Category Archives: i love cookbooks!

everyday harumi

Everyday Harumi is just an amazing cookbook.  Lauren chose it for our cookbook club which was just a great choice and meant that we got to try about fifteen dishes and they were all amazing.  I made a coleslaw and pickled cauliflower for the evening, everything was great and complimentary and as per always the company was just the best.  I stole this picture from Lauren but I think she’ll be okay with it.

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Before the cookbook party, I tried out Harumi’s udon noodles with a ground meat miso sauce, which is really one of my new favourite easy, quick dishes.

  • 1 leek
  • 2 tablespoons ginger
  • vegetable oil
  • 3/4 of a pound of ground chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons miso
  • a bit of zucchini or cucumber for garnish
  • udon noodles

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Chop the leek and ginger and fry them, then add the ground meat until it’s browned.  Turkey works, too, apparently, but my butcher only has ground chicken these days.  Mix up the soup stock, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and miso paste together and add to the turkey, cooking until it thickens.  Meanwhile, cook the udon noodles and julienne the zucchini or cucumber for garnish.  Delicious.

Everyday Harumi is great, the recipes are all fabulous.  Harumi Kurihara’s writing style is grating at best, but this may just get a bit lost in translation.  I recommend the book, but maybe skim the introduction.

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lentils and carrots

I went to New Orleans (amazing!) and only ate fried food for four days.  That is too many days of fried food!  Don’t worry, I tempered it with a bazillion raw oysters and too much fun.  But, when I got back, all I wanted was vegetables.  So, I flipped through Diana Henry’s Plenty, again.  Such a lovely book, and I haven’t even gotten past the section on “Vegetable Love.” This lentil and carrot dish seemed like a good idea, since it isn’t quite amazing vegetable season right now.

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  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 4 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups, or more, vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • juice of one lemon

Sauté the onion in oil until soft, then add the garlic and spices.  Next, add the lentils, carrots, tomato paste, sugar, and cover in vegetable broth.  Bring this to a boil and cook until the liquid has been absorbed.  You may have to add more broth, or water.  Add the herbs and lemon juice, and make sure the coriander and heat is okay.  I served this with frozen, fried theplas, which are totally delicious.  I actually want to eat everything with my hands.  And I will be, for awhile, because this made so, so much, so basically it’s going to be leftovers forever.

asparagus soup

Lauren posted that they were making asparagus soup over at Good Egg last weekend, and it totally inspired me. I think I was feeling a little too inspired, because I really skipped some key steps from the recipe, but it still turned out wonderfully. I had originally skipped over this soup, from Jamie at Home, because Jamie Oliver calls it a “creamy asparagus soup with a poached egg on top,” which is exactly what it is but also exactly what I don’t love. First, milk- or cream-based soups aren’t usually my thing. Second, I am picky about eggs. But, this recipe works so well because all the creaminess comes from the egg. I initially thought I would prefer the soup without egg but now that seems crazy. This soup is good, Jamie Oliver is right!

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  • 4 bunches asparagus, broken to discard the ends, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • poached eggs (poached in un-vinegared water)
  • toast

Fry up the onions, celery, and leeks in olive oil.  When they are nicely cooked, add the stock and the asparagus.  Jamie Oliver suggests keeping the tips out until the end but I missed this step and it turned out okay.  Simmer the stock for 20 minutes, and then purée the veggies.   Season carefully with salt and pepper.  At this point, put the asparagus tips in, if you haven’t already.  Heat everything up.  Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and toast up some bread.  Olivia Go’s awesome class taught me to use a really tall, thin pot to poach eggs, but I don’t have one. Once the water has boiled, give it a stir and crack an egg in. After 3 minutes or so, fish out the egg (or two) with a slotted spoon and top each bowl with the egg and bread. Split the yolk and stir. Seriously tasty and creamy in a good way!

pickles

I love pickles.  Making pickles has been on my to-do list forever, but higher on the list is “not die of botulism” so I kept not making pickles.  But, then!  I found a lovely book on quick pickles at Good Egg, and the main selling point was not speed and ease, but the lack of botulism potential. Basically, because these pickles are not canned, you have to eat them within two weeks, which is a fair price to pay for life. I know that the likelihood of getting botulism is low, but I am unwavering in my fear, so this book is the best.

Okay, enough about botulism. I made pickles! This book is also pretty exciting because it gave me lots of exciting pickle possibilities. This first round, I made smoky pickled corn. The book is a bit overwhelming because the recipes call for a lot of ingredients, but then you look at it closely and see that 8 of them are spices, so it’s okay.

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  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled, whole
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 yellow peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion, cut in rings
  • 4 tomatillos, quartered (take off the paper skins!)
  • 4 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 4 cups white vinegar (this was supposed to be white wine vinegar, but I misread it)
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 4 dried fresh chilis, sliced
  • 4 ears of corn, cut into chunks

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic, peppers, onions and tomatillos until everything is softened.  Don’t brown them!  Set them aside, then bring all the other ingredients except the corn to a boil in a really big pot.  Boiling vinegar smells crazy, you might cry.  Add the corn once everything is boiling, and then let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the veggies and bring to a simmer.  Turn the heat off and let everything cool.  Keep these in the fridge and eat them for 2 weeks, no more!

