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Has anyone else felt like the time since Christmas to now has just flown by?? I don’t know if it’s the chilly nights, the snow… or the fact that I became addicted to a couple of television shows that monopolized my life for the past few weeks (but what a wonderful addiction you are Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire… sigh… ). But I need to get back to the Cook Along Book Club!
I know I last time I said I would be making 2 recipes from the Alice Water’s book – The Art of Simple Food. But like a bad student I’ve only finished 1/2 my homework! I’m going to put the pizza dough on the back burner for now and focus on the almonds.
They were pretty darn good.
The roasted almonds from page 216 were quick, easy and amazing. Toasting, salting and adding herbs to raw almonds may seem silly when you can buy them already seasoned, but just think of the possibilities! So many flavour combinations to try.
And the best part is that you are in charge of the salt and flavour components. Sick of ‘spicy’ nuts that aren’t really spicy – we can fix that! Tarragon your favourite herb??? You can add it!
I can’t say I’ll be doing this all the time (I’m lazy and I like almonds the way they are), but every now and then I’ll break this out for someone special.
My personal favourite combination?? Lime and black pepper. Ooohhh baby.
Next post will cover:
Tart and pie dough – page 174
Lemon Curd – page 199
See what I did there? A dessert – you *know* I’m going to make that. And soon. You can always bribe me with pie.
It’s not every day I fall totally in love with a cookbook – some take me months to warm up to. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt I am head over stiletto heels for The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. What a gem! I know… I’m probably preaching to the choir for most of you out there – but really. Wow. LOVE this book.
It’s not just the recipes – which of course are simple, pure and clean along with fantastically super amazing it turns out – but it is also the romantic nature with which Ms. Waters uses to talk about food and cooking in general. Just stellar.
My first venture into the book – dipping my toe so to speak – was a very easy recipe. In fact there weren’t even any ingredients listed. Just a page about root vegetables and roasting, page 114. Basically any fall and winter veggies, coated with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and you have a wonderful side dish. Easy peasy.
I started out with just some standards in my fridge.
Into a casserole dish with olive oil and salt and pepper…
And baked at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Truth be told I actually started cooking these, then got called away so I turned them off and finished them about 4 hours later. They were still amazing… for breakfast. Which is when I actually got around to eating them. It may not have been what Chef Waters had in mind when she wrote about roasting root vegetables - but it’s how I roll. Turnip for breakfast?? Why not?
The next recipe came from page 47 – Aioli.
You may have taken a look at the picture of the veggies to be roasted and saw a head of garlic. Which happened to be my only one in the apartment that day. Why yes I did roast the whole thing… and yes, I was supposed to leave some raw for the aioli – how astute of you dear reader.
Sigh… so my aioli turned into roasted garlic aioli. Which is still super tasty, but if you want a punch of garlic flavour you need to use raw – or double up on your garlic cloves.
I chose secret option #3 and added a little garlic powder to my finished aioli.
Way to be you tasty little roasted toes of garlic
I kept trying to tell myself to only make 1/2 a recipe, because as one person how much aioli do you need?? Luckily the rest of my body ignored my brain (nothing new there) and made the whole thing. Which I easily ate. Because, let’s face it, it’s mayo with garlic. Who isn’t going to eat all of it?
Make my current lunch feel lacking.
Next recipes to try out:
Pizza Dough, page 60
Roasted Almonds with herbs, page number to come… seriously – how did I forget to write that down?? Fail.
Roasted Almonds with herbs are on page 216
Alrighty then… it’s time for the results of Monday’s poll. Thanks so much to everyone who voted! Like I said before, all three books will be cooked from – but the order was up to you. From each book I’m going to do 5 posts with two recipes a post. So pick up a copy of the books and cook along – let me know how the recipes turned out for you!
The first book will be Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Cooking.
Second will be The Art of Living According to Joe Beef
And third is Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking.
The first two recipes will be:
Aioli, page 47 from her Starting from Scratch – Four Essential Sauces chapter
Roasted Vegetables, page 114 in Starting from Scratch – Into the Oven
Click to enlarge and truly enjoy my art.
