Monthly Archives: January 2007

A Valentine’s Day story in three parts (Part 1)

Part 1

Last year, I let my (then) boyfriend pick out any dessert he wanted for Valentine’s Day. When I said to him “what’s your favourite dessert?” I expected him to say strawberry shortcake, or apple pie. Or how about my famous apple streudel cheesecake? I thought maybe he’d settle for a nice Safeway store-bought Black Forest Cake.

No such luck.

After searching on the internet for a bit, he found a link to a fancy cake – Gateau St Honore – apparently something from his French Canadian childhood. (Why is it, then, that I can only find a recipe for it on an Australian website?)

The recipe he picked looks impossibly difficult, especially with the British/Australian measurements and descriptions. So I set about recreating the recipe using my own cookbooks, pulling in bits and pieces from sources that I trusted.

As this recipe was clearly complicated, and the future of my relationship relied on its success (it was our first Valentine’s Day together, after all, and I was still in super-impress mode), I decided to break the recipe into stages, and to make stage one (the puff pastry) in January. I needed a test run of the pastry to make sure I could figure it out. Puff pastry scared me. The other parts seemed easy enough — make a cake, make a custard, whip some cream. But I wasn’t sure I could make puff pastry. Or is it choux pastry? Are they even the same thing?

Really, it wasn’t long after the beginning of January when I sat at the dining room table with five different cookbooks spread around me. I start reading about puff pastry. The recipes looked virtually identical. Apparently, if you did it right, the little bundles of raw dough bake up nice and light and HOLLOW, which makes them perfect for filling up with good stuff.

For my trial run of phase one puff pastry making, I decided to go with the Julia Child cookbook, the only one of the five recipes that was slightly different in terms of its ingredients. It contains ¼ cup less flour, thus giving it a higher flour-to-egg ratio than the others. I thought, “I’m sure Julia’s the one, I’m sure she’s got it figured out.”

I made Julia’s recipe, and really she has such a lovely writing style, I couldn’t help but believe that I would create an absolutely beautiful work of art. Here’s what she says:

You cannot fail with puff shells – as mounds of pâte à choux puff and brown automatically in a hot oven – if you take the proper final measures to insure the shells remain crisp. A perfect puff is firm to the touch, tender and dry to the taste. Hot puffs will seem perfectly cooked when taken from the oven, but … there is always an uncooked center portion… large puffs are split, and often their uncooked centers are removed. This is actually the only secret to puff making. (pp. 177-178)

Did you catch that? Part of it will be uncooked…

Stay tuned, tomorrow I’ll share Part 2 with you, where I am reduced to calling my mother to ask for advice.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.
You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

 

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com


To view recipes for download…

Visit this link. Have you downloaded your meatloaf recipe yet? This complete recipe includes a complete meal for 4-6, as well as a separate mini-recipe for creating individual, single-serving, baby, mini meat loaves. Do you need to impress your boyfriend? Girlfriend? You need to download this Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup recipe right now and get cooking!

Tell a friend …

If you’d like to share our site, this blog, and the amazing illustrated Recipe 1.1 for Roast Chicken with Rosemary, why not visit this page here and we’ll zip off a quick message to your friends to let them know about our site. No spamming, I promise.

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Questions (and answers) from One Roast Chicken subscribers

Here are a few of the questions (and answers) that have recently been sent to me at OneRoastChicken.com (they’re both from people named Mike, what kind of a coincidence is that?).

If you’d like to submit a question, just send me an email and get busy typing.

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Question (from Mike in Halifax, Nova Scotia):

On the subject of herbs and spices … (I don’t know which are which), I have five in my spaghetti sauce recipe: oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. I would normally buy them (dried) in little plastic bags at the grocery store but I think they are also available in a fresh state. Is this preferable?

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Answer: Thanks for the great question. On the subject of herbs and spices, according to science.enotes.com, “spices are aromatic (odorous) seasonings obtained from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds, or stems of various plants and trees. Examples of spices are cloves, cumin, and black pepper. Herbs, on the other hand, usually come from the leafy part of a plant. Examples of herbs are oregano, basil, cilantro, and bay leaves” (source).

Fresh herbs are great when a recipe calls for rosemary or basil, both of which are completely different fresh-to-dried. Fresh basil would be great for your spaghetti sauce recipe, but not entirely necessary. I use dried basil for spaghetti sauce with great results. I save fresh basil for pasta that has only a few ingredients and when I need the basil flavour to really shine. Welcome to One Roast Chicken and thanks for writing.

