Weekend Cooking

wkendcookingThe is a meme hosted by BethFishReads found here.

I spent most of this weekend fighting off some stupid cold, ugh.  In between, I did manage to fit in a visit to Soonja’s, a local Korean restaurant where I had amazing Gobdol bibimbap, which is a Korean rice, veggie, and in my case chicken dish served sizzling in a stone bowl.   The high heat means that when you douse it with some soy sauce it caramelizes with the rice and is just amazing. Excellent restaurant to visit if you are ever in the Princeton, New Jersey area.  They also make amazing sushi.

I did spend a few minutes and threw together a chocolate rum cake with a recipe from Trisha Ashley found here.  It was super easy to throw together, baked beautifully but was just okay as far as rum cakes go.  I like that moist, dense effect for a rum cake and this was just more like a regular bundt cake.  It did make a nice treat with coffee for breakfast though.

Tonight, I’m just making a tray of roasted root veg and a stuffed pork loin. I cannot get enough of root vegetables this time of year.  Super easy to make, just cut them into uniform sizes, toss with olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper and some rosemary and roast in a hot oven until done.  I just butterflied the pork loin with a mixed dried fruit stuffing and then roasted for about an hour and a half. Pretty low key, quick dinner.

The benefit of all this roasting was the house warmed up nicely:)

In other foodie type news, I am going to a demonstration tomorrow night at Williams-Sonoma for deep frying Turkey.  I don’t think it is something I would do, but it will be interesting to see.  I am picturing a result that requires fire trucks, but I hope not!

 

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Weekend Cooking

wkendcooking

 

 

This is a meme hosted by BethFishReads found here.

So far this weekend, we been celebrating some of the autumn flavors, apple, root vegetables, and cider.

For Friday night, I made  BBC Goodfood’s Slow-braised pork shoulder with parsnips and cider and smashed red-skinned potatoes.  The recipe can be found here.  I use the BBC Goodfood‘s site for many recipes and usually find success. I also occasionally pick up the magazine.

This was a perfect autumn dish, the slow braise infused the meat and veg with the apple cider flavor.  I used Angry Orchard traditional dry cider in the recipe.  I gave up doing my own food photography, this image is from BBC Goodfood’s website.

Today, I picked up some root veg: swede (rutabaga), carrots, and parsnips.  I also had half of a head of red cabbage in the fridge that needed using up.   I love all the autumn flavors.   The meal I put together from all this was:

  • Chicken roasted in the oven
  • Tossed the root veg in olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted them in the oven
  • Chopped the red cabbage, thinly sliced a red onion, peeled and sliced a couple apples I found in the fridge and then added 2 tablespoons of whole berry cranberry sauce.  Sweated the onion and apple and then added everything else to the pan, popped the lid on, and let it cook slowly.

Lovely dinner with a bottle of red, probably should have been white, but I prefer red:)

 

 

The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell

 

I finally received this in the mail from worldofbooks, one of Amazon’s vendors.  I read a lot of British women writers and they can be hard to get here in the US.   I subscribe to the UK version of Good Housekeeping magazine and Woman and Home and always scan the book reviews first and add many of them to my TBR list, then I am disappointed when I can’t get the books here easily :(.  Ordering them from the UK, costs a fortune in postage…or so I thought.  When I tweeted about this, Jill Mansell responded and told me about Book Depository UK, so I am definitely going to try them!

I finished The One You Really Want….could be closer than you think last night and loved it! There were several characters, but the main female protagonists  were Nancy, Carmen and Rose.  The women were each well developed with their own personalities and their own concerns throughout the book.  I really enjoyed the multiple story lines throughout the book especially because they were all written to seem important and I cared about each of them.  Sometimes when I read book with multiple characters with their own story lines, there are one that takes precedence or the others just have that feel of not being as well done as the main one (then if it is segregated by chapter I end up just skimming certain chapters).  Definitely not the case here, I connected with all of them.  This was probably because the characters had that quality of seeming like real people, people you might actually meet in your community.

The book is well written and ties together the multiple story lines in the end.  Not to give anything away, but there is a happy ending, which after the week I had at work I really needed!

Recommended read for readers of ….hmmm, now what do we call it.  I just attended the Romance Writer’s Symposium in Princeton last week and this was the issue discussed.  Kay Mussell spoke and discussed the importance of referring to Romances, as Romantic Novels as a matter of gaining some respect for the writers of  romantic fiction.  All the genre fiction related to women’s writing was really put on the table.  Discussions included how marketing drives  this categorizing of books.  Romance and chick lit are seen as pejorative categories, but then other arguments were raised that women’s fiction was for “literary fiction” and then there was a debate about that.  Jennifer Crusie spoke, as did Eloisa James.  Both spoke with a great deal of candor about the publishing industry and the business of writing and selling books.  It has really made me think about how I classify books.

Maybe I’m dating myself but when I grew up there were not that many categories.  You had non-fiction and fiction.  Then, fiction had mystery, romance, adventure and THE CLASSICS, always referred to with that tone of awe.  So, as a school kid basically the first three were the things you wanted to read and the other one was the stuff you had to read.  As was said in the symposium, and I can’t remember who said it  (must take better notes next time), romance is the category that supports financially all the other categories.  Romance books sales allow people like Jonathon Franzen to first get published.

I highly recommend Jill Mansell’s The One You Really Want for readers of good books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Cooking: Spicy Apple Cake & Beef with Endive and Sun-dried Tomatoes

wkendcooking

 

This is a meme hosted by BethFishReads found here.

This weekend had an inauspicious start as far as cooking goes.  Friday night we had a dinner of nibbles – well all the nibbles we could pull together from the pantry and fridge, cheese, crackers, olives, nuts, carrots and hummus for dip, and fruit with creme fraiche and honey.

