geekmom's Profile

Title Last Reply

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Oh, that's a great idea. I'm going to try again with a higher oven temp. Thanks!

Aug 14, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Chicken and Chorizo in Rioja - p. 12

Eight chicken thighs are seasoned and quickly browned in olive oil, then set aside while a mixture of onions, celery, carrots and chunks of smoked chorizo are cooked in a large casserole until the vegetables are softened. Flour is briefly stirred into this mixture, and then rioja and chicken stock are poured in. At this point the chicken goes back into the pan, thyme and a bay leaf are tucked in, and the pan goes into the oven for 35 minutes at 350F. Occasional basting is all that's needed from this point on. The dish is served topped with chopped parsley; I added wedges of homemade foccacia, since I had it around, and it soaked up the juices very nicely.

This was a very easy dish with a lovely rich gravy. There isn't a whole lot of variety in the flavour, but I liked that it was easy and quick enough to be a weeknight meal (especially if you prep the veggies beforehand). The leftovers reheated very nicely, too.

This would make a perfect dinner on a miserable winter day, accompanied with a big glass of wine. :-)

Aug 13, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking
2

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Fettucine with goat-cheese pesto and roast tomatoes - p. 92

The first time I tried to make this dish, I was in small-town Ontario and could not find fresh basil anywhere, even though it was the height of summer(!), so I used a jar of Jamie Oliver pesto and mixed in goat cheese (which turns out to be a very easy way to add dimension to a bought pesto). I didn't feel like that would be worthy of a proper write-up here, though, so yesterday we repeated the recipe.

When I was able to make the pesto according to DH's instructions on this page, I found myself agreeing with GG - it really is very very rich, and quite filling. We loved it, and even put a little plate of crumbled goat cheese on the table to sprinkle over top. And the roast cherry tomatoes are a great, sharp addition to this creamy dish.

Thumbs up from everyone here. We will definitely be making this again.

Aug 13, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Similar to this, Gio - seared, then roasted in a hot pan in the oven. That seems to work better than pan cooking only.

Aug 13, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

This sounds amazing! I love ling cod for its substantial meaty texture. I think I'm going to bookmark this recipe.

Aug 13, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking
1

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Thanks for the link, Caitlin. I wonder if I should have left it in the oven longer? Your description of the potatoes crisping up on the outside doesn't sound anything like our result. The tomatoes cooked through and were splitting open, and the potatoes were soft and cooked through, but not crispy. Hmm.

Aug 12, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Rhubarb Cake - p. 183

Those of you in the "Cooking From..." thread may remember my delight in finding this recipe last year. I have baked it countless times, not just with rhubarb but with apples, peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, you name it. A truly wonderful, versatile cake recipe.

Aug 12, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Roast Potatoes and Tomatoes with Spices - p. 115

A simple side dish, consisting of 1kg cut-up waxy potatoes and 500g whole cherry tomatoes, spread in a roasting tin, and coated with olive oil which has been mixed with smoked paprika and toasted, crushed coriander and cumin seeds. This is baked at 350F for around 40 minutes, then served with fresh chopped parsley or coriander.

I'm afraid this one was not a winner at the Geek house. The flavour of the spices did not penetrate the potatoes at all, so the whole dish was disappointingly bland. I used a new tin of paprika and top-quality potatoes and tomatoes from the farmers' market, so I am not sure if there was anything I could have done differently here. I will not make this one again, but happily, there are many other promising potato recipes in this book.

Aug 12, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Do they offer an adult version of that camp? It sounds awesome!

Aug 08, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Thank you :-) I'm glad that I've found time to contribute this month!

Aug 07, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking
1

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

All-in-one Chocolate Cake - p. 178

When I realized that this book was going to be a COTM, I decided it was time to branch out a bit and try some of the other dessert recipes in Cook Simple. ("Other" meaning other than the rhubarb cake, which many of you know has become a staple at my house.) After all, dessert recipes are often underrepresented in COTM reports, and someone needs to balance things out, right?

