Sunday, 11 May 2014

Cookery book challenge: weeks 13-16

It's fair to say that some weeks we're more enthusiastic about this challenge than others. Some weeks I really just want to make what I feel like rather than trying something new. Mostly though, we still have the thrill of excitement when it's time to make the draw. Let's see what we have in store for you in this update.

Week 13: Moro: the cookbook - Sam & Sam Clark

I bought this during a foodie phase when I wanted to be more adventurous. It was featured in one of those articles where top chefs recommend their favourite titles and sounded really interesting and unusual (at that time). I've barely looked at it.

I think I'd enjoy eating in their restaurant but it turns out there isn't much I actually want to make myself. We did note a few recipes so I'll go back to it at some point. Eventually, we settled on a Lebanese recipe.

Cod with tahini sauce and chickpea salad

Apparently, white fish with tahini sauce is a classic combination and I can see why. It's not something I'd ever have thought of doing but it works so well. The chickpea salad was also bursting with lovely fresh flavours. A perfect light summer dish which leaves you feeling smugly healthy. Definitely a keeper.

Week 14: Sunshine food - Sophie Grigson

I think I picked up Sophie's book in a discount shop and have made one or two things from it, most notably her limoncello. As it was the same weekend I bought the Sorrento lemons, it will come as no surprise that we chose a lemon flavoured recipe.

Chicken with egg and lemon sauce

This is a Greek dish, Kotopoulo avgolemono, in which the chicken is poached with carrot, onion and herbs, and served on a bed of wilted lettuce, spring onions and rice. Though I followed the recipe to the letter, it was far too lemony even for me. I'm not sure the lettuce thing worked particularly well either. Sorry Sophie, this is one for the discard pile (the recipe not the book).

Squash and feta gratin

Much better was this one which I made a couple of weeks later. Sweet butternut squash and salty feta - two of our favourite flavours, mmmm. The recipe is here if you'd like to try it yourself, though ignore the instruction to remove the skin after the squash has been cooked in water - it's much easier to take it off beforehand with a potato peeler.

Week 15: A suitcase and a spatula - Tori Haschka

It was this book which started me off on the challenge when I received it as a Christmas present. Tori is a fellow blogger and can be found at eatori. The recipes are an eclectic selection from her travels around the world and I enjoyed the tales that went with each one. I ended up making three of the recipes and plan to make another very soon.

Pork schnitzel

I could be wrong but I think the fact that this dish was recommended to the author by a 'blindingly handsome' Austrian prince may have influenced Chickpea's choice! The original recipe was for veal schnitzel but I substituted pork as easier and cheaper to get hold of. Whether this affected the final result, I don't know, but I found it a bit bland.

Fava with meatballs

This dish, on the other hand, was anything but bland. Fava is a yellow split pea puree flavoured with bay leaf, garlic, oregano and red wine vinegar - absolutely delicious and even better the next day. I'll definitely be making this again. If you'd like to try it yourself, the recipe is here.

Pea, basil and feta fritters

This one was so-so and probably would have been bland without the other elements: parma ham, tomato & onion salad and the remains of the fava. I had the leftovers for dinner the next day and enjoyed it more for some reason. The recipe can be found here.

Week 16 : Risotto - Maxine Clark

Risotto is one of our favourite meals and I've already made several recipes from this book. Chickpea went through it first and marked out 15 recipes and I could have picked out even more. In the end we chose one which was new to us and one which I've made before.

Chicken liver risotto with Vin Santo

A surprising choice for us as we rarely eat liver and purely down to the fact that it contains Vin Santo. I bought a bottle of this amber-coloured dessert wine in Florence three years ago where it was served at the end of the meal with a plate of biscotti for you to dunk in the wine. Yes, I know, three years ago and we still have some left. We did repeat the experience when we arrived home but there's a small precious amount remaining. It was worth holding onto as well so that we could try this recipe. Lovely flavours and the chicken liver melts in your mouth. One I will definitely make again.

Asparagus risotto with a poached egg and parmesan

I've already made this one before so I knew it was a winner. Asparagus and egg is a classic combination and for good reason. This time I added a drizzle of my wild garlic pesto and it really added an extra depth of flavour. It's safe to say I'll be making this again in the future.

And that marks the end of this stage of the Challenge. I'm actually a bit behind with these updates as we're already into week 18 so the next one may be sooner rather than later.

Before I go though, I wanted to share this..

It's a dark chocolate and amaretto cake and is absolutely yummy. I made it recently but it didn't fit in with any of my other posts. As it's from one of my cookery books, The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, here seemed as good a place as any. Highly recommended and what's more, the recipe is online here. Go on, you know you want to, what are you waiting for?! x


  1. You have some great looking dishes there! I have been pondering what to make for dinner and you inspired me, so we will be having asparagus and prawn risotto tonight! Thanks for the inspiration. xx

  2. That cake looks very, very good to me. I am going to look at the recipe and see if I can make it gluten free.
    Oh, and the two dishes that you show us that are plated on the polka dot plates, I want those can serve me anything on those plates, I am dotty about polka dots!

  3. Mmm, so many good things here! I love reading about your cooking adventures. I think the two risottos would get my vote, i do love a risotto. I quite often put roasted squash and feta together in a salad, they work really well. x