Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Favourite Recipe Books

I thought I'd share some of my favourite books that I've been using for the past couple of years. I also feel that these books have made me into a better cook, and really make me want to make everything from scratch.

Topping the list is Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Herself. I have all five of her books and use them all the time. The best two are The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and Barefoot Contessa Parties!. I use recipes from those books over and over again.

I've also recently fallen in love with the Everyday Food: Great Food Fast from the kitchens of Martha Stewart. It's fantastic. I also have a subscription to the magazine. I can hear the groans - not Martha, it's too hard - but this is Martha for dummies. All the recipes I have tried so far have turned out great and are really easy. I swore off Martha for a really long time after the great Buche de Noel debarcle of Christmas 2000. That thing took me about 13 hours to make and everyone 6 mins to eat. I was beside myself, used every pot, pan, bowl, spoon, knife and cutting board that I owned, and had a miserable 4 month old who cried the whole time I was making it. The cake itself was delicious, but I was so mad with Martha for about 4 years after that whole experience.

Nigella Lawson is another favourite. I have Domestic Goddess and Bites. I've very successfully made the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and the New York Cheese Cake from Domestic Goddess and a few lovely dinners from Bites. Someone even wanted to pay me to make the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake when I made it for Mrs Names' Superbowl party this year!

I also just got Giada De Laurentis' Family Dinner - but I've only made one sauce out of it so far.


I was going to say that it's incredible that Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious is still number 1 on the Amazon.Com bestseller list, but I just checked and it's actually down to #2, because some snore about emerging real estate markets is now #1. How fickle is the American public?

Anyway, my love affair with Deceptively Delicious started on a Friday and ended on a Sunday two days later. I was convinced that this book and these recipes were going to change my life - a bit like when they brought out the Swiffer (I've gone back to the broom).

It was all too difficult for no pay off really. The kids didn't really enjoy it, and it was so much work to puree all the vegies etc. I have chronicled my experience here and Mrs Names' fun times with it here.

The only positive thing that came out of it was that Marc took the left over Mac & Cheese to work and some people there loved it and wanted the recipe.

I have not re-opened that book at all. And it held so much nutritional promise!

Menu Planning for This Week

It's not really "menu" planning, it's really dinner planning, and it's making my life so much easier. I just go through the books, choose what I want to make and then shop for the stuff, and make sure I thaw the fish or meat or whatever in the morning, so there's no rush at the dinner hour.

Last night I made Morocan Chicken Stew from Everyday Food October 2007.


Sadly, this is not my photo, because I forgot to take one, but this one from Martha Stewart is basically what it looks like, except that I have to put mine on rice because Marc doesn't like cous cous and also the kids will eat rice as well, so that covers everyone. I just cooked a plain chicken breast for the kids, because there is no way they would eat this. Which suits me fine because I get left overs for lunch!

The rest of the week we'll be having Talaipia Loins with Lemon Butter Sauce, my own recipe Spaghetti Bolognaise on Halloween, Parmesan Chicken with baked polenta and then Steak Sandwiches on Friday, which I'm sure won't be as tasty as these ones becuase I just can't make myself use that much butter!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Food & Photos

This is my new blog about what I cook. Mrs Names totally encouraged me to do this blog, because we have been looking at lots of food/cooking blogs and the photos are the best thing, and if you are reading blogs and looking at food photos you are not eating snacks!! Although I have a LONG way to go on the photography. It's really difficult getting the lighting right on the food. The top photo came out really well, not so much on the cooked one.

So I'm going to try and document what I'm cooking and share some great recipes that I'm using.

This is the pizza I made on Friday for the kids before we went up to the Fall Festival at the elementary school. You need full stomach to endure that for a couple of hours!!

It's just your basic pizza dough and mozzarella and parmesan grated over the top of the fabulous Trader Joe's pizza sauce. I buy that 10 jars at a time.