ladysprite: (cooking)
"Better Homes & Gardens Five Seasons Cranberry Book," BH&G Test Kitchen

Ye gods, I am so far behind on this it's not even funny. I've actually been doing a decent amount of cookbook-project cooking; I've just been failing to write it up. I'm pretty sure I used this book over a month ago now....

Anyway, this is somewhere between a magazine and a cookbook. I picked it up for 50 cents, I think, at the library's Book and Bake Sale a while ago, mostly because, well, I really like cranberries. Sadly, once I got it home I realized that most of the recipes call for canned cranberry sauce, of which I am less fond.

Still, there are some good-looking desserts in here. And I was tempted to try one of them. But, because this project is about challenging myself, and because I felt obligated to live the full 1971 experience, and because my husband didn't say no when I asked if he'd be willing to eat them, instead I made "Stuffed Burger Bundles."

These are, essentially, large meatballs filled with a mixture of stuffing (standard, Stove Top bread stuffing) and chopped cranberries, baked in a sauce that's a mixture of evaporated milk, cream of mushroom soup, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. I figured they'd probably taste like nostalgia, given that half of the meat my mom cooked as a kid was baked in a combination of cream of mushroom soup and Worcestershire sauce.

You guys? These were kind of gross.

The meatballs themselves were okay, though the stuffing, having been double-cooked, had lost any texture and was more just a poorly-integrated panade. But the sauce was fatty and gloppy and weirdly salty-tangy and bleh. Overall, the meal was edible but not anything I'd ever want to experience again.

And I am never buying another can of cream of mushroom soup.

Though I may come back to this book and make the cranberry dumplings; those actually sound like they might taste good....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Deli-icious: Recipes from the kitchen of Joan & Ed's Deli"

(Catching up from quite some time ago, because I've been too overwhelmed by other stuff to write about cooking for a while)

Once upon a time, long long ago, there was a truly amazing place called Joan & Ed's Deli. And they had amazing bagels and eclairs and egg salad sandwiches and pickles and all the good deli food in the world, and Our Heroes traveled there for New Year's Brunch, and it was good.

And then one day Joan & Ed's was no more. And now it has been replaced by Zaftigs, which is also good but will never be quite the same. But when I went to Zaftigs a year or so ago, I saw this cookbook on the back shelf and I knew I had to get it.

The book's value is more as a memorial than anything else; most of the recipes are, understandably, restaurant-sized, and/or more along the lines of serving suggestions and anecdotes (there's not much instruction needed for a pastrami sandwich). But I knew I wanted to make *something* from this book, not just for the project but to honor the memory of my favorite deli.

So this year, after we went apple picking, I was idly flipping through the book and came across the recipe for Apple Matzoh Kugel. And I knew immediately I had to make it.

It's unlike any other kugel I've ever had - you soak matzoh in water until it's mushy, then mix it with eggs, butter, chopped walnuts, chopped raisins, cinnamon, and sugar, and bake it for an hour.

It is, however, simple and delicious. It's a slightly sweet apple.... something. Not quite bread pudding, not quite casserole, not like any other dish I've ever made. Is it possible for something you've never had before to be comfort food? If it is, this would be.

I don't know if I'll ever get the time and energy to make knishes from scratch (the other dish from this book I want to try). But I'll sure as heck make this again....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"The Book Lover's Cookbook,"  Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen

I think I first saw this book on a trip to Plimoth Plantation - but that was when I was in the middle of the original Cookbook Project, and had declared a moratorium on buying new cookbooks.  Still, I put it on my wishlist, and shortly after the original project ended, a good friend bought it for me as a Christmas present.

The real problem is that, since it's a mixed collection of recipes, anecdotes, and quotes from books that relate to said recipes, that it's a much denser book to look through than most cookbooks, and more fun to read than to browse for recipes.  Which means that, for a couple of years now, I've been slowly and lovingly working my way through it, reading quotes and pages from James Herriott and Ogden Nash and Fannie Flagg and Margaret Mitchell and idly glancing at the recipes as I mostly savor the writing *about* food.  But I promised myself that I'd use this book next.

Since my garden has, for the first time in years, finally given me a bumper crop of zucchini this summer, it was easy to decide what to make.  About 13 pages into the book is a recipe for Priceless Zucchini Bread (with a quote from Andrew Rooney).  Given that it looked like a fairly straightforward and reliable recipe, I gave it a try.

