What’s Cooking? – Jamie Oliver’s “Great Britain”

If you follow our blog then you will know by now that I love Jamie Oliver so I get excited when he puts out a new cookbook.  What I love about Jamie is his straight forward approach, use of fresh and in season ingredients and his enthusiasm for cooking REAL food.  Not all of his recipes are easy, quick or to my taste but that is true for all cookbooks. 

So let’s dive into Jamie’s latest,Great Britain.  This is his attempt to debunk the bad reputation of British food.  I have to say, my grandmother was British and she was an amazing cook but she never made anything weird (blood sausage – ugh!).  I started my adventure with the Cauliflower Cheese Soup with creamy stilton, bacon bits and country bread.  This was a very hearty soup, more like a stew and I really enjoyed it (my daughter, not so much).  The soup is like a cauliflower version of French onion soup with the bread layered in with the soup and  cheese.  This was great for a chilly evening.

My world was rocked when I came across the Empire Roast Chicken with Bombay roasties and amazing Indian gravy.  I love roasting whole chickens and this one was epic!  You rub the chicken with a mixture of Indian spices (garlic, coriander, turmeric, cumin, garam masala) and then roast it over a pan of more spices and broth that then becomes the gravy.  While the chicken is cooking you toss some par-boiled potatoes with herbs and spices and then roast them too.  If you like Indian food and you like roast chicken this is the best of both worlds. 

I rounded off my cookbook experiment with Early Autumn Cornish Pasties.  These are like pot pies without the dish or little envelopes of dinner.  You make a simple pie crust, separate it into 6 pieces and roll the pieces out into rounds.  You then pile a heap of filling (steak, squash, potato, onion, carrots, herbs) in the middle, fold it over and bake.  Served with a simple side salad you have a delicious meal that could also be portable.

Given more time I would probably make about 90% of the recipes in this cookbook, they all sound delicious.  However, I would make them over time because if the rest of the recipes are as time consuming as these three I will have to plan out my time appropriately.  In addition, the chicken recipe used every pan in the house and was a bit messy.  The recipe calls for putting the chicken directly on the oven grate and a pan on the shelf below.  To give you a true review, I followed the instructions but next time I believe I would just put a roasting pan rack directly on the pan so that I don’t have to clean my oven rack again.

Jamie has done it again.  Enjoy!

What’s Cooking? – THe Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ok, so I’m a few minutes late getting this out but I have a great excuse, I was cooking up a storm for this awesome cookbook.  Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa) has created a book filled with delicious and easy to make recipes. 

So what did I make you ask?  For breakfast I made her homemade granola.  I am a huge fan of yogurt and granola and this one does not disappoint.  Filled with sweet oats, crunchy nuts and tons of dried fruit this granola recipe is easy and delicious.  The only thing I would probably change is to leave the chopped dried fruit in a separate container to add to the granola upon eating so that the oats do not get stale from the moisture in the fruit.  This recipe is so delicious I think I ate 1/3 of it before it cooled.  This makes a ton of granola so you can think of other ways to use it then just for yogurt.  A few suggestions are put some in plastic bags to share with your friends, I love to add a scoop of granola to pancake batter, sprinkle some over baked apples.  So many options!

Next up on the menu was the rosemary white bean soup.  Now that the weather has turned chilly (I’m from Florida so I’m down right freezing about now) it is time to break out the soup recipes.  This one was easy, nourishing and delicious.  The description appealed to me because Ina says “it always reminds me of Tuscany”.  Having been there a few years ago I wanted to relive the memories through the scent and taste of this soup and it did not disappoint.  Served with some rustic bread (see my post 2 weeks ago) and a simple salad this meal makes a great lunch or light dinner.

To round out the day I made Indonesian ginger chicken.  Ina claims that if she doesn’t have this on hand in her store that Lauren Bacall gets cranky.  This is one of the simplest and most delicious baked chicken recipes I have made.  Combine honey, soy sauce, garlic and fresh ginger in a bag along with your chicken and marinate over night (I can never plan that far ahead so it still worked marinating for 4 hours).  When you are ready to cook just pop it into the oven and you are done.  My whole family at it, no complaints!

There are so many other wonderful recipes in this book I cannot recommend it enough.  In addition to the simple recipes to create meals for your family it offers great suggestions for creating party platters if you are hosting an event. 

Stop by the Bookshop and pick up a copy today!

What’s Cooking? – Deliciously G-Free

What is G-Free?  You may have heard this term before or maybe not.  G-Free stands for Gluten-Free.  Gluten is the protein found in wheat products, some oats and a few others grains that makes them gummy and gooey.  While some of us find this the part of baked goods that make them fabulous others cringe at the sound because gluten makes them terribly sick.  Many people have a mild gluten allergy which causes them to feel lethargic, have stomach cramps and other stomach issues.  This sounds bad enough, right?  Well, for people who have Celiac disease which is a digestive disorder characterized by a toxic reaction to gluten, the symptoms are even worse!

One of the most out spoken sufferers today is Elisabeth Hasselbeck (you might know her from “The View” or because she is married to quarterback Tim Hasselbeck).  Elisabeth suffers from Celiac disease and because of this she has had to learn to cook in a whole new way.  In her first bookThe G-Free Dietshe explains the gluten free lifestyle and how to avoid gluten free products.  In her follow up bookDeliciously G-Freeshe teaches us how to cook without gluten and still make delicious food that the whole family will love.