Like many of the recipes in this wonderful cookbook, this cake is so simple - a quick assembly job. All the ingredients are whizzed in a FP, thinned out with a bit of water, poured into your cake tin and away you go. Even the icing thickened up very quickly so that it didn't drip off the sides of the cakes (as you see in the photo, I opted to make individual cupcakes rather than one large cake). This cake was rich and chocolatey, and not too sweet - particularly since I used a 70% dark chocolate for the icing. If you'd like a sweeter cake you could use milk chocolate instead.

What's not to like about this recipe? I will definitely be making this one again!

Aug 07, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking
3

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Chicken baked with red onions, potatoes, and (thyme) - p. 15

Thanks to Blythe for the summary of this recipe. I used thyme, because I was cooking for someone who doesn't like rosemary. The substitution worked extremely well. The flavours are simple and appealing.

This was ludicrously easy, and I was able to make it as a weeknight meal - I preheated the oven when I walked in the door, quickly chopped everything up and "bunged it in the oven" as the book says. The aroma coming from the kitchen was absolutely wonderful as it baked! We all thoroughly enjoyed this dish.

I did find that my chicken was thoroughly cooked through well before the veg had reached the level of caramelization I wanted, though, so if possible I'd recommend you use chicken with the bones and skin still attached.

Aug 07, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking
1

March 2011 Cookbook of the Month COTM Adjunct thread: ALL OTHER JAMIE OLIVER RECIPES

Oh gosh! I'm so sorry. LOL! It really bugs me. I'm quite neurotic about hand-washing (and surfaces and basically anything at all that touches raw meat) and it probably adds a few minutes to the cooking time when I make the 15 minute meals that have meat in them... And you're right, I had not noticed that he never washes his veg either. Yech!

Jun 05, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

March 2011 Cookbook of the Month COTM Adjunct thread: ALL OTHER JAMIE OLIVER RECIPES

Check upthread for my misadventures in trying to get a couple of these meals done in 15 minutes. I even destroyed a pan one time because it sat empty on the high heat setting for ages while my food processor gave me trouble slicing potatoes :-)

Basically, you CAN do these meals in about fifteen minutes or so - if it's your third or fourth go at that particular recipe. The first couple of times you are learning the recipe, so give yourself 45 minutes and don't try to rush. Read through it several times and figure out what is unwritten (ie, if it tells you to put an empty pan on at high heat, but you have to do quite a few steps before you use that pan, maybe the first time you heat that pan up later on... or if it tells you to boil some water before you start cooking, but it takes you quite a while to get to the point where you need the boiling water, maybe put the kettle on later in the process... that kind of thing.)

Also, anyone notice that Jamie doesn't stop to wash his hands during the show after he touches raw meat? I can't cook like that, so that definitely slows me down.

As for the serving on a cutting board thing - no, I don't do that. It depends on the recipe but my son is at the "I'm going to grow an inch this week so I am going to eat everything in sight" phase, and sometimes these recipes only make enough for four normal-sized servings... the rest of us want to eat too! I just serve the meal onto the plates in the kitchen, or I put the pans on trivets in the middle of the table and let everyone serve themselves (obviously not a great option if you have young kids, though).

Jun 02, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

March 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition: Starters and Small Bites Pg. 1-56

Ooh, that makes sense. I don't think I added more than another tablespoon or two of flour at the end - just whatever the dough picked up from the liberally floured bench. I think this recipe falls short on instructions for those who don't have a lot of experience working with yeasted doughs. I have spent the past few months baking 3-4 loaves of bread every weekend and I think that helped enormously even though this was my first attempt at brioche and I had no idea how to deal with such a sticky dough. If you've ever changed a diaper, the dough should feel smooth like a baby's bottom when it's ready to rest.

