Ovenly (2nd ed), cookbook review

I haven’t had the pleasure yet of eating at NYC’s Ovenly bakeries.  My introduction to Ovenly was watching Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin, the founders, on Food52 making their accidentally vegan chocolate chip cookies (which I have made several times, and I like quite a bit).  I knew they had a cookbook but I never got around to reading a copy of it.

Well, that changes now!  Harper Collins was kind enough to send me a review copy of the 2nd edition, which is releasing today.  The second edition is updated and includes a few new recipes.  

The chapters are:

  • Essential tools and ingredients
  • Scones and biscuits
  • Quick breads and coffee cakes
  • Muffins
  • Cookies and shortbreads
  • Pies and tarts
  • Brownies and bars
  • Cakes and cupcakes
  • Baking for the holidays
  • Fillings, frostings, and sauces
  • Bar snacks
  • Bakeshop favorites

I believe that the new recipes are in the last chapter, so that’s

  • Lemon raspberry loaf
  • Apple oat muffins
  • Chewy ginger molasses cookies
  • Minty crinkle cookies
  • Hot chocolate cookies
  • Nutty toffee bars
  • Lemon lavender cake
  • Erin McDowell’s black bottom pecan pie

Since this book already exists in the wild, I thought I’d look up some of the poorer reviews online to see if they had any validity.  Here’s what I found:

“This wasn’t the cookbook that I had seen before. It was more of a “how to” lifestyle book for family life. With some recipes thrown in.”

Nope, this is definitely not a lifestyle book.  Unless your lifestyle heavily involves butter and sugar.  This is a cookbook through and through.

“I can’t imagine why a modern baking cookbook wouldn’t make weight rather than volume the standard measurements…I want a fair chance at success. This means weights. So I won’t buy a baking cookbook that doesn’t include weights for measurements and neither should you. I know I sound cranky, but there it is.”

Yes, you do sound cranky.  I like metric measurements too, but most of my cookbooks are from American writers and therefore do not have metric measurements.  It’s really not that big of a deal.  Maybe it’s because of the way I bake?  I tend to use grams for flour and sugar, but I’ll use volume measurements for nearly everything else.  (Hybrid method is where it’s at.)  Regardless, I’m not about to score a cookbook with one out of five stars because they went with American measurements.  What I will say is that the conversion chart at the beginning of the book is completely unhelpful if you want to convert the recipes.  Some ingredients in the book are listed in ounces so you can use the conversion chart to grams.  But the main ingredients in the book are in cups, and there’s no chart to tell you how to convert it.  

“Imagine my surprise when I gave Ovenly’s biscuit recipe a serious look. The recipe starts with 5 (FIVE!) cups of flour plus 21 tablespoons of butter (that is about 3/4 of a pound of butter!) to make a mere 8 biscuits! Just EIGHT!”

This review makes me laugh a little. Let me be honest up front and admit that I’m not great at making layered biscuits.  Having said that, I’m dying to try Fox In the Snow’s (aka Lauren Culley’s) recipe for biscuits.  I saw a video for it during quarantine, and it’s a behemoth.  And guess what?  It’s got 5 ½ cups of flour and 3 sticks of butter for 7-8 biscuits.  Professional baking is not like home baking.  Skimming through it, there is nothing wrong with the Ovenly biscuit recipe except that your body may hate you for consuming it.

I was originally planning to bake a recipe that someone said had failed, but I could not find a review that mentioned a specific recipe that didn’t work out.  So, for my test recipe, I’ve decided to make the Apple Oat Muffins because it’s from the Bakeshop Favorites chapter.  (But also, I really love muffins.)

The batter comes together pretty easily.  The recipe is vegan, and made with vegetable oil, almond milk, sugar, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, flour, rolled oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, lemon zest (optional), chunks of apples, and ideally puffed quinoa and turbinado sugar for the top.  I had to skip the topping because I didn’t have puffed quinoa.  There is a note that you can sub the puffed quinoa with more oats, but I didn’t have turbinado sugar either so I didn’t really see the point.  In the long run, it didn’t matter because I’m an idiot.

I made these first thing Saturday morning… and I initially forgot the apple chunks.  I know, I know!  How does one forget the apple in an apple muffin?!  I am not perfect.  Then, I made the executive decision to pull the muffins out of the oven, and push some apples in.  (Good thing I skipped that topping, yeah?)  A questionable life choice to be sure, but darn it!  I wanted apples in my muffin!  Despite my clumsiness, these muffins are really good.  10 out of 10, will make again.

Other recipes that I look forward to baking?

