For the third recipe challenge in Around the World in 12 Plates, we headed to Ethiopia! The cuisine of this country was the one I was least familiar with so far. In fact, I’ve never even eaten in an Ethiopian restaurant (bows head in shame). …
So here we are! The first recipe challenge for 2017 Around the World in 12 Plates: China! After I posted the announcement for the challenge, word spread amongst bloggers and it really caught on. We now have ten awesome blogs participating! Each month, I’ll post the …
You may recall I completed a year-long recipe challenge a couple years back. I started the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge in 2013 with a few other bloggers, but I was the only one to complete it, something I am super proud of.
But I have to be honest with you: The recipe challenge posts are the least read posts on The Food Girl in Town.
Seriously, it’s sad how few people read about the blood, sweat, and onion tears that went into the monthly dinners I prepared with my friends. But, I don’t care. I loved completing the challenge: I learned new cooking skills, acquired some awesome kitchen gadgets, and stocked my spice cupboard like a baller.
This year, instead of depending on the cover recipe of a magazine, I’m going to focus on the cuisine of a different country each month of 2017.
The first time I went to Italy, I ate the same thing for every. single. meal. For me, there was nothing better than Spaghetti Carbonara, twirling those noodles coated with the thin and rich sauce. The simplicity. The flavour. The porky bits. Sometimes I scold …
I’m not going to make excuses. I have been more than delinquent about posting — shameless plug — I was putting together an amazing magazine called frame. Please go look at it, it’s my baby. Niceties aside, last week I was feeling fancy and made a three-course meal. I made a particularly tasty beet salad. Nothing fancy; some goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and a shitload of beets. But it turned out awesome.
So, before Adam and I sat down to eat, I shot like 10 millions photos of the dish and decided I was going to post a recipe as my triumphant return to the blogosphere. That’s when I realized:
I am really fucking bad at recipe writing.
Those who frequent the blog know there aren’t many original recipes on this site. In fact, there are only four, and one of them is a cocktail (a damn good one though — check out my Moscow Mule). When I cook, I rarely follow recipes. Even with the shelves and shelves of cookbooks I own, whenever I am cooking, I just can’t resist tossing in a little more cheese, an extra pinch of cumin, or a tad more salt. I like to feel my way through ingredients, smelling and tasting, and not be confined by a recipe. I find going off-script calming and satisfying, even if it’s not always successful. Being alone in the kitchen doing my thing to some great Bossa Nova is something I relish.
When I started food blogging almost three years ago, I was sure that in order for my blog to be successful (or enjoyable, at the very least) I had to include what everyone else had. That golden ticket was recipes: Gorgeous photos, fancy recipe plugins, and great stories were all over the internet, but I could never get there. Whenever I put pen to paper I just froze, never quite sure how much flour I had included or how long to brown the mushrooms. And it made me feel like shit. Last Christmas, I made a little cookbook for Adam, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. How could I remember how many cups of crushed tomatoes go in my special spaghetti sauce? I wing it every time!
Sorry mommy bloggers…but I am bored of the recipe writing and I’m over feeling bad when they don’t turn out quite right. What I love most about cooking is chucking in the random ingredients, in fact, my sister got me the Flavour Thesaurus for my birthday, which might direct this randomness in a tastier direction.
My name is Gabby and I can’t write recipes.
My relationship with food has changed so much in the past few years, and I love to talk about the connection people make with food, with their families, or alone traveling the world (the most of the memorable moments seem to all revolve around food). Cooking is an experience, with emotions, and sights and sounds and TASTE.
Below is a loose beet salad recipe for the awesome salad I enjoyed with Adam with great wine and great conversation. One of those special nights evolved from tossing some tasty stuff in a bowl. Just go with it. You want more lemon juice? Go for it. Switch up goat cheese for feta? Even betta.
Gabby's Beet Salad
A simple salad even I could write down.
- 4 medium sized cured beets
- Handful of spinach or arugula
- Tons of yummy goat cheese
- Roasted sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
- White wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Olive Oil
Put it all in a bowl, top with some Maldon, and eat the shit out of this tasty salad.
I DID IT!! After 12 months, 12 cover recipe challenges, 34 recipes, and 25 wines, I finally completed the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge! What a delicious roller coaster of a year! To my pantry, I have added 6 types of vinegar, 4 types of …
C’est la fin! Finito! Dunzo! The Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge IS COMPLETE! Twelve delicious months ago, I challenge myself to cook every cover recipe of Food & Wine Magazine for the whole year of 2013, and last month I completed the challenge! I cannot …
Happy uber belated Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas everyone! Yes, this is a post about my Thanksgiving meal, and this is another late posting for my Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge. For November’s issue there was a major focus on Thanksgiving meals because of the magazine’s American origin and I ended up cooking my second turkey in 3 weeks, and now here we are, two days from Christmas about to have another one! In actuality, this post is hitting the blog at the perfect time because there are some great recipes that are perfect for Christmas dinner, enjoy!