I used no name unbleached AP flour from the Superstore :-)

Mar 11, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

March 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition: Starters and Small Bites Pg. 1-56

Oh man, how disappointing that your crust didn't work out as well as it could have. I'm curious, did you use a stand mixer to prepare the dough, and how long did you refrigerate afterward? I am thinking you're probably right that adding too much flour at the end may have been the culprit. I kneaded very very gently after it came out of the mixer, just enough to get a feel for the dough and then I left it alone.

Mar 10, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

March 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition: Starters and Small Bites Pg. 1-56

Brioche Pizza with Roasted Potatoes and Rosemary - p. 52

I've only cooked two recipes from this book so far and I've already used a pound of butter. A very promising start.

Start by making brioche dough (p. 54); once it's properly chilled, you can begin. Slice two potatoes 3/8" thick, toss with some olive oil and roast them at 375F for about 6-8 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, lightly brown half of a thinly sliced red onion with two cloves of finely chopped garlic in a saute pan. At this point you need to roll out four-ounce balls of your brioche dough to the size of your pizza trays. Four ounces did not look like very much at all to me, but I found that this dough was wonderfully stretchy, and rolled out nice and thin. As will be obvious from my photo, I couldn't get the dough to stay in a circle, but the recipe tells you that the pizzas are meant to be rustic so I just rolled until my rustic blobs were about the right size to go onto the trays. My daughter had to fold over the edges in a few places where they were hanging off the round tray. More practice is clearly needed here. :-)

The dough is topped first with the onion/garlic mixture, then with slices of the roasted potato. Next you sprinkle on finely chopped rosemary, red pepper flakes, fleur de sel, and freshly ground black pepper. Finally, shave over some parmigiano-reggiano and bake the pizzas for about 8 minutes. Just before serving, add dollops of creme fraiche (I substituted full-fat greek yogurt.)

This was a seriously good pizza. The wonderfully thin crust was crispy, bubbled up in a few places around the potatoes and tasted distinctly of brioche without being overpoweringly sweet. A nice balance of sweet, salty, savoury and spicy flavours. The potato, rosemary and creme fraiche (or greek yogurt) topping was new to us, and we really liked the combination. The creamy tartness of the yogurt brought all the other flavours together, but the pizza also tasted great without it. Brioche dough does require planning ahead (and a lot of butter) but I can definitely see myself using this again as it's miles better than the thin crust pizza dough that I normally make.

This is a two-day process, but it can be a light weeknight meal (if you want, you can serve with some steak or chicken, or a salad... we just ate the pizzas on their own). I got the dough going in my mixer on the counter while making dinner on Wednesday night, put it away in the fridge, then on Friday evening I pulled the dough out and away we went.

(And best of all, the brioche dough recipe makes such a generous amount that there's plenty left over to bake a loaf of bread... I sense French toast or bread pudding in my future.)

Mar 08, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

March 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition: Sweet Treats Pg. 289-311

It is indeed! http://www.amazon.com/Pirate-Skull-Cr...

We especially like making our Christmas cookies with this thing. :-)

Mar 07, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking
2

March 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition: Sweet Treats Pg. 289-311

Butter Cookies - p. 301

I noticed when I picked up this book from the library a couple of days ago that nobody had reviewed anything from the sweet treats chapter yet. I am happy to take on the burden of being the first.

Anyone who has made sugar cookies will not find this recipe surprising; softened butter (10 tbsp!) and 1/2c+2tbsp sugar are whipped in a stand mixer bowl until fluffy, egg yolks (3 of them) are incorporated one at a time, then 1.5c flour and 1/4tsp of baking powder are stirred in. The ball of dough is then shaped into a disc, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for at least 6 hrs. At this point you roll out your dough, grab your cookie cutters and away you go. I found the dough slightly tricky to work with - when I first rolled it out, it cracked around the edges, so I might have chilled the dough for a little too long. Eventually it softened up a bit, though, and I was on my way.

BL suggests refrigerating your cookie sheets for another 15-20 minutes after you cut the cookies out, before baking, which I think helped to ensure that my cookies didn't spread out into buttery, vaguely skull and crossbone shaped puddles. :-)

These were very nice cookies - rich, buttery, and with a lovely texture - a slight snap as you take a bite, and a good crumb. Perfect with my afternoon cup of tea!

