Throwback Thursday: Chicken with Indian Spices, Mango & Coconut from Simple

Here’s yet another throwback to Simple by Diana Henry. We’ve been making a STACK of the recipes from Made in India over the last couple months (and yet I’ve still only posted about the book once!), but I just had to try this Mango Chicken Curry recipe from Simple because it’s one of my favorite Indian curries.

It was super easy to throw together as all the recipes from this book have been. You cook some chicken thighs in butter and oil then set them aside while you make the sauce – by cooking onions and garlic, adding chopped tomatoes, curry paste, ginger and stock then boiling to reduce the sauce by half. Then you add coconut cream, brown sugar and return the chicken to the pan for another 15 minutes. You add the mango at the last minute so it doesn’t overcook and then finish it with some cream and some lemon or lime juice. We served it with basmati rice and naan and topped it with some fresh coriander.

Sadly, I was disappointed with the end result. The mango flavour was just too muted. It was a really nice curry, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. I’m tempted to try it again since we still have a stack of the Patak’s vindaloo curry paste we bought especially for this recipe and adding extra mango or maybe even some mango nectar in addition to the stock. I’m determined to perfect this favourite meal!



Simple Thai Food: Curry Noodles with Chicken

We are in for a month of awesome eating if tonight’s dinner was any indication of what’s to come. During the month of April, Food52 Cookbook Club is going through Leela Punyaratabandhu’s book Simple Thai Food and one flick through the book and I’ve already dog-eared several recipes (on my kindle version).

I knew I wanted to cook from it at least once this week but due to the busyness of the weekend I didn’t properly menu plan and do a grocery list at home, so I came up with making this recipe as we drove to Woolies while I was madly writing what I could remember we needed to buy on a scratch sheet of paper. This meal appealed to me because it said it could be ready in 30 minutes and it has similar ingredients to Pad Thai (and I will definitely be making that recipe this month). When I looked at the long list of ingredients it didn’t seem too daunting…curry pastes, curry powder, coconut milk/cream, fish sauce, brown sugar, chicken stock, tofu, chicken, rice noodles, peanuts, fried shallots (I’m still working through the humongous bag I bought before Thanksgiving), bean sprouts, coriander, limes and eggs. I opted not to buy the preserved radish because I didn’t have the time to go to a specialty store and Woolies didn’t seem to sell it.

We got home from parent teacher interviews and Aaron and I teamed up to knock out dinner in record time (especially for a first go at a recipe). I put the coconut cream, some vegetable oil and the curry paste in our big skillet and once it started smelling nice and was mixed together I chucked in the chicken that Aaron had diced up to stir fry for a few minutes. Then I added the stock, the coconut milk, the brown sugar and the fish sauce and cooked the chicken through.  Lastly I added the tofu (again diced by Aaron) and the curry powder and set it to simmer while Aaron was boiling a couple of eggs and slicing lime wedges and chopping coriander. I blanched the bean sprouts and then boiled the rice noodles for 15 minutes and we were ready to assemble the dish.

Isn’t it beautiful?!! The book says it serves 4 but they were very generous portions and we still had leftovers. I liken the dish to a Thai Chicken Noodle Soup, it is warm and comforting and delicious. Aaron’s already asking when we’re making this dish again and while our littlest two weren’t that keen to eat it they did sample some and loved sucking on the limes. To each their own…

Throwback Thursday: Bacon & Egg Risotto from Simple

This is another throwback from Simple by Diana Henry that fits firmly into that “brinner” category – ie breakfast for dinner. We made this last month when one of our big boys was away on camp as it serves 2 and we simply doubled it so it would feed the remaining 5 of us. It would’ve been tripled had he been here, but given he’s not too fond of eggs I’m not sure he would’ve eaten it.

It’s a basic risotto making process: heat up some stock in a saucepan and in a skillet melt some butter and cook the bacon and onion. Then toast off the arborio rice until it’s translucent and start incorporating the stock a ladle at a time until the liquid absorbs. Season with salt and pepper and add some parsley and parmesan. And serve with poached eggs on top. No wonder it’s in a book called “Simple”. This barely seems like a recipe!

