Thursday, October 11, 2012

"What Katie Ate" Cookbook Review

I got an email by the publishers of "What Katie Ate", which is for sale starting today, to write a cookbook review for my blog. I received this absolutely gorgeous cookbook in the mail, written by Katie Quinn Davies, a native of Dublin, Ireland who currently resides in Australia, and I just couldn't put the book down. Not only was it incredibly beautiful, between the amazing photographs (Katie is a food stylist and photographer) but I was really drawn to the eclectic fonts and page designs, almost like a scrapbook. I really enjoyed reading Katie's story that lead to her career and now the publishing of her first cookbook. 

Trying to figure out what to make was a challenge. So many recipes looked appealing to me, however since I don't eat pork or beef, I was able to narrow it down a little. 

My decision was to try out two recipes:

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets with Balsamic Syrup

Baby Potatoes with Asparagus and Caper Dressing

The tartlet was going to be served as an appetizer and the potatoes and asparagus was a side dish to go along with grilled rosemary and lemon chicken breasts

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets with Balsamic Syrup

1 large sheet good quality puff pastry
1 large free range egg yolk, mixed with a splash of milk
5 heaped tbs of caramelized onion jam (see recipe below)
6 oz good quality goat cheese, cut into thick rounds
3-4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked, plus extra sprigs to garnish
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of balsamic vinegar (use the best you can get)
4 tbs of light brown sugar

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 425* F.

Using a 5 inch round pastry cutter or a small bowl as a template, cut four rounds of pastry and place on a large nonstick or lined baking sheet. Score a 1 inch border around the edges of the rounds, being careful not to cut all the way through. Avoiding the border, prick the bases all over with a fork. Brush the borders with egg wash, taking care not to let the egg to run down the sides or the pastry will rise unevenly.

Again avoiding the border, divide the caramelized onion jam among the bases, spreading it out evenly. Place the round of goat cheese on top, then scatter with the thyme leaves and season with pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the puff pastry borders are golden and risen and the bases of the tartlets are cooked.

Meanwhile, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, the reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half. Add the brown sugar and simmer until the mixture becomes syrupy-it should coat the back of the spoon when it's ready. Set aside to cool and thicken.

Serve the tartlets drizzled with the balsamic syrup and scattered with thyme sprigs.

Caramelized Onion Jam 

4 large onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 tbs olive oil
sea salt flakes
3 tbs balsamic vinegar (plus a bit extra if required)
1 1/2 tbs light brown sugar

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Place the onions in a large, deep heavy-bottomed saucepan and drizzle with olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir the onions to coat throughly with the oil, then season with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes or until softened. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking for a further 30 minutes, stirring frequently to scrape any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. 
Add the vinegar and sugar and stir to coat well. Continue to cook over low heat for another 30-45 minutes, again scraping all the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Add a splash more vinegar if the jam becomes too sticky-the consistency should be that of a thick, luscious marmalade. Set aside to cool.

What did I think?

I thoroughly enjoyed these little tartlets. Goat cheese and caramelized onions? What's not to like? I think that if I made them for company, I'd definitely have the jam made ahead of time. My husband wasn't super excited about them, although he will eat anything I put in front of him. His response was, "You know I'm not a pastry guy, dear". My son? Well, no my son wouldn't try them. He doesn't like onions, among many other things these days. I bet his friends would have gobbled them up.

Baby Potatoes with Asparagus and Caper Dressing

Terrible iphone photo but I was too busy cooking and am not the best multi-tasker!

I love my lemon squeezer!!!

The caper dressing. Using recycled jars is the best way to mix dressings together
10 small-medium sized baby potatoes
1 tsp fine salt
1 large bunch thin asparagus (about 10 spears), woody ends removed, spears cut into 3/4 inch pieces
handful of watercress leaves, washed and torn

Caper Dressing

6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup salted capers, rinsed and finely chopped
handful dill fronds, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Half-fill a large saucepan with cold water and add the potatoes and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked through. Drain and leave to cool completely before cutting into halves or quarters (depending on their size-you want bite-sized pieces).

Meanwhile, half-fill a medium-sized saucepan with water, bring to a boil and add the asparagus. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then drain and plunge immediately into a bowl of ice water.

