Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken Mole

The Recipe: Chicken with Mole Sauce from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's America

The Substitutions: I went light on the chilies. Because I'm a wimp.

The Verdict: Heaven. Heaven, heaven, heaven. I love mole sauce, though individual mole sauce tends to really vary from recipe to recipe. I don't know if this recipe from an Englishman is the most authentic mole around, but it was pretty easy to make and tastes amazing. I boiled a whole chicken to go with it and that worked out just fine too. I also made the flatbreads that appear in this book and... well, they were a huge failure. Huge. I am just not good at that kind of thing. But it didn't really matter because the mole was so good.

Next time (oh, and there will be a next time), I think I'd put some extra cinnamon in it, and I was happy with the decreased heat (it was still spicy, just not uncomfortable). One word of caution: this recipe is huge. It makes way more mole sauce than one chicken can handle. I froze it and reused it one night with a deli chicken and it proved to be way more than a second chicken could handle. So go ahead and make it, but freeze it in individual portions to stretch it out. You won't be sorry.

Beer-Braised Corned Beef and Cabbage

The Recipe: Beer-Braised Corned Beef and Cabbage from the February 2011 Canadian Living.

The Substitutions: None

The Verdict: Well, I thought it was delicious. They're hardly reinventing the wheel with this recipe -- it's your basic slow-cooker corned beef brisket with winter vegetables. You throw the stuff in the slow cooker (after browning the veg), put the lid on it and go about your day. I felt my Irish heritage coming through as I ate it. My husband, who has apparently never had corned beef before thought it was weird. This makes me sad, because if it was up to me I'd be making this once a week all winter long.

Chocolate Black-Bottom Pie

The Recipe: Chocolate Black-Bottom Pie from the November 2010 issue of Everyday Food. Recipe online here.

The Substitutions: I used filberts instead of macadamias. I also used bourbon instead of rum, because that's the way I roll.

The Verdict: Delish. I was a little worried about this one because it's not a chocolate cream pie -- it's a chocolate ganache pie. Meaning you essentially melt chocolate with cream and pour it into a pie crust. Sounds a bit rich, no? And it was, but since this was part of our week of Christmas celebrations, I figured it would be okay.

While I did find it a bit overwhelming, this went over like gangbusters at our dinner party. I think it would be better with macadamias, but the filberts did just fine. One word of warning, though: if you make this, make sure that you have a lot of people coming over. This is not a family dinner kind of pie and it is so rich that you probably won't want to have to deal with the leftovers the next day. But for special occasions, this is super easy to make and you can't go wrong with pure chocolate and booze.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Cooky Book: Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies

The Recipe: Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening, skipped out on the melted chocolate frosting.

The Verdict: Delicious! This article was submitted to Betty Crocker by Mrs. George Dow from Owatonna, MN. I love it when they include these details and I also think that sometimes these civilian bakers have better taste than the actual Betty Crocker test kitchen bakers. Anyway, these cookies are near perfect. There is a boatload of butter in these cookies, so they're essentially chocolate shortbreads. Which mean they get no complaints from me. None at all.

I skipped the frosting (which is just melted chocolate) because these guys are rich enough on their own and there's quite a bit of cocoa in them so they're plenty chocolatey. Extra chocolate on top elevates them from the "snack" category into the "dessert" category too, and I didn't want to restrict their usage. This recipe yields about 5 dozen cookies, but they're pretty small, so it's not out of control. And quite honestly, even if it yielded 10 dozen, they're so good that our family would probably finish them off before they went stale.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beef Bourguignon

The Recipe: Beef Bourguignon from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

The Substitutions: I used regular bacon instead of the kind with the rind.

The Verdict: Is there anything that one can say about Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon recipe? Really? No, there's not, especially on this medium where it hss so extensively been covered. But I got a new enamel casserole for Christmas, so I had to give it a shot. And since this meal took me ALL DAY to make, I feel the need to document it here.

Is this recipe as amazing as its reputation would suggest? Yes. It really is. Beef cooked for hours in a full bottle of wine and a load of beef stock -- how could you go wrong? The recipe itself wasn't really that hard to make -- there's not too much you can do to screw it up, save for falling asleep and letting it burn in the oven, but it is very time-consuming. But good things come to those who wait, right?

On the side I made Julia Child's Garlic Mashed Potatoes, which are more time-intensive than modern versions of garlic mash in that you have to simmer the garlic in butter and then basically make a garlic bechamel sauce that is stirred into the potatoes (rather than just roasting garlic and mashing it in). I also whipped up some of her buttered frozen peas, which is possibly the easiest recipe in Mastering The Art of French Cooking.

The Cooky Book: Chocolate Fruit Bars

The Recipe: Chocolate Fruit Bars from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening.

The Verdict: I looked at this recipe and thought "Oh no, more old people food!" I mean, canned cherries AND raisins? Ick. But guess what? These things are a real treat.

I will say that these are not an everyday cookie -- they are super rich and really more of a dessert than a snack. But lordy, are they ever good. I'm quite partial to the cherry/almond/dark chocolate bar that Hershey makes and these taste almost exactly the same. The fact that there is almond extract in the batter is really what pushed these bars over the top. Way over the top. Make sure you have people to share this one with, because even though you'll want to eat the whole pan, you're not going to be able to.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Recipe: Chocolate Stout Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting from Swerve magazine.

The Substitutions: Not a one, though I did sprinkle some crushed candy cane over the top for extra festive-ness.

The Verdict: Yum. My mom saw this recipe in the paper and asked me to make it for Christmas Eve dinner. Since the recipe was by Julie Van Rosendaal, a local blogger/food celeb who I really admire, I thought it was a pretty good idea. And it really did make for a yummy cake.

I am generally not a fan of cream cheese icing -- I think anything involving cream cheese is vile. But since this icing doesn't cover the entire cake, I could get behind it. And there's beer in the icing, which kind of makes up for the cream cheese, I guess. The cake itself was moist and dense. There's so many flavours in there -- stout, chocolate, and gingerbread -- but not a single one of them overpowers the rest. It's just a harmonious intermingling of deliciousness. This one will likely go into my regular Christmas repertoire and I don't think I'm going to get any complaints.