Meet Contributing Writer Niki Shewfelt

Niki ShewfeltI once read that a person’s personality can be summed up by the types of reading material they have on their bedside table. Currently, mine is stacked with two Vegetarian Today magazines, one Simply Living magazine, a vegan cookbook, an inspirational running book and a gripping teenage fiction novel, all compliments of my local library.  After a brief encounter with a suspicious lump six years ago, I made an at-the-moment weekend decision to switch our family to a vegan lifestyle. Over an eggplant and cashew-cheese lasagna, roughly two months later, my husband casually inquired, “Wondering and not complaining, but…..do we eat meat anymore?”  (Currently on his bedside table: 3 coaching and leadership development books, a history of the middle ages, a Christian nonfiction about father and daughters, and the sequel to my teenage fiction novel).

With two competitive-swimming teenagers, our active vegetarian/vegan household seems to be continuously fueling up, keeping me in a constant search for wonderful new menus to create. I receive inspiration from recipes which blend balanced, whole foods without the hassle of being considered fussy. Rarely follow recipes to their entirety, my family is rather used to enjoying their meals “in the moment” (or disliking them in this same way), as they are rarely duplicated.

Please give Niki a warm welcome to the CookThatBook family! We are excited to have her join our team in the position of resident vegetarian cookbook reviewer. If you have a question/comment for Niki, please email her c/o info@cookthatbook.com. Inaugural cookbook review coming soon!

Monthly Miettes: Crème Fraîche Scones


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

Miette (recipes from San Francisco's most charming pastry shop)

Kicking off our return to Monthly Miettes, Aimée from Food, Je t’Aimée tasked us with making Crème Fraîche Scones. Apparently, these scones are no longer sold at Miette bakeries but due to popular demand the recipe was included in the cookbook. Crème fraîche is added in order to provide the dough with a slight tang to compliment the lemon zest, and also to keep the scones nice and moist. Delicately treating the dough along with the stipulated technique of freezing the scones prior to baking gives these Miette favourites their famed flakiness.

Ingredients for Crème Fraîche Scones

I was excited. My hubby loves scones and I had promised the girls a special tea party for their teddy bear picnic. The stage was set for success. Unfortunately things don’t always go as planned…

Too Dry!

Crème Fraîche Scones

Right off the bat I knew the texture of the dough was off. I mixed the dry ingredients with the butter until it looked like cornmeal, but after adding the crème fraîche and heavy cream the dough was still too dry. The recipe says it should look “undermixed and crumbly” but with 3 ½ cups of flour with a mere 1/3 cup each of crème fraîche and cream there just wasn’t enough liquid. So I added more cream. And then some more. But despite the additional liquid when I pressed the dough into the pan I quickly decided it was nothing more than a hopeless mess.

Disaster

Frustrated at yet another flawed recipe in a book that continues to underwhelm me, I cut my loses and dumped the dough.

But scones had been promised and scones were expected so scones there would just have to be!

Crème Fraîche Scones (recipe from epicurious)

In the end I found a fabulous recipe on epicurious which turned out so well I am adding it to my collection of family favourite recipes. Served with strawberry jam and some Devon cream it was pure heaven. As for the Miette recipe, I hope the other blogger have more success. I’m not ready to give up on this book! Let’s hope next month’s results are better.

For more information on Monthly Miettes or if you’re interested in participating, please visit Food: Je t’Aimée 

 

 

 

Muffin Monday: Maple Apple Muffins


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

Maple. Apple. Cinnamon.

These three flavours are cast in lead roles for this week’s muffin recipe, and the results are definitely worthy of a curtain call!

The original recipe hails from The Sweet Chick, and is a straightforward recipe that blogger Carole created specifically for her daughter who wanted to bake apple cupcakes. Despite the initial inspiration to make cupcakes, purists can rest easy knowing that this recipe is not one that blurs the line between cupcake and muffin. There is no denying its muffiness in terms of texture and lack of icing.

