Category Archives: Cookbooks

Pomegranate BBQ Tofu

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The weather has been a bit wonky here. Feels like summer one day and chilly the next. This is a perfect cozy meal. I wrote about this recipe a long time ago, but my very amateur photography skills didn’t display it in the best light. This is a post worth repeating.

The household (read: the husband) doesn’t eat red meat, but I don’t miss it with this recipe. The bbq sauce is worthy for vegans and meat eaters alike. Even if you’re not a big tofu fan, it’s worth making the sauce. This is a great vegan recipe to have in your repertoire.

Pomegranate molasses are called for in this recipe. You can find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores, but I’ve also found the ingredient quite easily in gourmet shops.

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Review: The Dirty Apron Cookbook and Dirty Twixter Bars

dirty-apron-cookbookThe Dirty Apron is a cooking school and delicatessen in Vancouver. I’ve heard that their classes are great, but I haven’t made it out there yet. I had a great experience at a cooking class I took in Toronto. You get to learn new techniques, but I think the best aspect of those classes is how social it is. It’s fun for everyone to sit down and eat together.

The Dirty Apron now has a cookbook
with fail-proof recipes. So if you can’t make it to there, this book has a bunch of recipes from the cooking school as well as from their catering menu.

The skill level ranges from beginner (smoked salmon bagels with lemon and dill cream cheese) to advanced (crab cannelloni). There isn’t a “mains” chapter, but instead a “meat and poultry” and “seafood”. Looking through the pages, there are very few vegetarian dishes. The ones that are there are mostly salads. If you’re a vegetarian, this book may not be your thing. For me, most of these recipes aren’t simple enough for weeknight fare (especially with a baby!). These are the recipes to pull out for weekends or when company is coming over. I like the chef notes that are accompanied with the recipe like what items can be prepped in advance.

I put a lot of faith in this book and made my Thanksgiving dinner from it. I made the roasted turkey breast and boneless roasted stuffed turkey leg with cranberry compote. It was just R and I (and baby) for dinner, so I just made the turkey breast instead of doing a whole turkey. Everything came together with ease and it was a low stress affair. I brined the breast first for two hours using the Cook’s Illustrated brine that is a sugar and salt solution to keep things simple. For the stuffing, I substituted hazelnuts for the chestnuts because I couldn’t find any in the store. These were game changer recipes for me! The stuffing was better than the one that I always do and the turkey was incredibly moist.

With Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to make the dirty twixter bars. They’re described as a combination of a Twix and Skor The recipe is a bit time consuming as you need to make the shortbread base, dulce de leche and then the salted caramel ganache. I guess to simplify things you can always buy the dulce de leche. I broke it up into two days making the base on the first day and then everything else the next day. For the ganache, I simply just stirred everything together. Two reasons: my immersion blender is busted and the baby was asleep. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can do this with a food processor. Just put the chopped chocolate in the bowl and with the motor running pour the caramel mixture in.

For the dulce de leche, it tells you to boil the cans with water. I’ve heard about about cans exploding (this usually happens when there isn’t enough water covering them). Exploding cans make me nervous and I’d be likely to forget to check to see if there’s enough water covering them. Most importantly, on the can of condensed milk it has a warning to not heat the can. So I used the less nerve-wracking oven method. David Lebovitz’s dulce de leche recipe is simple. Pour the contents into a glass pan that’s nested in a deeper dish, add water and in an hour or so you get the same result.

These bars are rich and gooey. Don’t be caught without a napkin when eating these! The mix of dark chocolate with milk and the fleur de sel makes them not overly sweet. People who have eaten them have used the word “amazing” to describe them. Note: it’s best to cut these when they’re cold. My dulce de leche wasn’t that firm so it oozed when I cut them. For the cleanest cuts, use a long serrated knife and wipe clean.

Twixter bars

Disclosure: I received a review copy. As always, my opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation for this post.

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Review: How to feed a family

How_to_Feed_a_Family
I was really excited to receive How to Feed a Family
for review when I was pregnant. I also received this as a gift (signed by the author!). While my kid won’t be eating the meals in this book for awhile, I don’t have the same luxury of time to be in the kitchen for hours. It’s tiring work growing a human being, so a lot of the cooking was done by R. He can cook, but he doesn’t like recipes. His meals are much more laid back: grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, nachos and cheese, tuna melts or a frozen meal. While he is happy to eat that all the time, I need some variety. So I made him test out the cookbook.

He bookmarked a bunch of recipes to try which is always a good sign.

Apple and chicken curry was simple to make and the directions were straight forward. It’s quick enough for a weeknight dinner and the yogurt gives the dish a nice creaminess. It wasn’t too spicy so it’s very kid friendly. 2 chicken thighs didn’t seem enough, so we used more. I wish the weight for the chicken was given as pieces can vary in weight.

For an easy breakfast, I made the Oatmeal and Strawberry Blender Pancakes. Because all the ingredients are just thrown in, the batter comes together in no time. The pancakes tasted…well…healthy. I’m used to making fluffy, not very wholesome, but delicious pancakes on the weekend. I understand as a parent you want to feed your kids more nutritious meals. Would I serve these to my kids? Absolutely! Would I make them for a brunch with friends? Probably not. Balance is key so I would consider these as everyday pancakes and the version I usually make as a weekend treat.

The last recipe I tested was Risotto, Spinach and Kale Cakes with Parmesan. These are bite sized and easy to take on the go. Once I made it, I had to make it again that same week. Doubling the recipe and freezing it would make an easy last minute dinner option. I’d also mow down these as a snack. I usually take pictures of what I make, but none of the pictures turned out.

There’s a handy legend letting you know which ones are quick to make or my favourite, the ones that make little mess. I would have also liked to see a quick index for the legend. That way I can see a list of make ahead meals at a glance.

The book is geared to older children so you won’t see any first foods like purees. While I still have a couple of years before my baby will be eating any of the food in this book, I like how it’s fast and uncomplicated.

SpinachKaleCakeswithParmesan2
image courtesy of Random House

Thanks to Random House for sending me a review copy. As always, my opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation.

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Back in the Day: Review

Jacket-Back-in-the-Day-Cookbook

I have books that languish on my shelves for ages before I make something from it. The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook is different. I keep reaching for it when I’m looking for something to make. To be honest, it had me as soon as I saw the “s’more pie” recipe. I was even willing to buy a kitchen blowtorch for it.

Cheryl and Griff Day own a bakery in Savannah and have compiled the recipes from the bakery into one sweet book. Southern comfort food is instantly obvious when you begin to flip through the pages. The recipes draw you in and you’ll want to make everything out of the book. I love the gorgeous photography and the way the authors take the time on instructing you on how to get the best results out of your baking.

The first recipe I tried was the s’more pie for my Western themed party. This chocolate was deeply intense (I used 70% cocoa) and I think a standard bittersweet (50-60%) would make the pie less rich. I had to scale back in using all of the meringue topping because it was already starting to look like it was a mile high. You can easily just make the chocolate pudding portion as a quick dessert option. This pie screams showstopper:

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Momofuku Milk Bar Bagel Bombs

Momofuku Milk Bar Bagel Bombs

I have a habit of going on cookbook binges and then having them sit on my shelf for ages without trying a recipe. It’s not that I do this intentionally, life just happens.

I never bought the Momofuku cookbook that everyone has sitting on their shelves. But Momofuku Milk Bar was instantly on my list when it came out. I can’t even tell you how long it has been sitting on my shelf before I used it.
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