chicken

Williams-Sonoma The Weeknight Cook: Fresh & Simple Recipes for Good Food EverydayI finally have time on my hands.  I can't believe it! I actually had time to relax and eat my dinner with the boys and watch cartoons with my 5-year-old.

Today I made Cashew Chicken from The Weeknight Cook book by Williams -Sonoma.  The dish came together pretty fast and easy and it tasted really good.  It wasn't infused with lots of flavor, but the flavors it did have hit the mark for a weeknight dinner.

Wow...what do I do with all the extra time?  Read more cookbooks of course LOL!

I may push my luck tomorrow and make a few recipes.  We'll see.  The weather is looking good these days, so I may just hit the BBQ tomorrow.

The Cookbook Addict

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day One - The Weeknight Cook, by Williams-Sonoma - Tagliatelle with Crab

Williams-Sonoma The Weeknight Cook: Fresh & Simple 
Recipes for Good Food EverydayToday I just couldn't get my act together. I needed to pick a cookbook to test this week, buy the ingredients, get dinner organized and calm the savage beast " the baby".  Not easy!  I pulled it off though.  I decided to go with The Weeknight Cook, by Williams-Sonoma. The book reads that my "efforts will yield simple, satisfying dishes ready to eat after less than 30 minutes of hands-on cooking."  Well this certainly was the book I needed today.

I'll be back at work in a few months and I'm very nervous about how I'm going to survive with two energetic kids, work and a hungry family. So I figured I better give this book a try and see if it lives up to its promise.

Today I went with the Tagliatelle with Crab.  I had crab in the fridge and I got my husband to pick up the rest of the ingredients.  No word of a lie, I finished making this dish in less that 30 minutes....YAHOOO!  I was done so early, that my husband decided to go for a walk with the baby.

The meal was good.  It was simple and tasty.  I wouldn't say it was restaurant quality, but it passed as a good weeknight meal.

If the rest of the meals come together as quickly as this one, then I'm rock'n.

The Cookbook Addict

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day Five - Flavor Rocco Dispirito - Jumbo Asparagus with Oyster Mushrooms & Fresh Pecorino Cheese

The last test day with Flavor, by Rocco Dispirito.  I have to say I really enjoyed this book.  Rocco, gives you so much visual information about ingredients and combining flavors that it makes each recipe a new discovery.  The beginning of the book provides menu ideas with the recipes he has written.  He encourages you to take on your creativity and focus on flavor and not the stuffiness of a technically flawless, picture perfect dinner, which I totally agree with.  I watch a lot...and I mean a lot of cooking shows, and I notice that with some competitive cooking shows that the Chef's/Cooks miss the mark on flavor, but the presentation is outstanding.  Yes I know food should look pleasant to the eye, but my tongue has the last say.

This book is so detailed with pictures of ingredients for each recipe, timing, wine pairing and difficulty level, that I don't think Rocco could have added anything more to make life easier for the average cook. There is even a directory of mail order suppliers, which I refuse to look at because I'll just go crazy and order everything.  For $12.00 I have to say I sure got my money's worth. 

Today I made the Jumbo Asparagus with Oyster Mushrooms and Fresh Pecorino Cheese.  Reading the recipe looked intimidating, but once I went step by step it was very easy and tasted amazing.  Rocco encourages you to season to your taste. So the book encourages you to be engaged in your cooking and take ownership in the end product.  What more can I say?  The book was great, and I had a fantastic week of great and easy cooking and yummy eating.
VERDICTFlavor Rocco Dispirito -Passed the Test!
The Cookbook Addict

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day Four - Flavor - Calamari with Coconut Curry & Green Paypaya and Peach-Phyllo Strudel with Goat Cheese Cream

So today I made the Calamari with Coconut Curry & Green Papaya.  I wanted to make this recipe since I purchased the book.  However, I was a bit skeptical about the green papaya going into the rice.  Once I made the dish, I couldn't get enough of the green papaya.  It was steeped in vinegar and sugar, which gave the papaya a sweet and sour taste.  I added a bit of the steeping liquid to the rice, and it was delicious.  Now the calamari was excellent.  It was so good, that my husband who hates and refuses to eat any kind of curry, didn't realize the dish had curry in it until I told him......after he finished eating of course LOL!  He even had seconds.  The calamari was tender and the sauce, which was in fused with lemongrass and green apples, was excellent.  This dish was certainly restaurant quality. I do have a confession though....I used frozen calamari instead of fresh and they weren't cut in rings.  The dish still came together without the extra work.  Go figure.