  • Strawberry basil loaf
  • Feta, basil, scallion muffins
  • Harvest muffins
  • Cinnamon and ancho chile brownies
  • Salty super dark chocolate brownies
  • Boozy fig blondies
  • Flourless chocolate cake
  • Hot chocolate cookies

If you like baking, I highly recommend this book.  If there was a recipe in the original edition that did not work out for you, let me know.  I can try to test it out from the new edition.  (Hopefully, not first thing in the morning so that I’m less likely to forget major ingredients.  Sigh.  I’m not going to let myself live this down for at least another month.)

Disclaimer – I kindly received a copy of this book from Harper Collins for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  

With COVID-19 still in effect, I’m trying to stay home as much as possible.  So pardon me if I choose to skip an ingredient or substitute it.

Reference Links:

https://www.foxinthesnow.com/more-fox-in-the-snow/

https://www.oven.ly/

https://www.instagram.com/ovenly/

https://www.harpercollins.com/

Happy New Year!

I meant to post this earlier but I was having technical issues. Anyway…

I thought it’d be fun to do a year in review, even though 2020 was basically a hot pile of garbage. But cooking-wise, it wasn’t so bad.

I discovered that I love the Basque style cheesecake. Even better, so does my family and it’s pretty easy to make gluten free.

It was also the year I revisited sourdough bread making. My previous attempts were too sour, lackluster, and generally ugly. I started by going to a cooking class with Eric Henning, and I learned a lot. But I was still making terrible looking loaves.

I discovered Bake with Jack and Foodgeek on Youtube shortly after my cooking class, and now my bakes are much cuter.

Self-quarantine started two months after that. My days were soon filled with trying to clean out my freezer, and experimenting with recipes that I normally might have been too lazy to make.

I was feeling pretty good about my cooking skills.

And then I ended up with tenosynovitis in my dominant hand. Cooking really suffered after that. I tried my best to cook with short cuts or minimal ingredients. On occasion, I’d try something more interesting.

I discovered a deep appreciation for the creative minds of Chef Stephanie Izard and Chef Lucas Sin.

And I closed the year off with lots of delicious BBQ from a local chain.

Here’s hoping that my hand/wrist continues to heal in 2021, and there will be a lot of successful cooking. I also dearly hope that I can sit down to a delicious meal, in person, with my favorite people. May 2021 go well for you too.

Reference Links:

Foodgeek – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7eLtGAzNECUqurqMdiNYJg

Bake With Jack – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTVR5DSxWPpAVI8TzaaXRqQ

https://www.instagram.com/lucas.sin/

https://www.goldbelly.com/girl-and-the-goat?ref=search

Nom Wah cookbook review

I love dim sum.  In the “before times” (as my friends refer to life before COVID-19), I didn’t actually go that often, maybe a handful of times during the year.  And since COVID, I haven’t been at all, not even for take out.  “The Nom Wah Cookbook: recipes and stories from 100 years at New York City’s iconic dim sum restaurant,” by Wilson Tang with Joshua David Stein, helps to fill the dumpling shaped void in my life.

I have not been to Nom Wah (but I’ve walked past it during my visit to NYC last year) so I can’t speak to the brick and mortar location.  But I am having fun reading its cookbook.  It’s a blend of traditional recipes, untraditional recipes, and an ode to the faces of NYC’s Chinatown.  So far, this book is proving to be one of the very few cookbooks that I am interested enough to read through from start to finish.  I’m not done yet, but I’m enjoying the stories that are included so far.  (There’s even a story from Paul Eng/Fong On tofu store.  You might recognize him from a Buzzfeed Tasty video published at the beginning of this year.)

The main chapters are:

  • Bao
  • Dumplings
  • Rolls
  • Cakes
  • Rice
  • Noodles
  • Balls
  • Chef’s Specials
  • Feast
  • Vegetables
  • Desserts

Things I want to make:

  • Mantao (with EBTB seasoning)
  • House Special Roast Pork Buns
  • Pork Master Filling
  • Shrimp Master Filling
  • Sweet Potato Kale Wontons
  • OG Egg Rolls
  • Turnip Cakes
  • Taro Hash Cakes
  • Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage
  • Garlic Eggplant Noodles
  • Stuffed Eggplant
  • Cantonese-styled Taro and Pork Belly Casserole
  • Steamed Red Bean Buns

In terms of recipe testing, I was really limited with what I could make.  The one day I made it to Hmart, it was really busy.  There were a lot of customers which made it hard for me to keep the COVID 6 feet distance, some things were hard to find, some things were sold out.  And there were lots of boxes around as employees tried to restock.  Honestly, I found it very stressful.

But that’s ok!  Because the recipe I ended up making was still one that I wanted to make.  I made a half batch of the shiitake mushrooms and lettuce recipe.  It was very simple to put together, just needed patience.  You rehydrate your mushrooms, and make a braising liquid from garlic, ginger, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sugar, black pepper, and Shaoxing wine.  It braises for an hour.  You lightly boil some iceberg lettuce, and then you assemble. 