Maple Apple Muffins

The oatmeal/cinnamon/brown sugar/butter topper provides a nice crunch to the muffins without being overwhelmingly sweet. To heighten the flavour of cinnamon in the topping I decided to add cinnamon chunks, something I highly recommend trying with this recipe. The bits of apple softened beautifully after baking, and the Greek yogurt kept the interior nice and moist. Basically think apple pie in the form of a muffin.

Muffins don’t get better than this my friends!

For the original recipe we used in this week’s Muffin Monday, please visitBaker Street

Maple Apple Muffins

Don’t forget to visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

COOKBOOK REVIEW Vegetarian Entrees That Won’t Leave You HUNGRY


Review written & photographed by Jordan A.R.

Vegetarian Entrees That Won’t Leave You HUNGRY is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this book please visit Thomas Allen & Son.

Vegetarian Entrees That Won't Leave You HUNGRYLukas Volger’s book Vegetarian Entrees That Won’t Leave You Hungry (published by The Experiment, $17.95 USD) confronts a prevailing misconception that, without meat, a meal lacks the power to fill you up. Not only does Volger provide recipes that prove the heartiness of vegetarian cuisine, he does it without any pomp. An approach I found refreshing. His writing is both honest and friendly, offering easy to follow recipes that also encourage you to try a few twists of your own.

Throughout the book are scattered little tutorials on subjects that vary from soups and dressings to hosting dinner parties and cooking just for one. The eclectic list of recipes guarantees that you’re bound to find something you’ll want make, whether it’s homemade paneer, kimchi, pizza, or just a simple salad.

Bulgur Salad with Kale & FetaCassoulet with Tomato-Roasted Carrots & ChardRiesling Poached Pears

CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF RECIPE TESTS

COOKBOOK REVIEW Good Food To Go


Cookbook review written & photographed by Stay-At-Home-Chef

Good Food to Go (cover image)Good Food to Go is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this book please visit Random House of Canada Ltd. 

For some reason I always find it difficult to get back into the swing of things after the winter break, especially when it comes to packing school lunches. The initial excitement and lunchbox creativity that heralded the arrival of September has completely worn off and I find myself searching for inspiration. Luckily this year I knew just where to turn!

Good Food to Go (published by Random House, $19.95 USD) is one of those books that you will turn to again and again when searching for new, healthy lunch ideas for your kids. Visually it comes across as quite unassuming, but don’t let the lack of book ‘bling’ deter you from adding it to your cookbook collection. Just look at my copy – completely littered with sticky notes and folded over page corners.

Good Food To Go

When it comes to packing kids’ lunches, there are a lot more pressures compared to when I was a child. For example; healthy homemade food, BPA free environmentally friendly containers, everything must be nut-free, oh and yeah your kids have to actually like the food. Talk about a tall order for busy parents!

Good Food to Go contains great advice on how to get your kids more involved in packing their own lunches, effectively utilize leftovers, helpful meal planners to prevent getting into a lunch rut, and a great list of pantry essentials. I love the sidebars littered throughout the book that include lots of interesting nutritional facts/information, food preparation tips, and suggested ingredient variations and substitutions. The information is well researched by authors with years of training and experience in nutrition and pediatrics.

The book is divided into the following sections: Getting Started, Vegetables & Fruit, Sandwiches, Picnic-Style Lunches & Snacks, Soups, Super Salads, Encore Performances (leftovers), Baked Good & Desserts, and After-School Snacks. I must admit that I found the index to be quite frustrating to navigate, as it is structured around themes so when searching for a particular recipe it was often difficult to find. Also, Good Food to Go closely follows Canada’s Food Guide, so be prepared to have that particular agenda promoted throughout the literature. That being said, if you happen to follow a vegetarian/gluten-free/dairy-free lifestyle it is easy to make the necessary adjustments.

The authors argue that the fast paced culture of North American family life in combination with easy access to cheap, processed food continues to result in poor eating habits and a steady increase in health related concerns such as child obesity.

