Friday, April 24, 2015

Book 119 | Great Chefs of the Caribbean | Parmesan Basket with Polenta and Roasted Vegetables

Edited by Julia M. Pitkin




This was fun to make, and it was tasty too!


I have seen a few recipes for making Parmesan baskets, and have been wanting to do this for some time. 

And it is super easy! All you do is, take some grated cheese, place it on a baking sheet in a circular shape and bake until the cheese has fused itself together. Then take the melted cheese and place it over a bowl or cup to shape it. Instead of transferring the melted cheese by way of spatula to the bowl, I just cut the parchment paper between the cheese rounds, and placed the bowl on top of the cheese and flipped it over. Much easier. Not to mention, these babies are greasy, and the parchment paper keeps your hands grease-free while shaping them around the bowl.


I wanted a bit more color to the bowls, but I was afraid if I let them cook longer, they might have disintegrated.


This is supposed to be tomato sauce, to be placed in a squeeze bottle to drizzle on the plate. I ended up transferring it to the food processor and adding some vegetable broth and water (and a bit of cayenne to spice things up) to thin it out. As for the pesto oil, that turned out quite thick as well, more like pesto, then oil - also to be used for drizzling. 


Is there anyone who doesn't like roasted vegetables? You really can't go wrong with roasted veggies. I did not roast the tomatoes, I added them after, and placed the vegetables back in the turned-off oven, just to warm them up.


I love polenta, and felt it should have a decent amount underneath all those vegetables. Apparently the amount I thought was perfect, was more than the recipe called for. I halved the recipe, which should serve two, and I used almost all of the polenta for this one bowl. Their round of polenta must have been pretty thin. Good thing I was dining solo this evening!


This made for a tasty light dinner; it would even be good sans the basket, if you don't want to go to the trouble of making them. Speaking of the basket, it was a bit on the chewy side - I was expecting it to be crisp. I did read that if too much cheese is used, the baskets can turn out chewy - so there you go.

I'm confused as to where the Caribbean influence is in this dish. Must be the polenta. When I think Caribbean food, I think of rum, mango, coconut, rice, and foods with a spicy kick. Not that it really matters much, I enjoyed this just the same.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Cantonese-Style Stir-Fried Pork with Chinese Broccoli

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young




Let me start off by saying, this was CRAZY good!!


Bowl 1: Ginger, garlic
Bowl 2: Pork, cornstarch, soy sauce, dry sherry, garlic, canola oil, oyster sauce, sesame oil, s&p
Bowl 3: Water chestnuts, bell pepper, snow peas, straw mushrooms
Bowl 4: Chicken broth, dark soy sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce
Bowl 5: Chicken broth, sesame oil, cornstarch
Bowl 6: Chinese broccoli


I have found a new favorite vegetable in Chinese broccoli (gai-lan or kai-lan is the Cantonese name for this vegetable). It looks more like giant spinach than it does western broccoli, that has little flower heads in the center. I loved the texture of the leaves, with the slight taste of "regular" broccoli.


If you make this dish, and are unable to find the Chinese broccoli, feel free to use regular broccoli, it will still be delicious. 


I had never heard of straw mushrooms before. They get their name from the way they are grown - on paddy rice straw. I thought I might have a hard time finding them. Not only did I easily find them at my Asian grocer, but I also saw them at my regular grocery store later that day.

They come labeled as peeled or unpeeled; I used the peeled mushrooms. I did a Google search as to what exactly you are to peel from a mushroom. It has nothing to do with peeling the skin like an apple say, but whether the "veil" has opened or not, exposing the gills. A closed cap is considered unpeeled, an open cap where you can see the gills, is peeled. I also read that the unpeeled are more nutritious and flavorful.


The flavor of this dish was beyond fabulous. Andy said to put this recipe on the A+ list - it's super good.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I made it. It's going to make a repeat appearance here for sure; and if I serve it to company, I'll plate it a little differently. I'll cut the stems and stir them in with the stir-fry and place the leaves in a circular pattern around the plate with the pork mixture in the middle.


We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 77, of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed.  

This recipe is on Grace's website, along with several of the other delicious recipes we have prepared. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!






Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Limoncello Cupcakes

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan


 

I was so excited to see the recipe I nominated was chosen. Love, love, love, all things lemon!


The cupcake batter consists of flour, baking powder, cardamom (love cardamom! though I did not detect it at all in the finished product), salt, sugar, lemon zest, yogurt, eggs, limoncello and oil. A small amount of batter is placed in the cupcake liner, then topped with a teaspoon of (optional) lemon marmalade, then covered with the additional batter.

All I could find was orange, lime, or a blended marmalade. I was going to use lemon curd in place of the marmalade, but I could not stop thinking of the marmalade blend, that was made up of orange, lemon, and grapefruit, so I went with that.

The baked cupcake is then brushed with a limoncello/simple syrup mixture while the cakes are still warm; I poked a few holes in the top of each cupcake to allow the syrup to really seep into the cakes.

The frosting is made up of butter, powdered sugar, limoncello, and lemon juice.


These really need a prettier cupcake liner. I have whole box of pretty wrappers that my daughter gifted to me; but I was rushed, and didn't even think about it, until I pulled them out of the oven. Grrr.

I so wished I went with the lemon curd filling... the marmalade was too bitter for my liking. I was also surprised, between the lemon zest, lemon juice, and limoncello, that these did not have a stronger lemon flavor.

This seems to be an issue with my quest for the perfect lemon cupcake. I want a lemon cupcake that makes you pucker up, literally; I want that intense lemon flavor, you know, the one that sends you to the moon and back.

Still searching for the ultimate lemon cupcake...

If you have such a recipe in your repertoire, please leave a link in the comments below! I would be forever grateful! :)


We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blogs. You can find the recipe on page 194 of Baking Chez Moi.

Do check out my fellow bakers results, by clicking here for a list of their links.



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Cilantro with Bean Sprouts and Shrimp

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young


This is a simple stir-fry made up of garlic, ginger, shrimp, bean sprouts, carrots and cilantro. If you wanted a stronger, more pungent shrimp flavor, Grace mentions you could sub out the fresh shrimp for dried, as they do in the Hui Zhou village of China. The dried shrimp of course needs to be reconstituted in water first, and you would use less salt that is called for in the recipe.


Bowl 1: Garlic
Bowl 2: Ginger (I usually put the garlic and ginger in one bowl, I just spaced out this time.)
Bowl 3: Shrimp
Bowl 4: Bean Sprouts
Bowl 5: Carrots
Bowl 6: Cilantro
Bowl 7: Salt, sugar


If you are not a fan of cilantro, which I am, this dish may not be for you. The cilantro, really took center stage here (and I probably added a little more than the recipe called for).

The recipe states this serves four as a side dish, though I think this would make for a fine light meal on its own; you can even add a bit more shrimp if you like. 

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 224, of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed.  

This recipe is on Grace's website, along with several of the other delicious recipes we have prepared. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!





Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | March Recipes

The CCC cooking through River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall




February marked the tenth month of cooking along with this group, where we have made it half way through the book, and cooked over one-hundred recipes (as a group, not individually - well, except Jora maybe. :)) Boy, time sure does fly.

Andrea, our leader, has declared March our make-up month. This gives us a chance to make any recipes we hoped to have made, but did not get to.  I chose five, and there are still more I would like to get to. Maybe we should have a make-up month every quarter.. ;)



My March selections are as follows:

Crudités with Tarator Sauce p.105
Beetroot Pizza with Cheddar p.180
Refried Beens Foldover p.190
Cheesy Peasy Puff Turnover p.220
Steamed Veg with a Hint of Garlic p.372







Steamed Veg with a Hint of Garlic


Easy peasy! Can't get much easier than this.


I don't know why I haven't thought to steam a medley of vegetables before now. I have steamed broccoli and carrots together, but that's about it.

Here we have broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and cabbage, steamed to perfection, tossed with some garlic butter, salt, pepper, and a dash of red chili flakes, that I added to give it a little kick.


This was enjoyable, though I would have preferred a stronger garlic essence; even though I used three garlic cloves to Hugh's one clove, it still was not very prominent. Maybe if the garlic/butter mixture had more time to meld, it would have had a stronger garlic flavor. Then again, the title does read, a hint of garlic.