This is a super comforting mid week meal and it’s rather easy to upscale. It is definitely a recipe I’ll return to when we have bacon that needs to be used up!

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Polenta Baked Eggs and book review

The first part of this post is by Aaron, who made dinner while I was at school meetings this evening.

The last recipe from Smitten Kitchen Every Day is quite an easy, filling, tasty comfort food, and it’s vegetarian…polenta baked eggs!

I’ve not really worked with polenta like this before – I’ve used it in a couple of things, but haven’t actually boiled it in water. I was surprised at how much it thickens.

There’s nothing too tricky with this recipe – bring some water to a simmer, stir in the polenta, cook for about 15 mins, then add corn kernels and cook a bit longer, then season, add cheese (I used Costco Mexican blend), and sour cream.

After the sour cream is mixed in (the recipe says to mix it to just before it is all mixed in – something I didn’t read until AFTER I had mixed it in…oops), you pour the mix into an oiled baking pan. Following this, you mix in spoonfuls of tomato paste – Jen pulled out a can of tomato soup we’d had in the cupboard for ages to use instead, which worked nicely, although perhaps made the mixture a little runnier than usual. With it being a bit runnier, it was a little hard getting the eggs into the holes you make for them (the holes started filling in as soon as you  made them), and I also doubled the recipe so that added to the amount of mixture.

Eight eggs into holes later, I was ready to season a little more, then sprinkle with some more of the Mexican cheese, and pop it in the oven. You know the dish is ready when the egg whites are cooked. Thanks to our funky oven, that’s a bit of a gamble, and I ended up overcooking the eggs. I think it would have been a lot nicer with runny yolks, but it was still yummy.

A couple of things I’d do differently next time would be to not stir the sour cream in until after you’ve poured the mixture into the baking dish, and possibly use canned tomatoes or maybe semi-dried tomatoes, so you get more of the tomato flavour into it (it was mostly lost for me). But overall – a very easy dish, very tasty and just a bit fancy.

Smitten Kitchen Every Day has been a fun book to explore. There are some recipes in there that are quite unique that were definitely worth trying, regardless of how much we loved the result, because it taught techniques or ideas that we otherwise wouldn’t have tried. The olive oil shortbread in particular is something that I do want to try again, but Deb’s recipe left me wanting more crumbly, melty goodness than I got. The sticky toffee waffles were similarly brilliant in concept, the taste was good, but the texture wasn’t quite right. Whether that can be tweaked by toasting the waffles or just making pancakes with the batter will have to wait and see.

While there are still a few more recipes I’d like to try, I must admit that this is not a cookbook I would own. I don’t think it will be a return to again and again with family favourites like some of the other books from the Food52 Cookbook Club have. That being said, I’m glad that I’ll be able to check this book out again from the local library to try my hand at those baked bacony beans and the halloumi and vegetable roast especially.

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Olive oil shortbread with rosemary and chocolate chunks

This by far has been the most popular recipe this month with the Food52 Cookbook Club. Everyone is making it – so of course I had to try it too. Shorbread traditionally is made with bread, and with the interesting combination of rosemary and chocolate and the ease with which the recipe comes together, it is easy to understand its appeal.

All you have to do is whisk together some dry ingredients – flour, icing sugar, raw sugar, salt – then stir in the olive oil, the rosemary, and the chocolate. Roll it out into an 8 or 9 inch slab, sprinkle over some more sugar (you can brush on egg white, but I didn’t because I thought I should keep it vegan) and cook it in a low oven for 20 minutes. When you take it out you need to cut it while it’s still hot with a sharp knife.

To be honest with all the hype about this recipe, I was underwhelmed. I didn’t think that the finished product melted in your mouth the way that shortbread normally would, and it was soooo crumbly on top that it just got messy to eat. That didn’t stop us from getting through the whole batch, but it wasn’t something we ate in one sitting. It took us about a week, so yeah, probably not a great success or a recipe I’ll return to in a hurry.