All right ladies and gents – time to pick the next cook along book club book. The twist this time is that I actually plan to cook from all three, your votes will just decide in what order I do so!
Honestly I’ve been slipping lately – while I used to cook at least once a day I’ve been living off salad and cereal because it’s just so much easier. No more! Or at least… less! Yes – less of this behaviour! Hopefully diving into a new cook book will do just the trick.
So what will the next three books be??
Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Cooking
Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking
The Art of Living According to Joe Beef
Use the poll below to cast your ballot. I’ll take votes until the end of the week! In the meantime, I suggest you borrow or buy a copy of all three so that you can cook along with me and see if your experiences with the recipes are the same as mine. Or wait and see all the ridiculous mistakes I make and do the exact opposite (smart thinking, you!)
You wouldn’t think making fancy drinks and getting tipsy in the afternoon would be such a difficult task. But apparently for me it can get a bit tricky.
At least this time I went out and got some proper mixology equipment. Some. But don’t fool yourself. I’m still failing in epic fashion. Luckily the drink recipes in this fantastic book can handle a foolish girl who makes do with what she has rather than running out to get the proper equipment, because damn it, she just wants a drink.
First up – Bee’s Knees, page 59. I love the idea of a honey and lemon based drink. Such a tasty idea! I have a new found love of gin – which I know is like saying “Know what’s great? Oxygen.” I’m a touch behind the times.
I found the lemon to honey ratio a touch off – I think I’d like to see .5oz of lemon juice rather than .75oz. It was tasty, just a touch bitter and overpowered the gin flavour.
Next up was a Gimlet, page 131 – which is basically the exact same drink but lime instead of lemon and lime cordial instead of honey. Same issue as the other, a little bitter and not enough gin flavour for me (but then again I really would use any excuse to put a little more gin in my cocktail).
This did not last long.
The final drink was a Mint Julep, page 181. To tell the truth, I only made this drink because I thought it was going to be dessert like and make me feel like a Canadian girl version of a Southern gentleman. I always picture a guy who looks like Colonel Sanders ordering one of these. I was half right.
It wasn’t dessert like in anyway, though refreshing and delightfully minty with a strong bourbon flavour – I DID feel like a bit of a Southern gentleman.
Sigh… I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. But it’s true. I only had fish shaped ice cubes… Colonel Sanders would be so disappointed.
I love this book. It’s a great reference for cocktail making while being informative and funny. Wonderful addition to any foodie’s library. But I think it’s time to get back to cooking in this cook along book club! Next cook along book club post we’ll pick a new book. Until then, cheers!
I learned a few things going through these first few recipes in the PDT Cocktail Book:
1. I really don’t own any cocktail making equipment – as evident by the fact that I used a mason jar as my martini shaker. Hey, it worked.
2. A proper cocktail may have a few steps and ingredients, making it more complicated than opening a bottle of wine. But it can be well worth the effort.
3. As I learn and re-learn with each book I ‘cook’ through: Read the frigging recipe start to finish BEFORE you go shopping. Damn. Would have saved me two trips back to the store for mix. Sigh…
The first recipe I made for my brave taste tester and myself was the Daiquiri, page 103. A mix of rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Not your typical blender drink with strawberries, and dare I say, much much better. The perfect blend of sweet and bitter – this was a wonderful start to the night. It helps that I absolutely love the taste of rum – just takes me back to pretty much any tropical vacation I’ve ever taken. Fantastic.
Next up was the Manhattan, page 171. I didn’t have brandied cherries (and sure as hell wasn’t going back to the store a third time), so I made do with nectarines. I realize these have nothing what-so-ever to do with brandied cherries, but a sweet fruity garnish was exactly what this whiskey based drink needed. It’s pretty, kind of grown up and has a real kick. Very tasty.
Third was the Martini, page 173. I realized I’m not really a fan. While I enjoy gin and olives - this was just a little strong for me. I’m also not a fan of how the olives changed their flavour after even such a short time in the alcohol. I also realized that I don’t own skewers or toothpicks – luckily a meat thermomater and a chopstick can substitute nicely even if it isn’t pretty.
