February 23, 2016

Favorite Cookbook

I'm often asked what my favorite cookbook is, and Donna Hay's Seasons, is right at the top of my list.  I admit, I love to read cookbooks--not necessarily make every recipe in them.  Seasons not only has wonderful, tasty things to make, it's also filled with beautiful photography that's very inspirational.  
As the title implies, this cookbook is set up with menus to follow the calendar, and employs flavors and seasonings that are appropriate to the time of year.  As we are still in the winter months, I thought I'd share two that I have tried, and that seem like real cold weather comfort food. Serve either with a lightly tossed salad, or a bowl of tomato soup for absolute contentment. Both of these can easily be served as appetizers if you just slice into bite-sized nibbles.  Perfect for an Academy Awards party this weekend....

Mushroom, Pesto & Goat’s Cheese Rolls
Gather the goods:
30g butter
200g swiss brown mushrooms
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 sourdough rolls, halved
80g fresh goat's curd or soft goat's cheese
½ cup (60g) grated Swiss cheese

basil pesto
1 cup basil leaves
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
⅓ cup (25g) finely grated parmesan
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup (125ml) olive oil
sea salt flakes

Directions:1 To make the pesto, process the basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, oil and salt in a small food processor until combined. Set aside.
2 Heat the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook for 5–8 minutes or until brown. Set aside.
3 Spread rolls with pesto and goat’s curd, top with the cheese and grill (broil) under a preheated hot grill for 1–2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden. Top with the mushrooms to serve.

Grilled Cheesy Leek Toast

Gather the Goods:
30g butter
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
30g butter, extra
1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
½ cup (125ml) milk
¼ cup (60ml) dark ale, such as stout
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot English mustard
½ cup (60g) grated cheddar
2 egg yolks
sea salt and cracked black pepper
4 thick slices white bread

1 Heat the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the leek and cook for 5–8 minutes or until soft and brown. Set aside.
2 Melt the extra butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 3–5 minutes or until light golden. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook for 30 seconds or until thickened.
3 Whisk in the ale, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cheddar, egg yolks, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 3–5 minutes or until thickened slightly
4 Top half of the bread with half of the leeks, then the remaining bread and leeks and the cheese mixture. Grill (broil) under a preheated hot grill for 1–2 minutes or until golden.
Click here to see the book at our online store.  My goodness!  Both recipes are so good.  Hope you try them... 

February 13, 2016

"V" is for Valentine

It's the day of hearts and flowers once again, and, as Valentine's Day happens to be falling on a cold, snowy Sunday this year, it's the perfect time for watching a favorite romantic movie or two.  My movie tastes lean toward the classics/vintage direction, and here's what we'll curl up to watch this weekend...
Pride and Prejudice

Let's just jump right in with some Jane Austen, shall we?  There's no more delightful tale of love conquers all than Pride and Prejudice.  Can you stand the tension?  Will they or won't they?  Happy ending abound, and Colin Firth is in it.  Perfection. 
Truly, Madly, Deeply
This is basically Ghost, but British.  Alan Rickman is great and has the deep voice which makes everything he says sound delicious.  If you only know him as Snape in the Harry Potter movies, you're in for a treat.
The Philadelphia Story
Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn plus Jimmy Stewart!  First a Broadway play, this movie is always a treat; Hepburn is at her best, and the little sister is absolutely hilarious.  Cary Grant is the perfect rogue you'll want to root for.  
My Favorite Wife
For a vintage "light hearted romp", My Favorite Wife will fill the bill nicely.  Just watching Cary Grant trying to keep up with the situation is entertaining.  Beautiful Irene Dunne is perfect as wife #1.
The Thin Man
Finally, a bit of mystery to go along with the romance.  I adore the whole "Thin Man" series which features the sophisticated married sleuths Nick and Nora Charles, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy, and their affable pooch Asta.  This film has it all: humor, romance, glamour and loads of cocktails.  

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
P.S. For some of the Clever Girl's other favorite movies, click here...

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