I had many fake ploughman’s lunches with these pickles, and was pretty into it.  Eat the corn rounds like corn on the cob, they are pretty spicy but pretty delish, I think.

delicious salad!

Spring is here and I’m pretending it’s summer. Basically, this means bare legs even though it’s too cold, subbing gin and tonics for whiskey, and eating salads so happily. Last week I made this delicious chick pea salad, and then I made it again, and then Annie made it for our cookbook club, and it just keeps getting better. The recipe is from Falling Cloudberries, which is beautiful but, as we decided, very liquidy. Annie and I both judiciously decided to substitute a tablespoon or two of oil instead of using a cup of oil. It works, for real.

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  • 1 can chick peas
  • 1 red onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 hot chili peppers
  • 3 scallions
  • handful coriander
  • handful parsley
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 handfuls of feta
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Salads are salads and I don’t really believe in serious measurements when it comes to salad.  Add more of anything you love, and you will probably love it more.  Fry the diced onions, garlic and peppers, season them and let them cool as much as you can.  Add in the chick peas (the author recommends peeling the skins off but that feels like a lot of work for a meal that would otherwise take ten minutes), the chopped greens, the feta and the lemon juice.  I think feta is kind of a lame cheese, so I subbed in oka once, and do not recommend it.  Stick with the feta!  This is a good salad!

a homemade life

A really awesome development in my life has been a new, totally fun cookbook book club.  The main regret of my last two months was forgetting my camera for our first amazing dinner talking about, and eating from, the River Cottage Meat Book.  Basically, it was the best.

But, this past month (week, still, as I am trying to blog better, you know?) we had a delicious brunch eating from Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life. I’ll spare you my many thoughts about the blog-to-book transition, instead saying that many many amazing breakfasts (and lunches, and dinners) can come out of this book, or they could just be merged into a super brunch like last weekend. The biggest downfall of the day was that apparently we all have a serious sweet tooth, so we ate coffee toffee, french toast, cupcakes, scones, fruit preserves, and bacon. Of course everything came together with maple syrup, best best best.

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I made this semi-crazy corn bread. It was good, but really needed fruit or (better) maple syrup to tie it all together. I am not totally sure about how I feel about it, but I think other people sort of liked it (unless they are trying to not hurt my feelings, but it’s okay guys!). Anyway, here is cornbread with a caveat: it is sweet, desserty, and kind of has a texture that gave me pause. But, if you are looking for something sweet and desserty, pour some maple syrup on this, because it is okay! (big sell, here, guys.)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350, and butter a pan (square, 8 inches, ish) and put it in the oven to heat up.  I don’t know why this step happens, but I did it…  Melt the butter in a microwave, let it cool a bit.  Stir the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda together.  Add the eggs to the butter and whisk.  Add the sugar, salt, milk, and vinegar to the butter and eggs and stir together.  Add the flour mixture and stir until there are no lumps.  Pour the batter in the pan and pour the cream into the middle of the batter.  Don’t stir.  Bake for 50 minutes to an hour.

The cornbread is sweet, and the cream turns into a custard, somehow, so be warned!

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I think we generally agreed that the best tip from the book was using canola oil (lots) to fry french toast.  Seriously, it is noticeably better!

pulled pork.

Dan thinks pulled pork is going to be this fall’s trendy meat. While this is admittedly a weird conversation to have, we had it and I agree. Pulled pork is everywhere. It is recession-friendly (read: cheap) but not depression (delicious, so much delicious!). Usually I am pro-pulled pork (hello, Lakeview, hello, fun parties where I didn’t expect a sandwich!), sometimes I am decidedly against it (pulled pork poutine, no thanks!). Anyway, my lovely dad got me an awesome Le Creuset French Oven birthday present from Good Egg, and I broke it in with some pulled pork.

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See, hello, this oven is gorgeous! I really had no idea what I was doing, it was my first time making pulled pork, (though I’ve made pulled lamb, but it was in a slow cooker which for some reason I found less stressful…) and it was pretty fun. I’m now on a mission to try out many many varieties. I went with the Pan Chancho recipe, and it had a bit of a pan-Asian vibe to it, probably due to the many spices. It was good, I would definitely make it again, but not before trying out some other recipes…

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For the spiced mixture:

  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Rub down a 1 1/2 pound boned pork shoulder with the spice mixture, and wrap it in saran wrap and let it sit overnight (this is probably unnecessary, but someone told me this would be a good plan and I had no idea what I was doing so I went for it).  Pre-heat the oven to 325.  Heat some olive oil on the stove in the dutch oven and sear the pork until all the sides are browned.  Cover the seared pork about 3/4 of the way up with water, and bring it to a boil on the stove.  Once the water is boiling, put the meat in the oven and cook for as long as you can, until the meat is falling apart, maybe 2 or 3 hours.

Meanwhile, make some barbecue sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup fancy molasses
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Thai chilis

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and heat until everything thickens up, which takes about ten minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the pork was ready, I pulled it all apart, getting rid of any excess fat.  Then, stir in as much sauce as you’d like.  I had people coming for dinner in a few hours, so I just kept it on low heat on top of the stove, adding sauce as I though necessary.  I didn’t make it too saucy, but I added some as a condiment.