I had the leftovers the following day for lunch, and it actually tasted even better. 


Crudités with Tarator Sauce



The tarator sauce consists of toasted walnuts, bread that has been soaked in water, garlic, olive oil, lemon, s&p, and dusted with paprika just before serving.


Unfortunately, I did not care for this dip at all. I found it to have a bitter taste (maybe I added too much garlic? Is that even possible?) and well, just plain nasty.


Also, the oil kept separating, no matter how many times I stirred it. Did I not squeeze the bread of all the water? (The recipe calls for you to soak the bread in water first, and to squeeze most of it out.) I'm wondering if it would be better if the bread wasn't soaked in the water, and allowed to soak up the oil instead.


Refried Beans Foldover


This is very much like a burrito. Instead of a tortilla, we have a homemade soft flatbread that is topped with a bean mixture that is made up of cannellini beans, onion, garlic, red chile, oregano, and grated tomatoes.

This is then topped with whatever your heart desires. I chose to add some cheddar cheese, red onion, avocado, and Greek yogurt. I had planned on a few slices of tomato as well, but I forgot to buy an extra tomato.

The flatbread is made from Hugh's magic bread dough, that was not so magical for me. Actually, he calls it magic, because this one dough can be transformed into just about any shape - flatbreads, pitas, breadsticks, rolls, or even a loaf of bread.

I had issues with rolling out the dough. It kept shrinking back, even after giving the dough an additional rest. I tried re-rolling a couple of times, and still it shrunk back. So I gave up, and just cooked them. They were, in my opinion, too thick, and even though cooked through, they had a very doughy texture & taste to them.

My husband loved them, he even took the remaining breads to work and devoured them; at least they did not got to waste. :) 


Beetroot Pizza with Cheddar



This recipe also calls for using the magic bread dough; after the issue I had with the previous recipe a few days ago, I just was not in the mood to tackle it again, so I went with the store-bought Boboli pizza crust.

I have had success with the dough recipe in the past, when I made the Asparagus Pizza (to die for), and the Pizza with New Potatoes and Brie, another delicious recipe - both from the River Cottage Veg cookbook.


The pizza dough, whether homemade or store-bought, is topped with tomato paste, caramelized onions, cooked beets, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, salt, pepper, and drizzled with a bit of olive oil.



Yeah. This was good. So far, every pizza I have made from this book has been delicious; and I'm not a pizza lover. I'll order it in, only when I don't feel like cooking, or going out. 



Cheasy Peasy Puff Turnover


This recipe comes from the chapter, Pantry Suppers. To me, this means a quick and easy meal to throw together with what you have on hand - in the pantry.

Me, I never have puff pastry on hand, or frozen peas, and rarely do I have cheese - if I do, it is usually spoiled by the time I need it.

But that did not stop me from making these easy, surprisingly delicious turnovers; nor should it stop you.
 

These beauties are comprised of puff pastry, frozen peas, cheese (I used Gruyère), egg, salt and pepper.


The recipe instructs you to make one large turnover. I chose to make smaller individual ones; they are just more fun that way, and also, it's easier in my opinion, to transport the leftovers, if there are any.


These were a hit, to say the least. My daughter & I each had one and split another, and Andy, he had three! Yes, three, at one sitting!

The only thing I would do different next time, is add more cheese...

I served these with a beet salad, made from the leftover beets from the beetroot pizza, but I like the idea of my fellow bloggers, serving these alongside a bowl of soup.




To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the the CCC website and look for the March LYL post - or you will be taken there directly by clicking here.

We have been asked not to publish the recipes here on our blogs. We encourage you to go out and purchase the book and join us on this fun and healthy adventure!






 




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Cabbage with Prosciutto

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young



This stir-fry was surprisingly tasty. It's amazing that such a small amount of prosciutto (one ounce) adds so much flavor; and the cabbage is cooked only until it is crisp-tender. This made for a wonderful side dish to our grilled market steak.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger
Bowl 2: Cabbage
Bowl 3: Salt, sugar
Bowl 4: Chicken broth, dry sherry, cornstarch
Bowl 5: Prosciutto



I now have a use for all the left over cabbage I always seem to have in the fridge, that usually sits there until its demise, sad to say. But no longer! Looking forward to making this again - soon!


