Category: Cookbook

Another Giada Recipe – Chicken Saltimbocca

Once you have cracked the cover of one of Giada de Laurentis’s cookbooks, you won’t be able to make JUST ONE recipe. Nope. Right now my cookbook has 3 scraps of paper sticking out of it … and it doesn’t go back on the shelf till I’ve made each one. (Soft rule… gets broken… whatever.) 

So when I was making the Simple Bolognese sauce last week, I considered making something NEW from the cookbook. EGADS! A NEW RECIPE?? … AND ON A WEEKNIGHT! (Yes, I confess, I generally make tried and true recipes during the weekdays since I have less time. I’m no Dana K.) But this one seemed pretty quick. So I bought the ingredients on the weekend and while the Thai Squash soup was simmering, I whipped it up. Just like that. BOOM!


Doesn’t that sound impressive? Well, yes, dammit, it IS. Very very impressive.

smashed chicken pieces
first attempt

AND it’s actually dead easy to make … flatten the chicken (I think I applied a bit too much force), lay a piece of prosciutto on it, top that with spinach, and roll up. Well ok, it’s not THAT easy. You have to defrost the spinach, season it and add some olive oil. You also have to grate some parmesean and lay THAT on top of the spinach. WHICH. I. FORGOT. So I had to unroll all of my beautiful rolls. Very funny. Ha Ha.

Last part is dead easy too. Sear in a pan till brown on all sides. 

cooking da chicken
2 min. each side. Ok, this was sticking a lot and it got a LOT messy in there … next time, more oil…

Finally, you add chicken broth and a squirt or so of lemon juice and simmer till it’s cooked. Take the chicken out, thicken up the sauce and serve! 

final chicken
MY VERSION. I don’t think the green bits are not supposed to show. Nor the prosciutto. Whatever. 

Despite it looking like it was made by a 5 year old, it was AMAZINGLY good. And impressive anyway. Shut up Dana K. 

Giada's chicken
That’s me holding open the cookbook.  Nice chicken, Giada.

(You’ll notice that Giada’s version is not BURSTING. Isn’t it tidy and perfect? Ah yes. And so it goes.)

You can find the recipe for Chicken Saltimbocca here.


OOH LA LA … Jamie’s Hummingbird Cake

I have always wanted to make this cake from Jamie’s Comfort Food. It looks SO delicious in the book … and wouldn’t you think that anyway, with a name like Hummingbird Cake? Just look at it!! Mmmmmmm…

I have a rule when I try a new recipe, that I have to do it exactly as is … if I change anything right away, how will I know if it was supposed to be like that or if my changes made a difference? I mean really? I follow the recipe and make notes in the margin afterwards … and then NEXT TIME I make changes (add salt, reduce the oil, try it with pecans … that kind of thing). With this rule in mind, I bought the ACTUAL ingredients listed in the recipe even though they are not what I’d use generally. For example, who buys self-rising flour and superfine sugar? Expensive!! 

flour and sugar
Seems like an unnecessary expense. Tell me why it’s important to use either of these!

I also wondered about why I was buying chunks of pineapple when it asked me to chop up the chunks … I WANTED to buy crushed pineapple, but I couldn’t bring myself to break my rule. So I drained it, saved the juice and froze it in ice cube trays for smoothies (a trick I learned in the days of baby food), and chopped.

Note: chopping pineapple into little bits is not easy. I did a poor job of it. Lost patience. No one seemed to mind the uneven and large gobs of pineapple in the cake though…

Everything else in the recipe seemed normal … That is until the first sentence where I had to grease two 9″ springform pans? WTF? Who has 2 springform pans the same size? I’ve got a 6″, 9″, 10″ and a couple of those wee baby ones for cute little “cheesecakes for two” (that I’ve never used), but not 2 big ones of the same size! So I used regular 9″ pans … and I have to say, I bet the cakes would have turned out better if I’d used springform. 

I got crackin’ and made the cake – loved the fact that it uses 4 ripe bananas! I can’t tell you how often I’m trying to use up bananas. Why do I buy so freaking many of them?? MUST. STOP. BUYING. BANANAS.

The batter looked pretty good – I was a bit nervous about the 1 cup of olive oil. Seems like it would weigh that sucker down. And you know what? I wasn’t really wrong … Jamie says things in the recipe about the cakes being “sponges”. I don’t know about that!! If so, they were sponges saturated with oil and pineapple and banana!!

The candied pecans didn’t work out for me AT ALL. He said to put in 1/2 cup of superfine sugar and a splash of water. WTF is a splash? Beside that it said that I should watch the video. I really should have taken it as a sign. In the end I worked away at the candied nuts and finally just did them the way I normally do … and they were just fine. His method was BONKERS.

Even though the cake was far heavier than the Hummingbird title would suggest – leading me to fret that it would be less than good – it turned out to be quite tasty freaking awesome! Why? Well, the icing was THE BOMB! Omg cream cheese icing is sooooo good with a squeeze of lime and some lime zest! Why haven’t I discovered that until now?? I think the icing saved it. 

I WILL make it again. Enough people loved it! But next time I will have two springform pans, go with crushed pineapple, and do the nuts my way. But it’s a keeper.

Check it out here.

slice of cake
Ok, so I’m not a pro photographer like all of the foodies out there…



When You Require Chocolate Pudding

I decided that tonight I required my favourite chocolate pudding – for both sustenance and solace. Why? I had a molar pulled today. It was so much fun to have a dude gripping my jaw and trying his damnedest to wrench a massive tooth out of my face. It said on the invoice “complicated removals”. No kidding.

