Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Sixty-Six: Special Occasions

by Chuck Williams
The Best of the Lifestyles Series: Williams-Sonoma

                     Braised Chicken Provençale

I had sworn off anchovies ever since I tried a slice of Number 10 pizza at a local pizzeria. It was the nastiest thing I had ever tasted - sorry Scott (a friend of my daughter). So when this recipe called for anchovies I was hesitant to include them to say the least.

As I have mentioned before I like to follow the instructions as stated the first time around before making any deviations; at first, I thought of adding only half of the anchovies - then I just went for it, I added the recommended amount. I'm not sure if I added too much salt to the chicken or if the anchovies over-salted the dish, so I would recommend to salt and pepper the chicken only on one side while cooking and add extra at the table if needed.

We really liked this dish. Andy said to make sure to mark this one to have again - that it is as good as any meal in a fine restaurant - even better. I love this man!

Success meter (1-3): 3

I know... I said I don't make deviations the first
time around. I was going to cook up the zucchini
as a side dish, then decided to just throw it in with
the sauce. After browning the chicken, toss the
zucchini until browned and add to the sauce at the
 end until heated through.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Cookie Tin

Samoa Bark

If you are not a fan of the Girl Scout Samoa cookie, read no further for these are reminiscent of my favorite GS cookie.

My caramel did not turn out the way I think it should have: One- it was gritty looking though it had good flavor. Maybe the sugar was not dissolved completely. Two- It never hardened. Maybe there was a mistake in the ratios; I'll have to do some research. I did substitute (something I usually do not do on a first run) half & half for the heavy cream for that is what I had on hand and did not want to make a run to the store.

Aside from the caramel mishap, this is an easy, fun and really tasty treat that can be made anytime you have a craving for those Samoa cookies that are unavailable but once a year.

Success meter (1-3): 2

from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

These are not only awesome but super easy!

When will I ever learn what I recommend to others: always read your recipes thoroughly before-hand. I was hoping to get more done today. However this recipe calls for your eggs and butter to be at room temperature (which is the norm for baking unless otherwise noted). No big deal... maybe half hour tops to wait. Reading further - dough needs to chill at least three hours - great... already it is four o'clock.

This is one of those cookie doughs you want to handle little as possible so when you bite into the cookie it will be melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I had a new cookie cutter that I was anxious to use so I rolled the dough into a log as instructed, cut it into just under 1/2-inch thick then used a cookie cutter to make a pretty shape. Not only do I recommend not using a cookie cutter for the above reason, but they do not hold their definitive shape very well. After trying both shapes I really liked the plain sliced cookie for it seemed to have a better texture and are less time consuming to make.

Success meter (1-3): 3

Recipe from my friend Christine

The name hastskor translates to horseshoes, the shape of this crisp cardamom flavored cookie. While these are labor intensive to make, they are so worth it.

This has been a tradition for the cookie tin for as long as I can remember. It has to be one of the best cookies around and one of which my sister would rather fill her tin completely with and forgo all other treats. 

I was happy the cookies turned out this year for I had to make a few modifications. My Lyle's Golden Syrup (both cans) developed some sort of chemical reaction and there was a dark nastiness along the lid and rim which gave the syrup a metallic taste. The good news is, if you do not have Lyle's Golden Syrup in your area, honey works just as well. I also did not have enough all-purpose flour and had to use a bit of bread flour.

Success meter (1-3): 3

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Sixty-Five: Cooking at the Academy

by California Culinary Academy

                   Sautéed Snapper Galician

No I was not a student at the Academy, though it has crossed my mind many times. This book is from the early nineties, and I'm assuming I ordered it off of the TV show of the same name. All the recipes in this book are pretty basic (too basic?) and simple; hence the disappointment with this recipe.

This sounded so good (and healthy) to me and the finished presentation looked wonderful. I was craving something healthy with eating so many rich foods due to the holidays; not to mention the donuts that seem to always be around the shop - and they are only one of my weaknesses. This dish did not even call for salt and pepper! I must say there were not enough herbs/spices in this dish to forgo these two seasonings (which I added) that I depend on too much, I know. Even Andy said when I asked if he liked it... “It looks good".

Unfortunately I will not be reaching for this book again. Thumbing through the pages I came across a note in the margin of another recipe that read just "ok". Too bad too - for the recipes are quite simple, for which I am becoming accustomed to.

Success meter (1-3): 1

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Sixty-Four: Around My French Table

by Dorrie Greenspan

   Chicken in a Pot: The Garlic and Lemon Version

Tuesday nights are usually reserved for puzzle night with my sister. However this night she had of all things, a Christmas party to go to and my better half was out on a night ride. So what does one do when left alone? Cook something to post about of course!

I have said this before and I'm going to say it again; I love one pot dishes! Though technically this was a two pot/pan recipe being you have to brown your veggies and chicken first.

The ingredient list calls for 16 small white onions which my grocery did have but I thought the pearl yellow onions looked too cute to pass up. I should have gone with the slightly larger white onion for it was quite a tedious job peeling all those teeny, tiny pearl onions. One item my local market did not carry was preserved lemons, so I was going substitute a bit of lemon zest, which I forgot - not a problem though; this is one recipe you certainly can play around with the ingredients to your liking.

Success meter (1-3): 3

ohhh the aroma! mmmm...

Looks like a pig!

I think my dough was a tad bit too wet.

Well... it certainly isn't as beautiful as the cover
recipe photo - good thing this not to be eaten!

Again - the aroma!

The crust forms a wonderful seal to produce
a fall-off-the-bone delight.

Bummer I forgot to buy french bread to
soak up the yummy juices!

Andy picking the bones clean
just like at Thanksgiving.
Thanks hon!

Now... hopefully after an overnight soak I   
will be able to get that crust off my pot.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Book Sixty-Three: Four Star Desserts

by Emily Luchetti

                              Coffee Toffee

I have a collection of Ms. Luchetti's books and I came by this one from placing an ad in my local paper under "Lost and Found". I had done an internet search and it was no longer available other than through private parties for over the published price. So I wrote in asking for this book and what I was willing to pay. I got lucky - and the rest is history! You will be far more lucky than I should you wish to obtain this book for it is selling far below the publishers price today.

I have had a recipe for coffee toffee bookmarked for quite some time and finally got around to making it.

This I'm sure is really good, for at first bite you get that hint of coffee and chocolate, the smoothness of the toffee on your tongue and the crunch from the nuts; then the burnt flavor... This was due to a malfunction of my candy thermometer and my inability to go with my instinct once again.

The recipe calls for a marbled effect of white and dark chocolate for the topping. Originally I was going to do half marble and half nuts. I inadvertently bought the wrong brand of white chocolate; I prefer Lindt white chocolate for it melts smoother. The Ghirardelli did not become fluid enough to marble so I had to use nuts for the whole thing.

I will make this again for it is far too easy (just one of the reasons I love Ms. Luchetti's recipes) and would make a great thank you or holiday gift.

Success meter (1-3): 3

I was out of molasses so
I substituted Lyle's Golden Syrup

The sugar mixture need to reach 300° which seemed to be taking forever
 and when I started to smell a slight burnt scent  (I should have pulled it off
right then!) I put in the glass thermometer which you can
see (maybe) that it reads 340°

Too stiff to marble.