January: Spanish Chicken with Chorizo & Potatoes

Saturday was a big cooking day for me. In between baking the brookies and the pancake cookies, I also made Nigella Lawson’s Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes from her cookbook Kitchen.

The moment I saw the recipe name and the photo of the dish in the cookbook, I knew I wanted to make this. I love chicken (if you haven’t already noticed), I love Chorizo, and who doesn’t like potatoes? And making it seemed so easy. You basically just dump everything on sheet pans and bake them in the oven. I think there were only 3 steps in the cookbook: preheat the oven, put everything in the pan, put everything in the oven and baste once in a while (okay, four).

And with those four easy steps, you’ll have all this deliciousness:

Spanish Chicken & Chorizo

The chicken was juicy and tender, which was a bit of a surprise since it the only “liquid” added to it prior to cooking was a small amount of olive oil to coat. The chicken gave out A LOT of oil, though, but you can easily fix that by using less fatty chicken portions (like the breast) instead of thigh quarters. The Chorizo was a pleasant surprise, too, since I went out on a limb and used a local brand I’ve never tried before. It was spicy and garlicky and gave the drippings even more flavor.

I’d probably add some garlic to the recipe (Nigella’s recipe doesn’t have it), but other than that, this recipe is pretty perfect. And ridiculously easy, too.

Find the recipe here.

January: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I guess it makes sense that the recipe I try out to kick off my 2012 cooking challenge is a classic. I also wanted a recipe that would require me to use my brand spankin’ new KitchenAid mixer (more on that soon), as I was desperate to finally use it. And how could anyone go wrong with chocolate chip cookies, right?

The recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen cookbook and is her tried & tested chocolate chip cookie recipe. The recipe was pretty straightforward enough and I followed it to the T, and ended up with these:

I didn’t know what I did wrong, because I used a one-fourth cup scoop to measure out the dough for the cookies as directed. Nigella used an even deeper, dome-shaped ice cream scooper and plopped the dough straight to the cookie sheet without flattening them before putting them in the oven, and her cookies turned out normal. Mine turned out thick and dense and were even mistaken for scones (haha!). The resulting cookies were therefore very cakey and dense. But they tasted good (and they filled up the house with an awesome, buttery, chocolatey smell while baking), they were just not the right texture and density.

So, alas, my first attempt at my cooking challenge was not a raging success. I had fun, though, since I got to use my mixer for the first time. I just know that for next time, I’ll have to flatten out the cookies before I put them in the oven. Or maybe I should try Phoebe Buffay’s grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe.

PS: Does anyone have an idea on what I did wrong? I was having trouble keeping the temperature of my oven up to the required 325°F, could that be it? I am also still just getting a hang of my mixer’s speeds, could it be that I overworked the dough? Nigella’s recipe requires you to melt the butter before mixing with the sugars, which I’ve never seen in a chocolate chip cookie recipe before, could that have made the difference? I’ll appreciate any help, as I don’t want to end up with (albeit yummy) quasi-scones again. Thanks!

My 2012 Cooking Challenge

I received these two cookbooks by two of my favorite cooks (chefs? They’re not really chefs, right?And I mean that in a good way.) for Christmas:

Yes, that’s THE French Apple Tart she’s making in the photo

I love Nigella and Ina for their simple, gimmick free approach to cooking. It’s just them in their kitchens (my DREAM kitchen, in Ina’s case) cooking and talking to their audience. There are no gimmicks, no incessant and annoying chatter (I’m looking at you, Rachael Ray), just beautiful ingredients and straightforward, delicious food. And these two cookbooks, I think, really represent that.

So, inspired by these two women, their cookbooks and the recipes (and photos!) in them, and also, spurred on by my recent forays into cooking, I have come up with a challenge for myself. Also, I figured that I need to make use of the cookbooks I received by cooking as much from them as I can. So, in 2012, I will cook one new recipe from these cookbooks every month.

Before you laugh at my self-imposed challenge, please do keep in mind that while I do know how to cook, I rarely ever do it. Also, the type of cooking that Ina or Nigella do is very different from the cooking that I am used to. Plus, the first three months of the year are set to be the busiest of the year for work… so yes, this will be a challenge for me.

And, now, for some ground rules:

  • I have to cook one recipe from either Nigella Kitchen or Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics per month.
  • If I miss one month, I would have to make up for it the following month. However, additional dishes cooked in a month will not count towards succeeding months. So if I cook three dishes in January, I’m not off the hook from cooking one each in February and March.
  • Repeats won’t count.
  • Of course, I’ll have to blog about each month’s dish.

So wish me luck, guys! And please do the same for the people who’ll be eating my food, too.

Book photos via Amazon.com