Throwback Thursday: Sausage & Apple Pie from Art of the Pie

So because Pi Day was on a Wednesday, I somehow got it in my head that I’d posted about the two pies I made for dinner and dessert when all I’d done was add a picture of my slices for What I Ate Wednesday! Whoops.

Our dinner pie was from Food52 Cookbook Club’s first book Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott. I was immediately intrigued by this as it is a savory pie with fruit in it and it has a cheddar cheese crust. I definitely had to make it!

The cheddar cheese crust was simple to throw together. Since I had to grate the cheese which I always use a food processor for, I ended up making the dough straight in there rather than by hand. Flour, salt, cheddar, butter and ice water thrown in together and once it starts to come together I turned it out onto a floured bit of plastic wrap and split it in two pieces and formed it into a disc and refrigerated it until I was ready to make the pie.

Then I made the filling. First I made up a batch of Kenji Alt-Lopez’s maple sage breakfast sausage which I posted about here. Then I cooked a big tin of pie apple with salt, apple juice, brown sugar, thyme, rosemary and allspice for about 5 minutes and then drained the juices and put the apple mixture in with the sausage. Then I reduced the juice to 1 cup in a saucepan and stirred that through the apple-sausage mixture.

Then it was just a matter of rolling out the dough, putting the filling in, rolling out the lid and crimping them together. Egg wash on and bake for 40 minutes, with two more egg washes at 10 and 20 minutes.

This was so good – we were all so glad to have tried it. And given how interestingly different the pie sounded, I was shocked to find not even a sliver in the pie plate when I came back into the kitchen. I can’t wait to cook more from this book!

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Sticky Toffee Waffles

Aaron’s favourite dessert is sticky date pudding. My favourite dinner is breakfast Put those hands together and this is what you get! I was looking for an appropriate dessert to go along with our bacon and egg casserole a few weeks back and was flicking through the plethora of cookbooks on my bench and when I came across this and saw how it didn’t look very complicated, I knew we had to try it.

Food52 Cookbook Club is going through Deb Perelman’s book Smitten Kitchen Every Day this month and for some reason, I seem to be drawn to more of her sweet items than her savoury meals, although I do endeavour to try at least one savoury item.

The first thing you need to do to make these waffles is soak the dried dates in boiling water for 30 minutes. While that’s happening you make the toffee sauce which is a basic recipe that has butter, cream, brown sugar and vanilla which is cooked out on the stove to make an ooey gooey toffee sauce. Then you process the dates and water with some butter, and eggs and then the dry ingredients and process just until the mixture comes together. Then it’s just a matter of cooking the waffles in the waffle maker as you normally would and plate them up.

These were very, very tasty, and if I had any criticism it would be that they weren’t very crispy on the outside. Deb puts hers in the oven to keep them warm until they’re all made and that may have the effect of crisping them up, but I actually think chucking them in the toaster might do a better job. Or just make them as pancakes. This batter looks like it would make great pancakes, and Deb has some of the best pancake recipes we’ve ever had on her website – our 6 year old who hates anything that resembles normal food, absolutely loves her zucchini bread pancakes.

Regardless of the crispiness, we will definitely make these again because the taste was amazing (and like I said – Aaron’s favourite dessert is sticky date pudding, so we already know we’re on a winner with these).

Throwback Thursday: Toasted Brioche with Boozy Mushrooms from Simple

Throwback to April 2017, when the Food52 Cookbook Club was going through Diana Henry’s book Simple. “Effortless food, big flavours” promised on the cover, and wouldn’t you know she delivers! I’d been wanting to try this fancified mushrooms on toast for a while, but given we have a big family and young kids, it’s not all that conducive as a midweek meal, even though I can imagine that when the kids are no longer at home, this is the sort of cooking we’ll do all the time. But one of the big boys is away on camp at the moment, so it seemed much more doable, even though I still had to double the recipe!

