Tag: Review

We’re Halfway There: June Cover Recipe Challenge

We’re Halfway There: June Cover Recipe Challenge

I have been so busy enjoying the summer in the past few weeks that I cannot believe I have yet to post June’s Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge recap! Despite the fact that this is a ridiculously late posting, it has to be said 

Barbecued Oysters Don’t Shuck: May Cover Recipe Challenge

Barbecued Oysters Don’t Shuck: May Cover Recipe Challenge

Ladies and gentlemen, my utmost apologies, for this is a very late entry for May’s Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge! Lots of things have been going on in my world lately that have kept me away from the blogosphere. First things first: We moved! 

Battle Batali: April Cover Recipe Challenge

Battle Batali: April Cover Recipe Challenge

April’s Food & Wine Cover Recipe looked simple enough: A fresh spring pasta that had an active cooking time of 45 minutes, no problem right? Like any untried recipe, there are always some pitfalls to making something from a magazine. This month was no exception; the search for some of the ingredients was epic!

The recipe for April’s cover is themed to feature the magazine’s guest editor, the exuberant Mario Batali, famed chef and an expert on Italian food. April’s F&W revolves around various recipes created by Batali, along with amazing new Italian wine, restaurant, and hotel recommendations, and basically all things pasta!  There were actually two recipes that were considered for the cover, both of which were developed by Batali, but in the end they chose Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, the main dish for this post. I also debated making the other recipe, Coppa-and-Gorgonzola Piadine, but decided against it because of time restraints on the day of the challenge. Everyone knows how much I love pasta and I was super excited to get this challenge going! In addition to the Batali Spring Pasta, I chose to tease our taste buds with simple appetizers, one from this month’s issue, Crispy Polenta Bites with Arugula Tapenade, and my favourite apperitifi, Prosciutto Wrapped Melon.



Rating: 4 out of 5

The Test:

First of all: the ingredients. I have to say, when I read the list of ingredients I thought, piece of cake. Cherry tomatoes, brocolini and ricotta salata cheese all seemed like perfectly attainable components. Somehow they weren’t. I tried three different grocery stores to find brocolini, to no avail, and though the lovely lady at the cheese counter at Pete’s had heard of ricotta salata before (as opposed to the perplexed clerk at the Superstore), she told me that they rarely have it available. I actually had trouble getting the type of pasta that was required, a malfadine noodle, which ressembles a lasagna noodle, and had to settle for parpadelle and regular old brocoli. I also chose a Tuma cheese that was suggested by the cheese lady at Pete’s instead of the ricotta salata because she claimed it was similar.

Once I had acquired all of the ingredients (or their substitutes), actually making the pasta was pretty easy. First of all we had to roast the brocoli and the tomatoes in the oven with oil, sea salt and garlic. After boiling the noodles we combined all the ingredients in the pot with the strained noodles and served immediately. In the end I did another subsitution with the cheese because when I grated the Tuma and tasted it, it had like zero flavour, so I grated some pecoriono romano to finish of the dish! Easy peesy!

The Appetizers:

The appetizers required a little more effort. First I sliced up some melon and wrapped the slices with prosciutto to make an easy and super tasty appetizer. Adam is a huge fan of this dish, and as the official dish-washer and taste tester for the recipe challenges, he had no trouble channeling his inner nonna this month with Prosciutto Wrapped Melon:

Nonna Adam

Crispy Polenta Bites with Arugula Tapenade required some more effort and took a little longer than the 7 minutes the magazine claimed it would take to make this appetizer. Erin assisted me by slicing up the radishes extra thin while I trimmed up the polenta and fried it on the stove with panko bread crumbs.

Erin and Radishes

The tapenade itself was very easy to make and required only lemon juice, arugula, olives, oil, and salt and pepper! My favourite part of this recipe (other than eating it of course) was layering the ingredients atop the polenta and making them look awesome!

Me prepping App

Once the appetizers were on the table, we could finally sit down, eat, and enjoy!


The Results:

The appetizers were enjoyed by all, and they vanished pretty quickly. The tapenade on the polenta was flavourful and light, and with the crunch of the radishes, was a great contrast to the heavy and rich polenta.

Polenta Tapenade

The Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes was also a big hit and was very refreshing compared to the heavy lamb stew from March’s recipe challenge. The roasted vegetables were flavourful and though everyone at the table is fan of cream sauces, it was not missed because the flavours of this pasta were just so fresh and light!