This may be one of the best zucchini bread recipes I've ever found.  Sweet but not cloying, moist but not greasy, with a little bit of chewy crust.... perfect.  And the recipe makes two loaves, so there's now about 2/3 of a loaf in our freezer.  And if I don't think of something to do with the 2 zukes currently in my fridge soon, there may be more.

I want to use this book more - I just have to finish reading through the quotes and excerpts first.....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
"Lodge Best One Dish Recipes"

Holy cow, it's been way too long since I posted here.  Apologies; life has been a bit hectic lately.

Anyway.  This is somewhere between a magazine and a cookbook.  I picked it up mostly because I adore my cast-iron cookware, and will gladly take any excuse to find more reasons to use it.  I'd been meaning to use it for a while - in particular, there was a recipe for mussels and chorizo that looked delicious.  Unfortunately, food and I have been having a bit of a rocky relationship lately.

So I wound up making Luscious Squares instead, partly because I've never used a cast-iron skillet to make dessert before.  These were a bar cookie that bore a strong resemblance to pecan pie - shortbready crust, topping of nuts, butter and brown sugar, baked until gooey and awesome.  The recipe originally called for a powdered sugar glaze, but I decided against it - these things were sweet enough on their own; anything more would have taken them into 'cloying.'

Unsurprisingly, they were excellent, and a lot easier than actual pecan pie.  And I'm hoping that I feel well enough soon enough to try the other recipe.  And once our garden starts producing, there's a recipe for chilaquiles with tomatillo salsa that sounds delicious too.....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Starbucks Passion for Coffee," Dave Olsen, John Phillip Carroll, and Lora Brody

Okay - I don't drink coffee, so this is kind of weird.  Except it's not a book of coffee recipes, thankfully.  It's about 40 pages about what coffee is and how to brew it and how apparently espresso is better than all other coffee, and then a whole lot of recipes for things that you can eat while drinking coffee.  Because apparently there are restrictions, or something.  I'm not sure whether the idea is that you can't, say, eat grilled cheese with coffee, or that pear-ginger muffins are only to be eaten with coffee; the book is unclear on that.  (Though I will say that I had my recipe from this book with a mug of tea; hopefully the Starbucks police won't come down on me and revoke my License to Beverage.)

But the book was a gift from <lj user="hungrytiger">, whose family was debulking their own cookbook stock, and it is full of tasty-looking baked goods, and pretty pictures, and the recipes are actually pretty well written, so I figured I'd give it a try.  There were a bunch of things that looked tasty enough, for generic muffins and coffee cakes, but the recipe that caught my eye was for Cinnamon Swirl Biscuits.

These looked like a cross between biscuits and cinnamon buns - take a super-rich buttermilk biscuit dough, roll it around a cinnamon filling, slice it, and bake it.  Best of both worlds, right?

Sadly not.  The biscuit dough was dry, and the cinnamon filling didn't have any butter or fat to hold it together so it just spilled out, and didn't integrate into the dough at all or melt and get gooey.  They weren't *bad* - it's hard to be actively bad with baked goods and cinnamon and brown sugar - but they weren't particularly good, either.  I kind of want to remake this, but with a richer biscuit dough and a better filling.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure whether this book will get another try.  This was more of a recipe failure than an execution failure, and it makes me question the quality of the other recipes.

I'm really hoping that my next book here will be a winner; I seem to be having rather a streak of mediocrity.....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"San Francisco: Authentic Recipes Celebarting the Foods of the World,"  Williams-Sonoma

This is the other cookbook that <lj user="umbran"> brought me back from when he went to San Francisco for job training a year and a half ago.   Sadly, since I got it shortly before my spinal surgery, and since it's a big enough book that I couldn't lift it for 3 months after said surgery, it languished forgotten for some time until this project was revived.

It's a big, beautiful,  glorious, coffee-table-sized book, full of shiny, glossy, sexy pictures, and there's at least as much "local color" and discussion of trends and ingredients as the are actual recipes.  So it's fun to look through, but not quite so useful as an actual cookbook.

Still, the recipes it does have all look beautiful.  They're also largely more appropriate for dinner parties than they are for just plain dinner - as delicious as Dungeness Crab Risotto sounds, I'm not likely to make it just for supper some work night, and the same goes for slow-roasted duck legs with caramelized turnips.  But Foccacia Burgers with Tomato, Arugula, and Aioli?  Sounded delicious.