I chose to make five new recipes for this challenge. Why, you ask? Because I am crazy. I have to say that after making this meal I have a whole new appreciation for all those awesome people who make giant Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for like 20 people. THANKS MOM!
On the docket for November’s Challenge was:
Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise
Roast Turkey with Chesnut-Apple Stuffing
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger
Sauteed Spinach with Pancetta and Dried Cranberries
Vanilla Ice Cream Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel
For the appetizer, I chose the Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise.
Surprisingly, I have never cooked with fennel before. In fact, Erin and I had some trouble actually identifying the fennel bulbs at the grocery store, and we had to youtube a video on how to chop it up! Once you cut those intimidating stalks off, it was pretty easy.
The scallops were fried separately in the frying pan with olive oil and then added to the combination of fried fennel, capers, lemon and parsley.
The scallops turned out great! The plating for this dish is easy and it was delicious, the flavour of the fennel and the saltiness of the capers complimented the fresh Digby scallops really well. This is a super simple recipe that makes you look like a really fancy cook.
The last thing that I wanted to make for the Cover Recipe challenge was turkey. For Thanksgiving my sister Maggie and her boyfriend Sean came from St. John’s, and we had a lovely dinner where the turkey turned out perfectly. I mean perfect. It was the first turkey that I had ever cooked on my own and it looked AWESOME! Honestly, I couldn’t believe how well it turned out, but after weeks of researching countless methods and bastes, the turkey came out looking like this:
Don’t I look proud?
So for obvious and delicious reasons posted above, I was feeling pretty comfortable about cooking my second turkey for the recipe challenge.
That was until I started making the stuffing.
It was SO hard. First of all the chestnuts: I couldn’t find any in the city for some random reason so I bought hazelnuts, and after searching five stores for a nutcracker I had to resort to smashing the hazelnuts with a hammer and a set of pliers. Luckily the recipe called for crushed nuts and not full ones, because that was quite the challenge.
After the TWO HOURS it took to finish the stuffing and the hours of cooking, this is how my second turkey turned out:
Happily all the sides that I made turned out well.
The sweet potato was AMAZING! The Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger were a great twist to the recipe with nuts and marshmallows that I am used to having at Thanksgiving or Christmas. The freshness of the coconut milk and the ginger were delicious and were a nice light addition to an otherwise heavy meal.
The spinach was also tasty, but I was a little underwhelmed. The recipe title sounded way better than it actually was. The Sauteed Spinach with Pancetta and Dried Cranberries definitely had some nice flavour (how can anything with pancetta not have flavour?) but the spinach was so shrunken up that no one was blown away by the side dish. When I do this recipe again I will definitely put in more spinach than suggested to balance out the flavour of the pancetta.
The Roast Turkey with Chesnut-Apple Stuffing was a BIG BUST. After the two strenuous hours and all that nut crushing and mixing and stuffing, this is what it turned out like:
It tasted okay, not amazing, definitely not worth the blood, sweat, and tears that it took to make it. BOO.
For dessert I made Vanilla Ice Cream Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel. Traditionally I have not been a huge fan of bread pudding, but after reading about the whiskey caramel that topped the pudding in November’s issue, I just had to make it!
This is a really fast and easy recipe for bread pudding, and doesn’t involve the usual time consuming bread soaking because you use semi-melted vanilla ice cream to speed up the process. The ice cream also made it super moist and delicious. The caramel on top was super yummy and between the four of us we put a pretty large dent in the dessert meant for 10.
Overall the meal was a success, despite the sad looking turkey and the mediocre stuffing. The delicious appetizer and dessert made up for the lackluster bird and I would definitely recommend the sweet potato for Christmas dinner to add a twist on a classic side dish. The bread pudding is sure to impress at any meal, so make sure to Explore. Eat. Repeat. these recipes for your next big meal.
In the mean time, have a safe and happy holiday season from The Food Girl in Town. Enjoy the friends, family, and of course all the food! Merry Christmas!