Flavor-wise, I loved everything about this dish.  (Although, I was admittedly a bit heavy handed on the black pepper.  Ooops.)  It definitely reminded me of the banquets my mom would force me to attend as a child. The only thing I can’t figure out… is why my dish looked nothing like the photo.  lol!  I know the photo has been stylized and enhanced, but my results were very dark and not nearly as glazed.  I re-read the instructions three times as it was cooking to see if I had missed something, or gotten something wrong.  I really couldn’t figure it out.  But like I said, it was quite tasty so I don’t think I did anything wrong.  It might be something as simple as the quality of ingredients were different.

If you’re in quarantine and missing dim sum as much as I am, go pick up this book!  I just hope you have better luck getting ingredients than I did.  There’s so much more I want to make.  I might break down and try some substitutions and ingredient omissions.  For now though, I guess I’ll just finish reading all the interviews and imagine that I’m hanging out in NYC.

Disclaimer – I kindly received a preview from Ecco (an imprint of Harpers Collins) for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  

With COVID-19 stats increasing again in Massachusetts, my shopping options were limited.  I apologize that I could not recipe-test better.  

Reference Links:

https://nomwah.com/

https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-nom-wah-cookbook-wilson-tangjoshua-david-stein?variant=32208084205602

https://youtu.be/zPwX5Fj08Oc
(the Paul Eng Tasty video)

The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook, a cookbook review

There’s quite the fascination online for minimal ingredient cooking, don’t you agree? If you’re unsure, you can navigate to Youtube and search for “3 ingredient recipes” or “5 ingredient recipes.” You’ll get quite the bevy of results! Even Food52 has a series called “Big Little Recipes” where the featured recipes typically only have 3-4 ingredients.

Cookbook author Toby Amidor tries her hand at it with her latest book release “The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook: 100 Fast and Easy Recipes for Everyone.” If you’re the type of person who is painfully, overly concerned with details, then none of these recipes are 3 ingredients. Pantry items of oil, salt, pepper, and water do not get counted. This is a guideline that I personally agree with. At every level of my cooking journey, I was using these very basic ingredients. Do you have to use pepper? No, and I don’t always use it. However, if you don’t have access to other spices, fresh black pepper can go a long way.

The chapter breakdown is:

  • Cooking Basics Using 3 Ingredients
  • Cooking Tips for When You’re in a Hurry
  • Smoothies and Breakfasts
  • Snacks, Sweets, and Treats
  • Soups and Salads
  • Lunches
  • Dinners
  • Vegetables and Grain Sides

A feature that I like is that all recipes are developed for 4 or 6 servings, but there’s a section for halved and double quantities printed so that you can easily scale up or down without doing it in your head or on paper.

Here are the recipes that I’ll be making in the future:

  • Lox scramble
  • Pumpkin oat pancakes
  • Black bean dip
  • Mini blueberry oat cups
  • Chocolate truffles
  • Chunky black bean soup
  • Chicken and rice bowl with vegetables
  • Thyme poached halibut
  • Lemon garlic shrimp
  • Ziti with turkey bolognese
  • Rosemary garlic pork loin
  • Barley with peas and carrots
  • Brown rice with mushrooms

There are a few recipes that felt a little like filler to me like the ricotta toast and the avocado toast with tomato, but I suppose that is bound to happen with most cookbooks.

I started off by making roasted grapes and yogurt because I really enjoy having a serving of Fage Greek yogurt for breakfast. (This is not an ad. Fage is the only commercial Greek yogurt I am willing to eat.) I also like roasted grapes but never remember to make them. I thought it’d be nice to change up my yogurt toppings as I’m often using cinnamon, granola, or even no toppings at all. Results? Thumbs up for me. It’s simply grapes, honey, oil, and yogurt, but I think you could easily skip the honey if you want. (Grapes are sweet anyway.) Since I was fairly sure I would like this, I went ahead and made the double batch. No regrets.

The second recipe I made was potato soup, made from potatoes, onion, broth, oil, salt, and pepper. I did make a substitution here but a minor one. I’m suffering from tenosynovitis in my dominant hand right now, which makes holding a knife somewhat difficult so I went ahead and used frozen shredded potatoes meant for hash. What I liked best is that this recipe is a great reminder that something simple can still be good. If you’re feeling like you want to add to it, you could easily throw in some cooked meat or some frozen veggies.

