“Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken” from “It’s All Easy”

Kirstin: So Tom. You’ve had the actual Zuni chicken at the Zuni restaurant, right? Whereas I’ve made the recipe from the book countless times. How does this compare?

Ella: I guess you’ll find out zuni enough.

Tom: It’s interesting that it’s chicken breasts and not whole chicken.

Kirstin: Oh God, the gravy is soooooooo good. You might want some more on your chicken once you’ve taken the skin off! It’s amazing! The gravy is so good. Have I mentioned that before?

Miles: No, we couldn’t tell!

Kirstin: The croutons are good too!

Ella: I like the chicken!

Tom: Has the gravy got vinegar in it?

Kirstin: It does. Just like the original recipe. Although the original recipe has champagne vinegar in it, darling!

Tom: Well I have to say I prefer the way you do the normal Zuni recipe. But I think that could be brought up to that level.

Kirstin: That does take me several days to get ready, so that would be great! Even though it is worth every second.

Tom: The croutons are too big.

Kirstin: That’s my fault. I was worried they would burn if they were too small. So next time I’m going to make them smaller and put them in for a shorter period of time.

Tom: I’m not sure about these big chicken pieces.

Kirstin: Well again, that’s my fault. Because I don’t know how to bone a chicken so I just bought chicken breasts with bone in. Next time I’m thinking you’d like more of a chicken salad feel to this.

Tom: Yes, the continuing refinement of this recipe is definitely worth it. And you know I prefer your version of the Zuni chicken recipe anyway.

Kirstin: You are kind.

Tom: I do love the crouton texture here though.

Kirstin: That’s the whole tenting thing after they’ve been in the oven which is in the original recipe too. Genius. Would I do this again? Hell, yes! And with guests and on holiday. What a good way to start this book! Total winner.

“Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken” from “It’s All Easy”

Cookbook of the Month, May 2016, It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook by Gwyneth Paltrow

Kirstin: This should be interesting, she’s got a new co-author chef to do it with [Thea Baumann]. Her first two books were written with the same chef [Julia Turshen], but she didn’t do this one. It’s someone new. It’s also set in Europe, as far as I can tell.

Maureen: Well, there’s a lot of pictures of her in Paris, anyway…

Kirstin: …And London, there’s some pictures in Hampstead.

Maureen: Let’s be honest. There’s a lot of pictures of Gwyneth, full stop.

Kirstin: What I like about is that it’s not all the healthy eating, it’s more approachable.

Maureen: I think it would be fair to say I’m not as excited about this as you are.

Kirstin: That’s Ok. Why?

Maureen: Where do I start? First of all, there’s so many pictures of her in the book, it’s distracting. I don’t need to see pictures of Gwyneth pushing her bike along the Seine in Paris when I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Also, I think she’s trying to sell a lifestyle here…

Kirstin: Sure. That’s what she’s all about.

Maureen: But that’s unattainable to most of us because we’re not multi-millionaires and Oscar winners, like she is. But you loved her second book.

Kirstin: I still love her second book and I use it every week. This book cannot be as good as the second book. The second book was a masterpiece.

Maureen: To be fair, I do make her fish covered in breadcrumbs recipe fairly regularly. But the book isn’t on my high-rotation bookshelf.

Kirstin: There are so many things that I make all the time from the second book. She’s got loads of good fish recipes, I make her flattened chicken all the time when we have guests for dinner, and we love her turkey burgers. That’s my No. 1 book on my shelf.

Maureen: And you’re looking forward to this one.

Kirstin: It’s going to be good.

Maureen: I’m not so sure. We’ll see.

Cookbook of the Month, May 2016, It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook by Gwyneth Paltrow

Our Verdict: My Street Food Kitchen

Maureen: My family loved this book. We had lots of winners.

Kirstin: We did too.

Maureen: I liked that the dishes were interesting, but were relatively straightforward to make and featured no unusual ingredients, for the most part. Though there were a few times when I couldn’t find something she called for (onion salt, I’m looking at you), but for the most part, it was good.

Kirstin: The recipes weren’t too tricky either, I didn’t think. And we’re both fans of Street Food, since we love Model Market.

Maureen: I’m not entirely convinced that some of these recipes were street food. How is pizza a street food?

Kirstin: You’re absolutely right. It’s not all street food, but we’ll give it to her.

Maureen: She’s an American who’s been here for about 20 years! Just like me! Maybe I should write a cookbook.

Kirstin: We’ve had the gunpowder chicken again at Tom’s request. You should try that one.

Maureen: We will. We might have the pork again tomorrow, because we loved that pork. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. All in all, a solid effort. Andrew said he thought it would be a good month and he was right.

Kirstin: Yup, pretty good.

“My Street Food Kitchen”
Overall Grade (A- F): A (Kirstin) A (Maureen)
Best recipes: Kirstin: Gunpowder chicken. Maureen: I can’t decide. We had loads of good dinners. Buttermilk chicken was up there, as was the pork and the quesadillas.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A
Any disasters? Unfortunately, the coffee-rubbed steak was pretty gross. Kirstin: No disasters on this end.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf  Maureen: Bookshelf. It remains to be seen if it’ll be a high rotation bookshelf book, but everybody liked nearly everything I made from it, and that doesn’t happen all that often.

