Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cookbook Review: Fresh with Anna Olson

I have far too many cookbooks to count, in fact some of them have taken up residency under my bed as there's no more room in the kitchen. One of my most recent additions, Fresh with Anna Olson has become a go-to resource for the relative ease of its recipes along with its consistent results.

Anna's Spelt Crust Pizza with Artichokes and Mushrooms (pictured, below) inspired me to go out and purchase a pizza stone first. And I'm so glad I did, as the results were a revelation. The cornmeal-dusted crust was crispy and flavourful, and the combination of pesto and sour cream was a nice change from the tomato base I usually go for. The rest of the ingredients, among them cremini mushrooms, sliced artichokes, arugula, basil, prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano, worked together very well in a pie that was light yet filling.

From there, I made Whole Roasted Pork Loin with Onions, Pears and Orange; Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Pan-Roasted Garlic; Maple Roasted Chicken Breasts; and Triple Chocolate Brownies. All turned out well, notably the Pork Loin which was the best I've ever made.

But my absolute favourite recipe, thus far, has to be the Spiced Chocolate Pear Tart (pictured above). I've made it twice now, once for a friend and another time for my parents, and it is deadly good. Chocolate short crust pastry, rich, cardamom-spiked chocolate filling, and sweet poached pears over top. It's definitely a knockout dessert.

Broken down by season, I've been sticking to the Fall and Winter sections so far, but with spring around the corner I'm excited to try more of Anna's recipes with items I bring home from the farmer's market, particularly the Strawberry Meringue Tarts; Ham & Scallion Scones with Lemon-Herb Chevre; Asparagus with Rhubarb Hollandaise; and Jerk Marinated Chicken Breasts.


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