Archive for January, 2011

Got a Princess? Review of Annabel Karmel’s Latest Cookbook

Monday, January 24th, 2011

 

As you know I receive many different cookbooks and recipes to try.  As soon as I opened Annabel Karmel’s Princess Party Cookbook, Over 100 Delicisous Recipes and Fun Ideas, it was whisked away by my daughter.  She’s 4 1/2 and likes anything with sparkles and bling…especially Annabel’s photos of cupcakes, cookies and lovely girlie party presentations.  I’ve had the book a few months and forgot about actually making something because she looks through it so often (even puts sticky notes on her favorites), I couldn’t take it away from her bedroom shelf.

I finally decided to try out a few things one weekend.  My daughter was so excited.  Obviously the photos were enticing, but how about the taste.  I have to say the recipes are pretty good and we have a few new favorites.  The book is full of fun ideas with matching foods and recipes for girl get togethers – from themed birthdays (princess and the pea, Cinderella) to Valentine’s parties to movie star sleep over and soda fountain fetes.  My daughter really wants to make the jeweled cupcakes.  However like a few other ingredients for the presentation, the edible jewels are hard to find.  Annabel even has some websites for resources, but couldn’t help with these jewels.  I finally found them and will report back when they arrive (hopefully soon).   

We tried the Cindarella’s Coach Risotto with pumpkin and arborio rice first.  I thought this was good choice because I had some left-over pumpkin puree and the rest of the ingredients.  However I had to guess at the amount of pumpkin since the recipe calls for 1/2 medium butternut squash or pumpkin.  It would have been helpful to have the amount too.  I guessed at 1 cup, which worked well.  My family ate the risotto with grilled pork loin and it made a nice hearty side dish.  It said 4 – 6 servings but this was quite generous. 

Next we made Cheesy Cloud Pillows.  This was basically popcorn with shredded cheese.  It was o.k., but nothing exciting.  Here’s a good example of a fancy name to create excitement.  No, I’m not being critical … sounds a lot like “Dad’s Magic Chicken”.   

My daughter will never eat a boring egg salad sandwich again, after seeing the egghead sandwich recipe and photos.  Basically egg salad “open-faced” on bread.  The face is created with red pepper pieces, shredded carrots, pickles, olives, etc. etc.  We’ve had great fun making and eating these.  While simple, it is fun and engaging for all ages. 

Last week we hit on another favorite… the angel cut-out cookie recipe (see below).  Annabel suggests making these angles to hang on the holiday tree.  They’re lovely, but hanging up seems like such a tease and waste of a good cookie.  We decided to shape the dough into snowflakes and ballerinas to share at my daughter’s winter wonderland dance performance.  These were very good.  You can’t go wrong with butter and superfine sugar.  I made my usual glaze (milk and confectioner’s sugar), because I didn’t have meringue powder for the recipe’s icing. My daughter really got into decorating these and carefully placed sugar pearls and candied stars on each cookie, to much appreciation. 

All and all if you have a girlie girl and need party and food ideas then you’ll enjoy this book.  Sometimes I was a little put off by all the use of candy in the decorating, but you can substitute (dried fruits, nuts and chocolate chips), or just know this is not an everyday healthy cookbook.  Remember too, Mrs. Karmel is from the UK and some ingredients may differ or be less available stateside.    

Angel Cut-Out Cookies by Annabel Karmel

(condensed version of recipe, without icing and tree hanging tips)

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons butter, slightly softened

3/4 cup superfine sugar

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl cream the butter and suagr until pale and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until combined.

Stir the flour and salt together with a fork in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture.  Mix until it forms a soft dough.  Form the dough into a flattish disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until firm enough to roll out.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Divide the dough in half and and roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into desired shapes.  Repeat with the second half of the dough, then reroll the trimmings and cut out more cookies.

Transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper, speacing the cookies about 1 inch apart.  Bake the cookies for 11 – 12 minutes (*check in 8 minutes if small shapes), until golden brown.  Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool completely before icing and decorating.

*I burned a batch when using small cutters.  So check a few minutes towards the end of baking time.

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Dad’s Magic Chicken

Monday, January 17th, 2011

My 4 1/2 year old hasn’t eaten chicken in 4 or 5 months.  She says she doesn’t like the flavor, although I think it’s more a texture thing.  She didn’t eat much turkey at Thanksgiving either.  Or maybe it’s because she adores her aunt, who is vegan.  She loves to ask “Can TT (Aunt Christy) eat ______?”  The other day is was “Can TT eat snow?”  Although when she says she’s vegan like her aunt, her brother is quick to remind her of all the lamb with mint jelly she likes to eat.

