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Island Life. Recipes. Frugal and Sustainable Living.

Month: March 2018

Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox

Today is the first day of Spring, or the Equinox, and it was supposed to be the official end of my spring cleaning ritual and “Cookbook Challenge”. The spring cleaning tasks will be wrapping up in the next few days, but the cookbook challenge was […]

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Encore: Revenge of the “Vedge”

Encore: Revenge of the “Vedge”

You just can’t keep me away from the cookbook, “Vedge”, by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. Everything I make from it is so dang flavorful and unique that I feel like a culinary rock star. In my search for recipes for this cookbook challenge, I […]

Cookbook Challenge: “The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook” Part 1 & 2

Cookbook Challenge: “The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook” Part 1 & 2

This cookbook has a little bit of everything for everyone and you can get as intensely garlicky as you want. Some of the amounts of garlic per recipe, range from as little as 1/4 teaspoon, all the way up to 40 cloves. When I’ve been asked before what my favorite food is, I have often responded with one word, “garlic”. So, I guess you could say I’m more of a 40 clove type of person, which is why I chose this next recipe, 40 Clove Garlic Chicken . Hooray for garlic!

This dish was tangy and flavorful and felt very indulgent. It calls for leaving the 40 cloves in their skins and baking them until soft, which makes the garlic sweet and smooth tasting. The lemon adds the acidity that balances out any heaviness the garlic may impart. I chose to lightly brown the pieces of chicken, skin-side down, before baking and also added half of a sliced onion.
I really liked this recipe and will continue to make this, or a variation of this, for a long time to come.

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I served the chicken with a second recipe from this cookbook, (“Part 2”), called Garlic Butter Crumb Tomatoes. I picked this particular one because I happened to have some beautiful heirloom tomatoes on hand from Ohana Organic Farm in Puna. They are super flavorful tomatoes and perfect for putting under the broiler as this recipe calls for. I did not use crushed stuffing crumbs, but instead, used panko breadcrumbs seasoned with salt-free seasoning, and I used coconut oil instead of melted butter. This dish was so simple to make and pretty enough to serve as a quick vegetarian appetizer in the future.

After giving it some thought, I have decided not to keep this cookbook. It’s my feeling that if you’re going to call yourself the “Garlic Lovers” anything, it needs to smack me in the face just like the scent of raw garlic. Many of the dishes actually lack a substantial amount of garlic for my taste, and it was strange to think that some of them were actually entered into a garlic cooking competition. This cookbook will be donated to my friend who also appreciates garlic and she can make better use of it than me.

*As for this particular cookbook:

This cookbook is as much of a celebration of Gilroy, California as the garlic itself. The few photos provided in the book are of the annual garlic festival that has been held there for the past forty years. The beginning of the book tells a little about the history of garlic and it’s uses. Most recipes name the person who entered it in the cooking competition as well as any anecdotal and interesting information about the recipe, i.e., family history, origins, etc. As I’ve stated before, I am not a fan of cookbooks without any pictures of the final product, and this falls into that category. The book has some great inspirational recipes, but has plenty of redundancies, such as five different recipes for garlic bread, all using French bread, butter and garlic, with no huge difference between them. The contest winning recipes are in a chapter all of their own, and in my opinion, deserve to be placed at the front of the book, not the back, as they are the best quality. This book is for the true garlic fan, and because of the homespun-take on most of the recipes, it may be a nice addition to have on hand. 

“The Garlic Lovers’ Cookbook” from Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World.

 

Rainy Day Blues

Aloha Friends, I have been away for a few days because there was tragedy in our chicken coops. It was necessary to put my “Cookbook Challenge” on hold until I could figure out how to stop an evil predator, or more specifically, the Small Asian […]

Cookbook Challenge: “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” Part 2

Cookbook Challenge: “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” Part 2

After such a successful first recipe, I had a hard time picking something that I thought would capture my enthusiasm. It seems funny to me now, that out of everything in this cookbook, I decided to pick a very normal, popular baked item. Somehow, I […]

Cookbook Challenge: “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook”

It’s not very often that I get novelty cookbooks, or that I expect anything amazing to come from them, but this recipe was the exception. I was gifted this book for Christmas one year and I have only made one recipe from it prior to today, and all I can say is that I wish I had explored this quirky cookbook sooner. I chose to make the Heavenly Onion & Dill Bread because I needed something for sandwiches in the morning and was hoping to use the extra loaf to go with a soup recipe. Since this recipe makes two loaves, I thought it would work out perfect.

As soon as these came out of the oven, I realized that I had just made the best loaf-style bread ever. They looked gorgeous, smelled amazing, and were the perfect texture inside and out. It’s understandable why the recipe title has ‘heavenly’ in it. It was damn-near impossible to wait for a loaf to completely cool before slicing pieces and gobbling them up. No butter needed! Today, I am entertaining the possibility of making this bread in triple batches (six loaves) and freezing for future use. It’s THAT good.