Mar 07, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

COTM August 2013 MEDITERRANEAN HARVEST: Breads, Pizza & Panini; Sauces Dressings & Condiments; Starters, Snacks, Meze & More

Beets and Beet Greens Salad - p. 94

I'm adding to the general praise for this recipe. It's easy and, once the beets are roasted, pretty quick (I cheated a bit and halved my beets to make them roast more quickly - I put the cut side down, into the water, and it didn't dry out), and the dressing is really lovely with the roast beets. Mr. Geek was late getting home from work and I had to work to restrain myself from eating everything on the platter.

I do agree with those who've said that the greens tossed with lemon juice, s&p are skippable - the beets are the star of the show here - however, if you have no other use for the greens, it does add a nice earthy and slightly acidic element, and a bit more colour to the plate.

Mar 05, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

COTM August 2013 MEDITERRANEAN HARVEST: Savory Pies & Gratins; Vegetables & Beans; Rice, Couscous & Other Grains

Cabbage Galette - p. 236

Months of COTMs are being faithfully signed out of the library over at my house and gathering dust on the shelf as I continue my love affair with the unassuming and utterly wonderful Mediterranean Harvest. I feel only vaguely guilty about ignoring all these other great books... but then each time I make yet another winning dish from MH I feel justified. And my family is not complaining.

Anyway, thank you to Westminstress for flagging this cabbage galette recipe. I've now made nearly all the galettes/pies/tortas in this chapter, and this one is the clear winner for me. I realize now that it was only a month ago that WM posted her review, yet I've made this galette three times already. My kids are addicted to cabbage right now (they're weird, but you probably guessed that from my username, haha) so it's a good way to get lots of veggies into them, and I love that I don't have to fiddle around blanching and squeezing and chopping pounds and pounds of greens - just saute the onions and cabbage while the ever-faithful yeasted olive oil pastry rises on the counter, mix in your crumbled feta, beaten and chopped eggs, season, and away you go. I've opted to leave out the fresh dill every time and it in no way diminishes the flavour of this dish. The filling has a nice mix of textures, we love the bursts of saltiness from the feta, the cabbage is slightly sweet, and the soft yeasted dough with the crispy, golden outside is always satisfying.

Westminstress, you asked about the crust being hard - I have often had that issue with whole wheat pie crusts (did you use whole wheat, white, or a blend?), and I don't yet have enough experience to be able to suggest any way to alleviate that. Have you had a chance to try out the other pastry recipe yet?

Mar 01, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

Cooking from Diana Henry's Books

Johanna's Swedish Apple Pie - p 159, Cook Simple (aka Pure Simple Cooking)

I spent most of last year's tree fruit season being somewhat obsessed with the rhubarb cake from this book (which, it turns out, can be made with just about any fruit) and didn't think to look at any of the other desserts, but last weekend this Swedish apple pie recipe caught my eye. I had a pastry failure, and with a dinner guest on the way I needed something quick to throw together. This fits the bill, especially if you have one of those gadgets that peels, cores and slices apples. Simply butter a pie plate, toss in your sliced apples, mix the topping ingredients together & press over top, then bake for half an hour.

This is a really wonderful dessert that is more than the sum of its parts. The apples are a soft bed for the surprisingly crunchy topping which has a hint of almond. Lemon zest is the brilliant addition, here - it works so well to pull everything together. I think I'll be making this one again this weekend.

Adaptation on a blog here: http://fancifulfig.blogspot.ca/2011/1... (I can't speak to whether the quantities are faithful to the original recipe as my book is the UK edition with weight-based measurements, but in the book there is no blend of white & whole wheat flour - just plain or all-purpose flour is called for.)

Mar 01, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

February 2014 Cookbook of the Month Nominations

This sounds great, but isn't in my library just yet - it's still on order. Would love to consider it for March or April, maybe.