I couldn’t agree more.

As we continue to work extended hours and cram even more extracurricular activities into our children’s already over scheduled lives, it can become difficult to find the time to prepare healthy home cooked meals.

Scary stuff. Perhaps that’s why the thing I love most about this book is that it provides readers with practical, affordable, and easy strategies for packing nutritious lunches within the confines of our already busy schedules and tight budgets.

I have come to rely heavily on this book as a source of inspiration when it comes to food for my kids. All of the recipes I have tried so far have turned out wonderfully, and as I prepare to return to the world of full-time work I know I will reach for this book often.

Cinnamon Loaf (slice)Fruit Filled Jell-O FingersToasted Whole Wheat Pita Chips & Homemade Hummus

 

CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF RECIPE TESTS

Food & Wine Magazine: November Cover Recipe


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

As part of my culinary New Year’s resolutions, I have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Food & Wine Magazine. Joining me once again this month is our resident wine expert Kendall Harris of Wine2Three, who provided a fun pinot noir suggestion to pair with this delightful Herb-Roasted Turkey. 

Want to join in on the fun? We’d love the company! Pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send me an email at info@cookthatbook.com to let me know you made the cover recipe, and if you’re a blogger don’t forget to post a link to your post in the comments below.

 

Herb-Roasted Turkey with Wild Mushroom Gravy

Rating: 4 out of 5 (classic roast turkey, easy to prepare)

Initial Thoughts: Giddy up!

THE TEST: Throughout the year as I make each cover from Food & Wine Magazine, my mind flits over to the November issue and the predictable turkey dinner. Prior to embarking upon this monthly challenge, I had never tackled a whole turkey. Now – three years later – I have several turkey dinner notches in my belt. But despite past successes, the idea of making a full turkey dinner always makes me nervous.

Once I saw that November’s Herb-Roasted Turkey with Wild Mushroom Gravy was developed by David Tanis (New York Times columnist, award-winning cookbook author, past chef at Chez Panisse), my anticipation grew. The recipe is part of a feature article highlighting a California-style Thanksgiving feast at a Napa Valley ranch. The photos are stunning and the meal looks incredible! In fact, I’ve bookmarked each and every recipe for the future.

Preparing this turkey is dead simple, making it the perfect recipe for the holidays. In order to maximize flavour, butter seasoned with sage, thyme and garlic is rubbed inside the cavity. Additional sage and thyme are placed inside the bird before the neck flap is plugged with half an apple. The turkey is then rubbed with olive oil and placed on top of celery, onion and carrots. Honestly, this is the easiest turkey recipe I’ve tried and would be great for any home cooks suffering from turkey anxiety. You can’t go wrong. Although please ensure you have a digital meat thermometer on hand. Trust me – it makes life so much easier.

THE RESULTS: The turkey emerged from the oven smelling incredible and looking perfectly golden and crisp all over. Cue oooo’s and ahhhhhhs!

We let the meat rest for an hour, which helps to retain all of those lovely juices and frees up the oven for any side dishes that still need to be cooked. Because I knew that Mr. Spock and the kids would have split the instant I even said the word ‘mushrooms’, I decided to skip the wild mushroom gravy. But let me tell ya the drippings made fantastic gravy even without the fungus.

This recipe is one that I will be making again for Christmas Day, as it is simple to prepare and full of fantastic turkey flavour that is slightly sweetened from the roasted veg. When I do make it again, I am going to brine it for a day or two to really infuse it with maximum flavour. This recipe by Anthony Sedlak happens to be one of my all-time favourite poultry brines.

Despite my usual turkey related anxiety, this meal turned out to be amazing. And having dear friends whom we don’t get to see nearly enough gathered around the table was perfect. It was an evening of good food, great company, and waaaaay too much wine! Having everyone together in the kitchen pitching in with the preparations (whether making gravy, providing carving commentary, or reading stories and practicing demi-plié with the kids) highlighted the importance of community in our lives, and was a good reminder about the true meaning of the holidays.