 

Saturday was a better planned day with a breakfast of Spiced Apple Cake made with a recipe from Mari’s World and dinner from a Williams-Sonoma recipe: Beef with Endive and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:

For the beef:

3 lb. beef rump roast

Salt & pepper

Olive oil

6 cloves of garlic – minced

1 1/3 cups beef stock

¼ cup white wine

Thyme sprigs

3 bay leaves

 

For the salad:

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar (I didn’t have this; I used white wine vinegar instead)

2 Tbsp. walnut oil (I didn’t have walnut oil; I used grapeseed oil)

2 large heads of Belgian endive

½ cup pitted and chopped green olives

½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

  • Season the beef generously with salt and pepper
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil.  Once it is hot, sear the beef turning as needed until browned on all sides.  Transfer to your slow cooker.
  • Pour off most of the oil.  Return to medium high heat and add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Pour in the stock and wine and dislodge any bits stuck to the pan.  Add the thyme sprigs and bay leaves and transfer all to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
  • Once the beef is done; remove from the slow cooker and shred with two forks.
  • To make the salad, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, oil, & lemon zest.
  • Chop the olives and sundried tomatoes
  • Core and chop the endive and parsley.
  • Combine all salad ingredients and toss to coat.

 

To serve, spread all the shredded beef on a serving platter.  Pile the salad on top of the beef.  Use tongs or two spoons to serve, giving a generous portion of both meat and salad.

 

The apple cake was awesome both for breakfast and later in the afternoon with a pot of Williamson tea.

The dinner was very tasty with a wonderful blend of flavors and textures.  (It’s optional but we drank a nice bottle of red wine with ours)

Both of these are recipes I will keep and make again.

Hope everyone else is having “foodie” fun this weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads

19389-wkendcooking  This is a meme hosted by Beth Fish Reads found here.  This weekend I’ve actually done quite a bit of cooking and cooking activities so….here we go.

Saturday I finally used the beignet mix I brought back from Cafe Du Monde along with a can of their chicory seasoned coffee.  I LOVED both and had them everyday when I was in New Orleans.  The mix worked perfectly and in very little time we had a heaping platter of beignets coated in powdered sugar and lovely cups of cafe au lait..breakfast of champions or perhaps not.

Today I made (with some of my own additions) Delia Smith’s shepherd’s pie.  Recipe to be found here: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/main-ingredient/lamb/shepherds-pie-with-cheese-crusted-leeks.html    Where Delia used lamb, I used ground beef and pork.  Where Delia used lamb stock, I used a combination of beef stock, red wine and the liquid from soaking a few dried shiitake mushrooms that I added.  I also added a splash of Worcestershire sauce and some baby peas before I spread the potato topping.  Very delish and one of my daughter’s favorites.  I tend to use recipes as a jumping off point quite often.

My daughter had a potluck work function and volunteered to bring pie…then someone said they had to be gluten free.  We tried our hand at gluten free baking and it seemed pretty successful.  She bought gluten free pie crusts from Whole Foods for the Pecan Pie and the Brown Sugar Pumpkin Pie (Martha Stewart’s recipe) and then I helped her make her own for  Sky-high apple and cranberry pie found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/857649/sky-high-apple-cranberry-pie

The final food related part of my weekend was attending a cooking demonstration at Williams Sonoma.  They offer them Sunday’s at 11:00 and they are usually fun and full of interesting information & hints.  Today’s was “Hands Free Cooking”, basically using Slow Cookers and Pressure Cookers.  Came away with a really tasty recipe:  Beef with fennel and sun dried tomatoes. Thinking about trying it next weekend. When I scan in the recipe, I’ll post it here.

Anyway that was the extent of my food – related weekend activities (unless you count drinking countless pots of Williamson Traditional Afternoon tea with Walker’s shortbread)

What good things did you eat this weekend?

End of Dewey’s Read-a-thon :(

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  Hour 18 – couldn’t stay awake
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?   No, particular titles, just  I would suggest a variety of genres, authors, and format.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  No, everything seemed to work really well.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  Really everything was great, although maybe it was just me but it didn’t seem the twitter presence was as much as previously?  
  5. How many books did you read?  I read 4 books in total.
  6. What were the names of the books you read?  Murder on the Candlelight Tour, Strictly Murder, Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club, Ghost in the Machine
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?  Ghost in the Machine
  8. Which did you enjoy least?  Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?  Nope, just a reader 🙂
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  I will participate again as a reader.

My mistake this time was to use the Read-a-thon to try to clean up my Kindle.  First, because many of the books are just impulse buys because they were freebies or very cheap, so not books I was really invested in reading.  Second, reading for that long on my Kindle bothered my eyes.  Third, all my books were mysteries.  Mysteries are my go-to genre, but four in a row (especially when a couple were just ok) was a problem.

Still now I know and I can have a better plan for next time.

Dewey’s Read-a-thon Mid-Event Survey

12 Hours down for the Dewey’s Read-a-thon

Mid-Event Survey

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?

Doing fine.  Not sleepy yet.  Eyes are doing good, but I’m reading on a Kindle so I can enlarge the print as needed.
2) What have you finished reading?

I’ve finished 3 books so far, unfortunately no 5 star books yet.
3) What is your favorite read so far?

Not really been overly enthused so far.  I’m on to Ghost in the Machine by Ed James next.
4) What about your favorite snacks?

Haven’t really been snacking.  I did eat dinner though.  Pork Belly in Cider Gravy, Roasted Carrots and Parsnips, Smashed Red Skin Potatoes – yummy!

5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!

I have been trying to stay mainly reading for the first part. When I get tired later, I’ll start perusing the blogs and adding to my Bloglovin’