I was seduced by cookbook last week. For the most part, I have a good deal of self-control when it comes to glossy, recipe-laden volumes – I have so many food magazine subscriptions that give me more monthly inspiration than I can digest. But this one really spoke to me. It’s called Modern Flavors of Arabia, and it’s chock full of beautifully photographed, vibrant dishes boasting an abundance spices, fresh herbs and colourful produce.
This was the first recipe I tried – ground lamb scented with cinnamon and allspice, combined with rice and herbs, stuffed into whole peppers. The stuffed peppers are bathed in a spiced tomato sauce and baked. The concept is beautiful, and the final results – quite lip-smacking. But her recipe had some major flaws. First of all, she called for 6 peppers to be loosely stuffed two-thirds full, and the specimens in her accompanying photo were not very big. I stuffed my 6 large peppers… and then 4 tomatoes.
But more glaringly off-base, she calls for uncooked rice, and for the peppers to be covered with foil and baked for 45 minutes. Forty-five minutes in, my rice was still ROCK HARD. No give whatsoever. I don’t think that there’s enough moisture inside the peppers, even steaming under foil, to cook rice through period, let alone in three-quarters of an hour. I should have known better.
I remedied the situation by spooning lots of the tomato sauce into each pepper and baking an additional hour. But come on – when a recipe is wrong on cooking time by more than 100%, that’s an issue…
Canadian Thanksgiving was a couple of weeks ago. Being far from family, Adarsh whisked me away for a lovely weekend in the Okanagan Valley, to an incredible desert landscape nestled deep in the mountains. It was wonderful, and we had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at a winery, but it didn’t completely scratch the itch – I wanted the leftovers! So I cooked a completely spontaneous turkey dinner the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
I mean, what’s Thankgiving without the next-week turkey sandwiches? And the soup? And your mom’s Turkey Chow Mein casserole??!
Step aside ubiquitous thanksgiving pie, pumpkin creme brulee is about to steal the show. This dessert takes the best part of pumpkin pie – the warmly spiced, creamy pumpkin filling – and makes it better. Enriched with heavy cream and lots of eggs, the custard is velvety smooth and luscious – while still lighter than traditional creme brulee, because it’s half pumpkin (vs. all whipping cream). The shattering brulee topping offers a nice textural counterpoint to the creaminess, without the heaviness of a pastry crust.
The best part? You stir everything together in a bowl, pour it into ramekins and you’re practically done. About five minutes of preparation time for a decadent dessert that is sure to impress.
This recipe is for one of my all-time favourite comfort foods – piping hot creamy chicken stew topped with golden, buttery biscuits. Homey and satisfying.
The beauty of it is that you can add whatever vegetables you have on hand – I used cabbage and potatoes, but you could substitute or add carrots, parsnips, peas, green beans, etc.
My biscuit topping is a really easy one – no kneading, rolling and cutting circles. Just mix the dry ingredients, cut in the butter, add buttermilk, and spoon on top of the stew. The result is a bit more rustic-looking than perfectly executed concentric biscuit circles, but much less agonizing and just as scrumptious.
Since last week, with the appearance of this year’s assortment of violently orange Halloween decorations, I’ve had a massive hankering for those old-school tootsie roll apple caramel pops. Remember those? They were my favourite trick-or-treating score, however few and far between. I haven’t seen them in stores for years, and Amazon has them but sadly won’t ship to Canada. I mean, c’mon Amazon! I’m between Washington and Alaska, it’s really not out of your way…
Anyway, I’ve succumbed to the disappointment and I found a better way to scratch that caramel-apple itch. In COOKIES!