This month, our resident wine expert Kendall Harris of Wine2Three had everyone abuzz with her suggested pinot noir pairing! Our guests were all pleasantly surprised by the heavy, smokiness of this particular wine. I will definitely be picking up a few more bottles for the holidays! As far as the turkey was concerned, there were a few people who would have preferred a more traditional crisp white to drink alongside the poultry but the majority of the table loved the way in which this wine brought out and deepened the contrasting flavours of the entire meal. And had I made the wild mushroom gravy, there is no doubt that the woodsy taste of the mushrooms would have paired perfectly with the pinot.

Cover Recipe:
Herb-Roasted Turkey with Wild Mushroom Gravy

The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit www.foodandwine.com

 

Wine Pairing by Kendall Harris of Wine2Three

Pairing wine with a Thanksgiving meal can sometimes be challenging – so many different types of food being prepared, so many different flavours, not to mention different people with different palates! A classic food-friendly wine that has become a reliable Thanksgiving recommend is Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape, so the resulting wine is a lighter bodied wine, perfect with turkey meat. Also, Pinot Noir displays wonderful berry flavours that harmonize deliciously with the cranberry sauce present at many Thanksgiving tables. Finally, because of its nice level of acidity (which makes your mouth water), it’s an excellent food wine, and won’t overwhelm the meal with big strong sweet fruit flavours (like an Australian Shiraz).

Pinot Noir is called “the heartbreak grape” because winemakers have a tendency to fall madly in love with this varietal. It can be a challenging grape to work with; for example the thin skin of the grapes make it vulnerable in the vineyard and requires more TLC than other varieties. You may also remember the character Miles waxing poetic about Pinot Noir in the movie “Sideways,” one of my favorite wine movies!

I recommend this Leyda Pinot Noir from Chile because it’s absolutely delicious and much of Chile’s grape growing is done under organic or almost organic conditions. Because of that country’s climate, the kinds of pests and mildew problems that plague winemakers around the world don’t show up on Chilean soil. This Leyda Pinot Noir also happens to be well priced, so pick-up a few bottles. At a big holiday dinner, quantity is sometimes just as important as quality!

Cheers!

Kendall Harris is a wine blogger who shares her adventures in the wine world as Wine2three on Twitter & Facebook. She has an Advanced Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is passionate about sharing her wine knowledge with others. “Like” her page on Facebook for fun, informative wine posts! 

Muffin Monday: Eggnog Snickerdoodle Muffins


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

Ah. The holidays. Gotta love the level of indulgence this means for Muffin Mondays! This week Baker Street gave us a fun recipe for snickerdoodle muffins by Culinary Concoctions by Peabody.

As the name suggests, these muffins are a twist on traditional snickerdoodle cookies which are similar to a sugar cookie but are rolled in a cinnamon sugar mixture instead of granulated sugar. Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, these cookies use simple ingredients but come up big in the flavour department. Unfortunately no one seems to know how they came by such a peculiar name.

Wanting to dial up the holiday theme with these muffins, I ended up replacing the 1¼ cup sour cream with eggnog. I also added ½ tsp of eggnog extract to help boost the flavour (but feel free to leave out if you wish). I also decided to use nutmeg instead of cinnamon, and mixed together brown sugar and nutmeg to sprinkle overtop of the muffins prior to baking.

These little beauties turned out wonderfully! Lovely and crisp on the outside, perfectly moist interior, and the flavour of eggnog really was perfect with this style of muffin.

Happy Muffin Monday!

Don’t forget to visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

 

COOKBOOK REVIEW The Soup Sisters Cookbook


Cookbook review written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

The Soup Sisters Cookbook is available for purchase through our online store or at local bookstores. For more information on this book please visit Appetite by Random House

Immediately upon receiving this book I was struck by the cover; the warm photograph inviting me to delve further into its pages. This heartwarming tone is carried throughout the entire book, and with over 100 contributors (including volunteers as well as over 50 celebrity chefs and food professionals) it is a true embodiment of the spirit of community behind this organization.

