Caitlin McGrath's Profile

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What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy hurry up and be Spring already, April 2015 edition!

To be honest, one of the reasons I never tried more from the Healthy 1-2-3 book is because, indeed, the recipes can be somewhat complicated. That chicken and grape recipe has you roast half the grapes and puree and strain the other half, and that's less complicated than some. Imagine (and this is hypothetical, as I don't have the book in front of me, but not atypical) tomatoes, avocado, and basil, but the three ingredients used multiple ways to make several components that come together in a dish. Not that it might not be great, but it's definitely not simple, and I guess I harbor the suspicion that if I'm making something more complicated, a slightly longer ingredient list might have a bigger payoff, or on the other hand, can yield a bigger payoff with less work for a more everyday experience (as with RS).

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy hurry up and be Spring already, April 2015 edition!

I've had Healthy 1-2-3 for years and haven't cooked much from it, but I can recommend the chicken with roasted grapes (the same recipe appears in her Radically Simple) and duck breasts with pomegranate molasses.

What are you baking these days? April showers...2nd part, April 2015 edition!

I really like those Ottolenghi carrot, apple, and pecan muffins, too, though I cut the sugar (and sometimes replace some of the oil with applesauce).

about 12 hours ago
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking
1

What are you baking these days? April showers...2nd part, April 2015 edition!

One thing that's nice is that you can just stash the rolled-out dough in the fridge or freezer for a few days (or longer if frozen), so you don't have to deal with the whole process at once. The frozen dough only needs about 10 minutes on the counter before you can cut out cookies.

What are you baking these days? April showers...2nd part, April 2015 edition!

I do, and it is very easy to work with. I actually use elements of two very slightly different Dorie Greenspan recipes (from two books). I basically use this recipe, available on Chow: http://www.chow.com/recipes/29087-lin...

But changes I make, based on personal preference and suggestions in her later book Baking Chez Moi, are using only 1 tsp cinnamon and no cloves, using dark rum instead of the water, adding 1/2 tsp vanilla, and making the dough in the food processor instead of with a mixer (super quick and easy: pulse butter and sugar till creamy, add egg and other liquids and pulse, add dry ingredients and pulse till it clumps). The keys are to roll the dough when it's soft/room temp, and cut out the cookies when it's cold, and it handles really well. Also, I have found that it rolls out more smoothly between parchment than wax paper. And contrary to the link, it makes about 2 dozen 2-inch sandwiches.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy hurry up and be Spring already, April 2015 edition!

Have now received all these acquisitions. Unfortunately, I haven't found time yet to read beyond the introduction in Fancy Desserts, though I'm looking forward to it. I'm tempted to take it to bed with me, but it's a bit unwieldy for that.

I read and enjoyed the Settler's Cookbook, finding it quite interesting (the narrative more so than the recipes). It's sort of a combination of personal memoir of the author and her family and history of South Asians in East Africa, and in Uganda in particular, and the experience of displacement when they were ejected by Idi Amin and had to relocate (in her and her family's case, to England).

I will concur with others in these threads that A Bird in the Hand is very promising, with a wide assortment of attractive recipes. I cooked my first dish from it last night (coriander-seared chicken with hot-and-cold cucumber relish), with great results. Report in Diana Henry COTM thread, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9843...

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry Month: Other Books and Online Recipes

Coriander-Seared Chicken with Hot-and-Cold Cucumber Relish - A Bird in the Hand, p. 171

A simple recipe that delivers delicious results full of punchy flavor. I made half the amount of chicken but the full amount of cucumber, more or less, so mine was more a salad than a relish.

Prep begins with pounding minced garlic, black peppercorns, and coriander (cilantro) into a rough paste in a mortar and pestle, adding lime juice and fish sauce, and using this to marinate boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Though you're directed to marinate for 4 hours, mine went for close to 24 with no detriment. The chicken is then cooked stovetop in a grill pan, something I don't own, so I did it in a skillet.