The Peach Strudel with Goat Cheese Cream turned out amazingly well and it tasted fantastic.  We had seconds for dessert.  I'll certainly have to walk it off tomorrow.  There are a lot of unusual ingredients in this pastry, but the flavors truly come together, so well in fact, that you can't stop eating eat.  Which means I'll have to get someone to help us eat it.  I think I'll have to bring it over to my girlfriend up the street or just have her over for coffee, this way I still get to have another piece.

The Cookbook Addict

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day Three-Flavor - Beef Shabu-Shabu and Dungeness Crab with Avocado & Sauce Vierge

Although the weather has been very mild over the past few days, I found today to be a bit cool and damp. It was that typical Toronto damp weather that seeps into your bones and keeps you feeling cold all day. I was craving a big bowl of soup today, so I made the Beef Shabu-Shabu. The book promises that this recipe will take 35 min and it took me a total of 30 min.  What was even better, the soup really hit the spot.  I added 1/2 a red chili because I wanted some heat, which almost killed me.  Anyway, the soup was great.  I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Yahoo!  I know there are a lot of people out there that don't like their meat rare, but just adding the thinly sliced beef to your bowl of hot broth makes the dish supreme.  The meat melts in your mouth and the zesty hot broth brings the whole dish together.  I loved it!
The Dungeness Crab with Avocado & Sauce Vierge
was a simple dish to pull together.  It was fresh and light. No heavy dressings, or pungent ingredients to take away from the buttery avocado and the ocean flavor crab. It was a great starter dish. 

Rocco Dispirito really makes a great attempt to infuse a lot of flavor in the meals without a thousand ingredients.   So far the recipes I've tried seem to have a very Asian, Italian and Caribbean fusion going on, without an over emphasis on any one ingredient. 

What I love about this book, is that I actually look forward to trying something new everyday.  I think I'll be cooking into the weekend with this book.  Every recipe I've tried taste so different from the next. 

We'll see what's on the menu tomorrow.  Maybe I'll try the Calamari with Coconut Curry & Green Papaya.  You got to admit it sure sounds bloody good!

The Cookbook Addict

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day Two - Flavor Rocco Dispirito - Shrimp in Spiced Phyllo with Tomato Chutney, Quick Miso Chicken, and Truffled Taro Root

To day was a fun day in the kitchen.  I could have kept cooking for hours, but I held off and stuck with the three recipes; Shrimp in Spiced Phyllo with Tomato Chutney, Quick Miso Chicken and Truffled Taro Root.

The Shrimp dish is an appetizer. The shrimp were light and simple in flavor.  The Chutney gives the shrimp a wow factor.  The combination between the Tomato Chutney and the Shrimp Spiced Phyllo makes an elegant and delicious appetizer.

The Miso Chicken and Truffled Taro turned out to be a great combination, I made asparagus as the vegetable side and enjoyed a lovely Resiling with the complete meal.  Our dinner was scrumptious.
 Taro Root may sound foreign to many people, but it's also known as dasheen, eddo, kalo, or poi.  It's cultivated in West Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, Caribbean and Polynesian islands.  The Taro is starchy and it's taste and texture are similar to a potatoes.  We really enjoyed it.  How could we not, after 1/2 a stick of butter and truffle oil was added.  The Miso Chicken was so easy and like the title reads, quick to make.  It's a perfect meat dish to make during the week.

All in all our meal was great tonight.  I'm really enjoying Rocco's approach to flavors and mixing things up a bit.  He provides a great detailed outline on tastes; sour, salty, sweet, and bitter.  There is a list at the back of the book itemizing foods that fit under each category and each recipe has a legend  with a color dot for each taste that corresponds to each ingredient in the recipe.

I can really taste that this book has been tested many times before publishing.  The book is very detailed and easy to follow and so far the flavors have been amazing.

