Saturday, 13 June 2009

Cookbookless soon

This blog will be on hiatus for a while as my cookbooks are about to be packed up and shipped overseas. I am moving back to the US and will be without my things for a month or two while I get settled in. It seems to take ages for things to get shipped overseas when you move, so I don't anticipate getting many opportunities to cook using my cookbooks until my kitchen gadgets and gizmos have arrived and I of course can once again spend hours lazily perusing my many cookbooks.

In the meantime, I will continue to update my main cooking blog, Lavender Blue, where I share recipes I have tried and tested from sources other than cookbooks, often including my own creations.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day: Attempt #1

After seeing this recipe scattered across many blogs, I decided to finally see what all the fuss was about. I looked up Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and found a few videos demonstrating the master bread recipe.

Bread baking for me has always been a fun experience, I neither feared it nor had much difficulty with it, using the traditional methods. I was, however, quite intrigued by this unique method and so, without much hesitation, I ordered the book. It is actually not even in my house yet, but still on its way in the mail.

The dough is incredibly wet and I wished I had gone with my instincts and added just a bit more flour. Now, it is supposed to be a wet sticky mass initially, but after rising, it should have been pliable enough to handle and shape into a ball. This proved to be a bit tricky and I began to suspect that my weight calculations had been a bit off. I decided to add some more flour, still leaving it very wet, and letting it sit for another rise. This worked out much better, although it was still very tricky to shape properly, due to the wetness.

The finished product was a tiny oblong shaped chewy-crusted delicious loaf of bread. I was quite pleased and will certainly make this recipe again. I really am excited to get my hands on the rest of the book.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Aubergine Pasta (more from Rachel Allen)

Having had such great success with the previous Rachel Allen pasta recipe I tried, I decided to give her Penne Pasta with Aubergine, Basil & Pine Nuts a try this time. (From Rachel's Favourite Food for Friends, page 79).

This was really quite easy to prepare and contains some really
lovely, fresh ingredients. The aubergine sauce was chunky and really quite yummy. I only used half the amount of pasta called for in the recipe but still made the full quantity of aubergine sauce. This turned out to be a good idea as otherwise, I am not certain there would have been quite enough sauce. I also used fusilli in place of penne. Seasoning is crucial in this recipe and you really do need to test it a few times. The aubergine sauce seemed to need a bit more salt than I normally would add. I liked the pine nuts in this, but I coud easily leave them out and replace with some snipped bits of sundried tomato instead.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Salad, Pasta, and a Mousse

I have been on a huge Rachel Allen kick recently. For some reason, in the past I had somehow skipped over her shows in favor of other, flashier newer programs. I had seen Rachel present some recipes on Market Kitchen before and really liked them, but for some reason just never was all that intrigued by her shows. Well, luckily for me, I finally did give her more recent programs a closer look and I was delighted...and ended up buying every set of DVDs currently available, as well as every cookbook. I am such a fan I even bought her 2009 Diary for the smattering of recipes in the calender.

I decided it would be fitting to start with three of the recipes from Rachel's first book, Rachel's Favourite Food, all of which were aired in her first episode of the series as well.

Salad of Goat's Cheese with Rocket & Honey (page 17)

This looked way too simple on the tv show, but I gave it a go anyway. And wow... I was very pleasantly surprised. The honey and the crushed black pepper really worked so well together and for something so very simple, it really did have a lot of flavor. I used, as Rachel did on her tv show, Maldon sea salt flakes - they really are quite an addictive taste. I think nuts could take the place of the cheese in this easily. I would love to try some roasted whole pecans or perhaps some candied walnuts. This was so good, I ate it two nights in a row.

Pasta with Spicy Sausage & Cream (page18)

This was really quite good and fast. I used double cream this time, next time I see no reason at all to not use single cream instead. The rosemary was fresh from my garden and was a nice addition, athough I tend to like rosemary in my pasta sauces normally anyway. My chorizo was not overly spicy, and I really didn't mind. This is the sort of recipe you could easily use any flavorful firm sausage in, hot or mild.

Chocolate Mousse (page23)

This was very quick and easy. I used some really lovely Buford Brown eggs in this. I once again wasn't clear on whether or not to use single or double cream in this, and went with the double. It was a bit too rich for me, almost buttery. I would try this again with single cream and see if I like it better. For the chocolate I used Lindt 70% dark and I left out the optional liquor.

All photos are taken by me, copyrighted by me.

An insane amount of cookbooks...

I have a ton of cookbooks...really, my collection is huge. I have seen libraries with fewer cookbooks than those stashed in my house. I have two bookcases overflowing with cookbooks, and there are more scattered in various spots throughout my house- hidden amongst other types of books, stacked on top of my bureau, piled on the table next to my bed. And my collection keeps growing, almost daily. I can't seem to resist picking up a new book if one catches my eye, especially if it seems homey or unique or exotic.

I have been asked if I actually use all of my cookbooks, or do I just buy them and let them sit there, for the most part, as a dust collection. The fact is, I do indeed peruse them frequently, and often cook from many of them. However, with so many, not all get properly "used" as often as others. I do tend to have a purge day, where I dig through any books that just no longer seem to call out to me and they make their way to a charity shop or a yard sale or handed to the nearest pair of willing hands. And then the gap in my shelf is immediately filled by a few new additions.

Which brings me to the purpose of this blog.. to have a place to post images of the recipes I have made from my millions of cookbooks. My grand plan is to cook recipes from my books and then post photos of whatever I made, complete with a review. I might even post some surveys letting you readers choose which book and which recipe to make... we will see.