Monday, September 27, 2010

Cookies and Chicken

Interrupting the irregularly scheduled flow of farmers' market cookbook recipes to talk about some other recipes.

Whenever we have a family get-together, I like to try to serve something new: a recipe I've never tried before or something unusual. Last night we had a barbecue to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday and I really wanted to create some new fabulous salad creation, but time was really short so I opted for something simpler. Along with the burgers, we added chicken - yeah, not too taxing and certainly not unexpected. I found a simple "recipe" online for chicken thighs wrapped in bacon -- and that was about all there was to it. I got some skinless, thigh fillets, wrapped them in bacon, sprinkled them with pepper and threw them on the barbecue. They turned out to be pretty darn good. At least wrapping the chicken in bacon added something a little unexpected. Thumbs-up all around.

So, the reason time was short was because I'd devoted the rest of the day to finalizing a cookie recipe I'm including in FRUIT OF ALL EVIL, the second farmers' market mystery. The original recipe I put together was good, but not quite good enough. Lavender is a part of the recipe and I've never cooked/baked with it before. It isn't as easy as grabbing some plants from the nursery, picking off the flowers and throwing them into the mix. It's important that you use culinary lavender when you are cooking or baking -- culinary lavender has been grown without pesticides or other nasty stuff you don't want in your food. Some health food stores do carry culinary lavender, but there's still more to know before you use it.

Chris Mason at Fat Spike Lavender Company has been a wonderful resource. She explained the importance of herbicide/pesticide-free plants as well as the difference in types of lavender. Some lavender works better for savory cooking (Provence), some is better for sweet recipes (Royal Velvet). I ordered some Royal Velvet from her and it arrived last week. And, with the Royal Velvet and a little tweaking I did to the other ingredients, I think I came up with pretty darn good cookie recipe.

I'm very excited to include it in the book.

Of course, writing the stories is the best part of writing novels, but I do have fun with the recipes and I want to make them as good and appealing as possible. I couldn't do this without help -- thanks to Chris and everyone who sent me helpful lavender information!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lemon and Garlic - Really?

Page 198 - Fusilli with Lemon Zest & Ricotta

I chose this recipe because I was intrigued by the ingredient combination: lemon, garlic, heavy cream and ricotta cheese. Mostly, I was interested in how the lemon and garlic would work together. They worked fine; in fact the lemon overpowered all of the other flavors in the dish, but not in a bad way.

This was another "this needs more salt" recipe, but it was easy to add. This time I did question whether or not the recipe was lacking salt or if we have become used to consuming too much. I decided it's probably a little of both. That was kind of eye-opening and made me realize I should pay better attention to how much we truly add to things.

It was good, not great in my opinion but good. We had it with steak and I think it would have been better with chicken or fish.

I give it a "3" but it might have gotten a better rating if we'd had it with something other than red meat.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wild . . . Rice

On page 168 of the cookbook: Wild Rice & Mushroom Pilaf

This was another easy recipe. Leeks, mushrooms, parsley and wild rice. And, it was another tasty recipe. My husband isn't a big eater -- he definitely eats to live, not lives to eat -- but he loved this so much that he pulled out the leftover portion and ate it later that night.

I love fresh mushrooms, almost any that are edible (of course), and I really dislike the canned version. This recipe calls for fresh mushrooms (I would have used them anyway if it didn't), but I think I will add even more than the recipe calls for the next time I make it. The wild rice takes over the dish, and though it's yummy, I'd like to see what more mushrooms and perhaps more leeks do to the flavor.

Just for the fact that my hubby liked it so much = 5