Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Newly Wed Kitchen

My sister and I planned before we both were married that we would cook together through a cookbook sometime, learn how to make some new dishes, blog about it and see how it went. We were inspired by Julie and Julia, but Julia Child's cookbook was much too much for us. Back in July we picked out a book together.

The Newlywed Kitchen by Lorna Yee and Ali Basye.
(buy it at Amazon for half the price of the book stores)


We liked this book because it had a wide variety. There are some killer main dishes, but there are also desserts, appetizers, vegetable dishes and breakfast yummies. We were not looking for a standard cookbook that would retell us the things we already learned at home. We were looking to explore a little more, try new flavors and techniques. So far this has been great.

The first dish I tried was the Award-Winning Four-Cheese Mac-and-Cheese. We thought it would be a hit, because it seemed to be a culturized version of one of Daniel's favorite dishes. The sauce was made with equal amounts of fresh mozzarella, blue cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gruyere melted down with milk, a tad of white wine, some flour for thickening and sweet yellow onion and thyme for more flavor. Poured over the pasta, then sprinkled with bread crumbs and pieces of bacon it all looked amazing.

Our opinion though, was that we might only try this recipe once more to give it another try. The cheeses were really strong, but we actually liked that part. The richness of it all was a little too much. I may try it again without the blue cheese and just with more mozzarella.

Award-Winning Four-Cheese Mac-n-Cheese

The second try was a smashing success! I had to improvise on this recipe a little, because it was a salad that's base was mushrooms, and neither of us do mushrooms in large quantities. So, I used chicken instead, and loved it because a recipe that was meant to supplement a main dish became a light, healthy main dish itself. I also liked this recipe because it was less involved than the others seemed.

Since this one was one of our favorites I'm going to post the recipe here:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 strips bacon cut into pieces (I only did two)
10 ounces (4 cups) mixed mushrooms, sliced (I did 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (my grocery store did not have this-- so I mixed 2 t. rice vinegar with 1/2 t. white wine vinegar, and I think I got about the same flavor)
1 tablespoon finely grated, peeled fresh ginger (We discovered we both LOVE fresh ginger)
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cups baby spinach

Cook the bacon. Cook the mushrooms in the bacon fat and saute for several minutes. (Obviously, since I didn't cook mushrooms I drained almost all of the bacon fat). 
Mix together the olive oil, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger and onion. Pour over the sauce, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 seconds. (I did much longer than this, and it was fine. :-/)
Toss with baby spinach. Yum-O! (I added grape tomatoes to my salad)

Warm "Chicken" Salad with Ginger Soy Vinaigrette

I served the salad with fresh mango and a warm loaf of honey-oat bread. We really enjoyed this meal.

Before we ate I was insistent that I be allowed to take pictures before Daniel touched the food. He was amused to say the least, and asked why in the world I would need pictures of food, and what would they be for, and etc.  I tried to explain to him (again) about the cook book, and Angela, and the blog. He just shook his head and insisted I'm crazy.

Daniel's what-the-heck face :-P

The next attempt were delicious Prosciutto, Sage and Parmesan Pinwheels. These were a lot of fun, and very easy. A great appetizer for a holiday gathering, or dinner party.
 a Prosciutto, Sage and Parmesan Pinwheel
 How to Make Them Yourself:

1. Defrost 1 sheet of Puff Pastry (frozen dessert section of grocery store)
2. Spread 3 heaping tablespoons of honey mustard
3. Layer 3-5 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto over top
4. Sprinkle with sage, preferably fresh
5. Then sprinkle with approximately 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6. Then sprinkle lightly with black pepper
7. Start by rolling one side of the pastry toward the center. Stop halfway and roll the otherside.
8. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for several hours unto the pastry is firm again. (Or freeze if you're rushed on time)
9. Cut cold roll into 1/2 inch slices and place on parchment-paper lined baking sheet.
10. Bake at 400F for 15-17 minutes
May be served warm or at room temperature. The book recommends serving them with glasses of champagne or another bubbly drink, and I would have if I could only buy alcohol! Pfft. 

I made these one morning. Stuck them in the refrigerator, and when I got home from work sliced them up and threw them in the oven while I cooked some corn on the cob and chicken smothered in rosemary (new favorite herb, btw).

We both liked these, but agreed you won't want to eat more than two or three. They are meant to be appetizers after all.
That's it for the kitchen update for now. I know it was an overloaded post, but I wanted to get it all out now, so that next time things won't be so bad. I'm having fun exploring these new recipes. They're a good supplement to the classics I'm always holding onto. My sister should be telling us their thoughts soon, too. Keep up with us both-- we have very different tastes for food. Well, actually, it's more our husbands that do. :)

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if you're into this kind of food, but I'm making these as soon as possible: Maybe you'd like them too? Unless of course you're sticking only to your newlywed kitchen book. :)