The brioche that the mushrooms are sitting on top of is my first attempt at making brioche (I will blog about this next week) and while I used the wrong size pan so it isn’t as tall as I’d like, it was still absolutely delicious and worked perfectly for this dish.

The mushrooms themselves are a 500g packet of sliced button mushrooms and 30g of dried shiitakes that have soaked in boiling water while the fresh mushrooms were cooked in a frypan. Then you add the rehydrated mushrooms in their liquid, cook it off, then add some dry sherry and salt and pepper, and then finish with cream. I seriously didn’t even need a chopping board and knife to make this dish!

I had to go to a workshop at my daughter’s school just as I’d finished cooking dinner, so quickly took a couple bites and saved the rest for after. It wasn’t long after I left that Aaron was texting me “OMG this is so BEAUTIFUL!!!” and he isn’t wrong. This dish is fabulous and I will definitely be making this again!

I do have a few more recipes from this book on my radar to try so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more TBT posts about them in the future.

My Paris Kitchen: Chicken Pot Parmentier

I seem to be on a My Paris Kitchen kick lately.  I think it’s got to do with my need for food that is ultra comforting and packed with flavour. Regardless, this dish is exactly that! I’ve been making this chicken potato pie quite regularly since last July when Food52 Cookbook Club was going through David Lebovitz’s book, but I have shifted things around a little so as to multitask so I can get it in the oven quicker.

The first thing I do is preheat the oven and cube the potatoes and get them in a stockpot of salted water and bring it to a boil. While that’s ticking away, I chop up celery, carrots and onions and simmer them in vegetable stock for 15 minutes.

Once that’s done, you make a roux by melting butter and whisking in flour, then slowly incorporate the stock from the cooked vegetables. Once that’s thickened to a smooth sauce, add the vegetables, some garlic and white wine.

Take it off the heat and add some BBQ chicken meat, frozen peas, tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. Put this mixture into a casserole dish and your potatoes are now probably ready to be drained and mashed with  some butter, egg yolks, cream (we use milk) nutmeg, salt and pepper. Fork this over the top of the chicken and vegetable mixture and bake for about 30 minutes before digging into  the yummy goodness!

My Paris Kitchen: Parisian Gnocchi

Today was definitely a manic Monday! Disaster after disaster, and I was rethinking dinner because I didn’t think we had time to try anything new tonight, but then I thought about the comfort food I was craving and the bottle of wine that needed to be finished and I reverted back to our original plan. And boy oh boy was it worth it!

David Lebovitz continues to impress me with his amazing cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. Seriously there hasn’t been a bad recipe thus far and we’ve made quite a few of them. And every one is worth repeating. I’d never heard of gnocchi made without potato, and when I saw it was made with choux pastry I just thought it sounded so weird! But after I read all the rave reviews on Facebook and after thinking about dumplings sitting in a cheesy bechamel sauce, I knew that this was definitely something worth trying.

So to make the choux pastry you need to melt some butter with salt and water and then as soon as it’s melted stir in some flour until it becomes a smooth dough ball. Put the dough ball in your stand mixer and stir in some eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Then you stir in some dry mustard. Using an ice cream scoop you drop in scoops of dough in boiled salted water and poach the gnocchi for 2 minutes before placing them in a baking dish with parmesan and a melty Swiss cheese and bechamel sauce that you’ve seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. Bake it for 30 minutes and watch the magic happen!

The one criticism I have of David’s recipes has been that he doesn’t really give cues for multitasking. I’d read through the recipe and so had worked out to have the boiling water ready and was working on the bechamel at the same time as I made the choux pastry. I also started preheating the oven at the very beginning and not as I was putting the dish together. It took us about an hour from start to finish, but I reckon if you’d done the recipe step by step it would’ve probably taken twice as long!

David suggests pairing this with a green salad, but we took it one step further and used leftover vegetables from last week and made another chopped salad. It was truly a match made in heaven – the vinegar dressing and the bitter radicchio and the peppery rocket went perfectly with the rich, cheesy deliciousness that was this gnocchi. What a way to end a hectic day!