Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Butterscotch and Caramel Popcorn - Cookbook Countdown

I'm finishing this month's exploration of A Girl and Her Greens with a dessert and what could be better at this time of year than a bowl of cool, creamy ice cream? I've come across recipes for corn ice cream before and have always been intrigued by the idea of using this vegetable in a dessert.
Of course, once I tasted Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Butterscotch I could understand just how well it does work, adding it's sweet almost buttery flavour to the custard base. And the recipe makes sure you extract as much of its flavour as possible, collecting the juices from the niblets and steeping the cobs in the milk and cream.  

The ice cream is served with an easy-to-make butterscotch sauce and I decided to go all out and include the optional salty-sweet Caramel Popcorn with Nuts (page 246) topping. Thank goodness this recipe makes more than you need for the garnish because with all of the snacking going on, there wasn't much left!
This is a rather indulgent dessert, very sweet and rich and personally, I would have preferred a tart fruit topping with the ice cream for balance. I'm glad I finally tried it but I don't think I'll be making this ice cream again and though the butterscotch is good, it won't take the place of the family's favourite salted caramel. The caramel popcorn, however, is a definite keeper!

Now what book shall I cook from next month?
I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lumaconi Stuffed with Summer Vegetables - Cookbook Countdown

The crunchy corners of a baked lasagne are my favourite parts, you know the noodles that don't quite get covered by the sauce and bake up golden and crisp? April Bloomfield's stuffed pasta shells, my latest effort from A Girl and Her Greens, the cookbook I'm cooking from this month for Cookbook Countdown, produces an entire pan full of those crisp edges - it was made for me!
The filling was also very appealing, an unusual mix of zucchini, green beans and corn, bound by a fresh tomato sauce. In one of the headnotes, the author promises that she's not out to torment the cook with the seemingly endless steps in a recipe but I had my doubts as I blanched and peeled 800g of cherry tomatoes for the sauce ;)! That it turned out to be one of the tastiest tomato sauces I've ever made wasn't a surprise to me based on the other results I've had with this book.
Once the shells were stuffed and arranged in the baking dish, they were bathed in some corn-infused cream that I lightened with some vegetable stock, dusted with a smattering of grated Parmesan and baked.

The flavours and textures came together beautifully in the finished dish. The pasta was al dente with some crispy bits, the vegetables were tender-crisp and the silky cream sauce was enriched with the juices from the filling. It was fabulous!

Visit Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray to see what else is cooking this month.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer-Market Galette - Tuesdays with Dorie

Tuesdays with Dorie chose 2 recipes this month from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking Chez Moi that took advantage of all of the gorgeous fruit available now. This open-faced "tart" was designed to show off the ones that were at their peak.
I used as many plums, nectarines and blueberries as I could fit onto the pastry base, adding even more after I folded the edges over. I loved that Dorie's galette dough was sturdy enough to support it all so it had that high fruit to pastry ratio I prefer.
This was such a delicious way to enjoy summer fruit especially with lime and fresh ginger adding an extra little kick. I'll definitely be making this throughout the rest of the summer - and into fall and winter - with whatever fruit looks best.

Visit here to see what the other members baked this week.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pasta with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms - IHCC Potluck

Lemon, garlic and thyme are some of my favourite ingredients and Nigella Lawson uses them with raw mushrooms and a little olive oil in a no-cook pasta "sauce" that Food52 considers a "genius recipe"
I'm not surprised. The mushrooms, little sponges that they are, absorb all of those beautiful flavours and take on the appearance and texture of having been cooked in the short time it takes to cook some pasta. Lovely and light, you really couldn't ask for an easier meal. You can find the recipe at Food52 or at Nigella's site.
It's potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs when we're free to cook with any of the featured chefs; I cooked with Nigella...I wonder who the others chose. Visit here to find out.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summery Ribollita - Cookbook Countdown

April Bloomfield's Summery Ribollita from her book A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals From the Garden, a Tuscan soup traditionally made of leftover minestrone and stale bread, isn't the light, quick-cooking soup I usually make at this time of year but it does make excellent use of the beautiful summer produce from our gardens and farmers' markets. There are quite a few steps to the recipe, and the author promises that they're not there to "torment" the home cook as each one has a purpose.
It starts with slow cooked, caramelized vegetables. Added to that is a sweet and tangy tomato sauce made from succulent cherry tomatoes. Then into the pot go some Simple Beans (recipe on page 244), white beans cooked until creamy and some of their flavourful garlicky liquor, slightly stale bread that melts into the broth (Hot Bread Kitchen's Rustic Bread) and finally, lightly cooked, tender summer greens.