The third recipe I made was the roasted sweet potato-chickpea bowl. This recipe used sweet potatoes, canned chickpeas, tahini, salt, pepper, and oil. Out of the three recipes I made, this was my least favorite, only because I found the flavor to be a little dull. I am, for better or for worse, one of those people who think tahini is overused. There are applications that I really like it in, which is why I often have a jar in my kitchen, but this wasn’t it. But I’m not saying it was bad. I strongly think this recipe would benefit from even just one extra ingredient. I think the next time I make it, I’ll try adding some za’atar or some other spice to add a bit more oomph. Maybe? Hopefully? That is all it needs. Regardless, I think it’s a good option for a meatless meal. It’s also easy to make/pack for work lunches.

I enjoyed Amidor’s previous book, “The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook,” and I like this release as well so far. I find the simplicity of this book inspirational while I try to cook around my wrist pain. (Going forward, I’ll probably add one or two more ingredients than what’s published – mainly spices or veggies – but nothing much more.) This is such a great resource for people in my situation but also for new cooks, and for anyone who hates cooking but wants to cook more for health/cost reasons. It doesn’t require a huge pantry. It doesn’t require a lot of money. It doesn’t require any specialty pans. If this sounds appealing to you in any way, check out Amidor’s book when it comes out next week.

Disclaimer – I kindly received a preview from Robert Rose for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

Reference Links:

http://www.robertrose.ca/
https://tobyamidornutrition.com/

Live Life Deliciously cookbook review

For all the recipe searches I do, I’m always surprised when I come across a cookbook author I don’t recognize and said person has an impressive portfolio.  Case in point, Tara Teaspoon is coming out with a new cookbook, “Live Life Deliciously”, in October.  She used to work for Martha Stewart, and I either don’t remember her or completely missed her tenure there.

Screen Shot 2020-08-30 at 1.03.29 PM

The book has a fair mix between familiar favorites (hello, yogurt marinated grilled chicken), and recipes that seem more refreshing.  At first, I wasn’t very impressed because I’m tired of those recipes I’m already familiar with.

The booked is divided into:

  • The chapters at work
  • New pantry staples
  • The right equipment
  • Bites, dips, and snacks
  • Salads, bowls, and dressings
  • Side love
  • Weeknight routines
  • Flavor-inspired dinners
  • Meals for gathering
  • Morning glories
  • Sweets to share

Here are the recipes that I’m personally interested in:

  • Tex-mex queso dip
  • Mile high buttermilk biscuits
  • Raspberry balsamic vinaigrette
  • Tangy tomato vinaigrette
  • Grilled pineapple and coconut rice
  • Ultimate steak rub
  • Jalapeno cornmeal waffles with carnitas and crema
  • Patsy’s pepperoni pizza pasta with ricotta
  • Savory romesco and almond tart
  • Whole wheat pancakes
  • Vanilla bean buttermilk syrup
  • Slow cooker almond and whole grain cereal
  • Pistachio cake with yogurt and citrus
  • Walnut cake with maple cream cheese frosting

I wasn’t sure what to cook out of this book.  Maybe it’s because when the book showed up at my house, Boston was in the middle of a heatwave so I wasn’t feeling strongly opinionated about anything.  I probably mulled over recipes for a good two weeks before I finally put myself to work.

Eventually, I picked out recipes based on what I happened to bring home from the market.  I made the New York Focaccia Sandwich which in turn has three recipe components: the Parmesan and Herb White Bean Dip, the Oven-Roasted Plum Tomatoes, and the Ultimate Focaccia recipe.  To make this a less insane cooking project, I made the recipes over a few days.

The tomatoes came first, and were pretty straight forward.  I cut and seasoned some plum tomatoes with oil, salt, black pepper, and dried oregano.  Then I slow roasted in the oven.  Easy peasy.  

 

View this post on Instagram

Oven roasted tomatoes

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The bean dip was a little more intensive, but still easy to execute.  I was instructed to cook some white beans with baking soda to soften.  Then I processed the beans with garlic, salt, ground coriander, olive oil, sherry vinegar (it should be lemon juice but I did not have lemons on hand), cheese, and fresh thyme into a puree.  It was the first time I’ve ever made a bean dip at home, and it was a bit of a revelation.  

 

I think it was the flavor combo that really sold me.  To me, the ground coriander was the strongest flavor, and I never considered using it with white beans and cheese before.  I was surprisingly impressed.

Now comes the hiccup.  I messed up the focaccia.  It was totally me and not the recipe.  I scaled it down and then gravely misjudged how well the yeast was rising.  (It’s also possible I used the wrong yeast measurement.)  When all is said and done, I should have let the final rise go longer, and not use the printed timing.  BUT!  I want to say that there is one thing about the recipe that I didn’t really understand – the step about oil.  When you first mix the dough per the instructions, there’s no oil in it.  Maybe Tara is going for an autolyse step without calling it autolyse?  I’m not sure.  It’s only after the first 30 minutes of rise time have passed that you are instructed to add a tablespoon of oil.  As far as I can tell, it basically gets folded in.  I’ve made focaccia before, and oil is usually mixed in at the same time as the other ingredients.  (Note – I’m talking about oil as an ingredient, and not the oil that you use on the pan during cooking.

