Posts tagged ‘recipe review’
Somehow, despite the fact that I’m still not working, life got kinda crazy last week. Also, I’m sometimes a really lazy blogger. I could write a whole post about that. But I won’t.
Even when I’m not posting, I am cooking. Here’s a brief look at what went down in my kitchen last week.
I never used to be a big fan of baking. Yes, I frequently made cookies and brownies and such, often from a mix, for my debate team kids, but I was often unhappy with the way they turned out. Suddenly I’m very into baking, which is fun but less than helpful when I really should be focusing on dinner. It would’ve been all okay last week if Smitten Kitchen hadn’t posted an incredibly tempting recipe for snickerdoodles. They looked too good. I had to make them. I’ve never even made snickerdoodles before…but I had to make these. (Poor Brian…he has to come home after work to hear my ramblings about why I *had* to make cookies…not that he’s complaining)
They were “totally awesome” (if you’re my sister, you’ll get that. Otherwise, I’m sorry). I would make more this week, but I have other plans for my oven. Highly, highly recommended.
Spicy Bean and Cheese Burritos
Another Rachael Ray recipe, I made some substitutions to her Spicy Bean and Cheese Burritos. I subbed vegetable broth for beer, because I’m too cheap to go buy beer just for one recipe. I also used canned chopped chilies instead of pickled jalapeños. The resulting burrito filling was this:
Definitely not bad, though not very spicy. We put the filling and cheese into whole wheat tortillas and attempted cooking them on my George Foreman grill.
Final analysis: The burritos were fine, though would’ve benefited from a bit more spice and crunchier tortillas. The lack of crunch was probably my fault and next time I’ll try cooking them in a skillet. However, Brian and I were fans of the whole wheat tortillas, which we’d never had before, so those will definitely reappear on a future shopping list.
This week, be prepared for recipes that involve baking and apples. Brian and I went apple picking on Saturday :)
As I’ve mentioned about a million times, Brian and I recently moved to a new apartment. I’d just like to share with you my old kitchen:
It was a shared kitchen/dining area, but as far as the kitchen’s concerned, that was it. All our appliances, dishes, bakeware, glasses, mugs, pots, pans AND food were kept in these cabinets. It was a little cozy.
This is my new kitchen:
More cabinets (though the perspective on this picture is a little difficult). Definitely more drawers. Lots more counter space. What’s that behind the door in the lower right corner?
Oh, it’s a pantry! A whole closet in which to store food (and my reusable shopping bags and apron collection)! Imagine that!
Needless to say, Brian and I (probably mostly me) are greatly enjoying our new kitchen. It’s nice to not have to empty out an entire cabinet to access what we need.
If you’re looking for something to cook in your kitchen, I highly recommend Curried Brown Rice with Tomatoes and Peas, as recently seen on Cheap Healthy Good. The dish was cheap and healthy and good, as expected, plus you can read about her worst date ever. I’d never made anything with brown rice before, but since it’s baked in the oven it’s pretty impossible to mess up. I used regular curry powder, since I’m too cheap to buy anything I don’t have to, and it still tasted great…though now I really want to try it with Madras curry. Brian and I don’t like peas, so I subsituted assorted frozen veggies for the peas.
Question: What’s vegetarian, easy and fast to make, apparently better than my gazpacho, only takes 2 steps and only needs 10 basic ingredients?
I’m really ready for fall, and thankfully it’s starting to feel like it around here. Nevertheless, it still seems a little early to be making soup (Brian and I have grand plans to spend the entire winter making and eating soups). Luckily, my free September 2009 issue of Food & Wine contained the perfect solution: “Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraîche”. The ingredient list is really simple: tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, vegetable broth, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, crème fraîche and tarragon. Chances are, you already have almost all of those ingredients.
Ultimately, I halved the recipe (which then ended up only getting us through last night because Brian and I both had two servings), omitted the salt and pepper (I like to leave out salt whenever possible, especially since my broth wasn’t low sodium) and substituted sour cream for crème fraîche, because my supermarkets don’t appear to carry it. And what was I going to do with leftover crème fraîche?
Brian and I both loved the soup, possibly even more than the gazpacho I made a few months ago. The flavor is really fresh and I’ll eat anything with tarragon in it. It’s a summer soup and not particularly hearty so I would recommend serving it as a side or getting a good loaf of bread to go with it.
My soup craving is satisfied for the moment…but I’m still looking forward to making “real soup” in the near future.
I spent too much of yesterday agonizing over a barbecue. It was my church’s women’s fellowship barbecue and, being new to the area and all, I really wanted to go. Attendees were supposed to bring their own meat to grill and something to share. First issue: I thought it was pretty silly to go to the store to buy meat and, more than likely, a roll, for a single person. I don’t have hamburgers (or turkey burgers, or veggie burgers, or hot dogs) in my freezer waiting for occasions like this. Nor do I want to. So I agonized over whether to go to the store so I would have something for the grill. Second issue: Then I debated over what to get-should I get meat? Veggie burgers? Vegetables to grill? When possible, I don’t like to introduce myself as “Emily the not-quite-but-almost-vegetarian”. If the conversation gets there then fine, but it’s not the point of my existence. So, really the whole debate was about what first impression I wanted to make.