Finally, it came time to make and sample the Tom Collins, page 252. Gin and Lemon with simple syrup and club soda. So refreshing and went down so smooth. Perhaps too easily, but I’m not complaining.
The instructions are so easy to follow (provided you actually read them), the illustrations are playful and fun and the recipes are bang on. Let’s keep going!
Bee’s Knees, page 59
Gimlet, page 131
Mint Julep, page 181
It’s been a while, but a new place deserves some cocktails! While I’m at it I’m going to cross another one off my bucket list: Making something I normally purchase – cocktails! And I know just the book to help.
The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan is a complete bartender’s guide from one of the coolest speakeasy bars in New York. I’m going to start off with some of the classics. So pick yourself up a copy of this handy dandy bartending guide and mix along with me!
Daiquiri, page 103
Manhattan, page 171
Martini, page 173
Tom Collins, page 252
I think this will be my final post about cooking from the Bonne Femme Cookbook. Not that I am planning to stop cooking from it, just that there is only so many times you can rave about how scrumptious and simple these dishes are. Easy to make, easier to eat. They are so tasty and soul satisfying – I’ll be going back to this one for years to come.
This week I made:
Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque with Sweet Curry, page 75
Osso Bucco-Style Chicken Thighs, page 171
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Francese, page 226
One Bonne Started Salad, page 31
Let’s start with the soup and salad!
I’m constantly amazed with the depth of flavour that these recipes are able to achieve. The ingredients are really given a chance to shine and there is nothing more comforting than a nice meal of soup and salad, unless it’s paired with some fresh bread. The one thing that I have to say confused me was why this soup is called a bisque. That got me wondering why any soup was a bisque. So I took a look and apparently bisque’s are made with fish stock. One question answered… but I still don’t see how this was a bisque. Oh well I just call it yummy.
** Update: I guess if I say I’m going to also talk about the salad I should talk about the salad. It was so good it wiped my memory clean. Simple, clean and amazing. Everything a salad should be.
Butternut Squash Yummy with Sweet Holy Crap Curry
Next up the Osso Bucco-style Chicken Thighs. So tender, so flavourful so easy to make. The only small pet peeve of mine. I had made some beautiful crispy chicken skin at the start of the recipe, which of course added to the over all flavour of the whole dish, but then you braise the thighs so when you actually go to eat the skin, it’s slimy and not as appetizing. So I offer you a couple of suggestions. 1. Don’t get attached to the idea of eating the skin, and just take it off before you chow down, or 2. Take off the skin before you braise the thighs and save it like a weird food horder until it’s time to plate it up and serve.
I’m not even 100% sure the skin would stay crispy or un-eaten long enough for dinner if you use option 2.
Finally the Bolognese Francese – so good. So damn good. I loved this recipe! That is honestly all there is to say. Make this … you won’t regret it.
It’s like a hug on a plate.
Ok… one little thing to say – don’t use whole wheat pasta. The colour of the sauce on the brown pasta wouldn’t do justice to the amazingness you would be about to put into your mouth. So get a different kind – I went with spinach.
Next week I’ll announce my next book – any suggestions??
Time for another edition of: Why Can’t Jodi Read a Recipe?!?! It’s a mystery really. Though sometimes I make changes on purpose. It is a real testament to the Bonne Femme Cookbook that I am able to bastardize and play with Wini’s recipes and they still come out amazing. Imagine what they would be like if I learned to follow instructions… one can only dream.
Let’s start with the Walnut Gateau from page 346. I will start by saying that I never use a separate bowl for my wet and dry ingredients. Never. Does it harm my baked goods? Not that I can see. Does it make less dishes for me in the end. Yes. One bowl baking wins. So I basically followed the recipe word for word… minus the part about the separate bowls for wet and dry ingredients then mixing them together. Oh and I used a different shaped pan… because I like to be difficult.
It turned out really good. It’s a nice cake, not too sweet which I really enjoyed. We ate it with just a touch of powdered sugar on top – stellar. I didn’t even feel too unhealthy for having seconds. We brought the cake with us over the holidays to some friends we were having dinner with. Last time we went I brought a lemon pie. Our friends have a 2 year old daughter and when she had a bite of my lemon pie she started to cry. True story. I’m happy to report that the walnut cake went over much better.