Spring Pasta

The Wine:

For both of these recipes, I felt that white and light was the way to go to compliment the spring flavours of the dishes. For the appetizer, I chose a Spanish sparlking wine, Torre Oria Cava Brut. It was dry, oaky and very flavourful. While Erin loved the nutty taste of the sparkling, and Adam and Matt seemed to be indifferent to its bold flavours, I really did not enjoy my Spanish sparkling experiment and probably would not have it again.


I asked Erin to choose a light Italian white for the main course, as was suggested by Batali at the end of the recipe. She selected the Gabbiano Pinot Grigio, which is actually one of the house wines that we served at a restaurant I worked at years ago and I knew that it would go excellently with the pasta course. The crispness of this wine accompanied the roasted veggies in the pasta excellently and paired with the pecorino romano garnish perfectly.

White Wine

All in all, despite the difficulty in attaining some of the ingredients, I proclaim that April’s Cover Recipe Challenge was  another success. The appetizers and the main course were fresh and light and left everyone pining for an al fresco evening full of wine and great food. Batali’s recipes were easy to follow and made for a great evening of cooking. I will most definitely be picking up a cook book of his in the near future! Until next time, Explore. Eat. Repeat. 


*The Food & Wine Magazine Cover Recipe Challenge was created by CookThatBook.com as a means of expanding culinary talents and tackling new and exciting cuisine. 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 an email to info@cookthatbook.com with a link to your blog post.

*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 visitwww.foodandwine.com.

Not Your Ordinary Nonna: March Cover Recipe Challenge

Not Your Ordinary Nonna: March Cover Recipe Challenge

Well March has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I have to start this post with a sincere apology for the lack of posting in the past month; there has been a lot of travelling and eating going on in the world 

Daikon Delectable: February Cover Recipe Challenge

Daikon Delectable: February Cover Recipe Challenge

‘Better late than never’ they always say, and this is most definitely the case with the recap for February’s Recipe Challenge, because it was a good one! I am slightly delayed in posting February’s recipe report because of the food marathon that Adam and I 

Challenge Accepted: January Cover Recipe Challenge

Challenge Accepted: January Cover Recipe Challenge

I am very excited to announce that I have accepted an awesome challenge! I have teamed up with a few food bloggers including Aimee from foodjetaimee.com and Jasmine from cookthatbook.com and decided to attempt to cook and EAT every cover recipe of Food and Wine Magazine for 2013! This is not a new challenge to my fellow bloggers, as they are both veterans when it comes to experimenting with the cover issues of F&W and I discovered their awesome voyage through my exploration of other culinary reporting. The Recipe Cover Challenge is to make, eat, and write about the recipes that are on F&W’s cover for every month of the year, and I am so excited to take on this challenge!  Every month I will be feeding my lucky (or unlucky!) friends and family awesome dishes and discussing the readability, ease, and deliciousness of all of the recipes and reporting the results right here on The Food Girl in Town! With the help of other food bloggers and my trusty F&W 2013 wine guide, I hope to show you all the pitfalls and palatable pleasures that will lead me through all the months of the year! HERE WE GO!

JANUARY COVER RECIPE: Spice-Rubbed Chicken with Two Sauces, Wasakaka and Piri Piri Sauce

Rating: 4 out of 5 

The Test:

Last evening I was lucky enough to try out the first month of recipes on my boyfriend Adam, my friend and co-worker Erin, and her boyfriend Matt. Erin was awesome enough to come to the grocery store with me to gather all the ingredients and start the cooking early in the afternoon because I wasn’t sure about the timing of all the dishes that we were going to be making! In addition to the cover recipe chicken, I was also attempting a new recipe that I found in the pages of January’s F&W: Fingerling Papas Bravas with Smoky Ailoi (p.47), as well as grilled red peppers with rosemary, and classic cornbread from allrecipes.com.

Erin and I started my epic cooking endeavour with a celebratory beer and started with our prep of the inaugural Recipe Cover Challenge meal.


To begin our preparation we started with the rub for the chicken to ensure that we got it into the oven in a timely manner. The rub was SUPER easy to make, and once the chicken was massaged and tied appropriately, we could pretty much forget about it in our 400 degree oven.


The next step was making the two sauces to accompany the roasted chicken. Erin and I started by first prepping all of the ingredients, of which there were a lot, and of course involved a lot of chopping and dicing. By this time Adam had also arrived home from school and was “helping” us in the kitchen.