In the end, I brought nothing but Mediterranean Salad (and I am getting to the part with the recipe). I hoped that no one would notice that I hadn’t brought anything for the grill. Know what? No one did. There were so many pasta salads and bean salads and fruit salads and Mexican dips that no one noticed that my full plate didn’t have anything from the grill or any meat. I had a really good time spending the evening conversing about things other than my eating habits.
What to bring to share was much easier for me to figure out. I knew right away what I wanted to make. Last year, before I was really into cooking, I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this Mediterranean Salad on Everyday Italian. It was a big hit at last night’s get together.
The dish contains Israeli/Mediterranean couscous, which I’ve found at food co-ops and Whole Foods It’s a small pasta, different from “normal” couscous. The recipe says any small pasta will work, but I’ve been so happy with the couscous that I’ve never tried it. Add in some broth,* garlic, lemon juice and zest, fresh mint, fresh basil and dried cranberries and it’s a delicious side salad (or meal, if I have my way). Check it out.
*Switch out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and this dish is vegetarian.
Last night for dinner I tried out another Rachael Ray recipe (seems like there’s been a lot of her, sorry). Creamy Pasta with Spinach and Fried Capers is a fine dish, but it needs some work.
The dish was, as promised, easy to make. The taste is pretty bland overall, though the capers add a nice kick when you get one. Next time I might add more capers and sauce (it’s creamy, but there’s not a lot to go around). Today, while heating up the leftovers it occurred to me what would really make this meal good: Sausage. Guess it’s a good thing I haven’t gone vegetarian yet.
Welcome to the newly improved Relishments…where cooking actually happens! Today will hopefully be the first of many recipes and recipe reviews to follow.
In an effort to find new vegetarian recipes to try out, I picked up my husband’s (and I guess now my) copy of The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash. The book is really useful because each chapter covers a different type of vegetable (everything from asparagus to turnips) and provides a wealth of background information about it ncluding yields, storage and hints. And of course, there are recipes, centered around the vegetables. I don’t know how I spent 6 weeks living with Brian without opening this cookbook. It’s definitely going to be a go-to in my kitchen.
I decided to try making “Red, White and Blue-Black Eggplant”, based on the appetizing photo and the fact that I really like all of the ingredients. By the time I was finished cooking, I’d made several alterations.
Striped Eggplant, Tomato and Cheese (serves 4)
1 medium eggplant
2 medium tomatoes, sliced thin
10 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices
2 onions, sliced
2 tsp dried basil
- Wash the eggplant. I peeled mine per Brian’s request, but the original recipe leaves the skin on, hence the “black-blue” in the original title. Cut the eggplant into slices about 2″ by 4″ by 1/2″ (this can be done by cutting the eggplant in half widthwise and slicing from there. Mine were pretty randomly sized, actually)
- Salt the eggplant (this is exactly what it sounds like: sprinkle salt on the eggplant. Don’t be embarassed, I had to look it up too). Place the eggplant in a colander for about half an hour. This removes the excess liquid from the eggplant.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Saute the onions in 2 tablespoons of oil for 7-10 minutes, until the onions are soft, but not brown. Place them on a plate.
- Use paper towels to pat the eggplant dry. Brown the eggplant in oil several pieces at a time using the pan from the onions.
- Lightly oil a 8×8 baking dish. Put half the onions and 1 tsp dried basil on the bottom of the dish.
- Layer the eggplant, tomato and cheese slices vertically in the pan, creating visible stripes.
- When the dish is full (and hopefully you’re out of ingredients), cover the stripes with the remainder of the onions and basil.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
This recipe was a little less simple to make than I expected. Besides the fact that the original recipe left me with a tomato and a half too much, it also seemed to require more dishes than should be necessary to create what is actually a pretty simple dish. It’s also a little messy to serve:
The end result was less pretty than the picture in the book (big surprise, I know) but tasted really good. It was a mess to serve and at first it appeared that there was a lot of liquid in the bottom of the dish. However, by the time we’d eaten the entire dish, the amount of juice it seemed more reasonable. The cheese and basil really helped make the dish for me and the amount of baking time left the eggplant super soft.
Eggplant is one of those vegetables that I’m satisfied for a while after just one meal, but I’d certainly make it again. This is a handy recipe to make for a group, just double the ingredients and use a 9×12 or larger pan.
I feel the need to explain what feels to me like the recent influx of Rachael Ray recipe reviews on this blog. Before I moved, I cut up over a year’s worth of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazines and filed the recipes I actually wanted to make in my recipe binder. Now the majority of the recipes in my binder are from Rachael. Though after last night, I’m less enthused about trying them.
Last night’s pick (because I have to keep my Man happy by serving meat once in a while…oh, and I like meat, too) was a 5 ingredient recipe for Coconut Curry Chicken. We both like coconut and curry, it sounded simple enough and so I opted to give it a try. It wasn’t difficult to make, and it looked pretty:
The taste, however, was lacking. By which I mean, it didn’t really have any taste. I know, it seems odd to say that a curry dish could have no taste, but my Man will back me up on this. It’s not that it was bad, per se, it just wasn’t good. It didn’t taste like curry. It didn’t taste like coconut. The recipe has 5 rave reviews, so either they’re crazy or I did something wrong (and despite a recent series of kitchen mistakes on my part, I think I made this one correctly).
We’ll be eating it again tonight, because there are still two servings left, but I don’t think I’ll be making this recipe again. Definitely going to search for a relatively simple, delicious curry recipe for the future.