Sunday, November 24, 2013

Menu: The First Snowfall

Random snow storm that can't make up its mind? Welcome to Toronto. With all that's going on, we can't always have dinner as a family. Well, couple. Things were so scattered last week that I never even got around to formalizing the dinner invitation I extended to a friend who "keeps hearing about all the wonderful meals". Sometimes this happens. I plan a week of meals, but only make a few, or end up modifying plans so much, that it's not really what I had intended.

The chili I intended never manifested. Started late and made with a packet of spices (always a mistake, even when bolstered with fresh), it was bland and uninteresting. It didn't follow the original recipe. It's the kind of thing that will fill you up, but not leave any wonderful memories.

Following our first snow, dinner was the Lazy Sunday Casserole from Kayotic Kitchen. Chop some veg, steam-roast, sear the sausage, add to oven and finish. It was simple and delicious. The husband really likes crisp roasted vegetables, but I thought the moist addition of the chicken broth was a pleasant change. Cooking time was a bit excessive and I lopped off at least 15 minutes near the end. Ultimately, it was a perfect dinner for a cold night and a silly movie.


  • Smitten Kitchen's Buttermilk Chicken
    • Probably my absolute favorite savory recipe of all time. It takes about 5 minutes to assemble, another 5 to get it ready for the oven, and then you bake. Your reward for struggling through this impossible task of putting some stuff in a bag and letting it sit overnight (absolutely mandatory, do not go less than 24 hours!), is the most tender, mouthgasm inducing chicken on the planet. I've yet to have chicken from a restaurant that comes close to this recipe. Personally, I use smoked paprika and a bit of cayenne pepper. Drain the chicken a bit, letting it rest on a rack for a few minutes, while you preheat the oven will give you slightly crispier skin, but don't expect anything like fried chicken.
  • Kayotic Kitchen's Baked Cod with Crispy Herb Topping
    • New! Super pleased with the Lazy Sunday Casserole, I lurked around the blog a bit more and found a lovely, simple fish recipe. Both of us love fish, but rarely eat it. Every time I make it, we love it, but it's one of the few ingredients that give me a bit of anxiety. I know I just need to work with fish more to be more comfortable, and this recipe looks like an easy step in.
    • Final Verdict: So salty. Salt in the ranch marinade, salt on the shallot mix, salt in the crispy topping. Next time, I'd reduce the ranch marinade by at least half and leave the topping unsalted. The tomato side was really perfect though. Overall, an easy dish to make and worthy of making again with future tweaks.
  • Just the Tip's Spinach and Artichoke Tortellini Bake
    • New! We don't tend to eat pasta, *at all*. But we're also not psychos. Good food is good food, and if it's occasional and inexpensive, we don't let it bother us. There happened to be a good offer on tortellini at one of the stores this week, but I was disappointed with the selection when I got there. I found some tri-colored, three-cheese filled pasta near the same price instead and a surprising deal on Asiago. Since the weather is colder, a hearty meal like this is a nice addition to the week.
    • Final Verdict: Disappointing. The sauce, even though properly salted and seasoned, was bland causing the spinach to be under-flavored and the artichokes surprisingly boring. The dish didn't really come together and it felt like eating four different ingredients.
  • Canadian Living's Chicken Pot Pie
    • New! Never got around to making this last week! Although I finally decided this would be the recipe for us, we ended up with a week's worth of boring chili and no guests to have over. The only change I'll be making to this recipe is using chicken I precooked in the slow cooker (whole chicken, bay leaf, peppercorns, water to cover, high for 3 hours). It shouldn't make a difference. Hopefully, we'll finally have guests over to share in this tasty recipe.
    • Final Verdict: Split opinions. Personally, I thought the cream sauce came together with perfect texture and richness, but I agreed with my husband that the dish tasted average. I would recommend this recipe, but I think some heavy doses of salt, fresh herbs, a seasoned egg wash on the pastry, and a few different vegetables (maybe turnips, sweet potato, fennel) would give this that je ne sais quoi that perfect dishes have. For the wine, I used an unoaked Chardonnay which seemed to pair very well once chilled. As the recipe stands, it's an excellent basic chicken pot pie.

Sweet Tooth

  • Kitchen Riffs' Pfeffernüsse Cookies
    • Remember our random discovery of the Cheese Boutique last week? One of the last minute impulse items my husband found was a giant display of Pfeffernüsse cookies. The traditional Christmas cookies from my side of the family (my mom) include shortbread, sour cream tarts, and spiced pecans. My husband however has memories of these spicy, dense, dry things. I'm all for spicy and sweet, so when I had them for the first time, I fell in love. I'll be substituting the corn syrup for brown sugar, and then probably hiding these in a closet so the husband doesn't find them while they do their thing for two weeks.


  • Burnt Butter Biscuits from the Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient cookbook by Jennifer McLagan
    • More cookies, yes. Since the Pfeffernüsse cookies won't technically be ready to eat this week, and pretty much anything with browned butter is lovely, I can't wait to try this weeks edible dessert. If you're looking for a new cookbook, something different, informative, interesting, and yet utterly practical, Fat is for you. Beautifully photographed (though there could also be more, especially for some of the trickier recipes) and thoughtfully divided, this cookbook really does a great job explaining the benefits and versatility of various fats. Which you totally need to be healthy.
      No you totally don't need cookies to be healthy. 
    • Final Verdict: Husband really liked the crunchy texture when dunked into his evening tea. Personally, I loved the nuanced richness from the browned butter, but it takes a somewhat sensitive palate to pick up the flavor note as it seems to be most prominent at the end of the bite, just before you swallow. If you wolf down these lovely cookies, they'll just taste like sugar cookies for adults. But if you savor them, you're in for a treat. Total keeper.

No comments:

Post a Comment