I had never made aioli before, so this was a good excuse to try a new technique, too.  I had always been under the impression that aioli (or mayo) was hard to make, and finicky, and likely to just never emulsify and just leave me in tears.  But honestly?  It was simple.  Slow - I dripped the oil into the egg yolk as the thinnest trickle ever - but it set up like a dream, and was surprisingly rich and delicious.  And the burgers were good, and the flavors of the meat and the chewy bread and the olive-oil-y aioli all blended together amazingly.  It's hard to go wrong with burgers, but these were above and beyond.

I'd make them again.  And I kind of need to host a dinner party, just for an excuse to make that risotto.....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookie Cookies And Other Galactic Recipes," Robin Davis

The only thing I can say in defense of this book is that I did not buy it for myself. It was a gift from a former acquaintance who used to play in our Star Wars tabletop roleplaying game; moreover, said acquaintance had a diet that consisted entirely of baked chicken marinated in bottled Italian dressing, cheeseburgers, bread, and candy. Hence, he had no way of knowing that it was not actually any kind of useful.

It's a decent enough kids' book, and the pictures, with cute little action figures posing with the food, are fun. But it doesn't really include actual recipes - Yoda Soda, Han-Burgers, and Death Star Popcorn Balls, while cute, aren't really... cooking.

I wound up making Mos Eisley Morsels on the grounds that it was the closest thing I could find to a real recipe in the book. They looked like a kind of variant banana bread, baked in a square pan instead of a loaf pan. And they looked decent enough; there were actually a decent handful of spices in there. And it's hard to wrong with banana bread, right?

You'd be amazed.

In retrospect, I should have realized that there was no sugar or dairy in the recipe. The end result was the driest, blandest banana brick I have ever had. It wasn't terrible, especially served warm with peanut butter, but it was... blah. Dull. If it's possible for something to be extravagantly dull, this was.

If I have any friends with kids who like to play in the kitchen and like Star Wars, I'm happy to hand this book off to you....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Maple Syrup Cookbook," Ken Haedrich

I bought this cookbook a few years ago, at one of my annual apple-picking outings. I found it in the farm store attached to the orchard, and leaped upon it, because I purely adore maple syrup. Sadly, it has languished since then, in spite of looking through it a few times, mostly because what I love to do with maple syrup is just pour it on pancakes and eat it. (Or on almost any other baked good, honestly.)

But I had to find some way to use it, and maple scones or maple spread or maple french toast just all seemed kind of like cop-outs. But I do adore breakfast foods, so when I found the recipe for Canadian Bacon Cheese Dreams, I realized I had to try them.

It's essentially an open-face sandwich, kind of like an extremely variant Eggs Benedict. Canadian bacon, browned and then cooked in a glaze of maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, and a pinch of cloves and cayenne, layered on an English muffin with tomato and fried egg, topped with smoked cheddar and broiled until the cheese melts.

Dear God, these were amazing. The glaze was sweet and tangy and just a little spicy, and the tomato balanced the richness of the ham and cheese, and the eggs came out just right, and I would make this again. I'd make it every week, if I had an excuse.

Whether or not I ever make any of the other recipes in here, it was utterly worth it to get this meal....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"The Pioneer Woman Cooks," Ree Drummond

This book was a gift from [livejournal.com profile] hungrytiger; I think it was a hand-me-down - he knows I collect cookbooks, so he brought me a few to add to my stockpile. I've never been a follower of the Pioneer Woman, either on her blog or TV show, but I've at least heard of her, and her stories and the like sounded interesting; plus, I've never turned down a cookbook - either they're a delight or a challenge, or sometimes both.

This is an odd book - it's more Celebrity Personality Venue than it is cookbook, and most of the content is glossy pictures of Real Farm Life and horses and kids, and stories about her learning to be a country gal - she seems to be aiming for the 'younger sexier Paula Deen' image. But there were some good-sounding recipes, and it was still fun to flip through.

While the breakfast recipes were the ones that mostly caught my eye, what I really needed was a dinner recipe. And, while the name was corny in the extreme, "Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich" just sounded too good to pass up. It's essentially a steak sandwich, which is something that I'd oddly never tried to make at home, and it sounded perfect for cold, bleak weather.

