Tag Archives: Cookbooks

Weekend Cooking Posts That Weren’t, Part Two #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

My first  Weekend Cooking Posts That Weren’t, Part One post was about our scientific taste test of King Arthur Flour’s Cake Enhancer. Now comes Part Two – some more of the Weekend Cooking posts I planned to write in 2015 (or 2014, 2013, etc.) but didn’t:

1. Cupcakes! by Eleanor Klivans

cover image of cookbookI bought the ebook edition of Cupcakes! by Eleanor Klivans (Chronicle Books, 2005) for my Nook Color way, way back, long before pretty, pastel macarons became the new thing and cupcake bakeries started going out of business.
Cupcakes! is a lovely book with beautiful photographs and lots of yummy-sounding recipes, but the only one I tried before I switched mainly to gluten-free baking was for these Coconut Cupcakes one Easter a few years back.  Delicious!

photo of Easter coconut cupcakes
Aren’t they pretty? I even used food coloring to color the coconut green like Easter grass.
Cupcakes with colored sprinkles
I left the coconut off of some for people who don’t like coconut.

2. Le French Oven by Hilary Davis

cover imageThis Weekend Cooking review post is still to come, so this is just a preview.
I feel bad about not reviewing Le French Oven by Hilary Davis before Christmas this year, but hopefully you saw it somewhere else and put it on your wish list. If you have a French oven or those cute miniature ones called mini cocottes, you MUST GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS COOKBOOK. I, unfortunately, do not, and, for some reason, did not get one for Christmas. 😉
I’ve earmarked many recipes to try anyway, such as Artichoke Parmesan Soup, Soft Parmesan Polenta with Arugula Salad and Poached Egg, Simply Delicious Roasted Vegetables, Braised Leeks and Swiss Chard with Feta and Raisins, Roast Turkey Breast with Provencal Vegetables, and Fresh Orange Creme Caramel.
This isn’t a good choice if you’re vegetarian or on a gluten-free diet, but for everybody else…especially if you love having gorgeous photographs in your cookbooks…this is a beautifully written and well-designed cookbook to have in your collection. Plus, it lies flat and the pages are not going to come loose from the binding.
Warning: You’re going to start planning a trip to France after reading this or either of the author’s other cookbooks – French Comfort Food and Cuisine Nicoise. (Links go to my reviews.)

3. Lobster Rolls

Plate of lobster roll with French friesSummer is not official until we have our first lobster rolls. Preferably at some seaside restaurant. But my husband grew up lobstering with his father and brothers, so he knows how to cook fresh lobster, and sometimes we have it at home.
My husband makes lobster salad just the way I like it, heavy on the lobster and light on the mayo. Here’s his homemade lobster salad on a gluten-free, spinach wrap. Yummy!

IMG_2216In the Weekend Cooking post I had “planned”, I was going to discuss the different ideas people have of lobster rolls and the regional divisions between the ones with mayo and ones that are just lobster and butter in a roll.
But I like the mayo version best, so I’m not even going to bother. The lobster salad, though, has to be made with big pieces of fresh lobster with, at the most, a little chopped celery, and it has to come in a New England-style hotdog bun…grilled in butter (but not burnt like the one in this picture)…for it to be my ideal lobster roll.
Eating a lobster roll on the ocean adds to the flavor. Massachusetts lobsters are the best, of course, but we actually had our best-ever lobster rolls up in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I forget the name of the restaurant, but it’s right on the water.

Me and my husband at a table on the beachThis photo is from 2009! Since then, my hair has been steadily going gray and my husband went on a low-carb diet, so in 2016…he looks better and I look worse! (For the record, however, having seen the new Star Wars movie, I believe Carrie Fisher has aged just as well as Harrison Ford.)

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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Presto! Pesto! #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

cover image of Best 125 Meatless Mediterranean DishesI mentioned making pesto from the recipe in The Best 125 Meatless Mediterranean Dishes by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler & Mindy Toomay a couple of years ago for Weekend Cooking, but I recently made a batch and remembered to take some photos for this post, because there can never be too many blog posts about pesto.

