7 Days of the Food Network: Day 4, Nigella Lawson

March 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

J:  Nigella Lawson is, quite simply, a goddess of the kitchen.  Some of the chefs I chose for this feature were ones I didn’t know a lot about, but I knew right from the outset that Nigella (along with the three remaining chefs; you’ll see who they are in the coming days!) would have a recipe included here.  It was difficult to choose just one, but I picked this one, chicken with chorizo, kale, and cannellini beans, because it is (relatively) healthy, and pretty darn easy to throw together.  And it was just so pretty!

chorizo + beans are hiding under the kale

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7 Days of the Food Network: Day 3, Cat Cora

March 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

J:  As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of people seem to be kind of scared of risotto for no good reason.  It does require a bit of babying and attention, but it’s really not much more than stirring a pot of rice continuously for half an hour.  Hard?  Not so much.  I’m also pretty much always up for trying new risotto recipes, and this one from Cat Cora (one of the Iron Chefs!) was awesome, with sweet corn and herbes de provence giving it a distinctive and fresh taste.  Bizarrely, I could not find herbes de provence in my local grocery store, so I improvised with what I had on hand, using approximately 1 1/2 tsp thyme, 3/4ish tsp basil, and 3/4ish tsp rosemary instead.  If you can find herbes de provence, I’d recommend using it, but if not, the risotto still tasted pretty yummy with my herb substitutions, so feel free to give that a shot.

light, creamy, flavorful risotto

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7 Days of the Food Network: Day 2, Robert Irvine

March 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  Robert Irvine is someone I saw for the first time when he appeared as a challenger on an episode of Iron Chef America.  Although he didn’t win, he was utterly charming (what can I say, I have a weakness for British accents), and when I found this recipe for pineapple and artichoke pasta online I knew that I had to try it.

I am so glad I did.  It was amazing.  This is one of the most fun and delicious pasta dishes I have ever had — I never would have thought to combine pineapples and artichokes, but the saltiness of the latter complements the sweetness of the former in a completely delightful way.  Also, this was the first time I had ever worked with fresh pineapple, and although it was a little intimidating at first, I was pretty triumphant when I’d finally managed to reduce it to chunks.  So: give it a shot!  Nothing about it is really terribly difficult, and the end product is absolutely fantastic.

it's so good that it doesn't even need cheese

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7 Days of the Food Network: Day 1, Giada De Laurentiis

March 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  Welcome to our first Nombudsman “feature”!  I decided that a fun way to challenge myself to try some new things would be to go onto the Food Network’s website, pick seven chefs, and choose a recipe from each of them.  It’s taken me way too long to get through all of them, but I did it, finally!  Some were delicious, some were pretty good, and some, with all due respect to the chefs who created them, were things I probably wouldn’t make again.

We’re starting off with Giada De Laurentiis.  In all my evenings spent watching FN, I haven’t actually seen any of her shows, but of course she has a reputation as a fantastic Italian-American chef.  I was pretty excited to make this soup; it’s not really similar to other soups I’ve made, and is quite simple, full of fresh leafy greens.  I have to say I found it a little bland and yet a little overpowered taste-wise by the egg, and a little overpowered texture-wise by the spinach, so if I were to make this again I would probably actually add a bit more cheese, a bit more pepper, and maybe a bit less spinach to try and make it smoother, saltier, and a little more complex.  With that said, this is definitely a fun soup to make, and I imagine that if you had a youngster with a budding interest in cooking, it could be a nice dish to make together (carefully, of course!).

So, on to the recipe!

stracciatella soup

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Tinga de Pollo

March 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

E: This is what you have all been waiting for, the post that has been referenced by both the tortillas and the Mexican pasta. Yet again we are indebted to one of our favourite blogs, Crepes of Wrath, for this delicious recipe. This is some of the best homemade Mexican food I have ever had, it wasn’t terrifically difficult, and it fed the two of us for several days.

There isn’t a story around why we made this, we just came across it one day and it looked great. The pico de gallo is excellent, and if you have any left over you could add an avocado, mash it up, and make guacamole out of it.

it is as good as it looks

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Mexican Pasta

March 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

J:  Chipotle chilies are one of my favorite ingredients ever.  I had some left over from another dish (that will be put up sometime soon), and I decided that rather than seek out some other recipe that would let me use them up, why not resort to my default way of using leftovers: pasta!  So, I came up with a pasta sauce based very loosely on the standard pizza sauce I’ve used before, and threw in a few extras to jazz up the pasta a bit, and this dish was the result.  It is super simple, so if you’re busy, it’s a good dish to just put together one evening.  I used a whole pound of pasta — I’ve been swamped with work recently, so I decided that it would be a good idea to have a lot of leftovers that I could just reheat instead of worrying about making something else — but you don’t have to.  The amounts for the sauce here would be fine for 3/4 lb or even probably 1/2 lb, if you wanted to have a large sauce-to-pasta ratio.  For the full pound, it ended up being more of a “mix-in” than a full-on sauce, but it did infuse the pasta very nicely with spiciness and general delicious flavor.  Topped with grated cheese, this is some pretty tasty pasta, if I do say so myself!

I would change a few things from what I did, so you’ll find my notes in parentheses in the ingredient list, and I’ll comment on differences as we go through the recipe.

almost like a taco, but with pasta!

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Real Mint Chocolate Cookies

March 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

E: Alright, today we have more adventures in cookies made with real ingredients. Last time it was these cookies made with brewed espresso instead of instant coffee. Today it is mint chocolate cookies, made with real mint. Joanna and I had some mint left over from another recipe, and so we decided to go out on a limb and try something daring. She’s not really a fan of mint, but I love it. And oddly enough I think she liked these cookies a little more than I did. For once I felt they needed more sugar, when she felt they were sweet enough. So I’ll present the recipe just as we made them, and you can decide for yourself if you want more sugar in them. You could probably go up to 1/2 cup of each without having to make any other changes.

you don't often see green in cookies

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