Meanwhile, the cucumbers. Here, she wants you to halve and seed, then do the smash-and-break-up thing, about which I'm a skeptic, and anyway I had half a dozen tiny cucumbers instead of one large one so I simply cut them in small chunks. These are doused with rice vinegar and caster sugar (I used only two-thirds the sugar) and put in the fridge. The hot part is minced chiles and Sichuan peppercorns sizzled in oil. She calls for one each seeded fresh red and green chile, plus crumbled hot dried chiles, but as I had no fresh green chile, and only Thai chiles for red, I used a few of those and skipped the dried. I used a few more than the 8 Sichuan peppercorns called for, and crunched them up a bit with the side of a knife. Finally, chopped cilantro is added.

Wow, this chicken has a ton of flavor! Each of the five ingredients in the marinade come through, and also play together perfectly. Not spicy, but with pungent black pepper and garlic, nicely complemented by the cool/crunchy/spicy cucumbers. I ended up squeezing a bit more lime juice over the chicken after cooking. The chicken and cucumber combo was also great cold, for lunch.

What are you baking these days? April showers...2nd part, April 2015 edition!

In recent days, I baked linzer cookies for a young friend (actually daughter of a friend) for her birthday. She had liked the ones I made at the holidays, so I figured why not. Those were made with hazelnuts and filled with blackcurrant jam, while these I did with almonds and filled half with apricot, and half with homemade pomegranate jelly.

Then I found myself with the unusual (for me) situation of having a couple of large, very overripe bananas around, so I made a loaf of banana bread, using my old standby recipe (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...), which, despite having only a tablespoon of oil is moist and delicious, with a great texture,and keeps well. I always make it with brown sugar and add a bit of cinnamon, and this time added a handful each chopped walnuts and chocolate chips, and used roasted walnut oil for the oil.

What are you baking these days? April showers...2nd part, April 2015 edition!

I also struggle with smoothing frosting, but one trick I find helps is to dip the offset spatula in very hot water, dry quickly, and run it over the cake. The heat helps to smooth the icing and it doesn't stick to the spatula as much.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy hurry up and be Spring already, April 2015 edition!

I believe Gio has proclaimed this a longtime favorite, so hopefully she'll chime in.

Goodbye Mad Men....sniff....sniff....

The only mixed drink we've seen Peggy drink, I believe, is a Manhattan, in the scene with her and Don in the bar in "The Suitcase," Season 4. It wasn't named, but it was brown, in a cocktail glass with a maraschino cherry, ergo...Peggy Takes Manhattan? (That was her goal from the start after all.)

Joan, bubbly or gin and tonic (her choice last episode).

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

I have a hard time imagining a Venetian cookbook (even only of sorts) pairing Gorgonzola with fish.

I interpreted the recipes the same way Mel did (and that makes a difference to me, as I dislike blue cheeses).

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

Westminstress, do you have a food processor? This won't help with the zucchini, but I (also lacking a mandoline) use mine, with the fine slicing blade, for shaved fennel salads with great success. It also works great for the shaved red onions that are so frequently in those same salads.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

My syrup absorbed well, but if you look at the photo in my report above, you can see that I also got a similar horizontal fault line. Wonder what that's about?

Apr 22, 2015
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? April showers...2nd part, April 2015 edition!

I can relate. However, I have done something with a carrot cake that kind of scales up your cupcake with the nut half, simply smoothing the top, using a wide icing spatula vertically to give a little pattern to the sides, then toasted nut halves spaced just slightly around the base of the cake and the exterior of the top. Very simple, but looks nice and a bit sophisticated.

Apr 21, 2015
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

That looks just gorgeous, and the potato skins do improve the aesthetics. I'm almost always unwilling to peel potatoes, especially the waxy types.