We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 199, of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed.  

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!





Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan



The delicious caramelized Rice Krispies topping.

Ha! This piece looks like a fish!

Before you begin baking the bars, you make a crispy topping made from (my childhood cereal), Rice Krispies; not much to it really. You just melt a bit of butter and oil, add the cereal and stir until all the grains are evenly coated as possible, and stirred some more until the cereal turns a nice golden brown.


The base of these tasty treats are basically a shortbread cookie crust with the addition of brown sugar. Dorie states to show the dough "who's the boss" to get it spread evenly over the pan. This tells me there may be a bit of a struggle ahead. I found wetting my hands helped to spread the dough into the pan, with little sticking to the fingers. I'm sure using a piece of buttered parchment would work just as well.

Once the base is baked to a lovely golden brown (the instructions say to bake the crust for about twenty-two minutes; mine was ready at thirteen minutes), the top is scattered with chopped chocolate and returned to the oven for a minute or so, just until the chocolate has melted.


The melted chocolate is spread evenly over the shortbread base.


Then topped with the caramelized Rice Krispies.


I originally cut the bars as suggested in the book, about a two-inch square. However, when I tasted these little gems, I found them to be overly sweet.


So I cut the squares in half, which I thought were the perfect size, especially if they are served as party fair.

I sent the lot (minus one) with my husband for him to share with the boys. Of course, I had to have at least one with my morning coffee, and I found that the sweetness dissipated somewhat after sitting overnight. Good thing I sent these away! I probably would have eaten them all! 

The following morning, I received a text from the Mr., everybody liked them. :)


Tuesdays with Dorie is an online baking group. We are making our way through Baking with Julia and Baking Chez Moi, both by Dorie Greenspan. 

We have been asked not to post the recipes. You can find this recipe on page 324 of Baking Chez Moi.

You can check out my fellow bakers results by clicking here for a list of their links.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Beef Chow Fun

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young



Beef chow fun - a popular dish in Cantonese restaurants. I was excited for making this dish, for I am a lover of all pasta; and this dish includes wide cut noodles, my favorite, though the noodles in this dish are made with rice, not with your typical wide egg noodles.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Ginger, garlic
Bowl 2: Flank steak, soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil
Bowl 3: Fermented beans
Bowl 4: Rice noodles
Bowl 5: Bean sprouts
Bowl 6: Scallions
Bowl 7: White pepper
Bowl 8: Oyster sauce, dry sherry
 

My husband asked if we had this before. I replied, nope! We're having beef chow fun!

Oh, Jeff & I have that all the time. You do? Hubby tells me, when he and Jeff, a co-worker, have to grab a quick bite to eat before a class or meeting, they go up the street to the Chinese restaurant and order beef chow fun. Well, whataya know!

"... this dish is a major test for chefs in Cantonese cooking," as noted in Wikepedia. 

Ha! I failed! Better keep my day job.

I had a little issue with the noodles as you can see. The recipe calls for fresh broad rice noodles, that come in a sheet, and you can cut them to size. I could not find the noodles in sheet form, so I purchased, what I thought were pre-cut, close to the size I wanted.


Only come to find, they were not cut at all, but rolled. I tried unrolling them, and this proved to be quite difficult, if not impossible. I was able to unroll them after cutting the strips into approximately half-inch pieces. This however, took me about twenty to thirty minutes to complete.

After tediously unrolling, I placed the noodles into a bowl and they were sticking to each other something awful. I had posted a question to the group FB page, and was told by another member to oil my hands, and work the noodles gently. It did help separate them, but they started to break apart - so I stopped, and forged on.  (After I had made dinner, I found that I could have just cut the noodles as I did, and tossed them into the wok, where they would have unrolled on their own..)


Clumpy noodles or not, this was fabulous! Andy, said he actually liked the noodles this way; not to mention it's way better than what he and Jeff have on class night. So, not a total fail. :)

I will definitely be making this again, once I get a chance to find the correct style noodles.



We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 269, of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed.  

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!