The recipe is horribly written. There are almost no specific amounts for anything (one of the ingredients is "butter, lots of it"), the layout is atrocious (pictures, in vertical columns, except where it crosses a page turn, when it goes horizontal), and the Old Country Look And Feel invades into the details so that it's cutesy instead of helpful. Trying to follow this was a royal pain in the butt.

That said? The sandwiches were DELICIOUS. Amazing. Juicy and well-seasoned and every kind of excellent. I don't know how it worked out, but it did. Damnit. I'd make them again. I'd make them again tonight. And this means that, no matter how lousy the writing, I'm going to have to try some of the other recipes I've flagged in there....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook," Christopher Hersheimer and Peggy Knickerbocker

Last year when [livejournal.com profile] umbran was sent to San Francisco for work, he came home with several lovely trinkets and souvenirs for me, including this cookbook. It's a big, beautiful, dense book full of details about what sounds like a truly epic farmer's market, hints about different seasonal foods, and recipes from local grocers, restaurants, bakeries, and farms. It was a delight to read through; the only challenge was finding something cookable that was appropriate for a small number of people and that didn't require me actually being at a farmer's market. (Sadly, this year, my work schedule was heavy enough that I didn't get out to any of the local markets. Tragic, but such is life.)

But there was a recipe at the end of the book that caught my eye, if only because it looked... interesting. Different. Unique. And part of why I like this project is that it encourages me to try different things.

It was for a dish just called "Joe's Special," apparently a specialty of a bunch of local restaurants. It was kind of a one-dish meal with browned ground beef, spinach, and a couple of seasonings, scrambled together with eggs, and I figured... I like all of those ingredients. It sounds good. What could go wrong? Clearly this cookbook is wise.

.....it was hideous.

Seriously, I managed the mandatory one-bite to make it an official Cookbook Project recipe, and then aborted to pizza. [livejournal.com profile] umbran managed to actually eat the stuff, but I couldn't get past the texture of the spinach and the utter lack of seasoning given the bulk of the dish. I have to call this one a fail, and only the third out of over 200 books.

I'm hoping it's just the recipe, and not the book itself; at some point I'll go back and try something new when I have time to haunt our farmer's market for fiddleheads and pea tendrils and all that good stuff....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes," Food & Wine Magazine, 2011

This book is seriously amazing. Apparently each year Food & Wine Magazine rates a whole bunch of cookbooks. And then they take the top 25, and publish a handful of recipes from each of them, plus a few previously-unpublished recipes from the authors, in one big, glorious, splendidly-illustrated book. It's food porn and delicious recipes and a way to audition a ton of new books, restaurants, and authors all at once.

And I got it for $1.50 at my library's book sale, in brand-new condition. Seriously, this was a victory of epic proportions.

The only downside is that a lot of the recipes are for larger quantities than [livejournal.com profile] umbran and I can use at home. Well, that and the fact that I just had a hard time narrowing down my list of recipes-that-sounded-amazing.

Ultimately, though, this is the season of tasty and simple food, so when I found the recipe for Pea Pesto Crostini, I decided to go with that. (Originally from 'Giada At Home,' a book I'd never look at twice under normal circumstances.)

It was super-simple - pureed peas, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil. Spread on grilled bread, top with sliced tomato or halved cherry tomatoes. That's it. And because it was so simple, and because we had fresh tomatoes from our garden and really good bread, it was delicious. For a hot summer night and a light dinner, it was perfect. I'd make this again, and I'd serve it to friends.

Now I just need to find excuses to make all of the other recipes I've marked in here.....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"660 Curries," Raghavan Iyer

I found this book while browsing secondhand bookstores about a year ago. It's not my usual style of cookbook - it's an enormous brick of a book, and, like Alice from Wonderland, I have very little use for a book that has no pictures or conversation.

But at the same time, it looked interesting. And I'm always on the lookout for good Indian recipes, and it seemed incredibly detailed and well-organized. And it was secondhand and half-priced, so I decided on a whim to bring it home, where it promptly sat on a stack of books to be used for this project for an embarrassingly long time, until about a month ago, when I remembered that, hey, I ought to move forward on this stuff.

I'm not a vegetarian, but I do tend towards a decent number of meatless meals, and I had to narrow down my options somehow (the book is broken down into ten different sections), so I started by looking through the section on Paneer Curries. And, since it's a favorite dish of mine, I decided to try the recipe for Mutter Paneer (or curried peas and homemade cheese, for those of you not fluent in Indian Food).

