Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Simple Elegance Review & GIVEAWAY!

Simple Elegance. 

The title of Daniella Silver's latest cookbook alone is enough to draw in this Mommy of two toddler boys. Simple? Elegant? Not words you hear around here very often, given that our days are filled to the brim with Paw Patrol, toy cars, cheese sandwiches, bananas and the occasional toddler tantrum… #reallife

I was fortunate to have the chance to preview Daniella’s newest cookbook, Simple Elegance, and from those two glimpses I was hooked! I had the exciting opportunity to test a handful of her recipes while the book was being put together! Then, as luck would have it, the launch party was a couple of blocks away from my home and I was able to attend! You couldn’t help but describe the evening as completely elegant! The simplicity in the stations set up around the room, with different dishes to taste right from the pages of the cookbook, was a fun and wonderful way to not only get the crowd excited about the book, but to also start compiling favourites and dinner menus for the rest of the week! The soups were incredible, but as far as I’m concerned, the Pulled BBQ Beef Nachos were definitely the winner! Similar to the book itself, the details in the d├ęcor elevated the event to another level. Picture a giant tea cup with flowers cascading from it, a variety of spatulas and whisks hidden throughout flower arrangements, streetlights with enlarged photos next to them; making you feel as if your were walking through the pages of the book, able to reach out and try different recipes every few feet! It was a beautiful evening to celebrate a truly elegant book and author! 

               

Now for the cookbook itself…


If you loved The Silver Platter, then there’s no question that this cookbook is a MUST. There’s a clear continuity throughout the layout, style and types of recipes included. So much so that there are a few recipes that are almost natural progressions from the first book. For instance, the Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies in Silver Platter were a huge hit. I honestly don’t know anyone who has the cookbook who hasn’t tried them out! I love my chocolate chip cookies plain and simple, and any additional texture (or fruit?!) is usually a big no-no, but even I made them weekly for a while there! In Simple Elegance, there’s a Cranberry Chocolate Chip cake that captures the same fan-favourite flavour combination, but has been developed into the perfect loaf cake! I made it as both muffins and mini loaves for my son’s nursery school bake sale and everyone loved them! This continuity brings with it a familiarity that encourages you to try out recipes before moving on to completely new ideas! When I saw the Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cake, given the experience with the cookies from the first book, I already trusted it and was willing to try it out immediately! Same with the Ultimate Chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies! I will admit, I’m a huge fan of the Flourless Fudgy-Wudgy Cookies from the first book and was curious about these. Given that the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies in the first book were such a hit here, I trusted their chocolate brownie counterpart would be too! Not only were they fantastic, my husband immediately loved them and they, too, were sent off to the bake sale! These parallel flavours and recipes were a good starting point when diving into this book for the first time! 

The style of Silver Platter is also carried throughout, however it has been updated to provide an elegant and classic base for the theme and recipes found within the pages of the cookbook. The cursive titles are a notable detail that helps to elevate this edition, while the layout maintains its clear, concise and easy-to-follow style. The intro page to each chapter features an elegant place setting maintaining a cohesive and conspicuous theme seamlessly throughout the book. The photos capture the dishes, clearly and crisply. The styling is beautifully done, with the colours and textures of the props showcasing the recipes excellently (i.e. the gold and silver tones of the dinnerware complimenting the Mushroom Cauliflower Soup perfectly). The images are simple and classic, perfectly arranged, and place the ingredients and visible freshness, colour and appeal of the recipes above all else. 


Daniella’s fun, warm, knowledgeable voice is clear throughout all of the anecdotes she shares. You can easily sense the love and commitment she pours into providing meals that are healthy, elegant and easy to prepare for her family, while also serving to meet their dietary restrictions. Any Mom will do whatever it takes for her kids, and I admire how far Daniella has taken that fact and also channelled it into something that she is not only very talented at, but that also speaks to so many other people! The anecdotes she shares are comparable to reading notes from a friend, jotted down in the margins of your cookbook, and helps the overall theme of “elegance” seem more approachable and attainable to, y’know a Mom tripping over toy cars while rushing to confirm that, yes, Netflix we are still watching Paw Patrol, thankyouverymuch.


Norene Gilletz’s contribution and notes add an additional dimension to the cookbook as well. I value her tips and advice, as they always make prep that much easier or teach me how to be more efficient and effective with my time in the kitchen! Her “notes” cover everything from substitutions, simplifying prep work, alternative methods of preparation, variations, and my personal favourite – helpful notes describing what, to some, may be considered unfamiliar ingredients! For instance, for the Watermelon Radish and Cucumber Salad on page 12, Norene goes into detail describing watermelon radishes, their texture, seasonal availability and more! And it doesn’t end with the familiar ingredients either! You’re bound to learn something on each page, from the best type of sweet potato to use in a soup to nutritional information and how to keep ingredients as fresh as possible. The thoughtful, informative and knowledgable “Norene’s Notes” section, provides greater clarity and encourages readers to try out new recipes, rather than simply sticking to those with familiar flavours and ingredients.    


