Monday, August 29, 2016

Peaches in Lavender Syrup - Cookbook Countdown

Having purchased some culinary lavender to make a few recipes for a baking group I belong to, I'm always looking for new ways to use it up. I think I've found one that will take care of that: Lavender Syrup, a recipe from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, the book I've been cooking from this month.

Belonging to the Mint Family of the plant kingdom that includes a veritable cornucopia of fragrant and flavourful herbs, mint, basil, sage, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, savory and thyme among them, it was no surprise that this simple infusion of the dried flowers and sugar syrup was fabulous in mint tea.
It was equally delicious as a sweetener for fruit. I used peaches in the recipe for White Nectarines in Lavender Syrup and a few frozen raspberries that tinted the syrup a pretty pink with their juices. This was a really lovely way to serve summer fruit with the syrup enhancing their floral flavour.

It's the end of the month and I've run out of time but there are too many recipes I still want to make from this book to set it aside so I'll continue cooking from it next month for Cookbook Countdown.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

New Yorker Rye - Cookbook Countdown BAKE!

Everyone in my family loves rye bread but some aren't that fond of those made with sourdough starters so this recipe from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook is perfect. It does call for a pâte fermentée starter that should be made the day before, but after that's rested the dough comes together quickly and easily.
I've made the recipe several times now and each time I've had to add extra water to make a pliable dough, probably because of the finely milled dark rye flour I've been using, and I knead it on a lower power level for a longer time per my stand mixer's instructions.

It comes out perfectly every time. It has a thin, crisp crust and a moist chewy crumb subtly flavoured with rye and caraway - no sour flavour here! - and is fantastic eaten freshly baked or toasted. The recipe is available here if you would like to try it yourself.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown BAKE! edition hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Simple Summer Sides - Cookbook Countdown

Vegetable Literacy, the book I've been cooking from this month for Cookbook Countdown, is a really valuable resource if, like me, you have lots of vegetables on hand but are lacking cooking inspiration. It's filled with quick and easy recipes as well as great ideas for creating your own. I tried three that were a little different from anything I've made before and all three will be made again.
Snow Peas with Sesame Oil, Tarragon and Toasted Sesame Seeds was a recipe for blanched snow peas tossed with sesame oil, a common pairing. The surprise here was the tarragon. I don't think of adding this herb to dishes with an Asian feel but its licorice flavour went amazingly well with the peas and sesame.
The author says that cooking zucchini until it's soft brings out its lovely squash flavour. Having tried this method I know this to be true but I can't quite get past the texture of it so for Sautéed Zucchini with Mint, Basil and Pine Nuts, I grilled the slices just long enough to get grill marks on them. The vibrant fresh herb, garlic and caper relish more than made up for any lack of zucchini flavour and was particularly good with the grilled salmon I served along side.
Sweet Potatoes with White Miso Ginger Sauce is my new favourite way to serve this vegetable. The recipe called for steamed sweet potatoes but since I've been avoiding using the stove and oven during our three month long heatwave, I microwaved them before slicing and grilling. I think this is the tastiest sweet potato I've had; the savoury sauce was salty and tangy and just a little bit hot, perfect with the sweet vegetable.

All three dishes were quite effortless to make, called for just a few ingredients and could be served hot or at room temperature so could be made kind of cooking.

I've mentioned in previous posts that this book is organized according to edible families within the plant kingdom. These recipes represent three of them: the Legume Family, peas and beans in their fresh and dried states; the Cucurbrit Family, melons and squashes and gourds; the Morning Glory Family, all varieties of sweet potatoes.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Philadelphia Blueberry-Corn Tart - Tuesdays with Dorie

A tart comprising a bittersweet chocolate crust, a cool and creamy honey cheesecake filling, and a fresh corn, rosemary-infused blueberry topping was my latest Baking Chez Moi endeavor. It was different enough that it elicited descriptions of "unusual" and "interesting" from my tasters but all agreed it was delicious
The chocolate tart dough (page 418), my riff on Dorie's bonne idée of a ready-made chocolate crumb crust, baked up tender and shortbread-like, paired well with the fruit and was a good foil for the sweet filling. But my favourite part of this dessert was the topping of fresh blueberries and corn combined with blueberry "jam", sweet and tart with a whisper of lemon and rosemary. I enjoyed the extra - there was too much for the tart - stirred into plain yogurt and on my morning oatmeal but I think it would be wonderful with ice cream, pancakes & waffles, lemon cake.......

