Saturday, 5 April 2014

Cookery book challenge: weeks 9-12

Blimey, 4 weeks has gone by already and it's time for another update on the cookery book challenge. I have a bumper edition for you this time as most of the cookery books tempted us to make more than one recipe. Let's crack on then...

Week 9 : Ken Haedrich - The maple syrup cookbook

This was a present from my lovely American penfriend when she visited a few years ago. I confess to not having made many recipes from it, though the Lemon & Maple Syrup Courgette Cake is one of our favourites and I wrote about it, here, last year. As so often with cookery books though, what I really like about it is the stories and poems and snippets of information that are dotted throughout. The book contains a good mix of sweet and savoury recipes and I ended up making both.

Orange-maple wings

I happened to have some chicken wings in the freezer so this was an easy choice. A cheap one too as I found some oranges in the yellow sticker (reduced) section for a bargain 9p each! Also, the side dish of potatoes, leeks and peas was made from leftovers. I can't honestly say I could taste the maple syrup or the orange but then I don't eat the skin. The wings were lovely and moist though so another recipe to add to the 'keep' pile. The recipe is here if you'd like to try it.

Indian pudding

If you've been reading my blog a while, you'll know I love trying historic and traditional recipes. When I learned that this is the oldest New England dessert on record, I just had to try it. It starts off quite pale but gets darker and darker over the 2 hours it slowly cooks in the oven. And it's worth the wait: yummy yum yum! Soft and caramelly with an aftertaste of parkin! Best eaten warm the same day but a night in the fridge and a blast in the microwave does it no harm either. You can find the recipe here.

Maple mocha pudding

On the opposite page to Indian pudding was this one and I made a mental note to make it sometime. That time came sooner than I thought - the following weekend! Really simple to make and using storecupboard ingredients. I added more coffee than suggested as I only had instant granules rather than ground. Delicious - silky and creamy. Chickpea scraped up every last morsel and I confess I licked the bowl! You can find the recipe here.

Gingered pork medallions

Finally, in what was actually week 12, I made this dish prompted by pork medallions being on special offer at the supermarket. The pork was lovely and tender but, as so often, it was the sauce which made this dish. Sorry, I couldn't find the recipe online, but it's made with onion, ginger, garlic, chicken stock, teriyaki sauce and maple syrup. An odd sounding combination perhaps but really delicious.

Week 10 : Tamasin Day-Lewis - Good Tempered Food

I bought this book in a remaindered shop for something ridiculous like £2.99 because it was 'slightly soiled'. This isn't your everyday family cookbook though, strangely, it mentions lasagne and cottage pie in the blurb on the cover but doesn't actually contain recipes for them! Quite a few of the recipes contain expensive or difficult to get hold of ingredients - civet of hare anyone? However, there are also some really tasty sounding recipes. I've made a couple of the cakes and always use Tamasin's version of crab apple jelly. This time we fancied a salad.

Roasted aubergine, red onion and tomato salad with chickpeas, feta and spinach

There's really not much to say about this one. I used a can of chickpeas rather than cooking my own but, otherwise, it was a good combination of flavours. We were particularly impressed with the Aldi feta which was lovely and creamy.

As we still had several of the ingredients leftover, I made another version a couple of days later...

Butternut squash, spinach, feta, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds

Both were equally tasty and I'm make them both again.

Week 11 : Nigella Express - Nigella Lawson

I own several of Nigella's books, some bought by me and others which were gifts. I do enjoy her TV programmes but much prefer the earlier ones like Nigella Bites when she seemed more natural.

The drawing out of this book coincided with me having a few days off so I ended up making 3 of the recipes.

Prawn and mango curry

The original recipe uses red Thai curry paste but, as I had some balti paste in the fridge, I used that instead. I don't know how much of an impact it had but this was distinctly average. I'll stick to eating my mango neat in future. You might think differently, in which case the recipe can be found here.

Salmon and sesame peanut noodles

Chickpea requested salmon but also fancied the sesame peanut noodles so I decided to combine the two. The recipe for the salmon marinade was torn from a magazine and includes sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice, chilli and garlic. Nigella's recipe for the dressing for the noodles is here. I had the leftovers for lunch at work the next day and it was just as delicious. Definitely one I'll be making again.

Lamb with chilli and black olives

By strange coincidence, in the intro, Nigella writes that this recipe came from Anna del Conte who I wrote about last time. It specified lamb cutlets but, as I couldn't find any, I substituted leg steaks. It also said to marinate the lamb for about 20 minutes but I did mine for longer - a few hours, as I made the marinade straight after lunch. In any case, it was absolutely delicious - lemony and garlicky with a gentle warmth from the chilli. Definitely a keeper. And I served it with the pommes boulangeres from French Leave which I made for Burns Night and wrote about here: just as yummy this time.

All in all then, Nigella did well - 2 out of 3 is pretty good!

Week 12 : Delia's How to Cook Book One - Delia Smith

All three of the How to series were given to me as gifts. My Mum is a Delia fan though I never really warmed to her. Having said that, her Preserved ginger cake with lemon icing is probably my all-time favourite.

As we were going to a matinee at the theatre and meeting our friend for coffee beforehand, I decided to make a brunch recipe.

Eggs Benedict

A classic recipe and for good reason. I cheated and bought a jar of Hollandaise sauce to save time. I also used prosciutto instead of the suggested pancetta as I had some in the freezer leftover from the risotto recipe last time. The sprinkling of chives was my idea using fresh green growth from my garden. Oh, and I'd forgotten just how good English muffins are as it's ages since we had any! I'm sure we'll be having this again some time.

And that concludes my 3rd update. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe I've inspired you to try at least one of the recipes? x


  1. It is great to see what you think of different books. I have the Delia how to cook series and I don't think that I have ever actually cooked anything from them, and feel similar to you by the sounds of it about Nigella's later books, I like her earlier ones a lot though! Happy cooking and eating!! xx

  2. Oh, all this food looks really good but you know what made me so very happy? It was the photos of your polka dot plates! All that work photographing the food you made and telling us about the recipe books and all you had to do for me was to take a couple of photos of the dishes!! HA!
    Hey! I am like you with recipe books, I love the church cookbooks that church women put together here...just recipes that are well loved and all the little stories to go with them!

  3. Julie all this lovely looking food is making me really hungry! I really love maple syrup but have never thought of using it in my cooking, except to drizzle over pancakes. All the recipes look lovely you have made, especially the Parkin type cake. I agree with you about nigella, I preferred her earlier shows too. Have a great weekend.
    Marianne x

  4. I enjoy these posts so much and find them hugely inspiring, I'm sure I've said it before but I tend to use about ten percent of my recipe books but still can't seem to throw out all the others. I could really eat that eggs benedict right now! xx

  5. Your food is all so beautifully presented, very inspiring. I like the look of Ken Haedrich x