Having said all this, in the end, what it really all comes down to is the quality and variety of recipes, and this cookbook definitely lives up to its name. I don’t have a lot of time to cook. I have two boys - a three year old and an (almost) two year old, and my schedule revolves around them, from school drop-off and pickup, to errands, appointments, and balancing everything else at home as well. I’ll be the first to admit that more often than not “breakfast for dinner” is my out, leaving simple, elegant meals pushed down my to list. I’ve tried to make better dinners a priority this year, and while our weekday dinners have definitely improved, I do sometimes feel guilt at the lack of “elegance,” especially when compared to an endless Instagram feed of creative and tasteful #whatsfordinner. This cookbook changes that. I don’t need to stand in the kitchen for hours to create healthy, pretty dishes, nor do I have to go store to store or searching down aisles for new ingredients. To date we have tried:

Squash Leek Soup
Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpea Soup
Maple Cinnamon Chicken
One-Pot Mushroom & Rice
Cauliflower & Chickpeas
Roasted Vegetables with Terra Chips
The Ultimate Chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Orange-Infused Chocolate Chip Muffins
Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cake
Pulled BBQ Beef Nachos
Mushroom Cauliflower Soup


I made the Squash Leek Soup post-surgery you guys. Post-surgery! It was that easy and I had a warm, pretty, healthy meal on the table with barely any effort! The One-Pot Mushroom & Rice is a staple on our Shabbos menu and I’ve also included it as a side in meals to new mommies in the community too! The Cauliflower and Chickpeas were brimming with flavour and another new favourite Shabbos side dish! And you know how sometimes you see recipes for citrus cakes and muffins, and can’t wait for that burst of fresh, tart flavour and then… meh? Well not with the Orange-Infused Chocolate Chip Muffins! Chocolate + orange is my favourite flavour combination and other than my go to cheesecake, this recipe is the only one I’ve tried that does the combination justice! 


The recipes are healthy, gluten-free (and those that aren’t, in the dessert section for instance, have “gluten-free options” included). It’s a cookbook you’ll be able to use year round, from the Light and Fluffy Chiffon Cake at your Pesach table to Crumb Topped Pumpkin Cake in the Sukkah! 

This is definitely the cookbook for you if you’re looking to create simply elegant dishes that are flavourful and filled with fresh and healthy ingredients! 

As a special treat, with permission, I’m so excited to share the recipe for the Orange-Infused Chocolate Chip Muffins with you! These are so versatile - they're great on the go, or as dessert and would make a great addition to misloach manos this week as well!




...And one more surprise!

Our generous friends at Artscroll have provided one copy of Daniella Silver's Simple Elegance to give away! To enter, leave a comment below letting me know what your favourite flavour combination is! You can also head over to @ItsyBitsyBalebusta on Instagram to be entered as well!

The contest is open to US entrants (the cookbook will only be shipped to a US address). The contest will run from Tuesday, March 7th to Sunday, March 12th, 2017 at noon EST, when 1 (one) winner will be chosen (Happy Purim!). No purchase necessary. Daniella Silver's Simple Elegance will be shipped directly to the US address, Itsy Bitsy Balebusta assumes no responsibility for shipping, The winner will have 24 hours to respond, before there is a re-draw for the prize. Good luck!

Enjoy!

Orange-Infused Chocolate Chip Muffins
(Daneilla Silver's Simple Elegance p. 284, Artscroll 2016. Reprinted with permission.)

Pareve | Gluten-Free Option | Freezes Well | Yields ~ 18 Muffins

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp fresh orange zest
6 tbsp orange juice (preferably fresh)
1 1/2 cups of flour (or gluten-free flour with xanthan gum)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with paper liners
2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil and sugar. Whisk together until light, about 2 minutes. Stir in orange zest and juice.
3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk together just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Scoop batter into paper-lined muffin pans, filling them 3/4-full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden.

14 comments:

  1. My favorite flavor combination is warm and spicy - like cumin with some heat, oh that's the best!!

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  2. Favorite flavor combo... that's a tough one. Salt + chocolate is definitely one of them!

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  3. Hey itsy bitsy balebusta - such a wonderful review. You really got the essence of the book and I thank you for sharing it with everyone. I'm so glad u are enjoying the recipes. Thank u again for all your testing help and review. Come Visit me :) xoxo daniella

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  4. Eggplant and cumin

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  5. coffee and chocolate! best combo!

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  6. I love peanut butter and coffee

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  7. Lime juice and a little cayenne pepper on mango!

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  8. I love chocolate with more chocolate!

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  9. Love peanut butter and chocolate (I am Aviva Weinberger on instagram)

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  10. Chocolate and peanut butter!!!
    Sarah Herman
    @sara.gel

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  11. Sweet and salty, like ice cream and pretzels (milkshake and french fries are even better!!!)

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  12. Brown sugar and red chili flakes on sweet potatoes! (Chocolate and peanut butter is a close second)
    Becca Stern Wenger
    @beccaswenger

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  13. Love citrus, of any kind, with chocolate. Dark chocolate, please!

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  14. I love Chicago style popcorn: caramel and cheddar as well as a true Russian-style fleishig beet borscht: sweet and sour

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