ashallen's Bookshelf

  • I chose this recipe to use up some bits and pieces of things and wasn't expecting much, but it's a deeply flavorful and savory dish. Risotto-like, but with a lower proportion of rice than most risottos I've made - the rice here is more like a creamy binder for the other ingredients. The dish is, however, very rich and a small amount goes a long way, so even though each serving as specified by the recipe is less than 1 cup, that's enough for me! I'd experiment in the future to see how much the oil/butter could be reduced without compromising the flavor. I used mostly plain ground pork instead of the sausage specified in the recipe and would do that again in the future since it's less fatty. Used homemade chicken stock and Arborio rice. Cooked in a saucepan, but I'm guessing the recipe was tested in a pan with a broader base since my onions took longer than the specified time to turn golden and there was some excess liquid to cook off after the rice finished cooking. Leftovers kept well.

  • The flavors in this pudding were nice and nicely balanced. I used clover honey and Ceylon cinnamon so the honey and cinnamon flavors didn't clobber the other flavors. It came out thicker than I prefer, though - thick enough to support a spoon standing upright immediately after cooking despite partially covering with a lid and adding some extra milk about half-way through. Leftovers thickened further after chilling - I reheated it and stirred in some more milk to get it back to a pudding-like consistency. The recipe has a higher ratio of rice to milk than some other recipes I've made - had I noted that before cooking, I would've cooked it at a more gentle simmer.

  • Very nice stir-fry with comforting, savory flavors - I always think of chicken noodle soup when I eat this dish! With a relatively short ingredient list and no "stages" in the stir-frying, it comes together pretty quickly. Uses *lots* of celery which is super since I always seem to have more than I need in the refrigerator. Recipe says to dice celery - I did a 1/4" dice which worked well and still had some crispness after cooking. When I first looked at the book photo, I thought the large green chunks were celery and I thought "that's a big dice!," but looking more closely, I think they're probably green peppers - recipe headnote mentions adding a pepper as an option.
    about Mrs. Miu's stir-fried chicken with cashews from Breath of a Wok added on September 07, 2020

  • Mmmm, these are decadently delicious string beans. Super-flavorful, sweet and sour, gingery. Definitely oily (like many dry-fried dishes), but because they're so flavorful, a modest serving works and makes a great accompaniment for a more simply-flavored dish. I like the flavor of string beans, but this happens to be a good dish for those who don't care for it much since it's buried beneath all of the other flavors. Recipe recommends using "young" string beans. I was able to get local, in-season beans but they were neither very slender nor "garden fresh" - still came out great!
    about Virginia Yee's dry-fried Sichuan string beans from Breath of a Wok added on September 02, 2020

  • Nice buttery cookies with lots of walnuts and a crunchy, but not tough, texture. I removed them from the oven while they still had a bit of give/chew in the middle, but I imagine they'd become crunchy all the way through with longer baking. You can taste the baking soda, but it's not unpleasant (as long as you don't mind that flavor). I thought they might bake up very thin, but they're actually a "typical" thickness and pretty sturdy. Flavor kept very well over a couple of weeks.
    about Oatmeal walnut crispies from Great Cookies added on August 23, 2020

  • Great potatoes! These take a bit of time to make, but most of it is unattended and the overall process is simple. Recipe doesn't describe how long the potatoes need to simmer uncovered -mine needed about 75 minutes to reach the "glaze" stage. The finished potatoes were thoroughly tender and the garlic-herb-wine glaze had a lovely flavor. I substituted dried mint for fresh - still tasted great. Leftovers held very well to the next day.
    about Lake Garda potatoes from Italian Country Table added on August 21, 2020

  • I like angel food cakes but find them to be pretty sweet. After making this cake, I now realize I should have been making chiffon cakes! Very light, fluffy, moist and tender texture. I used the optional nutmeg and omitted the optional cinnamon and walnuts/pecans. Nice banana flavor and not as intensely sweet as an angel food cake. Used unbleached cake flour which seemed to work fine - maybe texture would have been even more ethereal with bleached? I removed cake from oven a bit earlier than suggested in recipe (50 vs. 55-65 minutes) at an internal temperature of 206-208F. We enjoyed this drizzled with warm caramel sauce. Held well to next day.

