Monday, May 26, 2014

Baby Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushroom Stir-Fry - IHCC Veg Out!

Nigel refers to this dish as a "lazy-boy stir-fry" and while his recipe for A Stir-Fry of Greens and Mushrooms from The Kitchen Diaries 2 doesn't require the long list of ingredients and amount of chopping of some, it doesn't make it any less delicious. I used baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms and the simplicity of this dish allowed those ingredients to shine. 
Flavoured with shallots, garlic, hot red chillies, ginger, soy sauce (I skipped the fish sauce to keep this vegetarian-friendly) and fresh coriander, it made a delicious meal for my vegetarian daughter and me to enjoy. It would also be great as a side dish or served over noodles or rice for a more substantial meal.
This week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is vegetable or vegetarian dishes - visit here to see how the other members "vegged out" with featured British chef Nigel Slater.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Grilled Chicken with Gremolata and Stuffed Artichokes - IHCC Potluck

Much as I like Giada de Laurentiis's recipes, I wasn't very enamoured of her book Giada's Family Dinners when I first bought it. Unlike her earlier book Everyday Italian, arranged in chapters according to course which made meal planning a breeze, I had difficulty navigating this cookbook and finding recipes I wanted to make. Joining eat your books changed all of that. It's amazing just how many recipes from this book pop up when I search my cookbooks using ingredients I have on hand as filters. So with chicken, artichokes, lemons and tomatoes in the fridge, for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs potluck, I abandoned featured chef Nigel Slater to cook with Giada.
Grilled Chicken with Gremolata was one of those dishes that had me wondering what I'd been thinking all those times I didn't know what to do with chicken breasts to make them more interesting. I'd made gremolata before, but never thought to use this bright and fresh tasting mixture of chopped herbs (I used parsley and mint), lemon zest and garlic, to top grilled chicken. It was quick and delicious.
The Stuffed Artichokes, on the other hand, were a little more labour intensive, though once the artichokes were prepped and cooked, came together rather quickly. This dish was actually more of a salad than what comes to mind when I think of a stuffed artichoke, with the boiled vegetable acting as a vessel for a zingy mixture of tomatoes, bread cubes, capers and herbs dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. I thought that the bold flavours of the topping overwhelmed the more subtle artichoke, but one of my daughters - whom I suspect has been watching too much MasterChef and Top Chef Canada of late - pointed out that I'd neglected to season them with salt. Guilty! They were still very good and we enjoyed them served at room temperature.
I'm glad I didn't give up on this book because every dish I've made from it has been a success and has had that Giada flair: flavourful, often quite elegant yet deceptively simple, and with at least a passing nod to her Italian heritage. 

Next week I'm going to "veg out" with Nigel for IHCC, but I'll be revisiting Giada and this book soon.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake - Bake Along #61

Joyce, Lena and Zoe have been baking together for 3 years in a bi-weekly bake along. I've been tempted to join in in the past but decided to finally take the plunge when I saw that the next selected recipe was Flo Braker's Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake from her book Baking for All Occasions, a recipe I tagged when I first bought the book but had yet to make!
A yeast-raised cake rich in butter, sugar and eggs, it required very little effort to make, mixing only with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, and resembled a thick cake batter more than it did a bread dough. The dough remained extremely soft but was manageable after it fermented.
The shaping of the loaf started very much as you would do to make cinnamon buns with the dough rolled out into a large rectangle spread with melted butter (I used only half). Instead of rolling it up jelly-roll style into a cylinder and slicing, the dough was cut into strips, spread with a sugar-lemon and orange zest paste (I used half the sugar), stacked and sliced again. The stacks were then arranged in a loaf pan and left to rise. 
After baking, the warm loaf was glazed with a tangy cream cheese glaze (I used only half).
The finished loaf was soft and tender, infused with sweet lemon flavour and finished with a lemon tang. Delicious! I put off baking this lovely cake for quite a while but I definitely won't let much time pass before I make it again. If you would like to make this yourself, the recipe can be found here.
Be sure to visit our hosts Joyce of Kitchen Flavours, Lena of Frozen Wings and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids to see their beautiful cakes.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mushroom-Gruyère Grilled Cheese - IHCC A Little Cheese Please

