Tag: cookbooks

Yes, I know it’s April. But it occurred to me that there were lots of fun things about last month that I didn’t want to write about as standalone posts. So, why not combine them? Especially since the grim weather is finally starting to disappear, and I can remember all the good times winter and I had without feeling stabby about the snow.

Read more on Things That Are Fun: March Edition…

mapleblueberrypreservesI went to grad school with Laena McCarthy, founder of the Brooklyn jam company Anarchy in a Jar. We didn’t know each other; she’s a face I remember from the hallways. But we ended up as Facebook friends during that time, and I’ve followed her updates as she founded her company and built this really cool artisanal jam empire. I became especially interested after I got the bug to start canning a couple of years ago when Meredith started (which reminds me that I still have museum photos to post from the summer). What is about librarians and canning? I also met Meredith in grad school.

Anyway, when Laena published her cookbook Jam On last year, I bought it. But I didn’t really get a chance to dive into it until this year. Last month I made her Easy Like Sunday Morning Blueberry Preserves with the fresh local blueberries I bought and froze over the summer. I had been hoping to get my hands on wild Maine blueberries (which this recipe calls for) during our road trip in August, but every farm I called and emailed had sold out within days of our arrival in Maine. I spiraled a lot over that one, but these preserves are pretty amazing with good old local New Jersey berries–I always have a bunch in the freezer for muffins all year, and I used my entire crop this year on these preserves. Well worth it.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Blueberry Preserves
Makes 4 8oz jars or 2 pints

2.25 cups blueberries about 6 cups)
3.5 cups sugar
2 ounces maple syrup
2 Tbsp lemon juice

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The best thing about this week was making lemon bars. I’ve never made lemon bars before. I don’t know why, I sort of think of them as a snack food cliche. Like Suzy Homemaker who makes lemon bars for the new neighbors. But I came home Wednesday after work with this weird craving for them, and I looked through all my cookbooks until I found a recipe for them that used ingredients I already had on hand (2 giant lemons and no graham crackers). And they were awesome. So awesome they have consumed my thoughts for days, and now I have this new love affair with citrus curds. I’ve found recipes for key lime bars, bars with graham cracker crusts, all kinds of things. These have more of a shortbread crust, which Adam and I weren’t sure about at first. But now we’re both addicted. The crust has a buttery, salty flavor that cuts the extreme lemon flavor of the curd. It works on all levels.

Lemon Squares from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
Note: The book is very adamant that the filling and the crust both be warm when assembling the bars in step 4, so they bake through evenly.

Makes: 16 bars

1-1/4 (6.25 ounces) cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened

7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon zest (the book says about 4 lemons, but I had 2 giant ones and got enough)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (again, the book says 4 lemons. I only had 2 huge ones and got almost enough juice–had to use maybe 1 Tbsp of bottled juice)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 Tbsp heavy cream
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Read more on Cure-A-Bad-Week Lemon Bars…

It has been a rough week. I woke up with a sore throat the day we left DR, and that turned into a burning, itching feeling in my chest and ears, and that turned into an ear infection, sinus infection, and a very nasty cough. I went in to work on Monday, but I’ve been out since then and still have a mild fever. I hate, absolutely HATE, missing work. And I miss it a lot because I’m an asthmatic globe trotter who works with small children and library books. This combination means I pick up every germ that comes down the pipe, and I’m exposed to lots of them. Just once I’d like to finish out a year with an abundance of sick days left, rather than worrying and scrambling to have enough to make it through. It doesn’t help my professional self esteem, no matter how hard I work when I’m there.

Read more on Things Cheering Me Up This Week…

constance spryI didn’t say much yesterday about the actual food I put out for Thanksgiving dinner!

The roast turkey recipe was from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Pretty straightforward. Adam made the mashed potatoes, my mom made all the veggies and stuffing.

Read more on Black Friday…

Rigatoni with SteakThis is another Giada recipe, from the first cookbook of hers that I bought (Giada’s Family Dinners). I don’t make it exactly the same way she does, so this is my modified version. She says in the book that it’s a great way to make a pricey steak go further. This is true, as one good size steak feeds 2 people here. But I just like it because it’s delicious.

Rigatoni with Steak (adapted from Giada’s Family Dinners)
Serves: 2

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (12-ounce) ribeye steak
Salt and pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 cups marinara sauce (I used her marinara sauce recipe, also in that book)
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 lb rigatoni
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan

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finished pork tenderloinThis is my variation on a recipe I first found in Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats. I’ve moved on to different cookbooks now, but still I’ve been making this for years, one of my fastest and tastiest go-to dinners, and over time I’ve tweaked it into my own thing. Her recipe cooks 25 degrees hotter than mine, she uses coriander, garlic, more lime juice. Her recipe doesn’t add onions and peppers. So I’ve posted my variation. I serve it with yellow rice and sour cream, and it’s awesome.

Read more on Cumin Roasted Pork Tenderloin…

I’m finally getting on the John Green bandwagon, and I’m starting with Looking for Alaska. So far I think it’s fantastic. I’ve started An Abundance of Katherines no less than 3 times and have never gotten very far with it. So I thought I’d go to his first book and work my way through.

Read more on Stuff This Week…

crispy garlic chicken cutlets

I bought The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2009 a while ago. It’s a magazine-sized supplement they put out every year, and of course it has some great new recipes in it. This is the first one I’ve made from it, and these Crispy Garlic Chicken Cutlets were everything they promised to be. I’ve never made chicken this crispy in my life, and it was wonderfully garlicky without warding off vampires for miles around. And it was a pretty quick weeknight dinner with some herbed lemon butter spaghetti. Adam has requsted that this be added to The List, my rotation of really good recipes that require repeat appearances.

Crispy Garlic Chicken Cutlets

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roast chickenAdam has been quietly, patiently requesting roast chicken in my kitchen experiments pretty much since the day I met him. I had a fear of roasting things that I concquered after a few colorful attempts at Christmas turkeys. I finally got the turkey thing down cold, so this weekend I decided to do a proper Sunday roast. I used my never-fails-me America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (seriously, everything I make from this book is golden) for the recipe. Adam made his famous mashed potatoes (no matter how hard I try, I just can’t make them as good as his), and we grilled some asparagus on the stove. I’m very excited to learn that the asparagus comes out just as awesome inside with a grill pan as it did outside on the grill.

The book suggests brining the chicken first, which I did. Two quarts of cold water mixed with 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 sugar in a big bowl. I totally immersed the chicken, covered it, and refrigerated it for about 40 minutes. And the chicken was unbelievably moist.

Simple Roast Chicken (from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook)

Read more on I Finally Roasted a Chicken!…

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