The Soup Sisters Cookbook (published by Appetite by Random House, $22.95 CDN/USD) is a compilation of the project’s favourite recipes edited by Sharon Hapton and Calgary-based cookbook author Pierre Lamielle. Hapton is the founder of Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers, a non-profit charitable social enterprise dedicated to providing comfort to women, children and youth through the making, sharing and donating of soup. Her belief in soup as a nurturing and nourishing gift for those in crisis has led to over 60,000 containers of soup delivered to women’s shelters across Canada. Soup Sisters is now in 10 cities across the country and makes approximately 8,000 bowls of soup per month.

If the story behind this inspiring organization doesn’t make you fall in love with this cookbook, the results will quickly make you a fan. Easy-to-follow recipes are arranged by season for your convenience, and a number of helpful tips and techniques for making and storing soups are included. (Did you know that if you stir chilling soup in the same direction it cools faster? Or that when freezing soup you need to leave out cream and pasta ingredients?)

Now you might be wondering if we really need another cookbook dedicated to soup. As far as this book is concerned the answer is YES. I am a self-confessed soup avoider and am proud to say that after rigorously testing this book I have been making a batch of soup each week and been loving every bowlful.

A portion of the proceeds from this book will be used to support the ongoing work of Soup Sisters. For people wanting to get involved with Soup Sisters, please visit their website for more information and opportunities in your area. 

CLICK HERE FOR RESULTS OF RECIPE TESTS

Muffin Monday: Cinnamon Bun Muffins


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

Our holiday edition of Muffin Monday continued this week with a recipe by King Arthur Flour for Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins. With the recipe calling for a sweet cinnamon middle and confectioners’ sugar glaze, I immediately thought of cinnamon buns. By adding additional flour in order to make stiffer dough, I managed to roll it out into a rectangle, sprinkled the filling overtop and rolled it into a log. Slicing off two-inch rounds, I placed the dough in the muffin pan and hoped for the best!

To be honest, the dough was a bit tricky to work with as I needed it to be stiffer than a regular muffin batter but not the thick bread consistency of cinnamon buns. Needless to say things got a little sticky but it all worked out in the end. When I pulled the muffins out of the oven I was happy to see they had retained their spiral shape.

Go big or go home. That should be the motto for our holiday muffins! So yes, I did end up icing these muffins with a cream cheese vanilla icing. I couldn’t help myself.

Wowsa – talk about an insanely tasty sugar high!

Happy Muffin Monday!

Don’t forget to visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

 

Muffin Monday: Chunky Monkey Banana Muffins


Written & photographed by
Stay-At-Home-Chef

This week not only marks my long overdue return to Muffin Monday, but also the start of a whopping six weeks of extravagant holiday muffins. So buckle up ladies and gentlemen; things are gonna get festive!

To get the muffin merriment started, Baker Street tasked us with putting our own unique twist on a simple banana bread recipe. Our group used a Food Network recipe as a jumping off point, but you could easily use any other recipe so long as you reduce the cooking time accordingly (click here for my ultimate banana bread recipe).

Wanting to evoke my inner Ben & Jerry’s, I threw in a cup of coconut, a TBSP of cinnamon, and a trilogy of chocolate chips (white, dark and milk chocolate). I was planning on adding chopped walnuts as well, but got vetoed by the young-ins.

These muffins were decadent without being over the top. Perfect with your morning coffee (and again as a snack in the afternoon), these muffins are incredibly moist thanks to the mashed banana. I enjoyed the generous amount of cinnamon that ended up happening accidentally due to the helping hands of my four year-old, but it really balanced out all of the other flavours nicely.

Happy Muffin Monday!

Don’t forget to visit Baker Street’s site and be sure to check out what the other food bloggers have baked up this week!

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.