  • I was happily surprised by how tasty this soup was given how simple the recipe is - very satisfying! The style is more broth-y than some other bean soups. Because the recipe's so simple, the taste of whatever broth you use comes through. I had only 2 c "beef broth" (liquid leftover from simmering beef for another dish) and used a strong chicken stock for the rest - worked well. I stirred in cooked egg noodles leftover from another dish instead of cooking pasta directly in the soup as specified in the recipe (which would have thickened it further). Recipe specifies "1 sprig" rosemary - I used a 4-inch sprig of very fresh rosemary from the garden but that was a bit much and would use just 2-3-inches next time.
    about Chickpea soup from Homemade Pasta Made Simple added on August 16, 2020

  • I made just the oat financiers part of this recipe which we ate with black raspberry ice cream we already had on hand. Peach ice cream would have been great, though - the black raspberry clobbered the oat flavor! By themselves, these are nice little cakes with a pleasant oat flavor. I was concerned they'd bake up dense without any leavening (the egg whites that go into them aren't beaten), but they came out light and tender with a nice buttery chewiness along the pan edges. I used quick rolled oats vs. the thicker old-fashioned rolled oats and that seemed to work fine. I lightly toasted the oats in the oven along with the almonds for extra flavor. A nice, easy way to use up egg whites that were irretrievably contaminated with yolk.
    about Oat financiers with peach ice cream from Passion for Ice Cream added on August 11, 2020

  • Very nice black raspberry ice cream with a thick, smooth, creamy texture and a bit of tang from the buttermilk and cream cheese. Note that this is a blogger's riff on a Jeni Britton Bauer recipe vs. an original JB Bauer recipe. In keeping with that, my recipe was a riff on a riff! My black raspberries were wild ones and therefore very flavorful, on the drier side, seedy, and a bit tart. I used 3 c berries to make the raspberry syrup and cooked them into a thickened syrup on the stovetop instead of roasting the whole berries. I also skipped adding the lemon juice + zest and adding the cut-up whole berries to the final ice cream. I'd consider using the recipe as-written, however, with juicier/gentler cultivated berries.
    about Black raspberry ice cream from A Plum By Any Other Name added on August 09, 2020

  • Merry Manana Berry Banana Mini Muffins: These are nice little muffins - blueberry + banana is a classic combination and they're moist with a fine, tender crumb. Kept well to the next day. I don't know that I'd go out of my way to make them again unless I had some more egg whites that had been contaminated by a bit of egg yolk to use up again like I did this time! Frozen blueberries worked fine - muffins just needed a couple of extra minutes in the oven. Recipe calls for 2 medium bananas - I used 2/3 c mashed. Recipe calls for 1 tbsp baking soda (for 2 c flour) which I believe is a typo - I used 1 tsp baking soda and the muffins rose fine. Recipe doesn't call for any salt - I used salted butter and added a pinch of salt to the flour mixture - next time I'd add a bit more. Pulled from oven at 198-205F in centers - worked well.
    about Alphabet of Sweets added on August 08, 2020

  • I usually choose chicken vegetable soup over beef vegetable soup because I've had so many sad, watery versions of the latter (with tasteless, rubbery beef lumps!) over the years. But this recipe is excellent - deeply flavorful with tender bits of beef and vegetables. It's hard to find sirloin steak tips where I live, but I was able to get a bavette steak for the beef. My "beef stock" was the strained liquid leftover after simmering beef for another dish - worked well. Parsley flavor was a little strong when served fresh (maybe it was my parsley), but it mellowed out after sitting overnight. Great served with egg noodles mixed in. [Cross-post for Cook's Illustrated Cookbook/Cook's Ill. 2007 Annual Edition/Cook's Ill. magazine/Science of Good Cooking]

  • I usually choose chicken vegetable soup over beef vegetable soup because I've had so many sad, watery versions of the latter (with tasteless, rubbery beef lumps!) over the years. But this recipe is excellent - deeply flavorful with tender bits of beef and vegetables. It's hard to find sirloin steak tips where I live, but I was able to get a bavette steak for the beef. My "beef stock" was the strained liquid leftover after simmering beef for another dish - worked well. Parsley flavor was a little strong when served fresh (maybe it was my parsley), but it mellowed out after sitting overnight. Great served with egg noodles mixed in. [Cross-post for Cook's Illustrated Cookbook/Cook's Ill. 2007 Annual Edition/Cook's Ill. magazine/Science of Good Cooking]
    about Quick beef and vegetable soup from Science of Good Cooking added on August 01, 2020