Jan 14, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

February 2014 Cookbook of the Month Nominations

I can get behind VEGETABLE LITERACY.

Jan 13, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

have any BC'ers been to Trader Joe's lately - what do you have to bring back over the border from TJ's?

GS, we have done the candy cane Joe Joe vs PC "eat the middle first" candy cane cookie comparison and the latter is sadly lacking. The chocolate coating on the outside with the little crunchy candy bits in it does make a HUGE difference.

We usually eat very well, honestly - these are one of our few junk food indulgences. :-)

Jan 10, 2014
geekmom in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Which of Ottolenghi's cookbooks should I buy?

I've got all of them and am a big fan so I think you should get them all :-) What do you like to cook? I have probably cooked from Jerusalem more than from any other cookbook, but I have a family who really enjoy middle eastern flavours. Plenty is my favourite Ottolenghi cookbook because it has such a wonderful variety of bold and interesting vegetable dishes. Ottolenghi has a very interesting variety of recipes - lots of baked goods - and brings back memories of eating at the restaurant.

All of these books are available at my local library... you may be able to borrow one or two of them yourself, so you can try before you buy.

Jan 07, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

COTM August 2013 MEDITERRANEAN HARVEST: Savory Pies & Gratins; Vegetables & Beans; Rice, Couscous & Other Grains

Westminstress, I've been absolutely delighted with both the ww flour Greek pie pastry and the yeasted olive oil pastry from this book. They are surprisingly easy to work with and quite forgiving. I hope you'll report back here if you get a chance to try one or the other :-)

Jan 02, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking

COTM August 2013 MEDITERRANEAN HARVEST: Savory Pies & Gratins; Vegetables & Beans; Rice, Couscous & Other Grains

Greens and Sweet Onion Pie - p. 239

Like the greens & potato torta/galette (which is now in regular rotation on our dinner table), this recipe has been a real hit here in the Geek house. I realized after making it again last night that I hadn't yet had a chance to review it here.

You can make this with either the yeasted olive oil dough or the Greek pie crust, both on p. 229 (and very easy to make and to work with), or you can use 12 large sheets of phyllo (MRS suggests using 7 sheets as the base, 5 sheets as the lid, and of course, brushing each one with lots of olive oil). The filling is a simple mixture of 2 lbs greens (blanched in salted water, and chopped), a cup of chopped sweet onions cooked gently in olive oil with 2 cloves of pressed garlic, 1/4 cup each fresh dill and parsley; this is mixed with 4 oz of crumbled feta cheese and 3 beaten eggs to hold everything together. Season to taste, then roll out your dough, and use your filling to make a pie, which you brush with a bit of reserved egg and then bake at 375F for 40-50 min, until the filling is piping hot and the dough is golden brown.

This pie is a wonderful example of simple ingredients brought together to make something delicious, satisfying and more-ish. I've made it with both the yeasted olive oil pastry and the whole wheat variation of the Greek pie crust, and both were wonderful, though our preference would probably be for the whole wheat Greek pastry. The filling is a great balance of earthy greens, salty feta and toothsome onions. There were many happy comments as we all sat down to eat this pie last night, and I was surprised there was anything left in the dish -- everyone wanted seconds!

Another "win" from Mediterranean Harvest. This is one of my favourite cookbook acquisitions from 2013.

Jan 02, 2014
geekmom in Home Cooking
1

December 2013 Cookbook of the Month, ALL ABOUT ROASTING by Molly Stevens: Chicken & Poultry

Thank you, Gio - I'll try this next time! Possibly I had the burner turned up too high, and putting the flour in the corner of the pan sounds like a smart idea.

Dec 27, 2013
geekmom in Home Cooking

December 2013 Cookbook of the Month, ALL ABOUT ROASTING by Molly Stevens: Chicken & Poultry

Thanks, Gio! Yes, it was delicious, so the meal wasn't ruined by any means. Just rather... pink. :-)

Dec 27, 2013
geekmom in Home Cooking
1