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 1 & 2

Szechuan Chicken and Cucumber Salad, p. 37

Man, what a great salad this is! Simple as can be, but the crunch of cucumbers and freshness of cilantro against the addictive 'ma la' combo of chile and freshly toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorn make a dish that just sings. I know I will be making this one again and again.

Instead of chile flakes, I used some minced (fresh) Thai chiles with their seeds because I have a fair amount, and let them sizzle in the oil for a minute before I took it off the heat and added the other dressing ingredients. Interesting that he calls for such a large amount, and of "mild" chile flakes. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't have multiple types of regular crushed chile flakes, and the ones I have aren't mild (that's not the point of them!).

February 2015 COTM "MIGHTY SPICE COOKBOOK" Reporting thread for Chapters 5, 6 & 7

Gobi Masala, p. 172

Do you know, despite the book having a (singular) cauliflower recipe, "cauliflower" does not appear in its index? Well, at least the book is brief enough that gobi masala is listed on the same index page where cauliflower *should* appear, and brief enough that it's easy enough to find recipes by flipping through. On the positive side, love that it has two ribbon bookmarks!

Anyway, this is another simplified Indian-style dish that, while not as complex as if made with garlic and whole coriander and cumin, is definitely good eating. Cooked for the suggested time, the cauliflower was very tender but not mushy. Made with chopped canned tomatoes and cayenne for the chile powder. Perfect complement to tandoori-style salmon a la Fish Without a Doubt and cucumber raita.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

Elderflower Lemonade, p. 288

We're in the midst of an un-April-like heatwave here (to cap off our non-winter winter). This sounded like just the thing for a hot afternoon, and I had all the ingredients to hand. Lemon juice and elderflower cordial are shaken with ice, and all, including the ice, is poured into a glass, topped up with ginger beer, and garnished with a sprig of mint. I was using a Meyer lemon, so I upped the quantity by around 10 ml to compensate for its relative lack of acid. RN says that after 10 seconds of vigorous shaking, it'll become very frothy; mine didn't, and I don't know whether that was down to my ingredients or (more likely) my technique, or lack thereof.

The headnote says this is one of Polpo's most popular drinks, and I can see why. It's not overly sweet, and the interplay of the lemon, ginger, and elderflower is complex, refreshing, and delicious. Not gonna lie—it's great as is, but I think it'd be pretty darn swell with some rum, to boot.

What are you baking these days? April showers...2nd part, April 2015 edition!

Or cardamom, which is great with pears.

April 2015 COTM Announcement: POLPO

beetlebug reported a similar fate with a copy she ordered through Abe Books (I believe).

Apr 15, 2015
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Happy hurry up and be Spring already, April 2015 edition!

Unfortunately, all too common in business-speak.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

Negroni Sbagliato, p. 285

I had never heard of this before seeing the recipe in this book. Frankly, I'm skeptical of the origin story posited in the headnote (how would a bartender confuse gin and prosecco bottles?), but I'm pleased to make its acquaintance. Kind of splits the difference between the stronger Negroni and lighter Americano.

Apr 11, 2015
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 3 & 4, Fish & Meat

The idea is to just make the braised lentils (cook lentils, then add to the sautéed onion, carrot, celery, garlic), and separately make the mustard dressing (without gorgonzola). And here's where I admit my own sheepishness! In the moment, not only did I forget to throw the garlic in the pan with the fish, I also added the mustard dressing to the lentils, not to the salsa verde. Frankly, I liked the results just fine, in both cases: the salsa verde was tasty without the dressing, and the lentils were excellent with it, especially as cold leftovers.

Assuming you're doing it as he intends, I don't think there would be any issue with reheating the lentils in a skillet over low heat, stirring every so often. I scaled the mustard dressing way down, using the proportional ingredients to equal just the amount I needed for the recipe (even if I didn't end up using it as the recipe intends!).