I admit I used the America's Test Kitchen recipe for paneer, mostly because I know it's easy, foolproof, and delicious. That said? This was one of the most delicious things I've ever made. The spicing was perfect, and the texture was amazing, and the flavor was complex, and the recipe itself was just complex enough to be interesting but not so complicated that I couldn't make it easily for a weeknight dinner, assuming I had time beforehand to make the paneer.

I'll make this again, and I'm already browsing through the other sections looking for interesting options - next week I'm probably going to try something from the Egg Curries chapter, mostly because... well, it sounds cool, and if the rest of the recipes are as good as this one was, I'll be glad I tried it.....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Bento Love," Kentaro Kobayashi

I love bento. I've been making bento lunches for [livejournal.com profile] umbran and myself for almost two years now, aside from the time that I was out of work, and I am still completely enamored with the entire concept. It's more fun than just sandwiches, it's healthy, and it suits my style of eating better (I'm much more of a slow-nibbler than a 2-3 meals-a-day person). And for the longest time I was just working off one cookbook and a handful of web pages. But before I went out of work on medical leave, I found this book while I was browsing at Barnes & Noble one day. And the recipes looked reasonable, simple, and tasty, so I decided to pick it up. Sadly, then, I was out of work for several months, so I didn't have the chance to give it a try until recently.

A few weeks ago I was cooking something that called for half a head of cabbage, leaving me with the other half left over, so I pulled out this book and decided to make Stir-Fried Pork and Cabbage.

Sadly, it was not nearly as good as I hoped it would be. The recipe was honestly *too* simple - there was almost no seasoning, and the cabbage itself stayed kind of bland and rubbery. It was edible, but nowhere near as tasty as the stuff I'm used to making.

I'll keep the book; there are enough other recipes that I'm willing to give it another try. But I'm likely to be a lot more careful in picking and choosing which ones to try, and I may just take seasoning into my own hands.....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2003"

I admit, I usually avoid Martha Stewart, other than the annual Holiday Cookie issue. I tend to find most of her stuff a little too fussy and overachieving, and with the magazine itself the recipes-to-other-projects ratio is too low to make it worth my buying. But I found this hardcover, in perfect condition, at my library's book sale for about $1. And.... well, it's full of really pretty pictures, which is one of my major cookbook downfalls. And did I mention it's in perfect condition, and it cost less than a Diet Coke?

So I bought it, and brought it home and started flipping through it. And unfortunately, much as I expected, most of the recipes are a little too fussy for my purposes. Most of them are for 4-6 people, making them just the wrong size, and most of them are a little too dinner-party to be useful for me - as much as I love my gaming group, I'm not about to feed them Roast Best End of Highgrove Lamb And Fava Beans with Mint and Marjoram, or Confit of Wild Salmon on Cucumber Salad.

But there were a few things that sounded interesting, and potentially both practical and tasty. And last week there was an evening when [livejournal.com profile] umbran and I were both in the mood for a fairly light and creative supper, so we wound up making Artichoke Bruschetta.

And it was really, really good. Fresh ricotta, sauteed marinated artichoke hearts with a little garlic, and some shaved parmesan on good toasty bread. It was simple, and delicious, and I'm absolutely keeping this recipe to make again come high summer when it's too hot to cook.

Ultimately, it's a good book. Someday when I'm hosting a fancy dinner party I'll be grateful to have a book with recipes like Grilled Striped Bass with Corn and Clam Chowder Sauce. And I absolutely need to try the rice pudding tarts with blood oranges, if only for myself.....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Cook's Country: Best Lost Suppers," America's Test Kitchen

I may have mentioned previously that I have a serious love for America's Test Kitchen. They have never led me wrong, recipe-wise, and I adore my subscriptions to their magazines. But occasionally they publish additional books, with recipes that they either haven't collected elsewhere or have altered in helpful ways. Also, since I was late to the Cook's Country train, there's just a lot of stuff I missed.

So about a year and a half ago, when [livejournal.com profile] umbran and I went on vacation, we found the local second-hand bookstore, and I found this on the shelf. It's a collection of, in their words, "old-fashioned, home-cooked recipes too good to forget." The recipes were sent in by readers, but then subjected to ATK's testing and polishing - and they're honest about that, too. If they make any changes, there's a note after the recipe explaining what they changed and why.