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Question (from Mike in Orlando, Florida):

I think I make an OK spaghetti sauce, but I need a better one. When I make mine, I use three cans of plain sauce for every small can of tomato paste. So I might use 9 cans of sauce with 3 cans of paste. I sauté onions, and garlic. I broil country ribs, and sausages, and sometimes I buy frozen meatballs. I add basil. What I can’t figure out is when I should put the basil in… while it’s cooking for 3 hours, or 20 minutes before it’s done? My sauce is missing that certain taste that I can’t explain. Maybe you could help?

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Answer: Thanks for this request, I’d be happy to create a really great, simple, and tasty spaghetti sauce for the One Roast Chicken website, what a great idea! I’ll let you know when it’s ready … and I think you’re on the right track. Maybe canned sauce has too much salt and sugar, so we might be better off starting with whole canned tomatoes, and build up the spices from there… yummy, I can’t wait! I’ll keep you posted on the recipe research and thanks for the fabulous request 🙂

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OK, I can take a hint! I’ve added spaghetti sauce to the list of requested recipes. I will work on creating a foolproof, easy, step-by-step recipe, using only grocery store ingredients with lots of full-colour photography. And I’ll let you know how to freeze it AND reheat single servings. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. Drop me a line 🙂

You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
http://www.oneroastchicken.com

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To view recipes for download, visit this link. Have you downloaded your meatloaf recipe yet? This complete recipe includes a complete meal for 4-6, as well as a separate mini-recipe for creating individual, single-serving, baby, mini meat loaves. Do you need to impress a boyfriend? Girlfriend? You need to download this Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup recipe right now and get cooking!

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Recipe research > Lasagne & chicken tandoori

Lasagne

I wanted to update you on the recipe research in the One Roast Chicken test kitchen. For the great number of subscribers who have asked me to tackle lasagne (Andrea, D-J., Krista, Lolita, Darlene, & Amelia), everyone wants to know if there’s a recipe that is lovely, homemade, fast, healthy, and does not taste like a bowl of gooshy noodles.

Since I last reported on the lasagne trials a few weeks ago, I can tell you that I’m up to recipe #6 now. I try not to subject my poor husband to lasagne trials more than once every few weeks. And I’m happy to report that the meat version of the recipe is almost finished (yeah!) — it needs one more round of fine tuning, and then photography, and then it’ll be done.

In each recipe of the six trials, I changed different variables each time, trying to find the perfect equation of time + effort = flavour. Some things stay the same. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use jarred sauce, in order to save time and work. I settled on Barilla Tomato and Basil sauce because it’s not too salty, and is readily available. I’ve experimented with the lasagne noodles (I’ve tried boil and no-boil noodles), and the filling (I’ve tried ricotta, cottage cheese, and a combination of both).

Meanwhile, while the meat lasagne is taking shape quite nicely, the vegetarian lasagne (as requested by Roberta) — of which I’ve done only one batch — is initially very uninspiring. I thought incorrectly that it would be super easy to adapt my meat lasagne recipe into a veggie one by replacing the meat with spinach. That didn’t really work. There are more veggie trials in my future before this recipe will be ready for publication.

Chicken Tandoori

Thanks to Karen and Satendra, I’ve also been working on a recipe for chicken tandoori. This dish uses inexpensive chicken thighs combined with a lovely, spicy marinade. While most of us won’t have the right kind of oven to prepare this dish in its most traditional fashion, I have instead been adapting the recipe for more regular ovens using the broiler. I’ve tested two versions so far, and both have been quite fabulous. The list of spices is a bit long, but the combined flavours and the simplicity of the preparation is really outstanding. This recipe is almost ready to share, stay tuned.

Upcoming research

After the lasagne and the chicken tandoori are perfected, my next adventure is Dutch apple pie (as requested by Nick). I’m totally excited to find a really great apple pie recipe that you can make for 2 people — a simple, put-it-together-after-dinner baby version of the giant pie.

If you have any recipes that you would like me to develop, just drop me a line 🙂 I’d love to hear your feedback.

