Welcome to my blog!

I'm a divorced mom with a teenage daughter and two pre-teen sons. Writing is my first love. When I'm not writing or working or playing taxi to the kids, I also toy with photography and baking.

So, basically, my camera rarely sees the light of day and my mixer stands in the corner in permanent time-out.

To see some samples of my writing, you can check out my website: www.csrickard.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm in a cooking mood!

I recently purchased the Conscious Cook, by Tal Ronnen. It's a gourmet vegan cookbook and boy do I love it. Santa also gave me two Le Creuset pieces for Christmas this year: a 3.5 quart dutch oven and a 10 inch skillet. I've been using them quite a bit so far and love the look and feel of them. I got them on sale at the outlet store. They're expensive, even when on sale, but from what I've read, they are well worth the money. I'm planning on adding a saucier for next Christmas.

The first dish I tried was the chicken piccata. It called for Gardein chicken scallopini breasts. I couldn't believe how quick and easy this dish was to put together. I had it finished before my baby blue potatoes were done roasting! And the taste was fantastic. I can't wait to make this for my kids.

I made the Paella over the weekend and it turned out amazing. I used oyster mushrooms sauted with ground, toasted nori sheets to give it some seafood flavor. I was excited because I rarely see fresh oyster mushrooms, but Sweetbay had some so I snagged them for this dish. They were so tender and juicy.

Yesterday I tried a vegan version of boeuf bourginon. I used a meat-based recipe, but substituted Gardein beef tips for the real beef. I guessed on the cooking time since I didn't need to cook my 'beef,' but it still came out very nice. I used the recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It included her recipe for sauted mushrooms, which I could have eaten right out of the saute pan. They were that good. The one thing I'll probably omit next time is the bacon. I used a vegan bacon sauted in butter, which I think is meant to impart a smoky flavor. However, since going vegetarian, I can't stand the smell of real bacon and can tolerate the vegan version in small doses. I'll drop that from the next batch I make, and reduce the cooking time to only an hour or so. That should make it about perfect for me.

I also made a vanilla bean panna cotta with orange sauce for dessert. I was so tickled with how that came out. It was rich and creamy and vanilla-y (yes, that's a word). And it was totally VEGAN! I've really missed my custard style desserts.  I'm going to play with a vegan flan recipe today or tomorrow.

I absolutely love to cook. If only I had enough people to eat what I make! Oh well, that's what kids are for, right?

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