All of these parts come together to make a hearty soup with sublime flavour. To be honest, with daily temperatures in the high 30's (Celsius) it's a little too rich and warming for me to fully appreciate right now so most of it is in the freezer so family and I can enjoy a taste of summer when the cooler weather comes.
I'm cooking from April's book this month for Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rustic Batard - Cookbook Countdown BAKE!

Hot Bread Kitchen's Rustic Batard is the base recipe for several other breads in the book so I thought it would be a good one to try. And, it was recommended for ribollita, a soup I was planning to make from A Girl and Her Greens for Cookbook Countdown.

This two day (or more) bread was pretty straightforward but did require lots of time for fermentation. It started with a preferment, pâte fermentée, a simple mixture of bread flour, yeast, water and salt. After an overnight rest, it was kneaded with extra bread flour, a small amount of whole wheat flour and more water, yeast and salt. I chose to bake the bread the same day but the process can be extended another day by refrigerating the dough before shaping.
With a crisp crust, chewy crumb, and good flavour, it was everything I expected from a country loaf. And, it was a great addition to April Bloomfield's Summery Ribollita. I'm looking forward to trying the variations of this recipe, especially the Cracked Pepper and Cheddar Batard...doesn't that sound good?

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

Monday, July 18, 2016

Grilled Tuna with Marinated Tomato Salad - IHCC You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

Mmmmm...summer tomatoes sliced and dusted with cracked black pepper are pure bliss to me. What to do with them for I Heart Cooking Clubs' "tomato" theme with featured chef Curtis Stone was an easy choice, a salad that left them in their natural state dressed with a zippy vinaigrette of white balsamic vinegar and served with grilled tuna, a dish with great flavour and minimal cooking.
I made minor changes to the recipe, doubling the beans, replacing the peppadews - do you know what they are? I didn't before this - with sweet red bell pepper and using dried chilli flakes to taste.
We were very happy with this meal. It held so much appeal with its vibrant colour and flavour and was light but satisfying.

The recipe for Grilled Tuna with Marinated Tomato Salad can be found here.

Visit here for more tomato-y goodness from IHCC and Curtis Stone.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Piedmontese Peppers - Cookbook Countdown

I'm cooking from the book A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield this month for Cookbook Countdown and the latest recipe I tried was one that really captured the Mediterranean flavours I so enjoy.
Small sweet bell peppers, halved and seeded, filled with sliced garlic, fresh basil, anchovies and cherry tomatoes were roasted with a drizzle of olive oil until they were soft and silky with a bit of a char, the garlic was sweet, the anchovies dissolved and the tomatoes burst and released all of their goodness.
The little pepper boats held all of those beautiful ingredients in allowing their flavours to mingle and meld. So easy and so good. I served them as a side but they would make perfect little appetizers too.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cornmeal and Berry Cakes - Tuesdays with Dorie

Lemony baby cakes bursting with fresh raspberries was one of this month's fruity baking projects from Baking Chez Moi for Tuesdays with Dorie
These little cakes had a very nice flavour but were quite dense and had that grittiness that comes with even the finely ground cornmeal used in this recipe. And despite their initial moistness, and all of the butter and olive oil in them, they became stale quite quickly.

They were easy to make and were a little different from the usual so I'm glad I tried them but I think there are cake recipes out there that are more worthy of those delicious summer berries.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Shrimp and Coriander Rolls - IHCC Featuring Nigel Slater

It's been a while since I've cooked with Nigel Slater but a quick perusal of all the recipes I flagged but didn't have a chance to make when he was featured chef at I Heart Cooking Clubs once before led me to Prawn and Coriander Rolls from his book The Kitchen Diaries.
"Roll" is somewhat of a misnomer as this recipe is actually for incredibly tasty fried shrimp patties, made with all things delicious (shrimp, spring onions, lemongrass, chiles, coriander, garlic) served in lettuce boats with a drizzle of a sweet, hot and tangy dipping sauce that provided incredible bursts of flavour with every bite.