To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes and asparagus in a large bowl, then coat with half the dressing. Turn out on a large, flat, serving platter. Dress with the torn watercress leaves, drizzle the remaining dressing, and serve.

Serve 4 as a side

What did I think?

I loved this side dish. It was simple and very tasty. To cut down on pots, I rinsed out the potato saucepan to be used again with the asparagus. Also, I forgot to buy fresh dill! I had to use dried, unfortunately. Fresh dill would have been better. My husband liked the dish a lot and my son Grant did as well-of course he picked out the capers.

Grant and I split the grilled chicken breast which is why it's cut in half

I also made a quick low fat dark chocolate raspberry loaf for dessert.

Final Review

It was my pleasure to review this beautiful book and I will treasure the copy that the publishers gave me. I think Katie is very talented, not only in her gorgeous photographs but her tasty recipes.

1) Beautiful book that could be used as a coffee table book.
2) Eclectic design of different fonts, photographs, and images.
3)Very detailed instructions in her recipes. Newer cooks will appreciate this.
4) Interesting and informative section on "Tricks and Tips".

1) Small font-hard to read. I like the "typewriter" font style but that along with the smaller size, makes it difficult to read. Once I got used to it, it didn't bother me. For the cook who is vision challenged, this may be frustrating.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Running, Eating, Sleeping, Repeat

Running Stuff

It's been awhile since I updated my blog but I'm still cooking most evenings. Sometimes I could just kick myself for not pulling out my fancy camera to take shots of some delicious dishes that I've concocted. Usually I just take quick shots and post them on Instagram but I guess it's better than nothing.

A lot of you know that I've been training. Oh yes...really training. Now, most people think that when the mileage goes up high, in my case to 90 mile weeks, it takes up all my time. This is not true at all. If I have to do something early in the day, like work, but I still need a 10-12 mile run, I simply wake up even earlier.

Along with intense training means that I need to take care of myself. No drinking alcohol, eating very healthy, and being disciplined enough to go to bed at the same time my son goes to bed (or earlier) which is at about 9:30p.m. High mileage training is all about always having a mindset that is committed to my goal.  Otherwise, what's the point.

Oh, and by the way, if you haven't read my race report, written by the awesome Ashley Walsh who was my crew at North Coast 24 hour, please take a few minutes to read it. Ashley is one amazing runner and writer: Click- ASHLEY, to get to her report.

North Coast 24hr Pre-Race dinner- Mac-n-Cheese with truffle mushrooms, Yum!
Anyway, we had a wonderful trip and even though I missed my goal of 125+ (really wanted 127 or so) miles in order to have a chance to get on the USA 24 hour team to go to the Netherlands next Spring to compete, I still got 122.5 and have one more chance. Yep, back to training. I'm using Freedom Park 24 Hour on New Years Eve as my last shot. I will train the same but bump it up a little more. And, I have my awesome husband, Marty coming with me to Freedom Park so I'm excited about that. What a great way to celebrate the New Year!  Nope, he won't really be crewing me. I don't mind him at the race during the day but in the evening hours, it's best that he gets some sleep in the hotel. I will do better with him not around. If you read Ashley's race report, you will understand why. Or if you are an ultra runner, you will understand why. Sometimes it's best not to have the loved ones around in those later miles. 

So, right now, I'm just trying to get back into training after a few low weeks following North Coast. Recovery to me is very important and I take it seriously-especially the older I get. I have to really listen to my body which can be hard at times. The only other ultra race that I have is the Nashville 50 miler on November 3rd which will be like a training run for Freedom Park 24hr, except I'm going to race it and shoot for a Nashville PR. This will be my fourth year and with my best time being last year with a 7:51, I think I can do a little better. I'm looking forward to that race because I just love Nashville so much.

Non-running Stuff

As far as my real estate career goes, I've switched gears a little. I was working as a buyer's agent for a very successful agent on a team and decided to go out on my own. I'm hoping to get a listing on my neighbors house this Friday! Yay!

In the next day or two, I will be doing my first cookbook review on this blog for and am excited about that. Her cookbook is gorgeous and the recipes look delicious. I will have a difficult time choosing one of the recipes to make first! Once I do, I will add pics and the review with the recipe. Can't wait.

I love this photo at North Coast because my expression describes exactly how I felt- DRIVEN