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Cooked From a Book

Cottage Pie
From: the main {recipes}


This is a companion cookbook to the Food Network Canada TV Series The Main with Anthony Sedlak. The description says that Chef Anthony “takes one ingredient and prepares it in distinct yet complimentary dishes that together make a fantastic meal.”

PROS: This cookbook has amazing photos, taken by David Bagosy. In fact, there is a 2-page photo spread before every recipe. The overall design and layout of the book is very easy to follow, and every recipe includes a “Timing is Everything” section that gives you the order in which you should cook everything. 

CONS: Most of these recipes are not “weeknight” recipes because they are either too time consuming or just have too many parts. 

OVERALL: The recipe that I “tested” for this review is not my favourite. That being said, I have cooked several other recipes from this book which are delicious, including the “Slow-Roasted Prime Rib with Button Mushrooms, Horseradish Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, and Yorkshire Puddings” that are now a Christmas/New Years dinner staple at my house. This is a good book for anyone who is willing to put in the time to make a great meal.

Classic Cottage Pie
Ground Beef
Carrots, waiting on onion and celery
“Cooking out” the sauce
I’ve got too many things going on at once… 
Topping the mashed potatoes and breadcrumbs with pats of butter
Out of the oven

Dinner… after almost 2 hours of cooking!

I (stupidly) attempted to make this on a weeknight. It took me almost 2 hours to prep, cook all the components of the Cottage Pie, and then bake the pie. After all that work, it didn’t has as much flavour as I thought it would… it wasn’t bad, just not as tasty as it should have been. 

I didn’t bother with the “Irish Peas and Cabbage” side dish that is suppose to go with this… I made simple buttered peas instead. 

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Cooked from a Book

A New Series!

I have a growing cookbook collection that lives in my kitchen, but I hardly try out new recipes. While I enjoy reading cookbooks like novels (on the couch with a cup of tea) I don’t really use them for cooking… which is why I’ve started this new series on our blog. I will try out recipes from various cookbooks and then tell you how my meals turned out. The idea is that it will give me a reason to use the cookbooks and give you (hopefully) useful feedback about the cookbook itself. 

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Biscuits
From: The Best of Chef at Home

The Best of Chef at Home: Essential Recipes for Today's Kitche

This is a companion cookbook to the Food Network Canada TV Series Chef at Home with Michael Smith. It’s described as a cookbook with “essential recipes for today’s kitchen.”

PROS: Both recipes were easy to follow, had ingredients that were easy to find, and tells you how to personalize the recipe with your favourite herbs, spices. etc. I also really like that the book has photos for every recipe as well as a description of what you’re about to make. 

CONS: The heat and cooking times suggested in the book didn’t work for either recipe. For example, the book suggests cooking the chicken on medium-high heat, and my first batch burned before the inside could cook. Medium-low heat worked out much better. Keep in mind though that all ovens/ranges/microwaves have different power levels and therefore it’s expected that you will have to adjust your cooking time etc. 

OVERALL: I really like this cookbook because the recipes are easy to follow and both items tasted great. It’s a good cookbook for beginners or anyone who is looking for a cookbook with tasty staple menu items like fried chicken, herb-roasted potatoes, chicken noodle soup and pancakes. 
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
The chicken marinated over night in buttermilk
Breaded with seasoned flour and left to dry out
Mmm… crunchy!

This chicken was probably the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. It was moist on the inside with a crunchy coating and reheated well in the toaster oven the next day. 
I would add more spice to it the next time I make this. 
Frozen Butter Biscuits
Mixing the dry ingredients
Ready to be baked
Don’t they look good?

These biscuits are AWESOME. They came out fluffy even though I was sure I overworked the batter. They were even better the next morning, warmed with butter and strawberry jam.

Overall, a tasty (not-so-healthy) meal that wasn’t too hard to make. Frying chicken can be tricky, but it’s worth trying out at home at least once 🙂 


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Make Your Own Microwave Popcorn

I LOVE popcorn, I could eat it everyday. Not the over-salted popcorn from the movie theatre, not the greasy leaves-a-film-on-your-tongue microwave popcorn, I mean real popcorn. Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of microwave popcorn, but not the taste (although I use to eat it all the time out of sheer laziness). Anyhow, I prefer plain air-popped popcorn because I can flavour it with whatever I want and it’s healthier than commercial products.

Making popcorn from scratch can be a hassle though… I’ve broken more popcorn machines than I’d like to admit and, up until now, the only other way to make it is to cook popcorn kernels in a pot on my stovetop and hope that the lid doesn’t blow off in the process sending popcorn shrapnel at me (it has happened).

The other day I was reading this post on the College Fashion website and someone left a comment explaining how to make microwave popcorn from scratch.Homemade popcorn in the microwave? …
*angels sing* Obviously I had to try it out, and I’m so happy that I did because I may never buy commercial microwave popcorn again!! FYI, I adjusted the directions from the College Fashion post comment after experimenting a bit.

Making your own microwave popcorn

You will need: 
– 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
– 1/2 tsp olive oil (or other oil of your choice)*optional
– 1 brown paper bag
– additional oil and salt (to taste)
Popcorn Kernels
How to make it:
1. Measure 1/4 cup of dry popcorn kernels and place them in a brown paper bag

2. Measure 1/2 tsp of olive oil and drizzle on top of the kernels

3. Fold the top of the bag over 2 times and shake the bag to coat the kernels with the oil.
NOTE:Try to make the folds as small as possible. If you fold up too much of the bag, there won’t be enough space for the heat to circulate around the popcorn and it will burn.

4. Place the bag on its side in the microwave and heat for 1 minute and 50 seconds on high heat.
5. Carefully remove the (now hot and greasy) bag from the microwave and let cool until it’s safe to handle
6. Empty the popcorn into a bowl and season with whatever you desire

Make your own microwave popcorn

Today I used salt and olive oil, but my personal favourite is salt and coconut oil (try it, it’s good). You could also add garlic powder, paprika and/or parmesan cheese.
What’s your favourite popcorn topping?