  • I usually choose chicken vegetable soup over beef vegetable soup because I've had so many sad, watery versions of the latter (with tasteless, rubbery beef lumps!) over the years. But this recipe is excellent - deeply flavorful with tender bits of beef and vegetables. It's hard to find sirloin steak tips where I live, but I was able to get a bavette steak for the beef. My "beef stock" was the strained liquid leftover after simmering beef for another dish - worked well. Parsley flavor was a little strong when served fresh (maybe it was my parsley), but it mellowed out after sitting overnight. Great served with egg noodles mixed in. [Cross-post for Cook's Illustrated Cookbook/Cook's Ill. 2007 Annual Edition/Cook's Ill. magazine/Science of Good Cooking]

  • I usually choose chicken vegetable soup over beef vegetable soup because I've had so many sad, watery versions of the latter (with tasteless, rubbery beef lumps!) over the years. But this recipe is excellent - deeply flavorful with tender bits of beef and vegetables. It's hard to find sirloin steak tips where I live, but I was able to get a bavette steak for the beef. My "beef stock" was the strained liquid leftover after simmering beef for another dish - worked well. Parsley flavor was a little strong when served fresh (maybe it was my parsley), but it mellowed out after sitting overnight. Great served with egg noodles mixed in. [Cross-post for Cook's Illustrated Cookbook/Cook's Ill. 2007 Annual Edition/Cook's Ill. magazine/Science of Good Cooking]
    about Quick beef and vegetable soup from Cook's Illustrated Cookbook added on August 01, 2020

  • Very nice, comforting pasta dish - how can you go wrong with cheese and tomato sauce! Relatively easy dish to cook. I found the tomato sauce a little sharp on its own, but it mellowed completely after the ricotta was stirred in and the final dish was very creamy. I used a very fresh cow's milk ricotta, but a sheep's milk ricotta as suggested by the author would definitely increase the flavor.
    about Penne with Sicilian shepherd's sauce from Italian Country Table added on August 01, 2020

  • This is a great banana cake! I've had many banana cakes that were on the heavier/denser/gummier side, but this one has a relatively light, close-crumbed, springy texture that's also very moist. Since I was sharing it with someone who needs to avoid citrus, I left out the lemon zest and doubled the vanilla. Banana + butter flavors came through very nicely since there aren't any spices or nuts in this recipe. I used eggs with deep orange yolks to make the cake extra-golden. Removed it from the oven once center reached 195-200F after 40-45 minutes. Author says to bake 50-60 minutes, but based on the book photos, his cake pan might have been squatter than mine.
    about Banana gugelhupf (Bananengugelhupf) from Kaffeehaus added on July 14, 2020

  • Good but not fabulous - I'd like it better with a few tweaks. Definitely very meaty with lots of beef relative to the quantity of sauce. Personally, I would have liked more sauce which was very tasty and flavorful (and rich!) even with using just the minimum recommended amount of red curry paste - I'd reduce the beef next time. I trimmed the short ribs pretty well of excess fat/membrane and assumed the remainder would "melt away" during the simmering step. Unfortunately it didn't (even with an extra 30-45 minutes simmering). Because of that, I didn't love the meat texture immediately after cooking but then found it improved significantly after chilling overnight (like so many other long-cooked beef dishes). Recipe mentions that the beef can be cooked up to 24 hours prior to assembling final dish - I'd definitely do that in the future for the improved texture. Recipe says to discard water used to simmer beef, but it's a nice base for beef stock once strained and degreased.

  • Good but not fabulous - I'd like it better with a few tweaks. Definitely very meaty with lots of beef relative to the quantity of sauce. Personally, I would have liked more sauce which was very tasty and flavorful (and rich!) even with using just the minimum recommended amount of red curry paste - I'd reduce the beef next time. I trimmed the short ribs pretty well of excess fat/membrane and assumed the remainder would "melt away" during the simmering step. Unfortunately it didn't (even with an extra 30-45 minutes simmering). Because of that, I didn't love the meat texture immediately after cooking but then found it improved significantly after chilling overnight (like so many other long-cooked beef dishes). Recipe mentions that the beef can be cooked up to 24 hours prior to assembling final dish - I'd definitely do that in the future for the improved texture. Recipe says to discard water used to simmer beef, but it's a nice base for beef stock once strained and degreased.
    about Panang beef curry from Cook's Illustrated Annual Edition 2017 added on July 11, 2020

