Monday, November 16, 2009

Cook Club: Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen


TOP SCORING DISH: Hong Kong Crab Cakes with Bok Choy

October Cook Club brings us Jasmine's cookbook pick of TYLER FLORENCE'S REAL KITCHEN cookbook. How could she after all resist that cutie -- plus she loves him on the Today show and she has been wanting to make that french toast with caramel apples (see photo above!) for quite awhile.

As always, every cook scored their dishes on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best) and these scores are averaged to come up with the cookbook's final score. Will Tyler's cookbook beat Giada's from last month? Check it out below.

By category this month -- listed under: 
Appetizers / Cocktail Party, Main Course, Side Dish, Breakfast

Anjali's Teriyaki Chicken Wings with Sesame and Cilantro
Score = 3.5

I picked this recipe beause I have always wanted to make my own wings. It seems so easy! And I have to say, it was. While the ingredients list is lengthy (as Asian recipes often are), the preparation was straightforward. I admit, I cheated multiple times.  Instead of using storebought hoisin sauce, I made my own (so easy!), and I used honey instead of sugar. I think both these modifications did alter the final result, but not in a negative way. And I totally forgot the cilantro garnish!

And about the final result ~ it was good! I made the wings for a party and everyone seemed to like them. I will say that while they were good, I generally prefer my wings to be more creatively flavored, so next time I would want to try some fun, crazy ingredients.  I will also say that I do not know why grapefruit juice was used, as I could not taste it at all!

Overall, I would give it a 3.5 and I would make it again, with a twist. ;)

Lisa's Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Score = Rolls (3.5) and Sauce (4.5) = 4

My recipes (Hong Kong Crab Cakes with Baby Bok Choy and the Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce) had an extensive ingredient list and required much labor. My husband and I prepped and cooked for two hours straight in order to create these dishes.

When we cook, we try to find all ingredients at our local Harris Teeter. We were unable to find rice paper wrappers, so we substituted soy wrappers instead. The preparation for this dish was exhausting. Alone the rolls were ok (see above, the inside of the roll!), but with the sauce they were incredible. The sauce was extremely easy to make and would be a great accompaniment to any spring roll. We will use this sauce in the future, but we will try to find a less tedious recipe for the spring rolls.

Michelle's New England Clam Chowder
Score: 3.5

I would use more clams if I remade this because it didnt have enough of that New England clam chowder flavor. Also, it was incredibly watery. I would cut down on the water from the start of the soup. Finally, I would also add more potatoes to thicken up the soup. I plan on trying this again, with my modifications! I'll let you know how it is!


Jackie's Lemon Chicken with Smashed Broccoli
Score = 3.5 (Chicken was great, the smashed broccoli not so much)
Earlier this year as part of Tyler Florence Fridays, I cooked up two recipes from this book as well.  I figured that I would integrate them in here (the more recipes the merrier!).  Check out the full review with the recipe here.

The chicken here was the star of the show for me. Not only did all the chicken's herbs and lemony-ness perfume our house deliciously (and I'm sure, wafted out of our house to tantalize the noses of our neighbors), the chicken itself was also wonderfully moist and flavorful.  I was rather indifferent to the smashed broccoli. Although I love broccoli, the smashed broccoli though didn't appeal to me as much.  I just think I'm more of a crunchy broccoli type of girl.

Jackie's Meatloaf with Tomato Relish
Score: 4
One of Mr. J's favorite dishes is MEATLOAF.  Over the years, I've tried making different recipes for him, some which were big hits, some which were not so much.  Tyler's recipe touts this meatloaf as one of the most moist meatloaves you'll try -- it is also the recipe he used when he used to work at Cafeteria in NYC.  I had never made a meatloaf where you put together a tomato "relish" to incorporate into the meat mixture -- this gave it a lot of great flavor.  The tomato relish was a mixture of tomatoes, red peppers, and more...  Although I did enjoy the flavors, the texture for me was a bit "meal-y" -- Mr. J loved this though, so I'll bump up the score a little bit.  Plus it had bacon on top (we used turkey bacon) -- and how can you go wrong with that?

Lisa's Hong Kong Crab Cakes with Baby Bok Choy
Score = 5

We halved this recipe, which significantly reduced the cost of this dish as jumbo lump crab can be extremely expensive. The crab cakes were flavorful! The sauce for the bok choy was salty and sweet – the perfect combination. As seen, we plated the bok choy separately from the crab cakes. However, we quickly realized that the incredible bok choy sauce needed to be on the crab cakes. We would recommend plating the bok choy and sauce over the crab cake. We will most definitely make this dish again!