The Cookbook Addict

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day One - Flavor Rocco Dispirito - Prawns with Handkerchief Pasta

Back to the kitchen today.  I couldn’t wait to start cooking this week since I new I would be testing, Flavor, by Rocco Dispirito.   I've seen this guy on TV a few times, but he's never really captured my interest, until I went to the bookstore and his book was on sale for $12.99, original price was $50.00.  The pictures in the book looked amazing and if you never cooked a day in your life, I think you may be able to handle this book.  Rocco provides pictures, descriptions, and explanations about how all the seasonings work.  I'm a very visual person, so pictures of key ingredients for each recipe are fantastic.  So when you go shopping, you have an idea of what you're looking for.  On the right side of each page, there is a bar that tells you what the total cooking time is, active prep time, difficulty, portions and best of all which wine goes with the dish.

I had a really hard time picking a recipe today.  They all looked good; but even better, the recipes were so original.  I decided to easy my way into the book and started with the Prawns with Handkerchief Pasta.  The ingredients that seemed out of place for a pasta dish were lime juice, the juice of blended shrimp in Riesling and ground coriander seeds. I wasn't holding out much hope for this recipe.  Once I pulled all the ingredients together within the 55 minutes time line indicated.  I plated the food, and cautiously took a bite.  My husband and I lit up like Christmas trees in disbelief.  The dish was delicious!   No left overs.  I was certainly pleased by the results.  The seasonings were subtle and complemented the pasta, tomatoes and spinach.  Everything melded together.  I can't wait to make this dish again.

I'll have to go through the cookbook tonight to try and make a decision about what to make tomorrow.  Everything looks so good, I wish I had more time and a bigger appetite to make more dishes in a day.  I'll see what I can pull off tomorrow.

The Cookbook Addict

Saturday & Sunday - First Weekend of March

Saturday my husband and I had grown-up night out.  We went for dinner with some friends who suggested Makimono restaurant.  We went to the one in Woodbridge.  I've been there before, but I loved it so much that I really wanted Mark to try it out.  The food is fresh and delicious. It's a Japanese restaurant that provides an all you can eat approach.  You select anything you want from the menu and it's brought to your table.

The atmosphere and the all you can eat menu gives you the opportunity to try new foods and graze while catching up with your friends.

Later, we went to community play that was excellent!  But afterwards was event better.  We decided to stop somewhere for a beer and chit chat some more.  We ended up in a tiny pub with a very loud band.  It was fantastic. The Hunt Pub located in King City was packed with people having a great time.  It's a bit of a distance to get to The Hunt Pub, but it was sure worth the entrainment and the company.

The Cookbook Addict

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day Five - A Taste of Canada - Sticky-Crisp Barbecued Ribs

Today I gave this book another try.   I made the Sticky-Crisp Barbecued Ribs.  First let me say, I've made a lot of ribs over the years and I'm a firm believer this is one of the reasons why my husband married me.  So my expectations are pretty high.  Remember that I was raised in Quebec where Bar-B-Barn serves the best ribs in town.

As my husband and I sat down at the table and began digging into our dinner, we both had a look on our faces, as if to say, “is this a wing or a rib.”  The ribs were okay. Yes...just okay.  But the flavors seemed to be a bit displaced. We felt like we should have been eating chicken wings instead of ribs.  So what I'm saying is that the ribs tasted like they were slathered with wing sauce, kind of strange.  We really couldn’t get our brains around it.  Again, the taste was just okay, nothing spectacular.

Again, the recipe was easy, but very time consuming since you have to wait 4 - 24 hours for the ribs to marinate after they have been baked, which is a different approach.

The dish comes together, but would I make it again? Probably not.

This book makes a great coffee table book.  The photos are beautiful and the book is easy to read.  The recipes just don't do it for me.  Rose Murray takes recipes that have influenced the provinces of Canada, but then she adds her own spin to the recipes that just don't enhance the authenticity of the recipe or the flavors.  I really wanted to give this book a pass.  But I have to say that I probably will not refer back to this book for any future meals.  So it will sit on my coffee table for now.

Rose Murray you didn’t get the gold for this one.

