Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cookbook Review: Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens by Jennifer Schaertl and Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I received Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens by Jennifer Schaertl for review. It arrived just as I was on my way to watch our girls race, so I took it with me to help pass the time in between their races. I finally decided on making a dessert, a pineapple upside down cake! You'll find the recipe below, and trust me it was very very good, you may want to try it yourself too!

checking out some of the photographed recipes

Haven't we all had a small tiny little kitchen at some point in our lives? I now living in apartments here we've had a couple, and well even the home we've lived in. I've always managed to make do with what space we've got and meals were never sacrificed because of it.
I always say someday when we build a home, it'll have a huge kitchen! Right?

Chef Jennifer Schaertl, in her cookbook debut, brings space-saving techniques and fabulous recipes to the millions of people who are kitchen impaired.
She believes that “cooking in a crappy little kitchen builds character and personality – two attributes of downright delicious gourmet meal is.” Learning from her own experiences cooking in a crappy little kitchen in her first tiny apartment in Brooklyn, Jennifer created, GOURMET MEALS IN CRAPPY LITTLE KITCHENS. Within the pages of this delightful new cookbook, Jennifer shows us how to love our kitchens and create fun and exciting gourmet meals in them.

As Jennifer likes to say, “just because you cook in a crappy little kitchen does not justify a crappy meal!” In her book, she tackles the myths about gourmet cooking and shows home cooks how to make fun and delectable meals despite the lack of counter space and high-tech, expensive appliances, and gadgets. GOURMET MEALS IN CRAPPY LITTLE KITCHENS offers practical hints and tips that help make the most of any crappy little kitchen.

“Gourmet meals don’t need to be intimidating or overly complicated. The word ‘gourmet’ tends to strike fear in some and inspire awe in others. I want to take the stuffy out of gourmet so I created GOURMET MEALS IN CRAPPY LITTLE KITCHENS to bring gourmet cooking into kitchens of all sizes.”

The fun Jennifer had creating recipes in her own crappy little kitchen shows through in every page. She makes home-cooking an adventure with recipes such as:

- When the Saints Come Marchin’ in Gumbo
- Smokin’ Leftover Turkey Soup
- Scallops Ceviche
- Hot-and-Bothered Dragonfly Prawns
- Wassup! Wasabi Chicken Salad
- Hunka Hunka Monkfish
- Barbequeless Barbequed Salmon
- Leaning Tower of Tofu Lasagna Stacks
- The-Morning-After Pasta Frittata
- The Best Paella You’ll Ever Eat
- Rock-‘n’-Roasted Vegetables
- Butternutty Squash Bread Pudding
- Under-the-Sea Timables
- Fig and Lavender Honey Yogurt Pie

Packed with color photos, line drawings, interactive sidebars, and chef tips and information, readers of GOURMET MEALS IN CRAPPY LITTLE KITCHENS will learn:

- Why a Crappy Little Kitchen can actually be an asset, not a liability
- The must-haves for every Crappy Little Kitchen pantry
- Crappy Kitchen Saboteurs: Pointless items that eat up small spaces
- How to enhance the functionality of your Crappy Little Kitchen space—emphasizing the surprising attributes of working in a small kitchen, plus space-saving ideas that help expand space and utility, allowing for the creation of the most complex dishes
- How to double or triple the function of utensils to eliminate clutter
- Swap It Skills: Replacing hard-to-find, gourmet ingredients with everyday items without sacrificing taste
- How to cohabitate in Crappy Little Kitchens—Jennifer tells readers how to share the tight space and avoid Crappy Little Casualties with chef-proven techniques she learned working in busy and cramped restaurant kitchens
- Ways to create beautiful plating presentations with secretly guarded tricks of the trade

Whatever your kitchen situation, whether you have a minuscule space, ancient appliances, a dismal appearance, or all three, Jennifer shows home cooks how to work wonders and create fantastic meals. After all, if you can’t have the kitchen you want, GOURMET MEALS IN CRAPPY LITTLE KITCHENS shows how to love the kitchen you have.

Come and watch her prepare a Sweet Potato Gnocchi in her video here!

Dad’s Miraculous Pineapple Upside-Down Campfire Cake
Serves 10 to 12
Here’s the recipe for my dad’s amazing pineapple upside-down cake that you can make from the confines of your cozy CLK. No campfire needed!

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 cups fresh pineapple chunks, about 1 pineapple
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch sea salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of a round 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and melted butter, and spread it evenly in the bottom of the pan. Arrange the pineapple chunks on top of the sugar tightly packing them in, but only a single layer.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Then use your whisk to beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The butter must be at room temperature to whip up easily. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition before adding the next.

3. Fold in the flour mixture by gently putting your spatula in the center of the bowl. Pull towards you and scrape the spatula along the bottom. When the spatula breaks the surface of the batter, turn the bowl about an inch, and start again. Each time you pull up and then drop the spatula back into the center, you will be folding in the flour to the batter. Only do this for about 90 seconds, or you will over mix the cake.

4. Carefully spoon the cake batter over the pineapple, and spread it out evenly, while disturbing the pineapple as little as possible.

5. Bake for 15 minutes. Then rotate the cake, reduce the heat to 300°, and continue baking for 1 hour or until the cake is golden brown on top and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.

6. Don’t allow the cake to cool for more than 5 minutes or it will not easily release from the pan. Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a cake platter upside down over the cake pan. Using a towel to hold the hot cake pan, turn it upside down onto the platter.

Bonus Recipe from her book!
My Big Fat Greek Salad

The colorful fresh veggies in this recipe make the presentation beautiful on its own, and its mixture of flavors and textures makes it impressive for the most discerning guests.
Serves 8

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced anchovy (1 or 2)
1/4 cup fresh oregano
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup diced English cucumber
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for garnish
1 cup thinly sliced romaine lettuce (use your bread knife to make thin slices from a head of romaine)
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted

In your blender, pulse the mustard, anchovy, and oregano until mixed. Add the sherry vinegar and pulse until well combined. While blending at medium speed, drizzle in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss the cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, feta cheese, and romaine with 1/2 cup of the dressing. Taste the salad to see if it needs more dressing, salt, or pepper.
Mound the salad in a large serving bowl. Cut the toasted bread into wedges, tuck the wedges around, and garnish it with more crumbled feta. For individual portions, hold the toasted bread wedge in the center of each small plate, and pile the salad high around it. This makes each plate look like a sailboat. You could also serve individual salad portions in margarita or martini glasses with the toast jutting out like a sail.
Store the leftover dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can toss the leftover salad as well as the dressing with some pasta for a great Greek pasta salad.

HCI Books; April 2010
Trade paperback/$18.95

Have a peek of her book here!

I wrote this review for "Mommy? I'm Hungry!" about Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens. I received free product to keep for this review. All opinions for this review are that of myself & family. Product info & provided by PR.


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