Okay, here’s the weird part… there’s cottage cheese in it. Hopefully that doesn’t deter anyone from investigating further, but some people get hung up on these kinds of things. The best part is, when I told my taste testers that I put cottage cheese in the bread, they didn’t believe me. There are no traces of white curds or anything looking like that at all, just soft-on-the-inside and crusty-on-the-outside, delicious bread. (The larger white things on top of the bread in the photo are salt grains.) One negative side to this recipe was that the flour measurement was wayyyyy off. I had to add 2 and 1/4 cups of extra flour because the dough was a runny mess. I’m not sure if it was a typo, but if anyone should decide to make this, slowly add additional flour by a 1/2 cup at a time, until it is a soft, pliable dough. Other than that, I can’t say enough good things about this bread and no matter what happens to this cookbook, I will hang on to this recipe forever.

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*A few things about the book itself:

It’s a pretty cool cookbook and the recipes look like the author put a lot of thought into every one of them. They are all accompanied by a reference to a chapter in one of the books in the trilogy. Also included, are ‘Tips from Your Sponsor’, which are helpful cooking tips and/or history related to the dish. True to the movie, the author has tried to ‘keep it real’ by featuring recipes with raccoon, rabbit, partridge, pheasant, dove, and other types of meat that are reminiscent of surviving off the land, like Katniss did in the movie. This is a great cookbook for anyone who loves Hunger Games and loves to cook. What this is not, though, is an easy-breezy introduction to cooking, or the greatest recipe collection for vegetarians. My biggest complaint is that there are no pictures of any of the dishes, not even a sketch. That is a big turn-off for someone like me who wants to see the final product. Many of these dishes are also made with indulgent (expensive) ingredients like heavy cream and bacon, and somewhat harder-to-find exotic ingredients, such as yucca, toyon berries, Japanese knotweed, and rock tripe.

If you can look past most of these quirks, or are a die-hard Hunger Games fan, you can find a copy of this cookbook on Amazon. (This author also has an unofficial Downton Abbey cookbook that could be fun to try as well.)

The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines

 

Cookbook Challenge: “Steam Cuisine” Part 2

Cookbook Challenge: “Steam Cuisine” Part 2

Recipe number two from the Steam Cuisine cookbook by Marina Filipelli was one of the most simple, yet easy, dinners I have ever put together. My choice for this was the Tofu with Spring Onions, Ginger and Ponzu Sauce. The sauce for the tofu is […]

Cookbook Challenge: “Steam Cuisine”

Cookbook Challenge: “Steam Cuisine”

This book came from the same school book fair that my tapas cookbook came from. I remember being so excited when I found it, because I had recently been gifted a bamboo steamer and wasn’t sure where to start. When I use this cookbook, I […]

Cookbook Challenge: “Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America” Part 3

Cookbook Challenge: “Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America” Part 3

My third recipe was chosen because I had just about everything on hand and it looked easy. It is called the Moorish-style Chickpea and Spinach Stew (or garbanzo con espinacas). Some changes I made to the recipe were to swap the spinach for kale from my garden, and to use red wine vinegar instead of Spanish sherry vinegar. Also, I only had two cans of chickpeas, not three, so I used one cup of diced Kabocha squash to make up for the difference. I think the squash was a great addition and it even helped to slightly thicken the broth after simmering it for a while. The ingredient list was extremely doable and the instructions were easy to follow. This was hearty enough for meat eaters to not miss the meat, as well as being a pleasing main dish for vegetarians or vegans. You could easily toss in some shredded chicken or pork and use chicken broth if you wanted to make it more meat-based. I would definitely make this in the future and would probably add the squash again too.

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A hearty chickpea stew that was served with a loaf of onion-dill bread. SO good together!

Overall, this was my third successful dish from this book. Unfortunately, I had a hard time finding easy recipes that didn’t involve a trip to a specialty or gourmet grocery store. Some of the ingredients may be too expensive, and I would rather enjoy most of these tapas prepared for me at a restaurant. This cookbook has tapas recipes that would make great appetizers if you’re willing to put the work into it. I was on the fence about whether to kept it or not, and although I feel like I enjoyed everything I made, I just don’t see myself using it much. This one is getting donated.

*As far as the cookbook goes:

This book is a journey through Spain. There is nothing watered-down or subtle about it. It gets bonus points for authenticity and for the engaging photos that grace every recipe. Each recipe features a box at the bottom of the page called ‘Jose’s Tips’, and I recommend reading them before preparing the dish. Jose’s Tips are muy bueno and may save you a trip to an expensive gourmet grocery store or hours of extra work. The negative parts about the book are few, but this is probably the type of cookbook that most people buy after dining at a great tapas restaurant. That being said, it would be painstaking and labor-intensive to try to recreate a tapas-style meal for friends or family, even with this excellent book. I have tried to do this before, and it ends up being a very salty, olive-y experience that leaves some people still hungry. You would have to make 6-8 different tapas to recreate a tapas restaurant experience and it’s hard to figure out what everyone likes. I prefer to leave it to the experts and sip my red wine and chat with friends while letting someone else do all of the work.

If you feel like tapas should be on your menu or you just want to try something that makes you feel like a bullfighter, check out the book on Amazon.

“Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America” by Jose Andres with Richard Wolfe

Cookbook Challenge: “Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America” Part 2

Cookbook Challenge: “Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America” Part 2

My second choice for a recipe from this tapas cookbook was the Chicken and Mushroom Paella (or paella de pollo y setas). I love saffron so much that I purposely picked a second recipe which called for it, but that’s not terribly hard to do […]


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