They would make an excellent appetizer or a main rounded out with some steamed rice and vegetables.

Visit here to see more of Nigel's recipes.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Nan-E Barbari - Cookbook Countdown BAKE!

Cookbook Countdown has introduced a special edition, BAKE!, that will run for the next three months. Unlike the regular cooking event, BAKE! isn't limited to only one cookbook per month so we're free to post whatever we bake from any of our baking books.
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook is one of my latest acquisitions, purchased because of the positive reviews it received during Food 52's Piglet tournament from people who actually baked from it! I needed a good bread to serve with April Bloomfield's Bean and Mushroom Salad from A Girl and Her Greens so tried my hand at the Nan-E Barbari, a Persian flatbread.
Made with just bread flour, water, yeast and salt, the dough was very wet and I had trouble kneading it with the dough hook. I switched to the paddle attachment and that worked. Lightly oiled - not floured - hands and work surface helped in the shaping of the sticky dough but I was a little too gentle degassing it so my flatbreads weren't particularly flat and my indentations disappeared.
The cooked flour-sugar paste, "roomal", spread on the dough before baking helped produce beautifully browned bread with a very thin crisp crust. The interior was chewy and the seeds added a delicious nuttiness. These were so good one of the breads was devoured practically straight out of the oven.

I will definitely be making this again but I think next time I'll use the stretch and fold method of developing gluten instead of trying to knead the dough. The recipe can be found here if you would like to try it.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bean and Mushroom Salad - Cookbook Countdown

I need to amend a comment I made in introducing A Girl and Her Greens, the book I'm cooking from this month for Cookbook Countdown. I referred to the varying degree of complexity or difficulty in making the recipes but I'm finding as I'm cooking that that really isn't the case at all. While it's true that some dishes take more time to complete than others, all are easy to execute. What I'm also noticing is that every part of a dish is given equal care and attention. If there's any complexity it's in the way the final flavour comes together.
For this Bean and Mushroom Salad, the parts were as follows:

  • Mushrooms that were first sautéed in batches then warmed through with cooked garlic and parsley and brightened with a bit of lemon juice.
  • Simple Beans and their garlicky liquor, a separate recipe made ahead, enriched with some sherry vinegar and cooked until glossy.
  • Sturdy greens dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

This was a fantastic salad! I've made similar which were tasty but the treatment of the beans made a huge difference here. We made a meal of it with some Nan-E Barbari from Hot Bread Kitchen (posted on Cookbook Countdown "BAKE"!).

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

Monday, July 4, 2016

Piri Piri Chicken with Slaw - IHCC On the Barbie!

Wow! Just wow! That was my family's reaction to Curtis Stone's Piri Piri Chicken with Slaw made for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme of barbecued food. And it was that good.
I love dishes like this, fuss free and loaded with flavour (and only moderate heat) thanks to the Portuguese Piri Piri sauce marinade for the chicken thighs, a mixture of 2 types of hot red chiles, garlic, and red wine vinegar that took just moments to blitz together. Next time I'm making a double batch of this sauce it's so good!!
And don't you love that Curtis usually includes recipes and suggestions for sides that take the guesswork out of meal planning? The cool and tangy lime-dressed cucumber and cabbage slaw and flatbread were tasty accompaniments to the hot and spicy BBQ chicken kebabs

Visit here to what else was on the barbie this week at IHCC.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto and Burrata (sort of) - Cookbook Countdown

A Girl and Her Greens written by April Bloomfield, award winning Michelin starred chef and restaurateur, is the book I'll be cooking from this month for Cookbook Countdown. The recipes are vegetable centric but not necessarily vegetarian and are of varying degrees of complexity, some quite simple while others require advance planning and time to complete multiple components.
I started with one of the simpler dishes, Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto and Burrata, from the "Top to Tail" chapter filled with recipes encouraging the use of all edible parts of the vegetable, in this case, the feathery green carrot tops as well as the root.
The intense sweetness of the young roasted carrots was offset nicely by the slightly bitter pesto, the rich crema di burrata (the creamy interior of burrata without the mozzarella shell that I bought by mistake) and the lemony carrot top fronds. We really enjoyed this dish and with more of the pesto in the freezer, it will definitely be made again.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray
It's a new month with new featured cookbooks and recipes to check out so be sure to stop by.