Apr 11, 2015
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

This is the recipe I use; it's from the book No Need to Knead, which predates the publication of the wildly popular Jim Lahey no-knead bread recipe and its relatives and derivatives. This is the only recipe I've actually used from the book, but it is a big hit whenever I serve it, and it is seriously easy. I'm attaching a photo which, while not the sharpest, does show well what the crumb is like.

This makes a large focaccia (covers most of a half sheet pan). I've never halved it, as I tend to make it when entertaining, but the quantities are nice and round, so I see no reason why doing so wouldn't work fine. This is a very forgiving recipe—leaving it in the fridge a while longer or letting it sit out at room temp longer before baking (provided it's not overly warm in your house) are no problem IME.

Note on yeast: If you're letting it rise overnight, instant/rapid-rise yeast works no different than active. Note on flour: While the original recipe calls for bread flour, I always just use King Arthur AP, which is higher in protein than most American AP flours (and I believe has a protein content similar to Canadian AP flour), it works great.

Rosemary Focaccia

2 cups lukewarm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast (see note above)
4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour (see note above)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. kosher salt or coarse sea salt

Put the water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it, and stir to dissolve. With a sturdy mixing spoon, stir in 2 cups of flour and salt until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and stir for around 2 minutes more, until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl (it will still be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (You can let this rise and bake it right away, but the flavor isn't quite as good as with the overnight rise. To do this, set the bowl in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume, about 40 minutes, then shape and bake.)

Remove the bowl from the refrigerator 2 hours before you want to bake it and let it stand in a warm place to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 500F. Oil a large baking sheet (I use a Silpat mat and oil it) and scrape the dough out onto the pan. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and use your hands to stretch it out into a large oval that's 1 inch thick. You can poke your fingers down through the dough and stretch open little holes here and there for a dimpled effect, but it's not necessary. Brush the dough with olive oil again, then sprinkle it with the rosemary and kosher salt. Put the pan in the oven and turn the heat down to 450F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it's golden brown. Cool on the pan or a rack for a bit, and cut into pieces. Serve warm. (If I can't bake and slice it right before serving, I wrap it in foil and reheat it, which is also how I treat leftovers.)

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapter 5, Vegetables

I surely don't know bout monksbeard (never heard of it till reading this book), but he suggests marsh samphire as a sub, and I know from some discussion about it back when people were first cooking from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, which has a recipe or two calling for it, that marsh samphire is salicornia, and usually known as sea beans in the US. I recall that a couple of folks were able to find it at good produce stores in the US, though I don't know offhand what its season is.

Perhaps this will help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicornia

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

Thank you, NCW, that is so gratifying to hear!

April 2015 COTM: POLPO - Chapters 1 & 2, Cichèti & Breads

The focaccia I make is definitely flat (it's baked on a sheet pan, not in a loaf), with a more hole-y crumb, and the flavor and chewiness I think of as intrinsic to focaccia. (It's also possibly the easiest yeast bread recipe known to humankind, as it's no-knead and practically foolproof.) That said, this is a) a gorgeous loaf of bread that looks terrific, inside and out, b) as L.N says, by all a appearances a spot-on rendition of the Polpo version, and c) without a doubt an effort to be proud of.

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

I made Leite's orange olive oil cake when the New Portuguese Table was COTM a couple of years ago (I think that's the general timeline), and remember liking the flavor well enough, but not being moved to make it again. I was intrigued by the Tunisian one because it has you chop up a whole, raw orange (I used a blood orange) and puree it. It's essentially a sponge cake, and the flavor definitely deepened as it sat.

Here's my orangey orange-almond cake recipe, should you be interested in taking a look: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9923...

Apr 10, 2015
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

April 2015 COTM: POLPO, chapters 6 & 7, Desserts & Drinks

I had dinner at a local Italian restaurant the other day, and noticed they had an Aperol spritz (indeed, "Venetian Spritz" per the menu) listed alongside the aperitivi. I didn't order one (hey, why pay $10 when I have all the ingredients at home?), but I did ascertain that it does *not* come with a green olive!