Another wonderful sandwich from Nigel Slater's book The Kitchen Diaries 2: A Year of Simple Suppers.
Campagnolo/Country Bread with Bran (The Italian Baker by Carol Field).....
a little Gruyère.....
sautéed baby bellas and thyme.....
grilled perfection

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, the focus is cheese dishes from featured chef Nigel Slater. Visit IHCC to view all of the cheese-y goodness.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

30-Minute Fettuccine Primavera

Giuliano Hazan, author of several cookbooks, definitely picked up a few pointers from his mother Marcella Hazan, the doyenne of Italian cooking, and it particularly shows in this, a creamy, flavourful, vegetable based pasta dish that celebrates the bounty of "primavera" or spring. 
The ability to coax incredible flavour from the vegetables, Italian soffritto (onions, carrots, celery), sweet red pepper and zucchini, lay in the cooking method, caramelizing them in butter before any liquids were added. The asparagus, on the other hand, received a different treatment altogether, a quick blanch in boiling water before being added to the others towards the end of cooking. Giuliano has you set up a separate pan to do this, but I just used the pot of boiling water that was waiting for the pasta and retrieved the asparagus pieces with a slotted spoon.
I made a few changes to the dish: the recipe calls for 3/4 of a pepper, 1-1/2 zucchini etc...I don't know about you, but I have no use for small cuts of leftover vegetables residing in my fridge so I just used them up. To lighten the dish a little, I used only 2 tbsp of butter (any less and you really don't have enough to develop the flavour) and replaced half the cream with vegetable stock. It wasn't a very saucy dish, but there was enough to coat pasta and vegetables with deliciousness!
The recipe is from Giuliano Hazan's Thirty-Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes but can also be found here. I'm sharing this post with Kitchen Flavours' Cook-Your-Books challenge this month. Visit here to see what everyone else is making.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Turkey Chilli - IHCC Weeknight Favourites!

Nigel Slater's recipe for Minced Turkey Chilli looked like a great way to bump up the flavour of lean and sometimes bland ground turkey and it met the criteria of being very quick-cooking, perfect for this week's theme of weeknight favourites (or soon to be favourites) at I Heart Cooking Clubs.
I followed some of Nigel's suggestions and added garlic and cumin to the mixture of onions, turkey and beans and used ancho and chipotle chili powders for some smoke and heat. The dish was done in 15 minutes, had great flavour and would have been delicious served as suggested in a tortilla but it wasn't quite what I was craving: a bowl of North American-style chili.
A can of plum tomatoes, some extra beans and spices, and an additional 15 minutes of simmering in an uncovered skillet gave me what I was looking for in a relatively short time.
I served it with roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (p207) from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and Cornbread from the King Arthur Flour website for a delicious weeknight meal, one that will definitely be repeated.

See what everyone else made on a busy night over at IHCC as members continue to cook with featured cook and food writer Nigel Slater.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

King Arthur's English Digestive Biscuits - Avid Baker's Challenge


The Avid Bakers are still baking from the King Arthur Flour website and this month's challenge is digestive cookies, something I've never made before and haven't had in years so I was really looking forward to it. Made with part whole wheat flour, these cookies were at one time believed to have helped with the digestive process. I just remember them as being a not-too-sweet treat to enjoy with a cup of tea.
digestive cutouts baked digestivese
They were very quick to make since the dough came together in just seconds in a food processor and there was no resting time required before it could be rolled, cut and baked. Very nice to work with, the dough was easy to roll out thinly and the cookies baked up beautifully in the allotted time. My yield was 45 (15 from re-rolled dough) using a 6.3cm/2 1/2" cookie cutter.
They were crisp and buttery with a nutty flavour and a little chew from the whole wheat flour, not quite as tender and crumbly as store-bought but delicious nevertheless. Dipped in melted bittersweet chocolate they made for an extra indulgent treat. If you would like to make these English Digestive Biscuits, the recipe is here.
Visit here to see the other ABC bakers' cookies.