Since this is the end of the summer and it is still warm enough out for the BBQ I decided to try Elisabeth’s version of BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Red Cabbage Mango Slaw.  What I discovered with this recipe as well as most of the recipes in the book is that for the most part, the ingredients are the same as you would normally fix if you are cooking with whole foods (veggies, meat, whole grains).  Where you have to be careful is with the pre-packaged foods.  For example, this recipe calls for BBQ sauce.  It never occurred to me that BBQ sauce would have gluten in it.  The obvious ingredient in this recipe would be the bun or wrap because they are items typically made from wheat flour.

Elisabeth’s recipes are simple and tasty and many of them are a G-Free spin on the classics (spaghetti and meatballs, pot roast and mac & cheese).  If you are sensitive to gluten or are cooking for someone who is then this book would be a great resource to help you eliminate products that have gluten, like BBQ sauce.  If you do not need to be G-Free then I would probably recommend another cookbook for classic recipes.

What’s Cooking? – Moosewood Style

I just returned from the Fingerlakes of New York where I was delighted to be able to eat at one of my favorite places, The Moosewood Restaurant.  The Mooswood is located in Ithica and they have made a name for themselves in this college town by being a place to go if you want locally sourced, mostly vegetarian meals.  The lunch and dinner menu are different every day of the year and always filled with interesting and delicious options.

The Moosewood has also made a name for themselves around the world with their cookbook collection comprising over 12 cookbooks.  They have won a number of James Beard book awards.  I can personally speak for 8 of their books because I have them in my collection at home and cook from them frequently.

While the cookbooks are mostly vegetarian they do offer chapters on fish and seafood recipes.  If you are a new vegetarian or a carnivore wanting to make a veggie meal and wondering how to put a complete meal together, all of the recipes in the cookbooks give you menu suggestions.  If you are wanting to make the Greek Scampi (one of my all time favorites from theMoosewood Restaurant Cooks At Homecookbook) they suggest serving the scampi over rice, couscous or orzo with a side of steamed broccoli or asparagus.  They take all of the work out of planning complete meals!

If you are looking for a great cookbook to introduce you to vegetarian (or pesce-tarian) cooking or expand your current repertoire then stop by the Bookshop and pick up a Moosewoodcookbook.

What’s Cooking? “Cakelove in the Morning” by Warren Brown

I LOVE breakfast food.  My family LOVES breakfast food too.  I sometimes make breakfast-for-dinner because it is one of those events that brings everyone to the table without complaint.  When I opened up the new cookbook that arrived in the store last week I knew immediately what recipe I wanted to tell you about.  It combines all of the best foods in one place – bananas, bacon, chocolate and pancakes.  Yes, it is the “bacon-chocolate banana sandwich” recipe, the sandwich part being pancake.  I made them for the family this morning and there was not a scrap left!

The recipe is fairly simple, you can use their from scratch pancake recipe (which is amazing) or you can use your favorite box mix too.  You fry up some bacon, around here we love Wegman’s uncured bacon or if you are making them for somebody really special you have to pick up the bacon from the Classic Diner in Frazier, PA.  You crumble up the bacon into the pancake batter and then toss in some chocolate chips.  I prefer semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips.  You make the pancakes and set them aside and fry up the banana in a little butter so they get caramelized.  After that you put it together by placing the cooked bananas between two pancakes and drizzle with syrup. 

After enjoying all that you have to take a walk so that the guilt doesn’t overwhelm you.

This is just one of the many fabulous recipes inCakeLove in the Morning. There is a chapter on french toast, pancakes and waffles and includes special flavored butters, syrups and drizzles.  For a heartier breakfast check out the chapter on eggs, frittatas and quiches.  If you are a “breakfast on the run” kind of person there is a chapter on portable items like muffins, scones and biscuits.  If you have a special brunch planned you have to make something from the chapter on sticky breads, sticky buns and cakes.  They even throw in some savory recipes because not everyone likes sweets first thing in the morning (those people are crazy!).

CakeLove in the Morning is a wonderful cookbook for yourself or as a gift.  The pictures are mouth-wateringly beautiful and the recipes and special sections are filled with great tips.  It is one of those cookbooks that you will hand down through the generation because when you make and share something special you build memories with the ones you love.

And, if you are wanting that special someone to do something for you the chocolate-banana-bacon pancakes will do the trick!


What’s Cooking? “The New Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook”

This is my favorite wedding shower gift to give.  It is funny, sometimes shocking and definitely a conversation starter.  However, don’t let the name fool you because this is a GREAT cookbook!  I picked this cookbook up a few years ago to give a friend for a wedding shower gift and ended up getting a copy for myself too.  I have cooked a Valentine’s Day menu for my sweetie from this book as well as a casual nights dinner.  The photography is beautiful and the recipes are, for the most part, easy. 

The concept is that each chapter features an ingredient that has been known as an aphrodisiac.  There is a chapter on chocolate, strawberries, honey, oysters, flowers, figs, avocado and more.  Within the chapter is a beautiful picture of the ingredient highlighted on the human body like an asparagus skirt or a bath of black beans with a gorgeous pregnant belly popping out.  Each recipe has a short story of what makes that recipe or the ingredient sexy.  Even if the recipient does not cook this makes a beautiful coffee table book.

This was my Valentine’s Day menu:

Starter:  Oysters on the half shell with 3 preparations:  curried with chardonnay, Parmesan cheese and blue cheese

Main:  Grilled Scallops with basil and lavender essence over a simple salad

Dessert:  Chocolate fig bundles

This is my favorite meal of all time:  Sun-dried tomato and avocado fettuccine.  This has pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, walnuts, cilantro, avocado, bacon and a few other things all mixed in.  I could sit and eat the whole thing by myself!  Bacon and avocado – you cannot go wrong!  It is super simple to prepare too.

Stop by the Bookshop and check it out.  You will fall in love.