Visit here to see what others made this week for Tuesdays with Dorie.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Lemon-Ricotta Spaghetti - IHCC Express Meals - 30 Minutes or Less!

An express post for an express meal from I Heart Cooking Clubs' featured chef Curtis Stone.
Lemon-Ricotta Spaghetti comprised freshly cooked pasta and a light and lemony no-cook sauce of ricotta cheese, lemon zest and olive oil. I added basil for extra flavour but it really wasn't needed. Delicious! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Fudgsicles for Grown-Ups - Tuesdays with Dorie

A frozen chocolate treat on a stick spiked with liqueur was one of August's Tuesdays with Dorie projects from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking Chez Moi.
The mixture of melted chocolate, chocolate bits, Kahlúa, and whipped egg whites and cream was delicious but was light and airy and mousse-like and I wondered how easily it would release from the popsicle moulds. The answer was not very. Only two of eight came out intact. Maybe I just need more practice. Oh well...

If I were to make it again I would follow Dorie's suggestion in the headnotes to freeze it in any container and scoop it out at serving time.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Fresh Tomato Relish, 2 Ways - Cookbook Countdown

I'm cooking from Vegetable Literacy this month for Cookbook Countdown, an event that's encouraged me to start using some of my long ignored cookbooks. This book explores the edible plant world through its families and for this post I delved into the Nightshade Family that includes not only deadly belladonna but also some favourite foods: tomatoes, peppers, chiles, eggplant and potatoes.
With tomatoes at their peak right now, A Fresh Tomato Relish made of ripe tomatoes, minced shallots, sherry vinegar and olive oil seemed a good place to start. This really was all about the beautiful flavour of the tomatoes; it added wonderful brightness to spinach-stuffed savoury crepes.
These Chive and Saffron Crepes made with spelt flour, a recipe from the Lily Family chapter, deserve a special mention they were so good. Their delicate appearance belied the full flavour within: nutty, earthy and herbaceous. 
The author mentions that members of the same family complement each other and are often used together in a dish. I followed one of her suggestions and made a variation of this relish with chives and topped  Griddled Eggplant Rounds with it and some creamy homemade ricotta for a simple and tasty appetizer.
I'm cooking from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison this month for Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray. Be sure to visit to see what everyone else is making.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Young Leeks with Oranges and Pistachios - Cookbook Countdown

I'm sticking with plant based recipes this month for Cookbook Countdown but switching out A Girl and Her Greens for Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, well known author of such cookbooks as the award winning Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks.
This book is quite different from the other with each of its chapters focusing on a different family within the plant kingdom, exploring the relationships between its members which may include edible flowers, herbs, seeds, and wild plants in addition to vegetables, and providing recipes and tips on how to prepare and enjoy them, of course.
From the chapter on the Lily family, a family that includes such aromatics as garlic and shallots, comes a fruity but savoury salad featuring leeks, Young Leeks with Oranges and PistachiosI'd never eaten raw leeks before this and wasn't sure how strongly flavoured they would be so to be safe, I soaked the slices briefly in cold water as suggested to soften their edge a bit. They weren't nearly as bold as raw garlic or onion but had more oomph than chives or green onions and went nicely with the oranges. With a little olive oil, salt & pepper, and crunchy pistachios, this salad was a refreshing addition to a summer meal and a tasty way to beat the heat.
I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Fresh Mint Chip Gelato with Curtis Stone's Best Fudge Brownies - IHCC Herbalicious!

"Idiot proof" is how Curtis describes this gelato recipe, a mix of milk, cream and sugar thickened with cornstarch, steeped with fresh mint and drizzled with melted chocolate after churning to create a stracciatella effect.
In deciding how to serve it, I came across Curtis's recipe for Best Fudge Mint Brownies, intensely chocolate-y brownies that are topped with a mint ganache also infused with this herb's fresh flavour...I just replaced the ganache with my minty iced treat. 

It was the perfect combination. The Fresh Mint Chip Gelato was creamy yet still light and tasted refreshingly of mint with crisp shards of dark chocolate throughout, a cool contrast to the rich, fudgy brownie. 
Gelato meltdown!.....the best kind.

Our challenge this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs was to make a Curtis Stone recipe featuring herbs so visit here to check out the other herbalicious dishes.