I read through the whole book enthusiastically, but the recipe that kept catching my eye was one of the first ones in the book - Granny's Tamale Pie. I love Mexican and Tex/Mex flavors, it looked delicious, and it was complicated enough to intrigue me.

And since I have more time than I know what to do with right now, and since this is a recipe that takes 3-4 hours to make, I made it for my gaming group last week (with help from [livejournal.com profile] metaphysick when it came to prep-work and heavy lifting).

It's a layered casserole - seasoned cornmeal with chicken broth, tomatoes, bacon, onion, and garlic, layered with poached chicken and baked until everything has melded into a delicious whole, served with a spicy tomato sauce, and it's wonderful. Rich and moist and complex and interesting, and the sauce really makes the whole dish. I don't know if I'd make it again; as I said, it's four hours of poaching chicken and reducing broth and simmering aromatics and whisking cornmeal and then hefting around a cast-iron Dutch oven full of food inside a water bath in a roasting pan. But it was absolutely worth making at least the once. And there are a handful of other recipes, less labor-intensive, that I fully intend to make as well.

Yet another win for America's Test Kitchen....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook," Richard Hetzler

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian is one of my favorite museums. I love everything about it - the displays, the cultures, the details, the way I can lose an entire day just wandering through and staring at all of the beautiful bits and pieces... but I also love the fact that the cafe there has some of the best food in D.C. Seriously, I still daydream about the fry bread tacos with buffalo chili that I had while I was there.

So a couple of years ago when I was browsing secondhand bookstores and found that the cafe at the museum had an official cookbook, I absolutely had to have it. Unfortunately, shortly after buying it, the book somehow got shuffled off to the library instead of the cookbook wall, and I wound up forgetting that I owned it until I restarted this project.

The hardest part of using this book was deciding what to make. I'd love to try the buffalo chili, and someday I will, but mostly right now I'm just cooking for [livejournal.com profile] umbran and myself, and that's more of a show-off dish. I wanted to try one of their enchilada recipes, but most of them called for fresh corn, which is hard to find right now. So instead we wound up making Corn and Tomato Stew, which oddly enough allowed for frozen corn.

Unsurprisingly, it was delicious. It's a fairly simple vegetarian dish, without a huge number of ingredients, and while it cooks for about an hour, most of that is unsupervised simmering. I'd quibble with calling it a stew, since the texture was more soup-like, but it was still amazing - the depth of flavor gotten from what amounts to tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, veggie broth, and a handful of aromatics is impressive. And when I made a batch of simple buttermilk dumplings to simmer in the leftovers, it became absolute perfection.

So. The recipe itself is a keeper, and I'm just waiting for an event big enough to justify making buffalo chili, fry bread, and the corn-and-chocolate dessert tamales....
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Flour," Joanne Chang

I have to admit, I came at this book rather backwards. I love the Flour bakery. When [livejournal.com profile] umbran and I were doing practice walks while I was training for the 3-Day, one of our routes would take us past Flour, and I have yet to find anything in the world that tastes better than one of their raspberry seltzers on a hot summer day. (Oh yeah, and their baked goods are excellent too.)

When I found out that there was an official Flour cookbook, I fell in love with it at the bookstore - the level of detail! The shiny, beautiful pictures! The conversational tone of the writing, the diversity of the baked goods, everything about it was custom-designed to appeal to me. And, because [livejournal.com profile] metaphysick is awesome, at one point when I was feeling particularly low last summer, he bought it for me as a surprise gift.

I've read through it more times than I can count, and I admit I've already dabbled with a couple of the recipes from it (the cornmeal lime cookies were excellent), but I finally decided that, for an official Project Recipe, I should make something a little more unique.

So this morning for breakfast I made Brown Sugar Popovers. Popovers are one of my favorite baked goods, and I always somehow wind up surprised at how easy they are to make, in spite of all the mythology and superstition around them, but I've never tried any recipe other than the hand-written one given to me by the same coworker who bought me the popover pan as a wedding gift lo those many years ago. And I had never thought of making them as a sweet pastry instead of a savory dinner accompaniment.

These were nothing short of amazing. They were simple enough to make while I was still groggy, semi-medicated, and working out morning pain; they came together in minutes, and we had all of the ingredients already in the pantry. They rose up higher than any popovers I've made before, and they were rich and sweet and buttery and warm and flaky and nothing short of perfect.

