Thursday, 13 March 2014

Cookery Book Challenge : Weeks 5-8

If the sign of a good cookery book is a forest of slips marking the recipes you want to make, then one of the titles this month must be a good one! You can read about the start of the Challenge here but, otherwise, let's crack on and look at the books and recipes included in this update.

Week 5 : The Classic Food of Northern Italy - Anna Del Conte

I bought this along with several others when I was going through a cooking/food obsessed phase, and have barely opened it. I wish I had, if only to have had the pleasure of how she writes in the introduction to each region and to each recipe. Italian is my favourite kind of food too so there was lots to tempt us.

Fettucine with sausage, mushroom and green olive sauce

As we were going to be out most of the day I needed something quick to cook and this fitted the bill nicely.  The title of the recipe says it all and I added some grated parmesan after the photo was taken. Definitely something I'd make again.

Baked polenta with mushrooms and cheese

When Chickpea went through the book, she chose every recipe that included polenta, as she was so desperate to try it! Well, I couldn't resist her enthusiasm and selected this one. You're supposed to make your own polenta but, at the time, I couldn't find any polenta flour in the supermarket so bought a packet ready-made. The ingredients are layered like lasagne and it includes four types of cheese: parmesan, gruyere, pecorino and taleggio. This made it quite an expensive option but, boy, was it worth it. Oh it was sooooooo good! There's a similar recipe from Anna del Conte here but without the bechamel sauce (and mine didn't include the very expensive truffle paste either).

Week 6 : Home Food: all your favourites with a twist

A slight change this week as I made a breakfast recipe rather than one for dinner. The book was given to me by a neighbour a few years ago and I've made a few things from it but both me and Chickpea felt uninspired this time. I also had various ingredients which needed using up and nothing quite fitted the bill. As we were planning on spending the day at Tatton Park, a hearty breakfast seemed a good option to keep us going for most of the day.

Ginger, coconut and ricotta flatcakes with bananas and honey

The recipe makes lovely, fluffy pancakes but the ginger was completely lost and there was only a hint of coconut. I'd make them again but add more of the flavourings. I was also glad I halved the ingredients as the mixture still made 12 pancakes which was more than enough for two of us.

Week 7 : A break from the challenge

No cookery book challenge this week as we were too busy. Chickpea's boyfriend was celebrating his birthday so she stayed over at his house at the weekend and we all ate out on the big day itself.

Week 8 :  Rice, risotto, pilaff and paella - Christine Ingram

And so to the cookery book I mentioned at the beginning.  The recipes are organised by country/region so, for example, there's India, Greece/Turkey/Middle East, Africa/Caribbean, Italy and more. Each recipe has a photo of the final dish which I prefer as I like to know what I'm aiming for. Unusually, most of the recipes also included in progress photos.

Rice is one of our favourite ingredients, and particularly risotto, so I knew I was likely to find lots of interesting recipes to try. After marking out 21 of them, both sweet and savoury, there was one which stood out.

Trout and Prosciutto risotto rolls

I did play around with the recipe, substituting and omitting some of the ingredients. The original uses Parma ham but, as the supermarket didn't have any, prosciutto it was. Also I had mushrooms which needed using up so used those rather than the dried porcini specified. Finally, it was supposed to include prawns too but that seemed a lot of ingredients for two of us so I left them out.

I don't know if it was all the fiddling around with the ingredients that affected the result but I was distinctly underwhelmed. I also really couldn't see the point of making the risotto, rolling up the fish with a spoonful of risotto inside, then baking it all in the oven. It added nothing to the flavour and made it overly complicated.
Not one I'll be making again then, though I found the recipe here if you'd like to try it yourself.

So, another 4 weeks of the Challenge completed and I'm still going strong. We ate 2 more recipes at the weekend and are planning which we'll be making this weekend. Can you bear the anticipation of discovering what they are? Ha, ha! Next update in another month. x


  1. It is interesting to see which books you really like and which ones you don't. xx

  2. I'm thoroughly enjoying reading about this challenge and following your recipes and thoughts. I think the two Anna Del Conte recipes get my vote - delicious looking, both of them. x

  3. I love how you're using all your cookbooks- You certainly are having a variety of menus-I should maybe take heed:)

  4. Geez, I am really enjoying reading your cookery book posts, but now my mouth is watering again! Next time I'll have to read it over dinner...;-) Chrissie x ps Thanks for your comment at mine, I have some advice to share with you about mandala yarn, but I can't find an email address for you - please drop me a line via my blog and I'll share some tips!