With all the guests I hosted and cooking I did in October, the month just flew by, and somehow the Cover Recipe Challenge got pushed to the back burner. However, in true Food Girl in Town fashion, I finished the challenge and posted late, so …
9 Months. That is how long I have been doing the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge, and it feels like an eternity. I seriously cannot imagine how women are pregnant for this long because this labour of foodie love is getting old. I can’t …
So this post is exactly one month late. The post for my exciting meal for August’s Food and Wine Cover Recipe Challenge is late simply because it was summer and I was off galavanting, sorry folks, I have no excuses. But here it is at long last (September’s is coming too, I promise).
When I realized the August issue of F&W was focused on vegetables a sense of dread washed over me. Really? No meat? Well there is some meat in the issue, but the emphasis on the awesome variety of creative dishes and flavours one can cook from ‘just’ vegetables really enchanted me. Despite my carnivorous instincts, I decided that this was a good opportunity to challenge myself and make a meal that consisted solely of vegetables.
August Cover Recipe Challenge
Summer Vegetable Ceviche
To start off the evening, Adam decided to put his newly acquired Aperol knowledge to good use and made Rosemary Aperol Spritz. I have had cocktails with Aperol before, but it is only recently while Adam and I have been experimenting with cocktails that we discovered how versatile and delicious this libation can be. The bitter orange liqueur hails from Italy and is a classic ingredient in many cocktails.
The drink consists of Prosecco, soda water, Aperol, and is garnished with rosemary and an orange slice. It was super delicious and the bitterness of the Aperol is crazy good with the rosemary.
For this challenge, I decided that the cover recipe was best suited as the appetizer for the evening. The Summer Vegetable Ceviche was very easy to make despite its total prep time (2.5 hours), and it was delicious. The recipe was simple: chuck a bunch of fresh veggies into a bowl with lime juice, oil, and sea salt, wait two hours, and voila, you have vegetable ceviche.
The flavours of this pseudo salad were fresh and summery. I loved the creativeness of the dish and the use of a technique that is usually reserved for meat or fish preparation. The combination of nectarines, avocados, corn, and cilantro is not something that I would have considered, but man, did we make quick work of that ceviche.
And now on to the main course. Despite the presence of some meat recipes in the August issue, I chose to bite the bullet and go veggie. I made Eggplant and Porcini ‘Meatballs’ in Tomato Sauce; we affectionately called them plantballs throughout the evening.
After last month’s issues with the pork burgers, confidence in my ability to create a spherical plant ball that stayed intact was a little low, but they turned out amazing! The recipe was surprisingly easy to follow despite the complicated sounding title, and I found it actually took less time to make than the allotted two hours.
This dish was another interesting twist on a meaty classic. Normally, I am one who tends to criticize cooks who try and turn one food into another (i.e. using that weird vegan ‘cheese’: it’s not cheese) but this recipe was solid. The combination of porcini mushrooms, eggplant, and breadcrumbs created a great plantball, they were so savoury, and stayed together just as well as any meatball could. The fresh tomato sauce was the perfect vessel for the plantballs and everyone at the table loved the innovation of a classic comfort food.
I was most excited for the dessert in this challenge. I chose to make Strawberry Meringue Roulade with Raspberry Sauce, and I was pumped to try making meringue for the first time. I love meringue, it’s one of my most favourite treats. I am obsessed with it: look at me here, eating meringue in Venice and loving life. (Also note the other people in this photo who are loving what they are eating, including pizza photobomber):
I don’t know why I have never made meringue before, maybe I was always too nervous that it would turn out crappy. Well looky here at Miss First-Time-Meringue:
It turned out great! The tricky part was actually rolling the meringue with the Kirsch flavoured cream and berries inside, but the finished product was unbelievable!
After freezing the roulade for a couple of hours, it was a matter of slicing and smothering it in the delicious raspberry sauce. I don’t normally prepare desserts for the recipe challenge, they aren’t my forte, but everyone was so glad that I did. YUM!
For the wine, I asked Erin and Matt to select a fruity Sauvignon Blanc to pair with the Ceviche and a bold red to go with the Spaghetti and Plantballs.
The sauvignon blanc was a Nederburg from South Africa and its fresh fruitiness was the perfect compliment to the summery veggies in the ceviche. The red was a medium bodied wine from Italy. The Ricossa Barbera d’Asti is an amazing wine for a great value. It was the house wine red at Get Stuffed when I worked there, and has been for ages. It went perfectly with the Eggplant and Porcini Meatballs.
Overall the meal was a complete success. Compared to last month’s frustrations, August’s F&W Cover Recipe Challenge was a pleasure to make and even more of a pleasure to eat. I was surprised at the versatilely of vegetables in the dishes that I prepared, and I will definitely be working on more meals that have veggies as the star. I encourage everyone to Eat. Explore. Repeat. your local farmer’s market and try some new veg recipes asap! Enjoy!