 

But since I failed spectacularly on the bread, I ended up using some store-bought bread that I had stored in the freezer for sandwich construction.

 

I loved this sandwich.  All I could think was, “why don’t I make sandwiches like this more often?”  (Eh, probably because of the amount of time involved.)  It’s easy to scale down the bean dip and the roasted tomatoes if you want.  Personally, I thought the roasted tomatoes themselves made a good side for other meals, so I wouldn’t scale it down too much.  The bean dip, on the other hand, is really easy to cut in half.  In fact, I recommend doing so unless you’re making this for company.  

I felt so bad about messing up the focaccia that I decided to make the Garlic and Sumac Roasted Broccoli with Sweet Dates to redeem myself.  

 

I also liked this.  It reminded me that I should add dried fruit to my roasted vegetables more often.

Honestly, my overall results made me like this cookbook better than I thought I was going to.  I thoroughly enjoyed how things turned out.  Another thing that I like is that most of the recipes have a reasonable size ingredient list.  I think a lot of the recipes will be fun to make when Fall comes around and the temperatures inspire me to be in the kitchen more. 10/10 will make again.  

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received a preview from Shadow Mountain for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  

With COVID-19 still in effect, my scope of recipe-testing might be limited.  Even though Massachusetts is doing a great job fighting against COVID-19, I’m still trying to stay home as much as possible.  So if I’m missing an ingredient on cooking day, I will substitute it.

 

Reference Links:

https://tarateaspoon.com/turkey-wraps-white-bean-spread/

(This is not the same recipe as the one in the cook but it is similar.)

https://tarateaspoon.com/

https://shadowmountain.com/ 

https://tarateaspoon.com/live-life-deliciously-cookbook/

(book is set to be released Oct. 6, 2020)

Unofficial Slow Cooker Summer Challenge

For the last couple of weeks in the Boston area, it’s been a little hot and a little humid.  It hasn’t been bad enough to be considered a heat wave.  When I take my late evening walks, it’s actually quite comfortable.

But when it’s that time of day to cook a meal, the stove is the last thing I want to use.  This makes me a little sad as making soups and baking things in the oven tends to be my default cooking style.

(Grilling is not something I’ve done on my own.  However, I’m determined to change that this year.  I’ve dug out an old charcoal grill left by a previous housemate that I will finally clean out and use.)

So, I’ve been playing with my slow cooker some more and I’m going to try using it as my main cooking method this summer.  I might as well.  I’ll be working from home for the rest of the summer (and likely for the rest of the year).

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

I’ve done a sweet Italian sausage/tomato sauce/bell pepper recipe.  Most of this batch went to some friends, but I kept what I couldn’t fit in the container.  It was pretty good, and something I’d like to re-visit with some changes.  While I like Italian sausages, I am health conscious, and try not to eat a lot of sausages in general.  (Having said that, I do several pre-cooked sausages in my freezer right now because I can’t afford to be picky shopping during a pandemic.)  I think the next version will be to make my own meatballs and cook in the same sauce.

Quick breads actually do pretty well in a slow cooker.  The cornbread in the photo was a slow cooker recipe.  And this weekend, I made my favorite sourdough discard banana bread in the machine – it was delicious.

If you’d like to make my sourdough discard banana bread, take a 6 quart slow cooker and line it with parchment.  Drop the whole batter in.  Cook on high for 2 hours, with a tea towel lining the lid.  The towel makes a huge difference for making baked goods in a slow cooker.  It keeps any condensation from falling onto your product.

I’ve actually been slowly working on a rotisserie-style chicken in a slow cooker for the past year.  I think I’m finally getting the hang out it.

I have a lot chicken bones in the freezer waiting to be turned into stock.  I think I’ll try my sourdough recipe in the slow cooker (yes, the texture will be altered COMPLETELY but if it still yields a tasty bread, I won’t complain).  I’ll have to figure out a good vegetable side dish to make because I don’t always want a salad even though it’s the summer.  I will NOT be braising any cabbage though.  It’s fine in the colder weather but the one time I made braised cabbage in the summer, several flies found their way into my apartment.  I think that’s the one downside of slow cooking in the summer.  Flies will find their way to you depending on what you’re cooking.  The last two times I made chicken, a fly found its way into the house (although, one fly is still better than the several from the cabbage round).

I’ll also take this opportunity to revisit cookbooks I have (Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker and The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers), but I’ll probably draw most of my inspiration from whatever I have available.

I guess we’ll see how it goes.

