Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week 13 Donna Hay: Easy Italian

I finally made another Donna Hay meal.  I know, I know, I am behind schedule but sometimes life just gets busy and stressful and you find yourself grinding your teeth and waking up with headaches.  I know you have been there too.

So this past Saturday I finally made time.  I woke up early and created a whole To Do list and went for it.  I am always amazed at how much can be accomplished with a simple checkoff list.  On to the meal itself.

Don't let the title "Easy Italian" fool you, there was no pasta to be had here. It was a meat and potatoes kind of meal in which my guests were huge fans.

Starter
Parmesan Wafer Salad 

Starters are quickly becoming my favorite course.  This was a perfectly textured salad.  Softness from the creamy goat cheese, crunch from the homemade parmesan crisps, and a combination by the thinly sliced apples (thanks mandolin).  The salty from the parmesan combined with the sweet dribbles of balsamic vinegar were perfect.  Not to mention the gorgeous presentation.  The crisps can be made ahead of time and that is what I am planning on doing for my next dinner party.

Main
Veal with Olives and Pine Nuts

Side
Crispy Roast Potatoes 

Before I even sat down my brother-in-law was already asking me for the remainder of the potatoes.  I know you cannot tell from the picture but these potatoes were as light as air.  I skinned a baking potato that was pretty starchy and tossed in a very light layer of olive oil.  Baked in the over for about 45 minutes then I turned the oven off and let them stay in there until dinner was ready.  I was expecting them to be a little more dense, but I loved the way these came out.  The steaks were beef and not veal.  The grocery had only one choice for veal which was very expensive and the meat did not look great so beef it was.  Tossed in flour and then cooked on high for a minute each side.  Perfect.  The dressing was merely chopped parsley, pine nuts, and lemon juice.  My brother-in-law and I had the same idea that next time use a chimichurri sauce which of course would make it Argentinian.  This sauce was still good mind you and the crunch was nice and the parsley refreshing. Of course there is always the taste of beef that speaks for itself here which I think is why Donna did an understated sauce which came out great.

Dessert
Roasted Peach Bruschetta
Baked crispy bread with peaches and melty vanilla frozen yogurt.  Do I need to say more?  Again, the textures were key according to my guest.  They liked the crunch from the bread paired with the soft peaches and yogurt.  For me, I think next time I want to get a little smaller piece of bread as dessert seemed huge to me.  Flavors were there and simple to make.

In closing, the meal was cinch to make and tasted great.  Scores for this meal were between 8 and 10.  (Yes, my brother-in-law gave it a 10.  I think the potatoes pushed him over the edge.)  On to the next one.  In the immortal words of Julia Child, Bon App├ętit!

(All photo credit: my sister;  everyAugust)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Week 12 Donna Hay: Asian Feast

Please forgive me.  It has been forever since I have posted about Donna Hay which is not to say that I have not made any.  Okay, I have only made one meal and that was a few weeks ago and unfortunately I made it when my photographers were not around.  Sorry no pictures.

So scheduling a family dinner has not been working out and I had been itching to make another Donna Hay meal and decided to just make it.  I was feeling something easy and with chicken as I had some left over from when I made my pulled chicken alla Kelsey Nixon.  This menu came from the beginning of the book and was a snap to make.  (Plus I had most of the ingredients.)  Truth be told, dessert was made on a separate night because the dough was not cold enough for the cookies and I was a bit full.  Now for the menu.

Starter
Sesame Salt Sugar Snap Peas 
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Snap peas were a breeze to put together and fool proof.  Plus, snap peas are amazing just off the vine so you really cannot mess this one up.
Main
Wok-Fried Salt and Pepper Chicken 
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Just a slight spice on cooked chicken pieces.  Not the most flavorful main dish.  Next time I need to add a bit more spice.  Also, this dish had broccoli mixed in which happens to be my least favorite vegetable of all times, but with some red peppers it is almost tolerable.  Needless to say my vegetarian sister like it.

Side
Peanut and Coriander Noodles 
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I am not going to lie, I used only 1/4 cup of peanuts as opposed to the 1 cup the recipe called for because 1) 1 cup was way too much and 2) I am not a peanut fan.  Any other nut I love, just not particularly found of George Washington Carver's crowning glory nut. (My mother made me read his biography when I was younger which I loved and never forgot it.)  The noodles were good and of course the coriander or what we call in the states, cilantro, was fabulous.  The noodle dish needed another kick as well.  Maybe a little more acid with the noodles next time and tossed in with a bit of vegetables.

Dessert
Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream Sandwiches
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This recipe called for vanilla biscuit cookies which could be found at the grocery store.  Perhaps Australian grocery stores have the lovely morsels, but here in the States our grocery stores like to have cupcakes at the ready.  One thing I love about Donna's books is every so often she will have asterisks next to ingredients which means you can turn to the back of the book and find a quick and simple recipe to make the ingredient yourself.  I was in luck as there was an asterisk next to the cookies and in the back of the book was a really simple recipe.  Bad news, the recipe was so simple and delicious I can see myself whipping some up on a whim and making dozens of them!  I mean how can you go wrong with vanilla and coconut ice cream sandwiches. 

In summary, a bit of tweaking is needed for my taste buds, but the meal was definitely satisfying, pretty healthy, and something I am going to play around with in the future.