I love this book, and I can't wait to make just about every other recipe in it, but goodness knows I'll be making these popovers again. (And again, and again....)
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Wraps - Easy Recipes for Handheld Meals" Mary Corpening Barber, Sara Corpening, Lori Lyn Narlock

I picked this book up about a year or so ago, when [livejournal.com profile] umbran and I were away for a weekend. We were puttering through a secondhand bookstore, and I found it. And because I am a sucker for wraps in any form, and because it had a lot of pretty pictures, and because it was vacation so I am allowed to indulge in silly treats, I bought it.

The problem is, most wraps are simple enough that you don't really need a recipe. So I honestly forgot about this book, until a few months ago when I suddenly remembered that I had this project I was supposed to be working on.

Luckily, looking through the book again reminded me that it did actually have a bunch of good-looking ideas. We made King Creole Wraps, which were essentially simplified gumbo flavors without the broth, wrapped in a tortilla.

They were unsurprisingly delicious - though admittedly, it's hard to go wrong with andouille and Cajun seasonings. And it was worth the reminder that there are more things that I can do with a tortilla than my basic repertoire of burritos, salads, and peanut-butter-banana-roll-ups. (Yes, it's weird. It's also delicious. Don't judge me.)

Once food and I are on speaking terms again, I need to use this book more often...
ladysprite: (steampunk)
So a little while ago I announced that my annual apple picking outing would be today. And as today crept closer and closer, I watched the weather predictions with concern progressing to trepidation progressing to resignation. Every forecast that I checked told me that the day would be cold, grey, and rainy, and that the best that I could hope for would be to catch the sky in a period of drizzle between actual showers.

But weekends and free time are in short supply, so I figured I'd just live with it. A couple of friends cancelled on the grounds that they didn't want to be caught out in the cold and wet, but most of the people who promised to come agreed to brave the weather. I packed a jacket and an extra pair of socks and shoes for after I finished wading through the wet orchard, other folks grabbed raincoats and umbrellas, and we headed out.

True enough, as we drove towards the orchard the skies progressed from clouds to drizzle to solid rain. Until we made it to about ten minutes from the orchard, at which point the skies cleared and the sun came out. By the time we reached Berlin Orchards, it was clear, warm, sunny, and gorgeous.

It turned out to be one of the best apple picking days I can remember. The weather was amazing, the trees were heavy with apples, the company was wonderful, and everything just went wonderfully. And then we went out for lunch, and came home to bake.

For the record, Cooks Country's apple fritter recipe is quite possibly the best thing I've ever made. I'm a novice at deep-frying (okay, medium-depth frying, but it was still a bit scary), but these were edible perfection.

Good friends. Good weather. Good day.
ladysprite: (cooking)
"Comfort & Spice," Niamh Shields

In my Home Alone time, I've been going through recipes and realizing that I have a couple of Cookbook Project entries that I'm way overdue to write up. How far overdue? Well, I used the recipe from this book for Thanksgiving last year. I'm good at getting things done; I just sometimes lag behind in actually acknowledging that I've done them.

I found this book when [livejournal.com profile] metaphysick and I were in Martha's Vineyard last fall. There's an adorable little independent bookstore that we wander through every time we visit, and I love the fact that it has books that I've never seen anywhere else. For some reason, this book caught my eye.

It's not glossy or shiny; if anything, it's a rather rough-looking paperback. The cover is an unprocessed gray with orange details, I've never heard of the author, and it doesn't claim to follow any one particular food theme. Heck, there are hardly even any pictures inside. But still, I picked it up to glance through it - and I realized that almost every recipe sounded delicious. It also helped that several of the dinner recipes were sized for two; there's a dearth of good, small-meal cookbooks.

Anyway, I brought it home and immediately bookmarked a handful of recipes to try. The one that won my heart, though, and that I've already made at least twice, is Cannellini Bean Dip with Chorizo.

It's impressively, almost offensively simple. White beans, olive oil, toasted garlic, rosemary, and lemon juice, blended together. The chorizo is browned and used as the substrate for the dip. Simple, super-quick, and mouth-wateringly delicious. I would make it again in a heartbeat.

Now I just need to finish the rest of this project and get back to the rest of the recipes I've bookmarked in here.....

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