  • This is a good cake recipe for those who like their cakes to be rich (lots of butter!) but not very sweet. Personally, I like my cake to be sweeter than this one and will probably play with the sugar quantity, but my husband really enjoyed it as-is. Lots of delicious poppy seeds which I ground in a Vitamix dry blade container. Texture is close-crumbed and springy. Nicely moist on the first day but, as the author mentions in the recipe, less moist with each day that passes. Cake was done after 40 minutes (200-205F in center), 10-20 minutes faster than specified in recipe. Based on book photo, author's baking pan might have been squatter than mine. Used unbleached cake flour (King Arthur) - worked well. I left out the lemon zest and substituted dark rum for light rum, thinking that would provide enough flavor but it was a bit light. I'Il try adding some almond extract if I leave out the lemon zest again in the future.
    about Poppy seed gugelhugf (Mohngugelhopf) from Kaffeehaus added on July 11, 2020

  • This is an almond ice cream (egg custard style) flavored with orange blossom water. It's thick and creamy with a hauntingly aromatic flavor from the orange blossom water. When I tasted the ice cream mix before freezing, the orange blossom flavor seemed too strong (even though I used the minimum amount recommended in the recipe), but it settled down after freezing (though still too strong for my husband!!). The recipe says to leave the finely ground almonds in the custard and freeze it in a bowl overnight. I froze a small amount this way as a test and decided I didn't like the texture - both gritty from the almond bits and kind of icy. I strained the remaining mix through a fine mesh strainer and froze it in an ice cream machine - much better! I'd ground my almonds to "almond meal" size, so the strainer didn't catch all of the particles - a second straining through a yogurt strainer would probably produce a perfectly smooth ice cream. Yields 1 quart.
    about Booza al loz from New Book of Middle Eastern Food added on July 03, 2020

  • I was very excited about this recipe because it uses a lot of two ingredients I always seem to have lingering in my refrigerator - celery and cilantro. It also has many, many avid fans on the Bon Appetit website. Unfortunately the taste combination's not for me - I found it to be too sweet-vinegary (I kept thinking "ketchup sauce!"). I did substitute sriracha sauce for sambal oelek (mentioned in recipe) - the latter might be better. My husband, however, was very pleased and said it was very similar to a chicken-peanut-celery dish he enjoyed eating frequently from a Chinese restaurant he lived near years ago. Those who like sauce-y stir-fries will like this recipe - it has lots of sauce. Following the recipe resulted in a cooking process for me that was more steaming vs. sauteeing/stir-frying (even with a wok and a strong gas burner), so the chicken stays tender but doesn't have a strong "stir-fried" flavor.
    about Spicy chicken stir-fry with celery and peanuts from Bon Appétit added on July 02, 2020

  • These were very tasty - the lamb filling had a delicious sweet-salty-tangy vibe. Quite crispy fresh from the oven. I liked them best after they'd cooled a while and the phyllo softened, making then easier to eat by hand. Substituting chopped slivered almonds for pine nuts worked well. Based on NYTimes website comments, I made 1.5x the cheese filling - worked well. Not very cheesy- it's a very thin layer to add moisture and creaminess to complement the lamb. Overall, these were dryer than borek I (very fondly) remember eating in Turkey. It's been a while, but I think those had a thicker filling layer and maybe the phyllo was brushed with more oil than I used for this recipe - so these might be healthier! I baked half right away and froze the other half unbaked. Baking direct from the freezer worked well - a bit less pretty since the filling bulged against the middles during baking, but it didn't break through. Needed ~5 extra minutes in the oven.

  • These are fun cookies - the almond paste shell is a bit chewy and crunchy and the cherry filling is a bit juicy. Gluten-free. I used Trader Joe's amarena cherries which are quite sweet - I'd prefer a cherry that was a bit more sour or boozy next time to balance out the sweetness and make the cookies less candy/confection-like. These would be fun on a holiday cookie platter with their cherry-red filling. I used the author's homemade almond paste recipe - worked very well. Almond paste mixture was quite sticky in my 72F kitchen after mixing in 2 tbsp egg white (recipe says to use 1-2 egg whites). Sticking the dough in the freezer for a while made it much easier to handle. I used a buttered cookie sheet vs. parchment paper - moving cookies quickly to a drying rack was best since the more they cooled on the sheet, the more they wanted to stick to it!

  • Despite my husband's intense love of lo mein, I'd been procrastinating on trying to cook it since I'd never stir-fried noodles before and was having visions of a noodle blob glued to my wok. This recipe worked out great with no sticking!! Uses a very reasonable amount of oil. Much more flavorful than our local take-out options. I substituted a red bell pepper for green since we're not big fans of the latter. I also cooked the vegetables for longer than specified in the recipe and julienned vs. sliced the carrots since we like them to be on the more tender side.
    about Chicken lo mein from Breath of a Wok added on June 20, 2020