Cookbook Club – Happy Cooking – Giada De Laurentiis

We had another sold out night at Bridgewater Commons Williams-Sonoma for Giada De Laurentiis’s Happy Cooking.  I made three courses from her brand new book.

Best-selling cookbook author Giada De Laurentiis is picking up where Feel Good Food left off. Filled with even more fresh recipes and day-to-day living strategies, the Food Network superstar shares her year-round approach to living a healthy and happy lifestyle. – From Giada’s Website

Giada has presented a very nice collection of recipes that run from easy to complicated.  Cooking fresh and healthy usually takes a bit more prep time since you are foregoing products that come in a can or jar.  For example, when I made her Wild Rice Dressing, it took nearly 45 minutes just to blanch and peel 20 ounces of pearl onions!  I suppose I could have purchased them frozen. But what fun would that be??  The class ran a bit over the allotted time due to the amount of  steps required to complete the Turkey Breast Porchetta, Wild Rice Dressing and Spiced Apple Walnut Cake.  All three recipes were very labor intensive but not difficult to execute.  Here are some pictures!

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Frozen Key Lime Pie on a Stick

Memories of Key West Florida would not be complete without Frozen Key Lime Pie on a stick!  I used an individual tart pan to make these two-bite desserts perfect for ay occasion!

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Techniques at Williams-Sonoma: Crostini with Humboldt Fog and Pear Chutney

In this class we learned to use Humboldt Fog, a subtly tangy California goats’-milk cheese with a beautiful gray-blue line of ash running through it, is the perfect counterpoint to a mildly sweet chutney made from fresh pears. If you can’t find Humboldt Fog cheese, try Morbier, a French cow’s milk cheese, or a fresh California goats’-milk cheese. The chutney can be prepared a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the crostini.

Ingredients:
1 lemon
1 orange
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 lb. (1 kg) pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch (6-mm)
dice
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) pear brandy or cognac
1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) firmly packed brown sugar
Arugula for serving
Toasted baguette slices for serving
Humboldt Fog cheese for serving
Directions:
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemon and orange in large strips. Juice the lemon and set aside 2 Tbs. lemon juice. Juice the orange and set aside 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) orange juice. Wrap the lemon and orange zest, rosemary, bay leaf and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth and tie closed with kitchen twine.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and pears and cook until the pears begin to release their juices, 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully pour in the brandy and deglaze pan, stirring with a wooden spoon, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by a third, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, reserved orange juice, reserved lemon juice and the herb sachet. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid has reduced, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chutney to a bowl and remove the sachet. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

To assemble the crostini, place a few arugula leaves on top of a baguette slice and top with 1 or 2 thin slices of cheese. Top with a dollop of chutney. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, arrange the crostini on a platter and serve. Makes about 2 dozen crostini.

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