Amanda's Roasted Carrots with Orange Brown Butter and Sage
Score: 4

The carrots had a good flavor. Two of my dinner guests who do not usually like cooked carrots said they liked these, so I consider this recipe a success ;-) I used baby carrots instead, which are a little sweeter than regular carrots. I think the orange butter was a little more difficult to taste for this reason. Overall, I liked this recipe and would make it again. It was very easy and low maintenance. My parents roast vegetables all the time, and really want to try this recipe, so I have a feeling I will be experimenting on them over the holidays!

Amanda's Braised Red Cabbage with Apples and Dill
Score: 3.5

Again, a very easy recipe to make. The most difficult part was the chopping, and even that did not take very long. I think the dill was a very interesting choice. It gave the cabbage a different flavor, one which I'm still not sure I'm fond of. My parents have a braised red cabbage recipe that is VERY yummy, so that might have been influencing my palette ;-)

Jackie's Creamy Polenta with Parmesan and Black Pepper
Score: 4.3
I've always been a big fan of polenta -- so versatile!  Mr. J actually picked this out to go with the meatloaf, but we never got around to making them together.  Which actually worked out quite well -- this recipe makes a very large pot of polenta, perfect for several days.  The first day, we had it on the side with chicken.  The second day, we had it as the main dish but with bacon (yes, that turkey bacon reappears) crumbled on top.  I LOVED the flavors of the polenta -- the parmesan cheese comes through very nicely and I love black pepper so I cranked quite a bit in it.  Mr. J added in some Worcestershire sauce and horseradish, which added in another layer of flavor.  The polenta did not turn out very "creamy" -- I think next time I would add a bit more heavy cream to it.  Although my arm hurt after making this (nearly 30 minutes of whisking!  I need to work out more...), definitely would make again!


Elaine's Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze
Score: 4
These scones turned out nicely in the end but there were a few hurdles to overcome. The recipe called for heavy cream and in the London supermarkets sell single, double, and double extra thick cream - I went for the double cream as the extra thick really was super thick.

When it came to actually putting the dough together, I followed some advice I read about freezing the blueberries so that you don't end up with purple dough. That worked like a charm but as this was the first scone dough I had ever made I wasn't sure what the consistency was supposed to be like. The dough wasn't coming together with the amount of heavy cream called for in the recipe and there wasn't any guidance either on what to look for so I just used more until I was able to form round mounds instead of the triangles suggested. The lemon glaze was super easy to make and was a really good addition. The lemon smelled very strong but wasn't too overpowering for the scones since they were so rich.

Jackie's Coconut Bread
Score: 3.9
Here's the other recipe that I made earlier this year for Tyler Florence Fridays!  Check out the full review and recipe here.

I love to bake and in this recipe, Tyler references trips to Sydney, Australia, one of my favorite places in the world. In particular, he talks about a breakfast place in Darlinghurst called bills. Bill Granger is the chef at bills and he is a chef that I’ve always wanted to sample his food...

The coconut bread turned out nicely... It was admittedly a bit dry, a little bit more dry than I would have preferred.  But the flavors of the bread were great. The coconut is not overpowering -- more subtle hints of the coconut. The lemon zest actually comes across fairly strong, so next time, I would probably cut back a little on the lemon zest. I think that this would also be fabulous with chocolate chips (but really, almost anything is better with chocolate chips!) mixed into the batter. The bread keeps well for at least a week (we took Tyler's suggestion and wrapped it up tightly and placed it in a plastic bag).

Jasmine's French Toast with Caramel Apples
Score: 4.5 (4 from Jasmine, 5 from her hubby)

I made the Croissant French Toast and Caramel Apples. They were really sweet and really filling and really good! I thought that the recipe would be pretty simple and easy (the recipe said that it would only take 30 min). The recipe took me, HOUR! The hardest part: the caramel apples. Who knew that caramel apples were so complicated? Lucky for them they are so delicious. We even had some left over and my husband wants to use the sauce as a topping for ice cream! All in all, I would give this recipe an 4 (husband gives it a usual).

Thanks to all of you who participated!  This next Cook Club entry won't be posted until January ... we'll be spending a solid two months (with all the holidays!) on one cookbook... now which one is it?  Wait to see in January!

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