Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marie Claire, Cooking.

For this weeks installment I made a choice from an old school favourite–Marie Claire Cooking, by Donna Hay. I’ve had this book for over 10 years (I reluctantly admit) however there is still much within that I am yet to discover!!The Marie Claire cookbooks, in my opinion, were my generations’ alternative to the Woman’s Weekly cookbooks. They are a staple in any cookbook collection, and when first released they featured updated recipes that included all the ‘in fashion’ ingredients, like sun dried tomatoes and coriander by the bucket load - reminiscent of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Loadsaherbs’ phase!! These were the books that saw Penne being replaced for handmade gnocchi, muffins for Friands and Vanilla essence for Vanilla pods! Despite their early 90s influence the recipes are still relevant and for this weeks challenge I’ve selected:Grilled chicken and Fig salad.

I chose this recipe as I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for figs. I like the look of them and love the way they can be used in either sweet or savoury dishes. They team well with cheese – especially goats, and also with cured meats like prosciutto and parma ham. However I’ve never actually cooked with them.

The recipe called for Char grilling or Barbequing chicken breast and aubergine. Since I don’t have a griddle pan I had to go for the BBQ option – and in a demonstration of my commitment to this blog I donned my ski jacket, wellies and head lamp and fired up the Barbie! (It may seem dramatic…. But it was COLD on Saturday night).

The recipe called for assembling a plate of Radicchio, topping with the figs, chicken and aubergine and then finishing with a dressing of lemon, honey and marjoram. Unfortunately, I came up against a little roadblock in that I could not find Radicchio and Marjoram anywhere, so had to settle for little gems and oregano. Unfortunately I think the harmony of flavours needed the bitterness of the radicchio to work and the little gems left the dish a bit ……. bland.

Interestingly, the dressing combination was also a little disappointing as when you mix lemon and honey its hard to get past that feeling that you are assembling a drink for someone who has a cold!

The meal looked great, and was a nice enough dish, however, was probably a poor choice for a cold autumn evening. Plus, I just couldn’t get past the dressing as an unfortunate combination of flavours. However my chief recipe taster and I both agreed that it would make an excellent headliner for a summer mezze ensemble, which included dips, pita breads and other exotic salads.

All in all we decided that the meal deserved 7 out of 10 – Not a bad meal… but a far cry from the amazing culinary experience I had hoped for….. oh well, I guess theres always next week….

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