Friday, 8 August 2014

Cookery book challenge: weeks 25-28

It's time for the regular monthly update on my personal cookery book challenge. If you're new to the challenge you can find out how it all started here.

Looking at the recipes it was a pretty good month and I don't think there's anything I wouldn't be happy to eat again. Let's see what was on the menu this month.

Week 25, part 1 : Roast chicken and other stories - Simon Hopkinson & Lindsay Bareham

This book was voted one of the top cookery books by other chefs. Needless to say I decided to buy it and, needless to say, I've hardly used it. The recipes are organised by ingredients and there are unusual ones: brains, sweetbreads or tripe anyone? (I have eaten two of those). Like several of the other books I've reviewed so far, I enjoyed the writing and anecdotes for each chapter and recipe but didn't necessarily want to cook much in it. Having said that....

Poached cod with lentils and salsa verde

The book contained probably my favourite of this month's update. The salsa verde was the star of the show and its mustardy tang combined with the mellow sweetness of the cod and the pepperyness of the lentils was perfect. I used the leftovers of the salsa to stir into other dishes and it really enhanced the flavour of those too. I also liked poaching the cod: I find it easy to overcook fish and this kept it lovely and moist. Safe to say I'll be making this one again.

Week 25, part 2 : Nigel Slater - Real fast puddings

What's this? 2 books in one week? Yes, I'd meant to exclude books which only include desserts so, when this came out of the hat, we decided to draw another for a savoury course.

I have the companion to this one (Real Fast Food) and, as you'd expect, both are filled with quick and easy recipes. Ironically, I think I chose the longest recipe in the book!

Rice pudding with rosewater, cardamom and pistachio

The pistachios were probably superfluous but the rest was delicious. We love rice pudding anyway so it was nice to try a variation with some 'fancy' flavourings.

Week 26 : Salads - Lyn Rutherford

Another discount shop find if I remember rightly. It was a good time for it to be drawn out as it coincided with a hot spell. It's easy to get in a rut with salads so it was nice to have some new ideas for inspiration. We've marked out quite a few recipes so I think we'll be coming back to this one again.

Fresh apricot and rice salad with grilled goat's cheese

A light and refreshing dish with a lovely combination of flavours. I did have way too much rice for stuffing in the apricots so chucked the rest on after it had been photographed. If you'd like to try it, you can find the recipe here.

Week 27 : The Naked Chef - Jamie Oliver

We've been watching re-runs of 'Jamie's 15-minute meals' on TV recently, so Chickpea was really happy when this came out of the hat. However, she soon decided it was written 'before he became cool'. It seemed so funny to me that she considers the mature Jamie to be much cooler than the hip and trendy younger version!

What she meant was that she thought his recipes are now more accessible to the average person with easier techniques and common ingredients. One of our all-time favourite recipes (Tray-baked salmon with green beans, anchovies and olives) is in the book but we decided to try a couple of others.

Tagliatelle with baby courgettes, lemon and basil

An easy choice as our first crop of courgettes (pictured at the top) were ready for harvesting. The main flavours are lemon and parmesan and that's rarely a bad thing. A lovely summery dish and very quick to prepare.

North African lamb with chilli, ginger, chickpeas and couscous

Tasty and gently spicy, this went down a treat. The recipe doesn't seem to be available on 'official' sites but you can find it on several blogs such as here.

Week 28 : The French Market - Joanne Harris and Fran Warde

Joanne Harris is the author of Chocolat, which I haven't read, though I love the film. The book includes beautiful photos of life in the French region of Gascony which makes you want to rush over there immediately. Unfortunately we were less excited by the recipes. One of the problems is that all the recipe titles are in French with no translation which Chickpea, in particular, didn't like. As she pointed out, unless you speak French, you have to read the ingredients to find out what you'll be cooking. We did find a few recipes to tempt us though.

Salade Toulousaine

The main ingredients for this are sausages, haricot beans, chickpeas and tomatoes. It was tasty enough but I just felt it was lacking a few extra ingredients. I've made something similar which included roasted peppers and that would have give it a bit more umphh. I had the leftovers for lunch the next day with some pesto and grated cheese (also leftover from other recipes) and that worked well too.

And that concludes the latest installment of the Cookery Book Challenge. I thought our enthusiasm would have waned by now but we still get excited when doing the weekly draw. Which is lucky because I think there are still another 20 titles to go!

The weekend starts here everyone - hope you have a good one. And a big welcome to my new followers and readers. xx


  1. It's great that you're still keeping this up! I couldn't do it, but then I'm a fussy eater and not a very foodie person. I'm not adventurous and can't be bothered with food most of the time!

  2. Great ideas. Still use that J.Oliver recipe for fresh beans you made while here. Hoping weather men are right about 80' s for nexr 2 days as we are at camp.

  3. Another great month of recipes!! The salad looks delicious, anything with goats cheese is a winner for me though so perhaps I am biased! xx

  4. More gorgeous looking meals! This challenge is such a great idea. I love the look of the courgette pasta...I am such a huge fan of Jamie Oliver's recipes. In fact maybe too big a fan as my daughter once asked me "Mummy do you sometimes feel sad that you married Daddy instead of Jamie Oliver?!"
    Marianne x