In case you missed it, my favorite banana bread recipe can be found here:

https://awesomesauceeats.wordpress.com/2020/05/13/how-to-stop-wasting-flour/

Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook, a book review

Did you know the average rotisserie chicken has 4 cups of meat on it?  This is a thing I learned from “The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook” by Toby Amidor.  I think it’s a fun cookbook.  The whole premise is focused on buying a rotisserie chicken, breaking it down, and using it for a variety of recipes.  Some of the recipes seem obvious, while others are recipes I would have never thought of.

Every recipe has a key for less than 5 ingredients, 15 min or less, freezer friendly, meal prep, and/or or one pot/pan.  Depending on your cooking style, this is really handy information.  The breakfast, appetizers, and snack recipes come in a variety of serving sizes, but it seems like all of the entree recipes are made to serve 4, so it’s fairly easy to reduce the serving size to 2 if need be.

The chapter breakdown is:

  • Breakfast
  • Appetizers and snacks
  • Soups and sandwiches
  • Salads
  • Easy Mains
  • Even easier mains
  • Everyday sides
  • Dressings, sauces, and condiments

 

Things to I want to try:

  • Not Your Mama’s Chicken and Waffles
  • Simple Cassoulet Soup
  • Mulligatawny soup
  • Grilled apple, gouda, and chicken panini
  • Cajun chicken melt
  • Loaded chicken pasta salad
  • Brussels sprouts salad with chicken, cranberries, and pecans
  • Chicken parmesan casserole
  • Chicken and mushroom baked risotto
  • Easy chicken and sausage paella
  • Garlic smothered chicken
  • Chicken loaf
  • White bean and chicken chili
  • Herbed chicken meatballs
  • Skillet balsamic chicken
  • Cranberry almond farro (from the sides chapter)

 

The biggest challenges I had with this book?  I only had about a cup of chicken with which I could use for recipe testing, and I had to cook from my pantry.  (My location is under quarantine advisory at the time of working on this post.)  That’s pretty much it.  The recipes themselves all seem friendly for everyday cooking, and nothing looks intimidating.

 

There were a handful of recipes that fit my ingredient restrictions, but in the end, I kept coming back to Amidor’s recipe for chicken almond soup.  The published recipe calls for slivered almonds, chicken broth, almond butter, oil, leek, butter, flour, rotisserie chicken, frozen peas, unseasoned rice vinegar, dried tarragon, dried thyme, salt, and pepper.  I had to forgo the slivered almonds.  Then, I made two minor substitutions.  I used onion instead of leek.  I technically ran out of thyme and tarragon, so I used an equal amount of herbs de Provence, since it has both thyme and tarragon in the blend. 

I loved how easily this came together.  It also smelled really good while cooking.  The almond flavor is subtle but complements the herbs.  I imagine that if you didn’t want to use chicken, you can easily use cannellini beans instead.  Button mushrooms might work well too, but I think cremini or portobello might be too distinctive for this recipe.

Oooh, this might work lovely as a side dish if you omit the chicken completely and add something like butter lettuce.  (Yes, I cook my lettuce sometimes.  In the right applications, it’s delicious.)

But even as I’m pondering chicken substitutions, I love the recipe as is.  The chicken almond soup is going into my cooking repertoire.  I just want to let you know that even if you’re not a fan of eating chicken, you don’t need to disregard this book.  The recipes all sound flexible.

I’m already looking forward to getting my hands on more chicken.  It doesn’t have to be rotisserie chicken from the store either.  Honestly, I’m in a mood where I want to roast whole chickens at home.  And as the weather gets warmer in New England, I’ll probably pull out my slow cooker instead.  But as I’m a regular meal prepper, I expect to get a lot of use out of this book.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Previously, I was unfamiliar with Toby Amidor, but she’s written five cookbooks already, two of which are meal prep books.  “The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook” is her sixth.  I guess I have more reading to do in the near future!

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received a preview from Robert Rose for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  

With COVID-19 self-quarantine in effect, my scope of recipe-testing was limited.  Some modifications may have been made.  I apologize that I could not recipe-test better.  

 

 

Reference Links:

http://www.robertrose.ca/

https://tobyamidornutrition.com/ 

http://www.robertrose.ca/book/best-rotisserie-chicken-cookbook-over-100-tasty-recipes-using-store-bought-bird 

Weekend interlude

For anyone not following my IG, I’m experimenting with making dosa for the first time.

I saw the Bon Appetit video where Sohla and Brad make some, and realized that I technically had all the ingredients.  In fact, I have a lot of rice and lentils, courtesy of my grandmother.  So, this might be a regular thing I do during quarantine.