We made the Wasakaka sauce first, which was fairly easy and involved little cooking time. It was a matter of simply boiling some water and lime juice and then combining the rest of the ingredients and setting it aside. The second sauce, Piri Piri, involved a little more effort, but was still fairly easy to complete, and smelled AMAZING when it came out of the blender. Erin taught me a very useful tip for chopping onions, which I have always struggled with, holding back tears with every chop of the knife. She instructed me to wear sunglasses while I chopped onions in order not to cry, also including the disclaimer that regular glasses would not work. So naturally, I tried out her theory, and not only did it stop my onion tears, but also made me look very cool in the kitchen.


While I started to prepare the Papas Bravas and the accompanying aioli, I put Erin in charge of making the Cornbread and out kitchen party went into full swing with the arrival of Matt. The recipe and ingredients for the potatoes were harmless, though I was a little nervous about heating up two inches of vegetable oil in my skillet and letting it reach a temperature of 350 degrees. Fat fire fears induced by a selection of horrifying videos shown to me by firemen during school presentations in my youth made this act something to overcome, but once I had the first batch of fingerling potatoes bubbling in the pan, my fears evaporated as their smell filled the room!


The potatoes were fairly easy to make, although I did find the recipe a little hard to follow because it jumped back and forth between directions for the potatoes and the aioli. A separate list of instructions for the potatoes and for the aioli would have been much more useful. I enlisted Adam to prepare the red peppers with rosemary, as they are a staple side dish in our house and we were almost ready to eat!


The Results:

The Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken turned out perfectly! This dish was very low maintenance during the cooking process and tasted even better than it smelled. We all agreed that this was a delicious and easy chicken recipe that can be done even on a weeknight as the rub is very easy to make.


The sauces on the other hand were a different matter. Though I think that the sauces were both delicious, it did seem a little over the top to include two. When I first read the recipe I was excited to have the choice of two sauces, but in the end, it added about 30 minutes of prep time to something that wasn’t really needed in the first place. The Piri Piri was the clear crowd favourite as we all devoured the chicken smothered in this sauce.The paprika and chilies added the perfect amount of smoky heat that envelopped whatever it covered, and there was very little left over at the end of the meal.


Though everyone agreed that the Wasakaka sauce was delicious and fresh tasting, it did not please the table as much as its opponent. The freshness of the zest and aroma of the fennel seed were dominant and delicious, however, while it looked delightful, it did not live up to my expectations.


The potatoes were a big hit!!! Chef David Mawhinney’s Papas Bravas were delicious and simple and everyone at the table had seconds, and thirds… I think I had fourths. The fingerling potatoes were easy to fry and after overcoming my fat fire fears, I will most definetely be making these starchy sidekicks again in the near future.


However, the accompanying aioli left a lot to be desired. Although we all enjoyed the smoky paprika taste of the sauce, especially Matt, the sauce never did reach the consistency that was needed to make this condiment truly great. Though it must be said that this is probably not the fault of the recipe or its creator, it was not great and despite the fact that we all took turns whisking it, there was a lot left over at the end of the meal.

The cornbread was also a big hit with our fabulous foursome. Erin did an awesome job making the classic recipe perfectly, and we all enjoyed the comforting and rich flavours of the fluffy accompaniment. Very few things taste better than warm cornbread with butter.


The Wine:

This evening, I chose two different wines to accompany the meal. Other than the few local brews we had while preparing the meal, we started off with Fuzion Brut from Argentina. The Papas Bravas recipe suggested a green apple sparkling, 2009 Raventos i Blanc Brut L’Hereu, unfortunately it was not available at the NSLC. The Fuzion was fruity and vibrant and did make a good pairing with the lemon and rosemary in the roasted chicken, as well as the fried potatoes.


 I went with a Chardonnay for our second selection and went with the wine suggested on the recipe for the roasted chicken. The 2010 Louis Latour was perfect with the chicken and complimented the rest of the meal accordingly; it was by far my favourite over the Fuzion. I rarely select Latour for myself these days, but am always reminded how good it is when I drink it; this wine will probably be purchased again in the near future.


Overall I thought that the evening was a huge success. The cover recipe went off without a hitch, and though some of the accoutrements were not praised by all, everyone was pleased with the meal. There were very few leftovers at the end of the meal, which I always consider a compliment, and after a night full of food, friends and merriment I am so excited that I accepted this challenge.


I am so excited to join Jasmine and Aimee for the Recipe Cover Challenge for 2013 and cannot wait to Explore. Eat. Repeat my way through many delicious recipes in the months to come! Wish me luck!

*The Food & Wine Magazine Cover Recipe Challenge was created by CookThatBook.com as a means of expanding culinary talents and tackling new and exciting cuisine. 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 an email to info@cookthatbook.com with a link to your blog post.

*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.