Our Verdict: My Street Food Kitchen

Cleaning Out The Refrigerator: The Rest of the Recipes We Ate from “My Street Food Kitchen”

IMG_8574Ranked in order from Delicious to Disgusting

This does feel a bit like cleaning out the refrigerator. Except rather than opening the door and trying to forage something to eat out of the tupperware containers filling the shelves, I’m going through my photo library on my phone and seeing all the photos of things I made but didn’t get to post. Apologies for not being able to post these as and when we ate them. Work got in the way from me writing about them, but let me assure you that we loved eating them. Well, everything except the steak, which was awful. But I’ll get to that.

(1) Tonkatsu Pork with Tangy Slaw

This was, far and away, the top winner, not only out of these leftovers, but out of all of the things I cooked out of this cookbook in April. It was absolutely delicious, and I’ll definitely be making it again. Basically, you take a pork tenderloin, cut it in half diagonally, pound it flat, dip it in egg and panko crumbs and then fry it. Funnily enough, a few days before we ate this, Nicholas had jokingly (or maybe not) requested wiener schnitzel for dinner. When I was serving him up, I told him this was the Asian version of it. Everyone loved this. Will definitely be making it again.

The recipe can be found on The Carousel, which you can read by clicking through here.

(2) Roman Porchetta Sandwiches

I’ve come to the conclusion that we are very much a pork-orientated family. Just look at this list: three out of five of them are pork dishes. I’m sure it will surprise none of you to learn that we are also big fans of bacon, especially in sandwich form, on the weekend. But I digress.

Porchetta is definitely in the Sunday Dinner rotation over here. When asked what he wants for Sunday dinner, Nicholas (12) inevitably will say pork belly, which might be why we eat it so much. This was a good recipe for it. In the interest of full disclosure, we did not serve it on sandwiches, but we still all loved it.

(3) Napoli-style Pizza Dough (pictured above)

Saturday night is pizza night in our house. It has always been thus, and it always will be. We’ve even joked that on the years Christmas fell on a Saturday, we would have pizza. (We’ve never had the mettle to go through with it. But truth be told, pizza is what we eat on Boxing Day, so it is firmly part of our Christmas traditions.)

I was surprised when Tim said he wanted to give this recipe a try. He’s pretty wedded to the way he currently makes it– a technique that’s been honed over the 25 years (Note to self: that makes me feel old) he’s been making pizza for me. But he thought he’d give it a go. The interesting thing about this version was it used no olive oil at all.

For the pizza nerds among you, Tim’s usual method is to use 200 grams levain of leftover dough in the refrigerator and use it in the current dough batch, which is what he did here. This deviated from the recipe somewhat, though the recipe also called for making it two days in advance. Tim said by using the levain, it had the same outcome. Either way, it was still good.

Pizza night is ALWAYS delicious over here. While I thought this was also good, I thought his usual method was marginally better. The boys didn’t care. They hoovered up the pizza regardless.

(4) Barbeque Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Sweet & Sour Coleslaw

This is a bit of a cheat because while we did have pulled pork sandwiches on the night in question, in the end, I used my usual pressure cooker recipe and didn’t follow her recipe at all. I did make her coleslaw, but alas, I was the only person in the family to like it.

I suppose my reluctance in the end was that I read the recipe and I feared it would be a bit bland when compared to my usual method. So in the end I went ahead with my usual method, and also used the pressure cooker because I was short on time.

If you’re interested in my pulled pork pressure cooker recipe, let me know in the comments. I’ll post it here.

(5) Coffee-Rubbed Skirt Steak with Worcestershire Steak Sauce 

When I told our amazing butcher, Michael Jones at Drings Butchers, that I was going to rub coffee on the steak, he was a bit flummoxed. “Really?” he asked. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

I went back the next day and categorically told him it was not.

This was disastrous. As previously discussed on this blog, our family loves steak night. But the rub on this steak was so incredibly spicy that the boys didn’t even finish theirs. Tim and I did, but I have to admit, that was pretty spicy. (For someone whose favorite hot sauce is this one, I can take the heat.)

We ended up using their leftovers the next day in fajitas, so all was not lost.

But I know now that coffee rubbed steak really is not the way forward.

 

 

Cleaning Out The Refrigerator: The Rest of the Recipes We Ate from “My Street Food Kitchen”

“Buttermilk Fried Boneless Chicken” with “Garbage Salad” from “My Street Food Kitchen”

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Do you know how sometimes you make a dinner that is so resoundingly successful that everyone leaves the table full and happy?

This was one of those nights.

To be clear, dinner at our house is usually OK, but someone will always have a criticism of one thing or another. “It could have used more seasoning” or “It’s fine, but I don’t love it” or “I’m not really in the mood for [insert any type of food here]” or “I just didn’t fancy it” or “I’m not that hungry” or “It could have been presented better.” (The last comment seems to occur most often when we’re in the midst of a Masterchef season. Needless to say, I don’t take that comment all that well.)