I’m working on cleaning out my pantry, so this batch is purple because some black rice was used.  I’m not mad at it.  🙂

Reference Link:

https://www.seriouseats.com/2018/05/a-dosa-delicious-how-to-make-the-savory-south-asian-crepes-your-own.html

 

How to Stop Wasting Flour

How to Stop Wasting Flour (when making sourdoughs)

This is something that’s been bothering me since the beginning of quarantine when everyone couldn’t find yeast to buy and started their own sourdough projects. So much so that I felt a need to write about it.  People are making a sizeable quantity of sourdough starter and then throwing away the discard because they’re following a recipe exactly.  Or getting so overwhelmed by discard that they give up making sourdough completely.

So, there’s the obvious solution – googling recipes for sourdough discard.  This is fine.  This is great!  I do it all the time.  But there are still a couple of suggestions I have that further stretch your sourdough discard, and you’ll have no waste at all.

 

Suggestion #1 – Stop being pedantic

The world of sourdough is a lot more flexible than you realize.  If you don’t want to do the experimentation, there’s a good chance someone has already done it for you and even documented it on the internet.  

For example, I love the Foodgeek Youtube channel.  He often posts experiments that I hadn’t realized I needed answers to.

 

 

Suggestion #2 – Make less starter

The recipe I was originally given makes 400g of starter, and the bread recipe needs 160g of starter.  It’s a lot more starter than I need for one loaf of bread.  So, if I’m going to make a loaf of bread, I only make 200g of starter.  And that gives me 40g of starter to seed my next loaf.  Realistically, I only make bread about once a month.  I feed my starter every week and store in the fridge between feedings because that’s the flavor I like best.  So, if I’m not planning to make bread, I only keep 100g of starter on hand.  That’s 300g of flour and water that I am not wasting.

Another Youtube channel I like is Bake with Jack.  Jack prefers to use the “scrapings” of his starter which would mean no discard at all.  I don’t trust myself to do this but I’m also not making bread regularly enough for this method.  But you do you.

 

Suggestion #3 – Freeze your discard

This has been game changing for me.

If I’m keeping 100g of starter on hand and only need 10g of starter for each feeding session, I still have 90g of starter that becomes the discard.  Guess what?  I freeze it.  I have a spare jar where I’ve marked where 1 cup is.  Every time I have discard, I’ll stir to knock out the extra air, and place it in my discard jar.  This jar lives in the freezer.  When I accumulate 1 cup of starter, I can then make my favorite sourdough banana bread recipe.  It takes me about 4 weeks to build up 1 cup of discard.  This way, I don’t get annoyed at feeding my sourdough starter.  And I don’t get tired of making sourdough bread, or making any recipe using discard.  

You don’t have to make banana bread.  In general, the discard recipes I’ve seen use .5 cup, 1 cup, or 1.5 cups of discard.  I say make markings for all three on your discard jar if the jar doesn’t come with its own volume markings, and then bake with the discard whenever you see fit.  If you have a favorite recipe using discard, then just tailor your freezer storage around it.  

And bonus, if anything should happen to your starter, you will always have a backup plan safely stored in the freezer.

 

View this post on Instagram

Sourdough banana bread ☺

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

 

On that note, here’s my favorite banana bread recipe…

  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ c oil of choice (I use avocado oil for its mild flavor) 
  • 3 large ripe bananas (does not need to be fully ripe with a black peel, and you can even use under-ripe if needed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c sourdough starter (thawed if previously frozen)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ c unbleached all purpose flour  
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 6 Tbsp chocolate chips, semi-sweet or dark

 

In a mixer, beat your egg and bananas.  If your bananas were slightly under-ripe, let this sit for 30 minutes.  Why?  I learned from Stella Parks that there is an enzymatic reaction where egg yolks will convert starches into sugar thereby ripening your banana for you.*  So I now like to make this my first step.  You don’t have to use a mixer, you can do this by hand but I like how well the mixer mashes the bananas for me.

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Prep a loaf pan.  I will usually use a piece of parchment inside a 9×5 loaf pan.  You could use butter or non-stick spray.  You can probably use a slightly smaller loaf pan if that’s all you have.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Mix in the sugar and oil into the banana mixture.  Then mix in the vanilla.  Mix in half of the sourdough discard.  When it’s mixed in, add the other half and mix.

Add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  When it’s almost combined, turn the mixer off and switch to a spoon/spatula.  Add in the nuts and chocolate chips, and handmix until combined.

Bake this for about 60 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely, and then serve.

* = https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/how-to-rapidly-ripen-a-banana-without-baking.html

 

Please note, this post is about sourdough discard from a starter that is past its infancy stage.  I have not fermented my own starter completely from scratch.  All the sourdough starters that I’ve worked with was discard from an existing starter, and I was just perpetuating it.

I hope you find this post to be helpful.  Let me know what you think or if you have a favorite sourdough discard recipe that I should try out.