You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef

www.oneroastchicken.com

Audio update > transcript

My last blog entry was a short audio update called “50 Ways to Improve Your Life” and it was all about eating at home, and included a fabulous recipe for hamburgers. [The audio is available here: http://www.audioacrobat.com/play/W5d4sBVQ ]

In case you have any problems listening to the update (it might be a bit slow if you’re on a dial-up internet connection), I had the update transcribed, and I wanted to include a copy of it here, so that you don’t miss out.

All best wishes,
Shelley

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50 ways to improve your life … and a recipe for the BEST hamburgers
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This is Shelley for One Roast Chicken, welcome to your weekly update. I thought it was time to mix things up a bit and give you an audio update. And I’ve got lots of stuff to tell you about, but first I wanted to start with something I saw in a magazine that fits right in with what we’re doing here at One Roast Chicken.

The magazine is called “US News and World Report” and they recently published an article called “50 ways to improve your life.” And just guess what’s on that list?

Right there in black and white, item #4 on the “50 ways to improve your live” list: Eat at home.

The article talks about trans fats in restaurant and take-out food, and they talk about how expensive it is to eat out. One statistic that I wanted to share with you in particular: in 1970, Americans were spending 26% of their total food budget eating away from home; and by 2002 that percentage was 46%). That’s a whack of money, I think you’d agree with that.

OK, so cooking at home saves you money and the meals you make are less likely to have a lot of fat, a lot of sodium and a lot of sugar.

These are all good things, of course.

So why don’t more people eat at home? Why don’t we all cook more?

There’s lots of reasons – not enough time, poor planning, cooking for one, special diets, you’re too tired.

And sometimes restaurant and packaged food tastes better than what you can make at home.

But I want to report that that statement is only true if you’re not a very experienced or familiar cook. The more you practise at home, the better your skills get, the more you can tailor your recipes to your specific tastes.

Everyone has their own personal idiosyncratic food personalities… my sister doesn’t like orange flavoured desserts, but she likes lemon flavoured desserts. My husband doesn’t like sauces and eats his hard boiled eggs without salt. Me, my food weirdness is that I don’t really like olives, and I don’t really like having to pick them out of my food.

I can give you a really good example of the recipes that are better at home once you start to cook more at home. A good hamburger in a restaurant is hard to come by. They’re usually too big, and have too much goop on them you don’t really like. The beef is often way overcooked, it’s crappy quality, and it was a frozen patty in a previous life that’s been slapped on some grill buy a teenager making minimum wage.

After many trials, I’ve discovered a brutally simple recipe for hamburgers that are better than any (and I mean any) that I’ve had in a restaurant, ever. That includes my friend Nick, who makes his hamburgers from scratch, starting with a big hunk of really expensive red meat, and he grinds it, and he adds spices.

And I think my recipe is better. No kidding.

OK, here it is. It’s equal parts of hot Italian sausage with lean ground beef. For example, two fat sausages and 1/2 pound of ground beef = 3 hamburgers (which is enough for two for dinner, with three-bean salad on the side).

Here’s how you make the burgers: You take the sausage meat out of the casings (slit it open with a knife) and put the insides in a bowl. Add the ground beef, and mix it together with your hands.

That’s it.

It doesn’t get any easier than this. No eggs, no breadcrumbs. That’s it. Just these two ingredients.

We have a little two-person grill that I use to cook them, 8 minutes with the lid closed (or you can fry them, about 6-7 minutes per side).

Add in a hamburger bun, add some spicy mayo, and you’re done. These hamburgers are better than any I’ve had in a restaurant.

So anyway, if you’re thinking that eating at home is a lot of work, I want to give you some hope: once you get good at it, once it becomes more automatic for you, once cooking at home becomes a regular part of your routine, you’ll get into this great FOOD groove. You start to look forward to meals you’ve planned, because you know they’re all things that you really love…

OK, I think we’re going to have to have hamburgers tonight 🙂

Until next time, this is Shelley for One Roast Chicken, saying “bon appetit.”

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu
http://www.OneRoastChicken.com

Audio update > 50 ways to improve your life … and a recipe for the BEST hamburgers

This week I have a special treat for you. I’ve prepared a 4½ minute audio message just for One Roast Chicken subscribers.

On the list of “50 Ways to Improve Your Life,” do you know what Item #4 is?

You’ll want to listen to this week’s audio message to find out. Also, as a special bonus, towards the end of the audio I will share with you my brutally simple and best recipe for hamburgers, so you don’t want to miss out.

CLICK HERE to listen to this week’s audio update…

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef

www.oneroastchicken.com