If I had a stamp that said ‘Maya Approved’ I would put it right on this picture.
Next was the Poulet Pot Pie on page 218 that I changed just because I’m a bad ass. Actually it was because it was after Christmas and instead of Chicken left overs I, like 90% of others, had turkey. So it became a turkey pot pie. And honestly, it was one of the best pot pies I have ever made or eaten. And I’m actually a pretty big fan of pot pie. Pastry, gravy and meat? Hells yeah. This one was so simple I could cry and tasted better than 90% of ones I’ve eaten before. Maybe 95%. It’s so simple Hubs could make it… in fact I think he should *hint hint hubby*.
The thing I liked most about this pot pie was how light it felt. There were loads of veggies and while it was comforting I felt good for eating it. The only crust is the puff pastry on the top (a delish and time saving alternative to pie crust), so I think that helps.
The next dish I made this week was the Flank Steak with a Warm Sherry Vinegar and Garlic Vinaigrette. I’m not too proud to admit that I literally licked the frying pan that I made the sauce in after the steaks were cooked. It was cooled of course. I’m not that daft. But lick the pan I did. It was perfection – just the most amazing thing I have made from this cook book yet. I have yet to purchase Sherry Vinegar so this was actually a Sherry Wine and Garlic Vinaigrette… simply phenomenal.
Steak… I’m going to have your babies.
Well played cookbook – these three recipes are simply fab. Next week let’s cook:
Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque with Sweet Curry, page 75
Osso Bucco-Style Chicken Thighs, page 171
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Francese, page 226
One Bonne Started Salad, page 31
So this week I tasked me… and you since this is a cook along book club… with:
Beef Bourguignon, page 184
Any Night Baked Rice, page 239
Turnip Gratin, page 267
How were your results? Mine turned out pretty darn good. But if I had a tagline for this week’s recipes I would say: a dish too many. Let’s start with the Beef Bourguignon.
While tasty and tender and oh so good. I would not exactly call this simple. As a cook with out a dishwasher – by which I mean no machine to wash my dishes, hubs is normally tasked with it but too many pots and pans = a cranky hubby – asking me to use multiple bowls, pots, etc is tedious. And will more than likely result in me not following your directions exactly. Case in point the Beef Bourguignon. By the time I got to step 5 where it asks you to remove beef (aka dirty a slotted spoon and bowl) and reduce the pan juices to 2 cups (dirty a measuring cup) then in another small bowl whisk butter and flour together (another bowl and probably a fork or small whisk)… I gave up. Beef stayed in the pot, juices remained un measured (and as it turns out a bit too much) and butter and flour were added as is.
In the end I lived, hubby still complained about the amount of dishes, but agreed that it was darn tasty.
I served the Beef on the Any Night Baked Rice from page 239. Mistake. The rice was too good to be sauced up like that. If I’m going to put effort into making flavourful rice, I’d like to taste it. Once it was under the Bourguignon sauce, I might as well have just made white rice. That isn’t saying however that this rice isn’t great. It is. In fact it’s so good you will want to have it on its own. I just suggest making it when you are going to be eating it plain, and not under something else.
Finally came the Turnip Gratin from page 267. Another case of tasty… but too many damn dishes. I ended up skipping the last step. I made the turnip, added the cheese (which is a wonderful and unexpected delight) – at which time I had a pot, a masher a grater and a fork dirty. Enough. Adding the cheesy turnip mixture to a baking dish, then dirtying a dish for the bread crumbs and baking just seemed like too much effort. I can see how the crunch of the toasted bread crumbs would be wonderful with the turnip… but in every cooking session there comes a time when you look at your mountain of dirty dishes and proclaim the meal ‘good enough’. That point for me was after step two of the Turnip Gratin.
So what’s on deck for next week?
Walnut Gateau, page 346
Poulet Pot Pie, page 218
Flank Steak with Warm Sherry Vinegar and Garlic Vinaigrette, page 126