Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Round-up

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is our December Pot Luck week - an opportunity to choose any recipe we like from our current chef (the fabulous Donna Hay), or from any one of previous eight IHCC chefs.

Turns out, time has been a bit precious for me this week, and cooking, photographing and writing about a new dish just didn't happen.  So instead I thought I would share with you a round-up of my favourite dishes from each of our chefs.

My very first post for I Heart Cooking Clubs was just as the group was winding up a six month spell with Nigella Lawson, and I shared these Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes ...

Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes 3

Despite the fact that these might seem like "kiddy" food, I can promise you that grown-ups love them too, and to this day this is one of the most viewed posts on the blog.  On a recent trip to San Francisco I made a batch of these for my 4 year old granddaughter - poor wee dot only got one of them, and the adults downed the rest!

This dish of Sauteed Chicken with Green Olives and White Wine from Mark Bittman is probably my "go-to" chicken dish.

Chicken with Green Olives 2

I said it back then, and I'll say it again - this is probably the best chicken dish I've ever made.  It has great flavour, colour and texture;  is very easy to put together from ingredients you most likely already have on hand;  requires minimal preparation;  and would be a great dish to feed a crowd.

I loved so many of the dishes I made with Giada de Laurentiis, but these Espresso Caramel Bars were a real favourite.

Espresso Caramel Bars 1, cropped

These were pretty easy for even a reluctant baker to make - crispy, biscuit crumb base;  ooey, gooey, slightly chewy caramel centre;  fudgy, espresso, chocolate topping;  finished with a sprinkling of smoked sea salt ... I defy anyone to stop at just one!

For a variety of reasons, I didn't get to cook along with Jamie Oliver too often ...

Cannellini Bean, Chorizo & Tomato Salad

... but this warm Salad of Cannelini Beans, Chorizo & Tomatoes is one that I've returned to over and over again.

Of all the chefs we've cooked with at IHCC, one of my absolute favourites (second only to Yotam Ottolenghi) was Tessa Kiros.  I loved so many of Tessa's dishes that picking a favourite was quite a challenge ...

Roasted Red Pepper Soup 1

but I think this Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Olives, Lemon & Yoghurt might be it.  This was one of the first recipes I bookmarked when I bought her book Falling Cloudberries, and with its thick, velvety texture, and bold, robust flavour it certainly didn't disappoint.  Lots of opportunity here to change up the toppings on this one too.

I didn't get a chance to cook too many dishes with Rick Bayless, but I know he was a big favourite with many of our other participants.

Lemon-Lime Sorbet 4

Choosing a favourite from the dishes I did make was easy ... it was hands down this Nieve de Limon (Lemon-Lime Sorbet).  I couldn't tell you how often I've made this now.  The bright, tangy citrus flavours are a refreshing treat any time of year.

Madhur Jaffrey has long been a favourite chef of mine, and a spell of cooking with her gave me the opportunity to dip into some of those cookbooks which had been gathering dust on the shelf for quite a while.  For many of our participants, exploring Indian food was a totally new experience, and I know that Madhur proved to be very popular with so many in the group.

Prawns in a Dark Sauce 2

This dish of Prawns in a Dark Sauce was simple to make, and the flavours rekindled so many childhood memories for me that I've since revisited this dish several times.

Those of you who visit here regularly won't be surprised to learn that my absolute favourite chef was Yotam Ottolenghi - I don't think I've cooked an Ottolenghi dish that I didn't like, and I find his food truly inspirational.  Trying to choose a "favourite" from the Ottolenghi dishes I've made is virtually impossible - I've loved every single one of them ...

Shakshuka 3

... but I figured this Shakshuka should take first place, since it is by far one of the most frequently cooked dishes in my kitchen.

And, lastly, we come to our current chef - Donna Hay.  Our journey with Donna is still young, but this dish of Green Tea Soba Noodles with Soy-Roasted Salmon and Broad Bean & Radish Salad is already a favourite.

Green Tea Soba Noodles with Soy-Roasted Salmon and Broad Bean & Radish Salad 3

Quick, simple, healthy and absolutely delicious - this is definitely going to be a perennial favourite in my house.

If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the wonderful Pot Luck dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.

IHCC Donna Hay Badge resized

Lastly, I want to thank each and every one of you for your visits, lovely comments, and most of all your friendship over the year, and I wish you and all your loved ones a very happy Christmas.  xo


  1. Oh man! I just book marked this post so I can try a few of those!

  2. Hi Sue,
    Delicious round-up! I have never tried any of Mark Bittman's recipes before, and that chicken dish sure looks good! I have been meaning to give his recipes a try, I will, on one of the coming potluck months!
    Merry Christmas!

  3. This is a great idea, Sue. I loved seeing all of your favorites. The Mark Bittman chicken dish looks wonderful.

  4. A very delicious round up! The chicken and salmon are my favourites.
    Happy Holidays!

  5. So impressed by all you've shared! Good eats at your house!

  6. A very fun round up! Gosh it would be so hard to pick my very favorite recipes from all of the chefs we have cooked with--I don't think I could make up my mind on just one from each! ;-) I want to try some of the ones you posted now too.

    Merry Christmas Sue! I truly value your friendship!

  7. Wow, everything looks great but the Espresso Caramel Bars look absolutely amazing and I can safely say the Shakshuka is one of most delicious dishes I've ever eaten.

  8. Wonderful round-up! They all look delicious but the chocolate caramel cakes caught my eye immediately - I'm not surprised it's a popular post.

  9. What a fabulous roundup! Merry Christmas!

  10. those espresso bars look fabulous - I must try them!


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