The recipe from this cookbook is a very basic one that starts with two packed cups of basil, but for some reason, I find the proportions always work exactly right to make my idea of pesto. It’s thick, but not drippy; it spreads easily and mixes evenly into hot or cold foods. It’s bright green (underneath the top layer in the container that always gets discolored even with a thin layer of olive oil on top) and smells divine! Basil, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil…mmmmmmmmm.

(Yes, I have spooned pesto straight from the container into my mouth, as some people like to do with peanut butter or Nutella. But don’t worry, I don’t dip the same spoon back in, just in case you’ve ever come to eat dinner at my house.)

To make pesto, you absolutely must have a big bunch of fresh basil that is still nice and green. (Don’t put it in the fridge! I’ve learned you can just put a big bouquet of it in a vase of water on the counter until you’re ready to use it.)

close up of basil leaves removed from stemsAnother fan of this classic basil pesto recipe at Tales of Twisty Lane blogged about it and included the recipe in a blog post here.

Basically, you grind up the basil leaves in the food processor with garlic, pine nuts, and grated Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the 1/3-cup of olive oil you’ve measured out and then as the food processor’s still going, pour in the remainder of the oil slowly, the way you do if you’ve ever tried making homemade mayonnaise. It gets emulsified that way, I guess, so the oil doesn’t separate out from the other ingredients. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or more and it’s still good.

photo of pesto just after it's madeThis pesto was made with basil fresh-picked from the garden the same day. If you don’t think that looks delicious, then I can’t help you! 😉

Pesto was a revelation to me when I tasted it for the first time at a restaurant in the mid-80s, some time after graduating from college. I don’t think I ever had a dish of pasta again that tasted so incredible! So pesto has a special place in my heart, and is going to come back into style again one of these days, I just know it.

Some ways to eat pesto other than on pasta:

  • on corn on the cob instead of butter
  • on roasted or grilled veggies
  • on a cheeseburger
  • on a tomato sandwich
  • on a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich
  • with a spoon (for fanatics only)

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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It’s Still Summer: Pay No Attention to that CrockPot in the Corner #weekendcooking

At the library, I put out a display of summertime cookbooks over a week ago and have only had to replace a few titles since. The rest are still sitting there, as pretty and appealing as can be, but no takers.

Come on, people! There are still farmers’ markets and farm stands overflowing with all sorts of produce! Let’s keep cooking with the fresh corn, tomatoes, melons, peaches, greens, peppers, and berries. There’s time enough to move on to apples and pumpkins later.  Yes, I saw the Halloween displays in the stores on August 1st, but I’m treating them like ads on the Internet and pretending they’re not there.

That said, I did use the slow cooker a couple of times recently and made these Slow Cooker Enchiladas. I made them first for a potluck with corn tortillas, following the recipe pretty closely using chicken, corn, and black beans in the filling, and they came out great, although slightly burned on the bottom. The next time I made them, I planned on the shorter end of the suggested cooking time range, but was in a big hurry and skipped the chicken and black beans and forgot the corn and decided to use the gluten-free teff tortillas instead of corn ones, and they came out a gloppy mess. (Lesson learned: Teff tortillas dissolve if you cook them for extended periods covered in salsa.)

I have no photos from the successful or unsuccessful versions of the recipe, so you’ll have to look here for the recipe and the photos.

In celebration of its still being summer here in New England, I did make these drinks last night from an improvised recipe of my own devising. We have been eating peaches from the tree in our yard and even though we didn’t get many this year, I squandered a few small ones in this blender drink, including one that I had frozen whole as an experiment and chopped up to put in the blender frozen.

two drinks with bookcase in background
Peach-Watermelon Limoncello Coolers: Put chunks of fresh watermelon and fresh or frozen peaches in the blender to about two-thirds full. Add limoncello and a few ice cubes. Blend. Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint.

For other gluten-free CrockPot recipes for late summer and early fall, check out my Pinterest board: So Fast in the Slow Cooker.

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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