As you probably imagine, I do most of the cooking at our house.  Although my husband does most breakfasts (including weekend pancakes and waffles) and all outdoor cooking.  When the weather is nice you’ll find me inside as sous chef:  making side dishes and prepping veggies and meats for my husband to grill outside.  However sometimes my husband doesn’t wait for the weather to turn warm.  Last weekend he decided to make a new recipe for chicken from the How to Grill Cookbook.   We tried to remember the last time he made a new recipe from a book or even cracked this book (he’s had it about 7 or 8 years).  I was poking fun of him and told the kids he was making “Magic Chicken”.  It got them excited and it was such a hit, my daughter not only tried and loved it, but asked for more.  So much for her vegan ways (this week).  There’s always a tinge of jealousy from mom when dad comes in and makes a great meal (once a month) and gets lots of kudos.  (My son even said “This is the best chicken I’ve ever had!”).  I must admit it really was good.  Now I’m trying to come up with a “mom’s magic” something recipe to compete.  Or maybe I’ll step aside more meals, and suggest dad make more magic.

Dad’s Magic Chicken Marinade

(aka Chicken with Walnut Dill Pesto from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen)

makes enough for 6 – 8 pounds of chicken

1 bunch fresh dill, washed stemmed and chopped

1 bunch basil, washed, stemmed and chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated romano cheese

2 strips lemon zest (1/2 by 2 inches)

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon each coarse salt and black pepper, or more to taste

Place the dill, basil, garlic, walnut, cheese, and zest in food processor and process until very finely chopped.  With the machine running add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and 3/4 cup water.  Taste for seasoning (it should be highly seasoned). 

Marinate chicken for 2 hours or up to 12 hours, turning once or twice.  The longer the chicken marinates the richer the flavor.  Grill or cook marinated chicken as desired.

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Happy New Year with (real) Snow Ball Treats

Monday, January 10th, 2011

My family spent time in the snow for New Year’s.  There was more snow than ever and it just kept snowing.  After a day on the ski hill of temperatures ranging from -9 to 10 F, my daughter and I took the next day off to play inside and around the house.  My daughter wanted to make something.  Not having everything for cookies, and we’d already indulged in hot chocolate I had an idea for a snow cone (minus the cone).

We headed outside and got distracted at first by making snow angles.

Then we excercised our trusty snowball maker.  This is such a fun gadget.  Rather than making the balls to throw, we decided to make them to stack.

After we were done stacking we decided to bring a few in and make them more edible.  Although my daughter just likes the plain snow, they were even better with flavors.  We tried various juices poured on and even a drizzle of maple syrup. 

It was lots of fun.  I could see adult snowballs with margarita or gran marinier as options as well.  We saved some for the skiiers when they got home.  My son was a little dissappointed at the presentation and said “It’s good, but where’s the cone?”  Oh well, maybe something more to pack next time.

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Blondies vs Brownies…What Did Santa Prefer?

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

In thinking about this year’s Santa plate, my son decided that Santa would like brownies.  My daughter said she didn’t want to have dark chocolate (this is always a debate at our house).  I settled the score with making both brownies and blondies.  Nevermind that I had been baking gingerbread, sugar cookies, candy cane cookies, etc.  We needed to make more.

Luckily I also have a stack of cookbooks to review.  Two are really fun and I know I’ll be using them a lot throughout the year.  The first is Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, Melt in Your Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich.  The second is Food Fest 365! : The Official Fun Food Holiday Cookbook by Yvan D. Lemoine. 

 

Chewy Gooey is great for those with a sweet tooth who need more ideas and inspiration (pictures are mouth watering).  I like that the cookies are divided by mouth feel and texture.  Each recipe even has a suggestion to make “upgrades” to create variations and new flavors.  There’s also a veriety of diets and allergies in mind with an index of dairy free, wheat free and low fat recipes.  I made the blondies from this book.  And yes, they were chewy and gooey – my daughter had her first blondie and it’s become a fast favorite.  Next time we make them we’ll try one of the updgrades.  But which one?  Nutmeg, cinnamon or peanut butter blondies?  Perhaps a tasting of all three.

Food Fest 365! is a bit different, but very fun.  It celebrates all the quirky food days established by politicians over the years.  Did you know March 16th is artichoke hearts day?  Of course I love the idea of celebrating the everyday.  The tough part about this book is the arrangement and order is by the calendar.  So if you’re menu planning, you’ll need to consult the index to find what you’re searching for.  Of course it’s also just fun to look up dates and see what food day it is.  For instance my birthday is Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day (after the Mayans of course) with a recipe for Sundried Tomato Cheese.  I can see someone going through a la the movie Julie and Julia and blogging about making each day’s recipe.  You’ll find everything from Hot Toddy Day to Lobster Day to Angel Food Cake Day, with hundreds in between.  December 8th is where I found Chocolate Brownie Day.  My son was very pleased with the gooey, rich flavor and they were quick and easy, like a brownie should be.

So what did Santa like?  Well Santa (I believe) was so tired since one of the children at our house stayed up to try to see him (and made it to 2:30 a.m.), that he broke off an equal piece of each and then left crumbs on the fireplace. (Note.  Besides the blondies and brownies and milk for Santa, there were of course carrots for the reindeer.  Plus my daughter also made a beaded collar for Rudolph – see photo above)

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