I may have mentioned before that I have mixed feelings about doing product or cookbook reviews on the blog. While it may be fun to receive something for free and talk about it, I never want this space to become so commercialized that nearly every post mentions some product, cookbook, etc. Some blogs are all about hawking any and every free item they can get their hands on, but that is not my thing. My personal policy is that I only accept items for review and giveaway only if I would be genuinely interested in the product myself even if it weren’t being offered gratis.
This recipe comes from the cookbook Big Bowl of Love by Christina Ferrare. I had seen some buzz about this cookbook through other blogs who have reviewed it, and it sounded like a good one that would be right up my alley. When I received an email inquiring about a review, I was very happy to oblige. The moment I received my copy, I parked myself on the couch and flipped through the book from cover to cover. Of course the first thing to draw my attention were the beautiful, mouth-watering photos throughout the pages. This didn’t surprise me at all because the photos were taken by the talented Todd Porter and Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple. The contents of the book are in keeping with the title – lots of delicious, homey recipes that would be great for serving to family and friends. The book is well rounded and doesn’t focus on any particular course or cuisine, with categories ranging from appetizers through dessert. It includes everything from classic dishes like deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, and brownies to more inventive things like caramelized carrot soup with green apples, grilled marinated swordfish steak with mango salsa, and meatballs with spaghetti squash.
Normally when deciding whether or not to purchase a cookbook, my choice ultimately comes down to whether or not I would make the majority of the recipes inside. In this case, the answer is a resounding yes. As with the last cookbook review I did, I decided to figure out the percentage of recipes I would consider making. This time it came out to 73%- a pretty solid number, if you ask me. When choosing a recipe to give the book a test run, my mind of course tended toward typical Annie favorites like mac and cheese, etc. Instead, I decided to try something new and different (at least for me), and make these chicken croquettes stuffed with feta cheese atop a simple Greek salad. These are essentially a ball of chicken and mashed potatoes stuffed with feta cheese. The balls are then breaded and lightly fried. Although they sound a bit involved they were actually pretty easy, and a definite plus is that the croquettes can be shaped in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to coat and fry them. Andrew had a blast helping me coat them in the flour and breadcrumbs, and then ate a shocking amount of vegetables from the cutting board while I prepped the salad. This recipe would obviously be best suited for times when you have leftover chicken and mashed potatoes, but I like it enough to gladly prep those ingredients just for use in this dish.
So, would you like to win a copy of Big Bowl of Love? Well, here’s your chance! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling me what you look for in a cookbook. Great photos? Easy recipes? Detailed instructions? Lots of desserts? I want to hear it!
The Rules: One entry per person, U.S. residents only. Commenting will close on Thursday, May 26 at 10:00 pm, EST. Entries that do not follow the entry requirements will not be considered. One winner will be chosen at random and announced next week. Good luck!
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of Big Bowl of Love in exchange for hosting this review and giveaway. Though this review was sponsored, all of the opinions expressed above are mine alone.
Greek Salad with Chicken Feta Croquettes
For the croquettes:
3 large eggs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup grated Romano cheese
2 cups diced roasted chicken
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
½ cup mashed potatoes
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup chopped feta cheese
1 cup Wondra flour
2 cups plain bread crumbs (I used panko)
2 cups canola oil, for frying
For the dressing:
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. finely minced shallot
1 tbsp. finely chopped red onion
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
2½ tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the salad:
8 oz. mixed baby greens, rinsed and dried (I used chopped romaine)
2 celery ribs, sliced on a bias (I omitted)
2 cucumbers, 1½ peeled, seeded and diced, ½ thinly sliced with skin on
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
5 thin slices of red onion
10 sprigs of mint, coarsely chopped (I omitted)
10 sprigs of parsley, coarsely chopped
Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh oregano
2 cups feta cheese, cut into chunks
16 Greek olives (I omitted)
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving
To make the croquettes, combine 1 egg with the Parmesan and Romano cheeses. Beat well. In a food processor, combine the roasted chicken, egg-cheese mixture, parsley, mashed potatoes, and salt. Process until uniform and smooth. Using about ¼ cup of the chicken mixture, form a cylinder that will into the palm of your hand. Pull the cylinder open to form two halves, and press a couple of chunks of feta into the center. Close the chicken mixture around the cheese so that it doesn’t ooze out during frying. Repeat with the rest of the chicken mixture and the feta, making about 8 croquettes. Transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (They can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before frying.)
When you are ready to cook the croquettes, beat the remaining two eggs in a shallow bowl. Line up the Wondra flour, eggs, and the bread crumbs. Roll a croquette first in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs, making sure to coat the whole croquette. Place on a wire rack while you coat the rest of the croquettes. When you are ready to fry the croquettes, place the canola oil in a frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot (about 5-6 minutes). Lower the heat to medium and fry the croquettes until they are golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with foil to keep warm while you prepare the salad.
To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside.
To make the salad, put the greens into a salad bowl. Add the celery, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, and fresh herbs. Drizzle the salad with 5 tablespoons of the dressing. Toss well. Top with the chunks of feta cheese and olives. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Serve on salad plates and top with chicken croquettes. Garnish with lemon wedges.
Source: Big Bowl of Love by Christina Ferrare