Healthy Eats, a cookbook review

“Healthy Eats” is the latest cookbook from Six Sisters’ Stuff.  I’ve reviewed one of their books before, with some mixed feelings.  I loved their pulled pork recipe, but wasn’t into the amount of pre-made stuff being employed.  (To be fair, the book was called “Six Ingredients”, and cooks often have to cheat an ingredient to get the best flavor when they’re not working with much.)  Since healthy eating is a different concept than minimal ingredients, I was curious about the contents of this new book.

Chapter breakdown is much like their previous book:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Main Dishes
  • Side Dishes
  • Snacks and Desserts

 

Things to I’d like to try:

  • Hearty breakfast cookies
  • Red potato turkey bacon bake
  • Protein packed egg salad sandwiches
  • Shredded beef and sweet potato tacos
  • Honey lime grilled chicken
  • Avocado sour cream
  • Salisbury steak meatballs
  • Garlic lime sweet potato fries
  • Healthy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
  • Skinny frozen strawberry bites
  • Flourless banana bread

 

Initial impression?  The recipes are straight-forward.  Most of the ingredient lists are 8 ingredients total.  Some are more.  Some are much less.  None of the recipes are exotic, all are fairly familiar North American fare.  In fact my mom, who is an excellent home cook but not very adventurous, really liked the look of the recipes here whereas she’s shown much less interest in some of my other cookbooks.

Since my location is still under self-isolation/quarantine advisory, I was limited at what I could recipe test with little to no changes.

The original recipe I picked out was the egg rolls in a bowl.  Ingredients consist of sesame oil, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, ground chicken, black pepper, coleslaw mix, and scallions.  I didn’t have coleslaw mix per se, but I had green cabbage.  And honestly, coleslaw mix is mostly cabbage with some carrots.  Not a major ingredient replacement in my opinion.

How did it turn out?  Initially under-seasoned.  I also thought the cooking instructions were odd.  I like the idea that you make the sauce directly in the pan, and then add the meat but the recipe has you cook the ground chicken on low for about 12 minutes.  And then you add the veggies and cook for about 3 minutes more.  That is overcooked chicken in my opinion.  I added my cabbage earlier.  However, that wasn’t enough to improve on the dish.  There’s no garlic.  Not even onions.  If you’re going to use ground chicken, you really need more flavor.  I tried not to fuss with the recipe but, in the end, I added garlic powder and onion powder to make this edible by my standards.  At least it tasted better the next day, but I’m still going to give this particular recipe as it stands a failing grade.

I try to be a fair person, so I decided to test a second recipe.  This time, I went with peanut butter protein bars made of quick cooking oats, shredded unsweetened coconut, peanut butter, honey, apple sauce, chocolate protein powder, chia seeds, vanilla, and semisweet chocolate chips.  I had to make two substitutions in this due to my kitchen inventory.  I swapped the chocolate protein powder with vanilla protein powder, and chia seeds with hemp seeds.  I’m happy to report that my results were tasty!  I don’t think the flavor of protein powder is very important as the dominant flavors are peanut butter and coconut.  

But then how does one go about reviewing a book when the scorecard is 1 pass and 1 fail?   I kept mulling this over when I decided that there was still one more recipe that I could try with very little change.  On a whim this past Sunday, I decided to make the blueberry protein pancakes.  This time my ingredients were rolled oats, banana, eggs, baking soda, vanilla protein powder, milk, and frozen raspberries instead of blueberries.

The pancakes were good, but not great.  Solid passing grade.  I liked that they were easy to put together.  This particular recipe is a blender batter recipe.  I recommend letting the batter sit for at least 5 minutes if you can.  I found that my first pancakes were quite thin but my last pancakes were fluffier.  Flavor was pretty good.  They are just sweet enough to eat without syrup if you want but it won’t be disgustingly sweet if you add syrup.  My only issue was general texture.  They are on the dry side, probably because of the protein powder.  The recipe doesn’t specify a whey protein powder or vegan protein powder, so I wonder if one would do better than the other.  Most likely though, the texture would benefit from cutting back on the protein powder some.  Syrup would definitely help cover up the dryness, but if you don’t want to use syrup then maybe some fresh fruit?  I’m not sure.

Overall, I’m recommending with reservation.  Like all cookbooks, some recipes are better than others but I think the home cook using this book should heed their instincts, and treat the recipes more like guidelines.  Having said that, this is probably also a good book for someone who wants to cook healthier but doesn’t want to stock a large pantry of ingredients.  Because while I might be willing to use more effort in a recipe, I recognize that not everyone may feel the same.

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Shadow Mountain for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  The book is available for sale now.

With COVID-19 self-quarantine in effect, my scope of recipe-testing was limited.  Some modifications may have been made.  I apologize that I could not recipe-test better.

 

Reference Links:

https://www.sixsistersstuff.com/

https://shadowmountain.com/