Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Cookery book challenge: weeks 17-20

And so to another update on my cookery book challenge. We've settled into a little routine now where me or Chickpea draw out the next title, Chickpea goes through and chooses her favourites, and I make a selection from those. It saves me having to browse through every book and keeps her involved too. So what do we have for you this month?

Week 17 : Chicken recipes - Jeni Wright

I'm pretty sure this was another discount shop find and one of the first cookery books I bought. Chicken is our all-time favourite meat and I was therefore expecting to find lots to tempt us. Maybe we were having a jaded week but there was less than I thought. Or maybe it's because I'd only looked through 10 pages before I knew exactly what I was going to make.

Chicken paprikash

As soon as I saw this recipe, I had to make it as it immediately brought to mind the scene in one of my favourite films, When Harry met Sally, where they speak in funny voices. Great film, great recipe.

Week 18 : A taste of America - Carole Clements, Laura Washburn & Patricia Lousada

Chickpea saw this in a garden centre and stared at me with pleading eyes until it was firmly in my basket. The first half of the book is divided into regions and the second half into baking (biscuits, breads, pies, cakes). After drooling over the latter, we finally decided on 3 savouries and one sweet (it coincided with my holidays so there was more time for experimenting).

Prawn-stuffed aubergine

Chickpea loves aubergines so I wasn't surprised this was on her list. I don't make stuffed vegetables very often and am always surprised that the contents fit back in even though you've added other ingredients! Lots of simple flavours and very tasty.

Turkey and chorizo tacos

Another of Chickpea's choices. I made it just after we arrived back from Verona where we'd eaten in restaurants together and chatted with no TV and no outside distractions. We don't often do that at home these days so it was lovely to sit at the dining table with a real help-yourself, sharing kind of meal. The recipe itself was drier than I'm used to but the flavours were good. I substituted mini tortillas for the taco shells as I prefer them, though I've since seen that you can buy soft taco shells now.

Idaho beef stew

My choice and for two reasons: firstly, I had some cubed beef in the freezer which had been there a while and, secondly, it was cooked in coffee which sounded intriguing. Actually, I found it rather bitter but that could have been my fault trying to adjust the proportions for two of us. If you'd like to try it, a similar recipe is here. I added potatoes to mine to make it a one-pot dish.

Rhubarb and strawberry crisp

As you've seen, recipes are chosen for all kinds of reason and my penfriend was the inspiration behind this one. She mentioned that her rhubarb was ready for harvesting and she would probably use it in a crisp. By coincidence, the stars aligned, rhubarb was on special offer at Aldi and a crisp recipe was in the book. Chickpea sulked a little as she loves my rhubarb and strawberry cobbler recipe but, after scraping her bowl clean, agreed this was a reasonable substitute! I found it on the stodgy side but may have underestimated the amount of fruit needed or overestimated the topping. There are lots of variations on the crisp recipe but this one is the closest I could find to the one I used.

Week 19 : Feast: food that celebrates life - Nigella Lawson

Being such a weighty tome, I really thought we'd be spoilt for choice with Feast. As it turns out, cakes/desserts aside, little appealed to us that particular week though, browsing through it today, I found a lot more. As a book of recipes for sharing, we did find that many of them served much larger numbers of people than the two of us which can be a problem in scaling ingredients down. I do love Nigella's writing though.

Mughlai Chicken

We don't like food that's very spicy so this one was perfect, being described as 'mellow'. There was nearly a disaster when it came to adding the Greek yoghurt to the sauce. It seemed a strange colour and, thankfully, I did a taste test to check it was ok: I'd picked up the variety with added honey by mistake!

Really delicious and made all the better by being served with nutty brown rice. If you're tempted, you can find the recipe here.

Week 20 : Casseroles and other delicious one-pot wonders - Australian Women's Weekly

Chickpea was less than impressed when the draw revealed a 'magazine' but perked up when she came across one for kangaroo! Yes, some of the ingredients may be a little difficult to source outside of Oz but don't let that put you off. I'd have been happy to eat the dishes on almost every page and you can't beat a recipe which saves on washing up.

Cajun-style seafood gumbo

We were in the mood for a fish recipe and this fit the bill. I was only able to find frozen, chopped okra (a new vegetable for us) and it worked fine. It also worried me that it might be a bit spicy as it contains tabasco sauce so I put in less than recommended: I needn't have worried as the whole dish just had a gentle warmth. Very tasty and definitely something I'd make again.

That concludes the 5th update and I'm almost halfway through the titles that went into the draw! There's still some great ones to come and some real favourites. Will they be in next month? Only time will tell...x


  1. I love these posts, seeing what you made and what books you used! It is very interesting to hear what you thought of the recipes. There is one problem though. I am always left feeling guilty for having so many books and not using them! Must do better! xx

  2. Yum, yum, yum! A great cookbook post as usual, I love these reviews! Chrissie x

  3. Oh yum, so much good food here. I love the look of the prawn-stuffed aubergines best of all I think, but frankly I'd take a plate of any of it! I love seeing what you make from these challenges. x

  4. The beef stew is a go to here for crock pot night. I like gumbo and found fried okra when my parents lived in TN. I have a recipe for rhubarb dumplings that hopefully will be breakfast this weekend.