7/26/2016

Salmon en Croute and Scarlet Feather for Cook the Books Club


Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy has been our June/July book pick for Cook the Books Club, as well as my first hosting experience there.  I was pretty sure I had read this novel sometime in the past, but to be honest, once I got (re-)? reading it, the story was absolutely new to me.  Maeve Binchy was the starting point however.  Knowing that I wanted us at Cook the Books Club to feature one of her wonderful novels, I selected this one for the culinary connection.  And it does indeed contain lots of foodie inspirations

The book concerns a pair of friends from cooking school who have the dream of opening their own catering business.  An engrossing story, covering the process of getting Scarlet Feather (named for the duo - Tom Feather and Cathy Scarlet) the perfect premises, funded and established, including the connections and interesting personalities of all the various relatives, friends and, unknown to them, enemies, with lots of humor and understanding.
 
Binchy is well known for her delightful and humorous depiction of unique  and memorable characters, both good and bad, and this novel has plenty of them.  I especially loved the funny, precocious, abandoned  twins who come to stay and end up living with Cathy and her family.  Tom and Cathy face almost insurmountable odds both in their personal lives as well as with their business.  But, are a fictional illustration of what can be overcome and be the impetus for growth in life.

Among many treats mentioned in the book was Salmon en Croute, which called to mind some wonderful meals we enjoyed in Ireland featuring salmon.  A fish which also brings to mind an old Irish legend about the "Salmon of Knowledge."  Perhaps eating salmon makes you wiser?

7/20/2016

Quick and Easy Chilled Gazpacho

 

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto!

We're rockin' out with tomatoes this week at IHCC and chef Curtis Stone.  The weather, being so muggy and hot, has been inspiring me to more salads and less cooking.  A Gazpacho sounded quite cool and refreshing, and it was, it is!  This recipe may be found on his web site and in his book, Relaxed Cooking, as well.

7/18/2016

Green Pineapple Chutney with Cranberries


You see here a couple of green, unripe pineapples that no one in their right mind would pick.  However, at the beginning of the season, when the desire for a lovely, sweet, fresh pineapple overrides common sense,  we usually make this mistake at least once, thinking maybe it's ready.  Hope prevails.  Both Bob and I did it.  They sat around for a week or more, and I could see those guys were never going to ripen up.  Meanwhile really, truly ripe ones were happening.

Cooking them into a tangy chutney was the solution.  Lots of wonderful spices, red peppercorns, cranberries, you get the picture.  A double rescue.

7/12/2016

Competition Mixed Veggie Mac 'n Cheese

 I was truly forced to do another Christine Wenger book post here.  It was the Mac 'n Cheese cook-off competition in Macaroni and Freeze that did it.  Firstly her descriptions of the contest entries had me planning  ingredients for a nice variation of my own.  Also, the book, "A Comfort Food Mystery" is a fun, food-filled cozy.  Nothing deep here.  Even the cuisine is pretty basic, '50's Diner style stuff, which you might expect, as the heroine runs a comfort food diner.  In between helping solve various murders.

The last one I read, and posted about here, was good and this who-done-it is no exception.  The expected murder, narrow escapes, a wee bit of romance, and food of course. Formula writing, but diverting in the evenings.

The beauty of macaroni and cheese is the infinite diversification possible.  I've made a number of those and posted some of them.  Cauliflower, Tuna, hamburger, salmon, green kale, to name a few.  This particular version was inspired by the one I had at Moon and Turtle, made with spätzle.  After my own session of spätzle making,  a corporate decision was made to not bother again, or to buy a special gadget for making said noodles.  There are enough fine pastas on the market which can be conveniently used.  


7/09/2016

Local Ono on the Barbie!



This week with Curtis Stone, current reigning chef at IHCC (I Heart Cooking Clubs), we're On the Barbie!  Grilling whatever.  In my case, Curtis' recipe for grilled salmon was transmogrified to ono, a locally caught, quite delicious fish, the name of which translates to really good.  Some of you folks might know it as Wahoo!  I always think deserving of the exclamation point.

Served up at his website recipe on a Greek salad, with kalamata olives and chunks of feta.

7/02/2016

Tinga Poblana - A Smoky Pork and Potato Stew


 This is Potluck week at IHCC, (I Heart Cooking Clubs) and I selected a wonderful recipe from Rick Bayless out of his Authentic Mexican Cookbook.  Which, after perusing the library book with extreme covetousness, for weeks already,  I now have coming via Amazon.  My very own copy.

6/25/2016

Pineapple-Bourbon BBQ Sauce

For the weekly theme at IHCC, (I Heart Cooking Clubs) it was Fresh & Fruity with our reigning chef, Curtis Stone.  Just in time for your Fourth of July barbecuing , was my thought, not to mention all the pineapples ripening up around the old ranch.  Which meant a change from the original recipe: for apple, add in a pine.

6/18/2016

Potato, Cauliflower and Camembert Gratin for Surf and/or Turf


 This week at IHCC (I Heart Cooking Clubs) it's a Surf and/or Turf theme, a recipe that features either surf (fish and seafood) and/or turf (meat, poultry, and vegetables) from our currently featured chef, Curtis Stone.  I had a nice looking cauliflower, and the potatoes, so this recipe in his book, What's for Dinner? was a natural, being from the turf side of the agenda.  I served the gratin with roast chicken rather than his suggested grilled pork chops.

6/16/2016

Candlenut Chicken Curry - a Deadly Special


Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials is my second read in this little series by Singaporean author, Ovidia Yu, and so glad I found it!  Mysteries, with humor, troubling social issues, and lots of culinary interest.  Some of the food mentioned sounds quite intriguing, though not especially appealing to Western tastes perhaps, but again, much of it is.

 I especially enjoy her philosophy, partially based as it is around cooking; as well as the way she uses herbs and dishes to calm and even heal.  Rosie is a compassionate, kindly and helpful character, who thinks about people and what motivates them with a purposeful sort of curiosity.  Aunty can tell so much about a person by what, and how he or she eats, which information of course helps with her sleuthing. 

Book Description from the Publisher for those interested in it:
"Rosie "Aunty" Lee, the feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore's best-loved home-cooking restaurant, is back in another delectable, witty mystery involving scandal and murder among the city's elite
Few know more about what goes on in Singapore than Aunty Lee. When a scandal over illegal organ donation makes news, she already has a list of suspects. There's no time to snoop, though—Aunty Lee's Delights is catering a brunch for local socialites Henry and Mabel Sung. Rumor has it that the Sungs' fortune is in trouble, and Aunty Lee wonders if the gossip is true. But soon after arriving at the Sungs', her curiosity turns to suspicion. Why is the guesthouse in the garden locked up—and what's inside? Where is the missing guest of honor? Then Mabel Sung and her son, Leonard, are found dead. The authorities blame it on Aunty Lee's special stewed chicken with buah keluak, a local black nut that can be poisonous if cooked improperly. She's certain the deaths are murder—and that they're somehow linked to the organ donor scandal. To save her business and her reputation, she's got to prove it—and unmask a dangerous killer."

There was a recipe at the back for the famous "Deadly Special", which is not only a delicious Chicken Curry, but uses candlenut (kukui here in Hawaii) instead of the very rare jungle nut, Buah Keluak, frequently used with the dish in Singapore.  The author also suggests macadamia nuts can be substituted.  As I do have a kukui nut tree and few opportunities to use them, this "Deadly Special" had to be the inspired dish for my post.