The recipe is dubbed “Any Day Chocolate Pudding”. It’s from a fav cookbook of mine, Pantry Raid. The premise of the cookbook is that if you have a decent pantry, every recipe in the book can be made without a special trip to the store. Great book. And pretty much essential when you have small kids. Who wants to tote kids to the grocery store for one or two special ingredients? Nobody.

I’ve had the book for a long time – since the kids will very little. In those days the pudding was too dark and chocolatey for Annie. Notes in the margin indicate that at some point she started liking it, but a wayward drop or two of water destroyed that archived detail. Sad, that.

I write on all recipe books – changes to make and / or an assessment of the results.

As I said, you likely have all of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge to make this pudding (as long as you have a big-ass container of half & half cream like I always do…). It only takes about 15 minutes to make, from start to finish, but unless you like your pudding hot, you need to consider how long it will take to cool. Especially if you want to make a parfait or something fancy.

Here’s a handy picture sequence to convince you of how easy it is. [This reminds me of those language activities where you had to put the story pictures in an order that made sense. I would have done better if they were about making chocolate pudding. Just sayin’.]

whisk small amount of cream into cornstarch
whisk together 3 T cornstarch and 1/4 c Half and Half cream and set aside
in pot whisk together sugar, cocoa & salt, add hot water
put 2/3 c sugar, 1/2 c cocoa, pinch of salt in a saucepan, stir in 1/3 c hot water
whisk together till smooth
whisk until smooth
add rest of cream to chocolate mixture
once mixture comes to a boil, add 1 3/4 c Half and Half cream
whisk in cornstarch mixture
stir in the cornstarch mixture, whisking steadily as you pour, cook approx 5 min or until thick
add vanilla
add 1 t vanilla, stir in and take off of heat (Note that it is impossible to pour, whisk and take a photo at the same time.)

Of course, it wouldn’t be pudding if you didn’t have to try to prevent a big fat skin forming on the surface. This is the one reason that I feel I need to keep the environmentally unfriendly “plastic wrap” in my kitchen … it’s so damned handy for this purpose.

pour into a bowl, press plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding and let cool

Dollop in a bowl and enjoy.

I dare you to eat just one bowl!

I would have gone the extra mile for  a dollop of whipped cream on top, but then I’d have to eat whatever I whipped up, and I’m just not feeling it at 9pm. Maybe tomorrow night for dessert… and maybe a parfait!! oh ya

“You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s get some parfait,” they say, “Hell no, I don’t like no parfait.”? Parfaits are delicious!”

Another New Cookbook

You know how bloggers often go on and on about being absent and so on? I’m not going to do that even though I can see the appeal … so much to say about all of the things that have kept me away from the blog. But I’m not going to tell you about my impossible lists and my unbelievable busyness and my incredible ability to cook and clean and rake and do homework with my kids. Because that’s everyone’s life, more or less, and I for one am sick of hearing about all of that. So this is my humble pledge to avoid those two blogging traps: apologizing and being overly harried.

I WILL tell you about the insanely awesome new magazine that I picked up yesterday … omg I love it!! It’s called Milk Street and was placed strategically at the checkout line so I had the opportunity to stare at it for about 10 minutes … just close enough to read the cover but just far away that getting it would have cost me my place in line (or a conversation with the stern lady behind me). So once it was my turn I grabbed it and perused in the the minute and a half that I had while the teller rang in my other purchases.  img_0898

It’s written by Christopher Kimball – the dude who headed up the famous Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I have loved to read them mainly because the recipes are perfected in “America’s Test Kitchen” (which is an American TV show that I’ve never watched because I never watch TV … not to be confused with Netflix, people!)


For whatever reason, I enjoy learning about the science behind cooking, and the trials and errors that chefs go through in order to get the result that they are aiming for. I’ve endeavored to do the same thing at home when I’ve wanted a chewier cookie, a less sweet jam, a nuttier crisp, a lemon curd that’s more tart. So I felt I’d hit the jackpot years ago when I started picking up the magazines. (FYI they are not written by theme – but this doesn’t matter to me).

There are others than have come out that ARE by theme – these are from “America’s Test Kitchen” – and I love them! They are generally “best of” compilations and I can’t resist that shit!

More recently I picked up a big fat Test Kitchen cookbook – no idea why – it’s not all that beautiful … but I know that the content is great. I haven’t really gotten into it yet but it’s got 15 years of TV show recipes in it, so I figure I have 15 years to get through it.

The best thing about these cookbooks – apart from all of the stories about the proces of testing recipes – are all of the scientific reasons why various foods need to be prepped or cooked in a certain way. (The hamburger patty lesson changed the way I cook burgers and my recount of why the patties need to be shaped like a donut is usually enthralling…) I also love learning about the different products and ingredients that they try out (e.g., pans, blenders, foil, chocolate) … in quite a bit of detail. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that they don’t have advertising in their magazines and no brand pays them to include their ingredients or cook with their pots / utensils / dish ware.
Tonight we picked off the first recipe in the Milk Street mag – tenderloin done in a Moroccan style dry rub (coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper). So tasty! Served with my aunt’s recipe for roasted (whole) cauliflower and a rice pilaf … it was a fabulous meal.


Can’t wait to try out more of the recipes (although not the charred brussel sprouts – eek, I’d rather poke my eyes out with sticks!)