VERDICTA Taste of Canada A Culinary Journey Flunked the Test!
The Cookbook Addict

Crab Towers with Avocado and Gazpacho Salsas

I've made this salad many times for various guests.  The magic is in the presentation and in how the three levels of flavor complement them each other.  Everyone asks for this recipe, and I finally decided to share, even though I got it off the web.

Crabmeat Salad
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp minced or grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp mayonnaise
12 oz lump or backfin Atlantic blue crabmeat, carefully picked over for shell fragments

Gazpacho Salsa
1 small yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/8 inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 small cucumber, peeled if desired, seeded, and cut into 1/8 inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium plum tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/8 inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 small celery rib, cut into 1/8 inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 small red onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 small jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar

Avocado Salsa

3 ripe avocados, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp juice from 1 lime

1 cup frisee
2 oranges, peeled and segmented, (optional)

For the Crabmeat Salad - Whisk the olive oil, champagne vinegar, lemon zest, mustard, salt and pepper together in a small bowl Measure 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette into a medium bowl and mix with the mayonnaise.  Add the crabmeat to the mayonnaise mixture and toss to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.  Se the remaining vinaigrette aside.

For the Gazpacho Salsa - Toss the yellow bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, celery, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, slat, pepper, olive oil, sherry vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside.

For the Avocado Salsa - Toss the avocado, coriander, salt, pepper, and lime juice in a medium bowl and set aside.

To Assemble - place a 3 inch wide round biscuit cutter in the center of an individual place.  Press 1/3 cup of the Avocado Salsa into the bottom of the cutter with the back of a spoon. Lift the cutter off the plate slightly to reveal some but not all the avocado.  Holding the cutter aloft, press 1/3 cup of the Crabmeat Salad evenly into the cutter on top of the avocado.  Lift the cutter to reveal some but not all of the crab salad.  Holding the cutter aloft, use a spoon to pres 1/3 cup of the Gazpacho Salsa evenly into the cutter on top of the crab.  Gently lift the cutter up and away from the plate to reveal the crab tower.  Repeat the procedure five more times with the remaining ingredients.

Dress the frisee with the remaining champagne vinaigrette.  Place a few sprigs of the dressed frisee on top of each crab tower and arrange the orange segments, if using, around the towers.  Serve immediately.

Recipe by American Test Kitchen.

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza

2 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, thinly sliced (or 1 large Spanish onion) I prefer red onions
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1 pkg. frozen puff pastry
4 oz. Brie, rind removed, dices
4 oz. Gorgonzola or Cambozola, rind removed, diced
2 tbsp. fresh tarragon

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes, or until wilted and starting to brown.  Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and cook gently, uncovered for 15-25 minutes, until richly caramelized.
Cool.  This makes about 3/4 cups.

Take out one piece of pastry from box and place on a parchment paper, line baking sheet.  Prick pastry with a fork in about 12 places.

Spread onions over pastry.  Dot with cheese. Sprinkle with tarragon.  Cover and refrigerate if not baking immediately.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until cheese has melted and pastry is crisp.  Cool for 5 minutes and cut into pieces.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day Four - A Taste of Canada - Moroccan Chicken Stew With Saffron Dumplings

Where do I start?  Rose Murray writes that Chicken Stew is one of her husband’s favorite meals. So, she decided to put a spin on it and make the Stew more Middle Eastern in flavor.  She indicated that her husband was "pretty happy" with the results. My family on the other hand didn't share his appreciation for the dish, nor did I.

Once again, the dish is mindless to pull together and it's economical.  The problem lies in the flavor and texture.   I should have been on guard when Rose recommended that you stew the chicken for 40 - 45 minutes on the stove after browning it.  The problem with that approach is the chicken gets a bit too soft. A matter of fact, everything gets too soft.  If you're having dental work and won't be able eat for a day or two, this is the meal for you.  Or if you are having gastric issues, again this is the meal for you.  The flavors were way too bland.  Not sure which part of Canada this dish comes from, obviously a place where flavor is not a priority.

I sure hope that tomorrow is a better food day.  Unfortunately, there is no Poutine, Steamies, Smoke Meat, Chinese Egg Rolls, or Bagel recipes in this book.  However, there is a Sticky-Crisp Barbecued Rib recipe that may fit the bill.  I’ll give go tomorrow and hope that this book can redeem itself.

The Cookbook Addict