Hi Folks. A slightly different approach to the weekend recipe, but I thought I would tell you a little story of what's been happening behind the scenes over the past 6 months.
It's been almost 10 years since I have written a new cookbook, but in January 2020, my Toronto publisher Robert Rose called with a new opportunity. "Donna-Marie do you have any interest in writing a completely new cookbook?". Not sure if I was having a weak moment or not, but after careful consideration and consulting with family and business partner Maria, I decided to dive in. Seriously, do you think I don't have enough to do? Call it ego, but I really do enjoy the process of developing and crafting new recipes. Having worked in the food industry for over 35 years, I am always intrigued with new appliances and how they can fit into the consumer's lifestyle. This time, it wasn't a slow cooker, but a brand new countertop appliance from Instant Brands (the people that brought you the Instant Pot) called the Instant Vortex 9-In-1 Air Fryer Oven. Air Frying has been gaining popularity over the past few years with nearly 4 million sold in the U.S in just a year. That represents a ten-fold increase in nearly two years. This excited me enough to say yes, and fast was key here.
Crispy fries, homemade doughnuts or melty cheesy jalapeno poppers without the oil, these are just a sampling of some of the delicious foods I tested in the Instant Vortex Air Fryer oven. But in fact, an air fryer doesn't "fry" at all. They are actually small convection ovens that circulates hot air to cook food from the outside in. Once I had the machine unboxed in my kitchen, I marvelled at how sleek and contemporary it looked - it kind of reminded me of my first "easy-bake" oven. Tall and slender, it fit under my cabinets and didn't take up a huge amount of space on my counter top. Within an hour or so, my son Jack and I were playing with some of our favourite snack foods - he made homemade mozzarella sticks while I whipped up some bacon wrapped chicken wings. Our results were delicious enough to keep going and I assembled a group of good friends for a testing team.
The Instant Vortex Air Fryer oven is more than just an air fryer. It can also roast, dehydrate, bake and reheat. But the most unique feature is the built in rotisserie. It comes with a rotisserie basket to create evenly "fried" foods such as cooked fries and homestyle potatoes and a spit and prongs combination for the most succulent and juicy rotisserie takeout-style chicken, jerk pork or garlicky roast beef.
I never thought I be would thankful for a pandemic, but with the world shut down and our Relish doors closed to the public, I managed to test, write and edit the cookbook plus keep our Relish cooking classes going virtually. I am forever grateful to my partner Maria for taking over the day to day running of Relish and my husband and family for keeping me sane at home. The Essential Instant Vortex Air Fryer Oven Cookbook is now released and on our Relish store shelves. I am happy to share one of my favourite recipes - Bacon Wrapped Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeños. If you are new to air frying, you want to learn more about how this machine works, or just love all things cooking Relish is holding a FREE virtual event on Sunday November 22nd. I will showcase the Vortex Machine, all it's features plus make a few of my favourite recipes. Everyone who signs up will be entered to win a 9-in-1 Instant Vortex Air Fryer Oven machine and I'm giving 5 chances to win my new cookbook too. Thanks for indulging me!