Disclosure: The lovely folks at Page Street Publishing sent me a copy of Easy Gourmet for review. They will also be providing the cookbook for the giveaway. Thanks, guys! Any links to Easy Gourmet on Amazon are affiliate links.
I am thrilled to be reviewing Stephanie Le’s fantastic new cookbook, Easy Gourmet. Even if you don’t know Stephanie (I don’t), you probably know her blog, i am a food blog. Her tagline, Celebrating the Awesomeness of Food, does not lie. And as much as I hate to admit that gorgeous photographs are a necessary and integral part of a good post about food, her photographs are so immediate, they make me want to reach through the screen and grab a bite.
With Easy Gourmet, Stephanie has taken her genuine and generous blogging style and perfectly morphed it into a book that will take you by the hand and help you understand, in recipe after recipe, gourmet doesn’t have to be intimidating. It can be easy.Here are a couple of paragraphs from the book’s introduction:
Everyone’s definition of good food is different, but one thing holds true across the table: sharing a meal brings people together. Eating, laughing and lingering over a good meal is my idea of a really good time. Eating together and enjoying that particular moment at that particular time with the people you choose makes memories you just won’t forget.
Easy Gourmet contains some of my favorite recipes. And they are meant to be just that: easy, yet unexpectedly delicious…The recipes are as eclectic as my taste inn food. A little bit Asian, a little bit classic and a lot delicious, these recipes are what I love to cook. –Stephanie Le, Easy Gourmet, p.9
Before I share with you the delicious (and easily-made-yet-wowing) Pea and Bacon Risotto, let’s do a rundown of the chapters along with a sampling of what you’ll find in each one, shall we?
- Breakfast: Spicy Shrimp Omelette, Potato Waffles, Breakfast Scones
- Pasta & Rice: Baked Mac & Cheese, Tomato Basil Spaghetti, Lemongrass Pork & Noodles
- Meats: Porchetta, Grilled Flank Steak, Buttermilk Fried Chicken
- Seafood: Fish Pie, Miso Cod & Quinoa, Shrimp Salad Rolls
- Vegetables: Dijon Mushrooms, Oven-Roasts Spouts (Brussels Sprouts), Grilled Corn
- Soups & Stews: Carrot Coconut Curry Soup, Salmon Dill Chowder, Beef & Guinness Stew
- Sandwiches: Vietnamese Pork Sliders, Chicken Pot Pie Bun, Curried Egg Salad
- Snacks: Jalapeño Poppers, Chicken Liver Pâté, Curry Croquettes
- Dessert: Coffee Cake, Chai Tea Ice Box Cake, Lemon Meringue S’Mores
Lest you think that some of these offerings sound a bit run of the mill, let me assure you that they are not. You have but to read the description of each named recipe to realize that some of the names belie the complexity and thought put into them. For example, Fish Pie sounds pretty ordinary until you read the description “fish in bechamel, topped with mashed potatoes.” Dime-a-dozen at the local sports bar Jalapeño Poppers are magically transformed into to “chicken, jalapeños, cheddar and potatoes.” Beef & Guinness Stew, an Irish pub staple in the US is elevated to “Tender beef short ribs & mushrooms in stout and stock.”
That’s part of the joy of Easy Gourmet. Take something fairly straightforward that you’ve seen before, and give it a bit of a twist to set it apart from the pack. Stephanie’s recipes are both creative and accessible, which is sometimes a hard balance to achieve.
Pea and Bacon Risotto
I followed Stephanie Le’s directions to make the pea and bacon risotto almost exactly. The only addition I made was a couple of teaspoons of white balsamic just for a bit of acid to balance the richness of the bacon and Parmesan. As you can tell in the photo at the top of the post, my risotto is more golden in color than the one in Easy Gourmet. It could be a product of the chicken stock I used, which was quite golden in color. It could also be that I allowed my onions and rice to take on just a bit of golden brown color before I started adding the stock. Either way, it was delicious. Creamy, rich, simple and satisfying.
- 4 1 ⁄2 cups, (1 l) chicken stock
- 1 tbsp (15 g) butter
- 1 tsp (5 ml) oil
- 1 cup (228 g) arborio rice
- 1 ⁄2 small onion, , diced
- 1 ⁄2 cup, (64 g) frozen peas, thawed
- 4 slices cooked thick-cut bacon, , in 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
- 1 ⁄4 cup, (45 g) freshly grated parmesan
- In a medium stockpot, heat the stock to a gentle simmer.
- Melt the butter with the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the
- diced onions and cook until translucent, 1-2 minutes. Turn the heat up to
- medium-high and add the rice. Toast the rice, about 3-4 minutes, until slightly
- Turn the heat down to medium and add a ladle of hot stock. Stir into the rice until
- the liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue stirring and adding hot stock as the rice
- absorbs it. Taste after about 15 minutes. If the rice is soft but with a bit of bite, it’s
- ready. If still uncooked, continue adding stock a ladle at a time. When done,
- remove from the heat and stir in the peas, bacon and cheese. Taste and season
- with salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately.
I hope that this risotto, not to mention a glimpse at some of the other deliciousness from Easy Gourmet will encourage you to pick up your own copy. But it’s also fun to win stuff, so I’m hosting a giveaway so you can win your very own copy or give it to a friend. Good luck!
Easy Gourmet Giveaway
The giveaway is open to all readers in the US and Canada. It’s easy to enter, and I’ll give you lots of chances to win! Leave separate comments for each entry, please! Please make sure a valid email address is associated with your comment since that’s the only way I’ll be able to get in touch with you if you win.
- Leave a comment here telling me what recipes from Easy Gourmet are intriguing to you.
- Follow me on Pinterest and leave a comment telling me you did. Leave your Pinterest user name too.
- Follow @iamafoodblog on twitter and then leave a comment here saying that you did.
- Tweet about this giveaway and then share the url of your tweet in a comment to let me know you did. Tweet Enter @PastryChfOnline’s giveaway of @iamafoodblog’s awesome Easy Gourmet
And that’s it. Enter now through Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 7pm. That’s when I’ll choose a winner.
Thanks for taking the time to read today. I look forward to hearing your impressions of Easy Gourmet. Have a lovely day.