The Cooking Chronicles: Inspired Failure

Liane mentioned recently that Inspired magazine by Sobeys is useful in getting out of a cooking rut. I’d have to agree. Unlike some store-produced publications, it doesn’t lean heavily on the use of processed products, and the colour photos are engaging and inviting. Best of all, it’s free!

We recently tried two recipes out of their Fall 2010 issue – but to varying levels of success, unfortunately.

Chicken Stew with Oat Dumplings

First, a recipe for a chicken stew with oat dumplings caught my eye.

I should not have used such a large Dutch oven to start with, as I ended up adding more broth to make up for the fact that the oat dumplings weren’t fully immersed in liquid. It turned out that was a good choice anyway, since the dumplings absorbed so much of the stock as they cooked.

The dumplings themselves (a combination of flour, oats, baking powder, thyme and salt) were flavourless, however, chewy and tasting like partially-cooked dough. I’m not sure if my substitution of regular Highwood Crossing rolled oats instead of quick-cooking oats was the cause of the poor outcome or not (or the fact that I made them too large), but my preference for next time would be a simple chicken stew without the dumplings.

Chicken Stew with Oat Dumplings

Chicken stew with dumplings (the dumplings look almost like cauliflower florets in the picture)

I served the stew with savoury cheddar cornmeal muffins from Muffin Mania – I’d definitely make them again. They were a nice alternative to the usual bread accompaniment.

Cheddar Cornmeal Muffins

Cheddar cornmeal muffins (I omitted the additional cheese on top)

Acorn Squash with Harvest Rice Stuffing

I had picked up a beautiful acorn squash from Kuhlmann’s on the last day of the City Market, as well as a bag of wild rice from MoNa, intending on combining the two using an Inspired recipe for acorn squash with harvest rice stuffing.

Our first error was to have used (again) too shallow of a pan to cook the rice – the rice started to stick before it had a chance to fully cook. More than anything though, we probably should have prepared the rice following the package directions instead of a straight substitution, then adding the aromatics after. I will say that the cranberries were a lovely addition, offering an unexpected burst of sweetness.

The squash, on the other hand, roasted up perfectly in the oven, fork tender and ready to be devoured. What we found, however, is that we much prefer this type of squash in purees, soups or as ravioli filling – the slightly stringy texture was a bit off-putting to us. We finished our halves, but it was a chore.

Acorn Squash with Harvest Rice Stuffing

Acorn squash with rice stuffing

Not all is lost though – there are still a few more recipes I’d like to try from the issue, including one for blueberry & brown butter squares.