But this ticked all the boxes. Delicious. Check. Relatively straight forward preparation. Check. Foods that we know and love. Check.

As an added bonus, it had a connection to Chicago, the city where we fell in love, earned our graduate degrees and started our life together. Needless to say, Chicago has a special place in my heart. “Garbage salad” is from there, and we used to eat it often [though they never called it this] at our favourite Italian restaurant when we were first married.

I’m not sure why it’s called Garbage Salad, but I do know that it uses loads of ingredients that we love that you don’t typically find in a traditional salad, including salami and provolone cheese. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not follow this recipe to the letter, because I knew from experience you can put any number of different things into a garbage salad. I didn’t use any of the things I knew we wouldn’t like: radicchio and radishes, I’m looking at you. I also couldn’t include some of the things she called for, like pepperoncini, which I couldn’t find anywhere.

But no matter, as it still was a Garbage Salad and it was still delicious.

The fried chicken also was a success. This required more than the usual planning to make, as you have to make a dry brine that the chicken needs to sit in overnight or for at least 12 hours. I managed, for once, to plan ahead and get it done. It was a step well worth doing, as the thighs themselves were full of flavour.

Like I said: Yum.

Will we have it again? What do you think?

A version of the Buttermilk Fried Chicken is on the BBC Good Food website. The only difference I could find is in the version I made you use boneless thighs, and on the BBC she uses any chicken parts. Click through that sentence to see the recipe yourself.

Alas, I could not find a copy of Jennifer Joyce’s Garbage Salad anywhere on the Internet, but this one is a pretty close copy. As I said above, I don’t think you have to strictly follow any recipe when you make Garbage Salad. The clue is in the name. (Though don’t add beans, like they do in this version. That is just plain wrong.)

 

“Buttermilk Fried Boneless Chicken” with “Garbage Salad” from “My Street Food Kitchen”

“Perfect Pad Thai” from “My Street Food Kitchen”

IMG_2592Another month, another attempt at Pad Thai.

The last time I tried this was in October 2015 when I made, “Pimped-Up Pad Thai” from “Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite.” That version was a disaster: gloopy and not at all tasty. But I still love a Pad Thai– there’s a particularly good version from one of the stallholders at Greenwich Market that I treat myself to from time to time.

But this one, according to the name, promised to be a “Perfect Pad Thai” so I was optimistic that it would at least be an improvement on the last one I tried.

I’m happy to say this version of Pad Thai was a success.

Perhaps the instructions on this one steered me to a better result. Joyce warns you to not make one big batch, as the noodles get soggy (perhaps that’s what happened the last time) and also to put semi-cooked noodles in, that will then be finished off in the wok. I did both of those things, and it was a much better version, so she must have been on to something.

Also, here’s a top tip if you are going to make pad thai: Get everything ready in advance. Having chopped, soaked and prepared all the necessary ingredients, when it came time to cook them up, I was as efficient as a short-order chef. And doing two batches so the pan wouldn’t get crowded, didn’t seem so onerous.

Will we have this again? I believe we will. (In fact, I’d make it again tonight, one week later, but there might be some negative feedback from my diners. So I’ll save it for another time.)

If you’d like to give Perfect Pad Thai a try yourself, click through this sentence to find the recipe at BBC Good Food. 

 

“Perfect Pad Thai” from “My Street Food Kitchen”

“Chorizo, Cheese & Pickled Jalapeno Quesadillas” and “Guacamole” from “My Street Food Kitchen”

IMG_8535I have to say that the boys were thrilled to see the triumphant return of quesadillas to our dinner table.

We used to have quesadillas all the time. Mostly on nights when we had half an hour between having to be at one place and then needing to go to another. Days of shuttling between swimming lessons/boy scouts/karate/climbing/clubs: I do not miss you.

In any case, the standard quesadillas I used to make all the time only had grated cheddar cheese in them. The boys were small, after all, and not the adventurous eaters we know and love today. In this version, you add chorizo too. You take two uncooked chorizo sausages and fry them up before adding them to the quesadillas. I also took them out of the casings, which make them easier to crumble over the top.

We all loved this new addition of chorizo, and asked that I do it this way again the next time I make quesadillas. (Had I followed the recipe to the letter, it would have also had pickled jalapeno, but I knew the boys would not be keen, so I left it out.)

To make the dinner slightly more fancy, I made some guacamole to go with it. This was good news for me, because the boys weren’t interested in having any, and as I’m on a bit of an avocado kick at the moment [read: can’t get enough of it], that made me happy.

I more or less followed the “Street Food”guacamole recipe. The adjustments I made included only using one avocado, since I knew I was going to be the only one eating it, and I also used hot sauce (this one: delicious) instead of chopped chillis. This top tip came via Mary McCarthy when I made her guacamole recipe in Food. It’s so much easier to just add a few drops of hot sauce  rather than chop up a chilli. Thanks, Mary.

This was a winner. We definitely will be making quesadillas this way again.

“Chorizo, Cheese & Pickled Jalapeno Quesadillas” and “Guacamole” from “My Street Food Kitchen”